Monday, September 21, 2009

GOP Soft on Crime

First, I have a question for those who would have Eric Holder stop his investigation into whether any CIA interrogators violated the law. Tell me, is there anything a CIA interrogator could do to a prisoner that would justify prosecuting that interrogator? And if so, how would you find out if it was done?

Now to the rest of my point. The GOP has become ridiculously soft on crime. I have three examples (and there are more). First, the example mentioned above. Second, Scooter Libby. A man indicted by a Republican appointed US Attorney is convicted by a jury, but the GOP demands at least a commutation of his sentence, if not a full pardon. And finally, the amazing case of Ramos and Compean, two Border Patrol agents who shot a fleeing man in the back, and tried to cover it up. They then claimed that they thought he was a drug runner (which he actually was - but there was no evidence they knew it when they shot him). Again, the GOP demanded a commutation, or even a pardon. There are more examples in the recent and almost recent past, where the GOP wanted to ignore the rule of law (see, e.g., Elian Gonzalez and Terri Schiavo). So when did the GOP decide to ignore the rule of law?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Question of Entitlements

The other day, Andrew Sullivan wrote, "one party is committed to never raising taxes and the other to never slashing entitlements. "

In response I sent him this e-mail:


In an earlier post you said "one party is committed to never raising taxes and the other to never slashing entitlements." I think you misspoke. You must have meant to say "one party is committed to never raising taxes and both parties to never slashing entitlements." What evidence do you have that the GOP is at all willing to "slash entitlements." It might be willing to avoid granting new entitlements (although the GOP's willingness to increase Medicare entitlements during Bush's presidency calls that into doubt) but I don't hear any leading Republicans actually calling for the cutting, let alone "slashing," of entitlements. When pressed, Republicans love to point out their undying devotion to Medicare; even criticising President Obama for what they think is an inevitable cutting of benefits to pay for new entitlements. Furthermore, the GOP speaks of tax cuts as if they were entitlements. For example, the Bush tax cuts the GOP wants to make permanent. What is more of an entitlement than a tax cut that can never be rescinded regardless of the economic situation. And I think eliminating the estate tax would amount to an entitlement to people such as Paris Hilton who never had to do anything to earn their parents' fortunes.

In short, even taking the GOP at its word, the only person that might have to cut Medicare benefits is a Democrat. What entitlements are the GOP willing to "slash?"

R. Peter Nessen

P.S. - I am posting this on my own, rarely read, blog:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Religious Question

There is a verse in a Godspell song that goes: "God endowed us with sense and intellect. God endowed us with reason we neglect. But despite the abolition by the current inquisition of any intuition that they don't choose, when it comes to God I find I can't believe that he'd design a human being with a mind he's not supposed to use." I find this a very meaningful problem with a doctrine of redemption earned only through faith. I have a mind made by God. It is, on the whole, a logical, searching mind. It requires proof before reaching unquestioned conclusions. And yet, the same God who made this mind requires that I set it aside and believe simply on the say so of a book and its interpreters. That seems to be a paradox of redemption through faith.

There is another scene in Godspell (I should probably say it is from the Bible, but I know it from Godspell) which raises a similar issue. In it, a rich man is cast down to hell when Lazarus is in Paradise. The rich man asks that if he cannot be saved that at least God personally tell his family what they need to do for salvation. Jesus says something to the effect of "God sent Moses and the prophets who tell you what you need to do. If your family won't believe them, why would they believe me?" That always seemed to me to be quite a cop out by Jesus. If some guy tells me he knows God's will, I think of Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson. But if GOD was to personally tell me his will, that would be much more convincing. Heck, God didn't send some schmo to tell him what God wanted, he showed up himself as a burning bush.

So my question is: Where am I wrong theologically?