Friday, April 02, 2010

How to Be a Manichean Catholic?

NPR has an article by a writer named Elizabeth Scalia on why she remains a Catholic despite the pedophilia scandal.
Through 2,000 imperfect — sometimes glorious, sometimes heinous — years, the church has contemplated and manifested the truth that dark and light, innocence and guilt, justice and injustice all share a kinship, one that waves back and forth like wind-stirred wheat in a field, churning toward something — as yet — unknowable.
That sounds a lot like Manichaeism to me. One of the interesting things about early and medieval Christianity is the many ways in which pagan religions like Manichaeanism continued to subsist within the all encompassing embrace of the Catholic Church. Catholicism took up the gods of polytheism in the concepts of saints and angels. It looks like the Catholic Church took up the dualism of Mani as well.

If I were religious, I would personally prefer a religion which was not associated with the greed and brutality of the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sarah Palin for Fake President

It appears that Sarah Palin's interview special for Fox might be a fake in that Fox is broadcasting old interviews on the program rather than any kind of current sit-down with Sarah Palin.

According to a spokesperson for fake interview subject Toby Keith:
"We were never contacted by Fox. I have no idea what interview it's taken from. They're promoting this like it's a brand new interview. He never sat down with Sarah Palin."

Does this mean that Fox would be broadcasting old footage of Ronald Reagan if Palin ever gets elected president?

All This Science, I Don't Understand

That was the Elton John "Rocket Man" lyric that I was thinking about last night while I was helping Miss Teen RSI with DNA and RNA.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shelby Steele Gets Obama Wrong Again

For Shelby Steele, all of the problems that President Obama now has or will ever have are caused by the self-importance Obama derives from being black.
Well, suppose you were the first black president of the United States and, therefore, also the first black head-of-state in the entire history of Western Civilization. You represent a human first, something entirely new under the sun. There aren't even any myths that speak directly to your circumstance, no allegorical tales of ancient black kings who ruled over white kingdoms.
Of course, Steele offers no credit to Obama or anyone else for the accomplishment--no acknowledgement of the generations of civil rights activists, everyday African-Americans, white liberals, or other minorities who made Obama's presidency possible.

And none was expected. Shelby Steele is a salaried conservative at the Hoover Institute who has exactly as much intellectual freedom as David Frum had at the American Enterprise Institute.

In other words--none.

Sour grapes might play a part here as well. Steele wrote a book predicting that Obama could not win the presidency because of his connections with the black community.

Anyway, Steele's argument is that the monumental character of Obama's accomplishment in getting elected has created an enormous self-importance that pushes Obama to push "big ideas" like health care reform.

Does this special burden explain Barack Obama's embrace of scale as vision (if I don't know what to do, I'll do big things)? I think it does to a degree. It means, for example, that a caretaker presidency is not an option for him. His historical significance almost demands a kind of political narcissism. For him the great appeal of massive health-care reform—when jobs are a far more pressing problem—may have been its history-making potential.

Here was a chance for Mr. Obama not just to be a part of history but to make history. Here he could have an achievement commensurate with his own historical significance. To have left off health care and taken up jobs would have left him a caretaker rather than a history-maker. So he hung in with health care and today it can be said: Barack Obama has signed the most significant piece of social legislation in 45 years—achieving something that has eluded every president since FDR.

That idea might have some credibility if Obama's had been the first Democrat to pursue health care reform or his health care proposals had been any kind of surprise. But Democratic presidents have been pursuing health care reform going back to FDR and all Democratic presidential candidates who even pretended to being serious contenders in 2008 had to have a detailed health reform plan. Obama, Hillary, and John Edwards all had big health reform proposals. I bet Joe Biden and Bill Richardson had them too. Even Joe Lieberman had a big health care proposal when he was running for president in 2004.

Barack Obama didn't have to be black to have big ideas on domestic policy, he had to be a Democrat. Of course, one can argue that the Democrats have been heavily influenced by the African-American wing of the party since the heyday of the civil rights movement and that all Democrats have something of an African-American optimism concerning hope for social reform.

But that would have made Bill Clinton the first African-American president and forced hacks like Shelby Steele to blame all of Bill Clinton's shortcomings on the fact that he was black.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Feds Send Message to Michigan Militias

Yesterday, federal authorities launched raids on Michigan's "Hutaree" militia in response to threats allegedly made by militia members against Muslims.

Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern
Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ.

WXYZ-TV reports that helicopters were spotted in the sky for much of Saturday night, and agents set up checkpoints throughout the area. Witnesses told the station that it was like a small army had descended on the area. The Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are also involved in the raids.

If those helicopters were black, the whole task force must have been supervised by the federal Department of Irony.

It's going to be interesting to find out if members of the Hutaree were making threats or just engaging in the usual survivalist blustering.

For better or worse, there is a difference.

Given that there is a significant Muslim population in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and other areas of Southeastern Michigan, threats have to be taken seriously.

At the same time, there is reason to suspect the Feds of sending a message to Michigan militias that they "mean business" this time. Southeastern Michigan was a militia hotbed during the 1980's while I lived in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Militia was best known but was one of many militia/survivalist groups in the heavily white, rural towns in the area. Most prominently, Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols both had roots in the Michigan militia environment.

In raiding the Hutaree militia, federal authorities might be sending a message to the Michigan militias that they consider all of them to be terrorism threats and that they don't want to see any more Timothy McVeighs coming out of their groups.

Update: Nine members of the Hutaree group were indicted for plotting to kill a policeman and then bomb his funeral. They are also suspected of planning a "covert reconnaisance" of their target in the near future and being resolved to kill “anyone who happened upon the exercise who did not acquiesce to Hutaree demands.” Like the various al-Qaeda wannabes ploting jihad in the United States, the Hutaree's version of Christian survivalism sounds pretty clowinish. It will be interesting to see if the Feds have any convincing evidence of this scenario.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Even Bigger Than Health Care

Miley Cyrus decides to leave Hannah Montana. The world will never be the same.