Philocrites : Scrapbook : April 2004 Archive

Friday, April 30, 2004

We live in a political world

Quoted 04.30.04:

Timothy Karr reports that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is protesting Koppel's alleged politicization of the war in Iraq by refusing to run Nightline on its eight ABC affiliates, makes 98 percent of its political contributions to Republicans.

Dan Kennedy, Media Log [Boston Phoenix] 4.30.04

'Nightline' to honor fallen GIs

Quoted 04.30.04:

During the ABC News broadcast (locally, it airs on Channel 5 at 11:35 p.m.), anchorman Ted Koppel will read aloud the names of US service personnel killed in the Iraq war, as a corresponding photo appears on the screen along with that person's name, military branch, rank, and age.

Frazier Moore [Associated Press], Boston Globe 4.30.04

First Parish youth to be included in Bill Moyers' April 30 program

Quoted 04.30.04:

During last weekend's March for Women's Lives in Washington, DC, a film crew working with PBS's "NOW with Bill Moyers" followed a group of youth attending the march from First Parish in Cambridge, MA. The film crew expressed interest in understanding the faith commitment of youth to retaining the right to choice as we approach this election year.

On Friday, April 30, Moyers' program will air with a look at Unitarian Universalist youth and other people of faith who participated in the march. Bill Moyers is one of the most recognized and respected journalists in America, and anchors this hour-long weekly news series offering fresh perspectives and analysis on today's events, issues, and the ideas that are shaping our world.

Deborah Weiner, UUA-L 4.29.04

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Air America's growing pains

Quoted 04.28.04:

One thing I wonder about is whether the liberal audience that Air America has targeted really understands how bad talk radio is most of the time. Everyone talks about how successful Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are, but they host dreadful, almost unlistenable shows — smug, boring, unentertaining agitprop that is nearly impossible to listen to unless you've been lobotomized. Air America wants to rise above that, but it's hard to do so hour after hour after hour. Conservatives may be willing to listen to such crap, but that's one of the reasons that they're conservatives.

Dan Kennedy, Media Log 4.28.04

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The last word

Quoted 04.27.04:

The Life of Brian casts a genial light on just how ugly and fanatic — and of our time — The Passion is. Gibson's movie is less a work of devotion than a call to arms. At other times of upheaval in Christian history, a hideously suffering Jesus was a sign of trouble brewing. Behold what happened to our savior — someone's going to pay. During the Crusades, preachers preached Christ's agonies; inflamed crusaders often turned on the Jews in their march toward the Holy Land — frustrating the Church, which wanted the Jews' hatred fixed on the Saracens. Christus Agonistes has always gone hand in hand with the glazed-eye hope that ghastly torments await numberless sinners. Small wonder that Mel's audience is also devouring the genocidal fantasies of the final Left Behind book.

Tony Hendra, American Prospect 5.6.04

I watched Kerry throw his war decorations

Quoted 04.27.04:

There couldn't have been all that many decorations in his hand — six or seven — because he made a closed fist around his collection with ease as he waited his turn. . . .

From what I could observe firsthand about Friday, April 23, 1971, Kerry did not make even the slightest effort to pretend that he was throwing all of his military decorations over that fence. He did what he did in plain view, and in my case in the view of someone close enough to kick him in the shins. . . .

I saw what happened and heard what Kerry said and know what he meant. The truth happens to be with him.

Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe 4.27.04

Monday, April 26, 2004

The political economy of blogs

Quoted 04.26.04:

Though some bloggers do make money (either doing it professionally or through ads), and one might treat Blogger and Movable Type as just another industry in the capitalist economy, the real currency (the steering medium, to slip into Habermas-Parsons terminology) is attention. What we basically want is eyes looking at our sites, and we produce posts in order to "exchange" them for readers.

Stentor Danielson, Debitage 4.25.04

Friday, April 23, 2004

Bad neighbor

Quoted 04.23.04:

I arrived in Baghdad in July 2003. With temperatures soaring to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, most [Coalition Provisional Authority] staff remained inside air-conditioned headquarters, located in a former Saddam palace. Junior American diplomats tended to stay at their desks, while ambassadors traveled in armored cars among well-armed personal security details. What was good for security, however, was bad for political intelligence. After 35 years of dictatorship, Iraqis avoided talking to armed men, and the CPA staffers, penned up in their palace complex and out of touch with average Iraqis, missed evidence of increasing Iranian influence. 

My first night in Baghdad, several Iraqis intercepted me in the Rashid Hotel lobby. Three years before, I had taught for a year in Iraqi Kurdistan; friends had planned a reunion. We talked, ate, and drank until shortly before the 10 p.m. curfew; throughout the evening, Arabs and Kurds alike warned that Iranian intelligence was taking advantage of the U.S. failure to secure Iraq's borders. Later that month, several Iraqis warned me that over 10,000 Iranians had entered Iraq. Coalition officials I spoke to seemed unconcerned, suggesting that the influx was simply Iraqi refugees returning home. But these American diplomats seemed unable to differentiate between returnees speaking Iraqi Arabic and people proficient in Persian, who spoke little or no Arabic; many of the Iranians coming into the country fell into the latter category. 

Over subsequent months, I frequently visited the Iranian frontier. Traveling back roads along a smugglers' route in Iraqi Kurdistan, I encountered no U.S. patrols within 100 miles of the border, though American officials had vowed to police the frontiers. . . .

[Moqtada Al] Sadr himself has become a recipient of Iranian cash. Iran's charge d'affaires in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, maintains close relations with Sadr. According to the April 6 edition of the Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, Qomi is not actually a diplomat but rather a member of the Revolutionary Guards, the elite Iranian terrorist network dedicated to the export of jihad; Qomi previously served as a liaison to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Italian intelligence reports show that many Revolutionary Guards have moved to southern Iraq in recent months to organize and train Sadr's armed wing. . . .

Sadr is not the only Islamist Shia leader receiving aid from Tehran. When I visited Nasiriya, a dusty town in southern Iraq, local clerics complained bitterly about Iranian intelligence officials swarming into town, creating a network of informers and funneling money to anti-U.S. forces. At a town-hall meeting in Nasiriya last October, tribal leaders repeatedly condemned the United States for failing to confront the "hidden hand"—Iranians coming into the city. 

Michael Rubin, New Republic 4.26.04, sub req'd

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Good Christians

Quoted 04.22.04:

Does Bush deviate from the teachings of the United Methodist Church? Yes he does, on some crucial political issues. Has he been reprimanded by leaders in his denomination? Yes, particularly on the issue of war in Iraq. And if you want to make this a question of who's the better Christian, then it's fair to ask why President Bush doesn't go to church.

Amy Sullivan, The Gadflyer 4.21.04

Legislators support same-sex marriage

Quoted 04.22.04:

A California Assembly panel endorsed legalizing gay and lesbian marriages Tuesday, marking the first time that any legislative body in the U.S. has supported such marriages with a formal vote. . . .

Although the bill is considered unlikely to advance and is expected to die this year, the committee vote marked a significant moment in the debate over homosexual marriage and made a statement about how far public opinion had moved.

Robert Salladay, Los Angeles Times 4.21.04, reg req'd, via Political Animal

It's time for us to quit on Powell

Quoted 04.22.04:

For many of us, Colin Powell was a reassuring — the reassuring figure — in the Bush administration. It wasn't his politics so much as his character. He was admired as trustworthy.

He was, from the get-go, a popular choice for secretary of state even, or especially, among those who were uncertain about the president. Maybe President Bush could be called a cowboy, but Powell was a sober general. Maybe Vice President Cheney had a "fever" for regime change, but Powell was a cooler head. Maybe others would designate Iraq as a "cake walk" but Powell knew that after you entered Baghdad, the "Pottery Barn rules" took over: You break it, it's yours.

If the administration had its eye on glory, Powell had his on dusty boots on the ground. If they saw the world in black and white, he saw the world in greater complexity.

I was glad that he was there. And I was wrong. If anything, Colin Powell provided a false reassurance to those who thought to ourselves, "Well, if he says so . . . maybe."

Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe 4.22.04

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Dire straights: Why outlawing marriage for gays will undermine marriage for all

Quoted 04.20.04:

For most people, marrying, especially for the first time, is a very big decision. Not for everyone: Some people exchange vows in Las Vegas as a lark. But for most, getting married is a life-changing event, one which demarcates the boundary between two major phases of life. Why should marrying be such a big deal? Partly because the promise being made is extraordinary. That answer, however, begs the question. Why do people take this promise so seriously? The law has made it ever easier for two people to marry, no questions asked, no parental approval needed, no money down. Divorcing is easier, too. Under today's laws, young people could casually marry and divorce every six months as a way of shopping around, but they don't. Most people can expect that marriage will result in parenthood, and parenthood is certainly a momentous thing. Yet even people who, for whatever reason, do not want or cannot have children take marriage seriously. So the questions remain. Why do we see marrying as one of life's epochal decisions? What gives the institution such mystique, such force?

I believe the answer is, in two words, social expectations.

Jonathan Rauch, Washington Monthly 4.04

Girl chimps learn to work while boy chimps play

Quoted 04.20.04:

While little girl chimpanzees in the African wild stick close to their moms and learn useful, everyday tasks, like how to fish tasty termites out of the earth, little boy chimps don't pay much attention at all, being too busy romping, playing and being nuisances.

Associated Press, Houston Chronicle 4.15.04

Monday, April 19, 2004

1913 statute revives bias

Quoted 04.19.04:

The law was meant to block interracial marriages, then illegal in many states. It's been meaningless since 1967, when the US Supreme Court ruled that banning such marriages is unconstitutional.

Relying on this law to keep out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts is a violation of the spirit of the Supreme Judicial Court ruling, which clearly calls for gay couples and straight couples to be treated the same.

Adrian Walker, Boston Globe 4.19.04

Friday, April 16, 2004

Words get in the way

Quoted 04.16.04:

We may be for freedom. But if the people we're trying to 'free' don't think that's true, then it scarcely matters. If we could step down from words like 'free' and 'freedom' which have use in speeches and as broad concepts, but only a limited value for analyzing what's actually going on here, then maybe we'd be a little more effective.

Joshua Micah Marshall, Talking Points Memo 4.14.04

Wesley Clark on Iraq and Bush's 'plan.'

Quoted 04.16.04:

Wesley Clark, "All Things Considered" 4.14.04 [RealAudio]

The President's Daily PowerPoint Brief

Quoted 04.16.04:

Is the notorious Aug. 6, 2001, "President's Daily Brief" a smoking gun or merely historical information? Who can tell with all those complicated paragraphs and complete sentences? Surely life in the Oval Office (or on the ranch) would be much easier if POTUS got his predigested information the 21st-century way—in a PowerPoint presentation.

Daniel Radosh, Slate 4.15.04

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Evangelicals prefer that states outlaw gay 'marriage'

Quoted 04.15.04:

The poll showed evangelicals split over who should be president, with Mr. Bush narrowly leading Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, 49 percent to 45 percent.

Julia Duin, Washington Times 4.14.04, via onReligion

Read to live, live to rock

Quoted 04.15.04:

"Yes, we get the girls," emails Jake Stratton, aka Prof JB Stratton, the singer with the Seattle speed metal band BlöödHag. "Several lady librarians have kept company with us. BlöödHag don't make passes at girls who don't wear glasses. No specs, no sex."

BlöödHag, you may have gathered, are not a conventional metal ensemble. Where there is darkness — or, perhaps, the Darkness — they wish to bring light. Where there is ignorance, they spread knowledge. Specifically, they spread knowledge of science fiction authors. For BlöödHag — motto "Read to Live, Live to Read" — are the only heavy metal band in the world whose sole interest is promoting literacy.

Michael Hann, Guardian 4.15.04, via Bookslut

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Public's cynicism about media has become a pressing concern

Quoted 04.14.04:

Although most journalists believe quality and values are vital elements of their work and see themselves as providing an important civic function, the reading and viewing public seems to think of journalism as a bottom-line-driven enterprise populated by the ethically challenged. Last month, the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism released a wide-ranging study — "The State of the News Media 2004" — that concluded that a key factor in journalism's sagging image is "a disconnection between the public and the news media over motive."

Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe 4.14.04

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Acceptance of gays rises among new generation

Quoted 04.13.04:

On questions ranging from job discrimination to role models to whether homosexuality is morally wrong, responses indicate that as gays and lesbians have become more open, heterosexuals in return have become more open toward them. A key exception is same-sex marriage — supported by only one in four.

The change has come within one generation. In two Times Polls in the mid-1980s and other data from the same era, the level of sympathy toward gays and lesbians was half what it is today.

"The stigma of being gay is disappearing," said Gary Gates, a demographer at the Urban Institute in Washington. "This is a huge change. Gay people in general are feeling more comfortable in society — and society is feeling more comfortable with gay people."

Elizabeth Mehren, Los Angeles Times 4.11.04, reg req'd

Monday, April 12, 2004

Linking evil to feminism

Quoted 04.12.04:

Beyond his contempt for feminism and his veneration of obedience, [Boston Archbishop] O'Malley displayed his disdain for an entire generation, "the boomers born between 1946 and 1966." (O'Malley was born in 1944.) "The most educated and affluent group in US history," he said, "are heirs to Woodstock, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, feminism, the breakdown of authority, and divorce. Typically, they are religious illiterates, but they are interested. Not big on dogmas. My karma ran over my dogma could be their motto."

Such a snide dismissal of the sometimes circuitous spiritual paths taken by men and women not much younger than himself does not become a thoughtful religious leader who claims to want to reach out to disaffected Catholics. Such characterizations will drive them further into the arms of the Unitarian-Universalists or Protestant denominations that are not intimidated by parishioners who ask questions or by women who are proud to identify themselves as feminists.

Eileen McNamara, Boston Globe 4.11.04

What the good book says: Anti-Semitism, loosely defined

Quoted 04.12.04:

Ibrahim Nafie, the editor of Al Ahram, the semiofficial Egyptian daily, is one of many Arabs who have argued that the charge of Arab anti-Semitism can't be justified since "it hardly stands to reason that a Semitic people would direct this form of racist hostility at themselves."

"The "Israeli and Zionist media," he claimed, " have manipulated the concept of Semitic ethnicity so as to apply to Jews alone."

But if "anti-Semitism" is a misnomer, it's not the fault of the Jews. In the West, "Semitic" has long been an oblique way of saying "Jewish," leading the German racialist Wilhelm Marr to coin the term "Antisemitismus" around 1880 as a "modern" replacement for "Judenhass," or Jew-hatred. Anti-Israel Arabs who want to refute the accusation of anti-Semitism will have to find better grounds than an etymological technicality.

Geoffrey Nunberg, New York Times 4.11.04, reg req'd

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Prelate disallows women in ritual: Washing of the feet is limited to males

Quoted 04.10.04:

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, reversing the practice of Cardinal Bernard F. Law, declined this week to wash the feet of women because Jesus had no female apostles. . . .

The foot-washing ritual occurred during the same week that O'Malley listed feminism among several phenomena that affected the religious practices of the baby boom generation in the United States. In his Chrism Mass homily on Tuesday, O'Malley said that baby boomers "are heirs to Woodstock, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, feminism, the breakdown of authority, and divorce.''

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 4.10.04

Friday, April 9, 2004

Powell calls U.S. casualties 'disquieting'

Quoted 04.09.04:

This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.

Dana Milbank and Robin Wright, Washington Post 4.9.04, reg req'd; via Talking Points Memo

The one day like no other

Quoted 04.09.04:

Opening Day at Fenway . . . [is] the one day of the year when anything and everything enters the realm of the possible, the one day when the slate is wiped clean, when hope is yet to be perverted by fact, because fact is whatever we choose to believe is true.

Forget New Year's Day. When the Red Sox return to Boston, a fresh page is truly turned, a meaningful cycle starts anew, an entire world is scented by the wonders of the future rather than fouled by the failures of the past. Better luck next year? Well, it's now next year, and the luck will be better indeed.

Brian McGrory, Boston Globe 4.9.04

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

The road to understanding for Christians, Jews

Quoted 04.06.04:

Try this. Select five Christians and five Jews. Give each person a 3x5 card. Then hold up a crucifix.

Robert Leikind and Philip A. Cunningham, Boston Globe 4.6.04

Poll finds split over marriage amendment

Quoted 04.06.04:

In the first test of public opinion since the lawmakers' historic vote on March 29, the proposed amendment to the state constitution fell short of getting majority support in the poll, with 47 percent backing the measure and 47 opposing it.

The poll, which was taken March 30 through April 4, also found that given specific choices, 40 percent of those surveyed supported gay marriage while 28 percent supported a ban on gay marriage that would also provide for civil unions.

The people who strongly opposed both legalizing gay marriage and authorizing same-sex civil unions represented 17 percent of the poll sample.

Frank Phillips, Boston Globe 4.6.04

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Minority pastors preach diversity

Quoted 04.04.04:

Racial diversity is still a struggling novelty in most houses of God. Just 8 percent of Christian churches in the United States are multiracial, defined as one ethnic group making up no more than 80 percent of the membership, according to a 2002 study.

But increasingly, faith leaders are prodding churches to better reflect and appeal to the country's changing demographics -- and they are doing it from the top, placing minority pastors in white congregations.

Phuong Ly, Washington Post 4.4.04, reg req'd, via Just a Bump in the Beltway

Saturday, April 3, 2004

Lying about Rwanda's genocide

Quoted 04.03.04:

The National Security Archive report notes, "Although stated policy was that Rwanda did not affect traditional vital or national interests before or even during the genocide, considerable resources were nevertheless available and employed to ensure that policymakers had real-time information for any decision they would make. In sum, the routine--let alone crisis--performance of diplomats, intelligence officers and systems, and military and defense personnel yielded enough information for policy recommendations and decisions. That the Clinton administration decided against intervention at any level was not for lack of knowledge of what was happening in Rwanda."

Four years after the killings, Clinton told the Rwandans (and the world) that he had not tried to stop the genocide because he had not known what was truly occurring. Ignorance was not the reason. It had been a political decision. Clinton was fibbing to the survivors of genocide. And this deceptive remark sparked practically no outrage. Today, ten years after the Rwanda massacre, the inaction of the United States and the world community should not be forgotten, nor should Clinton's untruthful excuse.

David Corn, Capital Games, Nation

Illinois lawmaker regrets confusion

Quoted 04.03.04:

The Illinois lawmaker who took back a legislative apology to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their treatment in Nauvoo said Friday he's sorry about the confusion surrounding the change. . . .

When the resolution was first approved by the Illinois House on March 24, it also sought "the pardon and forgiveness" of Mormons for the violence that drove them from Nauvoo nearly 160 years ago, including the death of church founder Joseph Smith.

But Thursday, lawmakers passed a new version without that language at Franks' request. . . .

Dan Burke said the apology was removed "because in this day of reparations and so forth, we thought it was best to leave it out." He said the concern was not that Mormons might seek compensation from Illinois but that other groups could.

Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret Morning News 4.3.04