Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The new darling of the Right

You've probably heard that the new darling of the Right is Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon who recently spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and supposedly was all brave and everything because President Obama was so mad about what he said.

Except I haven't seen any indication that Obama was mad about anything, and except for some mindless prattling about flat taxes and health savings accounts, Carson didn't say anything particularly exceptional.

He made up for it when he was on NPR's On Point this week. Feel free to listen to the whole thing if you want to hear a conservative Republican pretending he's not a Republican, and trying to duck any questions about progressive taxation, but that's not really what I'm interested in.

If you skip forward to about minute thirty-five and start listening there you will hear him claim that there is no evidence for evolution. Or, to be specific, you'll hear him make the specious distinction between "micro-evolution" and "macro-evolution", and claim that there is no evidence that any species has ever evolved into (or presumably, evolved from) another species.

Yes, this is the guy who is a famous doctor, and whom the Wall Street Journal is endorsing for President.

He'll fit right in.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Party of Family Values

Did you catch this? Josh is reporting that ousted Republican representative Joe Walsh is now trying to get out of paying child support permanently.

After insisting he wasn’t a “deadbeat dad” throughout his failed campaign for re-election, ex-U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is still dogged by questions about child support.

You can look at his "Motion to Terminate Child Support Obligation" here.

Ratzinger Out: What Next?

Okay, so this isn't news anymore, but it's still a big deal. Ratzinger announced he's gone at the end of the month, which leaves a vacancy for god's vicar on earth.

The question is, what's next?

Who next to replace this venomous old man, the man who engineered and institutionalized the coverup of child rape by Catholic priests? The commissar who determined that to report the rape of a child by a priest would be a sin punishable by excommunication. (Thanks to Christopher Hitchens, who also pointed out in 2010 that "Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children.")

Still, it's not quite fair to say that the church conducted a coverup of child rape by its employees. No, not fair at all, because what the church actually did was a much greater crime than a mere coverup. A coverup would be one thing, but Mother Church not only concealed the rapes of children by her officials, Mother Church transferred the rapists to other parishes, other territories, where new victims would be delivered to them.

Yes, what the church did with the assistance of Ratzinger was much worse than a mere coverup, but the question now, as I said, is how to replace him, and with whom?

So a few of the details. The election is carried out in the College of Cardinals, but not every cardinal is eligible to vote, just those under eighty years of age. Of those, a majority were appointed by Ratzinger himself, and can be expected to follow his doctrinal conservatism. Of the voting members, only five are younger than sixty. One of those voting members, incidentally, is Roger Mahony (or to use the Catholic construction, "Roger Cardinal Mahony"), who was recently stripped of all his public duties because of his involvement in the coverup; he remains a member in good standing, and says, "I look forward to traveling to Rome soon to help thank Pope Benedict XVI for his gifted service to the Church, and to participate in the conclave to elect his successor." One wonders if he will take the opportunity to stay at the Vatican in an effort to duck extradition, should the United States seek to charge him for his crimes.

So the electorate is a group ranging in age from fifty-three to seventy-nine, with the great majority seventy or older. The eligible candidates are largely the same group. All of these men have been priests, bishops, and cardinals during the same decades that the church has concealed thousands of rapes by its priests. The John Jay Report, a 2004 investigation into the extent of child sexual abuse in the United States from 1950 to 2002, found that there were nearly 11,000 allegations of some form of sexual abuse by over 4,000 priests just in the United States. Of course, the problem extends to every continent.

Generations of priests committing crimes against children. Generations of bishops and cardinals who knew about these crimes and who failed to protect the children from their subordinates.

How many of these men who were priests, bishops, and cardinals during these years have clean hands? How many participated in the crime, either directly and actively or passively? Or, to put the question another way, where is the bishop or the cardinal who stood against the tide?

Can any bishop or cardinal be a credible choice? Can any person elected by this group be accepted as a legitimate moral leader?

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Pink gun?

UPDATE: I just came across an article from just about a year ago talking about this same gun manufacturer and quoting the Komen people as saying they had nothing to do with them.  Good news. I hope they can come up with a copy of a cease and desist letter, since they seem to enjoy handing them out pretty liberally to charities they don't like.

Just a quick note. After earlier reports to the contrary, posts later today have indicated that the Susan G. Komen Foundation had nothing to do with the pink gun with which a three-year-old boy, apparently thinking it was a toy, shot himself last week.

According to The Atlantic, a company called Discount Gun Sales had advertised a Komen tie-in for a pink gun they were selling. The Komen Foundation is maintaining that it never had anything to do with the gun promotion and never received any funds, as the ad had promised.

I hope this is true. After their problems last year with Planned Parenthood it would be unconscionable for them to be doing something like this. On the other hand, after their problems with Planned Parenthood it would also be inconceivable for the public to accept the Komen statements at face value. If they're smart, or at least smarter than they were a year ago, they will throw open their files and release everything they have that proves they had nothing to do with the pink gun promotion, and I hope they do exactly that.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ed Koch dead at 88

Ed Koch has died at age 88 and after all his changes hardly anyone will remember when he was a liberal congressman from the Silk Stocking District in Manhattan's Upper East Side, but I have a particular reason to recall it.
In the late 1960's Koch gained a lot of prominence as an opponent of the Vietnam War. Because my high school, Regis, was in his district, he came to speak at our school one day. I think it was probably the spring of 1970, and many of us were demonstrating and organizing against the war so we were pretty excited about hearing him speak.
From conversations I've had since his death I know that I was not the only member of the audience to be bitterly disappointed with his speech. It's over forty years ago, but I remember clearly that literally the only thing he objected to about the war was the negative impact it had on the Americans who were being sent to die there. Nothing about American imperialism, nothing about killing the Vietnamese, nothing about My Lai, although Seymour Hersh had broken the story the previous November. 
No, In Koch's view the biggest problem, the only problem he chose to talk about, was that the war was bad because it was bad for Americans. This is not to say that the effect of the war on Americans was irrelevant, but it was not by any means the most important reason to oppose the war.
As you know, Koch went on to follow his Silk Stocking District predecessor, John Lindsay, to the mayorship. Many people will remember his move to the Right, his involvement with corrupt officials, or his failure to respond to the AIDS crisis, but what will always stick in my mind is how he could be wrong about being right about Vietnam.