Religion

Daily Affirmations 5/28
May 28, 2009

1. Gail Collins has a fun, readable take on student loan reform, an issue near and dear to my heart: The White House estimates that it could save about $94 billion over 10 years if it cut out all the middlemen. And it has the basis of a system in place, since the Department of Education already makes a lot of direct loans to students. How many people out there think that there’s going to be some reason that this turns out to be extremely controversial? Can I see a show of hands? “Senator Nelson is for the system as it is now,” said a spokesman for Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska.

Dick Needs A Less Tired, More Logical Line Of Attack
May 26, 2009

One line from Cheney's AEI speech Thursday has stuck with me. Pooh-poohing the assertion of, among others, John McCain that torture "serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us" (as Obama cleverly referenced in his speech), Cheney sniffed: This recruitment-tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the president himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do.  Of course it does not. It doesn't excuse anybody anything.

Standards
May 11, 2009

 Ah, the Weekly Standard parody, quintessence of comedy: President Barack Obama has announced that June will be officially designated Gay Awareness Month in the White House....

The Pope, Parks And Partition
May 11, 2009

I actually like this Pope, not that my likes and dislikes in this matter count very much. And, as that truly wonderful New York Times reporter Rachel Donadio tells us from Jerusalem today, Benedict XVI also wants a homeland for the Palestinians. Actually, the Holy Father's views on Palestine aren't of great importance, although perhaps a bit more than those of the Archbishop of Canterbury who has even less divisions than the Pope (Stalin's cruel metaphor for Vatican power) and is one of those modern clerical goofies, besides.

A Unified Theory Of The Stress-test Leaks
May 07, 2009

Okay, so thanks to a final, heroic burst of leaks, we have a pretty good idea of who stands where, stress-test wise: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and GMAC all need $10-billion-plus increases in common equity, which is just ordinary stock ($34 billion in BofA's case). Citigroup needs another $5 billion--this on top of up to $45 billion in bailout money it's already converting from preferred shares to equity.

The Other G Spot
May 06, 2009

OK. Last quick plug from the conference before I go tend to my poor puppy who has been waiting patiently for a walk. Responding to Francis Collins' presentation was NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty, who has a new book out--"Fingerprints of God"--in which she explores the latest research being done on matters of spirituality and the brain.

A Brief Twitter Follow-up
April 21, 2009

(Though not so brief I could actually tweet it...) In response to my post on (er, about) Twitter the other day, commenter rozenson opined: [W]hat I hate is that Twitter gets so much attention while literally nobody I know uses it. Businesses, politicians, the media -- all the grown-ups -- are trying to reach out to us kids by being "hip" and tweeting, but it really comes across as condescending more than anything else.

A Candidate Is Born ... On Twitter
April 21, 2009

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat best-known for directing his city to recognize same-sex marriage in 2004, announced today that he's running for governor of California. But there was no rally or speech. He spread the word on Twitter and Facebook. "It's official- running for Gov of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know," he told his Twitter followers. On the one hand, I suppose this keeps with Newsom's reputation as a young, with-it politician.

An Alibi For Liberal Realism
April 20, 2009

Responding to this morning's eloquent New York Times op-ed on human rights in Afghanistan, Michelle Goldberg of the Prospect writes: So far, the administration's realism has overshadowed its idealism, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States is reaching out to "moderate" elements of the Taliban. Lots of observers seem relieved by this scaling back of American ambitions. By cynically cloaking its own aggression in the language of human rights, the Bush team did much to discredit the latter. But ... there are real moral costs to realist compromises.

Thinking About Torture
April 20, 2009

I've pondered for years what to say about the Bush administration's use of torture in the years after 9/11. So far I've remained quiet about the issue because I'm so uneasy about it -- not just about what the United States has done, but also about the reactions of nearly everyone who has commented on it. On one side, the right mocks those concerned with our actions in that insufferably smug, proudly parochial tone that has marked nearly all conservative commentary about foreign affairs for the past seven years.

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