Friday, January 28, 2011
Republicans want to deny health insurance coverage for abortion procedures in cases of statutory rape
. And rape when the woman is drugged, drunk, or mentally impaired. Or incest above the age of 18.
I really don't know what to say. Wait, yes I do. This is evil
I skip the news for a couple of days and popular protests break out all over the Arab world. Wild. My knowledge about this subject is extremely sketchy, so just chasing links around trying to figure out what's going on. If Hosni Mubarak's government falls it could be the most significant change of regime since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Funny, I don't remember a Republican winning the 2008 presidential election
. I must be confused.
Monday, January 17, 2011
It's difficult to speak about MLK other than in cliches. He was probably the most important leader the United States has ever produced, an inspiration to every person with even the tiniest morsel of decency. The world would be a far better place if there were more like him.
Matt Yglesias "Does" Philosophy
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Not for the first tim
e, Matt Yglesias has held forth on Rawlsian theory
as if he knows something about it. As I suspected, his total exposure to Rawls is one Harvard undergraduate course. Now I don't think discussions about political philosophy should be restricted to those who have PhD's in political philosophy. I certainly don't have one. But I have spent over a decade trying to understand Rawls. He is deceptively simple on the surface but his theories are actually quite subtle. He's not someone you can just skim and expect to absorb.
What bothers me about Yglesias is that (as he does with education policy), Matt is taking a little superficial knowledge and running with it. I suppose that's an operational risk for bloggers, but he's particularly egregious about it, especially since he quite clearly has no idea what he's talking about. I mean seriously, perhaps if the entire Anglo-American discipline of political theory has been dominated by a single thinker for forty years this person's arguments can't be disposed of so glibly?
Hmm. Now that I think of it, there's probably a lesson in that for me too.
The Assassination Attempt in Arizona
I'm sure all of you have heard about the terrible incident in Arizona, where U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords was shot and a number of bystanders killed, including a nine year old girl and a federal judge. I waited a few days to clear my head on the matter and to watch the depressingly predictable course of public discussion about the shooting. I'm not going to parse the question of blame anymore than to say that I believe that inflammatory rhetoric by right-wing politicians, lax gun control laws, and an inadequate mental health system probably all contributed to the event. There's been a great deal of discussion on this question to which I have little new to add.
Instead I'd like to describe how I found out about the murders. I was sitting on my couch watching television and trying to ignore my bird's temper tantrum when my cellphone rang. A friend I hadn't spoken to in a few months was calling to tell me what had happened. The connection wasn't a good one and at first I thought he was saying that Kathy Lee Giffords had been murdered, which I thought rather strange. He repeated the name. It took a moment for me to remember who Gabby Giffords was, but once I understood why my friend had called me. He's an elected official in a previous place I used to live, one I'd helped get elected and with whom I'd become very close. He'd spoken many times with me about his concerns that the growing radicalism of the right wing was going to lead to political violence. I'd always hoped he was wrong but feared he wasn't. Anyone who attends public functions understands that there are a lot of disturbed people out there, people who don't realize violent political metaphors aren't meant to be taken literally. My friend was deeply shaken. Aside from any personal fears he might have about his own safety, he has two young children. I tried to comfort him, but there was little I could say. We both knew that nothing would be done to reduce the ferocity of the debate. The only question is whether there is a second attack against a Democratic officeholder, and if there is whether it will finally force the right to pull back or whether it will simply spark copycats.
There's the intellectual concerns I have, that the principal thing distinguishing the contemporary right from fascist movements is the use of political violence. Should assassinations of elected leaders become commonplace our republic will be placed in the most profound jeapordy. At the end of day such considerations are mere abstractions, however. My stakes in the issue are more personal.
I have a lot of friends in politics, some of whom are elected officials and others who work for them. Any of them could be the next victim. What's more, I could be one of them
. I go to a lot of Democratic political events. I used to work for an officeholder, and I will probably do so again. Some day I could be another Gabe Zimmerman
. I even used to have his job title.
Friday, January 07, 2011
It's not much in the grand scheme of things, but stories like this
give me hope:
Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.
From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.
“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.
In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.
Every time I read this article I get a little weepy.
Hat tip to Cogitamus
They All Deserve Help
Thursday, January 06, 2011
You may have heard about the homeless man with the "Golden Voice."
His story went viral and he was flooded with offers of help. It's a nice, heartwarming story, but something about it bugged me and this morning while driving to work through the snow (again) I realized what it was. This man is getting help because of his talent and (to a lesser extent) because of his gracious demeanor. My question is...what if he hadn't had that voice? Let's say that rather than working on air at the radio station he'd been a file clerk, or a janitor, or a tech guy. Otherwise let's imagine the same exact situation: man starts dabbling in drugs, gets sucked into them, and loses his way. A nice man, eager for a fresh start. Now I ask you - would he have received the outpouring of help he has if he hadn't had such a media-friendly gift? I contend that the answer is no.
Which tells you everything you need to about how twisted our society has become. We only offer compassion and a helping hand to someone who can entertain us, who has a particular kind of gift (like putting a ball in a hoop or singing) or who have been born with money. The other 99.999% of people are told to "get a job" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."
I'm not saying that Ted Williams didn't deserve help. He most certainly did. But it's not because he has a great baritone. It's because he's a human being.