Monday, May 18, 2009

Obama: "Doubt Causes Faith!"

Obama spoke at the Notre Dame commencement yesterday, and despite predictions from some "pro-lifers," was not struck by lightning. By most accounts he gave an excellent speech. I'll leave the abortion topic for others to deconstruct, but I want to touch on another topic he covered.

"In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.

But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.

ARRRRRGHHHHH! This is so frustrating. Here is one of the most intelligent people on earth, in front of a crowd of future leaders, taking a few minutes to encourage belief in things that can't be observed or proven! Is this responsible behavior?

Does this work in any realm other than religion. If I'm lucky enough to one day give a commencement address, is it acceptable for me to spend time talking about holding true to belief in resquartervantites? After all, there is no proof for the existence of resquartervantites, you can't see them, they don't actually communicate with you, but if you just close your eyes, click your heels three times, and believe hard enough they can help you to do all kinds of good things. Forget acceptable, would it even be responsible?

Come on Mr. President, doubt shouldn't push us away from faith?! People doubt because there is no evidence supporting claims of faith. I certainly hope you don't use this kind of logic in making foreign policy decisions.

"I kind of doubt that the Iranians have done away with that nuclear weapons program. But you know what, doubt really shouldn't interfere with my faith that they have. No further action required."

I hope he doesn't actually believe this hoooey, and it's all just a show for the believer electorate. While I'm not normally comforted by politicians lying, that scenario just seems more palatable than the idea that the leader of the most powerful country on earth believes in an imaginary sky friend.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Meet The New Boss...

I don't like to just reprint material from other blogs, but earlier this week Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic posted something I want to talk about. Here's what he said:

"On the totally surreal front, my aspiration is to live in a country where the president actually explains that no-one can or ever will win an imperial war in Afghanistan, that we cannot possibly leave Iraq in the next eight years without a bloodbath, that Iran cannot be prevented from getting a nuclear bomb in the foreseeable future, that an energy policy without nuclear power cannot do anything to stop global warming, and that Israel has lots of nukes, and will never, ever withdraw from the West Bank."

While I'm not sure I agree with him on the nuclear power question (literally - I just don't know enough about the technology), I share his sentiment about the lack of candor coming from our government.

This week Obama announced that he will reinstitute military tribunals for terror suspects, lifting the 120 day hold he had put on the practice when he took office. Apparently he intends to make some "improvements" over how these proceedings had been run, but they will not provide the protections of a court trial.

The President again failed to do all he could to expose torturers, when he "delayed" release of photos showing mistreatment of detainees in American custody. At this point it's unclear if he will ever authorize release. The release of these photos surely would have fueled cries for prosecutions.

As Sullivan pointed out this week, it's reached the point that this adminstration is essentially owning the crimes of the prior administration. For someone who ran on a platform of "Change, Change and More Change," this feels an awful lot like as case of "meet the new boss same as the old boss."

More war. More secrecy.

When do we get the "Change We can Believe In?"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Swine Flu Again!

OK - I know you are getting sick of hearing about the swine flu, but having stumbled across these I had to share. Apparently we had a swine flu scare in the 70's (I have no memory of it) and it generated some hilarious PSA's.

Please note many of us lived through the 70's!

Out Break!

I figured I'd be dead from swine flu by now, so I didn't plan any posts for this week. Now I have to come up with stuff on the fly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kid Charlemagne

This feels like the right tune to start this week:

Vader Comes Back

Looks like Vice President Vader is at it again. Dick Cheney crawled out of his undisclosed location one more time today. This time to agree with the apparent leader of the New Republican Party - Rush Limbaugh.

Talking about former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and agreeing with Rush, Cheney gave us this:

"My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."

Clearly Tricky Dick II is upset about Powell's endorsement of Obama, but even to an outsider like me it seems ballsy to question Powell's party loyalty. After all, Powell was the guy who lied (or at least turned a blind eye to the truth) to the UN in support of the Cheney/Bush folly in Iraq. That's pretty loyal.

Powell put his reputation on the line to support his administration and party, why would Cheney challenge his conservative credentials now? I don't much care for the former Secretary of State, but anybody who has read anything about him knows that he is a conservative. Granted, more moderate than many, but a long way from the left side of the aisle. (To some of us that's a bad thing of course.)

Democratic loyalist should be ecstatic about Dick's recent forays in to the media. To Dems in Washington, Cheney was the gift that kept on giving. A surly, unlikable guy with a dismal approval rating and a knack for making bad decisions. He was the perfect punching bag - he was the perfect opponent. Sheer dislike for the former VP could tip any political debate toward the left.

Seems to me that if Dick Cheney has any kind of party loyalty at all, he would follow his former boss' lead and go clear brush away from the cameras.

Or maybe he could get a gig as a Walmart greeter: