Philocrites : Scrapbook : October 2006 Archive

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why Republicans get the 'values' vote

Quoted 10.31.06:

Most voters worry about escalating challenges to family stability and the losing battle to instill good values in their children instead of the materialism and coarseness peddled by popular culture. They fear that our society has developed a casualness about life, especially as science has made it easier to manipulate and create beings.

Banning gay marriage and outlawing abortion don't directly address those anxieties. But proposals like these at least acknowledge that the concerns exist and are valid. So while Republicans offer the wrong prescriptions, they get the diagnosis right. And they win because most of the time, Democrats won't admit that anything is wrong.

Amy Sullivan, USA Today 10.25.06

Monday, October 30, 2006

A liberalism to rally around

Quoted 10.30.06:

Whatever our views of Bush's policies, liberals and conservatives agree that what divides the West from the terrorists is our commitment to liberal values — liberal in the broad sense of the term that denotes the Enlightenment traditions of freedom, equality, and human rights. Search for the term liberal on sites like that of the Progressive Policy Institute and you'll rarely find it used in distinction to Bush-style conservatism — but often invoked in distinction to al-Qaeda-style fundamentalism. Even the Bushies use "liberal values," if only rhetorically, to describe their project of democratizing the Middle East.

In this context of international conflict, liberal suddenly drops its associations with Volvos and lattes and starts to evoke more noble images of education, voting, free speech, and freedom of religion. It's starting to sound like a label we don't have to run from at all.

David Greenberg, Open University 10.29.06

David Kuo, Evangelical and how!

Quoted 10.30.06:

'Tempting Faith' by David KuoMr. Kuo gives a strong impression that his [startling shift in political loyalties] was related to the very idea of rapid conversion, a total turning around of one's life, combined with the effect of the ideologically monolithic character of the evangelical congregation he joined in Washington. . . .

Mr. Kuo's religious forthrightness itself raises another intriguing question about evangelical culture. Evangelicals frequently demonstrate a verbal facility and emotional warmth in articulating their faith — in spontaneous prayer, for example, or in personal testimonies — that other believers envy. But does that put a premium on words and feelings rather than on actions and results?

Peter Steinfels, New York Times 10.28.06, reg req'd; buy Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction by David Kuo (

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Jersey's gay marriage ruling won't save GOP

Quoted 10.26.06:

In 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, that the state's constitution required it to grant same-sex marriage licenses, many gay rights activists broke out the champagne, booked their wedding singers, and sat back to await the domino-like decisions that would spread same-sex marriage across the country. Instead, they became the targets of a nasty political backlash. Twenty states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman, and eleven did so with ballot initiatives during the 2004 elections alone — usually by sizable margins. This year, the stakes seem equally high, and so does the average Democrat's blood pressure. . . .

But Democrats should relax. It's true that Rove and Co. will do their best to make this case a decisive electoral issue. But that won't be the cakewalk Democrats have nightmares about. America in 2004 is not America in 2006, Lewis is not Goodridge, and, no matter how much Rove might hope for an early Christmas, gay marriage fear-mongering isn't going to be the eleventh-hour savior that Republicans need.

Conor Clarke, TNR Online 10.26.06

Obama inverts the conventional wisdom

Quoted 10.26.06:

'The Audacity of Hope,' by Barack ObamaPolitical assumptions can remain constant for long periods and then change very quickly. And so they have in the approximately 10 days since the publication of Barack Obama's book The Audacity of Hope. In the brief time he's been on book tour, Obama has overthrown much of the reigning conventional wisdom about what's likely to happen in the 2008 campaign, how shrewd politicians ought to behave, and what the informal rules of the American system really are.

Jacob Weisberg, Slate 10.26.06; buy The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama from

Monday, October 23, 2006

United Church of Christ will spend $50,000 on blog ads

Quoted 10.23.06:

This year, the church will spend around $50,000 to advertise on Internet blogs in the weeks before Christmas. By clicking on links on the blogs, viewers will be able to see the ads the networks would not run. The church says that this will be its largest Internet advertising effort to date.

"What makes this kind of advertising so effective is that it reaches an audience that isn't in the traditional church cycle," said the Rev. Robert Chase, the Church of Christ's communications director. "But they are still looking for a spiritual home."

Fara Warner, New York Times 10.22.06, reg req'd

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Barack Obama says he may run for president

Quoted 10.22.06:

Barack ObamaSen. Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday he was considering a run for president in 2008, backing off previous statements that he would not do so. . . .

"Given the responses that I've been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility" although not with the seriousness or depth required, he said. "My main focus right now is in the '06. . . . After November 7, I'll sit down, I'll sit down and consider, and if at some point I change my mind, I will make a public announcement and everybody will be able to go at me."

AP, 10.22.06

Saturday, October 21, 2006

BYU convinces professor, 9/11 conspiracy theorist, to retire

Quoted 10.21.06:

Professor Steven Jones and Brigham Young University finalized a retirement package Friday, six weeks after the school placed the physicist on paid leave to review his statements and research about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. . . .

BYU stripped Jones of two classes he was teaching when the university placed him on paid leave on Sept. 7 to review a paper he wrote about the physics behind the collapse of three towers on Sept. 11. He published a paper saying experiments he conducted at BYU on material from ground zero and other evidence led him to believe the towers fell because pre-set explosives were detonated throughout the buildings after the hijacked jets struck the Twin Towers.

BYU planned to review the paper to see if it met scientific standards of peer review. The university also expected to look at statements made by Jones at conferences and in the media and determine if Jones was appropriately distancing himself from BYU when he spoke about his explosives theory.

Tad Walch, Deseret Morning News 10.21.06; buy Debunking the 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts from

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The new American worker, tattooed and pierced

Quoted 10.18.06:

The face of the young American worker is changing, and it's increasingly decorated with ink and metal. About half of people in their 20s have either a tattoo or a body piercing other than traditional earrings, according to a study published in June in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. That figure, which is higher than the national average, is growing, said Anne Laumann, the study's co-author and a dermatologist at Northwestern University.

As a result, employers are finding that dress codes may need updating. In some cases, bosses are loosening up to attract young talent. In others, managers are adding new rules to keep body art covered up.

Madlen Read [AP], 10.18.06

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What Mitt Romney should have said to the 'family values' crowd Sunday

Quoted 10.17.06:

More than anything else, I've learned over these 2 1/2 years that my marriage to Ann has not been affected one iota by the legalization of gay marriage. My sons' marriages are no less strong and loving. The marriages of my neighbors and of my friends have not suffered because men are allowed to marry men and women are allowed to marry women.

And I will tell you something else. The moral fabric of Massachusetts has not torn because of gay marriage. I can't honestly tell you that it's even frayed. Our neighborhoods are no less desirable because a gay couple happens to live down the block. Our schools are no less safe because a student might have two mothers. I would be struggling to share with you any discernible impact that it's had on Massachusetts at all.

Brian McGrory, Boston Globe 10.17.06; What Romney really said (Redstate 10.16.06)

Friday, October 13, 2006

'Crunchy Con' Rod Dreher leaves Catholicism, converts to Orthodoxy

Quoted 10.13.06:

When I converted to Catholicism in 1992 (I entered the Church formally in 1993), it was a sincere Christian conversion. But I also took on as my own all the cultural and intellectual trappings of the American Catholic right. I remember feeling so grateful for the privilege and gift of being Catholic, but there was a part of me that thought, "Yay! I'm on the A-Team now, the New York Yankees of Christianity. I'm on Father Neuhaus's team!"

Rod Dreher, Beliefnet 10.12.06

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Daily Kos founder's future? 'Megachurches for the left'

Quoted 10.12.06:

Moulitsas says he's "going offline" next year, taking his obvious knack for building online communities and applying it to that other great American pastime: sports. And once he gets his network of sports blogs ramped up, he'll turn to building communities in the real world, a chain of giant meeting places "replicating megachurches for the left" — complete with cafés and child care. Moulitsas has shown he can harness people's enthusiasm, but he says he doesn't want a leadership role in these "democracy centers." . . .

While working on the mechanics of the sports blogs, he plans to embark next year on building real-world destinations for progressives and liberals throughout the Midwest, "cultural outposts" designed to attract thousands of like-minded liberals. "Each one of these would have a vast left-wing conspiracy component," he says, like leadership training or discussions on progressive issues.

Ana Marie Cox, Wired 10.06

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Oh no: Progressive Episcopalians urge ban on marriage licenses

Quoted 10.08.06:

In a novel approach to the tensions that have accompanied the same-sex marriage debate in many religious denominations, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts this month will consider getting out of the marriage business.

A group of local Episcopal priests, saying that the gay marriage debate has intensified their longtime concern about acting as agents of the state by officiating at marriages, is proposing that the Episcopal Church adopt a new approach. Any couples qualified to get married under state law could be married by a justice of the peace, and then, if they want a religious imprimatur for their marriage, they could come to the Episcopal Church seeking a blessing from a priest.

Michael Paulson, Boston Globe 10.8.06, reg req'd

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Bold new Harvard curriculum emphasizes religion, ethics, history

Quoted 10.04.06:

Harvard University, founded 370 years ago to train Puritan ministers, should again require all undergraduates to study religion, along with U.S. history and ethics, a faculty committee is recommending. . . .

"Harvard is no longer an institution with a religious mission, but religion is a fact that Harvard's graduates will confront in their lives," the report says, noting 94 percent of incoming students report discussing religion and 71 percent attend services.

"As academics in a university we don't have to confront religion if we're not religious, but in the world, they will have to," Alison Simmons, a philosophy professor who co-chaired the committee, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Justin Pope [AP], 10.4.06; see also Harvard Crimson (10.4.06)

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Alterman: How Paul Berman gets I.F. Stone wrong

Quoted 10.03.06:

Paul [Berman]'s review does an extreme disservice to the truth — and a massive favor to its enemies — with his faulty reading of the never-ending, but almost entirely bogus controversy over whether Stone ever willingly spied for the Russians or cooperated with the KGB in any way. He did not, and it is a damn shame that Paul implies otherwise because more people will read his review than MacPherson’s book, this column, or any other corrective measure.

Eric Alterman, American Prospect Online 10.3.06; see also The watchdog (Paul Berman, New York Times Book Review 10.1.06, reg req'd); update: Paul Berman responds (American Prospect Online 10.4.06)

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Does Dean's 50-state strategy threaten this year's races?

Quoted 10.01.06:

Now that [Howard] Dean has wrested control of the national party, his real agenda, it seems, is to radically reduce its relevance, in the same way that Grover Norquist and his crowd of conservative activists talk about "starving the beast" of the federal government they now control. Once you understand that, it's easy to understand why Dean isn't troubled by having less cash in the bank than people think he should, and why he isn’t concerned about quantifying the success of the state parties he's financing. In Dean's mind, every dollar that goes to Alaska or Mississippi, or even to the Virgin Islands, even if it isn't perfectly utilized, is a dollar that isn't going into the pockets of the Washington syndicate of admen and pollsters who seem to profit more from each election cycle. And that is an end in itself. By shipping the party's money out of Washington as fast as he can collect it, Dean is trying to finish what he started three years ago — namely, the slow dismantling of the Democratic establishment.

Matt Bai, New York Times Magazine 10.1.06, reg req'd