Archive | August, 2011

A genius gone awry

August 26, 2011

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So there are these two scientists, see. The kooky one wears sandals and yesterday’s lunch on his tie and thinks up hair-brained ideas about love and peace and making the world a better place and stopping evil-doers from doing evil: all commendable, well-motivated, and laudable, to be sure. But now for practicalities: Where’s the money? The resources? The step-by-step plan? Let’s sing our hallelujahs for that second, trimly-groomed scientist with horned-rimmed glasses and spit-shined shoes. He asks nuisance questions and keeps our feet on the ground.

Such was the roll-play between America’s two great parties for most of the twentieth century. The Democrats were the idealists and the Republicans were the realists. The Democrats launched the New Deal and the New Frontier and the Great Society; the Republicans pushed for lower taxes, disciplined spending, and the friendly business environment. Just to clear out one myth, both were hawkishly anti-communist (the Democrats implemented the anti-Soviet “containment” policy and pushed us into Korea and Vietnam). They usually campaigned rough but relatively fair – partly because they knew the press would ferret the truth and they’d govern with these people after the election.

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A well-motivated bad idea

August 23, 2011


So impassioned, so compelling, and so misguided: Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz has called for a nation-wide strike against politicians. He’d have us speak the only language they know, money. We would withhold all donations from each and every one until they honestly negotiated, compromised, and resolved their conflicts. Our country will work once more.

How enthralling. I’m almost ready to fold my checkbook – but then I remember the call’s three fatal assumptions: First, believe it or not, not all politicians are equally culpable for the gridlock. Remember the “gang of six” and their noble compromise attempt as the debt ceiling approached? What about those yielding their (reasonable) positions on moderate tax hikes for the rich? And think of Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, the last remaining Republican moderates. Do we abandon them as they guard their party’s historic turf? Even Independents and Democrats can wish them well.

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Denying the deniers

August 20, 2011


Deniers of climate change, including many Republican Presidential candidates, often cite statistics promoted in The Great Global Warming Swindle, which premiered in Britain in 2007. I’ve encountered them myself in several e-mails. Peter Sinclair’s video illuminates the pseudo-documentary’s distortions. It turns out that sun activity is not spiking current temperatures; the Earth is now hotter than the balmy Middle Ages; and volcanoes do not belch more CO2 than factories and cars.

It’s intriguing: Sean Hannity branded people like me “communist.” Not that facts matter, but I’m an evangelical Christian and a Baptist pastor. I would be among the first bound for the nascent American gulag after the Revolution. But even more relevant, I’m advocating the same concern for climate change as did George H.W. Bush. Was the World War 2 hero a closet communist? And what is “communist” about environmental concern? I don’t want collectivization. I just want green environmental stewardship, which Republicans of previous eras had always championed.

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No fair being unfair — to anyone

August 10, 2011


Ringing clarion calls for fairness can be a cinch: Find sympathetic people, unearth someone who delivered them a sucker punch, then scream “foul!” Voila. We’re righteously indignant. But what if the punch slammed someone with whom we adamantly disagree? What if a news organization cuffs a tea party leader? Is not unfairness still unfair?

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Video of the month, August 2011: Rich Nathan: A Both/And Church

August 9, 2011


Rich Nathan, pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Columbus, Ohio, discusses false contradictions and why it is necessary to be both-and Christians.

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Surprise-surprise: Fox was very bad

August 8, 2011


So our president funds his own 50th birthday bash, invites a slew of guests from all races and ethnicities, and has everything but hip-hop music played. How does the blog owned by Fox News cover it? Look at the picture below. Look at it again. Feast your eyes on the cheap shot par excellence. Fox Nation finds scandal where there is no scandal and litters it with racist hints as subtle as earthquakes. No doubt they’ll respond to objections with that we’re-just-kidding look.

The real scandal, of course, lies in an alleged “news organization” that fronts for a propaganda machine. I wonder if the Fox owner Rupert Murdoch is finished answering questions on that phone hacking scandal in Britain …

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