Philocrites : Scrapbook : August 2004 Archive

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Giuliani's offense

Quoted 08.31.04:

giuliani.jpgIn a time of war, [Rudy] Giuliani concludes, "Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision. There are many qualities that make a great leader, but having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader." No. The most important characteristic of a great leader is being right. And the most important characteristic of a great speaker—contrary to the view of my colleagues who are raving about Giuliani's speech—is being honest. Bush wasn't right, and Giuliani isn't honest, and no amount of bullheadedness can make up for that.

William Saletan, Slate 8.30.04

Powerful portrait of Anne Hutchinson is marred by proselytizing

Quoted 08.31.04:

American JezebelWith powerful characters, a compelling tale, and a strong narrative writer in [Eve] LaPlante, "American Jezebel" should have been a slam dunk. It is not.

LaPlante, who, like President Bush, is a direct descendant of Hutchinson, errs by proselytizing on behalf of her protagonist, who clearly does not need it. Every other detail is used as a sign of Hutchinson's brilliance or the failings of her male accusers. Hutchinson's gender is central, to be sure, but the author's labored, relentless feminist critique lacks historical depth or subtlety. LaPlante writes, for example, that Hutchinson founded American feminism, the colony of Rhode Island (she joined Roger Williams there), and Harvard College (because it was established to prevent future Hutchinsons), and that she was America's first career woman.

LaPlante depicts Hutchinson as a civil rights champion crushed by theocrats. Hutchinson did suffer intolerance, as a result of which her Rhode Island settlement proclaimed religious liberty. But Hutchinson was no egalitarian; she was elitist to the core. Hutchinson believed that she was an elect of God and thus knew God's will — for others as well as herself. She gave no credence to the state, the authority of which she saw as inferior to her own favor with God. The dangerous implications of such views for a democratic society are unexplored as LaPlante makes Hutchinson a Puritan Rosa Parks.

Richard Higgins, Boston Globe 8.30.04

Monday, August 30, 2004

LDS Church shuns political fight over Utah's marriage amendment

Quoted 08.30.04:

Other Utah politicians have gotten heartburn trying to appear independent, but not at odds with, church leaders.

On Aug. 6, Republican Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff issued a joint statement with his challengers, Democrat Greg Skordas and Libertarian Andrew McCullough, opposing the amendment. When a Salt Lake Tribune article reported that the church had endorsed Utah's amendment, Bills requested a correction. So did Shurtleff's campaign manager, Ally Isom.

"I'm sure you can see why I don't want my candidate appearing to be at odds with the LDS Church," Isom said.

At the same time, Shurtleff revealed this week that he had given a "heads up" to a church official before he released the joint statement. Shurtleff refuses to say whom he talked to, insists he was not asking permission to issue the joint statement, and says he got no advice, no "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."

Rebecca Walsh, Salt Lake Tribune 8.30.04

Demographic 'bomb' may only go 'pop!'

Quoted 08.30.04:

[E]ven AIDS and abortion are drops in the demographic bucket. The real missing billions are the babies who were simply never conceived. They weren't conceived because their would-be elder brothers and sisters survived, or because women's lives improved. In the rich West, Mom went to college and decided that putting three children through graduate school would be unaffordable. In the poor Eastern or Southern parts of the globe, Mom found a sweatshop job and didn't need a fourth or fifth child to fetch firewood. . . .

Beyond that, simple public health measures like dams for clean water, vitamins for pregnant women, hand-washing for midwives, oral rehydration salts for babies, vaccines for youngsters and antibiotics for all helped double world life expectancy in the 20th century, to 60 years from 30.

More surviving children means less incentive to give birth as often. As late as 1970, the world's median fertility level was 5.4 births per woman; in 2000, it was 2.9.

Donald G. McNeil Jr, New York Times 8.29.04, reg req'd

Coming soon: The vanishing work force

Quoted 08.30.04:

As workers age, fewer new bodies are coming up the pipeline to replace them. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the working-age population - adults 16 to 54 who are neither in the military nor in jail - will have grown by six million people from 2002 to 2012. By contrast, the 55-and-over age bracket will have expanded by 18 million.

The shift will only intensify in the years that follow. By 2030, people 55 and older will make up 37 percent of the adult population, up from 15 percent today. "This is a sleeper issue," said Charles E. M. Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a group of business and education leaders that conducts policy research in Washington. "We do have a demographic time bomb."

Eduardo Porter, New York Times 8.29.04, reg req'd

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Clark defends Kerry's record, slams Bush

Quoted 08.29.04:

Wesley Clark[Wesley K.] Clark challenged Republicans who have labeled Kerry a ''flip-flopper" or indecisive.

''George Bush, before 9/11, he didn't care a thing about terrorism; he didn't do enough," Clark said. ''George Bush, he didn't want to strengthen homeland security, . . . then suddenly he's in favor of the Department of Homeland Security. . . . George Bush did everything he could to keep the 9/11 Commission from meeting. He withheld evidence. He tried to withhold witnesses. Now, suddenly, he's in favor of the 9/11 Commission."

Glen Johnson, Boston Globe 8.29.04

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I had to have faith

Quoted 08.18.04:

Halakha and latent O.C.D. make a grand cocktail, and I was intoxicated. One day I was riding my bicycle to McDonald's like every other kid; the next, I was planning to paint the lintels with marinade to ward off the Angel of Death.

Jennifer Traig, New York Times Magazine 8.15.04, reg req'd

American mosques

Quoted 08.18.04:

Although most mosques in America today are housed in buildings converted from other uses restaurants, storefronts, theaters there are more than 100 that have been built expressly as mosques. These are the mosques built everywhere from New York City to Plainfield, Ind.; from Wayland, Mass., to Albuquerque, N.M. that most interest [Omar] Khalidi, whose aim, he explains, is to explore "the difficult process of expressing identity through architectural forms." . . .

Today's American Muslims face a heightened version of a question that generations of Christians, Jews, and others have faced before them: Is it best to express identity by preserving old, traditional forms or to discover a new language appropriate to a new setting?

Theresa Everline, Boston Globe 8.15.04

Goss nomination: Bush's hidden trap

Quoted 08.18.04:

The Democrats have correctly smelled a rat. Instead of taking Bush's bait, they wisely plan to put the rat on display.

Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe 8.15.04

Friday, August 13, 2004

Study: Tax burden growing heavier for middle class

Quoted 08.13.04:

President Bush's tax cuts since 2001 have shifted more of the tax burden from the nation's rich to middle-class families, according to a study released Friday by the Congressional Budget Office. . . .

People in the top 20 percent of incomes, averaging $182,700 a year, saw their share of federal taxes decline from 65.3 percent of total payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year, according to the study by congressional budget analysts.

In contrast, middle-class taxpayers with incomes ranging from $51,500 to $75,600 bear a greater tax burden. Those making an average of $75,600 had the biggest jump in their share of taxes, from 18.5 percent of all payments in 2001 to 19.5 percent this year.

Associated Press, 8.13.04

Thursday, August 12, 2004

California Supreme Court voids gay marriages in San Francisco, says mayor overstepped authority

Quoted 08.12.04:

The court did not resolve whether the California Constitution would permit a same-sex marriage, ruling instead on the limits of authority regarding local government officials.

David Kravets [AP], 8.12.04

Young marines frustrated by lack of progress

Quoted 08.12.04:

Playing cards one recent evening while on call to respond to any outburst of violence, Lance Corporal David Goward and the rest of his squad expressed two growing concerns: that the US military will linger here indefinitely and that the troops' very presence is provoking the fighting it is meant to stop. They are ready for any battle, they said, but a pervasive sense that Iraqis do not want their help has destroyed their enthusiasm for the larger goals of launching democracy and rebuilding the country.

"I don't think any of us even care what happens to this country," Goward said, as half a dozen Marines, all stationed in Ramadi, the capital of restive Anbar Province, nodded in agreement.

Anne Barnard, Boston Globe 8.12.04

Pastor directs closing of his church while supporting the fight to keep it open

Quoted 08.12.04:

There are those who believe [the Rev. Ron] Coyne — not the church — is the real target in the closing. The progressive, outspoken priest has long been a thorn in the side of the archdiocese. He was among 58 priests who signed a letter calling on Cardinal Bernard Law to resign during the sexual abuse scandal. He has been called to the chancery on four occasions to answer questions about his views. He has said that Catholicism, with its dwindling number of parishioners and priests, must look to its Episcopal brethren for its future. "We have to deal honestly with the issue of married priests, with women being ordained and with gays in our society, our church and the priesthood," he said. "What's the archdiocese going to do? Keep closing churches? Obviously, a male celibate priesthood isn't attracting people. We either die, or we look at new visions of priesthood."

Bella English, Boston Globe 8.12.04

'Summer sizzler'

Quoted 08.12.04:

Massachusetts is home to both some of the nation's toughest gun laws and the second-largest US gun company, Smith & Wesson. The story of Springfield-based Smith & Wesson is a case study in why an industry that makes the guns that kill our neighbors will never be our ally in getting those handguns off our streets.

Smith & Wesson is the handgun of choice among America's criminals. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Smith & Wesson's .38-caliber revolver is the handgun traced most often in crimes.

Steve Bailey, Boston Globe 8.11.04

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Who will be called as next LDS apostles?

Quoted 08.10.04:

Mormon apostles are full-time executives, running a billion-dollar enterprise. They oversee vast resources, departments and tasks. Unlike most CEOs, they have to give sermons almost every week in places as different as Arkansas and Argentina. Twice a year they give speeches that will be considered almost scripture by 12 million eager church members.

Apostles make momentous decisions about the church's future: when to take one of its rare political positions, build a new temple or establish a new churchwide policy.

From the moment an apostle accepts his calling, he steps on an escalator that leads inexorably to the top of the church. The man who outlives the apostles named before him will ascend to the church's highest office - a position Mormons consider "prophet, seer and revelator."

It's a lifelong calling, and no one gets out alive.

Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune 8.7.04

Friday, August 6, 2004

At campaign stop, Bush pokes fun at himself

Quoted 08.06.04:

[E]ven by his standards, Bush took modest humor to new heights yesterday. In the course of a single event here, Bush compared himself to a hot-air salesman, a lawyer, and a talk-show host -- and hardly bothered to disguise the fact that audience members were there as political props, not as undecided voters trying to make up their minds or glean information about the candidate. . . .

But for all his impromptu humor on the stump, Bush had difficulty getting through a practiced text at the White House earlier in the day, as he signed a defense appropriations bill.

In trying to pump up Americans' confidence that the government is preparing for any form of attack, Bush risked doing the opposite, saying: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Anne E. Kornblut, Boston Globe 8.6.04

Veteran retracts criticism of Kerry

Quoted 08.06.04:

[Y]esterday, a key figure in the anti-Kerry campaign, Kerry's former commanding officer, backed off one of the key contentions. Lieutenant Commander George Elliott said in an interview that he had made a "terrible mistake" in signing an affidavit that suggests Kerry did not deserve the Silver Star -- one of the main allegations in the book. The affidavit was given to The Boston Globe by the anti-Kerry group to justify assertions in their ad and book. . . .

"It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I'm the one in trouble here."

Michael Kranish, Boston Globe 8.6.04

Thursday, August 5, 2004

McCain condemns anti-Kerry ads, calls on White House to follow suit

Quoted 08.05.04:

Republican Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called an ad criticizing John Kerry's military service ''dishonest and dishonorable'' and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well. . . .

"I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam."

Ron Fournier [AP], 8.5.04

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Spain considers financing for major religions

Quoted 08.04.04:

spain.jpgThe Spanish government has begun formal discussions on a proposal to expand financing to religious institutions, and security officials say that one intention is to subsidize mosques to make them less dependent on money from militant groups abroad.

The Justice Ministry proposal, which legal scholars say is likely to test the limits of Spain's separation of church and state, reflects a widespread belief among counterterrorism officials here that Spanish mosques are vulnerable to the influences of militant groups because they feel the need to turn to the militants for money.

Renwick McLean, New York Times 8.3.04, reg req'd; via Talking Points Memo

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Church bombings outrage Iraqis of all faiths

Quoted 08.03.04:

Majid Shammari . . . shook his head in anger. It was not the damage to his stately home that outraged him, said the graying Muslim engineer. It was the terrorists' cynical targeting of the Assyrian church next door, a community he said he had always been proud to know as a neighbor and friend.

"From the time of my birth, there has never been a question of whether you are Christian or Muslim," Shammari said, sweeping up shards of glass from a shattered fish tank. "We rent our upstairs to a Christian family, we share food with each other. The bonds between all of us are very strong. What cowards are these terrorists to hurt the innocent, to try and break those bonds? If that is their aim, I swear they will never, never succeed."

Pamela Constable, Washington Post 8.3.04, reg req'd

Hard-earned lessons drive rival campaigns

Quoted 08.03.04:

johnedwards.jpgWade was present at last week's Democratic National Convention, and so was the late first husband of Teresa Heinz Kerry, Senator John Heinz III of Pennsylvania. And so were the friends and Navy colleagues of John F. Kerry who perished in Vietnam. When reporters tried to interview Kerry about his good friend from Yale, Richard Pershing, who died in the Vietnam War, the senator could barely speak.

Pershing, Heinz, Wade Edwards, and the others were present in the memories of those claiming the party's nominations and their spouses and, especially, in the nominees' expressed understanding of the limits of self-control and mortality -- the ''wisdom" in the Kerry-Edwards promise of ''strength and wisdom." . . .

John and Wade Edwards were an unusually close father-son team, ''joined at the breastbone," as John Edwards put it. In March 1996, the Jeep Cherokee Wade was driving was struck by a powerful gust of wind; when Wade steered sharply to the right to correct for it, the car flipped and rolled. Wade was crushed.

Edwards does not speak publicly about Wade's death. Elizabeth Edwards describes a sense of desolation that overwhelmed their lives and eventually led the couple to have more children to bring joy back into their home; the Edwardses continue to host Wade's friends at their home as a way of keeping his spirit alive.

When former senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska recruited Edwards to run for the Senate in 1998, Kerrey warned him that campaigns can be brutal. "John looked at me and said, 'If you've ever had to get up on a medical examiner's table and hug your son goodbye, you know that there's nothing worse that can happen to you,'" Kerrey told the Globe's Patrick Healy last year.

Peter S. Canellos, Boston Globe 8.3.04

The religification of John Kerry

Quoted 08.03.04:

kerry2.jpgKerry took a major step toward convincing people that it was OK to believe in God and Democrats at the same time.

Steven Waldman, Slate 8.2.04

Monday, August 2, 2004

The $50 million Dems

Quoted 08.02.04:

[I]n addition to Kerry’s own ads, more than $15 million of political advertising has run in the past three months, most of it bashing Bush, most of it in key battleground states — without costing the Kerry campaign a dime. The ads have been created and paid for by organizations known as "527s," named for the tax-code section that defines them. These groups do not fall under Federal Election Commission regulations, as long as they limit their activities; most significantly, they cannot support a candidate directly or coordinate their efforts with a candidate’s campaign. . . .

The people funding these 527s, with millions of their own dollars, are arguably the Democrats’ 2004 MVPs. Yet with the exception of financier George Soros, who has contributed a total of $12,481,250 in the past year and a half and who has been called to task in no uncertain terms by the GOP, they remain surprisingly unknown to the public and uncovered by the media.

The Phoenix has compiled a list of 12 donors (see below) who chipped in more than $1 million each during the first 18 months of the current campaign cycle — the start of 2003 through the end of June — to Democratic-leaning 527s. Collectively, this dozen has donated just over $50 million.

David S. Berstein, Boston Phoenix 7.29.04

By accident, Utah is proving an ideal genetic laboratory

Quoted 08.02.04:

Utah is justly famous for its big families, with cousins piled on cousins, uncles from here to Tuesday, and roots stretching back to the Mormon pioneer days. And what once appeared to be a regional quirk is increasingly viewed by scientists as something more: a near-perfect laboratory, arrived at by complete accident, for the study of human kinship.

Mormon genes are hot.

Kirk Johnson, New York Times 7.31.04, reg req'd