Monday, June 27, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
With apologies to Sarah Vowell, whom I love reading & heartily recommend.
From The Wordy Shipmates
Protestantism's evolution away from hierarchy and authority has enormous consequences for America and the world. On the one hand, the democratization of religion runs parallel to political democratization. The king of England, questioning the pope, inspires English subjects to question the king and his Anglican bishops. Such dissent is backed up by a Bible full of handy Scripture arguing for arguing with one's king. This is the root of self-government in the English-speaking world.
On the other hand, Protestantism's shedding away of authority, as evidenced by my mother's proclamation that I needn't go to church or listen to a preacher to achieve salvation, inspires self-reliance - along with a dangerous disregard for expertise. So the impulse that leads to democracy can also be the downside of democracy - namely, a suspicion of people who know what they are talking about. It's why in US presidential elections the American people will elect a wisecracking good ol' boy who's fun in a malt shop instead of a serious thinker who actually knows some of the pompous, brainy stuff that might actually get fewer people laid off or killed.
In 1790, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson come to Newport, stumping for the Bill of Rights. (Rhode Island is the last state to ratify the Constitution precisely because its citizens hold out for a bill of rights so they can retain the freedom of religion they have enjoyed since the days of Roger Williams.) Moses Sexias, a member of the Touro Synagogue, wrote Washington a letter asking about his administration's policy toward Jews. Washington's response, addressed "to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island," reassures Sexias and his brethren that the American government goes beyond mere tolerance:
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.
Posted by Michelle at 4:39 PM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Eh, that's just a cute title. I'm not even a little anarchist. Humans need government. Is our current system clunky and ineffectual at times? Definitely. Is it better than any alternative out there? Absolutely. Just look at Somalia:
Check out the recent news concerning the pollution and over-fishing of the oceans that's predicted to wipe out all marine life within one generation. How did this happen? Because without regulation, humans will wipe every species off the planet. It's Manifest Destiny run amuck.
And to those who would say that their faith gives them the right to claim all earth's creatures for their use (Genesis 1:26-28), I would say that any divine power that "created" all of the earth and its creatures surely did not intend for us to act like 3 yr old boys, destroying everything in our path just because we can.
My anarchist friends are quick to point out that because any government is inherently corrupt, society is better off governing ourselves. Do they remember history? Remember the frontier? This is what happens when we govern ourselves: we steal; we lie and cheat; we murder; the strong inherit the earth on the backs of the weak. Like any teenager, society needs boundaries with clearly delineated guidelines and consequences. Those consequences though should be a whole other blog post on how the current system of criminal justice is anything but, and I will save that for another time.
My fervent republican or crunchy hippie friends who seek autonomy and a return to a simpler existence of barter and living off the land also need government, though they would deny this tooth and nail. Maybe if we had no history, if we didn't have minorities who have been robbed from and made effectively into slaves or indentured servants for so long, then perhaps no one would just kill you for asserting that this tract of land is "yours." But you won't make people forget, nor should we wish anyone to forget history. Change cannot come from without, it must come from within. I'm recalling the words of Malcolm Reynolds in Serenity: "Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that."
Communism/Socialism also inherently do not work because of human nature. The people at the top always become tyrants and redistribute wealth unfairly. Wealth is also inherently unfair. Some who work for it have it while some don't; some who do not work for it have it and do not share. Society will never "fix" this. Government is the only thing that can.
It is this author's opinion that no single person should ever have an income exceeding $100,000. It's a sign of our incessant waste, price inflation, and greedy corporations who charge so much for food and housing that we think we need to earn so much money. We do not. I would propose that Government limit businesses to only paying their employees a capped salary. Any excess salary would be donated to charities approved by the Government, but not run by them. Businesses profiting now from these salary caps would be made to hire more employees and solve our unemployment crisis, or also donate to charities. Think of all the good we could do for curing diseases, homelessness, hunger, medical care.
It would have to be a clearly open and apparent system. There could be no secrets; no confidential files. But it also wouldn't work. The wealthy would simply move away. And we as a species are too self-serving to see the benefit of a global form of government. America, such as it is, is still our best hope as a species for one day attaining a balance of governors and citizens. Like the quote from Michael Douglas in The American President: "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.' Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"
Alas I fear that the future will not look much different that today. Unless some divine power or environmental disaster comes along to wipe us out like the parasites we are to this planet, we will continue to cause species to go extinct, continue to deforest the rainforests, continue to abuse each other & let the sick, hungry, and poor die, because we think we earned the right to live. I have news for you. Winning isn't about who lives the longest. Cockroaches will always have you beat 10:1.
I want to close with a quote from Battlestar Galatica when Cylon Sharon Boomer speaks to Admiral Adama, the man charged with saving humanity from the robots and from themselves: "You said, 'Man never asked itself why it should survive.' Maybe you don't."
Posted by Michelle at 7:26 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I've been seeing a lot of the Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann in the news lately. Without taking too deep a look, I saw yet another "Michelle/Michele" entering the political fray & a lot of comparison to Sarah Palin. But after she was called out to a history debate by a 16 yr old, and she refused to address the challenge or the persons threatening to rape and murder this poor girl, I had to find out more about this Representative of my state. I am embarrassed for my state that its most known Representatives are of this new breed of Republican that misconstrues history and science to fit its holier than thou purposes. I also am angry on behalf of my President, historians, school teachers, and everyday Christians whom she bad mouths or represents falsely with her words everyday.
Let me show you what I've seen...
Bachmann: "Not All Cultures Are Equal" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP4hYkfwuTY
Selections from "Bachmann's Unrivaled Extremism" from The Daily Beast by Michelle Goldberg
But in Minnesota, even those who don't like her politics say she shouldn't be underestimated. "The fact that she's not a heavy lifter, the fact that she's relatively unconcerned about the substance of legislation, does not mean that she's not crafty, that she's not intelligent and she's not fast," says former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican. Her ideological radicalism should not be mistaken for stupidity....A key moment in her political evolution, as for many of her generation, a was the film series "How Should We Then Live" by the theologian Francis Schaeffer, who is widely credited for mobilizing evangelicals against abortion, an issue most had previously ignored. A Presbyterian minister, Schaeffer argued that our entire perception of reality depends on our worldview, and that only those with the right one can understand the true nature of things. Christianity, he argued, is "a whole system of truth, and this system is the only system that will stand up to all the questions that are presented to us as we face the reality of existence." Theories or assertions from outside this system—evolution, for example—can be dismissed as the product of mistaken premises.This accounts for some of the bafflement that occasionally greets Bachmann's statements. "Michele Bachmann says certain things that sound crazy to the general public," says author Frank Schaeffer, Francis Schaeffer's son and former collaborator. "But to anybody raised in the environment of the evangelical right wing, what she says makes perfect sense."...Bachmann often says she has "raised" 23 foster children. That may be a bit of a stretch. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Bachmann's license, which she had for 7 1/2 years, allowed her to care for up to three children at a time. According to Kris Harvieux, a former senior social worker in the foster care system in Bachmann's county, some placements were almost certainly short term. "Some of them you have for a week. Some of them you have for three years, some you have for six months," says Harvieux, who also served as a foster parent herself. "She makes it sound like she got them at birth and raised them to adulthood, but that's not true."...In the statehouse, Bachmann made opposition to gay marriage her signature issue. Both she and her husband, by all accounts her most trusted political adviser, believe that homosexuality can be cured. Speaking to a Christian radio station about gay teenagers last year, Marcus Bachmann, who treats gay people in his counseling practice, said, "Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels this or thinks this, doesn't mean that we're supposed to go down that road."...In 2004, Bachmann gave a speech warning that gay marriage would lead to schoolchildren being indoctrinated into homosexuality. She wanted everyone to know, though, that she doesn't hate gay people. "Any of you who have members of your family in the lifestyle, we have a member of our family that is," she said. "This is not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay."She was clearly talking about her 51-year-old stepsister, Helen LaFave, who had lived with her partner, Nia Wronski, for more than 15 years....In a Star Tribune story headlined "Bachmann, stepsister hold opposing views," Bachmann claimed that she'd polled her siblings and stepsiblings, and that six of the nine agreed with her. Her stepbrother Mike LaFave was horrified. "The reality was she hadn't taken a family vote count, nor would my family ever do such a thing," he says. "I just find it terrible that when Michele was taken by surprise by a question she wasn't prepared for, the first thing she did was throw not only my sister but her whole family under the bus."
"The Time Michele Bachmann Thought She’d Been Kidnapped By Lesbians" from Jezebel by Irin Carmon
Bachmann, then a state senator, had already been caught hiding in the bushes of a gay rights event and campaigned against gay marriage. But she refused to talk about the issue at a constituent forum, and when said ex-nun and lesbian constituent came into the bathroom to politely take it up with her, she lost it:Suddenly, after less than a minute, Bachmann let out a shriek. "Help!" she screamed. "Help! I'm being held against my will!"Arnold, who is just over 5 feet tall, was stunned, and hurried to open the door. Bachmann bolted out and fled, crying, to an SUV outside. Then she called the police, saying, according to the police report, that she was "absolutely terrified and has never been that terrorized before as she had no idea what those two women were going to do to her." The Washington County attorney, however, declined to press charges, writing in a memo, "It seems clear from the statements given by both women that they simply wanted to discuss certain issues further with Ms. Bachmann."
"10 Of The Craziest Things Michele Bachmann Has Ever Said" from ThingProgress.org By Elon Green
Before Republicans or the media start treating Bachmann like a mainstream candidate, though, it's useful to review this handy list of the craziest things she's ever said. Our pick: The time she singled out the Lion King as an opportunity for gay brainwashing. "A teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?' The message is: I'm better at what I do, because I'm gay."
- BACHMANN WARNED ‘THE LION KING’ WAS GAY PROPAGANDA: At the November 2004 EdWatch National Education Conference, Bachmann said the “normalization” of homosexuality would lead to “desensitization”: “Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of ‘The Lion King’ for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.”
- BACHMANN CLAIMED ABOLISHING THE MINIMUM WAGE WOULD CREATE JOBS: While testifying in front of the Minnesota Senate in 2005, Bachmann said, “Literally, if we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” This isn’t remotely true. Even simply reducing the minimum wage would, as Paul Krugman noted, “at best do nothing for employment; more likely it would actually be contractionary.”
- BACHMANN CLAIMED THAT SCIENTISTS ARE SUPPORTERS OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN: During a 2006 debate, Bachmann said, “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” This was, and is, not true.
- BACHMANN CLAIMED TERRI SCHIAVO WAS ‘HEALTHY’: Not long after Terri Schiavo died, Bachmann said she would have voted for the Palm Sunday Compromise because Schiavo “was healthy. She had brain damage — there was brain damage, there was no question. But from a health point of view, she was not terminally ill.” An autopsy found that Schiavo had suffered irreversible brain damage and her brain, said the medical examiner, was “profoundly atrophied.”
- BACHMANN LIKENED VISITING IRAQ TO VISITING MALL OF AMERICA: In 2007, Bachmann returned from a junket to Iraq and told her colleagues, “[T]here’s a commonality with the Mall of America, in that it’s on that proportion. There’s marble everywhere. The other thing I remarked about was there is water everywhere.” As ThinkProgress documented at the time, the comparison was preposterous.
- BACHMANN CLAIMED THAT CARBON DIOXIDE IS ‘HARMLESS’: In 2008, a Stanford scientist revealed “direct links” between increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and “increases in human mortality” — globally, he found that as many as “20,000 air-pollution-related deaths per year per degree Celsius may be due to this greenhouse gas.” The next year, Bachmann, who is not a scientist, said that “carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.”
- BACHMANN CALLED FOR A CONGRESSIONAL WITCH HUNT: Pivoting off the news of Barack Obama’s alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, and his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bachmann accused the candidate of having “anti-American views.” She then suggested that Congressional liberals — including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — ought to be subject to “an exposé” by the media because of their views. “I think people would love to see like that,” she told a stunned Chris Matthews.
- BACHMANN SUGGESTED GAY SINGER SHOULD REPENT AFTER GETTING CANCER: Bachmann saw Melissa Etheridge’s cancer as a teachable moment: “Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers,” she said in November 2004. “This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian.”
- BACHMANN BOASTED ABOUT BREAKING THE LAW: In advance of the 2010 national Census, Bachmann told The Washington Times that she would break the law by not completing the forms. “I know for my family, the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”
- BACHMANN CLAIMED THAT GLENN BECK COULD SOLVE THE DEBT CRISIS: During a February trip to South Carolina, Bachmann told a South Carolina audience, “I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this [the national debt].”
"Bachmann: Dems would allow abortions for 13-year-olds" from Politico by Glenn Thrush
Bachmann, speaking on the floor Wednesday evening:"[T]he bill orders that these clinics protect patient privacy and student records. What does that mean? It means that parents will never know what kind of counsel and treatment that their children are receiving. And as a matter of fact, the bill goes on to say what's going to go on — comprehensive primary health services, physicals, treatment of minor acute medical conditions, referrals to follow-up for specialty care — is that abortion? Does that mean that someone's 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus that night? Mom and Dad are never the wiser."
"Our Peace Prize-winning president is very busy bowing these days to kings. He is bending down to dictators, and he is brown-nosing the elites that are in Europe, and he's babying the jihadists who are following Sharia-compliant terrorism. He is callow and confused and inconsistent in his response to the Egyptian crisis, and to the uprisings in Iran, and to the terrorist threats. And he's accomplishing something nobody thought even possible: He's making Jimmy Carter look like a Rambo tough-guy."-- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), quoted by tpartanburg Herald Journal during a visit to South Carolina.
"16-year-old faces threats after challenging Bachmann to a debate" from CBS By Stephanie Condon
16-year-old high school student says she is facing online threats after calling into question Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's knowledge of the Constitution.What started as a harmless -- if cheeky -- way of pointing out Bachmann's historical mistakes has turned darker for New Jersey high school sophomore Amy Meyers."I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted," Myers wrote."As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere."Several media outlets reported on Myers' challenge. As a result, she said, people have threatened violence against her and threatened to publish her address online, the Courier Post reports. Myers' high school has also reportedly received inquiries regarding Myers' letter."A lot of them are calling me a whore," Myers said of the online remarks against her. Added her father Wayne Myers: "I personally did not think there would be a reaction like actual stalking and the vitriol that's coming out."Bachmann's office has said it would not respond to the debate challenge.
"The skewering of Sal Russo: Live by the Tea Party, die by the Tea Party. The GOP flack falls apart defending Michele Bachmann's slavery history" from Salon by Joan Walsh
"But Bachmann was just as wrong with her happy talk that economic or immigration status never mattered, that "we were all the same." Even white men weren't all the same in early U.S. history: Many colonies and states only allowed property-owners to vote; universal white male suffrage wasn't achieved until 1830. Those happy immigrants? Nativists were attacking Catholics, especially Irish Catholics, throughout much of the 19th century, burning down churches, convents and homes. The Chinese exclusion act lasted from 1882 to 1943. We know the history of Japanese internment. Certainly Indians and native Mexicans who were here first weren't "all the same." The story of America is the struggle to expand more rights to more people, and it's required fighting the forces of reaction like Bachmann since its founding. I love my country, but that's our history."
"Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann Doesn’t Think All Liberals Are Un-American" from Jezebel by Megan Carpentier
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann told Chris Matthews on Hardball that she wishes the "American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America," implying that all liberals are some level of anti-American. In the wake of what turned out to be a flood of donations for her opponent, she'd like to take it all back. Actually, she'd like us to know that she never actually said it in the first place and that down is up and back is forth.Instead of apologizing, she just blames it all on other people. "Despite the way the blogs and the Democratic Party are spinning it, I never called all liberals anti-American, I never questioned Barack Obama’s patriotism, and I never asked for some House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunt into my colleagues in Congress," said Bachmann. We can go back to the tape, but she called his views and associations un-American, implied strongly that all liberals are anti-American (some more than others) and, indeed, called for an "exposé" into which of her Congressional colleagues held un-American views.
And lastly, this...
"Michele Bachmann Glitterbomed" from Jezebel byErin Gloria Ryan
Republican Presidential hopeful/crazy-eyed nutjob Michele Bachmann is the latest conservative to have her life glitterized on Saturday. Bachmann was speaking at a right wing political event when gay rights activist Rachel E. B. Lang flung two fistfuls of the sparkly stuff at the Congresswoman. Undaunted, Bachmann continued walking through the glitter confetti rain toward the people with whom she was going to greet, like an unstoppable robot hell-bent on rights destruction.
Posted by Michelle at 4:26 PM