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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Glenn Beck had his rally in Washington. The Lefties had their lower profile rally a few weeks later. Now Jon Stewart has  taken up the mantle of the mushy middle. They poked fun at both extremes (Stewart standing up for the progressives and Colbert for the tea-bagging right). But the satire was set aside briefly with the comedian’s come-to-Jesus-style sermonette. We the people can all work together, he told us, each of us with our differing beliefs and thoughts about the size of government. It was at times poignant and often times naive. But it was ultimately patriotic. Love of country, as Stewart frequently points out, is not the exclusive sentiment of the right. Liberals love their country, too. And that is unfortunately the truth that explains the divide in this country. We each love our country a little too damn much.

So, I’m confused. New York Gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High party gets invited to a televised debate. The same week Juan Williams gets kicked off NPR for taken a political stance that’s only slightly more outrageous. So I have a suggestion to put all this behind us. NPR, take Juan back. Kiss and make up. He has only getting in touch with his inner bigot, being transparent, etc. And, Fox News, offer Jimmy McMillan that 2-million dollar deal. That guy is a catch. He’d double your ratings. That is, if 2-million dollars isn’t view as too damn high.

Occasionally, Fox News actually IS fair and balanced. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

In today’s Washington Post Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner attempted to dispel several misconceptions about TARP being perpetuated by right wing candiates. Like the idea that TARP was an Obama-instigated initiative designed to have the government take over private sector banks.

The TARP was created by a conservative Republican president, who was also forced by the crisis to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lend billions to the automobile industry and guarantee money-market funds. And the TARP was championed by the same Republican congressional leaders who are in office today. They deserve more credit for the courage they showed than they seem willing to accept now. // <![CDATA[

Before President Obama took office, the Bush administration committed nearly $300 billion under the TARP, including investments in banks representing more than three-quarters of the entire sector, two of the three big American car companies and AIG. That support was critical to preventing a complete system collapse, but it also represented a level of government involvement in our economy not seen since the Great Depression.

President Obama adopted a strategy designed to get the government out of the private sector as quickly as possible. To date, we have recovered more than $200 billion in TARP funds, as well as made $28 billion in profits.

 

A recent Pew study reveals how little American Christians seem to know about their own religion, much less the religions of others. Oddly enough, the people who gave the most correct answers were the nonbelievers and Mormons.

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

On average, Americans correctly answer 16 of the 32 religious knowledge questions on the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Atheists and agnostics average 20.9 correct answers. Jews and Mormons do about as well, averaging 20.5 and 20.3 correct answers, respectively. Protestants as a whole average 16 correct answers; Catholics as a whole, 14.7. Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons perform better than other groups on the survey even after controlling for differing levels of education.

You go girl.

LOVELAND, CO (NBC) – Witnesses say a woman used an 18-inch crowbar to break a piece of Plexiglas inside a Colorado museum and destroy a controversial piece of artwork depicting Jesus Wednesday afternoon.

The City of Loveland has identified the woman as 56-year-old Kathleen Folden, a truck driver from Kalispell, Montana.

The piece of artwork that has caused the controversy is called “The Misadventures of Romantic Cannibals.”

A part of the painting shows a man who appears to be Jesus Christ engaging in a sex act with a man.

Many have called it “smut” and asked that it be removed.

Supporters say it speaks about the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal.

Mark Michaels, an art dealer, says he saw Folden break the glass.

He says she then grabbed the artwork and he tried to stop her.

“We were just coming in and were standing at the door and I heard a large – like a thump, and somebody yelled, ‘Oh no!’ And I looked up and I saw this lady with a nail-puller-type crowbar slamming the Plexiglas case several times until she broke it. And I ran over there and by the time I got there she had reached in and grabbed the print and was ripping it up so I pulled her away from the print and put her in the corner,” Michaels said, “and then the police came.”

Michaels says Folden was screaming “How can you desecrate my lord?” as she broke into the case.

Michaels says the woman destroyed the lithograph.

Yes, I’m a betting man. So let’s play a little Poker. I see your crazy Tea Party conspiracy theories and I raise you one. The Tea Party movement is a gigantic Mormon conspiracy. Am I bluffing? Maybe. This from the Huffington Post:

“We are at the place where the Constitution hangs in the balance,” Beck told Bill O’Reilly on November 14, 2008, just after President Obama’s election. “I feel the Constitution is hanging in the balance right now, hanging by a thread unless the good Americans wake up.”

The Constitution is hanging by a thread.

Most Americans would have heard this as just another bit of overblown commentary and thought nothing more of it. But to those familiar with the White Horse Prophecy, it was an unmistakable signal.

The phrase is often attributed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church. Smith is believed to have said in 1840 that when the Constitution hangs by a thread, elders of the Mormon Church will step in — on the proverbial white horse — to save the country.

“When the Constitution of the United States hangs, as it were, upon a single thread, they will have to call for the ‘Mormon’ Elders to save it from utter destruction; and they will step forth and do it,” Brigham Young, Smith’s successor as head of the church, wrote in 1855.

Was it just a coincidence in wording, or was Beck, a 1999 Mormon convert, speaking in coded language about the need to fulfill the Mormon prophecy? A conversation on Beck’s radio show ten days earlier would seem to rule out coincidence. Beck was interviewing Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, also a Mormon, when he said: “I heard Barack Obama talk about the Constitution and I thought, we are at the point or we are very near the point where our Constitution is hanging by a thread.”

“Well, let me tell you something,” Hatch responded. “I believe the Constitution is hanging by a thread.”

Days after Beck’s Fox show started in January 2009, he had Hatch on, and again prompted him: “I believe our Constitution hangs by a thread.”

Large numbers of Mormons watch Beck, but likely an even larger number of his viewers and radio listeners are evangelical Protestants who have no idea that Beck is preaching to them an obscure prophecy of the Latter-day Saints — a faith many conservative Christians malign as a cult. In addition to the coded allusions to the White Horse Prophecy, he often brings Mormon theology into his broadcasts (he touts the thinking of late church president Ezra Taft Benson and he frequently promotes the work Mormon conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen) but without identifying them with the LDS church.

There’s a theory out there that higher education leads to a loss in faith in our youth. Are college professors disproportionately atheistic? The following study draws a different conclusion:

The research also describes the religious affiliation of professors in the United States: 37.9 percent can be classified as Protestant, 15.9 percent identify themselves as Roman Catholic, and 9 percent as “Other Christian.” Jewish professors make up about 5.4 percent of the sample, and 2.6 percent are Muslim. Overall, 18.6 percent stated that they were “born-again Christians.” Around 46 percent of professors who identified themselves as “traditionalist” were also born-again Christians. Although, as noted above, 51.5 percent of professors say they believe in God, 31.2 percent claim to have no religious affiliation. In other words, they don’t belong to any particular religion, but still believe in a higher power.

Professors in the United States also have a complex understanding of the Bible. According to Gross and Simmons, only 5.7 percent said that the Bible was the “actual word of God.” In contrast, 48.3 percent answered that the Good Book was an “ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts,” and 39.5 percent note that it is the “inspired word of God.”

What all of these data make clear, and future studies are sure to further complicate, is that the simplistic association of “intelligent” with “atheist” is not backed by the evidence. “Our findings call into question the long-standing idea among theorists and sociologists of knowledge that intellectuals, broadly construed, comprise an ideologically cohesive group in society and tend naturally to be antagonistic toward religion,” write Gross and Simmons. The idea that “the worldview of the intelligentsia is necessarily in tension with a religious worldview, is plainly wrong.” In contrast, the evidence seems to suggest that instead of leaving religion behind, the intelligentsia, like the rest of society, rationally wrestle with ideas, scientific and religious, and attempt to find answers to the big questions that plague us all.

The French are a silly race. This from the Washington Post:

Two women decided to take their anger to the streets this week in protest of France’s burqa ban. They approached the protest in perfect French fashion: reinterpreting the way a niqab is traditionally worn. The anonymous women paired the face veil with hot pants and heels.

The birthers have long questioned whether Obama’s presidency isn’t breaking the law of the land. Now Wendy Wright is floating the idea that Obama’s new health care law is breaking all ten commandments. After all, doesn’t it promote coveting? She writes: “As with many bills, politicians sold ObamaCare by stoking envy.”  Well, whatever was stoked, providing those without with what they are without likely decreases coveting. Right? Am I missing the point? Or does Ms. Wright not understand the sin of coveting? Next, she addresses bearing false witness. Again, her accusation has nothing to do with the health care law itself, only with some of the over-the-top examples of people’s health needs. Like those “thousand points of light” the President resorted to rhetorical hyperbole. Then comes “Thou shalt not steal.” This is where the right wing consistently confuses taxation with governmental stealing. My Savior took the position that we should render unto Washington that which is Washington’s. So I think we can move on. My Jesus trumps her Moses. ObamaCare, according to Ms. Wright apparently also encourages adultery. Finally, she deals with the actual law. Apparently, sex education provisions will lead to greater fornication. All we have to do is look at the rate of out of wedlock births in the Bible Belt to know that sexual immorality is rampant even where sex education is not provided. “Thou shall not kill” is next. This of course, focuses on the subject of “government funding of abortions.” Of course, there is no tax-payer funding of abortions in the health care law that was passed thanks to pro-life Democrats. So again Wright is off the mark. And shouldn’t the life of the child be considered in the high rate on infant fatalities that we currently have because of inadequate health care available to the poor? “Honor your father and mother.” Children should decide a parent’s health care. Here again, Wright, bears false witness: “Under ObamaCare, that privilege will be stripped from us and given to unaccountable bureaucrats. They will ultimately decide what health care our parents can get.” This is more of that death panel nonsense that the right spews out with abandon. Simply untrue. Okay this one is a stretch; “Keep the Sabbath holy.” The final health care vote happened on a Sunday. I guess Joe Lieberman thought that Saturday was the Sabbath.”You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” Another real stretch. She writes:“President Obama gave a pen with which he signed ObamaCare to Sister Carol Keehan, the nun who runs the Catholic Health Association. Why? Her seal of approval appeared to give a Catholic blessing to a bill that her superiors, the bishops, rejected.“  Still don’t know what this has to do with honoring Yahweh. “No graven images.” The thought here is that health care is an idol to the left. You know, like “lower taxes” and “school vouchers” are to the idolatrous right? Idolatry has no party affiliation. ”The Lord your God is One.” Wright concludes with this scathing indictment: ”ObamaCare sets up government as the one who will supply our needs and provide for our health.” Well, considering that the new health care law requires me to buy insurance coverage from the private sector, I am not sure how government becomes my great Jehovah-jireh. It is God who provides and He provides through various means: doctors, hospitals, drug companies and pastoral counselors. And yes, He even provides, occasionally, through the government. He is that big.