Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Robert Drinan Is Dead --
Read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

Drinnan was a fairly interesting character. Some may disagree, but the thing I most respect about him was that he chose to leave his Congressional seat when told to by his superiors. In doing so, he showed that his commitment to the Catholic Church was no small thing, that he could be a progressive within the context of Catholicism.
(9:53 PM) 0 comments

There's Nothing Inherently Wrong with Propaganda --
Via Bookninja is this story about how the CIA funded the publication of Doctor Zhivago to embarass the Soviet Union. This makes me think about propaganda.

I may be a rarity on the left in not being that outraged about Republican propaganda. It's just the nature of political warfare. Too many people on the left whine about how the media too often parrots what Republicans tell them, and not enough wonder why Democrats aren't talking to the media more.

Karl Rove supposedly told Chris Matthews that Valerie Plame was "fair game." The wrong question to ask is, "Why is Chris Matthews fielding phone calls from Karl Rove?" The right question to ask is, "Is Chris Matthews getting as many phone calls from Democratic operatives as he is from Republican operatives?
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What Is God Blessing? --
Melissa Rogers notesthat George W. Bush said "God bless" rather than "God bless America" at the end of his State of the Union address.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Men vs Women on Technology --
The New York Times most e-mailed articles include a wide assortment of articles such as this one on how high-definition is affecting the pornography industry. I'm not highlighting this to talk about porn, but about one comparison of human behavior by actress and director Stormy Daniels (who also notes that “The biggest problem is razor burn.”):

Within the industry, the issue seems to have created a difference in perspective that cuts roughly along gender lines. Some male actors have begun using makeup to mitigate wrinkles or facial flaws, but generally they, and the male directors, are less worried about high-definition’s glare and more enamored of the technology.

Ms. Daniels said that attitude was just so typical of men.

“Men are all about outdoing each other, being up with the times, being cool, having the latest technology,” she said. “They’re willing to sacrifice our vanity and imperfections to beat each other” to high-definition, she said.

If the stereotype is accurate, a man might look at this as an admission that women are too vain, while a woman might look at this as another example of men being insensitive to the feelings of women. I'm not sure how much I believe the stereotype.
(9:59 AM) 0 comments

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kos On Why I Sometimes Can't Stand Daily Kos --
Kos goes meta:

But every election there's a crew that screams about biases and the like. I consider it an occupational hazard, and I know those people will always be there, but I want to make it clear that 1) those people are wrong. When I have a favorite, I'll say so. I'm not afraid to speak my mind (if you hadn't noticed). And 2) those people aren't doing their candidates any favors. Being obnoxious, whiny, and wearing tin foil hats don't reflect well on the object of their adoration.

In 2004, the "most annoying supporters" prize went, I'm sad to say, to the Dean crowd. In 2006, the Hackett brigades were insufferable. Remember? Only Hackett was "electable" because Brown was "too liberal" and blah blah blah blah? Senator Sherrod Brown showed just how irrational (in addition to insufferable) that crowd was. The runner-up prize went to the Christine Cegelis supporters, who, despite all their kvetching, couldn't help their candidate win in a ridiculously low turnout primary. It's as if they were so busy crying about the injustices suffered by their candidate that they forgot to turn out and vote.

I think there are honest conservatives out there who are privately are unhappy that they have to share their party with religious loonies and other unsavories, but know that they have to get along to get anything done. I feel that way about the Democratic Party, except replace the religious right with certain segments. These include, but are not limited too, evangelical atheists, marjuana legalization advocates, single issue voters who insist that gay marriage/abortion/some other social issues must be a litmus test for Democrats in the same way that it sometimes appears to be for Republicans. Half of my comments over there can be reduced to "stop being a moron who makes me embarassed that we're on the same side".
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Saturday, January 13, 2007

What's Next, Jews in Space? --
The Washington Post notes that there are more Jews than ever in Congress. It may shock some that Arlen Specter isn't the only Jewish Republican.

It may shock none, but the Washington Post seems to think that Joe Lieberman is still a Democrat. Citing the National Democratic Jewish Council, writer Elizabeth Williamson (who has been criticized before on the Big Orange for writing GOP fluff pieces) claims that there are four non-Democratic Congressional Jews. Hmm, House Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Republican Senators Arlen Specter and Norm Coleman, and independent socialist Bernie Sanders.

Hey, what noted Jewish non-Democrat is missing? Why, the mosted hated Jew in American politics since Judah P. Benjamin, Joe Lieberman.
(9:48 PM) 0 comments

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Evolution of Catholic Thought on the Death Penalty --
John Allen writes on the Catholic Church and the death penalty.

He writes:

....one could argue that the reaction from the Vatican and from senior Catholic officials around the world to the Dec. 30 execution of Saddam Hussein, and its broader opposition to the war in Iraq in the first place, collectively mark a milestone in the evolution of yet another category in Catholic teaching: Positions which are not absolute in principle, but which are increasingly absolute in practice. Opposition to war, unless undertaken in clear self-defense or with the warrant of the international community, and the use of capital punishment are the leading cases in point.

In effect, recent Vatican interventions on matters such as the Hussein execution suggest the Catholic church now has two categories of moral teachings: what we might call "ontic" or "inherent" absolutes, such as abortion, euthanasia, and the destruction of embryos in stem cell research, which are considered always and everywhere immoral because of the nature of the act, and "practical" absolutes, i.e., acts which might be justified in theory, but which under present conditions cannot be accepted.


The nature of a "practical absolute," which rests on a reading of social conditions rather than the pristine purity of abstract logic, means that such divergent positions can likely never be reconciled at the level of theological theory. Those fractures are likely to run especially deep in the Catholic community in the United States, one of the few developed nations which use capital punishment, and the country that has taken the lead role in the war against terrorism.

Nevertheless, indications from the Vatican and from a wide swath of Catholic officialdom suggest that in practice, it's unlikely there will ever again be a war (defined as the initiation of hostilities without international warrant) or an execution the church does not officially oppose.

At the level of application, at least, it would seem the debate is almost over, and the abolitionists are winning

I find this shift from permissible actions to "practical" absolutes interesting. What we are seeing is evidence that the Church is a dynamic institution capable of change, but that change still has to follow a period of internal debate. The way that the Catholic Church's stance is changing on capital punishment is the way it should be. I think it would be far from the spirit of Vatican II if a pontiff tried to place new teachings against capital punishment in the deposit of faith. A more drawn-out shift in Church policy, influenced by international consensus, both within and without the Church is a more authentic process.
(1:15 AM) 2 comments