Philocrites : Scrapbook : July 2006 Archive

Monday, July 24, 2006

Legal panel condemns Bush's signing statements

Quoted 07.24.06:

President Bush should stop issuing statements claiming the power to bypass parts of laws he has signed, an American Bar Association task force has unanimously concluded in a strongly worded 32-page report that is scheduled to be released today. . . .

"The president's constitutional duty is to enforce laws he has signed into being, unless and until they are held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court," the report said. "The Constitution is not what the president says it is." . . .

"Our recommendations . . . are directed not just at the sitting president, but at all chief executives who will follow him, and they are intended to underscore the importance of the doctrine of separation of powers," the panel wrote.

Charlie Savage, Boston Globe 7.24.06, reg req'd

Utah's night life

Quoted 07.24.06:

A nationwide image survey conducted for the Utah Office of Tourism this year has found a perception that there is a dearth of entertainment for adults. . . .

The more tourists associated Utah with the Mormon church, the lower marks they gave the state for having a wide variety of things to do, for being fun, luxurious, or exciting, or for having nightlife. Faithful members of the Mormon church do not drink, smoke, or consume coffee or tea.

Brock Vergakis [AP], Boston Globe 7.24.06; earlier: my home state pitches itself as an intellectual center (5.1.03)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Average blogger '14-year-old girl writing about her cat'

Quoted 07.20.06:

They're young. They're addicted to instant messaging and social networks. And they're more apt to dish about the drama at last night's party than the president's latest faux pas. . . .

More than half of bloggers are younger than 30, and a majority use their blogs as a mode of creative expression, the survey found. Money-making possibilities motivate only 15 percent of bloggers, and most blog on a variety of topics, with 11 percent focusing on politics.

They are also less likely to be white than the general Internet-using population, and more than half live in suburban areas, according to Pew.

Kim Hart, Washington Post 7.20.06, reg req'd; see Bloggers: A Portrait of the Internet's New Storytellers (Pew Forum 7.19.06)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gonzales lies about signing statements

Quoted 07.19.06:

[Attorney General Alberto] Gonzales defended the president's practice of issuing "signing statements" to reserve the right to bypass laws he considers unconstitutional. Bush has issued signing statements to challenge more than 750 laws, a figure cited in a series of Globe stories.

Gonzales testified that the Globe had retracted the figure. The newspaper has not retracted any stories or figures on Bush's signing statements. The paper corrected an editing error in one follow-up story that referred to Bush challenging 750 "bills" instead of laws; a single bill often includes many separate laws.

As of last week, Bush's signing statements covered 807 laws, according to Christopher Kelley, a government professor at Miami University of Ohio who has studied presidents' use of signing statements through history.

Charlie Savage, Boston Globe 7.19.06; see Bush challenges hundreds of laws (4.30.06), Hearing vowed on Bush's powers (5.3.06), Cheney aide is screening legislation (5.28.06)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nixon's counsel: Today's 'conservatives' are just authoritarians

Quoted 07.14.06:

Today's Republican policies are antithetical to bedrock conservative fundamentals. There is nothing conservative about preemptive wars or disregarding international law by condoning torture. Abandoning fiscal responsibility is now standard operating procedure. Bible-thumping, finger-pointing, tongue-lashing attacks on homosexuals are not found in Russell Krik's classic conservative canons, nor in James Burham's guides to conservative governing. Conservatives in the tradition of former senator Barry Goldwater and President Ronald Reagan believed in "conserving" this planet, not relaxing environmental laws to make life easier for big business. And neither man would have considered employing Christian evangelical criteria in federal programs, ranging from restricting stem cell research to fighting AIDs through abstinence.

John W. Dean, op-ed, Boston Globe 7.14.06, reg req'd

Cases against Gitmo detainees riddled with errors

Quoted 07.14.06:

The US military's accusations against detainees at Guantanamo Bay contain factual errors and some easily disproved assertions, according to declassified records, raising questions about whether the US military has thoroughly investigated its cases against the roughly 400 inmates. . . .

The obvious errors in some of the accusations, lawyers say, raise deeper questions about the care with which the still-secret portions of the cases were prepared and make it that much more important that the system be revamped.

Farah Stockman, Boston Globe 7.14.06, reg req'd

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Episcopal Church to address anti-Semitic prejudice in scripture, liturgy

Quoted 07.13.06:

Particularly during Holy Week, when biblical texts about Jesus' death are read in church, there can be "misunderstandings in the pews" about the role of Jews in Jesus' crucifixion, [Bishop Christopher] Epting said.

"The texts without explanation can lead people to an anti-Semitic point of view," according to Epting. "Commentary and education material will help people understand the context in which these things were said." . . .

Episcopalians could also be changing parts of the Holy Week services by creating alternative versions to the liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer, said Byron Rushing, a state representative in Massachusetts who was also a lay delegate to the church's triennial assembly in June.

Daniel Burke [Religion News Service], Beliefnet 7.12.06

Boston Israeli consul to meet with Christian leaders about Gaza

Quoted 07.13.06:

Israel's top diplomat in Boston has agreed to meet next week with local Christian leaders, including some whose unhappiness with the Israeli military offensive in Gaza fueled contentious protests outside the Park Plaza consulate yesterday.

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 7.13.06, reg req'd; earlier: Episcopal bishop joins pro-Palestinian protest outside consulate (Boston Globe 7.12.06), where tempers flare (Boston.com 7.12.06)

Why attack ads work

Quoted 07.13.06:

Negative messages also work because uninformed cynicism is fashionable.

Dan Payne, op-ed, Boston Globe 7.13.06, reg req'd

Monday, July 10, 2006

CBS Evening News discovers the religious left

Quoted 07.10.06:

"We are furious that the religious right has made Jesus into a Republican. That's idolatry," [the Rev Tony] Campolo said. "To recreate Jesus in your own image rather than allowing yourself to be created in Jesus' image is what's wrong with politics."

CBS Evening News 7.9.06

Harvey Cox: 'Evangelical' no longer means 'right wing'

Quoted 07.10.06:

Evangelical Protestants are becoming increasingly concerned about a wide range of issues — the Iraq War, the environment, torture, and poverty, for example — which put them at odds with much of the Bush agenda.

This interest in what are often considered "liberal" issues marks the rise of a younger and more moderate leadership among evangelicals. Paradoxically, these new leaders are more "religious" than the old guard of the religious right. The difference, one could argue, is that they are more concerned about actually following Jesus, who had much to say about violence and the poor, but said nothing about gays or a strong military, and who was put to death by torture. The appearance of these new social concerns means that something important is afoot in the vast evangelical community of America. It is simply no longer accurate to identify "evangelical" with "religious right."

Harvey Cox, Boston Globe 7.9.06, reg req'd; see Mark Pinsky's response to Jeff Sharlet's critique of Cox's article

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Barack Obama, champion of faithful skepticism

Quoted 07.04.06:

Sen. Barack ObamaA questioning faith is a much better fit for a society like ours than one that allows for no challenge or reflection. It also acts as a check against liberals who would appropriate God for their own purposes, declaring Jesus to be the original Democrat and trotting out New Testament verses to justify their own policy programs. Liberals don't have the answer key to divining God's will any more than conservatives do.

Obama's speech, delivered to an audience of the frustrated religious left, was not a tactical plan for electoral success in November or in 2008. It wasn't a "We are too religious!" rebuttal to Republicans. It was, for the first time in modern memory, an affirmative statement from a Democrat about "how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy," as Obama put it.

Amy Sullivan, Slate 7.3.06; hear Sen. Obama's speech to Call to Renewal (6.28.06)

Monday, July 3, 2006

Conservative Christians too divided to build theocracy

Quoted 07.03.06:

The specter of an American theocracy, the title of Kevin Phillips' broadside against the Bush administration, has obscured the signs of dissent in what can look like a Christian monolith. Michelle Goldberg, a Salon reporter and the author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, misses some of the signs, too, in her otherwise astute study. It's not just that she blurs the more fringe personalities, lumping together conspiracy-minded nut jobs (like theocrat Howard Phillips, who believes that "enemies of Christ in this fallen world must be conquered") with veteran conservative blowhards like William Bennett. As she describes how the Christian Right moved from the margins of acceptability to the Republican mainstream, she also overlooks generational tensions and large-scale dissatisfaction with the Bush administration among many conservative, white evangelicals (only 34 percent of whom, according to a June 6 Pew research poll, "strongly back" the president).

Russell Cobb, Slate 6.27.06

Which religions won't you vote for?

Quoted 07.03.06:

More than a third of registered voters — 35 percent — say they wouldn't vote for a Mormon for president, the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll finds. . . .

By comparison, 22 percent of registered voters say they wouldn't support an evangelical Christian, 14 percent wouldn't back a Jewish candidate, and 9 percent say no to a Catholic. Fifty-three percent say they wouldn't vote for a Muslim.

Heidi Przybyla, Bloomberg News 7.3.06

Fundamentalists throw tantrum over bishop's 'metaphorical theology'

Quoted 07.03.06:

Most recently, [Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori] irritated some conservatives by speaking about "Mother Jesus" in a sermon. . . .

To those who accuse her of heresy for referring to a female Jesus, she responds with a typically learned disquisition on medieval mystics and saints who used similar language, including Julian of Norwich and St. Teresa of Avila. "I was trying to say that the work of the cross was in some ways like giving birth to a new creation," she said. "That is straight-down-the-middle orthodox theology."

Yet she acknowledged that she likes to shake people up a bit.

"All language is metaphorical, and if we insist that particular words have only one meaning and the way we understand those words is the only possible interpretation, we have elevated that text to an idol," she said in a telephone interview. "I'm encouraging people to look beyond their favorite understandings."

Alan Cooperman, Washington Post 7.3.06, reg req'd

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Episcopal parishes struggle to make sense of looming schism

Quoted 07.02.06:

Father Anderson asked how many in the room had even heard of the Anglican Communion before 2003, when Anglican archbishops in places like Nigeria and Uganda began protesting the election of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Only a third of the 30 parishioners in the room raised their hands.

David Kelley, whose parents were also St. Luke's members, told the gathering, "All this business of consulting with other churches in the Communion, I'm not aware of the African churches consulting with us." . . .

"We've never been bound by common belief, but by common prayer," [Father Anderson] said. "Anglicans have always had a generous openness. I just feel that now there's a cold wind blowing. As someone here said tonight, it feels un-Anglican to me."

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 7.2.06, reg req'd