Philocrites : Scrapbook : January 2005 Archive

Monday, January 31, 2005

Hillary Clinton's anti-abortion strategy

Quoted 01.31.05:

[Sen. Hillary Clinton said:] "With all of this talk about freedom as the defining goal of America, let's not forget the importance of the freedom of women to make the choices that are consistent with their faith and their sense of responsibility to their family and themselves."

Note the concluding words: faith, responsibility, family. This is the other side of Clinton's message: against the ugliness of state control, she wants to raise the banner of morality as well as freedom. Pro-choicers have tried this for 40 years, but they always run into a fatal objection: Abortion is so ugly that nobody who supports it can look moral. To earn real credibility, they'd have to admit it's bad. They often walk up to that line, but they always blink.

Not this time. Abortion is "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women," said Clinton. Then she went further: "There is no reason why government cannot do more to educate and inform and provide assistance so that the choice guaranteed under our constitution either does not ever have to be exercised or only in very rare circumstances." . . .

Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I've never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal, and rare. Safe, legal, and never.

William Saletan, Slate 1.26.05

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Christians in the colliseum

Quoted 01.30.05:

With the Super Bowl coming to Jacksonville for the first time, the eyes of more than a hundred million people will turn to northeast Florida, known here as the First Coast. Mr. Garrett wants his ambitious hometown to make a good impression.

"When they look at Jacksonville, I want them to see loving people who care about their city," he said. "I want them to see Jesus."

Robert Andrew Powell, New York Times 1.30.05, reg req'd

Friday, January 28, 2005

Vice President Cheney: Slumming it at Auschwitz

Quoted 01.28.05:

Dick Cheney, Herbert Knosowski/APAt yesterday's gathering of world leaders in southern Poland to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the United States was represented by Vice President Cheney. The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.

Robin Givhan, Washington Post 1.28.05, reg req'd

A gambling state

Quoted 01.28.05:

In Massachusetts, every man, woman, and child spends on average $650 a year on lottery products — nearly four times the national average.

Steve Bailey, Boston Globe 1.28.05

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Are journalists 'slow bloggers'?

Quoted 01.27.05:

The biggest difference between me and conventional bloggers is that I usually pause between first thought and posting. Inspired by the slow food movement, I like to think of myself as a slow blogger. Sometimes I'm so slow—as this Wednesday dispatch from a Friday-Saturday conference proves—that I resemble a conventional journalist. . . .

With the exception of the "metro" section reporter covering a 12-car pile-up on the freeway, I think most practicing journalists today are as Webby as any blogger you care to name. Journalists have had access to broadband connections for longer than most civilians, and nearly every story they tackle begins with a Web dump of essential information from Google or a proprietary database such as Nexis or Factiva. They conduct interviews via e-mail, download official documents from .gov sites, check facts, and monitor the competition—including blogs—the whole while. A few even store as a "favorite" the URL from Technorati that takes them directly to what the blogs are saying about them . . . and talk back. When every story starts on the Web, and every story can be stripped to its digital bits and pumped through wires and over the air, we're all Web journalists.

Jack Shafer, Slate 1.26.05

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Who are you calling liberal?

Quoted 01.26.05:

Despite the United Church of Christ’s resistance to use the word outright, ‘liberal’ often is used to describe us—even though a denomination-wide survey reveals that UCC members identify more readily as ‘conservative’ rather than ‘liberal.’ So how did this come to be? Are we really that liberal?

J. Bennett Guess, United Church News 10.04

Bush: 'Freedom!'; White House: 'Never mind!'

Quoted 01.26.05:

You can see how it happened to President Bush: the crowds, the bracing cold, the hand on the Bible, and suddenly he finds himself mentioning freedom or its equivalent 49 times in his inaugural speech, using phrases such as "hunger in dark places" and "the longing of the soul."

But then morning always comes, and with it the responsibility to, as Ali G would say, check yo-self. Yes, of course, the objective of ending global tyranny is a critical one, said the president's spokesman the next day. But not, you know, right away, or all at once, or in any way that will immediately change our policy toward a specific country, White House briefers said.

Hanna Rosin, Washington Post 1.25.05, reg req'd

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Russian anti-Semitism alive and kicking

Quoted 01.25.05:

A group of nationalist Russian lawmakers called Monday for a sweeping investigation aimed at outlawing all Jewish organizations and punishing officials who support them, accusing Jews of fomenting ethnic hatred and saying they provoke anti-Semitism.

Steve Gutterman [AP], boston.com 1.25.05

Monday, January 24, 2005

Church publicity with a wink

Quoted 01.24.05:

SpongeBob SquarepantsJoining the animated fray, the United Church of Christ today (Jan. 24) said that Jesus' message of extravagant welcome extends to all, including SpongeBob Squarepants — the cartoon character that has come under fire for allegedly holding hands with a starfish.

"Absolutely, the UCC extends an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob," the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, said, only partly in jest. "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

For that matter, Thomas explained, the 1.3-million-member church, if given the opportunity, would warmly receive Barney, Big Bird, Tinky-Winky, Clifford the Big Red Dog or, for that matter, any who have experienced the Christian message as a harsh word of judgment rather than Jesus' offering of grace.

J. Bennett Guess, United Church News 1.24.05; via Chuck Currie

Great moments in the normalization of gay marriage

Quoted 01.24.05:

Last month [Mary ''Fran" Maberry, 65] happened to be serving on a civil jury in Boston and was talking to fellow jurors about the items she has found on the beach through the years — passports, a late 19th-century ginger ale bottle, possibly part of a human jawbone, and a class ring from [Don Bosco Technical High,] a high school that no longer exists.

The jury foreman, 48-year-old Kevin Kennedy, told her that he had an idea: The man he married in June shortly after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage graduated from Don Bosco in 1978, and he might have a yearbook. Kennedy said he would ask him when he returned to town.

Out of curiosity, Maberry had Kennedy write down his husband's initials on a scrap of newspaper. He did: "EHW," for Edward H. Walsh.

When Maberry got home that day, she asked her daughter to check the initials on the ring.

"She looked at it and said, 'It's EHW,'" Maberry recalled. "I almost had a heart attack."

Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe 1.24.05

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tiny N.H. Episcopal church, angry about Bishop Robinson, will close on Easter

Quoted 01.20.05:

A group of 36 parishioners decided in June they couldn't stay in the church after Robinson refused to grant complete pastoral supervision to a more orthodox bishop. Since then, only 12 to 14 parishioners have attended weekly Sunday service. . . .

The church had survived a similar conflict in 1988. More than 100 parishioners left as the church's rector installed female clergy and replaced the 1928 Book of Common Prayer with the 1979 version, as national Episcopal Church policy demanded. The splinter group became the Trinity Anglican Church, eventually building a new church on Rochester Hill Road.

AP, boston.com 1.20.05

Amusing moments in the Globe's feature about Boston atheists

Quoted 01.20.05:

For atheists, the monthly meetings [in Cambridge, Massachusetts!] are an island of skepticism in a sea of religious conformity. . . .

Rather than be confrontational, atheists often employ strategies to avoid deism [?] without offending. . . .

Gray says he thinks the woman he's dating is Catholic, and that it deadens her appeal. . . .

Jack Thomas, Boston Globe 1.20.05

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Happy birthday to who?

Quoted 01.18.05:

"Hello, you've reached the Mississippi State Tax Commission. On Monday, January the 17th, the state tax commission offices will be closed in observance of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthdays. Tax Comission offices will reopen on Tuesday, January the 18th. Office hours are from eight until five. Thank you. Have a safe and happy holiday."

Garance Franke-Ruta, Tapped 1.18.05

How the Social Security 'crisis' was born

Quoted 01.18.05:

[T]he program is not in crisis, nor is its potential shortfall irresolvable. Ideology aside, the scale of the fixes would not require Social Security to abandon the role that was conceived for it in 1935, and that it still performs today — as an insurance fail-safe for the aged and others and as a complement to people's private market savings.

Roger Lowenstein, New York Times Magazine 1.16.05, reg req'd

Mass. gay marriage ban doomed?

Quoted 01.18.05:

With the start of the new legislative session, a Globe analysis indicates that supporters of gay marriage appear to be gaining ground in their effort to defeat the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Frank Phillips, Boston Globe 1.18.05

Monday, January 17, 2005

Blogging for dollars

Quoted 01.17.05:

Political campaigns and consultants are becoming increasingly skillful at manipulating the mainstream press by planting stories in the blogosphere. Despite this, the mainstream press remains credulous about blogging. During South Dakota's U.S. Senate race between Tom Daschle and John Thune, the Thune campaign put two local political bloggers on its payroll. One got $27,000, the other $8,000. Their anti-Daschle reports trickled up into South Dakota newspapers.

The lesson for a campaign is obvious: Got a story you can't convince a mainstream reporter to run? Leak it anonymously to a blog on your payroll. Then get a local reporter to write a story on the controversial, gossipy, local political blog. Soon everyone in town will be talking about the story you leaked to the blog. Voila! Eventually a mainstream news organization will run a story on the rumor that "everyone is talking about." Or they'll do a "what people are buzzing about on the Internet" piece. And no one will know that the blog post was a paid placement until after the election.

Chris Suellentrop, Slate 1.14.05; Daily Kos responds

What Jesus cares about more than tax cuts and gays

Quoted 01.17.05:

God's Politics, Jim Wallis[Jim] Wallis's main pitch is that Democrats needlessly have ceded to Republicans the religion-faith issue, allowing voters to believe Democratic candidates are indifferent or hostile to organized religion. In fact, he says, the Bible -- and Jesus's teachings in particular -- are filled with messages that align more closely to Democratic policies than GOP policies: Help the poor, share the wealth, work for peace.

"Democrats should welcome a moral values conversation," Wallis said. "As an evangelical Christian, I find 3,000 verses in the Bible about the poor," far outnumbering mentions of same-sex unions or low taxes.

Dana Milbank and Dan Balz, Washington Post 1.16.05, reg req'd

Saturday, January 15, 2005

God at the inauguration

Quoted 01.15.05:

Like every one of his predecessors, Bush undoubtedly will invoke the name of God, the "Giver of Good" as Theodore Roosevelt called the Almighty, and more than likely will ask for Divine Providence. While it may be irresistible to assume that any mention of God reflects the heightened sense of morals and values so prevalent during the campaign or mirrors the president's own religious faith, it will be far more than that. In emphasizing the notion of "one nation under God," he will be reinforcing a civic tenet that has been embedded in the country's persona since the beginning of the republic itself.

James P. Moore Jr, Boston Globe 1.15.05

Friday, January 14, 2005

Don't waste money on advocacy ads; buy the whole newspaper

Quoted 01.14.05:

Brian Timpone owns several small weekly newspapers in Illinois. Among them is the Record, an 8,000-circulation weekly that covers Madison and St. Clair counties in the southwestern part of the state. "I'm in the community newspaper business," says Timpone. His weeklies cover events of interest to those in small towns -- "cats in trees, kids going off to college."

In that regard, the Record is different from the others. It covers lawsuits -- and only lawsuits. That's because it's partly owned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- which just happens to have tort reform high on its agenda and was willing to pony up $200,000 to establish a journalistic beachhead in a litigious corner of the Land of Lincoln.

So, is the Record a newspaper, or a propaganda sheet pushing an agenda?

Susan Q. Stranahan, CJR Daily 1.13.05

Sinners in the hands of an angry president

Quoted 01.14.05:

As Brother Gonzales teaches us, our President is a fearsome President: he "does not engage in torture and will not condone torture" — but he could if he wanted to, for it is within his awesome power. He will "honor the Geneva Conventions whenever they apply" — but Brother Gonzales does not know, or cannot tell us, just how often they do not apply, for these are Sacred Mysteries of the Mind of Bush, which is unknowable to ordinary men. Should we stray beyond the mercy afforded by his Presidential Grace, we will find ourselves facing the full force of his almighty wrath, and the legal-yet-undefined interrogation methods which are most certainly not torture. . . .

We are dangled over the possibility of indefinite detention and torture like spiders over a flame by the hand of an angry President, and only his mercy and restraint can save us now. It is not that Bush chooses to have us tortured; it is that he chooses, through his awesome and Presidential love, to not have us tortured. Now that is a miracle!

Medium Lobster, Fafblog! 1.9.05

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More religion, not necessarily more fundamentalism

Quoted 01.13.05:

What does all this rising religiosity add up to? It is easy to assume that a more religious world means a more fractious world, where violent conflict is fueled by violent fundamentalist movements.

But some religion experts say that while it is clear that religiosity is on the rise, it is not at all clear that fundamentalism is. Indeed, there may be a rising backlash against violent fundamentalism of any faith.

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 1.9.05, reg req'd

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Beyond Lakoff’s strict father vs. nurturant parent, a strong community manifesto

Quoted 01.12.05:

[H]ere’s one point progressives might want to savor as they think about frames: A broad swath of the American people may share the “strict father” frame just enough to be vulnerable to manipulation; but this does not mean Americans broadly, deeply share the worldview of those in power. The Left must get much better, not just at placing its issues in a compelling moral frame, but at exposing and holding the radical Right accountable for its lies and deception — without, and here is the tricky part, making those who have been manipulated feel ridiculed and put down.

Frances Moore Lappé, Guerrilla News Network 12.23.04; via Nick Lewis

Newspaper 2.0: The blog revolution.

Quoted 01.12.05:

Jesse Oxfeld, Editor & Publisher 1.5.05

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

MLA out of Iraq

Quoted 01.11.05:

[O]ne of my more odious tasks at this year’s [Modern Language Association] convention (one for which I volunteered, actually) involved reporting to the Delegate Assembly that the antiwar resolution they’d passed in 2003 was rejected by the Executive Council. The resolution called on the MLA to urge “the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and reallocation of funds to reverse inattention to, and grave deficits in, funding of education and other human services.”

Michael Bérubé 1.11.05

Thursday, January 6, 2005

The Iraqi opposition

Quoted 01.06.05:

Understand that the people killing us in Iraq aren’t motivated by Gore Vidal or inspired by Susan Sontag or organized by Michael Moore or in cahoots in any way with any of the right’s celebrity piñatas — not literally, not metaphorically, not if you look at it in a certain way, not to any infinitesimal degree, not in any sense, not in any way at all. They do not lead a clandestine international conspiracy of Evil which has corrupted everything in every foreign country plus everything in America not owned by loyal Bush Republican apparatchiks; nor are they members of such a conspiracy; nor does a conspiracy remotely matching that description exist. To think otherwise is, literally and to a very great degree, insanity.

The Poor Man 1.5.05; via Michael Bérubé

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

We, Incorporated

Quoted 01.05.05:

On Value and Values, Douglas K. Smith[Doug Smith says:] "Organizations are not just places where people have jobs. They are our neighborhoods, our communities. They are where we join with other people to make a difference for ourselves and others. If we think of them only as the places where we have jobs, we not only lose the opportunity for meaning, but we endanger the planet."

Keith H. Hammonds, Fast Company 7.04

Does Jim Wallis's leftist, Bible-based book get it right?

Quoted 01.05.05:

God's Politics, Jim Wallis[Jim] Wallis is absolutely right when he attributes to religious conviction a special power to inspire action in ways that few other forms of human affect or affiliation can achieve. But such power cuts both ways. It can provide the ground for profound and even apparently reckless acts of nonviolent resistance to injustice (to which the antiwar activisms of the Berrigan brothers ably witness, as just one example). It can also become the fuel for a radicalism that expresses itself in righteous and redemptive violence. Certainly Jim Wallis' long-standing and principled commitment to nonviolence would call him to denounce all these acts of violence. Nevertheless, certainty grounded in unbending religious conviction can (and often does) produce a remarkable rigidity that brooks no compromise. Which is precisely the place where religion and politics may not blend very well: Whereas compromise is the coin of the realm at the political negotiating table, it is often a sign of moral failure in a religious frame.

Elizabeth A. Castelli, Slate 1.4.04

How to start a blog

Quoted 01.05.05:

James Joyner, Outside the Beltway 1.5.05

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

'Book of Mormon' in Klingon

Quoted 01.04.05:

yeSuS 'IHrIStoS jIH. pIq yuQDaq ghoS 'e' ja'pu' SovmoHwI'pu'.

Elizabeth M. Moore, via Greg.org 1.3.05

In praise of conservative UUs

Quoted 01.04.05:

Thinking back over the many UU churches I've attended, I find that some of my favorite members have been the Republicans.

Chalicechick, CFUU.org 12.31.04

Monday, January 3, 2005

Readership is up, but most Web surfers still don't know what blogs are

Quoted 01.03.05:

Blog readership jumped 58 percent between February and November, and comprised 32 million U.S. citizens in 2004. More than 8 million U.S. citizens have created a Web-based diary, and one in 10, or around 14 million U.S. Internet users, has contributed thoughts or comments to a blog. . . .

Despite gains in popularity, blogs are still the domain of Internet cognoscenti. More than 62 percent of those surveyed said they do not know what a blog is . . .

Paul Roberts, PCWorld.com 1.3.05

$1.17 billion for 'faith-based' groups

Quoted 01.03.05:

The government gave more than $1 billion in 2003 to organizations it considers "faith based," with some going to programs where prayer and spiritual guidance are central and some to organizations that do not consider themselves religious at all. . . .

An analysis of the $1.17 billion and nearly 150 interviews in 30 states with grant recipients found:

Many are well-established, large social service providers that have received federal money for decades. More than 80 percent of recipients at HHS had received federal money before. At HUD, the figure was 93 percent.

Two programs account for half of the $1.17 billion total: A HUD program known as Section 202 that builds housing for low-income poor people, and Head Start, a large preschool program for poor children.

Laura Meckler [AP], Boston Globe 1.3.05

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Dobson to Dems: Gonna getcha

Quoted 01.02.05:

James C. Dobson, the nation's most influential evangelical leader, is threatening to put six potentially vulnerable Democratic senators "in the 'bull's-eye'" if they block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. . . .

Dr. Dobson's activities represent a new level of direct partisan engagement on his part. Unlike other conservative Christian leaders, Dr. Dobson owes his grass-roots following primarily to his partly clinical, partly biblical advice on matters like marriage and child-rearing. Before supporting Mr. Bush, he had never endorsed a presidential candidate.

In the aftermath of the election, some of Dr. Dobson's allies are warning their fellow evangelicals not to be seduced by political deal-making. In "an open letter to the Christian church" last month, Charles W. Colson, the born-again Nixon aide and another influential Christian conservative, warned against listing demands of the president or other elected officials.

"To think that way demeans the Christian movement," Mr. Colson wrote with his associate Mark Earley. "We are not anybody's special interest group."

In an interview in his office in Colorado Springs, Dr. Dobson acknowledged that his plunge into partisan politics had irrevocably changed his public image. "I can't go back, nor do I want to," he said. "I will probably endorse more candidates. This is a new day. I just feel a real need to make use of this visibility."

David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times 1.1.05, reg req'd