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07 January 2012

FollowUp 1: AFA OneNewsNow Misquotes AP News

Here we go again.  They lie about the nature of homosexuality, the nature of marriage, and the nature of politics, the latter being today's topic.  The original Associated Press story, by Laurie Kellman, loses the author and most of the material when shown on One News Now.  Consider the opening paragraph of the original:
Prominent conservative leaders want their rank and file to quickly get behind a single presidential candidate, fearful that persistent splits will help Mitt Romney win the Republican nomination.
And the One News Now version:
Conservative leaders say it's time to rally behind a single Republican presidential candidate -- and fast -- to prevent Mitt Romney from winning the GOP nomination.
There is an important change in tone.  The differences are more stark in the second paragraph, again beginning with the original:
The former Massachusetts governor narrowly won the Iowa caucuses when conservative voters divided their support among several challengers, and the worry is that the same thing will happen in South Carolina, Florida and beyond if Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all stay in the race.
And the One News Now version:
The former Massachusetts governor narrowly won the Iowa Caucuses after conservatives split their support among Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Now, some conservative leaders are talking about a group endorsement before the South Carolina primary Jan. 21. Any challenger to Romney must win that primary to survive.
Um, this is no longer the same.  There is one full paragraph and two more individual lines in the One News Now version.  The original has more than twenty additional paragraphs.  One News Now turns the focus to Tony Perkins of hate group the Family Research Council.  That is a tiny bit part of the bigger story from the AP.  The focus was supposed to be on the candidates, not one of the AFA's favorite bigots.

As I said before, falsification of data, misquoting, and plagiarism are among the guarantees that a student earns an 'F' in my classroom.  AFA earns that 'F' again.

29 December 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.

06 January 2012

Praise: Shari Johnson Accepting Her Daughter

Three days ago Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, had an opinion page on Fox News that condemned sex out of wedlock and condemned wedlock for homosexuals.  This is not new territory for Mr. Driscoll who has previously spoken against girly men and gays.  The piece from three days ago included seven points, two of which rightfully upset Ms. Johnson.
1. God created us male and female in His image and likeness with dignity, equality, value, and worth. Men and women are different and complement one another (Genesis 1:27-28).
2. Love is more like a song than a math equation. It requires a sense of poetry and passion to be any good at it, which is why people who are stuck in their heads struggle and are frustrated by it, and lovers prefer songs to syllogisms (Song of Solomon, all of it).
3. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design. This is the consistent teaching of the Bible from the table of contents to the appendix and the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19:4).
4. God created sex. God made our bodies “very good” with “male and female” parts and pleasures. When our first parents consummated their covenant, God was not shocked or horrified, because He created our bodies for sex. The reason that sex is fun, pleasurable, and wonderful is because it is a reflection of the loving goodness of God who created it as a gift for us to steward and enjoy (Genesis 2:24-25).
5. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. Sinful sex includes homosexuality, erotica, bestiality, bisexuality, fornication, friends with benefits, adultery, swinging, prostitution, incest, rape, polygamy, polyandry, sinful lust, pornography, and pedophilia (I Corinthians 6:9-11,18-20, Hebrews 13:4).
6. Sex is to be done in such a way that there is no shame (Genesis 2:25; Proverbs 5:18-23). Many people experience shame in regard to sex. Sometimes shame is a gift from God in response to our sexual sin, sometimes it is the devastating feeling we bear because we have been sexually sinned against, and other times we have not sinned or been sinned against sexually but feel shame because we have wrong thinking and feelings about sex in general, or a sex act in particular.
7. Your standard of beauty is your spouse. God made one man and one woman. He did not ask them if they wanted someone tall or short, light or heavy, pale or dark skinned, with long or short hair. In short, He did not permit them to develop a standard of beauty. Instead, He gave them each a spouse as a standard of beauty (Genesis 2:23, Proverbs 6:20-35).
Numbers one and two make sense to me, as do numbers four and seven.  Number three contradicts the Bible's frequent discussions of polygamy.  Solomon had how many wives again?  Number five does not make sense in terms of biblical laws, as having sex was either adultery (a sin in the Bible) or marriage (creating a new marriage if one did not already exist).  Number six is almost correct, as the only things shameful about sex are coercion and rape.

Shari Johnson describes herself as an evangelical Christian.  She was shocked when she learned that her daughter is a homosexual.  It took a while for Ms. Johnson to come to terms with the reality of her daughter's life and her own relationship with God.  In an opinion page on Fox News today, Ms. Johnson takes on Mr. Driscoll.  In particular, she challenges numbers three and five.
Pastor Driscoll shares “seven sex essentials from the Bible,” and I would like to address “3. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God’s design,” and “5. Sex outside of marriage is a sin.”
When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things. 
Our cultural adaptation of marriage has certainly evolved through the ages—had God not intervened, Joseph could have had Mary stoned to death for being pregnant with a child that was not his. (An engagement at that time was considered the same as a marriage.) 
That is just one example—so many books could be written on the history of marriage. Yet we keep a death grip on the scriptures that suit us—and the translation of those scriptures becomes more a matter of tradition, opinion and convenience than the Word of God. 
The hypocrisy of a Christian parent who shrugs her shoulders over one child’s “living in sin” and says, “What’s a mother to do,” but goes to pieces when she hears of her daughter’s homosexuality, is appalling. I was that mother.
If one can find anything amusing in all this, it is that those who are upset about sex outside of marriage are the same ones who are opposed to marriage equality. 
The principles for heterosexual marriage are the same for same-sex marriage—love, commitment, faithfulness, loyalty, honor and respect. How can we deny that to anyone? 
My daughter and her partner were married in 2004 and I couldn’t ask for a better spouse for my daughter, or daughter-in-law for me. However, my attitude traveling to the wedding was far different from my attitude on the trip home. God attends gay weddings. Who knew?
Ms. Johnson continues to discuss more about marriage.  I am very happy for her, that she has come to accept her daughter and her daughter-in-law.  Some gays, long away from religion after extended rejection, would be surprised at the line God attends gay weddings.  If there is a God, then of course God must be everywhere.  Of course God attends gay weddings.
If we spent as much time obeying God’s two greatest commandments, which are that we love Him and love our neighbors as ourselves, and less time policing everyone who is different from us, imagine what a world it would be.
If more religious leaders had as clear a view of God's word as Ms. Johnson, the need for equality would be obvious to all and much of the hatred and bigotry in our world would fall by the wayside.  Shari Johnson had a tough path to travel to gain her wisdom.  People like Mr. Driscoll made that path harder for her than it needed to be.  We need more people with the perseverance, wisdom, and eloquence of Ms. Johnson.

Repudiation: Rick Santorum on Basic Civil Rights

Mr. Santorum continues to think that a lack of equality is appropriate for the United States.  In the above clip, he makes a very simple mistake.  He calls marriage a privilege.  The Supreme Court of the United States has a different definition.  The following from the decision in Loving v. Virginia that struck down state laws preventing persons of different races from marrying.
Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.
Pardon me for quoting the first line of that paragraph written by then Chief Justice Warren again.

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.

Mr. Santorum is correct that marriage is an essential good.  Denying marriage equality is discrimination.  It is denial of a basic civil right.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

05 January 2012

FollowUp 1: Governor Chris Gregoire on Marriage Equality

Since Governor Gregoire's speech yesterday, the bigots are starting to object.  Not really a surprise.  Let's look at just two.  First, local to Washington State is Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church.
Pastor Ken Hutcherson of Redmond’s Antioch Bible Church, a long-time gay marriage opponent, said he believes Gregoire’s endorsement is payback to the gay community who helped get her elected.
“I think she is going to do this because she has to. I think that she’s made promises to the community and the gay community to help her get into office in the first place,” said Hutcherson.
“I am a believer in the Bible. I am a pastor. I’m a man of the cloth, any way you want to say it. The Bible says that when something is wrong, you stand up against it and I can’t think of anything that the Bible says is wrong as being good for society if we go against it.” Said Hutcherson.
It should be noted that Governor Gregoire was first elected to her office in 2004 and is serving her second term as governor.  She does not intend to run for a third term.  The argument that this is a payback makes less sense than if she had something to offer donors in future terms in office.  Of course, if she made promises and is keeping those promises, that is something that the Pastor should approve.

The Bible says that many things are wrong.  Beyond the "Ten Commandments", the five books of the Torah have an additional six hundred and three commandments.  The Book of Leviticus that prohibits homosexuality also prohibits the eating of pork, shellfish, and catfish.  It prohibits wearing cloth made of blended fibers (like cotton and wool).  It prohibits tattoos.  When Mr. Hutcherson, the believer in the Bible, ever treats these other prohibitions similarly then, perhaps, he is worthy of more attention.

Second, local to Washington, D.C. is Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage.
"The people of this country believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman," Brown said in a telephone interview. "I expect the legislature in Washington state will stand up for this commitment and vote to protect marriage."
The same article, however, shows a somewhat different picture.
Polls show sharp national division on same-sex marriage, and the issue is still divisive in Washington, which tends to be split between a liberal coast, including Seattle, and a more conservative inland.
Slowly, more Americans are embracing the concept of equality.  Mr. Brown and Mr. Hutcherson are not shifting their beliefs, but the country is leaving them behind.  This is besides the fact that human rights and civil rights should not be subject to a popular referendum.  I should no more have the right to vote on your right to marry than you should have the right to vote on mine.

If you have not already done so, let me encourage you to read the full speech today by Governor Gregoire on marriage equality.  Her discussion of the side issues and concerns is extremely well done.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

4 Jaunary 2012, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.

04 January 2012

Praise: Governor Chris Gregoire on Marriage Equality

The Governor of the Great State of Washington gave a speech today on marriage equality.  In it she put to rest most of the silly arguments against equality that we keep hearing.  Here are a couple of excepts
Some argue that the state should deny a marriage license to same-sex couples based on the premise that marriage is for procreation. Do we then deny a license to heterosexual couples who choose not to have children?... To those who can’t have children or those who adopt?...
To those who have children through in-vitro fertilization?
Some argue that same-sex marriage weakens the institution of marriage. Is this a role of the state? If so, it has failed miserably with a divorce rate among heterosexual couples now at about 50 percent.
Some argue that the state must deny a marriage license based on religious beliefs.
With a marriage license, couples marry in civil or religious ceremonies.
In issuing the license, the state should not involve itself in an applicant’s religion.
So far, so good.  She gives an excellent history of marriage.  Then she continues.
When someone asks me what marriage means, I don’t think about the legal protections of a marriage license. I think about love, commitment, responsibility, and partnership.
Same-sex couples should not be denied the meaning of marriage. They have a right to be equal!
Much more on politics in Washington State and the nature of the populace.  She concludes.
As Washingtonians and Americans, we have serious problems to address – a far-off war, the Great Recession, more than 13 million people looking for work, worldwide economic competition.
Loving, committed married couples of any sexual orientation can only help us. They can help us defend our Democracy, help our neighbors, and build strong communities. And they will.
Fellow Washingtonians: Throughout our history, we have fought discrimination. We have joined together to recognize equality for racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, immigrants, religious sects.
Please answer the call to support equality again in our great state. It is the right thing to do and it is time.
Thank you.
Thank you, Governor Gregoire.  I have done a disservice by only copying parts.  The entire speech is well worth reading.  Washington State has chosen its governor wisely.  They are leading the country.  Eventually we will follow.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

5 January 2012, FollowUp 1.

Praise: President Obama Protecting Consumers

After groundbreaking work by, now candidate for the U.S. Senate, Professor Elizabeth Warren, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was established in July 2011.  Immediately after its creation, Republicans let it be known that they would not confirm Ms. Warren as its director.  So, President Obama nominated her deputy, Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio who had been working as Professor Warren's second.  In December, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of Mr. Cordray.  In fact, they had been planning to block any nominee and said so in a letter to the President back in May.

Today, Barack Obama announced that Mr. Cordray is the new head of the CFPB by recess appointment, the following from his speech in Ohio.
Today I’m appointing Richard as America’s consumer watchdog.  And that means he is going to be in charge of one thing:  looking out for the best interests of American consumers.  Looking out for you.
His job will be to protect families like yours from the abuses of the financial industry.  His job will be to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions.  Right away, he’ll start working to make sure millions of Americans are treated fairly by mortgage brokers and payday lenders and debt collectors.  In fact, just this week, his agency is opening up a simple 1-800 number that you can call to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, and hold banks and brokers accountable if you’re not.
Republicans are fuming.  Sen. Spencer Bacchus called this an attack on the Constitution.
"The President's unprecedented decision to attempt to circumvent the Constitution and ignore the law he himself signed is the clearest indication yet that he has abandoned any effort to work in a bipartisan manner to strengthen accountability and oversight of this new government bureaucracy," he said.
The constitutional question has been asked many times.  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) last updated their information on recess appointments in 2008.  The specific question, in this case, is whether the pro forma session, a meeting in which no business takes place, of the Senate prevents recess appointments.  The CRS document does not address this directly.
How Long Must the Senate Be in Recess Before a President May Make a Recess Appointment? The Constitution does not specify the length of time that the Senate must be in recess before the President may make a recess appointment. Over the last century, as shorter recesses have become more commonplace, the Department of Justice has offered differing views on this issue. Most recently, in 1993, a Justice Department brief implied that the President may make a recess appointment during a recess of more than three days.
The Senate held a pro forma session on Tuesday and another is planned for Friday of this week.  Republicans do not believe the recess appointment is legitimate.
“What the President did today sets a terrible precedent that could allow any future President to completely cut the Senate out of the confirmation process, appointing his nominees immediately after sending their names up to Congress,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
This is an interesting constitutional question.  The power of the recess appointment is clearly stated in the United States Constitution, from the CRS summary:
Under the Constitution (Article II, Section 2, clause 2), the President and the Senate share the power to make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. Generally, the President nominates individuals to these positions, and the Senate must confirm them before he can appoint them to office. The Constitution also provides an exception to this process. When the Senate is in recess, the President may make a temporary appointment, called a recess appointment, to any such position without Senate approval (Article II, Section 2, clause 3).
The three day rule, noted above, is not from the Constitution, but is an arbitrary designation to endeavor to balance the powers of the Executive and Legislative branches.  The use of pro forma sessions to bar the Executive branch from its constitutional power is, perhaps, legitimate but goes against the spirit of the Constitution.  As such, I have problem finding fault with Mr. Obama's decision to defy the Senate Republicans.

When the banking crisis happened at the end of the George W. Bush presidency, it was apparent that we needed changes in the rules.  The Republican response has been to remove regulations that might safeguard the country from another economic calamity and that might safeguard individuals from big businesses and banks.  The CFPB gives power to the common citizen, much to the alarm of the lobbyists and those to whom they funnel money.

Twenty-nine Democratic and eight Republican state Attorneys General wrote a letter to the leaders of the Senate urging them to confirm Mr. Cordray.  Republican objections are not about the new head of the CFPB, the objections really are to protections for common citizens.

Perhaps it will be good to have a battle over this appointment before the November election.  It is good for the consumer (like me) and may be good for the President's bid for reelection.

Humor: Secret Asian Man on Political Sins

Political Punditry from Secret Asian Man
Secret Asian Man is no longer a daily comic, but items in the attached blog are frequently brilliant. This is the commentary that goes with the above picture:
I thought I should throw in Obama to be fair and balanced. Actually, I just really wanted to type the word "vainglory". It was a toss up between Gingrich and Santorum for gluttony and lust (with Gingrich's past infidelities and Santorum's apparent love of fatty foods) but anyone who can inspire the definition of the byproduct of an anal sex act wins the lust title. Thanks Dan Savage.
The insights here are appropriate.  Don't click on the byproduct link unless you are away from work.  I'm not sure that vainglory should be counted as a sin, particularly as most of Mr. Obama's accomplishments are discounted by the media, but that is for you to decide.