Thanks and Humility

This week is the week for giving thanks and probably a time for a bit of introspection and humility. Of course, one of the things I’m thankful for are the folks who read my blog, the modest set of folks who follow me on Twitter and the handful of folks who listen to my Internet radio show. As I was finishing off a slice of pumpkin pie last night it occurred to me that eating a couple of slices of humble pie might be appropriate for today’s post.

The first slice involves a topic that I have never written about in the main body of the blog but I have mildly debated it within the comments section. I am one of those who champions the notion of climate change and calls climate change skeptics ignorant neanderthals. So, man did I have egg on my face earlier this week when some emails unearthed by a hacker revealed some shenanigans going on with the data supporting global warming. Apparently the following damning sentence was found in email exchanged among scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

When scientists use the words “trick” and “hide” it’s natural for us ordinary folks to become a bit concerned. Climate change advocates say the sentence was taken out of context. Climate change skeptics are ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. While I am not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water, this incident does make me reevaluate what government’s role should be in science. I am almost ready to say that our founding principle of separation of church and state should be extended to separation of science and state. I think it ‘s worth investigating whether science becomes contaminated when politicized. I haven’t figured out when is the proper juncture for government to act on the findings of science but I think in the case of climate change it has become uncertain who is the cart and who is the horse. Scientists have always had a problem with pride of  ownership that can interfere with their objectivity, but this is doubly compounded when politicians get involved and the stakes for being wrong get too high. If you think a scientist has a problem being wrong, you haven’t seen anything until you look at politicians.  Clearly the “climate change movement” has taken a bad credibility hit. We need to restore objectivity and get the politicians out of this for a while (do you hear me, Al Gore?).

The second slice of humble pie involves some intellectual dishonesty on my part. Such dishonesty usually comes back to kick one in the ass and this week I did indeed get my ass kicked. Back in September, I published an article about a census taker in Kentucky who was found hanged under mysterious circumstances. I used the event to prove that the evil right-wing was on the march. The worst offense was the following claim:

Much of the media is approaching this story with caution. Clearly, the investigation is just beginning and this could be either a very bizarre suicide or a “prank” homicide completely unrelated to any political agenda. If either case proves to be true, we should still stop and contemplate this moment. Regardless of what really happened, what are many of  us thinking right now and why?

Well, I should have approached the story with much more caution, like not have written about it in the first place. It turns out that the terminally ill census taker staged his own murder so his son could get the insurance.  The best part is when I say that regardless of the facts we should still contemplate what happened. This kind of reminds me of when my buddy Rush Limbaugh found out that an Obama thesis story he had covered was a hoax and then said the fiction was consistent with fact and therefore didn’t deserve a retraction.

Well friends, sometimes emotional fervor interferes with clear thinking. When the facts of the case dictate that some right-wing looney tune has gone off the deep end, then and only then is it appropriate to get one’s bowels in an uproar about it. You probably won’t see Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow say “my bad” about this one, but you will see me say it.

MY BAD and I hope you all had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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Religion as Salad Bar (Part 2)

During the Obama campaign, I wrote about my theory of religion as a salad bar and I suppose that article could be considered Part 1. In that article I proposed that what kept Obama in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years was the typical salad bar approach  that many have to religion. I listen to what pleases me and I discard the rest.  Obama claims he never heard Wright say anything inflammatory. That just doesn’t pass the sniff test. I contend, Barack didn’t hear what he didn’t want to hear.

Now we move onto Part 2. For what must be purely political reasons, Patrick Kennedy, Democratic Representative from Rhode Island and son of the late great Senator Ted Kennedy, has decided to air his religious dirty laundry in public. Apparently back in 2007, Bishop Thomas Tobin told Kennedy essentially that he was not a good Catholic and therefore could not receive communion. The crux of the rift between Kennedy and his church was his pro-choice stance on abortion. According to Politico, Kennedy was not the only politician held in disdain by Tobin for a pro-choice preference.

On MSNBC’s “Hardball”, Chris Matthews pulled no punches in his interview with Tobin. If you can get past Matthews’ relentless and often irritating interview style, you get some interesting questions regarding separation of church and state.

When the church holds politicians personally accountable for the legislation they support is that a (not so) subtle way of influencing debate? Is Tobin right that it is the job of the church to provide moral guidance to government even if the church does not actually write the laws? I found Tobin’s argument compelling even if he could not handle the ultimate job of deciding what the punishment should be for illegal abortions.

But I digress. What I really want is to shine a light on the typical “religious so long as it suits me” attitude of Patrick Kennedy who wants to have his wafer and eat it too. I’m sorry dude but you signed up to be a Catholic. No one put a gun to your head to force you into it. Your church says abortion is wrong and if you support views contrary to that, then you’re not towing the line of your church. So it’s very simple, you don’t get communion. To me it’s a lot like the gay couples who want to yell and scream about not getting church weddings. Folks, at least if you’re a Christian, your religion considers your lifestyle an abomination. You’re not gonna change that. So get out of the church or find one that thinks differently. Same goes for Representative Kennedy. Catholicism is no salad bar, despite what you may see many of your hypocritical fellow Catholics do. Either you abide by the teachings of the church or you suffer whatever consequences the church has for you. It’s really that simple.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The GOP Didn’t Care Enough to Even Debate Health Care

This is what the Republican members of the Senate did tonight. They voted unanimously that health care reform in this country was not worth debate. Period. No tort reform. No interstate sales of insurance. None of their other supposed solutions that sidestep the public option. Nothing. No debate. Just kill it.

A bunch of irresponsible bastards who will have your children’s blood on their hands if heaven forbid your children 20 years from now can’t get a job with health care and suffer a catastrophic illness. You have today’s ignorant Republicans to blame for your children’s future suffering.

As much as I disdain Joe Lieberman, at least he voted in favor of debate. That’s all we wanted tonight was a chance to carry the ball forward, to debate and amend. That is the American way. Well that is unless you are a Republican dead set on bringing down the Presidency of Barack Obama.

Well guess what, suckers. We had the votes, the votes came through and the debate will commence. I hope the obstructionist punks keep saying no all the way down the line so that true patriotic Conservatives can take notice and throw their sorry asses out of Congress in November of 2010.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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