Monday Mashup (10/7/13 – update)

October 7, 2013

  • Time to welcome right-wing bloviator Rod Dreher to the party (here, believing that it’s important for him to let everyone know why he left the Catholic Church)…

    What needed changing? Lots. My own brokenness was plain to me, and I was ready to turn from my destructive sins and become a new person. The one thing I didn’t want to do was surrender my sexual liberty, which was my birthright as a young American male. I knew, though, that without fully giving over my will to God, any conversion would be precarious.

    Also, Dreher, says that he rarely heard homilies about LGBT individuals or abortion; I haven’t heard them as much as I used to either, but there are plenty of reminders during the course of a Mass in the general intercessions or announcements after Communion from the Church about their views on those subjects. That being said, though, yesterday was “Respect Life” Sunday, so we got a heaping helping of a homily full of ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION!!! Oh, and by the way, euthanasia and human cloning are baaaad, and one more thing…ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION!!!! from Deacon Bob (and even trying to co-opt the fight for civil rights and the fall of Communism, as if those two struggles are of equal importance).

    Returning to Dreher, I just wanted you to keep in mind what he says about “surrender(ing) his sexual liberty” as you consider the following (here)…

    Rod Dreher, commenting on the Iowa State Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, notes that the anti-gay marriage position is being likened to racism and complains that as this mindset takes hold “it will be very hard to be a public Christian”.

    For heaven’s sake. Harder than it was for Christ himself, whose crucifixion we will be commemorating shortly? Harder than for the early Christians who were tossed to lions, not just served with a harrassment (sp) summons from the HR Department?

    So Dreher is defending the anti-gay marriage position of the Church even though he tells us that he’s no longer a member of that Church? “Sexual liberty” for me, but not for thee, I guess (and I don’t know anything about the “harassment summons from the HR Department” stuff).

    And for someone who doesn’t want to affiliate himself with the Church, he certainly has no problem supporting its admittedly narrow-minded position on contraception, as noted here from former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and best-selling author (and now lawyer, apparently) John Grogan (oh, but it’s really John Grogan saying these things and not Dreher – true, but if Dreher didn’t agree, why would he link to Grogan’s commentary? I could be snarky, though, and say that Grogan should apologize for making it possible for me to endure the movie version of “Marley and Me,” but maybe I’d better let that go).

    And get a load of this

    Liberalism, while imposing through state power regimes that declare everyone free to pursue whatever they take to be their own good, deprives most people of the possibility of understanding their lives as a quest for the discovery and achievement of the good…

    So, trying to think like Dreher for a minute (a dangerous exercise I’ll admit), couldn’t you argue that “liberalism,” by making it possible for us all to pursue “our own good,” has helped make it possible for Dreher to achieve the “sexual liberty” he so cherishes?

    I know we’re “deep in the woods” here, so I’ll wrap this up with the following; if Dreher wants to act like a wanton libertine with his private parts, that’s his business. However, that in no way gives him the right to assign any notion of moral behavior to anyone else.

    And as long as I’m in “moral scold” territory, I have to tell you about this from Falafel Man…

    People have a right to take the Bible literally, he said, but in the case of “Killing Jesus,” he was trying to be historically accurate. He never says in the book that Jesus was the Son of God because his book is not intended to be religious.

    “So is this the Gospel according to Bill?” asked “60 Minutes” correspondent Norah O’Donnell.

    “This is best available evidence according to Bill,” O’Reilly responded.

    So, as a Roman Catholic, when given the opportunity to proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God (and yes, I am completely aware that other faiths have different things to say about that, and they should be respected also of course), Bill decides to take a pass because he doesn’t have “the best available evidence,” or something.

    However, this same guy can complain here that “the Judeo-Christian tradition is under attack” and those who think Christianity is a religion are “so stupid, it’s painful” here.

    What a pompous ass.

    Update 10/8/13: There aren’t very many times when I’m ashamed to be a Roman Catholic, bur unfortunately, this is one of them.

  • Next, I haven’t checked in with Former Laura Bush Employee Andrew Malcolm for a little while, so please allow me to do so now here (he who gravitated downward from the LA Times to Investor’s Business Daily; I guess Mad Magazine would be next, as if they’d have him)…

    (Last) Tuesday, addressing the United Nations General Assembly, (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu announced that Israel would not permit development of a nuke by Iran, which has several times vowed to erase Israel from the face of the planet. And, the Israeli added, if necessary, his nation was prepared to go it alone in that preventive endeavor.

    Did Netanyahu’s unusually tough, forthright stance stem from something disappointing that Obama told him during (a) White House photo op?

    My guess would be no, but somehow I’m sure Malcolm will do his best to make it sound like that’s true anyway.

    Oh, and as long as we’re talking about the recent UN speech by “Bibi,” British career diplomat Peter Jenkins flagged about 30 lies from the Israel PM while he spoke (here, and as far as the supposed hostility from Number 44 to our supposedly staunch ally, I give you this).

  • Continuing, former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent opined as follows at Fix Noise here, trying ultimately (and in vain, I think) to argue that President Obama fails some kind of a leadership test because he isn’t like FDR, or something…

    Against the stunning backdrop of the current diplomatic efforts to avoid our use of military force in Syria, I have been reading a superb new book, “Rendezvous with Destiny: How Franklin D. Roosevelt and Five Extraordinary Men Took America into the War and into the World” by Michael Fullilove.

    There seems no limit to the interest in World War II, and this book examines the efforts of five envoys President Franklin D. Roosevelt used between late 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland and December,1941 when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor, to represent him as he tried to deal the emerging crisis.

    Those envoys, close associates of his, were Sumner Welles, Bill Donovan, Harry Hopkins, Averell Harriman and Wendell Willkie.

    Vincent is correct to say that Fullilove points that out. However, from this New York Times review of the book, we learn that “the only true personal envoy, the only man whom the president fully trusted to speak for him, was Hopkins” (Willkie even ran against Roosevelt for president in 1940). So I would say that Fullilove has a bit to learn on that subject.

    I have to admit that I have a bit of an axe to grind about Vincent ever since his lifetime suspension of Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds (and the Phillies, for a time – more here). Yes, I have a bit of a blind spot because I’ll never forget that catch of Rose’s that led to final out of the 1980 World Series, and I know Vincent’s actions were based upon the rules, but I have not yet seen an epidemic of gambling on baseball because of Rose’s admittedly dumb actions. And I don’t see how that compares to the performance enhancement stuff appearing all over the place in that sport in particular (and somehow, Alex Rodriguez can argue that he still belongs in the game, as noted here).

    Also, while I’m on the subject of “America’s National Pastime,” I have a request for the management of the Philadelphia Phillies that I’m sure will be ignored (now that their season has been over for about the last week or so).

    McCarthy_Wheeler_Matthews
    And that is to fire all three of these guys.

    I don’t spend the time in front of the tube watching the Phillies as much as I used to for a lot of reasons, but when I do, it is absolutely intolerable. All three of the Phillies’ TV announcers (Tommy McCarthy, Gary Matthews, and the thoroughly insufferable Chris Wheeler) should Google the term “dead air” and read up on the concept. And yes, I know the team isn’t riding high at the moment (sports being cyclical and all that), but that has nothing to do with this observation.

    Between the utterly mindless promotions and gabbing about inconsequential nonsense, to say nothing of the thorough non-insight into the actual game (shocking from Matthews, a good former player), I pretty much feel like this when I watch the Phillies on TV…

    McDowell_Eyes
    Simulcast Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen (and Jim Jackson if possible), and let the TV crew do the whole “baseball nostalgia and collectible” circuit instead (maybe Wheeler can spend 5 minutes opining on the Phillie Phanatic to people who actually care…that being said, at least the Phillies aren’t as chaotic as the orange-and-black these days, which, based on this, are turning into a reality TV show IMHO).

    Update 1/9/14: Apparently, Comcast (who recently took over the Phillies broadcasts) was listening based on this (I’m sure McCarthy will follow the lead of whoever is hired to replace Matthews and Wheeler – I have no desire to see these guys, or anyone else, out of work in this climate, and to be fair, Wheeler has put a lot of time in and deserves something. I’m just glad that, whatever it is, a microphone or a TV camera will be nowhere in sight).

  • Finally, I left our “big story,” as it were, for last – to begin, I give you some true comedy from Fred Barnes of the Weakly Standard here

    (House Speaker John Boehner’s) ability to corral Republican votes was in doubt. He had lost 66 GOP members on raising the debt limit in 2011. But the vote on the “fiscal cliff” in late December was worse: 151 of the 233 Republicans, including Cantor and House majority whip Kevin McCarthy, voted against the Boehner-blessed deal. This raised doubts about his future as speaker.

    Now all that has changed. Republicans are united behind him.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Is it my imagination, or does Barnes sound like “Baghdad Bob”?

    Based on this, basically all of the southeastern PA U.S. House delegation now opposes shutting down the government over the continued, ridiculous intransigence of the Teahadists (except this guy, of course).

    And speaking of our delegation, one of Mikey the Beloved’s spokespeople told us here back on 9/17 that a shut down was “off the table” for him (of course, Mikey isn’t the one to make the decision on that – and I wonder if the robocalls noted in the Inky story had anything to do with making up his mind?). Also, I’m sure we’ll never find out why Mikey opposed the measure noted here that would allow our military to get paid in the event of a shutdown (just another reason to support Kevin Strouse, one of the Dems vying for the nomination to run for the PA-08 seat – more on Strouse is here).

    I also wanted to link to this item on the so-called “clean continuing resolution” to fund the government that just about all of this country wants to see passed; Chris Hayes did a pretty good job of pointing out how much the House CR looks like the Ryan budget rejected by the voters last year (and the Senate CR isn’t much better – they both come in under the funding requested by the White House to “keep the lights on”).

    For anyone who still needs to get an understanding of the pain caused by the current shut down, though, I would ask that you read this from here; we’re talking about the following (probably some overlap on this list)…

    Veterans
    Head Start funding
    Welfare recipients (of course)
    Women and infants relying on nutrition programs
    Low-income individuals in need of utility help
    People with disabilities
    Bureau of Land Management operations

    And from here

    Senior citizens in need of food services
    Hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed immediately without pay
    The economy overall (we could lose $10 billon a week)

    And from here

    Flu vaccines
    Death benefits for military families
    Forest fire fighters in California (did I mention that they’re in the dry season?)
    OSHA (they had to halt factory inspections)
    FOIA requests
    Renewable energy permits
    College students
    Data collection from the Bureau of Economic Analysis
    Air monitoring

    And on, and on, and on…

    So let’s give an appropriate ”thank you” to those responsible, shall we?

    Teabagger_100913
    God Bless America.

    Update: Uh, yep (h/t Daily Kos).

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    More “Cap And Trade” Carping From The Murdoch Street Journal

    June 26, 2009

    earth_cc_gwColumnist Kimberly A. Strassel tells us the following today (from here, in a column timed for the scheduled vote on the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the House)…

    Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as “deniers.” The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

    Wow, “smearing” someone by calling them a “denier.” What delicate sensibilities!

    The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. — 13 times the number who authored the U.N.’s 2007 climate summary for policymakers.

    Strassel then goes on to list a bunch of people who are predisposed to dispute the legitimate science that has been plainly obvious for years on this; it’s silly to try and bring these people around on this because, if they won’t budge by now, then they never will. And she also cites Australian politician Steve Fielding, who came to this country to lean more about the climate crisis from the Heartland Institute, which is kind of like trying to learn more about progressive Democratic policy and legislation from the American Enterprise Institute (i.e., you can expect to hear only negative feedback).

    And as far as Strassel’s claim that “the number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling,” that’s interesting, because this poll tells us the following…

    A survey out this week categorizes Americans according to their attitudes towards climate change – and the two most skeptical camps seem to be shrinking while worry becomes the mainstream view.

    The poll, conducted last fall by Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale and George Mason University’s Edward Malbach, lists the respondents as Alarmed over climate change (18 percent), Concerned (33 percent), Cautious (19 percent), Disengaged (12 percent), Doubtful (11 percent), and Dismissive (7 percent). And it should be noted that the numbers in each category fluctuated only slightly from the last time the poll was conducted in 2007.

    Here’s what I think is going on; people generally know we have to deal with this, but there isn’t uniform agreement on exactly how (though, as noted here – and contrary to what Strassel tells us – there is overwhelming agreement from scientists on this).

    And that is why the Waxman-Markey bill was conceived, which, as noted here, is intended to…

    …create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution.” said (Chairman Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee). “Our goal is to strengthen our economy by making America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.”

    This is also in line with the Kyoto Protocol, which, as noted here, is “a ‘cap and trade’ system that imposes national caps on the emissions of Annex I countries” (with those countries defined in the Wikipedia article). And just to remind everyone, “although a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, (the U.S.) has neither ratified nor withdrawn from the Protocol.”

    So the intent of Waxman-Markey is to put “cap and trade” in place, thus making Kyoto ratification a formality (Obama said here the U.S. would participate in the protocol after he was elected last November). And Nate Silver provides what I think is interesting information on what he calls the “environmental indifference point” here, as well as a state-by-state projection of what Waxman-Markey could cost here (a small price to pay for our planet’s survival).

    And as far as the Repugs are concerned, we can always count on them and their acolytes to continue spreading misinformation on this most vital issue, with MIT Professor John Reilly telling “Man Tan” Boehner to stop misrepresenting him here. However, as they do, keep in mind that areas of the world that can least afford it are paying for our inaction (here).

    Strassel is partly right, though. Something is “swelling,” but as noted here, it’s hardly “the number of global warming skeptics.”

    The question, though, is whether or not action now will be enough, or in time to matter.

    (And oh yeah, I forgot to link to this debunked fiction earlier.)


    The Onerous Answer To Ileana’s “Umbrage”

    March 13, 2009

    ileana
    This tells us that U.N. Secretary Ban Ki Moon referred to the U.S. as a “deadbeat” donor to that world body; here’s the reason why…

    Ban said he had wanted to draw attention to the fact that the U.S. agrees to pay 22 percent of the U.N.’s $4.86 billion operating budget, but is perennially late with its dues — and now is about $1 billion behind on its payments.

    That figure is “soon to be $1.6 billion,” Ban emphasized. Asked if he’d used the word “deadbeat” during the meeting, he replied, “Yes, I did — I did,” then laughed mischievously.

    Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: “The U.S. is the largest contributor to the United Nations and while we are behind in some of our payments, those are not the words we would have chosen to encourage Congress to address this problem.”

    Apparently concerned about his choice of words, Ban an issued a statement Wednesday night saying the U.S. “generously supports the work of the U.N., both in assessed and voluntary contributions” and that he “enjoys an excellent working relationship with the United States and appreciates the many ways that it supports the United Nations.”

    And of course, this led to the predictable right-wing outcry…

    “He used the word ‘deadbeat’ when it came to characterizing the United States. I take great umbrage (over) that,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the panel’s senior Republican, said after an hour-long, closed-door meeting. “We certainly contribute a whole lot of U.S. taxpayer dollars to that organization. We do not deserve such a phrase.”

    Oh no?

    This tells us how in 1997, with Bill Clinton as president and the odious Jesse Helms as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we used our late UN dues payments as a cudgel of sorts for reform to ultimately oust then-Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in favor of Kofi Annan (the former was charged with “dragging his feet” on reform by our government).

    (Oh, and by the way, the ’97 transcript of “The News Hour With Jim Lehrer” features moderator Charlayne Hunter-Gault interviewing a guy from the American Enterprise Institute who was still relatively unknown – would that he had stayed that way – named John Bolton who said that there was no financial crisis, but only a crisis of U.N. “legitimacy”…typical).

    The following should also be noted also from here…

    …the US did not pay its UN dues for decades. When it finally agreed to pay past dues in return for a reduction in its assessments, it refused to fulfill (sp) the promise. The resentment against the US at typical UN meetings is so intense that it can be felt in the air. It was this resentment that led the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to oust the US from the 53-member Human Rights Commission (HRC) in May 2001. […] It was the vote of a number of European and ‘friendly nations’ that eventually ousted America. The US suffered a similar defeat in 1998 when it was ejected from, but later reinstated to, the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), a key committee that deals with funding in the whole body.”

    “In 1993 […] only eighteen countries (accounting for 16 percent of the budget of the UN) paid in full by the January 31 deadline. And by 31 October 1994, governments owed the UN a total of $2,100,000,000. […] The United States owed the most ($687,000,000), followed by Russia ($597,000,000)”

    …The 1985 Palme initiative was presented to cap the maximum contribution by any member state, in particular this would have curbed the amount that the USA can contribute, especially in light on its failure to actually pay. “We believe that this was an eminently sound suggestion. The high US share, though justified by that country’s wealth, has been exploited by elements hostile to the U.N.”

    But this proposal was opposed the USA itself! It was rejected by “the Reagan administration, anxious to maintain the leverage that its level of contribution seemed to buy”. In short, the USA wanted to keep its high formal contribution levels in order to buy maximum influence (bribe the UN), and yet didn’t want to actually pay any of the money it owed, either! This type of abuse leads…to contempt of the USA and the dropping of the USA from major bodies of the UN.

    And as noted here (references are a bit dated now, I realize, but this shows where a lot of the money goes)…

    Of course, the U.S. is not the only debtor. Only 50 percent of the U.N.’s membership had paid their 2003 assessments in full by the end of September, and $693 million remained unpaid. Of the fifteen biggest contributors, the U.S., Brazil and Japan had not paid their annual dues by the end of August.”

    This unpredictability, combined with the large amount of money owed, is having serious repercussions for the U.N. Payments for the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda are so far in arrears –there is a $96 million shortfall for 2003 alone – that officials were forced to borrow $41 million from the U.N. peacekeeping accounts. This borrowing came despite the fact that the U.N.’s peacekeeping fund was already more than $1.1 billion in the red.

    In late October, the “Group of 77” developing nations warned that the UN was taking too long to reimburse contributors to peacekeeping missions and complained about the practice of dipping into other funds. But Under-Secretary-General Bertini told them that if all countries paid their assessments in full, it wouldn’t happen.

    It seems such a simple solution: all governments, particularly wealthy and powerful ones, should make sure that they pay their U.N. dues in full and on time. To do otherwise puts the U.N.’s future in jeopardy. U.S. payments have been out of sync for so long that they’re now a habit, and it has encouraged other countries like Japan to adopt the practice of late payment. The U.S. Congress has already voiced its concern; the Fiscal Year 2003 State Department Authorization Bill stated that “late payment of U.S. dues forces the United Nations and other international organizations to engage in budgetary practices that are neither sound nor responsible.” The House of Representatives recently called for a report on the ramifications of late payment, and directed the President to create a plan to resume paying U.N. dues at the beginning of each calendar year.”

    Given all of this, I have to admit that I’m surprised also over the characterization of the U.S. as “deadbeats” when it comes to our U.N. payments.

    What surprises me is that we didn’t hear such a characterization long before now.


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