Philocrites : Scrapbook : February 2007 Archive

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Supreme Court's upcoming habeas corpus case: Line between freedom, despotism

Quoted 02.28.07:

"Of all the rights in the Constitution, habeas corpus is probably the single most fundamental," says civil libertarian Harvey Silverglate. "It is the line between despotism and a free society. If the government can simply scoop you up and throw you in prison, never to be seen again, it's a sign that a crucial corner had been turned."

If habeas rights are denied, that's essentially what will have happened to most of the detainees at Guantanamo; they will have disappeared into a black hole in the US legal system.

Scott Lehigh, op-ed, Boston Globe 2.27.07, reg req'd

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Serious books find receptive audience at Daily Show, Colbert Report

Quoted 02.25.07:

Since when did microlending, global poverty, constitutional law and civil wars in Africa become topics for frank discussion on fake-news comedy shows?

Publishers say that particularly for the last six months, "The Daily Show" and its spinoff, "The Colbert Report," which has on similarly wonky authors, . . . have become the most reliable venues for promoting weighty books . . .

After a "Daily Show" appearance, several publishers said, the author's Amazon ranking rises and the daily sales figures "pop," in industry parlance. It is not at all unusual, one book publicist said, for a title to go from a 300,000 rank to a spot in the Top 300 — not often the case after shows like "Charlie Rose."

"If I had my choice between Charlie Rose and Jon Stewart, I'd pick Jon Stewart, no question," said one publicist who spoke anonymously because she didnít want to anger the bookers on "Charlie Rose."

Julie Bosman, New York Times 2.25.07, reg req'd; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; The Colbert Report

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Republic gets new owner, shifts publishing schedule

Quoted 02.24.07:

The New Republic logoCanWest Global Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate, which has held a minority share in the 93-year-old magazine, has now obtained majority control. It plans a substantial overhaul of the magazine and its Web site, including cutting back publication of the magazine to every two weeks while almost doubling the number of pages. . . .

Under [editor Franklin] Foer, the magazine has refocused on longer, reported articles. "One of the magazine's core strengths is we have these great young Washington reporters, like Ryan Lizza and Michael Crowley, who are coming into their journalistic primes, and I want them to produce pieces that command respect across the ideological spectrum," Mr. Foer said. . . .

The redesigned magazine, to be printed on heavier paper stock, will have its debut on March 19 with original photographs, cartoons and other graphic elements that represent a significant departure from its proudly bare-bones aesthetic.

"It's hard to be less visual than we are now," Mr. Foer said.

Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times 2.24.07, reg req'd; Politico 2.23.07

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Court's unconscionable refusal to support habeas corpus for Gitmo detainees

Quoted 02.22.07:

[T]he court of appeals missed the point: No one should be imprisoned, let alone for years, without meaningful due process. The ruling means the federal government conceivably can keep detainees locked up for the rest of their lives without any court hearing their lawsuits. . . .

US conduct at Guantanamo is drawing the ire of the world. This is because the United States is acting as if no law applies to its conduct at the facility. Such lawless government actions cannot be tolerated in a nation that believes in the rule of law.

Erwin Chemerinsky, op-ed, Boston Globe 2.22.07, reg req'd

If candidates want votes for 'faith,' we should hear about the details

Quoted 02.22.07:

Candidates who tell us how important their faith is to them are hoping that religious Americans will come away with warm feelings about them. But if they aren't willing to discuss just what that faith entails, they're saying they want people to vote for them because of their religion, but they don't want anyone to vote against them because of their religion.

They can't have it both ways: either religion is important to them or it isn't. And if it is, then we as voters have a right to know everything we can about what they believe.

Paul Waldman, op-ed, Boston Globe 2.22.07, reg req'd

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Many Episcopalians wary of Anglican demands

Quoted 02.21.07:

In interviews yesterday, some liberal and moderate leaders who constitute a majority in the American church voiced everything from confusion to serious misgivings to defiance. Many took umbrage at what they saw as meddling by foreign primates who are imposing their culture and theological interpretations on the American church.

"Being part of the Anglican Communion is very important to me," said Bishop Mark S. Sisk of New York. "But if the price of that is I have to turn my back on the gay and lesbian people who are part of this church and part of me, I won't do that."

Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 2.21.07, reg req'd; other reaction stories, EpiScope 2.21.07

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Jefferts Schori on Anglican primates' demands of Episcopal Church

Quoted 02.20.07:

The Episcopal Church has been asked to consider the wider body of the Anglican Communion and its needs. Our own Church has in recent years tended to focus on the suffering of one portion of the body, particularly those who feel that justice demands the full recognition and celebration of the gifts of gay and lesbian Christians. That focus has been seen in some other parts of the global Church, as inappropriate, especially as it has been felt to be a dismissal of traditional understandings of sexual morality. Both parties hold positions that can be defended by appeal to our Anglican sources of authority — scripture, tradition, and reason — but each finds it very difficult to understand and embrace the other. What is being asked of both parties is a season of fasting — from authorizing rites for blessing same-sex unions and consecrating bishops in such unions on the one hand, and from transgressing traditional diocesan boundaries on the other.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, 2.20.07; Conservatives rebuke Episcopalians, extract concessions, Sharon Lafraniere and Laurie Goodstein, International Herald Tribune 2.20.07

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ronald Reagan the Transcendentalist?

Quoted 02.16.07:

Ronald Reagan, by John Patrick Diggins[John Patrick] Diggins offers a series of proposals about Reagan as an Emersonian which range from the controversial to the mischievous and suggest that Diggins is an entertaining thinker looking for a good debate. He would have us, for example, think of Reagan as a president who, like Emerson, wanted to rid Americans of the Puritanical tradition, of thinking about life in terms of sin, suffering, and sacrifice. Emerson made the self divine. One did not need to look up or outward to find God. God was within oneself, and so the self itself was sacred, and therefore incapable of sin. Nor could its desires be causes for guilt. Like Emerson, Diggins says, Reagan wanted to free America of an inhibiting fear of selfishness, and indeed to let selfishness flourish.

Russell Baker, New York Review of Books 3.1.07; George F. Will blames the Unitarians (op-ed, Houston Chronicle 2.11.07); buy Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History by John Patrick Diggins from Amazon

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ashamed U.S. interrogator is haunted by treatment of Iraqis

Quoted 02.10.07:

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

Eric Fair [op-ed], Washington Post 2.9.07, reg req'd

South African archbishop: Anglicans shouldn't split over homosexuality

Quoted 02.10.07:

"The marks of our church are grace, tolerance and living with difference," Archbishop [Njongonkulu] Ndungane, 65, said at the church's whitewashed estate here, outside Cape Town. "We need to make a distinction between issues that are fundamental to the faith and second-order issues. This is not a church-dividing issue." . . .

He said he could not understand why a debate over homosexuality had sidetracked what he saw as the church's true mission in Africa: confronting AIDS, poverty, war and famine.

"I wonder if somebody could calculate how much money is being spent on these meetings, which deal with one issue and one issue only, when we have 48 million orphans?" he asked. "Whose agenda is this? Definitely in my view, this is not God's agenda." Nor is it the average Anglican's agenda, he said. "I interact with people on the ground. They don't care about the lifestyles of the people in America."

Sharon LaFraniere, New York Times 2.10.07, reg req'd

Friday, February 9, 2007

Charles Peters's journalistic legacy at the Washington Monthly

Quoted 02.09.07:

[Charles Peters, founder of the Washington Monthly,] told young journalists of the anti-Vietnam generation to respect and value the U.S. military; he told liberal do-gooders to understand why ordinary Americans were so angry about welfare and crime; he told libertarians to value government; he told free-marketeers to care about the health and prosperity of American workers. And he regularly blasted his own editors and readers — the new class of high-achieving "meritocrats" — for their obsession with status.

David Ignatius, Washington Post 2.9.07, reg req'd; Washington Monthly

Edwards bloggers enrage Catholic right, rally Netroots, unsettle religious left

Quoted 02.09.07:

As the flap over alleged anti-Catholic writings by two John Edwards campaign bloggers devolves into a shouting match between conservative religious voices and liberal bloggers, some members of the "religious left" say they feel — again — shoved to the margins of the Democratic Party. . . .

[R]eligious liberals find themselves in a quandary. They have no interest in associating with the likes of William Donohue, the Catholic League president who is closely aligned with the GOP and led the charge against Edwards' aides. Donohue said Thursday he would take out newspaper advertisements attacking Edwards as anti-Catholic. But religious liberals also think Edwards' aides merit more than a slap on the wrist.

"I thought his explanation was not satisfying," said Cornell's Penalver. "It's obvious that they did mean to give offense."

Ben Smith, The Politico 2.9.07; see also dotCommonweal 2.9.07

Monday, February 5, 2007

Franchising the megachurch: Satellite churches catch on

Quoted 02.05.07:

Nationwide, one in four megachurches, those with more than 2,000 worshipers, hold services at satellite locations, up from 5 percent in 2000. The number of megachurches with multiple sites is expected to double in the next few years, according to Scott Thumma, a professor of the sociology of religion at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

The growth is part of the reality for contemporary churches, say church leaders and church consultants.

Today's worshipers — particularly those under 40 — are more fickle and demanding than previous generations of churchgoers. No longer satisfied with a lone church organist, a scratchy-voiced choir and a few Bible stories for their children, they expect a dynamic preacher, polished worship services in an array of styles with slick videos and professional music along with well-planned religious education.

Jacqueline L. Salmon and Hamil R. Harris, Washington Post 2.4.07, reg req'd; see also Supersized: Analyzing the trend toward larger churches, Mark Chaves, Christian Century 11.28.06

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Calling an African American 'articulate' reveals a bias

Quoted 02.04.07:

When whites use the word ["articulate"] in reference to blacks, it often carries a subtext of amazement, even bewilderment. It is similar to praising a female executive or politician by calling her "tough" or "a rational decision-maker."

"When people say it, what they are really saying is that someone is articulate . . . for a black person," Ms. Perez said.

Such a subtext is inherently offensive because it suggests that the recipient of the "compliment" is notably different from other black people.

Lynette Clemetson, New York Times 2.4.07, reg req'd

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Caffeine has made us all twitchy intellectuals

Quoted 02.03.07:

Coffee beansThe point of a bar, after all, is turning off the brain. The point of a cafe is switching it on. From an age that was arguably as taken with the sound of its own voice and as fixated on information as we are, the coffeehouse comes down to us with an illustrious intellectual heritage. It supplied Adam Smith and díAlembert with office addresses. Coffee was Beethoven and Voltaireís primary source of nourishment. Samuel Johnson was a 40-cup-a-day man. Balzac, the champion caffeinator, was a coffee-eater, like Dr. Bohannon.

An addiction like ours needs no excuse, as you know well. Is that your second cup already? Caffeine sparks imagination, stimulates conversation, accelerates thought, enhances mood, increases endurance and activates memory. It allows us to beat the clock; how anyone managed to build a cathedral before the advent of espresso is beyond me.

For better or worse, caffeine also accounts for the tenor of the times. . . . Coffee makes everything crystal-clear, which makes me certain that I am right. What happens to a society in which everyone feels lucid, infallible and empowered? I believe Fox News would be your answer.

Stacy Schiff [op-ed], New York Times 2.3.07, reg req'd

Montessori Sunday schools thrive in Mass. Episcopal churches

Quoted 02.03.07:

Churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts run about 165 Sunday schools, of which roughly half use Montessori-based curriculums, says Amy Cook, coordinator of the diocese's resource center.

Rich Barlow, Boston Globe 2.3.07, reg req'd; two Montessori models: obsessive-compulsive Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, more flexible Godly Play

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Guerilla ad campaign launches anti-terrorism sweep in Boston

Quoted 02.01.07:

Guerilla ad set off bomb scareAuthorities last night were retrieving the 38 magnetic signs depicting cartoon characters under bridges, on storefronts, and outside Fenway Park, among other locations, that were installed as part of a Turner Broadcasting System marketing blitz for a Cartoon Network television show.

For much of the day, police treated the signs, which measure about 1 by 1 1/2 feet and feature protruding wires on one side, as potentially dangerous. But their investigation shifted when they happened to move one of the signs into a darker area. The sudden lack of sunlight prompted the lights forming the character's image to brighten into color. Sometime between 2 and 3 p.m., according to a public safety official, a Boston police analyst recognized the image as a cartoon character, and police concluded it was likely a publicity stunt.

Suzanne Smalley and Raja Mishra, Boston Globe 2.1.07, reg req'd; blog coverage, Universal Hub

Human embryo trafficking needs regulation

Quoted 02.01.07:

[Jenalee] Ryan markets her embryos as coming from men with Ivy League sperm and women with Fabergé quality eggs, stacking the genetic deck so that her clients can have children that will look and behave like society's presumed best: blond hair, blue eyes, and with other genes that match their donors' intellectual, musical, or athletic credentials. . . .

The loose patchwork of federal and state laws that govern assisted reproduction makes it easier to design and traffic human embryos than to open a barbershop. With assisted reproduction's current state, we have the worst of both worlds: baby-making is being turned over to the market without really considering whether that's where it belongs while we're also refusing to establish rules to keep businesses honest.

Osagie K. Obasogie [op-ed], Boston Globe 2.1.07, reg req'd; see also The embryo factory, William Saletan, Slate 1.15.07