Is Christianity Against Das Kapital?

Oh, BillDo! Will your histrionic antics never cease to amuse me? (Spoiler alert: no.)

Last week, Lawrence O’Donnell opined on Louie Giglio withdrawing from participating in Obama’s inauguration because of an outcry over a homophobic sermon he delivered in the 90s (and, to my knowledge, has so far failed to apologize for). That, and the irony of Barack Obama being sworn in on a book that contains so many horrific passages that he and every decent person on the planet disagree with. Watch it, because it’s quite good:

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/gJgNQsQDkqk

At 2:51, Giglio is quoted as saying,

if you look at the counsel of the word of God, Old Testament, New Testament, you come quickly to the conclusion that homosexuality is not an alternate lifestyle. Homosexuality is not gay, but homosexuality is a sin. It is sin in the eyes of God, and it is a sin according to the word of God.

Predictably, Bill Donohue thought O’Donnell’s editorial wasn’t quite cricket (emphasis added):

Pastor Giglio’s crime? He’s a Christian. Practicing Christians, along with observant Jews, Mormons, Muslims and millions of others, accept the biblical teachings on the sinfulness of homosexuality. In the 1990s, Giglio addressed this subject, citing Christian teachings, and that was enough to set off the alarms in gay quarters.

Over the past few decades, many homosexuals and theologians have tried to argue that the Bible’s passages condemning homosexuality should not be read as condemning homosexuality. In their postmodern mind, they say that interpretation is wrong. O’Donnell, to his credit, knows these savants are delusional. While he readily admits that the Bible condemns homosexuality, his level of cognitive development does not allow him to discern the difference between behavior and status, which is why he falsely claims the Bible condemns “gay people.”

Now, given that he’s just spent two spittle-flecked paragraphs explaining how Christianity is anti-gay, I wasn’t expecting his very next post to be entitled Is Christianity anti-gay?. I guess he enjoys making me do spit-takes.

To say that Giglio backed out because of his “previous anti-gay comments” is tantamount to saying Christianity is anti-gay because it sees homosexual behavior as sinful. It also sees adultery as sinful. Does that mean Christianity is bigoted against heterosexuals?

Right. BillDo’s flavor of Christianity places some restrictions on heterosexual behavior, like mandating marital fidelity; and it also places some restrictions on homosexual behavior, like not being allowed to have the kind of sex you enjoy, or being allowed to marry the person you love, or have your union recognized as legally equivalent to Kim Kardashian’s umpteenth marriage, or being portrayed in a favorable light in sitcoms, and if gays have to have the unmitigated gall to exist in the first place, could they at least have the decency to emigrate to a leper colony somewhere? Because the children or something.

With regard to homosexuality, the teachings found in Christianity were taken from Judaism. Moreover, Islam also sees homosexuality as sinful. Are we to believe that the adherents of all these world religions are “anti-gay”?

Why, yes. To the extent that they agree with BillDo’s anti-gay interpretation of their holy scripture of choice, yes, they are. That was easy.

What, am I supposed to believe that if a bigoted belief stops being bigoted if enough people accept it?

(Update: Oh, poo. I just realized I posted this without explaining the title: it’s a mashup of the titles of BillDo’s two posts: “Should Obama swear on Das Kapital?” and “Is Christianity anti-gay?”. I could fix the title, but that would break the permalink. So oh well.)

Election Night Woot!

As I write this — and maybe I shouldn’t be writing this while I’m in no state to operate Internet machinery — a number of things have happened in the 2012 US election.

Obama has won reelection. Mittens is about to concede. Looks like Obama has won not only the Electoral Vote, but also the popular vote. So I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t buy an election without showing your tax returns or adopting a consistent policy on something.

Elizabeth Warren has won. Richard Mourdock has lost. Todd Akin has lost. According to various sources, Democrats have picked up a Senate seat or two.

Recreational marijuana will now be legal in Washington state.

Oh, and gay marriage will be legal in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. And Minnesota has rejected a constitutional amendment to ban it. So the homophobes can suck it. For years they’ve been using “every time gay marriage has been put to a vote, it has lost”, and now they won’t have that anymore. I’m not sure what they’re going to do now. I suspect they’ll blame electoral activism by unelected voters.

From what I’ve seen, Fox News’s spin is that most counties voted for Romney, so shenanigans. Or something. Also, Republicans might’ve done better if they’d deigned to adopt a platform reflecting 21st-century values. Like maybe that women and black people are humans too.

Anyway, thank you, America, and thank you Maryland. You done good tonight.

Obama’s Tepid Rubicon

Of all the adjectives that could be applied to the current Thing Dominating The News Cycle — Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage — the most popular seems to be “tepid”. Other criticisms I’ve run across are in a similar vein: that Obama was wishy-washy, didn’t pledge any actual support for marriage equality, and generally speaking, why the hell aren’t we at the point where he could just say “Of course I’m for marriage equality! I can’t believe we have to have this conversation!”

(In case you couldn’t tell, I spend a lot of my time on the left side of the Inter-Blogo-Echo-Chamber-Sphere, but I can only assume that the right also had its share of criticism, which probably sounded something like “Rar rar grarh destroy our country rarh grar socialist grumble grumble Ron Paul smash!”)

I understand this criticism, and agree with a lot of it (at least the sane stuff, not the “Obama is a communist from planet Reptilia”). And yet, I can’t help thinking that maybe for all Obama’s wishy-washy, weasel-qualified luke-warmth, maybe it doesn’t matter; that was all that was needed.

In particular, I’m reminded of pope John Paul II’s statement about evolution in 1996. It’s remembered as a watershed moment when the Catholic church finally admitted what was obvious to everyone with a minimal scientific education. But if you read the thing, it’s as wishy-washy as Aladdin’s lamp in the middle of the spin cycle. Even the central assertion, that evolution is “more than a hypothesis” is an endorsement so weak that 98-pound weaklings routinely kick sand in its face at the beach.

And yet, in retrospect it turned out to be a watershed moment, from which there was no turning back. Even John Paul II’s successor, pope Reactionarius XIV (the X makes it sound edgy) hasn’t really been able to undo that, as far as I know.

So maybe the same thing’s going on with Obama. Granted, he’s not the pope. It’s not as if he can control the hearts and minds of a billion people (especially when he can’t even control his own vice-president! Amirite? badoom-sha!). At the same time, he’s The President. He sets the tone. And the fact that we’ve gotten to the point where a sitting POTUS can unambiguously, if tepidly, express his support for marriage equality, must mean that some kind of rubicon has been crossed.

Perhaps in five years we’ll look back and see this as the moment when the country released a breath it didn’t realize it had been holding; or stopped unconsciously talking about gay marriage in slightly hushed tones (yeah, that seems pretty unlikely, given that a lot of the relevant voices have been pretty loud). Or maybe just as the moment when Washington definitively figured out which way the wind was blowing and decided that it was okay for the president to commit himself.

At least, that’s what I hope will happen. I could be wrong. I don’t actually have a tingly Rubicon-sense. It might just be gas.

What the Hell Is Wrong With the Obama Administration?

Okay, let’s recap:

Obama campaigned in part on a promise to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Which is great, because a majority of Americans, including many (perhaps most) in the military want it repealed.

Then, once elected, he did nothing about it. Okay, I can chalk that up to priorities (the economy had to come first) and a disposition toward being cautious.

The Log Cabin Republicans sued to overturn the policy. In September, District Judge Virginia Phillips found DADT unconstitutional and ordered the Pentagon to stop enforcing it.

At which point he had the DOJ appeal the decision, and assured a country rightly concerned about this that “This policy will end, and it will end on my watch.

Just not as quickly as it would have if he’d done quite literally nothing.

So yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the Log Cabin Republicans have appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to uphold the ban, “arguing that a change in the law should come from Congress, not the courts.”

Ha. As if. Congress includes Republicans, the Party of Not Just No But Hell No, remember? And Congress has been oh so much more effective than the courts at overturning injustices in the past, right?

Which brings us to today’s Post:

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.

So what’s the hold-up? Why is the Obama administration dragging its feet on this?

Gah.

BillDo Lies About Stem Cell Ban

Today, BillDo put out a
release
boldly proclaiming
Obama to okay killing embryos“.

It is precisely because there are ethical alternatives to killing embryos that President Obama’s decision is doubly flawed: (a) it is immoral to intentionally destroy nascent human life, and (b) it is even more irresponsible to do so when morally acceptable alternatives exist.

This is so wrong that it’s hard to refrain from saying that Bill is
flat-out, pants-on-fire lying, so I won’t. Obama’s
executive order
lifts the restriction on federal funding for stem cell research; it
doesn’t change where embryonic stem cells come from.

To the best of my knowledge, embryonic stem cells for research come
from leftover embryos for in vitro fertilization, i.e., ones that
weren’t chosen to be implanted in the want-to-be-mother. As I
understand it, people who want to
carry someone else’s child
get first crack at them. Researchers only have access to those that no
one else wants.

And finally, the leftovers are disposed of. By incineration, I
understand.

So BillDo’s “morally acceptable alternatives” no only exist, but are
being implemented, and no one has a problem with this.

What he’s saying is either “let’s shut down the IVF clinics!” (which I
doubt) or “don’t offer clusters of embryonic cells to researchers!
Throw them into the fire right away!”

People are already “intentionally destroy[ing] nascent human life”.
This has been going on for ages, but I don’t hear BillDo complaining
about that. No, he’s afraid that a lot of good might come of the
process. So FOAD, Billy.

Obama’s Faith-Based Initiatives: WTF?

During his electoral campaign, Obama promised to keep and expand Bush’s
Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. This morning, the AP has
this story:

Obama is also telling the gathering that the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that he is announcing Thursday won’t favor any religious group, or favor religious groups over secular groups.

(More
here.)

I’m all for the separation of church and state, and all the stuff
Obama said in that paragraph, but if the Office of Faith-Based
Initiatives won’t favor religion over irreligion, why put “Faith” in
the organization’s name? Seriously, WTF? Why not call it the Office of
Charity or Office of Public Service or something like that?

I suppose one explanation is that he thinks that federal support of
charitable works is a Good Thing, but that the Bush administration’s
implementation of it was broken, but that religious overtones are
necessary for public support.

Of course, he could just rename it, as when the Department of War
became the Department of Defense, but perhaps he thinks that would
make him unpopular.

A more cynical explanation is that he plans to continue the previous
administration’s policy toward the office: have an Office of
Faith-Based Initiatives in place to suck up to the religious, but not
fund it adequately.

I doubt the latter explanation, because a) if that were the case,
Obama wouldn’t have made his comments about keeping church and state
separate. And besides, sucking up to voters is typically something
presidents do when they’re running for reelection. And as long as the
last election cycle has lasted, I don’t think it’s grown to four years
yet. Please tell me it hasn’t.

So☭ialism

In light of the right-wing hordes calling Obama a socialist for daring to raise taxes on the rich, I’m amused by dKos’s compilation of times when McCain has expressed the same sentiment:

Not to mention this quotation that I found a long time ago, but which
seems especially apt right now:

The US treats its socialism like a Catholic priest
treats masturbation: it does it very rarely, with a great amount of
guilt, and tries its very hardest to ignore the relief that it
brings.

— Electric Angst