Monday, December 28, 2015

Catching up: Pope says Jews are saved

I almost missed this. Jews are not damned to hell for not accepting Jesus, according to the Vatican. Not only are Jews not damned (despite that crucifixion two thousand years ago), are they saved and are to be considered 'elder brothers.'

But let me clarify. At first I thought the pope himself had declared this. No, afraid not. It was a Vatican committee. And the committee can't quite explain why Jews are saved, instead falling back on the well-used excuse of divine 'mystery.'

Does this sound like they've discovered something new (and convenient)? Maybe, but they claim it's based on St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. It was in there all the time, but was ignored for, um, a few centuries or more. Too bad for all those Jewish criminals killers sinners victims during all those years.


Extras. Sorry, but the Vatican is wrong about this. There's not an exception for Jews (and it's proved by different bible verses). The only reasons I saw this--because of click-bait about Kim Davis and her fabulous victories this year.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Catching up: Dems are doomed!

I've been ultra-busy with work and holiday prep and holiday visiting. So I haven't been able to write some posts I've been thinking about.

First, there was a column by Matthew Yglesias about how much Democrats having been losing at the state level, and why they should be worried about it. This isn't news to me. I don't subscribe to the theory that Dems lose because sometimes voters are just stupid. Dems lose for a variety of reasons, including that sometimes Dems are awful. On the other hand, sometimes Dems win because the GOP is even worse.

However, hoping that your opponent will be even worse isn't a good overall strategy.It's much better to try to be the best candidate you can be, and for the party to try to be the best. Dems haven't been doing this. They've been protecting their own and trying to avoid crazy. Sometimes it's good enough, but often it isn't. So Dems are losing more often.

Yglesias wrote about this two months ago. The effect? A ripple and then nothing. But that is what he expected: "But the truly striking thing is how close to bottom the party is already and how blind it seems to be to that fact." I'll let you know when I see the signs that the Dems are waking up. So far, they're still in deep slumber.


Extra. An example of turning to the GOP because Dems won't do what's necessary.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Blaming the talkers, not the shooters

Is Harry Reid right when he blames the murders and shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood on Republican politicians?

There are some good arguments for leveling some of the blame on them. Many of them aren't moderate in their statements, but instead ramp up the anger at those who support and provide abortions to the women who want them. They don't take the extra few seconds to remind people to try to stop abortion only through rational, respectful discussion. The GOPers as a whole have quite a history of lying about abortion, like 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion. Shouldn't the GOP be held responsible when lies like this influence someone to kill? When I put it like this, yes, it seems they should be partially blamed.

But then I tried a thought experiment--do I feel the same about protest movements that I have more sympathy for? How much do I blame the Black Lives Matter movement for execution-type shootings of police? The answer to that one is easy--I don't blame Black Lives Matter, or the vast majority of their advocates and supporters. A few protesters have encouraged the shooting of police, but very few. And even then, they weren't directly involved in shootings, so they aren't guilty of incitement or conspiracy. I'm not even sure there is a crime for what they did, if all they did is yell.

So, am I going to have a different standard for conservatives and their causes than for liberals and their causes? It might be tempting, but I'm not. People are morally responsible to the lies they tell, or for the hate speech they mutter or shout, but they're not responsible when someone else pulls the trigger--unless they cross the gray line between advocating a position and advocating specific violence.

Am I right about this position? I'm not totally sure. However, I don't want to choose what is expedient, but what is fair.

Is it a lie? Is it incitement?
Image: lifenews. com

Extra. Ed Kilgore, a mildly progressive blogger whom I read often, makes a good argument for assigning more blame. But I'm not convinced, because sometimes the shoe is on the other foot.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Questioning whether Ted Cruz is an extremist

I've seen Ted Cruz labeled an extremist so many times, and that's generally my own impression, but I forgot to actually ask the question whether he is an extremist. Does Cruz actually hold extreme positions? His most well-known position was being against Obamacare, which is so common among Republicans that it can't be called extremist. So I wondered about extremist positions--whether he's advocated truly extreme positions such as deporting or locking up large numbers of people, establishing religious tests for civil rights, overthrowing the current government by insurrection, or some such.

I don't remember any policy position like that. But where did the impression of extremism come from then? It could be his rhetoric, such as calling Obama an apologist for Islamist terrorists. That's an extreme thing for an elected official to say out loud. It's more typical of political shock-jocks, not those who are supposed to be responsible, judicious, and fair.

Looking at Cruz's rhetoric, it's easy to find violations of the norms. He'll imply that Obama is a totalitarian, or that former senator Chuck Hagel was in the pay of North Korea. He'll advocate carpet bombing in the Mideast, as though carpet bombing didn't mean killing or wounding every living person in the effected area. It's the equivalent of say "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

His associations are scary. His father, Rev. Raphael Cruz, who frequently campaigns with Ted (making it hard for the son to distance himself) says such things as Obama is trying to destroy Christianity in the US. Other extreme associations include supporters of Uganda's death penalty for homosexuals.

Cruz's tactics aren't mainstream. When the GOP in Congress was voting in vain to repeal Obamacare, Cruz encouraged the 'defund Obamacare' strategy, though perhaps it was rhetoric and not meant to be seriously followed as a strategy. Nonetheless, it led to a government shutdown, and Cruz got much of the credit and/or blame.

I'm not sure I can point to other tactics that might be considered extreme, so I guess Cruz's extremism is primarily in his rhetoric and somewhat in his associations. But there's plenty of that. Just Google it.


Extras. Quite the catalog on Ted Cruz at Right Wing Watch. Outlawing abortion without a constitutional amendment? Totally possible. Here are those 8 outrageous quotes. A fake Cruz quote, so don't trust memes.