Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
even FOX News won’t pony up the money to retain you:
(Sarah) Palin was a hot property when Roger Ailes landed her in 2009, fresh off her colorful run for vice president, and paid her an annual salary of $1 million. Fox even built Palin a studio at her Wasilla home.
But relations cooled between the two sides, and Palin was appearing on Fox less often—complaining on Facebook one night during the Republican convention that the network had canceled her appearances.
The new contract offered by Fox, say people familiar with the situation, would have provided only a fraction of the million-dollar-a-year salary. It was then, they say, that Palin turned it down and both sides agreed to call it quits.
A friendly announcement was planned for Friday, but a source close to Palin leaked the news in the afternoon to Real Clear Politics, saying the former Alaska governor “decided not to renew the arrangement” and “remains focused on broadening her message of common-sense conservatism.”
OK, so the office read-off of 2012 is complete, and Blake is the clear winner this year in terms of the number of books and page count. Here is his book tower with 30 titles (I think three are missing):
A side-by-side tower (a la this post) was not possible this year because I took a job in a different state, and we borrowed a few books here and there, so this list will have to suffice:
- “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith – 628, finished late January (-200 pages in 2011) = 428
- “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara, finished Feb. 12 – 374
- “General Lee’s Army: From Victory To Collapse” by Joseph Glatthaar – 475
- “This Mighty Scourge” by James McPherson – 272
- “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward – 491 (finished April 2)
- “The Greatest Show On Earth” by Richard Dawkins (started late March, finished May 13) – 437
- “Madison and Jefferson” by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg (started May 16) – 644. Finished July 21.
- “From the Temple to the Castle” by Lee Morrissey (started May 13) – 144 (finished July 22)
- “Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism” by Bruce Scheulman (started mid-July, finished Aug. 19) – 245 = 3510
- “You Can’t Go Home Again” by Thomas Wolfe (started Aug. 19, finished Oct. 10) – 743 = 4253
- “Grant and Sherman” by Charles Flood (started Oct. 10, finished Nov. 7) – 402 = 4655
- “The American Civil War” by John Keegan (started Aug. 19, finished Dec. 31) – 5020.
Thus, my final count was about 5,000 pages, and he came in at more than 9,000 pages.
I think we may have come to an agreement that the five best history books we have read in the last three years are as follows:
- “Grant” by Jean Edward Smith
- “Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society“ by John A., III Andrew
- “Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788″ by Pauline Meier by Pauline Maier
- “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James McPherson
- “Grant and Sherman” by Charles Bracelen Flood
Explore any of these, and you can’t go wrong.
No, this article does not come from The Onion, but from a report from Politico about the political infighting — and outfighting — that ensued on Capitol Hill leading up to the fiscal cliff aversion. John Boehner throws down the gauntlet:
It was only a few days before the nation would go over the fiscal cliff, no bipartisan agreement was in sight, and Reid had just publicly accused Boehner of running a “dictatorship” in the House and caring more about holding onto his gavel than striking a deal.
“Go fuck yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”
Boehner repeated: “Go fuck yourself.”
Politico also takes a look at the top political F-bombs in recent memory.
Here are the top posts for 2012. Each title links back to the full post, and a pull quote is added on each. I didn’t count them this year, but they are presented more or less in chronological order from January-December, with about two posts from each month.
The presidency changed neither Ulysses S. Grant’s approach to leadership, nor his character. In the White House, Grant exhibited the same even-tempered ability to guide the nation through eight years of tensions after the Civil War as he did in his most important victories on the battlefield at Fort Donelson, Vicksburg and Appomattox. …
God did not live up to this promise. The lands in and around “Canaan” were in those early epochs and still are contested territories, as evidenced by the constant strife in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Of course, “Canaan” encompassed more than just Israel and the West Bank to include parts of modern-day Jordan and Syria and other areas, so God is still far from living up to his long-past promise to Abram and the tribes of Israel. Christians here will say that in Christ, a new Covenant was formed by which Christ will reconcile Jews and Gentiles and allow everyone who believes to be saved through Jesus. …
Please read here for some interesting correspondence between myself and a fellow blogger named, David Smart, aka, Ryft, who challenged a comment I made on one of his posts. I invite you to read his original post(too long to quote here), and what follows is my initial comment to it, which was chided for its brevity (didn’t know that was a bad thing). Here is the paragraph to which I responded: …
I listened to most of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos this afternoon and got to thinking again about the argument for beauty.
This fellow blogger raises a concern that the argument, which is articulated this way
- Beethoven’s quartets, Shakespeare’s sonnets, etc., are beautiful.
- If there were no God, then there would be no beauty (and thus no beautiful things).
- Therefore, there is a God.
may not be a legitimate argument for the existence of God in the first place and that Richard Dawkins’ only reference to the argument in “The God Delusion” is anecdotal. The writer also claims that Dawkins dismisses the argument for beauty by committing the begging the question fallacy because he asserts “without argument, that beauty doesn’t depend on God.” …
The following video has been making the rounds in various freethinking circles lately to varying degrees of praise and criticism. In this lecture, author and neuroscientist Sam Harris delivers a lecture arguing against the notion of free will based on his book of the same name. …
Here, Harris puts forth a deterministic view of the human experience in which we are obviously not free to choose our genes, our backgrounds, our places of birth or control other factors that will eventually lead to our fully developed, adult selves. While some, through any number of variables, become “good” people and generally strive to improve the lives of the people around them, others, due to different and more malignant factors, are decidedly unlucky and become sociopaths and/or killers. …
Here is an intriguing look at the Book of Revelation that claims that the writer of the book, emphatically not John the Apostle, wasn’t writing about the end of the world, but rather about the collapse of the Roman empire, with Nero as the one stamped with the numerals 666.
I don’t know what John Milton’s personal interpretation of the Revelation might have been other than what he wrote in Paradise Lost, but it seems at least plausible to me that Milton, as ever, was onto something revolutionary. …
… Writers (and readers, I guess) apparently don’t have the attention span to follow the sentence throughout its entire construction, so they sometimes forget where previously placed commas occurred. This is easy to track in your head as you reread or edit a story, but problems such as this crop up time and time again. And for people who care about the language, it’s a distraction. As a colleague has often said, “Journalists are the keepers of the language.” That’s not to suggest that I won’t have typos myself, but the will for perfection is there. This is apparently not the case with many who haphazardly throw in or leave out commas seemingly at random. …
If the word has not already been coined, I’ll do the honors.
This year, I unequivocally became a Lostophile, that is, a person with a deep affinity for the philosophical nuisances of the television series, “Lost.” Granted, the TV show went off the air in 2010, but I only came toThe Island, so to speak, this past fall (October 2011) when I began watching the series from start to finish on Netflix.
OK, that’s not quite accurate. My initial engagement with the show was so intense that I watched the first three seasons, started right back at Season One and then watched the whole way through. I recently finished Season Six a couple weeks ago. …
Christians arguing with other Christians about the “true” nature of Jesus and the church always makes for entertaining reading, but even more so when it comes from an openly gay Catholic whose own intellectualism should undercut his own faith in the first place.
In his new essay for Newsweek, “Christianity in Crisis,” Andrew Sullivan says that we should eschew the influence of politics and power that has crept into religion and get back to the “radical ideas” that spring from what Jesus did and said, including loving both our neighbors and enemies, turning the other cheek, giving away all material possessions and loving God the Father, whom Sullivan calls “the Being behind all things.” …
… So, if the people commit acts such as sleeping with their relatives or with people of the same sex, the earth will regurgitate them. In what “historical contexts” are we supposed to read these passages? I can maybe grant his point about Sodom — those guys were clearly out of line wanting to have sex with the angel-men! — but his blanket statement about homosexuality in the Bible is patently false. The passages above sound like pretty firm prohibitions to me, and not just of the acts themselves, but of the ideas of homosexuality, bestiality and incest, all of which are lumped together in two separate chapters.
Another tragedy, more crazy talk to boot. Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee recently said America’s “sin problem” was behind the Aurora movie theater shooting, while Rep. Louie Gohmert has said the nation was no longer under God’s “protective hand.” …
The above passage seems to summarize the general error of history that Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg address in their colossal, that is to say, towering work on a friendship between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that endured for half a century.
Madison, as history has recorded, has been judged as the mostly quiet and stoic political thinker and constitutionalist, while Jefferson is widely thought of as the passionate, if not hyperbolic, consummate republican, always heralding the interests of the Virginian farmer against a potentially overbearing federal government that is always in danger of overextending itself. …
Here we deal with one of the most well known, and by that I mean notorious, verses in the whole Old Testament.
The passage in Genesis 22 begins with God deciding, for whatever capricious reason God decides to do anything, to test Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering to him: …
Continuing with this series, we now turn to Genesis 18-19, in which Abraham and Sarah in the first part of Chapter 18 learn from God that she, now at an old age, will bear a son. The passage begins with the Lord appearing to Abraham under some trees, as well as three “men,” presumably angels. …
I took a long drive today — specifically eight hours round trip from Tennessee to South Carolina and back — and had some time to think about exactly why I can’t, under any circumstances, morally or intellectually, understand or support the conservative program of the last, well, 32 years since I’ve been old enough to be cognizant of it.
I concluded that it is this: while progressives, Green Party members, some Democrats and others, have been champions of people — you know, human beings with pulses and feelings and a pitiable capacity for suffering under immense physical, emotional or financial stress — Republicans more or less have mostly been concerned with A) protecting the rights of inanimate religion in all its forms, squashing gay rights, squashing all abortion, sometimes even in cases of rape or incest, and protecting the right of prayer in the public square, and B) protecting the rights of inanimate state governments and inanimate corporations. …
Jen McCreight over at Free Thought Blogs has created quite a stir in the atheist/freethinking community with a post titled, How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism, which has garnered in the neighborhood of 500 responses thus far.
In the post, McCreight laments her experiences with some of the more brutish individuals within the movement and said she was “welcomed with open arms” into the atheist and skeptic community until she started discussing feminism. Perhaps her first mistake was to create “Boobquake,” which was a day (April 26, 2010) for feminist supporters to protest Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi‘s odious comment that women who dressed immodestly were the cause of earthquakes. …
Welcome to the second part of this 16-part series on Lee’s Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.” If you missed it,here is Part I.
Strobel now gets to the meat of the book designed to investigate the trustworthiness of the New Testament authors and their accounts of the life of Jesus.
In Chapter 1, Strobel interviews Christian apologist Craig Blomberg and asks him how we know that the Matthew, Mark and Luke are the actual authors of the first three gospels. Blomberg then points, not to two sources outside of the church who can vouch for the authorship or the validity of the claims, but to two early church bishops, Papias (70 to about 155 A.D.) and Irenaeus (130-202 A.D.). …
At the expense of repeating myself, I’ll take some time here to explore some of the other components, criticisms and responses to Atheism+ that were not covered in this post. I have wanted to write a follow up post on this for quite a few days, but it has taken awhile to gather my thoughts.
Here I will show in fuller detail why Atheism+ is not only redundant but why it’s actually corrosive to the legacies of atheists and freethinkers who have done important social work under the old banners and who did so bravely and under conditions that were far from friendly or accepting. …
In a video series YouTube user Mike Winger calls, “Things Atheists Should Never Say,” he claims that nonbelievers should never ask this question to believers: “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”
I believe the typical phraseology goes like this: “Can God create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it,”with the common perception being that if God is all-powerful, he could, in theory, create an object bigger than his omnipotence will allow him to lift, thus hurling his supposed nature into logical entropy. This is called theomnipotence paradox.
Now, I’m not going to write a long essay defending this question. I and fellow nonbelievers don’t need this question, as it were, to tear holes through Christianity and religion in general, but I will add a few words in reference to some comments made over in Mike’s comments section on YouTube. …
As a number of folks on Tweeter had posted a link to the Salon.com article, “Atheism’s growing pains,” particularly because it referenced Atheism+, I thought I would have a look. I skimmed half of it because it just summarized the rise of atheism (I won’t call it a “movement”) and later, the prominence (or notoriousness) ofJen McCreight and her ill-named “Boobquake.” I wrote about Boobquake briefly here, but Adam Lee’s statement here is too good to bypass:
At first it seemed like lighthearted fun in support of a good point, but she (McCreight) wrote that it had encouraged some men in the atheist community to view her as a sex object, rather than a person with ideas worth taking seriously …
Again, I ask: ya think? …
Michael Tomasky with The Daily Beastargues that supply-side economics, as well as its ugly stepsister,Reaganomics, died on Election Day when Americans largely rejected the general economic platform of Mitt Romney in favor of a “middle-out” philosophy trumpeted by Barack Obama.
Tomasky makes a good case, but I would suggest that Americans began pulling the curtain on Reaganomics earlier in 2008. …
… I enjoy exploring questions in religion and philosophy because it’s intellectually stimulating. As a churchgoer, I used to compose whole essays about certain passages in theBible and how modern believers could find relevance from them and come away with some kind of moral lesson. I could still do this if I so desired.
Nowadays, I find that a better use of my time is to expound, not only on the many logical inconsistencies with the Judeo-Christian belief structure, but on the dangers of belief itself. And these are not just the intellectual perils. Religion has plenty of that to go around. No, I mean physical danger: parents who believe so much in prayer that they fail to take their sick children to the doctor when illness strikes, and when the kid inevitably succumbs to the illness, the words, “God‘s perfect plan,” shamefully spills from their lips; young men who fly planes into buildings for Allah and the promise of a reward in some long-hoped for paradise; Catholic priests who use the shroud of religion to coax small boys into back rooms of a sanctuary, strip away their innocence and then threaten them with more villainy if they say a word. And all of this just in modern times. This speaks nothing of the hundreds of years of oppression, violence, slavery and misery that religion has heaped on mankind, a misery that is flippantly and ludicrously explained away by the notion of original sin. …
Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. …
Since my responses were becoming a little long, I decided to make a new post to address a few of the comments I received on my criticism of “Twas’ 11 days before Christmas.” …
How to describe this “new wave” of hypersensitive, reactionary, dogmatic and witch-hunt brand of feminismthat has surfaced in the last year, with Ophelia Benson, Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson and others carrying the banner? As I’ve said before, I think the term neofeminism is about right. …
Warren seems to be attempting to make a resurgence by taking advantage of the 10-year anniversary of the work’s publication, which outlines the five “purposes” that people, specifically Christians, have in life. He is releasing a new edition of the book with a couple new chapters and well as some accompanying links to extra audio and video content, no doubt hoping to add more millions of dollars to the surge of book sales (and related instructional material) that he got from the first publication. …
I don’t think it matters terribly whether skeptic conferences are represented equally among women and men and attempts to do so seems to only politicize a topic that doesn’t need politicizing. To take Jim’s (NoelPlum’s) example above, more men seem to be interested in cars and mechanics, whereas more women seem to be into fashion. Similarly, more men seem to be engaged in philosophical pursuits, and thus, the perception is that males are generally more likely to be nonbelievers. While it is difficult to measure any of this, simply stating that perception doesn’t suggest in the least that women are any less capable of critical thinking than men. Quite the contrary, and history bears this out. We can outline a long list of skeptics who also happen (or happened) to be women and great thinkers: Susan Jacoby, Hypatia, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft, Julia Sweeney and many others.
The point of pushing equal representation isn’t the representation, it’s to turn an atheist conference into another revival service for Progressivism.
Instead of discussing atheism and theism, you can spend all day discussing racism, sexism, and homophobia. That’s the wonderful thing about Progressivism – a meeting about anything can be turned into a meeting about who is at the meeting and how they will be forced to behave if they want to avoid expulsion.
This is one of the many problems I have with the AtheismPlus crowd and neofeminists, groups who in most cases overlap. Atheism never was and never should be associated with progressivism or any other actual political movement. Some atheists are progressives; some may be conservative. As I’ve said previously, if a person wants be considered as a progressive skeptic, adopt secular humanism. AtheismPlus is redundant, and as we are seeing, neofeminism is increasingly counterproductive to the cause of women’s rights. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more nonbelieving women and self-professed feminists want nothing to do with either.
How to describe this “new wave” of hypersensitive, reactionary, dogmatic and witch-hunt brand of feminism that has surfaced in the last year, with Ophelia Benson, Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson and others carrying the banner? As I’ve said before, I think the term neofeminism is about right.
Don’t laugh: Michael Shermer said exactly that during a panel discussion on the online talk-show The Point. The host, Cara Santa Maria, presented a question: Why isn’t the gender split in atheism closer to 50-50? Shermer explained, “It’s who wants to stand up and talk about it, go on shows about it, go to conferences and speak about it, who’s intellectually active about it; you know, it’s more of a guy thing.”
It’s all there—women don’t do thinky, they don’t speak up, they don’t talk at conferences, they don’t get involved—it’s “a guy thing,” like football and porn and washing the car.
What Benson didn’t mention was that Shermer’s remarks were lifted out of context. Here is part of Shermer’s response:
First of all, Benson shortened the quote. What I prefaced the above with is: “I think it probably really is 50/50.” Benson also left out my follow up comment moments later that at the 2012 TAM (The Amazing Meeting) conference of skeptics and atheists, there were more women speakers than men speakers. I misspoke slightly. According to D. J. Grothe, the TAM organizer, there were an equal number of men and women speakers (the roster on the web page is incorrect) until, ironically, Ophelia Benson herself dropped out.
Whatever reason Benson had for dropping out of the conference, this is telling. So, she is calling for more nonbelieving women to get involved in the conversation but was absent herself. Nice. As it turns out, a brief browse through the Twitter secular community will reveal that many women have spoken out against this new wave of feminism that seems more about exclusion and frantically thwarting contrary arguments than really enacting societal change. The us against them dichotomy, which seems to include most everyone, couldn’t be stronger.
According to Shermer’s blog post, even Harriet Hall, who was instrumental in the “first wave” of feminism, has even been put off by this new brand of nuttiness:
Harriet Hall, M.D., the SkepDoc columnist for Skepticmagazine (one of two women columnists of our three, I might add, the other being Karen Stollznow), who lived through and helped bring about the first-wave feminist movement, told me she “was vilified on Ophelia’s blog for not following a certain kind of feminist party line of how a feminist should act and think. And I was attacked there in a disturbingly irrational, nonskeptical way.” I asked her why she didn’t defend herself. She wrote in an email (12/08/12):
“I did not dare try to explain my thinking on Ophelia’s blog, because it was apparent from the tone of the comments that anything I might say would be misinterpreted and twisted to use against me. I have always been a feminist but I have my own style of feminism. And I have felt more oppressed by these sort of feminists than by men, and far less welcome in that strain of feminism than in the atheist or skeptical communities.” (Italics mine)
There you have it. Straight from a feminist that these folks are overtly confrontational and misguided.
Here is Alan Simpson of Simpson-Bowles lore:
The long and short of it: she had no jurisdiction on consular security. That would be up to the state department. Rice is one of the candidates under consideration for the Secretary of State job.
Tomasky essentially makes the case that the Republicans, particularly McCain, went after Rice because of frustrations over the election and, perhaps most important in my view, failing to win the argument on foreign policy:
… most middle Americans recognize Benghazi for what it was—a terribly sad tragedy, but the kind of thing that, in a dangerous world, happens. And yes, many middle Americans would consider it a smudge on the administration’s security record, but most middle Americans also know that record is otherwise rather impressive. It seems to me someone just ran for president trying to argue otherwise, and he lost pretty handily.
And finally and maybe most of all, McCain and others are furious that the Republicans have lost their “natural” advantage on national-security issues. They are desperate to change that, and the quickest way to start doing so is to get Rice’s scalp.
As it turns out, Barack Obama seems to have won the election, in part, by garnering support from evangelical Christian voters in key states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan‘s home state of Wisconsin, which is also, by the way, home to the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.
This article, “The Great Religious Realignment,” provides a detailed explanation of the religious restructuring that is currently taking place in America.
Here is a summation of the trend from Sarah Posner:
The exit polls, like I have said, are imperfect: some states were not subjected to exit polling, and on religion questions, there’s so much inconsistency between how questions are asked in different states that it’s hard to compare two states where one includes data on evangelicals and the other does not. But given what we’ve learned recently about religious realignments—declining numbers of Catholics, declining numbers of mainline Protestants, declining numbers of evangelicals in the 18- to 29-year-old age group, and increasing numbers of unaffiliated voters, and in particular, atheists and agnostics in the 18- to 29-year-old age group—it seems like a significant shift is underway.
Mitt Romney seems to be resolute in his delusion about the election and why he really lost.
This week during a conference call with some big-money supporters, he threw plenty of blame around, most of it involving charges that Barack Obama offered various “gifts” for certain segments of voters, like women, blacks and Hispanics.
According to this New York Times article:
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”
This statement is contemptible for numerous reasons.
First, rather than Obama’s policies being viewed through a lens of necessity and obligation to move civil rights ever forward in order to actually help people — rather than, you know, merely giving lip service to the idea that you care about average Americans — Romney casts Obama as some kind of political profiteer, and indeed the whole election as just one big sales pitch. This approach not only dehumanizes politics; it dehumanizes and trivializes the candidates as well as the voters.
Romney’s statement above also happens to be a wild misrepresentation of what really happened. Obama didn’t just focus on civil rights and immigration during the debates and speeches leading up to the election, and Romney didn’t have anything new to offer on jobs, foreign policy or military strategy. Regarding employment, he said that he would create 12 million jobs in four years, true. But Moody’s Analytics has estimated that 12 million jobs will be created through 2016 regardless of who is president. Job creation estimates are based on policies that have already been implemented. This was Romney’s only substantive claim about job growth.
Further, during the final debate, other than the obligatory Republican call to expand the military, we couldn’t really tell how Romney was any different than Obama on foreign policy and the military. According to this Reuters article:
Monday night’s foreign policy debate between the Republican presidential nominee and the Democratic president was striking for the frequency with which Romney aligned himself with Obama’s strategies rather than distancing himself from them.
So, what was this “strategy” Romney was talking about that was focused on the big issues? On most of the big issues other than health care, he more closely aligned or even agreed with Obama’s policies.
I don’t make a practice of watching a lot of MSNBC because I think that would make me no better than FOX News viewers who tune in every day to have their own views confirmed, but Al Sharpton (He should not be a TV host for many reasons) did have an interesting segment tonight in which he featured a previously unreleased audio recording of Lee Atwater outlining what he thought should be the more modern GOP strategy for taking advantage of white bigotry in the early 1980s. Here is one of the more offensive parts:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Romney, Bill O’Reilly, Paul Ryan and others within the GOP have essentially used this strategy to cater to the uneducated, white vote in the South and other rural parts of the nation. While they can’t say anything approaching the offensiveness of “nigger” anymore, they can play on the same white fears that they have for the better part of a century. It’s a hideous but effective strategy.