Saturday, May 30, 2009

Did the demise of the Whigs look like this?

Watching Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich define ever increasing numbers of Americans out of the Republican Party (Rush and Newt are now declaring racist the idea that having grown up non-white might give someone some special insight on racial discrimination) got me to wondering what the demise of the Whig Party looked like. I did a Google search on 'Demise of the Whig Party.' Wikipedia had this:

The Whigs were unable to deal with the slavery issue after 1850. Their southern leaders nearly all owned slaves. The northeastern Whigs, led by Daniel Webster, represented businessmen who loved the national flag and a national market, but cared little about slavery one way or another. However many Whig voters in the North felt that slavery was incompatible with a free labor-free market economy, and supported the Wilmot Proviso that did not pass Congress but would have stopped the expansion of slavery. No one discovered a compromise that would keep the party united. Furthermore the burgeoning economy made full-time careers in business or law much more attractive than politics for ambitious young Whigs. Thus the party leader in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, simply abandoned politics after 1849. When new issues of nativism, prohibition and anti-slavery burst on the scene in the mid 1850s, no one looked to the fast- disintegrating Whig party for answers

It sounds like at the end the Whigs were pursuing their own self interests rather than what was good for the party. Sort of like what Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are doing, don't you think?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Miley Cyrus making waves again

Teen TV star, Miley Cyrus, recent made some comments on her Twitter account giving her view of what Jesus, Christianity and God have to say on the subject of gay marriage

Everyone deserves to love and be loved and most importantly smile.

Jesus loves you and your partner and wants you to know how much he cares! That’s like a daddy not loving his lil boy cuz he’s gay and that is wrong and very sad!

Like I said everyone deserves to be happy.

God’s greatest commandment is to love. And judging is not loving.

I am a Christian and I love you - gay or not - because you are no different than anyone else! We are all God’s children.

The website took great exception to those statements on their website and in an email. They seem to have removed the statement from their website but it can still be found on the web, for example here.

Such statements will send the wrong message to our children who are influenced by this teenage megastar. Parents need to realize that Cyrus is not the positive role model she was once thought to be.

Two very different points of view! Which one do you think is closer to Jesus' message in the Gospels?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Hope for Republicans in the culture wars?

In his latest newspaper column Pat Buchanan sees hope for the Republican Party. First he gives the bad news:
...the voting groups growing in numbers — Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, folks with college degrees, the young — are all trending Democratic, while the voters most loyal to the GOP — white folks and religious conservatives — are declining as a share of the U.S. electorate. And demography is destiny.

But he sees an advantage for Republicans in the culture war issue of gay marriage.

When African-Americans, who gave McCain 4 percent of their votes in California, gave Proposition 8, prohibiting gay marriage, 70 percent of their votes, why would the GOP give up one of its trump cards — not only in Middle America but among minorities? A conservative who could have sharpened the social, moral and cultural differences might, from the exit polls, have done far better.

That is just too stupid for words. All the Proposition 8 vote showed was that in a straight up or down vote on gay marriage most African-American voters were against it. Their feelings about gay marriage have caused few African-Americans to support Republicans up to now and there is no evidence, in the Proposition 8 vote or elsewhere, that very many African-American voters will become single-issue anti-gay rights voters in the future.

In fact the same demographic and intellectual trends that favor Democrats that Buchanan cited are eroding opposition to gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular. In fact, these trends will continue to erode opposition to gay rights until it will be as much a fringe position among the American electorate as is opposition to womens suffrage or support for slavery. But that is the issue Buchanan hopes will stem the tide of Republican decline. What a maroon!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Nation of Typhoid Marys

Nicholas Kristof, in his column in today's New York Times, points out how vulnerable to pandemic our flawed health care system makes us.

Think of the 47 million Americans who lack [health] insurance. They are less likely to receive flu vaccines (which might or might not help), less likely to receive prompt care when they get sick, and less able financially to stay home from work — and thus they are more likely both to die and to spread the virus inadvertently.

“These are, in effect, 47 million ‘Typhoid Marys’ of the next pandemic — at risk themselves and to their families and neighbors,” said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Read the entire article.

There are reasons to believe that many of those who have died from the flu in Mexico waited too long to seek medical attention because they lacked both medical insurance and money to pay the hospital.

The threat of pandemic is just one of many wake-up calls that should alert us that we need to provide health insurance to all Americans ASAP. The failing American automobile manufacturers are another. Many of their foreign competitors are based in countries in which the government provides health care, taking the burden off of employers.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The morality of torture

A Pew Research Center survey reveals that, in general, the more Americans go to church the more willing they are to support torture. According to a CNN article:

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

What is taught about the morality of torture in the churches attended by these people who think torture is "justified?" I doubt that the ministers or priests in their churches are actually preaching torture.

Although I seldom see it talked about I think the difference between those who think that America should never torture and those willing to accept it is the attitude toward those likely to be tortured. I think that those who always oppose torture see the likely victims of torture as people fundamentally like themselves and those who think torture is justified assume that those tortured are "the other." I suspect that these regular churchgoers who think torture is justified have an us-against-them view of the world that trumps the Christian teachings of "love thy neighbor", "turn the other cheek", the parable of the Good Samaritan and the compassionate example of Jesus, the healer.