Archive for April, 2011

April 29, 2011

Political Cartoon of the Day

by Vince Giordano

Someone recently said that many of the Republicans who were out four years ago would be labeled “Republican in Name Only” (RINO) now.

H/T: Tony Auth

April 28, 2011

Washed Up White Males

by Vince Giordano

It is only a clip, but well worth your watch (his books are great, too).

It’s not that white men are the hardest hit in this recession–they aren’t by a long shot–but because of privilege and entitlement, they have had the hardest time coping with the exigencies of an imploding economy…sadly, instead of using the experience to foment solidarity with folks of color, many are missing the larger lessons…

April 28, 2011

Coming to Stupid Conclusions

by Vince Giordano

The National Review’s Corner blog usually is better than this:

All of that said, while the media focuses on attacking Donald Trump and the birthers (and Republicans), the question remains: Why did it take the president so long to release a document he apparently had all along? It’s strange.

The answer to that could offer an interesting look into the president and his White House, if the press were inclined to find out. Is it because President Obama has a streak off stubbornness? Remember the flag pin controversy and his initial refusal to wear one because he said didn’t like outward displays of patriotism?

Really? It’s possibly because he is stubborn? What about him not giving the time of day to wing nut conspiracies?

There’s also the continuing controversy over his infrequent church attendance and refusing to join any specific congregation. He claims it’s because he would make too much of a ruckus, even though past presidents have chosen a church, and despite the fact that more Americans believe now than when he was first elected that he’s Muslim. Why doesn’t he just start dropping in to church a little more often? Even Clinton went to church and held a Bible in the middle of impeachment.

Why does a grown man have to go to church just to satisfy your insecure notions of his Christian-ness?

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April 28, 2011

For Your Birther Reading Pleasure

by Vince Giordano

I give you a slew of reads to satisfy (or challenge) your birther tastes.

Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, says enough is enough:

In an interview with CNN’s John King, Brewer called the issue a “huge distraction” and said that doubters have failed to offer any proof that President Obama was born outside the country.

“It’s just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction, and it just is not serving any good purpose,” Brewer said, calling it a distraction from the much more pressing issue of the economy.

“I think we really just need to move on,” Brewer continued. “Everybody’s had two years to prove, if they wanted to, that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven’t come up with any of that kind of proof.”

Kevin Drum sees the power in xenophobic talking points:

This is why last summer’s Fox-fest of xenophobia — Shirley Sherrod, the Ground Zero mosque, the New Black Panthers, anchor babies, liberation theology, etc. etc. — was so effective. It’s also why all the birther nonsense is so powerful. Without the constant drumbeat of racially charged crap from the likes of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Dinesh D’Souza, it might just be a fringe curiosity. But with it, it gets a patina of intellectual support that turns it into a dangerous and mainstream belief.

Everybody involved in this pretends to be outraged if you point out what they’re doing. But anyone with a pulse can see what’s going on. And guess what? Summer is coming! There’s no midterm election in the offing, so maybe Fox News will decide to cool it on the xenophobia front this year. But then again, maybe not. Nobody on the right really called them out on this last year, and there doesn’t seem to be any real limit to their shamelessness. So maybe they’ll try it again. It seems to be pretty good for ratings, after all.

David Frum goes in for the kill on birtherism and laments the current state of the GOP:

Any last lingering doubts that maybe, perhaps, a pregnant Stanley Ann Dunham in the summer of 1961 boarded a propeller plane from Honolulu to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to New York City, then from New York City to Gander, then from Gander to London, then from London to Nairobi – and then repeated the trip backward a few weeks later – all so that her baby could acquire Kenyan nationality – those doubts are definitively squelched, as they should have been three years ago.

Now the more haunting question: How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?

I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”

Finally, on a slightly different note, DiA proposes removing the “born in United States” clause from the Constitution:

My 69-year-old father was born and raised in Saskatchewan. In his twenties, he became an American citizen by serving in the U.S. Army. He became a policeman in Missouri, and subsequently served the public as the chief of police in two Iowa towns for upwards of 30 years. What’s the point of keeping Americans like this out of the Oval Office? When the rubber hits the road, they might sell us all out to Ottawa? To the Indonesians? What? It seems to me that any worry about divided loyalties can be more than adequately debated and decided within the electoral process. I don’t think Arnold Schwarzenegger or Arriana Huffington would make a very good president, but the idea that they’re ineligible simply because they first saw light in foreign lands strikes me as, yes, un-American.

April 28, 2011

Conspiracies the Left Believes

by Vince Giordano

I found it refreshing to see OTB remind us of 9/11 truthers (people who believe the U.S government did the attacks on 9/11) as there is an influx of birtherism surrounding Barack Obama. Both sides, after all, have their loony conspiracies. Money quote:

I think that this, along with a good deal of the birtherism we see in the GOP is a reflection of the fact that we now live in a political culture where people are likely to believe the absolute worst about their political opponents. We saw during the Reagan/Bush years when the left spun tails of conspiracies to fix the 1980 election, and during the Clinton Administration with the Vince Foster story and the allegations about Mena, Arkansas. I’m not sure if people actually believe these things, or if it’s just a reflection of the fact that they hate the other guys so much that they’re willing to ascribe the worst possible motives to them.

April 27, 2011

An Afghanistani Mental Health Break

by Vince Giordano

It’s good to see this.

H/T: Andrew Sullivan

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April 23, 2011

Saturday Morning with Martin Luther King Jr.

by Vince Giordano

First up, MLKjr as an Old Testament prophet speaking not to Israel or Judah but the United States:

Then a fuller clip of King’s last speech:

(thanks for sharing these links, DT!)

April 22, 2011

Easter Prayer Breakfast

by Vince Giordano

Starring none other than Barack Obama:

April 21, 2011

“We have much bigger problems to worry about than same-sex marriage”

by Vince Giordano

So says…wait for it…the New Hampshire Tea Party:

April 21, 2011

Gary Johnson for 2012 President

by Vince Giordano

Haven’t ever heard of him? Here he is.

April 20, 2011


by Vince Giordano

By Radiolab; H/T: Andrew Sullivan

April 20, 2011

Question for the Mid-Week

by Vince Giordano

Which is a more far-fetched conspiracy theory: Barack Obama was not born in America (birtherism) or Sarah Palin’s son, Trig, is not a biological son of Sarah?

Email your thoughts to vgiordano at gmail dot com.

April 18, 2011

Should We Continue the War on Drugs?

by Vince Giordano

Conor Friedersdorf helps put things into perspective:

Let’s look at some numbers. 2,977 people were murdered on September 11, 2001. How many folks died from the Mexican Drug War in 2010?

 More than 12,000.

That suggests another question. Would you rather legalize most drugs… or see the equivalent carnage of four 9/11s happen every year from fighting the black market? That isn’t a hypothetical. It’s a real choice. If you’d rather have a lot of dead Mexicans than risk an uptick in US addiction rates — isn’t that basically the calculation some people are making? — then I’ve got another question. Would you rather legalize drugs… or risk that the sort of violence seen in Mexico will spread into the United States, corrupting our police departments, and ravaging our cities? Perhaps that won’t ever happen. But if you’re confident that it won’t happen I would like to know why.

I’m still not convinced legalizing is the final answer. What would be the reprecussions of such a monumental decision? Would it be a golden bullet answer? I doubt it. Wouldn’t in time the cartels turn to gun sales or another illegal trade?

Don’t get me wrong, though. The numbers presented are crazy. I just am thinking out loud.

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April 17, 2011

What “Saves” a Christian?

by Vince Giordano

I finished last night Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. I have mixed reviews about the book; I appreciated some of the questions Bell asks but I didn’t always agree with some of his conclusions. In the end, it is a somewhat choppy read (his writing style is as if he is giving a sermon) but lighter than what I’ve been reading lately.

Chapter 1 asks a lot of good questions. The general question asked is this: how is a Christian “saved”, meaning how do they get to heaven and have their sins forgiven? I grew up in the Protestant faith the past 6 years with the idea that you are forgiven as a Christian by believing Jesus is your Lord and Savior, that he was born a virgin birth, performed miracles, suffered on the cross, died, was buried, and rose on the third day. I also have been taught to believe that being “saved” requires you to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

I don’t see anything wrong with believing the above tenets. A problem that arises is that the second one – having a personal relationship – is written nowhere in The Bible.

If we are to go back to The Bible, most notably the Christian New Testament (and not simply the beliefs of The Bible that have arose over the past 100 or so years), we will find some “unorthodox” ways of being “saved”. An important note to add: it can be questioned whether some of these people listed are even Christians!

Luke 23: the man hanging next to Jesus on the cross is assured that he and Jesus will be together in paradise. Is it what we say that saves us?
Matthew 6: forgive others, you then are forgiven. Don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven. Do we have to forgive others to be saved?
Matthew 7: not everyone who says ‘LORD, LORD’ will enter the kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father. Do we have to do the will of the Father to be saved?
Matthew 10: those who stand firm till the end will be saved. Do we have to stand firm to be saved?
Luke 7: a woman who has lived a “sinful life” washed Jesus feet with perfume. Jesus tells her that her sins have been forgiven. Will washing Jesus’ feet with your tears and perfume get you saved?
Luke 19: Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he gives half of his possessions to the poor and he pays back anyone he has cheated four times the amount due. Jesus responds: today salvation has come to this house. Does saying what we are going to do save us?
Mark 2: Jesus is teaching, some men cut a hole in a roof, lower their friend down to be healed, and Jesus sees their act (the friends of the paralyzed man in need of healing) of faith and responds ‘son, your sins are forgiven’. Are we saved because of who our friends are or what they do?
1 Timothy 2: women will be saved through childbearing. Are you saved as a woman through giving birth to a child?
Acts 22: Saul (soon to become Paul) has his conversion on the road to Damascus. The gist of the story is this: Paul is asked a question, he then responds with a question, and then he goes into a city to do something. Are we saved by the questions we are asked, by what questions we ask in return, or by going somewhere and doing what we are told?


So in the end, Christian community, what saves us? It doesn’t seem so clear and unambiguous after all, does it?

P.S. – read Rob Bell’s book for yourself and don’t simply be told what the book says or stands for.

April 15, 2011

Are Universities Liberal Breeding Grounds?

by Vince Giordano

Conor Friedersdorf says no:

To me, there are better explanations for the fact that “the more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views.” One is that people who attend college leave home. That is to say, they leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful eye of parents who get angry or make them feel guilty when they don’t go to services or stray in their faith. Suddenly they’re surrounded by dorm mates of different faiths or no faith at all. For many of these students, it turns out that their religious behavior was driven more by desire for community, or social and parental pressure, than by deeply held beliefs. Another reason education correlates with secularism is that secularists are more likely to seek advanced degrees, partly because they’re more focused than their religious counterparts on career.

He then takes the attention off of whipping universities as being breeding grounds for the liberal intelligentsia and looking at our religious institutions:

But if four years of college undo 18 years of parenting and religious affiliation, perhaps the faith community’s tenuous hold is the problem, not the particular place outside its bubble where that hold evaporates.

April 15, 2011

Molding the Political Discourse

by Vince Giordano

PM Carpenter exposes the wrap-around-ness of the GOP’s political discourse by citing first a NY Times article:

[M]any of the jobs being added in retail, hospitality and home health care, to name a few categories, are unlikely to pay enough for workers to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care….

[A] single worker needs an income of $30,012 a year — or just above $14 an hour — to cover basic expenses and save for retirement and emergencies….

A single worker with two young children needs an annual income of $57,756, or just over $27 an hour … and a family with two working parents and two young children needs to earn $67,920 a year, or about $16 an hour per worker.

His response:

Without those income floors, workers must of course then turn to taxpayer-supported programs “to cover the cost of fundamentals like housing, utilities, food, health care, transportation and, in the case of working parents, child care,” which in turn of course drives up the federal budget, which of course pseudoconservatives detest, so of course they write idiotic reports about “creating” more jobs by slashing both federal spending and labor costs, which of course …

And yet they get away with it. All of it. They stand at their podiums and yap about the deficit and its horrendous cost to society and how eliminating it would magically create jobs and voters swallow this garbage while the “news” is belying it all. All of it.

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April 15, 2011

Budget Priorities

by Vince Giordano

Ezra Klein calls out the GOP for their priorities that protect the super rich at the cost of the poor. Choosing to cut programs mainly dealing with the poor and leaving unscathed tax cuts for the rich and military funding is worth criticism:

The Pentagon is burning through a lot more cash than Head Start. Medicare spends much more for health services than Medicaid. The mortgage-interest tax deduction is regressive, as is the deduction for employer-based health care, but as of yet, Republicans haven’t proposed reforming either. Again, I’m not saying Republicans don’t care about poor people. But so far, their policy proposals don’t. And you can’t chalk it up to an appetite for sacrifice, because for all that the GOP is asking from the poor, they’ve fought hard to protect the rich from having to make any sacrifices. So far, it’s been program cuts for the poor and tax cuts for the rich. It’s a disappointing set of priorities.

And this is the GOP – the party that claims to be the religious one, the one who has a monopoly on God and biblical morals. Has the biblical idea of justice been muted by this predominantly white group?

Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims — laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. What will you have to say on Judgment Day, when Doomsday arrives out of the blue? Who will you get to help you? What good will your money do you?  (Isaiah 10:1-3, The Message)

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April 13, 2011

For The Love of Lucre

by Vince Giordano

Don’t call Rush Limbaugh a racist, says Conor Friedersdorf, but a businessman:

In a long profile of Limbaugh published awhile back by The New York Times Magazine, the talk radio host is interviewed while sitting in his 24,000 square foot house, beside a brochure for the $54 million airplane he owns. “Do you know what bought me all this?” he told the interviewer. “Not my political ideas. Conservatism didn’t buy this house. First and foremost I’m a businessman. My first goal is to attract the largest possible audience so I can charge confiscatory ad rates.”

Critics of Limbaugh would do well to avoid issuing the simplistic accusation of racism that merely causes his listeners to rally around him and improve his ratings. The more serious and accurate critique is that he deliberately plays on the racial sensitivities of minorities and liberals, and intentionally provokes the racial anxieties of his listeners. In doing so, he exploits one of the most sensitive and historically fraught divides in American society for the sake of lucre.

April 13, 2011

Being Barack Obama

by Vince Giordano

Jim Geraghty responds to Barack Obama’s lamentations for not being able to spontaneously take a walk in Central Park. First, the con’s:

The experience of the modern presidency is one unlike almost any other life on earth. Think about it – while he’s sleeping, I presume some Secret Service agent is just outside his room, listening; presumably the Obamas are monitored in some form, in case, heaven forbid, Obama has some health issue while he’s sleeping. He awakens, and there are people around him – staffers – every single minute. Even when he’s alone in the Oval Office, which is probably rare, there’s someone just outside. There is no “ordinary” interaction with anyone. Going out for a meal requires meticulous planning and massive security preparations. Going to visit his daughters’ school requires a motorcade.

Then some pro’s:

On the other hand, he spent two years and spent half a billion dollars asking for this job. He is free from financial worries. He never has to worry about traffic. His travel budget is almost unlimited, and he never has his junk touched by the TSA. He never waits on line. He rarely if ever is on hold, and he rarely if ever fills out forms. While he lives with a greater threat to his safety and security that almost all of us, he is, probably, the most secure human being on earth. Probably ninety percent of his interactions with people end with, “Yes, sir, Mr. President.”

America seems to be ultra tough on its presidents. If they take a vacation, go golfing, or do anything outside the realm of making political decisions, they are blasted with not taking the mantel of POTUS seriously.

April 13, 2011

Never Saying Goodbye in a Movie

by Vince Giordano

A short compilation of people hanging up without saying goodbye in the movies.