Glenn Greenwald characterizes Barack Obama’s recent terrorism speech as a Rorschach test–something for everyone:
The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal. But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.
One very common tactic for enforcing political orthodoxies is to malign the character, “style” and even mental health of those who challenge them. The most extreme version of this was an old Soviet favorite: to declare political dissidents mentally ill and put them in hospitals. In the US, those who take even the tiniest steps outside of political convention are instantly decreed “crazy”, as happened to the 2002 anti-war version of Howard Dean and the current iteration of Ron Paul (in most cases, what is actually “crazy” are the political orthodoxies this tactic seeks to shield from challenge). This method is applied with particular aggression to those who engage in any meaningful dissent against the society’s most powerful factions and their institutions.
A TV plays nonstop in the lunchroom at my workplace. Today, as I grabbed a snack, CNN was interviewing a “Vatican spokesman” (I didn’t catch his name, but he was the man on the right in this photo). While this interview was airing, the Cardinals were still deliberating. It occurred to me first of all that despite being guided by the “Holy Spirit” these men were struggling to make a decision. The Vatican Spokesman said to the CNN reporter, “We’re looking for Something New.” Amen to that.
Why did the alleged God banish the alleged Satan from the alleged heaven? Many Christian accounts of Satan bluntly conclude that Satan was full of pride, causing God to give him the boot. Which leads to the follow:
I don’t know who creates these images, which are often posted on Facebook. They sharply challenge assertions commonly made by believers. Sometimes they challenge deeply held theological arguments. And as Ronaldo de Souza once suggested, theology is “intellectual tennis without a net.”
Only because Rand Paul, Ted Cruz – and now others – have been willing to stand up to the administration and demand transparency on drone strike policy are Americans learning the chilling truth about the executive’s elastic definition of “imminence” in “imminent threat.”
If you’re concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability of the policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, you have to concede that Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have done us a great service: Cruz, R-Texas, with his questioning of Attorney General Eric Holder in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Paul, R-Kentucky, with his widely reported filibuster on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, some Democrats don’t want to acknowledge this contribution. That’s a shame.
Believers constantly overlook the sins of “God.” He literally gets away with murder when he slaughters little children. All of this should be a problem for Bible literalists–the inerrant folks–but they claim that it isn’t. That works thanks to the big blind spot to occurs in all types of believers: Morality binds and blinds, and it does this especially well in the context of religions.
I spotted this image on Facebook–it details the seven “Godly” sins. There is no indication of who the author was–if anyone knows, I’d like to give credit. I can’t argue with the logic of the chart.
Francis Kissling is a Catholic. In his article at The Nation, he sees no hope that choosing a new pope will improve the Catholic Church:
[The central teachings of the church are] cynicism—teaching things that are not true—at its most damaging, and it is the foundation of the modern church. The virgin birth is only the start of it. Heaven and hell, the turning of bread and wine into the body of Christ (a core teaching that polls tell us most Catholics reject), the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven (how could her body have gone to heaven when we are now clear it is not a real physical place?), the infallibility of the pope telling these untruths and insisting that Catholics must believe them to be Catholic—this all leads directly to corrupt popes and priests who lack compassion. Lying or just fudging it demoralizes those who teach in the name of the church. From such demoralization stems the need to protect the institution and oneself, to protect pedophiles, to let women die in childbirth by denying contraception, to allow the transmission of HIV and to keep alive a dysfunctional institution. It is no accident that priests have historically had a high rate of alcoholism; not only were they isolated by the solitude of the priesthood but by the dissonance in what they were bound to teach and preach and their own understanding of life and goodness. A new pope will change nothing.
Recently, I finished reading Lawrence Wright’s new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollwood, & the Prison of Belief, about Scientology. It’s a lucid history and examination of the movement. [More . . . ]