Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 :: 2:04 AM

"Over the past five years, a creeping extremism has taken hold of our federal government, and it is threatening to radically alter our system of government and who we are as a nation. This extremism is neither conservative nor liberal in nature, but is instead driven by theories of unlimited presidential power that are wholly alien, and antithetical, to the core political values that have governed this country since its founding.

"And the fact that this seizure of ever-expanding presidential power is largely justified through endless, rank fear-mongering—fear of terrorists, specifically—means that not only our system of government is radically changing, but so, too, are our national character, our national identity, and what it means to be American." (>>)

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 :: 10:13 AM

"If the world's governments continue to insist that wiretapping capacity must be built into every computer; if the state of California continues to insist that cell phones have kill switches allowing remote instructions to be executed on your phone that you can't countermand or even know about; if the entertainment industry continues to insist that the general-purpose computer must be neutered so you can't use it to watch TV the wrong way; if the World Wide Web Consortium continues to infect the core standards of the web itself to allow remote control over your computer against your wishes—then we are in deep, deep trouble." (>>)

Monday, April 8th, 2013 :: 11:49 PM

"Remember the words of James Madison: 'The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.' The 'studied care' Madison describes behind that 'vesting' has not been matched by any equal and opposite studied care in recent decades, as we've divested that same power. It's not a conspiracy. Rational political actors, acting rationally to achieve rational (if sometimes dumb) political goals, have attacked and undermined our constitutional inheritance from men like Madison. For the most part, though, they've not done it to fundamentally alter the country's course but just to get around understandably frustrating impediments to their political goals. The ropes we had used to lash down presidential war-making capacity, bindings that by design made it hard for an American president to use military force without the nation's full and considered buy-in, have been hacked at with very little appreciation about why they were put there in the first place.

"When Ronald Reagan extricated himself from the Iran-Contra scandal by cutting one of those crucial mooring lines-without considered forethought or specific course headings in mind-it set the country adrift and heading into a dangerous tide.

"Congress has never since effectively asserted itself to stop a president with a bead on war. It was true of George Herbert Walker Bush. It was true of Bill Clinton. And by September 11, 2001, even if there had been real resistance to Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush starting the next war (or two), there were no institutional barriers strong enough to have realistically stopped them. By 9/11, the war-making authority in the United States had become, for all intents and purposes, uncontested and unilateral: one man's decision to make.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this." (>>)

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 :: 9:56 AM

"This insistence on secrecy was fueled in part by Reagan's fear that the hostages or the men inside Iran doing the talking would be killed if details of the negotiations became public. Nobody in the Reagan administration had good enough contacts to know if this fear had any basis in reality. Hard data had never been-and would never be-a controlling factor in the Reagan administration's decision-making process. But there was also just the embarrassment factor. Given a choice between secrecy and the public finding out about the operation's Laurel-and-Hardy-worthy failures (up to and including the Iranians sending our weapons back, dissatisfied!), who wouldn't choose secrecy? Finally, there was the fact that much of what Team Reagan was doing was not simply flying in the face of their own stated policy against dealing with terrorists ('We make no concessions,' Reagan had said. 'We make no deals') or state sponsors of international terrorism (Iran was a gold-plated designee on that list); it was not just shredding the president's own executive orders and national security directives; it was not simply executing a spectacular and hypocritical affront to good sense and good diplomacy; but, in fact, much of this arms-for-hostages operation was quite flagrantly against the law. Flat-out illegal." (>>)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 :: 2:11 PM

"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." (>>)

Friday, January 18th, 2013 :: 10:51 PM

"Freedom of speech is useless unless it includes the freedom to offend others. No one is jailed in Cuba or Iran for speech that offends no one. It is only once speech offends someone that its freedom can truly be tested. In this way, the Westboro Church is a test. We fail the test if our impulse is to use guns to shut them up." (>>)

Monday, December 31st, 2012 :: 9:11 PM

"What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet, or even, if he is a boxer, just his muscles? Far from it: at the same time, he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war." (>>)

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 :: 9:00 AM

"The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance 'whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,' has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers.

[…]

"During a point in history when our government has been accused of sending prisoners to secret locations where they were said to have been tortured and the C.I.A. is conducting remote-controlled wars in far-flung places, it’s not a good time to treat the people who aid in the publication of critical information as spies." (>>)

Saturday, October 13th, 2012 :: 3:20 PM

"I think there ought to be a great debate about the stimulus and its interventions in various sectors of the economy. But we haven’t had that debate. We’ve debated a bizarro-world stimulus that does not exist. And I think that’s true about Obama, too. I don’t think he comes across as “brilliant.” I think he comes across as a pragmatic left-of-center technocrat who wasn’t interested in pursuing lost causes, but basically tried to do what he said he would do during the campaign. He wasn’t a policy entrepreneur with new policy ideas, but he did his best to get 60 votes for old policy ideas that made sense, and then pushed his administration to put them into action as cleanly and competently as possible. And I did a lot of reporting in the bowels of the bureaucracy and around the country to show how change has been playing out.

[…]

"Can you explain why so many local Republican officials and organizations traditionally aligned with the GOP (like the Chamber of Commerce) supported the stimulus, while the national party was united against it?

"The top priority for many local Republican politicians and Republican-leaning business organizations was avoiding a depression. They saw that the Obama stimulus wasn’t radical leftism; it was textbook countercyclical stimulus. Republicans had called for $300 billion worth of tax cuts, and that’s exactly what it had. Republican governors like Crist, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Jodi Rell of Connecticut, Jim Douglas of Vermont, and Jon Hunstman of Utah understood that its aid to states—over $160 billion worth—would prevent massive cutbacks of public services and massive layoffs of public employees. As the lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce told me: When you sit where I sit, you don’t want to see an epic collapse of aggregate demand. Depressions are bad for business. I also tell a fun story of a Democratic aide screaming and cursing at some business lobbyists, warning that they’d get nothing from the Democratic Congress if they couldn’t support an economic recovery bill during an economic emergency.

"But the top priority for Washington Republicans was denying Obama bipartisan victories, so that they could come back from political oblivion. There’s a lot of fun fly-on-the-wall stuff in the book about meetings where Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, and other GOP leaders made this case—and on-the-record quotes from former GOP congressmen like Mike Castle, George Voinovich, and Specter complaining about it. McConnell often reminded his caucus about the 1984 election. Everyone remembers it as the 49-state Reagan landslide, Morning in America; people forget that only one Republican challenger ousted a Democratic incumbent that year. (It was McConnell, so he remembers.) His point was that there was nothing to be gained by going along with Obama. If the recovery plan worked and the economy boomed, Republicans would get re-elected even if they had voted against Obama. But if the economy was still struggling in 2010, Republicans could make a comeback if they stuck together.

[…]

"Did the Republican opposition ruin Keynesian stimulus for the indefinite future?

"I doubt it. The opposition is mostly opportunistic. One of the Republican alternatives to the stimulus in the House was a $715 billion plan that included far more highway construction than Obama’s. Almost the entire GOP conference supported it. And Republicans still defend business tax cuts and defense spending in Keynesian terms, even though they’re generally mediocre as Keynesian stimulus. I suspect that if Mitt Romney wins the election, the Republican opposition to fiscal stimulus will vanish, along with their rhetorical commitment to reining in budget deficits." (>>)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 :: 9:06 PM

"Security theater refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security. An example: the photo ID checks that have sprung up in office buildings. No-one has ever explained why verifying that someone has a photo ID provides any actual security, but it looks like security to have a uniformed guard-for-hire looking at ID cards. Airport-security examples include the National Guard troops stationed at US airports in the months after 9/11 — their guns had no bullets…

[…]

Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn't make any sense.
Often, this 'something' is directly related to the details of a recent event: we confiscate liquids, screen shoes, and ban box cutters on aeroplanes. But it's not the target and tactics of the last attack that are important, but the next attack. These measures are only effective if we happen to guess what the next terrorists are planning. If we spend billions defending our rail systems, and the terrorists bomb a shopping mall instead, we've wasted our money. If we concentrate airport security on screening shoes and confiscating liquids, and the terrorists hide explosives in their brassieres and use solids, we've wasted our money. Terrorists don't care what they blow up and it shouldn't be our goal merely to force the terrorists to make a minor change in their tactics or targets.

[…]

We should treat terrorists like common criminals and give them all the benefits of true and open justice — not merely because it demonstrates our indomitability, but because it makes us all safer. Once a society starts circumventing its own laws, the risks to its future stability are much greater than terrorism. (>>)

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012 :: 6:45 AM

"Even af­ter his parachute opened, Tyler Stark sensed he was coming down too fast. The last thing he’d heard was the pilot saying, 'Bailout! Bailout! Bail–' Before the third call was finished, there'd come the violent kick in the rear from the ejector seat, then a rush of cool air. They called it 'opening shock' for a reason.

[…]

"All the people who had been demanding intervention went nuts after we intervened and said it was outrageous. That’s because the controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine." (>>)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 :: 9:26 PM

"The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality." (>>)

Saturday, August 11th, 2012 :: 2:53 PM

"Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem." (>>)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 :: 5:34 PM

"For those who do not have reliable access to basic social goods, the primary enemy of freedom is not government interference but, rather, the lack of resources that are necessary conditions of valuable choice." (>>)

Monday, July 16th, 2012 :: 10:27 PM

"Because of the way we fund the campaigns that determine our elections, we give the tiniest fraction of America the power to veto any meaningful policy change. Not just change on the left but also change on the right. Because of the structure of influence that we have allowed to develop, the tiniest fraction of the one percent have the effective power to block reform desired by the 99-plus percent.

"[…] 0.000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

"It is as if America ran two elections every cycle, one a money election and one a voting election. To get to the second, you need to win the first. But to win the first, you must keep that tiniest fraction of the one percent happy. Just a couple thousand of them banding together is enough to assure that any reform gets stopped." (>>)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 :: 10:33 PM

"This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that's not sustainable. I have lived the life of someone taking action on the basis of secret O.L.C. memos, and it ain't a good life. Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. safe." (>>)

Sunday, May 6th, 2012 :: 9:47 PM

"Gordon, I know times have been tough. But the American people care about your daughter and her child. So we’ve set aside some money to help people in your situation. We can help you get through this. Your daughter and her child are important to us as a society." (>>)

Sunday, April 29th, 2012 :: 4:52 PM

"There is an enormous amount of poorly defined terminology and fuzzy thinking used in both pro-choice and pro-life writings." (>>)

"Dialogue between pro-life and pro-choice supporters is almost non-existent. Even face-to-face debating is rare. As a result, there are many questions that have never been resolved. Of these, perhaps the most important is the precise timing of the beginning of human personhood. That is, when during pregnancy does a new human being exist with full civil rights — [including the] most important right of all: the right to live?" (>>)

"A culture of life starts with stopping the root causes for abortions." (>>)

Saturday, April 21st, 2012 :: 1:34 PM

"In other words, this isn't an argument between two equally reasonable positions. It's an argument between reason and emotion, between your brain and your gut. Amazon has no intellectually sound arguments against collecting taxes from residents—by all ethical and civic standards, its position is unsound. Instead, Amazon is counting on our emotions prevailing—on loyal, tax-savvy customers like me lashing out at our price-hiking legislators. I worry that there's a good chance Amazon—and people like me—will prevail." (>>)

Friday, April 13th, 2012 :: 7:59 PM

"Because these Americans are here at the direction of our civilian politicians, we are incurring a debt — a lifelong debt to the Americans serving in uniform here, to honor them and assume some public responsibility for them for the rest of their lives as veterans. Part of that responsibility, part of respecting that service, is understanding what exactly it is we are asking them to do here. Not just how much danger we're putting them in, but why we're doing it…" (>>)

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 :: 10:41 PM

"It might seem that in the United States, being pulled over for driving without a seat belt should not end with the government ordering you to take off your clothes and 'lift your genitals.' But there is no guarantee that this is the case — not since the Supreme Court ruled this week that the Constitution does not prohibit the government from strip searching people charged with even minor offenses. The court's 5-4 ruling turns a deeply humiliating procedure — one most Americans would very much like to avoid — into a routine law enforcement tactic." (>>)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 :: 9:46 PM

"…there have been many times when I have disagreed with decisions Obama has made[, … but] given the enormity of what he inherited, and given what he explicitly promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama's long game — and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country's future as his original election in 2008.

[…]

"[Liberals] miss, it seems to me, two vital things. The first is the simple scale of what has been accomplished on issues liberals say they care about. A depression was averted. The bail-out of the auto industry was—amazingly—successful. Even the bank bailouts have been repaid to a great extent by a recovering banking sector. The Iraq War—the issue that made Obama the nominee—has been ended on time and, vitally, with no troops left behind. Defense is being cut steadily, even as Obama has moved his own party away from a Pelosi-style reflexive defense of all federal entitlements. Under Obama, support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization has crested to record levels. Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact of American life. Gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department. Vast government money has been poured into noncarbon energy investments, via the stimulus. Fuel-emission standards have been drastically increased. Torture was ended. Two moderately liberal women replaced men on the Supreme Court. Oh, yes, and the liberal holy grail that eluded Johnson and Carter and Clinton, nearly universal health care, has been set into law. Politifact recently noted that of 508 specific promises, a third had been fulfilled and only two have not had some action taken on them. To have done all this while simultaneously battling an economic hurricane makes Obama about as honest a follow-through artist as anyone can expect from a politician.

[…]

"This is where the left is truly deluded. By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, they have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game. He did this with his own party over health-care reform. He has done it with the Republicans over the debt. He has done it with the Israeli government over stopping the settlements on the West Bank—and with the Iranian regime, by not playing into their hands during the Green Revolution, even as they gunned innocents down in the streets. Nothing in his first term—including the complicated multiyear rollout of universal health care—can be understood if you do not realize that Obama was always planning for eight years, not four. And if he is reelected, he will have won a battle more important than 2008: for it will be a mandate for an eight-year shift away from the excesses of inequality, overreach abroad, and reckless deficit spending of the last three decades. It will recapitalize him to entrench what he has done already and make it irreversible." (>>)

Monday, October 31st, 2011 :: 9:47 PM

"When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.

[…]

"And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning — they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more." (>>)

Friday, August 19th, 2011 :: 7:01 AM

"…American politics, much like the starship Enterprise, is fueled by a matter-antimatter warp core. The matter is made up of actual policies and laws. The antimatter is made up of what those in power say they believe in. Combine the two in the proper proportions and you’re off to explore strange new forehead ridges. What’s left over from the reaction becomes policy, the actual rules you need to live by in order to make your way through society." (>>)

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 :: 7:47 AM

"I don’t condone violent demonstrations and I think [the] looting of small businesses is sad and immoral. But you should understand that sometimes when people hit the streets en masse and make some noise, it has a purpose. It can’t be explained away by labeling them 'rioters'." (>>)

Sunday, March 13th, 2011 :: 9:32 AM

"Two pundits want to discuss the political ramifications of an event. Pundit #1 (let’s call him Jack) makes an alleged statement of fact about the event. Pundit #2 (let’s call her Jill) disagrees, and alleges that the truth of what transpired is something else entirely. In this case, these aren't subjective claims, these are claims of fact, about something that reasonable people could agree on were the evidence presented to them. Just to be clear, this isn’t something like 'Obama is a communist,' where there are endless opportunities for nuance, obtuseness, and subjective interpretation. This is something that could be objectively determined. And now Jack and Jill have made opposing statements of fact about the matter. This is an impasse. One of two things should happen: Jack and Jill should investigate the matter and find out who is mistaken (it must be one of them, but could even be both of them), or they should move on to a topic where the basic facts are not in dispute." (>>)

Friday, October 8th, 2010 :: 2:24 AM

"…it is in the hard cases that our commitment to the First Amendment is most tested and most important. As one federal judge has put it, tolerating hateful speech is 'the best protection we have against any Nazi-type regime in this country.' " (>>)

Saturday, September 18th, 2010 :: 3:00 AM

"On this day celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, let’s honor his memory by taking time to remember why so many people didn’t like him. Now that Dr. King is dead and gone, leaders of all stripes purr their respect. But back in the day many of these same people didn’t like what he said nor what he did, nor what he stood for.

[…]

"It’s easy to remember the easy parts of Martin Luther King’s legacy. Who today could object to his 'I Have a Dream' speech? It’s a lot harder to act on the tough parts, the parts that riled up his political base, even though they were the right and moral things to do. Let’s honor Dr. King’s memory today by remembering the tough parts, the parts that challenge the conventional political wisdom. We can honor him even more by having the courage to act on these convictions." (>>)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 :: 10:17 AM

"Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny." (>>)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 :: 12:03 PM

"When a race is on the line, and Thurston Howell III wants to get involved, it is the rare DC player who’ll tell him to put his wallet away. Still, it’s troubling. The Supreme Court says, in effect, money equals free speech. Therefore, if you limit money in a campaign, you are limiting the free speech of the people with that money. But the corollary is also compelling. If money is indeed free speech, then the richer you are, the more free speech you have. And while limiting free speech seems anti-American, allowing somehow to buy a disproportionate share of such a basic freedom also seems a little…how can I put it? Unspeakable." (>>)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 :: 11:55 AM

"Rape culture is…" (>>)

Monday, March 16th, 2009 :: 11:46 AM

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves. Finally just lay back and say, that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable." (>>)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 :: 10:50 AM

"…it would be both right and smart for the West to invest in preventing fires rather than putting them out, which is always a lot more expensive… The cost of five days of war in Iraq would have elliminated illteracy worldwide. Which will finally make us more secure?" (>>)

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 :: 11:50 AM

" 'no one is above the law' " (>>)

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 :: 1:37 PM

"I suppose that's a good strategy for trying to win an up or down vote, but it's a dangerous way to think about living in a pluralist society – a society which includes significant numbers of people on either side of the issue. Win or lose, you have to go to work with people who believe (perhaps passionately) differently than you." (>>)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 :: 10:43 AM

"Tamm had a serious fault–he treated his oath to uphold the Constitution and laws seriously. And that’s why for this and future generations, Tamm will be viewed as a hero while those persecuting him will be listed with the perennial dimwits who confuse fidelity to the leader with devotion to the law." (>>)

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 :: 10:25 AM

"In a January 2006 debate, Yoo was asked if any law could stop the president, if he 'deems that he's got to torture somebody,' from, say, 'crushing the testicles of the person's child.' Yoo's response: 'I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.'

"In 2006, for instance, U.S. District Judge David Trager dismissed a suit by a thirty-five-year-old Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, who in 2002 was seized by U.S. government agents at John F. Kennedy Airport and delivered to Syria, where he was tortured for ten months before being released. No charges were filed against Arar, and his torturers eventually admitted he had no links to any crime. In explaining his dismissal, Trager noted with approval an earlier Supreme Court finding that such judgment would 'threaten "our customary policy of deference to the President in matters of foreign affairs." '

"It appears for the moment, however, that the people of the United States prefer the Roman approach and so will abet their government in maintaining a facade of constitutional democracy until the nation drifts into bankruptcy. … The American people will be forced to learn what it means to be a far poorer nation and the attitudes and manners that go with it." (>>)

Friday, December 12th, 2008 :: 11:00 AM

"…this kind of dehumanization is what happens when we send our children to war." (>>)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 :: 10:23 AM

"I know some people are angry that there are tip jars in places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. But as Amjad and Rami illustrate, they count on that money to help make ends meet. Don’t get angry at them or the tip jars. They’re a symptom, not a problem. Many tipped workers aren’t paid a living wage which causes the American public to basically subsidize the labor costs of both small businesses and multi-billion dollar corporations alike. Annoying isn’t it? Over the four plus years I’ve written this blog tipping is a hot topic. The normal retort I get from the uber red meat capitalist commenters when I discuss this stuff is 'You don’t like my tip? You don’t like the money you make? Get another job you bum!'

"But now the tables have turned. Many of those 'uber capitalists' are now working for (or used to) enfeebled companies that are going hat in hand to the American taxpayer for over a trillion dollars worth of taxpayer (and Chinese) backed bailout funds. Yet again, the American public is subsidizing the foolishness of private and corporate greed. Even as the average American worker suffers, CEO corporate beggars arrogantly fly into Washington on private jets. Food pantries are running out of canned goods, families won’t have a turkey on the table this Thanksgiving, and these morons are still clinging to the trappings of excessive pay and greed. Maybe those bums need to get another job." (>>)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 :: 10:04 AM

"As he demonstrated during his campaign, Obama is a one-of-a-kind political leader confronting a unique political challenge. Trying to fit him into established paradigms obscures our understanding of the task that confronts him. We need to see both the man and the situation anew, guided by history but not shackled by it." (>>)

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 :: 10:03 AM

"OK, so I am not wearing those things, but the point is I could be.

"The other point is WTF?" (>>)

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 :: 4:51 PM

"I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church along the Gulf Coast in Texas. It was a suburban church nowhere near a bus line, protected as it were from most demographics that didn’t have our common interests…" (>>)

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 :: 2:08 PM

"Until conservatism can get a distance from the big-spending, privacy-busting, debt-ridden, crony-laden, fundamentalist, intolerant, incompetent and arrogant faux conservatism of the Bush-Cheney years, it will never regain a coherent message to actually govern this country again." (>>)

Monday, September 15th, 2008 :: 10:02 AM

"Today, in the United States, we have a foreign policy based primarily on fear. We move back and forth between new national color codes indicating the level of danger from terrorist attack. The Office of Homeland Security regularly moves the nation to Orange Alert — the second-highest state of risk from terrorist attack.

"September 11, 2001, changed our lives, and since then, we have become a nation always living in fear. We were terrified by the murderous attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, and even after dramatic war victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, America is still afraid. Indeed, the war in Iraq was argued and justified, almost entirely, on the basis of fear. It was Trappist monk Thomas Merton who said many years ago, 'The root of war is fear.'

"There are indeed real dangers prowling about our world. Prudence and strategic action are called for, as is much deeper reflection on the causes of these dangers. But fear can cause us to give up important things, to accept other things that violate our own best values, and even to do terrible things to other people. Fear has led us into a new foreign policy based on preemptive and potentially endless wars — which are not likely to remove our fears, and could make the dangers we face even worse.

"September 11 shattered the American sense of invulnerability. But instead of accepting the vulnerability that most of the rest of the world already lives with, and even learning from it, we seem to want something nobody can give us — to erase our vulnerability. We want it to just go away. If the government says more wars can do that, many people will say fine. If they say suspending civil liberties can do that, many will say fine. If they claim that spending more and more of our tax dollars on the military and homeland security will do it — at the expense of everything else — many will say fine. But we simply can't erase our vulnerability, not in this world and not with the human condition being as it is. To be prudent and vigilant in the face of danger is good. But when a government offers to take away our vulnerability, it borders on idolatry.

[…]

"Bombing the children of Kabul and Baghdad created utter glee among the Osama Bin Ladens of the world, who are finally able to raise the armies of terror they've always dreamed of. It also deprived us of the moral high ground that the United States held in world opinion immediately after September 11 — for the first time in many years.

[…]

"In bringing to justice the few thousand estimated to be involved in murderous terrorism, our response must not inflame and infuriate the tens of millions more in the Arab world (and elsewhere) who, to use even former Secretary of State Colin Powell's words, 'hate our presence in parts of the world that they think we should not be in.' That sentence must be explained for the American people. It means that many people in the world may not be mad at us for 'our values,' as the Bush White House continues to say, but for 'our policies.' But the U.S. policies that most anger people around the world are generally unknown to most Americans — and therein lies the problem with talking about this issue.

"Perhaps the religious community can play a crucial role here because it is itself an international community and not just an American one. We also should have the capacity for self-criticism and even repentance, while national governments are seldom good at either. The truth that most of the world knows is that the U.S. government has far too often supported military dictators in Latin and Central America, Asia and Africa who have murdered as many or more innocent people as Saddam Hussein. The truth is that the United States has not been an honest broker for Middle East peace and has not sought the proper balance between Israeli security and Palestinian human rights. The truth is that American and Western appetites for oil have led to a corrupt and corrupting relationship with despicable Arab regimes. The truth is that the United States sits atop and is the leader of a global economy in which half of God's children still live on less than two dollars a day, and the United States will be blamed around the world for the structures of injustice that such a global economy daily enforces. To speak these truths is very hard, sometimes especially in American middle-class congregations, but speaking hard truths is part of the prophetic religious vocation." (>>)

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 :: 1:32 PM

"On Nov. 4, Christians will not be able to vote for the kingdom of God. It is not on the ballot." (>>)

Thursday, May 29th, 2008 :: 9:52 AM

"McClellan said he isn't accusing administration officials of 'deliberate or conscious' lies to the American people, but instead of becoming so wrapped up in trying to shape the story to their advantage that they ignored facts that didn't fit the views they were promoting." (>>)

Thursday, May 15th, 2008 :: 4:09 PM

"If we know that we're in a recession and our government gives us the equivalent of monopoly money to play with to kill the pain, we're idiots, we're complete idiots if we take the money and we spend it on toys." (>>)

Friday, January 4th, 2008 :: 11:35 AM

"Obama's win might not have legs. Hope could give way to fear once again. But, for tonight at least, it holds a mirror up to the face of America, and we can look at ourselves with pride. This is the kind of country America was meant to be, even if you are for Clinton or Edwards — or even Huckabee or Giuliani.

"It's the kind of country we've always imagined ourselves being — even if in the last seven years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big." (>>)

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 :: 11:44 PM
happy happy joy joy

Obama Wins Iowa

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 :: 10:57 AM

"Khartoum didn't think we'd care if they slaughtered Muslims. It is a good and hopeful thing that they were wrong." (>>)

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 :: 1:02 PM

"[T]he great privilege of habeas corpus, and of trial by jury, which are the supreme protection invented by the English people for ordinary individuals against the State… -The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers-is, in the highest degree, odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments… Extraordinary powers assumed by the Executive with the consent of Parliament in emergencies should be yielded up, when and as, the emergency declines… This is really the test of civilization. (>>)

Monday, October 15th, 2007 :: 3:16 PM

"You can make your own definition of human rights and say, 'We don't violate them' and you can make you own definition of torture and say, 'We don't…' "

"So, is the President lying?"

"[…] Yes." (>>)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 :: 11:21 AM
I shit you not…

"China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission." (>>)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007 :: 12:27 PM

Restore Habeas Corpus

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007 :: 10:03 AM

"Of course the [Virginia Tech shootings] are a uniquely tragic event, and it is vital that we never lose sight of the human tragedy involved. However, we must also consider if this is not also a lesson to us all; a lesson that my political views are correct. Although what is done can never be undone, the fact remains that if the world were organised according to my political views, this tragedy would never have happened." (>>)

Friday, November 3rd, 2006 :: 2:31 PM
Republican Propaganda is Disgusting

I got this in the mail yesterday.

And it royally pissed me off.

It's like one of those juvenile liberal satires of conservatism, only it's actually coming from the conservatives. So, the party of illegal wiretapping, torture and secret trials wants to inform me that our freedom is at stake? Well no fucking shit, Sherlock. Oh my, terrorists are "plotting their next step," "the liberal left is attacking the foundation of family" and "the tax-and-spend Democrats are coming for more of our paychecks." Yeah, it's 1775 and the Republicans are our revolutionary heroes, riding through the night to warn us of impending attack.

And even more sleazy and base than the melodramatic demonizing of liberals is the way they're cynically exploiting religion to serve their lust for power. For fuck's sake, you can't claim to be supporting religious values while you lie and manipulate.

(And please, before you go off about how the Democrats are just as bad (or, almost just as bad), I know that. But they aren't the ones who sent this to me; the Republicans are and I wanted to hold them specifically responsible for it.)

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006 :: 12:07 PM

"…back then depriving us of trial-by-jury was actually sufficient cause for starting a war of independence based on the then fashionable idea that 'liberty' was an unalienable right. But today, thanks to post 9/11 thinking those rights are now fully alienable for your protection." (>>)

Sunday, September 10th, 2006 :: 10:42 AM

"The news reports have said the men will stand 'trial.' But the administration does not plan 'trials' in any American sense of the word, whether we're talking about civilian trials or military courts-martial. At trials and courts-martial, we don't use secret evidence. We don't use coerced evidence. We have due process. This is the rule of law. It makes our country a beacon of freedom and justice the world over. People from the Founders to the men and women who fought (and fight) for civil rights thought hard, sweated, and bled so that we would live by the rule of law, established by the people, and not by the rule of force or kings. It's not just an abstract principle, it's the foundation of the house we live in." (>>)

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 :: 1:14 PM

"Others relish the battlefield; Graham now prizes peace. He is a man of unwavering faith who refuses to be judgmental; a steady social conservative in private who actually does hate the sin but loves the sinner; a resolute Christian who declines to render absolute verdicts about who will get into heaven and who will not; a man concerned about traditional morality–he is still slightly embarrassed that he kissed 'two or three girls' before he kissed his wife–who will not be dragged into what he calls the 'hot-button issues' of the hour. Graham's tranquil voice, though growing fainter, has rarely been more relevant." (>>)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006 :: 8:19 AM

"Fighter jets mixed up with the cross…" (>>)

Monday, June 12th, 2006 :: 12:07 PM

"Skokie turned out to be a double lesson in liberty. The case itself vividly illustrated the First Amendment importance of symbolic speech and the indivisibility of all free speech. Simultaneously, the reaction to the ACLU’s position by so many who considered themselves liberals and even liberatarians emphasized–as no other case in many years–how fragile throughout the land is support for the still revolutionary notion that the state has no business squashing anybody’s ideas or symbols. Anybody’s." (>>)

Thursday, March 30th, 2006 :: 3:31 PM

"I start by embracing the idea of individual responsibility, combining that idea with a personal hatred of victim mentality, then projecting my circumstances and history on others so that there are no legitimate victims at all…" (>>)

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006 :: 8:55 PM

"I either have to vote my conscience on issues like the war in Iraq and moral economic concerns while being deeply troubled by issues like the rights of the unborn OR I vote my conscience on abortion and certain aspects of gay rights while being deeply troubled by issues like pre-emptive war and what I see as a decidedly unbiblical favoritism toward the rich and powerful." (>>)

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006 :: 10:47 PM
Donald Miller cares more about truth than 99% of conservative evangelicals

"You feel like you're saying a lot, you feel like you're taking a stand, but what you're doing is you're taking your small group of friends and you're impressing them. And to everybody else you're a monkey clanging cymbols. But you really don't care about everybody else, what you care about is impressing your small group of friends." (>>) [MP3]

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006 :: 7:58 PM

"Similarly, a 'literal' interpretation of the Genesis accounts is inappropriate, misleading and unworkable. It presupposes and insists upon a kind of literature and intention that is not there. In so doing it misses the symbolic richness and spiritual power of what is there. And it subjects the biblical materials, and the theology of creation, to a completely pointless and futile controversy. The first questions in interpreting any part of Scripture are always, what kind of literature is one dealing with, and what issues are being addressed? One cannot merely assume from the superficial look of the material, as it appears to modern eyes, that the material is of the same order as what we might call history or science. One must first provide strong evidence from within the passage itself, and from a careful study of the theological and cultural context of the passage, as to the specific literary form and religious concern involved. When one does this, the literalist assumptions turn out to be far afield, and to have been brought to the passage as a precondition for its acceptance." (>>)

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006 :: 3:53 PM

"People who looked to Jesus as their political savior were constantly befuddled by his choice of companions. He became known as a friend of tax collectors, a group clearly identified with the foreign exploiters, not the exploited. Though he denounced the religious system of his day, he treated a leader like Nicodemus with respect, and though he spoke against the dangers of money and violence, he showed love and compassion to a rich young ruler and a Roman centurion.

"In short, Jesus honored the dignity of people, whether he agreed with them or not. He would not found his kingdom on race or class or other such divisions. Anyone, even a half-breed with five husbands or a thief dying on a cross was welcome to join his kingdom. The person was more important than any category or label.

"I feel strongly convicted by this quality of Jesus every time I get involved in a cause I strongly believe in. How easy it is to join the politics of polarization, to find myself shouting across the picket lines at the 'enemy' on the other side. How hard it is to remember that the kingdom of God calls me to love the woman who has just emerged from the abortion clinic (and, yes, even her doctor), the promiscuous person who is dying of AIDS, the wealthy landowner who is exploiting God's creation. If I cannot show love to such people, I must question whether I have truly understood Jesus' gospel.

"A political movement by nature draws lines, makes distinctions, pronounces judgments; in contrast, Jesus' love cuts across lines, transcends distinctions, and dispenses grace. Regardless of the merits of a given issue–whether a pro-life lobby out of the Right or a peace-and-justice lobby out of the Left–political movements risk pulling onto themselves the mantle of power that smothers love. From Jesus I learn that, whatever activism I get involved in, it must not drive out love and humility, or otherwise I betray the kingdom of heaven."

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006 :: 3:59 PM

" 'They see neighbors and friends being fired for no reason by profitable companies, executives making off like bandits while thousands of their own workers are being laid off… They see health insurance drying up, employer pensions shrinking. Promises to retirees of health benefits are simply thrown overboard. The whole system has aspects that seem grossly immoral to average working people.' "

" 'You know, I am not by nature a political person. I have gotten a lot of grief from some people, business owners, who say, 'Father, why don't you stick to religion?' Well, pardon me – this is religion. The scripture is full of matters of justice. How can you worship a God that you do not see and then oppress the workers that you do see?' "

" '…what kind of world do you want to live in?' " (>>)

Thursday, December 29th, 2005 :: 1:05 PM

"If your concern is in following Jesus and that is what you really want to do, as opposed to following some kind of subcultural caricature of a political idea, you're going to have to be willing to follow him back and forth and back and forth. You're going to have to be willing to have people, even in the church, call you a liberal, which can be very derogatory when used by these people. I think the more we align ourselves with political parties in the church the more it makes it impossible to follow Jesus." (>>)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005 :: 10:55 AM

"Indeed, the very concept of Western liberty sprung in part from an understanding that, if the state has the power to reach that deep into a person's soul and can do that much damage to a human being's person, then the state has extinguished all oxygen necessary for freedom to survive. That is why, in George Orwell's totalitarian nightmare, the final ordeal is, of course, torture. Any polity that endorses torture has incorporated into its own DNA a totalitarian mutation. If the point of the U.S. Constitution is the preservation of liberty, the formal incorporation into U.S. law of the state's right to torture–by legally codifying physical coercion, abuse, and even, in Krauthammer's case, full-fledged torture of detainees by the CIA–would effectively end the American experiment of a political society based on inalienable human freedom protected not by the good graces of the executive, but by the rule of law. […]

"Let me state for the record that I am second to none in decrying, loathing, and desiring to defeat those who wish to replace freedom with religious tyranny of the most brutal kind–and who have murdered countless innocent civilians in cold blood. Their acts are monstrous and barbaric. But I differ from Krauthammer by believing that monsters remain human beings. In fact, to reduce them to a subhuman level is to exonerate them of their acts of terrorism and mass murder–just as animals are not deemed morally responsible for killing. Insisting on the humanity of terrorists is, in fact, critical to maintaining their profound responsibility for the evil they commit. […]

"What our practical endorsement of torture has done is to remove that clear boundary between the Islamists and the West and make the two equivalent in the Muslim mind. Saddam Hussein used Abu Ghraib to torture innocents; so did the Americans. Yes, what Saddam did was exponentially worse. But, in doing what we did, we blurred the critical, bright line between the Arab past and what we are proposing as the Arab future. We gave Al Qaeda an enormous propaganda coup, as we have done with Guantanamo and Bagram, the 'Salt Pit' torture chambers in Afghanistan, and the secret torture sites in Eastern Europe. In World War II, American soldiers were often tortured by the Japanese when captured. But FDR refused to reciprocate. Why? Because he knew that the goal of the war was not just Japan's defeat but Japan's transformation into a democracy. He knew that, if the beacon of democracy–the United States of America–had succumbed to the hallmark of totalitarianism, then the chance for democratization would be deeply compromised in the wake of victory." (>>)

Tuesday, December 13th, 2005 :: 12:22 PM

"One memo issued by Donald Rumsfeld himself in late 2002 outlined 17 techniques approved for use in Guantanamo Bay interrogations, including threatening prisoners with dogs, forcing them to wear hoods, leashes and/or women's underwear, or the use of interrogations that last for up to 20 hours at a time. This memo was rescinded a month later, but then later replaced with a list of 24 approved techniques; the contents of this list are still classified." (>>)

Sunday, December 4th, 2005 :: 3:05 PM

"Regardless of the services provided to the homeless, being homeless is undesirable. And, since homelessness is caused by things unrelated to food, shelter, and clothing, then the provision, or withholding, of these things has no effect on homelessness – either by creating it, or extending it. Withholding aid to homeless people does not inspire them to leave homelessness, but will certainly increase the misery they experience while being homeless." (>>)

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 :: 8:58 AM

"It is the very nature of a democracy that it not only does, but should, fight with one hand tied behind its back. It is also in the nature of democracy that it prevails against its enemies precisely because it does." (>>)

Thursday, November 10th, 2005 :: 9:44 PM
"Don't turn to God"

Pat Robertson finally admitted that he's actually a follower of Satan and his "ministry" is to make sure people don't turn to God. I've suspected this for a long time–I mean, how else can you explain his actions?–but it's nice to get the confirmation.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 :: 2:59 PM

"Please do not take back this country for your personal cause. You are not the only person that lives here, and I especially hope you realize that if you're a Christian. This country does not exist for you and your allies to get their way over those of a different race, religion, social class, or political ideology." (>>)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005 :: 7:14 PM

"I have this overwhelming desire to hold up a sign pointing at Robertson that says 'Ummm… this man does not speak for the rest of us.' " (>>)

Saturday, August 13th, 2005 :: 9:23 AM

"And then there's Dobson and the rest, all of them lining up to prevent easy availability of an FDA-approved medication that potentially would prevent tens of thousands of abortions every year." (>>)

Thursday, May 12th, 2005 :: 7:01 PM
The ONE Campaign

"The ONE Campaign seeks to give Americans a voice, to ring church bells and cell phones, on campuses and in coffee shops, for an historic pact to fight the global AIDS emergency and end extreme poverty. We believe that allocating an additional ONE percent of the U.S. budget toward providing basic needs like health, education, clean water and food, would transform the futures and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries. " (>>)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005 :: 9:48 PM

"The church is to be UNIQUELY identified with Jesus, his Gospel and his Kingdom. The church's concerns are the concerns Jesus demonstrated during his ministry, not the concerns that can be connected by the 'dots' of various political, social and cultural agendas. The danger the church faces today is in becoming a niche market, a focus group, a voting block or a special interest group. If the church cannot trust her shepherds to avoid this mistake, then it is not well served by its pastors. I am afraid that 'Justice Sunday' was a profound confusion of the place and purpose of the church. The cause may be right and the crisis real, but the church that Jesus created is not available for rental for political agendas." (>>)

Saturday, April 9th, 2005 :: 2:51 PM

"A brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence in Darfur has led to the deaths of up to 300,000 people, and the lives of about 2 million displaced people hang in the balance." (>>)

Support HR1424.

Saturday, February 5th, 2005 :: 8:38 AM

"Proposals for shelters are contentious everywhere, but the sheer animus since the tent city arrived in the suburbs last summer has been shocking. Five lawsuits have been filed to try to stop it. The city of Bothell even sued a Catholic church to keep it from hosting the camp…" (>>)

Friday, December 24th, 2004 :: 8:55 PM

"Michael Moore and Ann Coulter aren't opposed to each other, they are each other: determined propagandists, using the language and mediums best suited to strike at the emotional core of their audiences. They do not work from a common set of facts, and would ignore them even if they existed. When they speak well, they're Henry V on St. Crispin's Day. When they speak poorly, they're a spittle-flecked wacko with an 'End of the World is Nigh' sign. But that's just a matter of presentation: they're all lunatics, asking us to stop thinking and start feeling. And to start feeling what they want us to feel." (>>)

Sunday, February 15th, 2004 :: 1:17 PM

Alex has written a good entry on legalizing gay marriage. He concentrates mostly on the legal aspect of denying a certain group of people rights based on their sexuality.

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