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Monthly Archives: May 2009

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Does abortion terminate a life? Without question. Does a woman’s right to privacy trump an embryo’s right to live. Sadly, it seems to. At least, it always has. That’s right. Always. Roe v. Wade made it legal, but abortion has always been available. Late term abortions, in particular. In fact, leaving unwanted babies to die by exposure was once the state of the art. A grizzly procedure that makes partial-birth abortion look almost humane. Which brings us to the big question. If  abortion stops a heart beat, is it then murder? If we look at the Bible, I’m afraid I would have to say “no.” At least, the God of the Old Testament––who instituted capital punishment for everything from killing a man to dishonoring your parents–– didn’t require the taking of the life of someone responsible for the death of a child in utero (Exodus 21). Which, at the very least, makes me reluctant to call our President a baby killer. Or abortion murder. However, most pro-life Christians are not nearly as reluctant to pull their punches. Some even pull the trigger. Which is how an abortionist came to die this Sunday. At his church. As he worshipped his Savior. As his wife watched on from the church choir loft. Murder. Plain and simple. And the saddest part of all? People who call themselves followers of Jesus are reading this and smiling.

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Being a disciple of Jesus means different things in different denominations. For Methodists it’s performing good works and regular church attendance. For Pentecostals its having a special prayer language and a gold-leafed baby grand. For Presbyterians it is possessing a large library, a iPhone with a ESV Bible app and a micro brewery. For the Baptist students at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University it is having a burden for the lost. That’s why every Spring Break they send a busload of smiling, clean-cut kids to Daytona Beach for mass evangelism. Last year, one of these tract-pushing, Bible-thumping, soul winners happened to be a unregenerate, left-leaning non-believer named Kevin Roose. He describes his baptism in Christian witnessing in his new book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University:

Around 11:00 pm, the Jesusmobile pulls up to Razzle’s. Razzle’s is a Wal-Mart-size nightclub with a squadron of earpieced bouncers manning the velvet rope and a set of revolving laser lights that overflow onto the sidewalk. We won’t be going inside, Scott says, but we’ll stand just outside the rope, witnessing to people waiting in line.

The first surprise is that there are at least two other groups of Christian evangelists here. One group, a youth team from a Florida church, has set up a shaved-ice machine on the sidewalk. They’re making sno-cones for the Razzle’s patrons, which almost seems like cheating. (Some Christians call this “gastro-evangelism.”) The other group, which is affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ, has done something truly brilliant. A well-funded national organization, Campus Crusade rented the ballroom at a hotel next to Razzle’s and set up a fake party inside, complete with strobe lights, a security team, and attractive models paid to stand outside the hotel and gossip loudly about the great party inside. When would-be clubbers enter the room, they quickly realize they’ve been duped — instead of bar specials and trance music, they get gospel tracts and a salvation message.

Our group has no such Trojan horse, just the same Way of the Master routine we used on the beach. Witnessing at Razzle’s, where everyone we meet is either drunk or well on the way, makes communication a little harder.

“Excuse me, sir. Would you help me with an opinion poll?” I ask.

“Sure, go ahead.”

“Who is the greatest person you know?”

“Hmm … gayest person I know … I’d have to say Richard Simmons.”

Roose recently shared with NPR how his semester at Liberty opened his eyes to the sincerity and compassion of these young Christians. Roose never did open his heart to Jesus. But the experience opened something else. His mind. Funny how so many liberals can have such closed ones. There’s irony.

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The Scienitologists are having a tough week. First, the French legal system put them through the wringer, now Wikipedia is barring them from editing their Wikipedia article. All’s left now is for the paparazzi to catch John Travolta kissing Tom Cruise.

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Rich Lowery discusses the upsides and downsides of the tax-payer funded Obama Corporation:

The interlocking directorate is anathema to trustbusters and corporate watchdogs. It occurs when a board member or top executive of one company sits on the board of another company, accumulating undue power over a given industry. When it reduces competition, the arrangement is forbidden by the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914.

If Henry De Lamar Clayton, the Alabama congressman who introduced the aforementioned act, were still with us, he’d presumably be shocked at the creation of the most far-reaching interlocking directorate in U.S. history. Obama Inc. has effectively won a seat on the board of companies at the heart of the nation’s industrial production and its financial system. The robber barons of old would marvel at the tentacles of influence of Barack Obama, a CEO whose power would overawe J. P. Morgan (the famous industrialist, not the bailed-out bank).

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In difficult negotiations with business, Obama has the advantage of sitting at both sides of the table. This makes the art of the deal considerably simpler than when Donald Trump wrote about it years ago. Consider the matter of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), the mileage standards that have been resisted by automakers for decades in a multifaceted regulatory and legal battle featuring enviros, the state of California, and industrial-state lawmakers. The other day, Obama snipped the Gordian knot in an offhand swipe with his fingernail clippers.

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Peggy Noonan attempts to talk her party out of inflicting another self-inflicted wound:

She is of course a brilliant political pick—Hispanic when Republicans have trouble with Hispanics, a woman when they’ve had trouble with women. Her background (public housing, Newyorican, Catholic school, Princeton, prominence) is as moving as Clarence Thomas’s, and that is moving indeed. Politically she’s like a beautiful doll containing a canister of poison gas: Break her and you die.

The New York Post’s front page the day after her announcement said it all: “Suprema!” with a picture of the radiant nominee. New York is proud of her; I’m proud of our country and grateful at its insistence, in a time when some say the American dream is dead, that it most certainly is not. The dream is: You can come from any place or condition, any walk of life, and rise to the top, taking your people with you, in your heart and theirs. (Maybe that’s what they mean by empathy: Where you come from enters you, and you bring it with you as you rise. But if that’s what they mean, then we’re all empathetic. We’re the most fluid society in human history, but no one ever leaves their zip code in America, we all take it with us. It’s part of our pride. And it’s not bad, it’s good.

Some, and they are idiots, look at Judge Sotomayor and say: attack, attack, kill. A conservative activist told the New York Times, “We need to brand her.” Another told me a fight is needed to excite the base.

Excite the base? How about excite a moderate, or interest an independent? How about gain the attention of people who aren’t already on your side?

Of course, like most good advice, the Republicans will ignore this. Ready. Aim. Shoot off another foot.

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Just wondering. If you Twitter, does that make you a Twit? Well, it does if you are Newt Gingrich.

On Wednesday, Gingrich wrote on Twitter:

“Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman.’ New racism is no better than old racism.”

Could it be that Newt doesn’t understand the dynamics of oppression. The power-holding majority can never get away with saying what the disenfranchised under class can. While the majority stays in control, the underdogs are encouraged to brag, boast and strut. It is their opiate.

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Turns out Samuel Alito also has a nasty empathetic streak.

…Sotomayor’s critics are up in arms over the fact that she has admitted that her ethnic background has an affect on her decision making process. Who does she think she is? Well, as it turns out, she probably thinks she’s being very similar to Justice Sam Alito:

ALITO: Senator, I tried to in my opening statement, I tried to provide a little picture of who I am as a human being and how my background and my experiences have shaped me and brought me to this point. … And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position. […]
And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.




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The liberals are grinning like a Cheshire cat. A woman, a progressive, an hispanic––so very, very affirmative of Obama! The conservatives are grinding their axeheads into machetes––an intellectual lightweight, a judicial activist, a constitutional neophtye, an hispanic AND a woman––how blatantly affirmative of Obama! But one thing both groups can agree on, if confirmed, Judge Sotomayor will have an inevitable impact: the RNC’s immediate pick of a female hispanic cohort for Michael Steele. That GOP––say what you will––those boys have street cred.

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Liberty University is doing the Lord’s work––denying the existence of the Democratic Party. After all, clean-cut kids have no business getting caught up in all that “hope” nonsense. The next thing you know, they’ll want frisbees and keggers.

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Conservative radio talk show host, Mancow Muller, has changed his position on waterboarding.  He now says it is definitely torture. What changed his mind?…Um…well…he was waterboarded. See? It can make people say just about anything.

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The Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate have let their President down. They have defeated a White House request for money to shut down Guantanamo. Now Obama is making a speech, Cheney is making a speech and the barking heads of cable news are loving it. What went wrong? Fear for one. Close down Gitmo and the “worst of the worst’ will be moving into my community. Scary stuff. Lacking a plan is the second reason.  Obama was asking for a u-boatful of money without a clear plan. Sounds Bushlike, uh? But thirdly––most importantly––this administration has conflated too many issues into the symbolic act of shutting down Guatanamo. The issue of closing Guantanamo has become a statement against torture. Well, can’t we stop torturing detainees and still run a facility in Cuba? Yes we can. The issue of closing Gitmo has become a symbol of returning to the rule of law. Well, can’t we charge and try detainees without shutting down this facility? Sure. So why not try these baddies and keep Guantanamo open? Let’s forget the ugly symbolism of Gitmo and deal with the real issues. Then take that shut-down money and put somewhere it can do some good. You know, buy another car company or a bank?

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The problem with free market economics? Well–other than it rewards the kind of unbridled greed that has led to the mortgage crisis and a global financial melt down–it can sometimes create the sort of inertia and status quo that we have seen in the American auto industry. Why have the American carmakers failed to produce a shiny fleet of hybrids and a successor to the internal combustion engine? Because there was no percentage in it. It is easier and more lucrative to load truck-based behemoths with leather, dvd players and more cup holders. But now that they are in the crapper, a guy like Obama can put their feet to the fire with the stroke of a pen. It took the excesses of the free market to make a government-subsidized auto industry agree to move into the 21st century. Of course, the government could have influenced the free market to freely make these changes. All they had to do is tax gasoline at the rate the Europeans have done for years. Then demand for economical hybrids, etc. would have deftly forced industry’s hand. Which, of course, is the problem with government.  All these elected officials that want to get re-elected.

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While Republicans are busy falling all over themselves trying to shrink their party down to the remaining six truly true-believing true believers. And while the former Vice President leaves his undisclosed location long enough to appear on every right wing news show on radio and TV, relentlessly hellbent on re-branding the party of Lincoln and tax cuts as the party of exceptional water boarding–Chris Buckley offers some sage advice:

One of the oldest rules in politics is: If your opponent is committing suicide, don’t interfere. So were I in charge of the Republican Party, I would send out a coded text message saying: REMAIN CALM. SHUT UP. THIS IS GOING TO BLOW UP IN THEIR FACES.

Much as I admire President Obama, I believe with something approaching certainty that his spending will bring this country to its knees. “Sustainability” is all the rage as a buzzword, but a $3.6 trillion budget is not “sustainable.” Doubling the national debt is not “sustainable.” Inaction in the face of $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities (Social Security, Medicare, entitlements) is not “sustainable.” This is math, not ideology.

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Our President advises the graduates of Notre Dame:

Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.

But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

Gee. Nice sermon, for a baby killer.