Archive for category Social and Politics
It’s obvious that the debate over climate change is pretty much divided along party lines, as it is with abortion. The heart of these debates seem to have more to do with sociological differences and not scientific ones. Both sides are taking moral stands.
The most compelling of the arguments against abortion goes something like this: “No one can say precisely when life begins so to end a pregnancy, no matter how early, is at the very least potentially destroying the life of a human being and the future generations that may follow”. Many religious people will go even farther and claim that all contraception does this.
So why don’t these same arguments apply to man-made climate change? Even if no one knows for sure (in spite of the tremendous body of scientific evidence supporting it) that man is making the Earth warmer, isn’t it just as immoral to dismiss it out of hand as it is to deny possible embryonic humanity? Isn’t there just as much risk (if not much more) of robbing countless human generations of their potential for life?
It was Rick Perry who summed up the Right’s position on abortion by saying that he would always err on the side of saving lives. But it seems that for the Right the only lives worth considering are the ones whose potential is closer at hand, not decades in the future.
Government employees would be working 72 hours a week while the rest of us would be rolling silverware with no health benefits.
Herman Cain just won a Tea Party presidential straw poll. As one who survived and escaped the world of corporate restaurant management, I have an insider’s perspective on the successful mass feeder’s leadership style and approach to human resources.
Once upon a time conservatives had a good sense of humor. Not anymore. That’s why they’re so damned funny.
Jeesh. Jon Stewart tears up the Tightie Righties of this year’s CPAC. In spite of the courageous attempts, the only funny thing about the conservative convention was Donald Trump’s hair. But then Sarah couldn’t make it and se’s always good for a few laughs.
Once upon a time conservatives could be funny. They could turn a phrase in a Mark Twainish sort of way that caused one to think, even as they smiled. Reagan was good at it, as was William F. Buckley and George Will (who’s still around but doesn’t get much media attention these days). Even Pat Buchanan could get Michael Kinsley to laugh now and then (and vice versa)
But in order to get their kind of humor you had to think about what they were saying. You had to understand political nuance. You needed to be up on the issues, go beyond page one, listen to more than just one talking head and get your news from more than just one ‘trusted’ source.
Utra-Conservatives today aren’t funny because their audience (if not they themselves) can only think on one plane and in one dimension. They are scared of their own shadows, which can be good for a chuckle, but they have such big blinders on that irony is lost on them. Everything and everyone pisses them off and you have to be a real comic to turn anger into humor. It’s no wonder that the celebrity roast format is their favorite since there is nothing self-deprecating about their sense of humor. And hence, it’s not funny.
The funny conservatives of the past were, for the most part, good natured. I don’ think they ever took themselves too seriously. Self-inflation will always kill a comic. Why Joe Piscopo faded away when he discovered the gym and Arnold got funnier when he stopped going. And why Dennis Miller broke his funny bone when he decided to team up with O’Reilly and rant for the right. Both Miller and O’Reilly are entertainment professionals, though. They can, on occasion, pull it off. But someone’s gotta tell those amateur tight-asses at CPAC to zip it. It’s gonna have to be a Republican, though. The rest of us, we don’t want it to stop. Too damn funny.
Nauseating, ain’t it? Whether you liked Reagan or not (and I did) comparing him to Palin is like comparing Rachmaninoff or Vladimir Horowitz to Liberace. No, on second thought that’s not fair. Liberace, although just as tacky, cheesy and exploitative as Palin, could still play the piano very well. Anyway, someone who was pretty close to the Gipper summed up the differences pretty well:
” Sarah Palin is a soap opera, basically. She’s doing mostly what she does to make money and keep her name in the news. She is not a serious candidate for president and never has been.”
“Sarah Palin has nothing in common with my father, a two-term governor of the largest state in the union, a man who had been in public life for decades, someone who had written, thought and spoke for decades about foreign-policy issues, domestic policy issues, and on and on and on.”
Yikes! I hope Van Helsing is a Democrat. Gotta admit – it could be fun.
Over on Facebook I’ve been engaged in another round of a continuing argument that a friend and I have been having over the years. He charges that my criticisms of those I call intolerant are hypocritical, because, in essence, this is just another form of intolerance. To be intolerant of intolerance, he says, is a type of circular reasoning.
He’s not the first one to say this about me, or anyone of a number of people outspoken against intolerance. On the face of it, this argument sounds logical but to me it seems so obviously incorrect. This accusation must be the one based on circular reasoning. To be intolerant of intolerance just seems to make sense, like having nothing to fear but fear itself. But I have never really been able to come up with a solid rebuttal.
Until now. It really boils down to a simple matter of semantics. We are not talking about the same thing here. According to no less an authority than Merriam Webster, “tolerance” has multiple, subtle yet significant, meanings.
Definition of INTOLERANT
unable or unwilling to endure
a : unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters
b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights : bigoted
This clears things up. I am doing my best to be the first definition as it encounters both elements of the second.
Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, “when I looked for light, then came darkness.” Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath. –President Barak Obama
And if you read back my statement of defense, it wasn’t self defense. It was defending those who are innocent, talk show hosts, talk show host listeners, those who have nothing to do with a crazed, evil gunman who killed innocent people. –Sarah Palin
For once, Obama and Palin agree on something. But they are both wrong. As awful as this shooting is, as tragic the deaths, and in spite of what some are saying, it cannot be denied that Jared Loughner is a mentally disturbed, obviously delusional, and probably psychotic young man. Perhaps this could be said of anyone guilty of such an act. So is there such a “thing” as evil? Well, apparently some very powerful people think so. In addition to Obama, both George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were outspoken in their shared belief that evil exists, particularly in the guise of heinous tyrannies. Were they correct, or were they falling back on centuries old superstition?
In 2009, Roger Simon, of Politico, talked about how, though once a skeptic, he now believes he has literally met evil, in the person of Iranian President Ahmadinejad. In another article two days ago, he wonders whatever happened to a general belief in evil and why so many are willing to accept an ‘insanity defense’ for Jarred Loughner’s actions:
Which leaves me with just one question: Whatever happened to evil?
Why have we rushed to the judgment of insanity? Legally, very few defendants are found guilty of insanity.
We know that anybody who guns down innocent people or sticks dead bodies under his house or eats them, for pity’s sake, has got to be crazy.
And we believe that because we do not want to believe, as our ancestors believed, in evil. Evil is even more frightening than madness. Madness can be treated. All we need is early intervention and clinics and more resources devoted to the problem.
We hope. We live in an age in which virtually all our problems have been medicalized. Not that long ago, compulsive drinking, compulsive gambling and even compulsive eating were looked upon as human weaknesses. Now, we treat them as medical problems.
Evil has been medicalized (sic) into insanity. But only up to a certain point. There seems to be a correlation between the number of people you kill and whether you are called insane or evil.
Loughner allegedly kills six and is insane.
Hitler kills more than 6 million, and he is evil. The same is true for Stalin and Mao. We don’t say they needed the intervention of community health clinics, we say they were the ultimate examples of evil on earth because they murdered tens of millions of people.
Is the difference just numbers, however? You kill a certain number of people, and you are nuts — but you cross the line and kill more, and you are evil? Is that how it really works?
Or, in our modern times, are we embarrassed by the term “evil”? To some, it seems too primitive or too religious, or both.
And we would much rather believe that all sick people can be cured by medical intervention.
Because that is a lot less scary than believing that evil walks among us.
Simon raises some interesting questions. But I think the ultimate conclusion he comes to is incorrect. Perhaps there is is such a thing as evil. But there is a significant difference between the Tuscon killings and those committed by the regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Saddam Hussein. Infamously atrocious acts but, at the risk of offending some, I would like to add to this list the American enslavement of black Africans, the genocides of Sullivan’s March, Wounded Knee, Rwanda and Dar-fur, the horrors of Andersonville, the Rape of Nan King, and the indiscriminate bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Maybe even the corporate dumping of toxic waste like what the Hooker chemical company did at Love Canal. If the definition of evil requires that violent or harmful actions be premeditated and that the actors be perfectly sane, placing their own well being above the suffering of innocent people, then all of the above certainly qualify.
The difference between Jared Loughner and Adolf Hitler is not just about the numbers, although the real difference certainly would certainly seem to result in many more deaths than otherwise might take place. The real difference here is that in one case we are talking about the tragic work of one lone madman as opposed to institutionalized murder, which requires the wholesale complicity of a nation, a political party, a corporate entity – a community. The difference between the compulsive behavior of the delusional versus the calculated and coordinated machinations of those who certainly should, and do, know better. When we blame ‘evil’ for violence and murder we tend to deflect the focus away from the real causes, in which we might possibly even play a part. Which is a lot more scary than believing evil walks among us.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. – Edmund Burke
Ahmadinejad, Barak Obama, bigotry, Bush's axis of evil, Edmund Burke, evil, Genocide, Hitler, institutionalized evil, Jared Loughner, Lord of the Flies, Mao, morality, racism, Reagan's evil empire, Roger Simon, Sadam Hussein, Sarah Palin, Satan, slavery, social justice, Stalin, Tuscon Shooting, we have seen the enemy and it is us, Wounded Knee
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- "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment." -Thomas Jefferson
THE PEANUT GALLERY
- Postmodernism for Dummies (by a Postmodern Dummy)
- Voices of spiritual reason: 15 great non-religious quotations
- Formal versus Informal Religion
- The Bible in Five Acts
- Must Christians Believe in Miracles?
- Huston Smith on Hinduism (coffee talk for your 'pagan' neighbors)
- It's just plain stupid to ask politicians about their faith. Most of the smart ones lie about it anyway.
- VA orders crosses removed from national cemeteries out of respect for fallen Jewish soldiers
- Part 2: Crossan on the Meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice
- The Wedding Scandal: Jesus Insults the Religious
- “Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole carloads of trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?” -John Adams
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