Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson seems concerned that Democrat Russ Feingold might run against him. Conservative James Wigderson, who likes Johnson, considers the situation and suggests progressives should draft Feingold for President.
Mad Mike's America brings us hilarity in an anti-gay video co-starring Republican notables. It seems to focus on the dark travels of a Diogenes type character complete with lantern, presumably looking for honest bigots. Part of the logic seems to be that if gays are allowed to live like everyone else, Christianity will be outlawed.
My dependable friend in times of need, conservative T. Paine at Saving Common Sense, is offended by President Obama who dares to state the historically obvious "remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
So Mr. Paine defends the Crusades. To his credit, Mr. Paine does accurately quote the President with some context, although he then ignores the same context he quotes. The thrust of my friend's argument is that "Christian 'extremism' is largely something that was last commonly found centuries ago in the Middle Ages. Islamic extremism is something found occurring this week."
The twin points of President Obama's remarks were that it is wrong to paint an entire faith with the broad brush of terrorism, and that those who would promote violence in the name of religion should be confronted.
T. Paine, in his continuous rage at all things Obama, seems to have neglected those parts of the President's remarks. My own observations include a couple of events in recent times T. Paine apparently missed in his haste for the Sports Section.
Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, comments on the murders of three Muslims in North Carolina, apparently by a Muslim-hating atheist, noting that President Obama failed to blame "radical atheism." Strangely, very few anti-Muslim bigots are insisting it.
Jon Perr at Perrspectives reacts to President Obama's all too accurate remarks by providing a few examples of his own of violence by extremist Christians here in the US. He discovers he needs to go no further than anti-abortion murders. I had a similar reaction, both to a mass murder of kids in Norway and to extremist reaction here at home.
Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg, points out that Republicans tried to get cute, passing Homeland Security funding with unacceptable provisions for overturning Presidential actions on immigration. Problem is, everyone involved knows that everyone else sees through the charade. Republicans will be held responsible. Bernstein suggests there is no question Republicans will cave. The only question is when Republicans will cave.
At The Intersection of Madness and Reality, Mike Caccioppoli hated the Clint Eastwood directed film American Sniper, until he saw the movie. Much more nuanced, valuing of life, than he had anticipated.
For years, anti-gun regulation activists have insisted on a literal interpretation of the second amendment. Obvious intent should be ignored. Green Eagle examines that reasoning, and points out that a truly literal interpretation produces a 2nd Amendment gun owners will truly hate.
Charles Darwin thought of himself as weak in mathematics. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, suggests Darwin would be surprised at the contributions to the science of evolutionary that have come from mathematical rigor.
- Dog Bless Us One And All, has an ingenious way to invent easy to remember passwords that have the additional virtue of being pretty much impossible to guess.
From NBC's Today:
A Moluccan cockatoo named Peaches is prone to mimicking the marital spats of her previous owners, who evidently spent a lot of time ruffling each other's feathers.
Ebling explained that Peaches had been ranting and raving since he adopted her 23 years ago, seemingly imitating the arguments of her first owners, a couple who had gone through a divorce.
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From Sabra to Rwanda and beyond, religious fanatics have murdered millions. Is it immoral to blame all believers?
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In a rare move by a top Justice Department official, FBI Director James Comey on Thursday addressed the tenuous relationship between law enforcement and many African Americans, acknowledging “hard truths” about the current state of race relations and policing.
Comey, during a speech at Georgetown University, drew largely on the lessons of Ferguson, Missouri, saying that police must come to terms with a longstanding culture of racial bias.
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From The Kansas City Star:
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed an executive order Tuesday rescinding a protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender state workers put into place eight years ago by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius’ executive order in 2007 said state workers could not be discriminated against, fired or harassed because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
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From KATU Portland:
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s office put in a request last week to destroy thousands of emails stored in state servers, according to documents obtained by our news partners at the Willamette Week.
The request came while the Governor faces investigations into an ethics scandal involving himself and his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes.
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In response to a Comments by T. Paine
Ryan, so please tell me what you think was the point of President Obama's speech, especially with those particular comments included, if it wasn't to mitigate the actions of these Islamic terrorists?
All religions are guilty of evil? No, but certainly followers of all religions are guilty of evil they have done in the name of their faiths.
- T. Paine, February 8, 2015
And, Ryan, you are crazy if you don't think the truth is controversial. Look at how many truths have been denied by this administration and previous ones that are the very definition of controversial.
- T. Paine, February 8, 2015
From Obama's speech:
"So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India -- an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity -- but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs -- acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhi, the person who helped to liberate that nation.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today's world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try."
"And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion -- any religion -- for their own nihilistic ends."
This is a reminder that violence is not unique to Islam or non-Christian religions in general and that we should not define religions or their practitioners as a whole according to the actions of a few.
Islamic extremism is one problem. Extremism in other religions is another problem. Painting whole peoples and religions according to the actions of a few is yet another. We shouldn't have to fear being accused of excusing or even supporting Islamic extremism simply by pointing out these latter two problems.
Here's another quote that should be largely uncontroversial, but which is not among conservatives:
"And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another's religion, we're equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't question those who would insult others in the name of free speech."
This is *not* the same as saying that insulting Islam is just as bad as killing people who insult Islam. He is addressing two separate problems: the need for free speech and the need for responsible speech.
Since I oppose religion in general, I don't even agree with him on this last point. And yet I can hear or read it without distorting its meaning, without putting words in his mouth or unjustifiably assuming that he is trying to equate the severities of the problems that he raises.
You and other conservatives, on the other hand, are so caught up in your preconceptions about Obama that you can't even understand him when his words are plain. And every time that you misunderstand him, you reinforce your negative opinion of him and add another memory of him saying something that he didn't really say.
Finally, I should issue a correction. I should not have written: "The truth shouldn't be so controversial." I meant: "This truth shouldn't be so controversial."
Ryan can also be found at Secular Ethics, a site devoted to the application of reason to ethical behavior.
When T. Paine is not endeavoring to instruct us on the virtues of conservatism, he writes for Saving Common Sense.
From The Verge:
Jeb Bush, a rumored 2016 Republican presidential candidate, just decided to publish hundreds of thousands of emails sent to him during his time as governor of Florida. On its face it seems like a great idea in the name of transparency, but there's one huge problem: neither Bush nor those who facilitated the publication of the records, including the state government, decided to redact potentially sensitive personal information from them.
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From National Journal:
What began as an inquiry into Rep. Aaron Schock's opulent scarlet-painted office has quickly spun into a weeklong media probe of the congressman's lavish travel accommodations and real-estate dealings. Now, the looming question is: How serious are the allegations against Schock and what could they mean for the man who had been a rising star for the Republican Party?
Any penalty could have dire political ramifications for Schock, a hot-shot fundraiser for Republicans who is often-viewed as the embodiment of the party's youth outreach.
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From Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's time to study and maybe even test the idea of cooling the Earth by injecting sulfur pollution high in the air to reflect the sun's heat, a first-of-its-kind federal science report said Tuesday.
The idea was once considered fringe - to purposely re-engineer the planet's climate as a last ditch effort to battle global warming with an artificial cloud. No longer.
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Why do such things happen?
Ellen Siegel is a registered nurse. She volunteered her services at the Gaza Hospital in Sabra Camp in Beirut in 1982, and was there during the massacre. She described being taken to a firing wall for execution.
They started to march us down the main street of the hospital. As we were marching, we saw dead bodies. They started to holler at us, this militia, telling us that we were not Christian, that we came to help people who hated Christians, that we were terrorists.
A Palestinian hospital worker was executed as he knelt. As other workers were lined up for execution, an Israeli soldier intervened. Ellen Siegel and several others were saved. Between 700 and 800 Palestinians were massacred by Lebanese Christian militias, known as the Phalange. This helps to explain the shouts at the hospital workers on their way to being executed, that they were not Christian because they had come to help people who hated Christians.
There was no general blame placed on all Christians for the massacres. Nor should there have been. Assigning collective guilt on an entire religion because of the actions of a few would itself be immoral.
During the genocide in Rwanda, as 70% of Tutsi living in that country were slaughtered, ten terrified Tutsi looked for refuge in a Catholic Church. They were all shot and killed by the parish priest. An interdenominational fact-finding team found many similar instances of Catholic and Protestant church participation in the killings.
In every conversation we had, with the government and church people alike, the point was brought home to us that the church itself stands tainted, not by passive indifference, but by errors of commission as well.
- Samuel Isaac, World Council of Churches, October 1994
The delegation was careful to make an important point.
...it's not fair to make sweeping condemnations
- Jim Newton, International Director of Communications, World Vision, October 1994
No, it isn't fair to make sweeping condemnations. And that is critical to any sense of truth, isn't it? Yet we cannot dismiss up to a million murders, or Christian participation in their commission. We can draw lessons from horrible atrocities.
One lesson is easy to understand, but hard to apply. Tribalism is the fatal temptation of religious life.
Faith helps us to see a way to transcend the baser side of humanity in favor of what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. But human nature is not always on the side of the angels. We seek faith because we desire fidelity to higher spiritual truth. Then, sometimes we lapse. Our loyalty goes from devotion to spiritual truth to devotion to our own religious tribe. No criticism of us or people like us is tolerable, and no privilege is declined.
President Obama is coming under political fire. He talked of the religion gone off the rails. He recited the various barbarities of ISIL, those he said "professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it."
He did not restrict his remarks to Islam, but included those who have claimed to speak for other religions, in other places and times. Toward the last, he even included Christianity.
So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.
- President Barack Obama, February 5, 2015
He is now accused of equating acts of Christians with those claiming to speak for Islam, as if judging a Worldwide Olympics of Religious Cruelty. One writer parrots others, accusing Obama of attempting "to mitigate the actions of these Islamic terrorists..."
Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that number would be zero.
- Eric Bolling, FoxNews February 7, 2015
Some conservatives do seem to restrict their Study of Comparative Religions to the last few months.
A number of people attack the President for saying what he said.
The number of people who actually attack what he said? Well, that number would be zero.
A legitimate point very much needs to be made. We do not paint a religion with a broad brush because of brutal actions by a violent few. The same brush can, in the fullness of time, tar any faith.
We owe our devotion to spiritual truth. We do not sacrifice truth in favor of blind devotion to religious tribalism.
President Obama has suggested that we fight the perversions and distortions of faith, rather attacking any faith itself. He has failed to defend us and those like us from criticism. He has not defended the privileged place we demand.
He is guilty of putting truth first.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
ST. LOUIS • Three St. Louis-area residents and three others from around the country supplied money and military equipment to terrorist fighters overseas, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida in Iraq, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Friday.
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