Moral Contradictions

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Part 2

Well, thus ends the life of the news media's feeding tube... Terri Schiavo died this morning...

The responses this case generated are a prime example of why I started this blog. This Fox News article highlights why some people who identify themselves with the Christian Right are so bizarre... a "sea of death threats" have been sent against Judge Greer because he ruled against Schiavo.

Like I said before, sometimes you have to kill a judge to save a life.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Tim Kaine, Judge Greer, and monkeys

//First and foremost, the United States made a huge mistake after the Civil War by letting Florida back into the Union. How many crazy stories come out of there each year? Elian, the 2000 election, Terri Schiavo, etc... Plus, how much money goes to clean that place up after hurricanes? What was it, 4 last year? We have beaches elsewhere, let them deal with their own weird stuff by themselves.//

Since Lt. Governor Tim Kaine has personal beliefs against abortion and the death penalty yet swears to uphold the law if elected governor, he could learn several lessons from people not capable of understanding nuances in regards to Judge Greer upholding the law in the face of his beliefs.

First, some background as to how "Christians" are treating their brethren:

Greer left his Baptist Church after consulting with the pastor. Previously he pulled his money and his attendance dropped after the Florida Baptist Witness, a publication closely affiliated with his church, wrote scathing editorials against his decisions in the Schiavo case. Joseph Farah believes that the pastor is a hero.

He's described as a conscientious, honest, compassionate, and a good Christian. He's received death threats, has an armed security detail, and the courthouse installed another computer just to handle the mass of emails critical of his decisions. So-called Christians have left dead flowers at his door and staged protests in his yard.

Why is he such a dirty rotten man? Because he was faced with the tortous situation of keeping the laws he swore to uphold in the face of vast and unexpored areas of morality. He did not "legislate from the bench" and do what so many Christians rail about other judges doing. He weighed the facts against earlier decisions, current laws (or lack thereof), his legal training, and his beliefs and accordingly ruled.

What can we (and Kaine) learn from the onslaught Greer is enduring?

1. Either you agree with the Christian Right's interpretation of the Bible or you're simply wrong.
2. You must inject your personal beliefs into every decision you make at the risk of your career else you're a disgrace as a Christian. Heck, you may not even be a Christian at all!
3. In order to save a life, sometimes you have to kill a judge.
4. Everyone is qualified to be a judge, even if they didn't go to law-school. It's probably festooned with evil-elitist-liberal professors.
5. Related to the fourth point, everyone is going to criticize you because "they could do a better job".
6. If we were to follow the Bible exactly in these types of situations (which we can't because it doesn't reference this case) should we force convicted rapists to marry the person they raped and not be allowed to divorce? Should we go back to stoning people as well?
7. People watching CNN for 3 weeks know more about the case than someone spending years reviewing the issues.
8. We're only allowed to play God when we execute people, but not in any other circumstances. Life is precious. Remember that, or you'll get death threats.
9. Monkeys are evil and should be fileted, not grilled.

It's all about cycles...

Currently many would agree that this nation is going through a "conservative cycle" much like the 60s and 70s could be classified as more liberal. The Democrats rode this wave and maintained legislative power until the early 90s as the Republicans reorganized and gained strength.

The rise of the Republican party is due to a strange marriage of business interests, moral traditionalists, and libertarians. President Bush certainly has pandered to business interests while paying lip-service to the Christian Right and virtually ignoring any calls for smaller government. The Christian Right is learning a hard lesson that even though they were largely responsible for electing the current President, they're not receiving what they feel to be an adequate return.

While the party is using the Christian Right, the Christian right is using the party even more. They have adopted the strategy of politicizing everything in society they do not agree with. They have persuaded their followers that the Republicans are their vehicle of change even as the party passes legislation against their livelihood in favor of business interests.

The American Daily has a great article further highlighting the factions within the Republican party and the growing discontent brewing within.

Alternet has an article titled How to Turn Your Red State Blue which is a great read. The writer explores the Republican's "missionary" work to gather support and calls out for Democrats to follow their style and build a "debt" coalition. Many Republicans and Democrats suffer under the strain of high debt and Christopher Hayes believes that this point could be used as a way to extinguish the current conservative cycle we're in.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Sympathetic or Opportunistic?

Article from the LA Times describing how Tom DeLay let his comatose father die after suffering a freak accident.

The difference? He was on a ventilator, not just food and water like Terri Schiavo.

The similarities? Both received a similar diagnosis, both previously expressed the desire not to live in that sort of state, and both did not have a living will.

This issue is so complex, so new, and so emotional that it appears very opportunistic and selfish for Rep. DeLay to have vocally taken sides especially considering his personal experience 17 years ago.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Great article about Tim Kaine

CBS News posted an article titled "Reaching Out To Religion". Virginia is one of two states holding statewide elections this year and many eyes are on the race for governor.

The article discusses Kaine's beliefs and strategy. It explains why the DNC is giving him a record $5 million.

Kaine is quoted as saying that the Religious Right should not be attacked but rather their ideas. I'd like to think that this space does just that, except one time I came close to name-calling.

Will Kaine succeed? The article points out that many conservatives are of the mind that "God wrote it, I believe it, that settles it". I pray that these people will sincerely listen to both candidates and make an informed decision.

Especially since my wife is in Seminary and has impressed on me that the Hewbrew/Greek to English translation has the result of losing the original meaning in parts. Thus, even with the Bible one has to have an open mind and really study it to fully grasp it's meaning.

Nation of 6 year olds

The Schiavo case again reminds me of why I'm glad my wife and I aren't wasting money on cable... although I do miss Comedy Central. However, the best segments are usually posted online, as is this clip commenting on the absurdity of cable news network coverage.

Meanwhile, in case anyone else cares, Kyrgyzstan underwent a coup of sorts,more are dying in Iraq, and Pakistan is contemplating handing nukes over to the UN to help investigate if Iran has some.

I get so disgusted at our entertainment culture that panders to us as consumers or as an audience and not as citizens. We've willingly dumbed ourselves down with sensationalist news items and American Idol while less attention is focused on those who must make hard decisions which impact all of us.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Some questions I'd like answered:

Questions for plain ol' conservative lawmakers:

Why do Republicans fear Big Government when they hijack the natural order of due process to impose their will, especially for a private family matter?

Why do Republicans profess strict constructionist philosophies concering the Constitution yet run roughshod over their beliefs to interfere in a private family matter?

Why did Congress rush back from recess for one individual yet were coerced to come back into session to act on the proposals from the 9/11 Commission?

Why is the Republican majority of Congress, who derided Democrats for abusing their power when they were the majority, abusing their power in the very same ways?

Questions for social conservative lawmakers:

Why does President Bush insist that we "err on the side of life" despite a previous job of overseeing the highest number of executions in the country? Why is that state in a hurry to execute quickly instead of looking through every shred of evidence that may in fact prove that they don't have the right criminal?

Why isn't every life sacred? Who are we to judge when we should expend so much energy to save someone while we execute others? Who are we to forget about those poor and homeless who are living but reside in the squalor that is the basement of our society?

Is it okay to play God in a matter of revenge but not if they're unborn or incapacitated?

Is it okay to forget the writings about Jesus's earthly ministry to the poor, the sick, the homeless, and the outcasts yet spend so much time on issues about which the Bible isn't clear about to advance personal and political gain?

Why do we cut taxes for the nation's most wealthy yet cut Medicaid benefits to our nation's poorest?

Why are we the richest nation yet have some of the poorest people?

How are we able to live with ourselves?

Editorial that helped fuel the flames

Monkeys and the Conservative Arts

Rep. Dennis Baxley wants to give the right to college students in Florida to sue their professors if they hear "Evolution is a fact" and they disagree. The bill passed the House Choice and Innovation Committee by party lines and has two more committees to go through before reaching the floor.

Baxley wants to stomp out (I'm not kidding) "leftist totalitarianism" by "dictator professors". Supposedly he wants "rightest totalitarianism" to win out the day.

When you hear something you don't agree with, I believe you need to stand up and prepare to defend yourself. If you cannot defend yourself, sit down and listen to why the professor believe's he/she is correct. If you still don't believe them, there are and must be other recourses besides suing them.

Universities are where academic freedom is encouraged. Dissenting views help students explore other people's beliefs and views and can serve to either modify their personal beliefs or *gasp* strengthen their own.

He's essentially accusing some professors as being intolerant of conservative views. His solution? Promote intolerantness by granting the "persecuted" the right to sue.

Dangerous precedents could be set here if this bill goes through. Professors no longer will become experts of their field: lawyers and judges will. I'm waiting for the day when "liberal arts" are vigorously attacked for being too, well, liberal.

Another article

More about Rep. Baxley

Baxley unhappy about the "liberal" University of Florida

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Just a thought...

I've been thinking about Jerry Falwell's past and his 180 degree turn between the 1960s and now regarding politics and religion. As I mentioned before he said in 1965 that "Preachers are not called upon to be politicians but soul winners. Nowhere are we commissioned to reform externals."

Apparently the caveat is that preachers are called to be politicians if it suits their beliefs and furthers their goals. Falwell was criticizing the most vocal preachers of that era: black preachers calling for civil rights reform.

So it's not okay for black preachers to vocalize support for civil rights but it is okay for The Great Reverend and his forces to speak out on today's "moral issues"?

Am I not the only one who sees this contradiction? I cannot be so bold to throw out that big "R" word, but I do wonder if he's ever been held accountable for this reversal over the years.

Followup... What a surprise!

Surely Richmond, Virginia, the Capital of the Confederacy, hater of an Abraham Lincoln statue, lover of Confederate war statues, and generally backwards in relation to the rest of the country... Surely it's IMAX theater wouldn't show some blasphemous movie depicting evolution as fact.

I dislike the times when I have to use sarcasm to lessen the pain of decisions I don't agree with.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the IMAX theater isn't showing the movie Volcanoes of the Deep Sea because of concerns that people won't go see it because it may contain offensive material. And no, we're not talking about the Volcano exposing it's breast. (Volcanoes Gone Wild!!)

Another black mark for our city.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bush vs. Bush and the Political Game of Life.

As President Bush said, the Schiavo case is very complicated, resulting in this blogger scrambling to find the correct and concise words to type this entry.

This article mentions how Congress's recent action is a reaction and reflection of their conservative base. Essentially, since Republicans control everything at the federal level, the fundy's will be upset if they fail and Schiavo dies.

However, this article states that in 1999 then-Governor Bush of Texas signed a right-to-die bill.

If Terri was in Texas, she would be allowed to die. But she's in Florida and she can't.

Thus, unless some unexpected developments occur, politically everyone has a good chance of having an egg on their face. Congress will disappoint the fundys if they can't save her and the President contradicted himself to please this particular support base.

Read both articles... they get past the "WHAT'S THE LATEST STATUS OF THE CASE!" articles.

Monday, March 21, 2005

/Obligatory Schiavo post

Morally I'm torn. I think the way she is dying is cruel. However, living for that long in a vegetative state against her will, if that is indeed her will, is cruel as well. I also have to side with the husband in this case of that whole "a daughter shall leave her parents and become one with her husband" bit.

Lesson learned here: Power of Attorney. My wife and I are going to get this taken care of soon so in those unexpected and unfortunate situations, should something terrible happen, one can act for the other, no question.

Also, say Terry Schiavo did indeed wish to die... there has to be a more humane way than starving her to death.

Finally, to all those crying "Who are we to play God?"... where are you when we execute criminals?

Money is the tool, I mean root of evil

Some IMAX theaters in the South are choosing not to show films that purport evolution to be fact because of complaints from fundamentalists.

Thus, the power of money, because if people won't go see films, it's not worth marketing them.

Of course, Evolution isn't a fact, but neither is Creationism. I believe that Creation is fact, but many believe that evolution is fact too. What do we yell when they critize us? Persecution!

But they're just a bunch of tree-hugging pot-smoking hippies who are going to hell anyways, right?

Meanwhile, the hungry get hungrier, the poor get poorer, and I suspect that Jesus is disappointed in those of us who call ourselves Christians as we argue about petty and stupid things.

My 10 pesos

We are trusted with our money,
We are trusted with our guns,

We are not trusted with our morals.

The Government is not allowed to tell me how to live.*

*except in cases involving anything sexual.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Thermodynamics is the devil!

Wow, a flurry of posts! What could have brought this on? Maybe I'm feeling guilty for not keeping up with my entries...

Thus, some snarky and light reading: Christian Right Lobbies To Overturn Second Law Of Thermodynamics

and some "intriguing" reading: THE GOP'S RELIGIOUS WAR

Enjoy!

DeLaying Prayers?

The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.

So says Austin, TX County district attorney Ronnie Earle, currently investigating Rep. Tom DeLay for his role of money laundered for him to use to help the GOP take over the Texas Legislature and then re-draw congressional lines (very controversial at the time). Additionally the House Ethics Committee admonished him for his actions.

How has DeLay gotten in trouble? First and foremost he's racked up three ethics violations in one year. Remember, he's been in Congress for over 20 years. He knows the rules.

How has he responded? Did he repent? Did he say "I cheated the rules and cheated voters; I'm sorry."? No, he had the ethics committee chairman (Article 1 and 2)sacked and sought to lift the rule that prohibits House members from stepping down from their Congressional posts after being indicted for a felony.

PrayerAlert.org issued out a, well, Prayer Alert for this "Christian Statesmen" who has employed "creative fundraising tools" and it is a "must win for dedicated, praying Christians".

I'm not making this up. I swear.

Ken Bode has a good column which helps point out contradictions in DeLay's record (accepting a $70,000 week-long trip to England sponsored by gambling interests, just to name one) with his reputation as a Christian Statemen.

Chapter 1 of Jim Wallis's book

You can read the first chapter of Jim Wallis's "God's Politics - Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get it" here at the Center for American Progress.

Good stuff.

Salon.com article

Salon.com is very open on what side of the aisle they stand on. Regardless, they have a good article titled "What Would Falwell Do?" (you may be forced to watch an ad) which explores what happened to the religious left (or progressives, my preferred term).

Amy Sullivan summarizes the shift of Falwell-ites who heard in 1965 from The Great Reverand that "Preachers are not called upon to be politicians but soul winners. Nowhere are we commissioned to reform externals." The relgious left of that time was embodied by figures like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who wed social issues within a religous context.

Yet the results of Dr. King's movement combined with the Roe decision and the yanking of the Bible out of school convinced Falwell and other like-minded Christians to organize and get politically savvy.

The result? The article states it at the beginning. The current administration is focused on helping the rich-folks while leaving the "Lazarus's" of the country out to dry.

Jesus would've approved of that. It says so in the Bible.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Jim Wallis

Jim Wallis, the author of "God's Politics: Why the Right Get It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" visited Comedy Central's Daily Show awhile back. The interview is worth a listen as he explains that the only moral issues are not just abortion and gay marriage.

He's an evangelical who is sick of real moral values being set aside for a strange coalition of the rich along with the anti-abortion/gay-marriage crowd. He, like this blog, doesn't believe Jesus was obsessed with a capital-gains tax and going to war. He wonders how Jesus became pro-rich, pro-war, and pro-American.

He speaks of being more inclusive to affect change instead of being so exclusive. Jon Stewart asks if this book was aimed toward evangelicals who are concerned about their reputation. He says its for everyone and hopes to start a social movement to re-focus our nation on its real problems.

His interpretation of Jesus' teachings and those of the Bible say fighting poverty is a moral value (mentioned over 3,000 times in the Bible), protecting God's creation is a moral value, etc.

He also quotes Matthew 25 as the pretext of his conversion experience. What a great chapter.

The video is informative, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Check it out (broadband may be required).

I need to get his book.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

DNC Convention, July 2004

Just a reminder what Senator Obama said last year:

There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Proposition

I have an idea.

A moratorium on so-called "morality laws" and their debate and discussion. However long we need. One year, two years. Whatever. Lawmakers can approach it two ways:

1. Set a time limit.
2. Pass a law that says that important things like transportation, education, and other daily pressing matters must be taken care of first.

Then we can go back to arguing about how low our underwear can be and such.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Time to postpone that move to Kansas...

Good news for Virginia - Everyone's now laughing at Kansas. In a classic example of "We dislike the government and taxes except when telling others how to live" the state's Christian fundy's are pursuing a large political agenda encompassing the three traditional issues: abortion, evolution, and homosexuality.

"Any clear-cut moral issue that God has spoken on is worth defending.", so sayeth Pastor Jim Conrad of First Baptist Church, Shawnee.

Apparently God doesn't use the church to change society but the government.

The contradiction? The article states it very plainly:

Observers say religious ideology has helped keep Kansas a Republican stronghold, despite the fact that much of the state is rural and populated by working- and middle-class families, the exact demographic Democrats say are hurt the most by Republican fiscal policies.


Meanwhile, over 750,000 people in America won't sleep under a roof tonight, millions in Africa are dying from AIDS, and millions in this country work 40+ hours a week and live without healthcare.

Because we all know what Jesus would be focusing on if He was on this earth today.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Do wha?

With Senator Potts running as an independent against Former Attorny General Jerry Kilgore and Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, this election may actually focus on issues that really matter.

Instead of having a "values" fight and debating gay marriage and all that, we may actually have an election where the candidates debate real solutions to real and concrete problems.

Two interesting tidbits. One, the Richmond Times-Dispatch quotes Kilgore's campaign that this will hurt Democrats. The article even prints a quote from Kaine's campaign that acknowledges that Pott's announcement reveals deep divisions within the GOP. Yet, it does not directly take the next logical conclusion and explore how Potts will hurt Republicans and help Democrats. The Washington Post, however, gives a slightly more accurate analysis. A letter to the editor in The Free Lance-Star explains the setup.

Has the Republican Party moved so far to the right that moderates are forced to vote for someone else? Apparently Sen. Potts thinks so.

Numero Dos: Kilgore exclaimed that he is more like Governor Warner than Lt. Governor Kaine.

Wait. *cough*. *cough again*. You're a Republican? He's a Democrat. Are you acknowledging that he's been a great governor even after you've railed against his decisions for the last couple of years?

Break out the waffle iron... to symbolize the waffle you're becoming and to beat some logic into you.