Friday, October 24, 2008

It's not just about clothes (or money)

Let's not forget

"That's not who I was before I deployed"
Back from Iraq, Army Sgt. Kristofer Goldsmith remembers choking someone into unconsciousness at a party for no reason. "That's not who I was before I deployed," he says. His breaking point came when his unit was ordered to stay beyond their volunteer commitments. "I took my half bottle of Percocet and ... drank until I couldn't drink anymore." He survived and now lives with his parents. He's among the nearly 20 percent of returning U.S. veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or major depression
Full story at CNN.

Why I'm still not sleeping at night

Update: Here are some nightmarish scenarios for our future with Palin, some funny, most not, from Kate Harding at Salon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Opie, Andy, Richie and the Fonz

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

News - Friday, November 7, 2008

Thanks to Alex Koppelman at Salon, demonstrating how this MoveOn video can be personalized and sent to friends (presumably those with a sense of humor already disposed to vote Democratic) reminding them to actually get out and vote, available at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The New Humanism

The inestimable Rev. Jonathan (aka Mad Priest), has highlighted an article by Simon Barrow in The Guardian written in response to Richard Dawkins' atheism-advertising plan for city buses. As often is the case, Simon's writing contains jewels that reach far beyond the topic at hand. I especially liked these bits:
The non-reality of "the gods" and the non-viability of any notion which makes God a thing, person or event subject to humanly verifiable rules of existence and to human classes of object is, of course, taken for granted by thoughtful people whatever their affiliation – Christian, Muslim and humanist. Perfectly traditional theology going back to Thomas Aquinas and beyond makes this evident.

Whether it rules in or out the transcendent God whose unconditional love many of us discover in and through the lesions of a free universe which can be both terrifyingly tragic and gloriously inspiring is, it seems to me, another matter altogether – and one that will not be settled by vituperative, knock-down arguments. It is, rather, a matter of faith. By this I do not mean the denial of rationality, but the kind of reasoning appropriate to a mystery which can never be captured by human mastery, and which requires an encounter with the personal (that is, the struggle to love) to perceive.

. . . .

As for me, well I'm not much of a believer in slogans. The truth of deeds matching words and vice versa seems to me to be a much more convincing argument for whatever it is people claim to believe than any attempt to cajole with arguments or posters.

But if I had to summarise my convictions in a way that could communicate with believers and non-believers alike (for the purposes of meaningful conversation, rather than to "prove I'm right") it would be by saying that my life is staked, deeply fallibly, on the conviction that the power of love is finally stronger than the love of power.
Do read the rest here.

Jonathan has written his own response, which includes:
I consider myself a Christian humanist from a long tradition that stretches back to before anybody had committed the concept of atheism to paper. The humanist part of my faith is, in essence, pretty much the same as the humanism of atheists who claim the description for themselves. Perhaps, if we started to use the word "humanist" in an exact way, without attaching it to belief or non-belief, Simon's wish that thinking, non-belligerent people of all faiths and none should come together for the good of the least among us, would be one step closer to becoming a reality.

When I am asked what "sort" of Christian I am, what tradition I adhere to, the only answer I am totally comfortable with is that I am a humanist. I really would love to see the formation of a "New Humanist" movement that would include "thinking, non-belligerent people of all faiths and none," in which the worthiness of the flesh and all creation is celebrated and where, together, we would strive to rise above our baser instincts to heal the world and its population that both religionists and atheists have damaged so much in our quest to become something that is not human.

Posted by MadPriest at 9:37 AM

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Goblins and ghosts and traitors

Keith delivers a jeremiad of the first order.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Truth About Federal Taxes

First, commentary by David Gergen (former advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan) on the CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (Oct. 19, 2008):
GERGEN: I just want to come back. We cannot leave a redistribution argument where it is. It is true.

BLITZER: And just to remind our viewers, what we are talking about was a comment that Senator Obama made to Joe the Plumber when he was out there, when he suggested one thing the government should do is spread the wealth around a little bit.

GERGEN: What has happened? Larry Summers pointed out on a speech this week at the 100th anniversary --

BLITZER: The former treasury secretary.

GERGEN: The former treasury secretary and a Democrat to be fair. But if you go back to the distribution of wealth in 1979, 30 years ago versus today, the people in the bottom 80 percent are losing, compared to back then, $600 billion a year. The top 1 percent of the population is gaining compared to back then. We have had a redistribution of wealth in this country, up.

BLITZER: What the McCain people are suggesting and even Senator McCain yesterday in his radio address, suggested this is almost socialism.

GERGEN: We just had a Republican government that put $150 billion into banks. They have injected the government more fully into the banking system, the financial system than any time in history. And so it's a hollow argument. I mean, I think the Democrats, if they want to join this argument, they can. This is their very strong argument to say you guys are socialism when you just spent $150 billion as a down payment?
CNN Transcript.

The "half of Americans pay no income tax" fraud
by Jay Bookman, Tuesday, October 7, 2008
One of the right-wing’s favorite talking points is the claim that 50 percent of American households don’t pay income taxes. From that claim flow a couple of other points: First, it’s impossible to “cut” taxes for those households because they don’t pay any tax in the first place; second, those households are somehow less deserving of respect or even a voice in politics because they aren’t paying their own way.

That claim is bogus both in its details and its general charge.
Read why at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

And from Nobel-prize-winning Paul Krugman. "The Real Plumbers of Ohio," which concludes:

Maybe there are plumbers out there who earn that much, or who would end up suffering from Mr. Obama’s proposed modest increases in taxes on dividends and capital gains — America is a big country, and there’s probably a high-income plumber with a huge stock market portfolio out there somewhere. But the typical plumber would pay lower, not higher, taxes under an Obama administration, and would have a much better chance of getting health insurance.

I don’t want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

But that’s the point. Whatever today’s G.O.P. is, it isn’t the party of working Americans

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell - The Full Interview

Watch the entire interview with Colin Powell -- not just the clips or the transcript. It shows how clearly and deeply he has thought about his choice. This is so much more than an endorsement.

Hymn of the Day - Our earthly rulers falter

O God of Earth and Altar

O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;
Take not Thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men;
From sale and profanation of honor and the sword;
From sleep and from damnation, deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether, the prince and priest and thrall;
Bind all our lives together, smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation aflame with faith and free,
Lift up a living nation, a single sword to Thee.

Words: Gil­bert K. Ches­ter­ton, in the Commonwealth, 1906.
King’s Lynn, tra­di­tion­al Eng­lish mel­o­dy, ar­ranged by Ralph Vaugh­an Will­iams in The Eng­lish Hymn­al (Lon­don: O­xford Un­i­ver­si­ty Press, 1906) from the Cyberhymnal

Chesterton, the "Prince of Paradox." Speaking of mundane matters, he said:
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."
Illustrated London News (1924-04-19), quoted in Wiki.