Philocrites : Scrapbook : December 2005 Archive

Friday, December 30, 2005

Wealthy N.J. suburbs, formerly GOP strongholds, drift Democratic

Quoted 12.30.05:

The towns experiencing the shift are similar. They're old-money communities on commuter rail lines, each offering a pleasant blend of downtown shopping, historic homes and shade-tree neighborhoods. Until recently, they've also been some of the most reliable bastions of Republican votes in the state. Ten years ago, the four towns boasted only a single Democratic official among them.

But an influx of liberal-leaning New Yorkers seems to be changing the politics of these GOP strongholds.

Jonathan Casiano, Star-Ledger 12.30.05

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Barney Frank on '08 anti-gay marriage initiative

Quoted 12.29.05:

"I think by 2008, people will say, 'Do we really need to have an angry, divisive debate over a non-issue,'" Frank said. "The question for the 50 legislators is: Do they want to make this a front-page issue again, leading the TV news?"

Andrew Miga [AP], 12.29.05

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ashcroft, Gonzales, Miers: Bush's omnipotence whisperers

Quoted 12.27.05:

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Bush's legal advisers have cleared the way for him to hold enemy combatants without trials; eavesdrop on overseas telephone calls and e-mails; place ever-greater numbers of government documents under a veil of secrecy; imprison a US citizen indefinitely on the suspicion of terrorist links; and, according to The Washington Post, operate a secret CIA prison in an Eastern European country.

In each case, the legal official responsible for assessing the extent of Bush's powers was Ashcroft, Gonzales, or Miers.

Peter S. Canellos, Boston Globe 12.27.05, reg req'd

State politics goes to the blogs

Quoted 12.27.05:

Blogs laud and attack Governor Mitt Romney and other leading political figures, Internet message boards are used for partisan puffery, and the state Democratic and Republican party organizations employ aggressive online tactics to gain advantage.

Scott Helman, Boston Globe 12.27.05, reg req'd

Saturday, December 24, 2005

UMass student lied about Homeland Security questioning

Quoted 12.24.05:

It rocketed across the Internet a week ago, a startling newspaper report that agents from the US Department of Homeland Security had visited a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth at his New Bedford home simply because he had tried to borrow Mao Tse-Tung's "Little Red Book" for a history seminar on totalitarian goverments. . . .

But yesterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter.

Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe 12.24.05

Friday, December 23, 2005

Stanley Kurtz's slippery slope just isn't there

Quoted 12.23.05:

Among 18 to 29 year olds, 71 percent believe same-sex marriage is inevitable. After reading poll numbers like that one, conservatives have found themselves in a bit of a conundrum; and with the "ick" factor heading towards irrelevancy, the slippery-slope argument against gay marriage is all they have left. . . .

Kurtz's argument is predicated on the fact that there is a similar group of people waiting in the wings to enter into polyamorous relationships. Yet for all his talk of a "bisexual/polyamory movement," Kurtz does not provide much convincing evidence that one actually exists. To prove that it does, he points to the De Bruijn trio [in the Netherlands], a group of Unitarian Universalists that promotes polygamy, two pro-bisexuality articles that have appeared in separate law reviews, an academic journal, and--this isn't a joke--an independent movie about a love triangle that's slated to play on the BRAVO channel this spring. There is no meaningful leadership, no agenda, no broad-based organizational structure, no PAC, no lobbyists, no fundraising. Where is the menace?

Rob Anderson, New Republic Online 12.23.05, reg req'd; Stanley Kurtz, Weekly Standard 12.26.05; see also The polygamy slippery slope argument (Anonymous Liberal 12.22.05), Traditionalist case for gay marriage (Dale Carpenter, Volokh Conspiracy series)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Hey! Whatever happened to anti-Christmas Protestants?

Quoted 12.21.05:

Liberal plots notwithstanding, the Americans who succeeded in banning [Christmas] were the Puritans of 17th-century Massachusetts. Between 1659 and 1681, Christmas celebrations were outlawed in the colony, and the law declared that anyone caught "observing, by abstinence from labor, feasting or any other way any such days as Christmas day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings." Finding no biblical authority for celebrating Jesus' birth on Dec. 25, the theocrats who ran Massachusetts regarded the holiday as a mere human invention, a remnant of a heathen past. . . .

The Puritan disdain for the holiday endured: As late as 1869, public-school kids in Boston could be expelled for skipping class on Christmas Day.

Andrew Santella, Slate 12.21.05

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bad theory! Intelligent Design gets suspension

Quoted 12.20.05:

"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," [U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote in today's ruling]. . . .

"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

Martha Raffaele [AP], 12.20.05

Monday, December 19, 2005

How to turn a deliberate misreading of the law into GOP talking points

Quoted 12.19.05:

We’re not talking here about an unconvincing or erroneous legal argument. This is something different entirely – it is an argument based upon a fundamental misquoting of the law in question designed to make illegal behavior look legal.

Glenn Greenwald, Unclaimed Territory 12.18.05

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Have yourself a vicious little Christmas

Quoted 12.18.05:

If nothing quite says holiday spirit to you like family tension and the perennial rehashing of old scores, then this might be your kind of holiday season.

Paul Vitello, New York Times 12.18.05, reg req'd

Meet Nigeria's gay Anglicans

Quoted 12.18.05:

[I]n a small clubhouse behind a cultural center, a decidedly more downscale and secretive gathering of Anglicans got under way: the first national meeting of a group called Changing Attitudes Nigeria. Its unassuming name, and the secrecy accompanying its meeting -- the location was given to a visitor only after many assurances that it would not be revealed to anyone else -- underscored the radical nature of the group's mission: to fight for acceptance of homosexuals in the Anglican Church in Nigeria.

Lydia Polgreen, New York Times 12.18.05, reg req'd

With fewer priests, Catholic Church tries megachurch parishes

Quoted 12.18.05:

While the number of worshipers per parish has grown by almost 35 percent in almost three decades, the number of priests dropped 26 percent, said Mary Gautier with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University . . .

The group estimates that it costs $444 per household nationwide for membership in churches with fewer than 800 parishioners, compared with $337 for those with more than 1,000.

The extra congregants help to cover the cost for larger paid lay staffs -- who are increasingly picking up administrative duties to free priests for pastoral and sacramental duties, said the Rev. Larry Christian, who is the rector of Assumption Seminary in San Antonio.

Abe Levy [AP], Boston Globe 12.18.05, reg req'd

Dobson's boycotts scare corporations but don't harm them

Quoted 12.18.05:

[W]hether [boycott] campaigns do any real damage is hard to measure, experts say.

Even one of the most active boycott organizers, the American Family Association, says there is evidence the threat of a boycott may be more potent than the action itself.

Michael Conlon [Reuters], Boston Globe 12.18.05, reg req'd

Friday, December 16, 2005

Actor who played West Wing's Leo McGarry dies

Quoted 12.16.05:

The actor, whose world-weary countenance was perfect for the role of McGarry, mirrored his character in several ways: both were recovering alcoholics and both, Spencer once said, were driven.

"Like Leo, I've always been a workaholic, too," he told The Associated Press in a 2000 interview. "Through good times and bad, acting has been my escape, my joy, my nourishment. The drug for me, even better than alcohol, was acting."

Lynn Elber [AP], 12.16.05

Thursday, December 15, 2005

But can you really be religious on the Web?

Quoted 12.15.05:

According to a 2004 Pew survey, 64 percent of Internet-using Americans--82 million people--say they use the web for religious purposes. They are more likely to be female, white, middle aged, and college educated. Catholics and Jews tend to use the Internet slightly more heavily than Protestants. Half of these users report that they attend church at least once a week.

Some of the pious web-surfers keep up with religious news (32 percent), some look for places to worship (17 percent), some use the Internet to plan religious group meetings (14 percent), and some to donate to charity (7 percent). At the same time, the Pew study claims, "the Internet seems to be fostering the development of religious and spiritual practices that are . . . more personally expressive and individually oriented." Thus 11 percent of religious Internet users are going online to download spiritual music, 35 percent are sending online greeting cards, and 38 percent—the largest cohort—are simply passing along "email with spiritual content."

Jonathan V. Last, First Things (Dec 05); via Bill Baar 12.12.05

In the gospel according to Narnia...

Quoted 12.15.05:

Jesus would teach, "If you want to be perfect, kill my enemies, and I'll make you kings."

Will Shetterly, It's All One Thing 12.14.05

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mass. bloggers meet with progressive pols

Quoted 12.13.05:

Candidates seeking to be nominated by the Democratic Party in 2006 for a variety of Massachusetts political offices courted liberal bloggers at a groundbreaking forum in Worcester on Saturday. . . .

District attorney candidate [and current State Rep. Michael] Festa reads blogs and sees them as reinventing the neighbor-to-neighbor activism of the 1970s. But he also had a practical explanation for showing up at a blog conference.

"In the old days, when you wanted to campaign in town you went to the town dump, because that's where you saw everybody," Festa said. "Well, you know what? Cyberspace -- that’s where you're finding people now. So you've got to go where the people are."

Rick Heller, Nashua Telegraph 12.12.05, reg req'd

The Presbyterians divest the Jews

Quoted 12.13.05:

More than a shouting match, the confrontation [over divestment] has revealed the deep structure that governs how both sides engage faith in public action, how sensitive each is to accusations of moral misconduct, and how little (40 years of dialogue or no) each side understands what makes the other tick.

Andrew Walsh, Religion in the News, Fall 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

UUA announces opposition to Alito

Quoted 12.12.05:

In a statement issued this morning, the UUA’s Washington Office for Advocacy said that the Association had never before opposed a high court nominee and that it is only the second religious denomination to announce opposition to Alito. Rob Keithan, director of the Washington office, said the stand "is based on concerns over civil liberties, including religious liberty, the right to privacy, and due process."

Tom Stites, 12.12.05

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Governments, Amnesty, ACLU target firms tied to CIA renditions

Quoted 12.11.05:

Stop Torture - Unitarian Universalist Service CommitteePrivate American contractors who help the CIA capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them to secret jails are increasingly becoming the target of investigations in Europe and at home. . . .

In some cases, inquiries focus on companies that appear to be thinly veiled CIA fronts . . . But in other cases, scrutiny by European investigators and human rights advocates has focused on mainstream companies whose part-time work for the CIA now threatens to leave a permanent mark on their reputations.

Farah Stockman, Boston Globe 12.11.05, reg req'd

Right-wing Boston Catholics: Hierarchy's convenient mob

Quoted 12.11.05:

The demonstrators outside a Catholic Charities fund-raiser honoring Mayor Thomas M. Menino the other night are not leaders of some right-wing ascendancy among the laity in the Boston Archdiocese.

They are a tiny band of antiabortion zealots, being exploited by the hierarchy in hopes of promoting a backlash against reformers outraged by the criminal conduct of predatory priests and the bishops who protected them.

Eileen McNamara, Boston Globe 12.11.05, reg req'd

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Boston's Catholic civil war: Mayor Menino fires back

Quoted 12.10.05:

[Boston] Mayor Thomas M. Menino, responding to critics who have questioned his Catholicism, last night offered an unusually pointed and personal address, saying that Jesus didn't showcase his piety or "tell us to go around talking up God." . . .

Conservative Catholics locally have been protesting the decision by Catholic Charities to honor Menino at the $500-per-plate event, because of the mayor's support for gay rights and abortion rights. . . .

"What Jesus said, and what he showed with his life, was that the way to follow him was to take care of people," Menino said. "He told us in the Gospel of Matthew -- the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the sick, and yes, the imprisoned."

He added: "How much clearer could the Lord have made it?"

Ralph Ranalli and Michael Levenson, Boston Globe 12.10.05, reg req'd; see also Conservative Catholics attack Menino, Hehir, Catholic Charities, Boston Globe 12.9.05, reg req'd

Friday, December 9, 2005

'Authentic Catholic' pit bulls politicize Catholic Charities event

Quoted 12.09.05:

With a mix of traditional theology, cutting-edge technology, and deep determination, a group of Catholic conservatives has changed the atmosphere surrounding tonight's Catholic Charities annual Christmas fund-raising dinner from gaiety to guardedness.

Charles A. Radin, Boston Globe 12.9.05

'Narnia' is a PG 'Lord of the Rings'

Quoted 12.09.05:

Whether you want to pray to your plastic Hasbro Aslan figurine is up to you.

Ty Burr, Boston Globe 12.9.05, reg req'd

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Wingers to Bush: We will not have a 'happy holiday'

Quoted 12.07.05:

Many people are thrilled to get a White House Christmas card, no matter what the greeting inside. But some conservative Christians are reacting as if Bush stuck coal in their stockings. . . .

Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

Alan Cooperman, Washington Post 12.7.05, reg req'd

Bush celebrates St Nicholas Day by lighting menorah

Quoted 12.07.05:

Welcome to the White House. Laura and I are glad you're here, and we're glad to be here to celebrate the festival of Hanukkah. 12.6.05; the Feast Day of St Nicholas is December 6, 2005; this year Hanukkah begins December 25

Is intelligent design going extinct?

Quoted 12.07.05:

As a political cause, the idea has gained currency, and for good reason. The movement was intended to be a "big tent" that would attract everyone from biblical creationists who regard the Book of Genesis as literal truth to academics who believe that secular universities are hostile to faith. The slogan, "Teach the controversy," has simple appeal in a democracy.

Behind the headlines, however, intelligent design as a field of inquiry is failing to gain the traction its supporters had hoped for. It has gained little support among the academics who should have been its natural allies. . . .

Even at conservative schools, scholars and theologians who were initially excited about intelligent design say they have come to find its arguments unconvincing. They, too, have been greatly swayed by the scientists at their own institutions and elsewhere who have examined intelligent design and found it insufficiently substantiated in comparison to evolution.

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 12.4.05, reg req'd

How Unitarian Universalists drive visitors away

Quoted 12.07.05:

Watch the faces close at coffee hour when the hapless newcomer talks with warm enthusiasm about the War On Terror and you'll know what I mean. Hear the young mother get berated for bringing in bags of Wal-Mart goods to the Christmas cookie decorating party, and watch her quietly go away. Likewise the woman who asks the pastor to start a healing prayer group and is told "We don't do that sort of thing here," or the man who merely questions the placement of the rainbow flag on the front of the building. Watch them all quietly go away, or maybe not so quietly. They know first-hand that we're not really committed to tolerance and acceptance, but that we just think it's really cool to publicly question and dissect commonly held, traditional Christian beliefs.

PeaceBang 12.6.05; see also Conformism in UU young adult communities, 12.7.05

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Holy product placement: Preach Narnia, win trip to England

Quoted 12.06.05:

The official marketing for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe apparently includes a sermon contest, wherein the winner gets a free trip to London and $1,000 in spending money. . . .

[W]e're starting to see early signs of businesses seeking ad time in sermons. Is this what Ted Haggard meant when he said, "They're pro-free markets, they're pro-private property. That's what evangelical stands for"?

Ted Olsen, Christianity Today Weblog 12.6.05

Barack Obama should run for president now

Quoted 12.06.05:

He is the most promising politician in America, and eventually he is going to run for president. The case for running now is not that it is the perfect moment for him to run. It's not. It is just that it may be the best chance he will ever get.

Ryan Lizza, New Republic Online 12.6.05, sub req'd

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Christian right: Commercialize Christmas, or else

Quoted 12.04.05:

This year's Christmas "defenders" are not just tolerating commercialization -- they're insisting on it.

Adam Cohen, New York Times 12.4.05, reg req'd

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Historians: Is Dubya even worse than Buchanan?

Quoted 12.03.05:

The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.

Richard Reese, Yahoo! News 12.2.05