Friday, November 28, 2008

Various Good Things!

Yes, yes. Another quick run-down. I knew I had to do one, because I leave each of these pages open in a tab until I can get to it. Means that I don't always get to them until my browser begins groaning in pain because of all the open tabs. For the sake of my Firefox, here are some of the pages I had open.

Civil Rights

Meet the Hip Young People Who Hate Gay Marriage

This. Is. Hilarious. And also sad. The ads for Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that'll undo the state's gay marriages, are out of control.

Miami judge rules against Florida gay adoption ban
The state presented experts who claimed there was a higher incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among gay couples, that they were more unstable than heterosexual unions and that the children of gay couples suffer a societal stigma.

Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association all support permitting same-sex couples to adopt.

Lederman rejected all the state's arguments soundly.

"It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent," the judge wrote. "A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs."


Why American Christians look so stupid and what you can do about it
On our trip out to Wyoming I listened to the program on Crosstalk Radio where they allowed callers to tell who they were going to vote for and why. Almost every single one said, “I’m voting for McCain because I’m a Christian.” Well guess what, folks, I voted for Obama because I’m a Republican and a Christian.(...)

We don’t just look like a bunch of kooks. We are a bunch of kooks. I’d be willing to put up with Christians speaking out on the election if they displayed the slightest semblance of a biblical worldview and a marginal ability to exegete a Biblical text. But they don’t. The eschatology of someone who can find “an olive-skinned Muslim” in the Book of Revelation is that of a deluded moron.

Not only that, our Biblical rhetoric thinly veils a Republican partisanship that is downright idolatry. Bible-Thumpers across the spectrum reveled in the lurid missteps of Clinton. But when Bush showed the militancy of a Caligula we were the first to bow before his throne and overlook war crimes, trampling of civil rights and the most disgusting waste of America’s bounty on bombs rather than bread. We’re not a city on a hill. We’re temple prostitutes at the altars of materialism and neo-imperialism.

There’s no escape from your husband
I believe that long-term emotional and verbal abuse is a sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. If headship means anything, it means that the husband should take the lead in creating a safe and nurturing environment for his wife and children where everyone can develop the gifts they have been given by God. Unfortunately, a lot of the headship and loving submission dogma I’m hearing is nothing but misogyny with a makeover. I recently listened to a woman who had been very active in directing a crisis pregnancy center who resigned because she wanted to “restore Godly submission in her home” and “find her fulfillment in building up her husband.” That is a bunch of baloney. Her husband is a couch potato. Hasn’t anyone ever told her about Priscilla and Aquila? Or Andronicus and Junias? Or Martha and Mary? Or Mother Teresa? Or Ladybird Johnson? Or Marie Curie? Or Aimee Semple McPherson? Or Corrie Ten Boom? Children of God are called to impact this world regardless of their reproductive organs. And husband and wife teams have a huge potential to fulfill God’s kingdom and that doesn’t merely mean she keeps his shirts ironed so that he can fulfill his ministry.

My main point is that if a woman in your church is seeking separation from her husband, give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s highly likely that she is being intimidated by her husband, she’s ashamed of “failing” as a wife, and she’s feeling condemnation from everyone in her church.

Misc. Politics

Obama to Create Commission on Torture?
Obama aides are wary of taking any steps that would smack of political retribution. That's one reason they are reluctant to see high-profile investigations by the Democratic-controlled Congress or to greenlight a broad Justice inquiry (absent specific new evidence of wrongdoing). "If there was any effort to have war-crimes prosecutions of the Bush administration, you'd instantly destroy whatever hopes you have of bipartisanship," said Robert Litt, a former Justice criminal division chief during the Clinton administration. A new commission, on the other hand, could emulate the bipartisan tone set by Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton in investigating the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 panel was created by Congress. An alternative model, floated by human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, would be a presidential commission similar to the one appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975 and headed by Nelson Rockefeller that investigated cold-war abuses by the CIA.

Supporting Our Troops
Marine Cpl. James Dixon was wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, a dislocated hip and hearing loss. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Army Sgt. Lori Meshell shattered a hip and crushed her back and knees while diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq. She has undergone a hip replacement and knee reconstruction and needs at least three more surgeries.

In each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat-related.

In a little-noticed regulation change in March, the military's definition of combat-related disabilities was narrowed, costing some injured veterans thousands of dollars in lost benefits -- and triggering outrage from veterans' advocacy groups.

The Pentagon said the change was consistent with Congress' intent when it passed a "wounded warrior" law in January. (...)

Years ago, Congress adopted a detailed definition of combat-related disabilities. It included such criteria as hazardous service, conditions simulating war and disability caused by an "instrumentality of war." Those criteria were not altered in the January legislation.

The Pentagon, in establishing an internal policy based on the legislation, in March unlawfully stripped those criteria from the legislation, the Disabled American Veterans said.

"We do not view this as an oversight," Baker testified before Congress in June. "We view this as an intentional effort to conserve monetary resources at the expense of disabled veterans."

Did Talk Radio Kill Conservatism?
It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, the key lies in the second passage that I highlighted. There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.

John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them. (...)

Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them. (...)

Conservatives listen to significantly more talk radio than other market segments; 28 percent of conservative Republicans listen to talk radio regularly, as opposed to 17 percent of the public as a whole. (Unsurprisingly, conservative hosts also dominate the the Arbitron ratings). It may have gone to their heads a little bit; they may have forgotten about radio's idiosyncrasies as a means of communication. The failures of the Bush administration have woken the country up; conservatives now need to find a way to communicate with people who are actually paying attention.

Blog Coverage Matters!
And [Obama] does indeed respond to pressure from bloggers:

A number of bloggers -- most notably Glenn Greenwald, Digby, and Andrew Sullivan -- have raised serious concerns about intelligence official John Brennan, who's been rumored to be a possible candidate for either the CIA director or the Director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration.
Brennan's critics accused him of supporting some of the Bush administration's most offensive intelligence-gathering policies, including rendition and "enhanced interrogation techniques." Obama, they said, even if he intended to move far away from those policies, should not make room for Brennan in his administration.
The criticism seems to have had the desired effect. Brennan has withdrawn from consideration for any intelligence post in the Obama administration.


As for the broader context, Brennan's withdrawal appears to be the direct result of blog coverage. For those who believe bloggers' concerns are inconsequential, this is clear evidence to the contrary.
Most excellent. Brennan wasn't the most outrageous choice Obama could have made, but he was, nevertheless, an apologist for the Bush regime and has no place in the next administration. I'm glad our objections made a difference.

Why Center-Left Blogs Dominate
For more than two years, I was the editor for Salon' "Blog Report," featuring posts from the left and right. It led me to read dozens of conservative blogs every day, and I quickly realized that when it came to depth and seriousness of thought, the two sides weren't close. (James Joyner, who is both thoughtful and knowledgeable, is a noticeable exception.)

Indeed, to help drive the point home, earlier this year, Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Worse, Kevin noted that when these blogs do consider key policies, such as global warming and growing income inequality, they tend to believe the problems don't exist.

"Global warming and skyrocketing income inequality are problems that didn't even exist in 1980, which means there is no 'Reaganite' solution to appeal to," Kevin concluded. "There might still be conservative takes on these things, but they won't do any good until conservatives actually accept that these are real problems that people genuinely care about. That day still seems pretty far off."

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