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Monthly Archives: February 2011

A recent survey shows that Christians are split on question of indebtedness. Evangelicals tend to view indebtedness and borrowing as a sin. Their biblical foundation comes from various passages that say “Let no debt remain outstanding…” The Christian Left takes a different position. They focus on the other end of the same verse: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” So which group is reading their Bible correctly? This from the Daily Beast:

A break-out of their priorities provided to the magazine Christianity Today by Pew shows that, more than other Americans, evangelicals are prepared to cut deeply and forcefully when chopping the deficit. They want the government to slash aid to the world’s poor and benefits to the unemployed. They’d cut spending on environmental issues and health care, as well as on science, college financial aid, and support for the domestic poor. They are less likely than other Americans to want the government to increase spending on public education, or—surprisingly, given their support for the nation’s wars—aid to veterans. And evangelicals’ social justice priorities, on display during the last election season, have faded in an era of hard times.

But the tenets of Christianity pull some of these same evangelicals in the other direction. Earlier this month, when Republicans announced their domestic budget cuts, which focused on things like education and the environment, the left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis fought back in a blog post using Biblical arguments. “I believe,” he wrote, “that the moral test of any society is how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. And that is exactly what the Bible says, over and over again.”


It’s fascinating how the right wing looks for desperate ways to fault Obama as the Middle East is erupting in an unprecedent tidal wave of democratic yearning and protest. Time’s Swampland blog observes:

It has been quite a ride, watching the pop-political entertainment machine try to slice the Arab Spring into easy partisan talking points. Glenn Beck has his democracy-is-bad-for-Muslims, Google-is-pushing-dominos-to-the-caliphate theory. Sarah Palin came forward with a muddled call for more transparency from the White House, followed by a more direct shame-on-Obama-for-not-quickly-condemning-Libya-violence Facebook post, which came right before Obama condemned the violence after a delay to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens in Libya. There have been regular cries from the right, at CPAC in particular, that Obama cared more about betraying its ally Hosni Mubarak than confronting the Ayatollah of Iran. (This line of attack has been blunted by the fact that Obama has, in fact, been confronting the Ayatollah with regular statements, and the fact that few of the critics go so far as to actually side with Mubarak.) In the great middle of Republican thought–from Speaker John Boehner to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to 2012 candidate-in-all-but-title Mitt Romney–there has been mostly silence.

Send in Matt Drudge to keep the news cycle spinning. “GADDAFI: OBAMA IS A FRIEND,” reads the banner headline on his eponymous website right now. The link goes to a year-old interview Gaddafi gave with a London-based newspaper, in which the Libyan autocrat said of the U.S. President, “He is someone I consider a friend. He knows he is a son of Africa. Regardless of his African belonging, he is of Arab Sudanese descent, or of Muslim descent. He is a man whose policy should be supported, and he should be assisted in implementing it in any way possible, since he is now leaning towards peace.”

We can set aside, for the moment, whether anything said by a tyrant who has supported some of the most horrific moments in recent human history is credible. The question of how Gaddafi actually feels about Obama is a fascinating one, which is actually well described in the leaked State Department cables published by Wikileaks. In those cables, we see one of Gaddafi’s sons complaining about a lack of support from the U.S., announcing he was “fed up” with his treatment by the Obama administration, and complaining that Muammar Gaddafi had been “embarrassed” on his last visit to New York by U.S. officials. This happened only months before Gaddafi publicly declared Obama a “friend.”

A lawyer questions the Obama decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.

My central premise could not be simpler.  We have a system of checks and balances for a reason.  Constitutional interpretation is, in all but the broadest sense, the province of the judicial branch.  Meanwhile, one of the checks on executive power is obliging that branch to execute (and, correspondingly, defend) laws duly passed by Congress.  Until the judiciary renders binding authority that casts significant doubt on whether execution of that duty is improper on constitutional grounds, that duty remains intact.  The executive branch fails to fulfill its responsibilities when it fails to defend still-valid law, whether that law is DOMA or Obamacare.

I hope that this is a historical hiccup and not a false loophole to be exploited by future administrations.  Given the tenor of partisan discourse over the last twenty years, my hope in that regard is not substantial.

If only we had known that Facebook and Twitter was swifter and more effective in toppling tyranny and spreading freedom. Maybe we would have lost fewer young American lives occupying two obstinate  Middle Eastern countries.




In case the Tea Party movement has caused you to despair about the intellectual and ethical “complexion”of the conservative movement in America, this the clip should put your mind at ease. Watch these fierce young Republicans at CPAC dismantle Jamie Kelso as he attempts to poison their minds with racial hate.

The Republicans who ran on fixing the economy are saying their recommended cuts may kill more jobs. Obama’s budget is cutting education programs but hanging tight on defense dollars. Wait, what? Andrew Sullivan is calling foul:

Obama just said that even the Republicans’ small cuts in defense would “undermine … national security.” Just to let all of you Obama voters in 2008: yes, he’s arguing for a bigger military budget than the Republicans. He has moved the withdrawal date from Afghanistan to 2014 and if Petraeus asks for longer, how can we trust he won’t get it?

If this is the president’s attitude toward the debt crisis, made so much worse by the recession, it means this country’s pressing problems have been deferred until he gets re-elected. Change? This is not just more of the same; it’s far worse – and with every year, more dangerous.

The streets of Cairo are rejoicing. Mubarak is gone and a military junta is in control. Wow! You can’t get more democracy than that.  Wait, what? The Guardian chronicles Mubarak’s downfall:

Mubarak was suddenly facing an Egypt he no longer knew: an Egypt of nearly 85 million people with explosive untapped potential, all desperately in search of economic opportunity and increasingly demanding their civil rights; an Egypt where the literacy rate is still only 66% and a good education for the majority remains a fond dream; an Egypt where annual GDP per capita is a miserable $2,270 (compared with $26,256 in Israel and $35,165 in the UK).

In this Egypt millions still struggle below the poverty line, and a succession of governments of time-servers, corrupt politicians, businessmen, and technocrats have failed to lift up the masses while simultaneously increasing the wealth and privileges of the ruling elites.

Egypt under Mubarak, like other badly managed Arab countries led by autocratic rulers, simply failed to keep up. As the Chinese know, there is a trade-off between rulers and ruled: acceptance of a lack of political freedom in return for rising prosperity. Mubarak did not deliver on either front. And so, amid gunfire and blood and then celebration, they banished him, pharaoh-like, to the eternal political afterlife.LetL

The thing that is the most disturbing about conservatives is not their overarching ideals of smaller government and greater individual responsibility. It is their constantly shrinking circle of orthodoxy that ultimately excludes and anathamatizes their fellow true believers. It’s getting harder and harder to tell the faithful from the infidels. This on the recent dust up between Glenn Beck and Bill Kristol:

Fox News’s Glenn Beck lashed out at Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol on his radio show this morning, accusing Kristol of betraying conservatism and missing the significance of what Beck sees as an alliance between Islamism and socialism.

“I don’t even know if you understand what conservatives are anymore, Billy,” Beck said in his extended, sarcastic attack on Kristol. “People like Bill Kristol, I don’t think they stand for anything any more. All they stand for is power. They’ll do anything to keep their little fiefdom together, and they’ll do anything to keep the Republican power entrenched.”

Kristol this weekend took Beck to task for the latter’s skepticism of the Egyptian uprising:

When Glenn Beck rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East from Morocco to the Philippines, and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left, he brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. He’s marginalizing himself, just as his predecessors did back in the early 1960s.

Kristol’s words drew an approving nod from National Review’s Rich Lowry, a rare public repudiation of the influential Fox host from a conservative elite that quietly dislikes him.

Mubarak may be leaving but he will not be leaving anytime soon. Scott Horton suggests the reason:

So why is Mubarak trying to squeeze a few more months out of his three-decade career in office and avowing his intentions to stay in Egypt rather than packing for the Riviera? It may be because exile isn’t what it used to be; over the last 30 years, things have gotten increasingly difficult for dictators in flight. Successor regimes launch criminal probes; major efforts are mounted to identify assets that may have been stripped or looted by the autocrat, or more commonly, members of his immediate family.