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Steven Waldman: In Defense of Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life book cover

“Obama was wise to ask him to deliver the invocation at the inauguration.

  • First, Warren has used his fame and fortune primarily to help the most destitute people in the world. He reverse tithes, giving away 90% and keeping 10%. Please contemplate all the religious figures who have gotten rich off their flock and pocketed the money. Who among you reverse tithe or would if you were rich? I know I don’t, and every time I think about what Warren has done it makes me question whether I’m giving enough. That is a Christ-like example.
  • Second, he’s worked hard to get other conservative evangelicals to care more about poverty…

  • Third, he has voiced his own spiritual doubts. This is hugely important…

  • Finally, he’s mostly about God. Yes, he says things that are controversial and, I believe, is sometimes ill-informed and insensitive. But The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose of Christmas barely mention the hot-botton culture war issues. He has his views on those issues but really believes that getting right with God is most important thing.
  • For Obama, picking Warren for the inauguration is a smart move.”

via HuffPo.

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Alec Baldwin on the Caroline Kennedy candidacy

Caroline Kennedy

“…[T]there is a right way and a wrong way to go about this in the current political climate. I think it is ill-advised for New York Democrats to play the Good Dynasty/Bad Dynasty card. Especially now. The Bad Dynasty is not even out the door. The Illinois Governor is reminding Americans that abuse of power is a non-partisan disease. And New York Governor David Paterson will also face consequences for this decision.

This is more about protecting a Democratic Senate seat than romanticizing it.

Appoint an individual (fine…man or woman) who has been elected to something. Something! Then there is a race in 2010, if I understand New York’s electoral mechanics properly. That is not that long from now. Then certain New Yorkers could run. And probably win. I would probably vote for her (er…them).

But this must be done with great care. Patience and care. You know, the way that we beat John McCain.”

via HuffPo.

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The Painfully Unwatchable White House Christmas Video

(AFP OUT)  U.S. Pre...

“Given this week’s events, I did not think it was possible to find a video more excruciating to watch or more embarrassing to the United States than the footage of an Iraqi journalist shot putting his shoes at George W. Bush. Oh…wait…I found one: The 2008 Barney Christmas Video from the White House.

My question: How much of this White House Christmas video mit Hund can you watch before your fight-or-flight reflex kicks in and have to stand up and run–not walk, but run? I made it through about 30 seconds.”

via Jeffrey Feldman in HuffPo.

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Cheney Taunts Bush, Pardon Me or Else

Beavis & Butt-head as George W. Bush & Dick Cheny

“With his ABC interview Vice President Dick Cheney put a smoking gun on the table. He admitted that he, along with other top administration officials, personally approved the CIA’s waterboarding of prisoners. That he said it unapologetically is merely his low-keyed way of declaring open war.

President Bush has been working on his legacy by circulating an upbeat, 2-page talking point memo with a description of his successes in office. Bush likes to white-wash and obfuscate. Cheney prefers a more aggressive approach.

Always blunt, two-fisted, and condescending, the question is, why admit that he approved waterboarding? And why now? Maybe it was egotism, pure and simple, his own version of a legacy campaign where he takes credit for a policy that he asserts made America safe. But to his detractors it is an admission of guilt that is prosecutable, as damning as Jack Kervorkian’s 60 Minutes interview that landed him in prison.”

via David Latt in HuffPo.

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Face transplants for the “socially crippled”

Dr. Frank Papay ...

“Don’t look now, but a woman in Ohio has a new face. And the world has a new kind of medicine: socially necessary surgery.

The operation, announced yesterday at the Cleveland Clinic, was a face transplant from a corpse. Similar procedures have been done three times before, but this was the biggest. Doctors replaced 77 square inches of the patient’s face, from her eyelids to her chin. Go look at yourself in the mirror. That’s practically the whole you.”

William Saletan via Slate Magazine.

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Warbot Pinup Calendar Revealed

Transformers Figure - G1 MICROMASTERS - MILITA...
Image by Simon Davison via Flickr

How big of a military tech fetishist do you have to be to hang a warbot pinup calendar in your room? That’s the question I keep asking myself, as I leaf though this piece of awesomely bad swag, from military contractor Qinetiq. Almost all of the pictures are hilarious — although it’s not always easy to tell whether the comedy is intentional or not. There’s mustachioed firefighter, gently caressing his robot; the Army bomb squad, posing with ridiculously heavy weaponry; the hammy shot of George W. Bush; and, of course, Santa’s unmanned, gun-toting helper…

— Noah Schachtman via Danger Room from Wired.

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Do They Want Our Soles?

old shoes

A friend and I were talking about Bush’s recent run-in with Shoe Bomber II in Baghdad. In response, we propose that people package up their old shoes and send them to Bush at the White House between now and January 20th. This would serve a whole roster of functions.

  • It would give a needed boost to the US Postal Service’s income.
  • The White House could contribute the received footwear to the needy, to the impoverishment of most of whom it has already been a major contributor.
  • Furthermore, the right shoe would help stop Bush from putting his foot in his mouth so often.
  • And, finally, the action would be a symbolic reminder that we are giving the Bush administration the boot.

In sum, we think this is a shoe-in. [thanks, henry]

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Science journal mistakenly uses flyer for Macau brothel to illustrate report on China

“A respected research institute wanted Chinese classical texts to adorn its journal, something beautiful and elegant, to illustrate a special report on China. Instead, it got a racy flyer extolling the lusty details of stripping housewives in a brothel.

Chinese characters look dramatic and beautiful, and have a powerful visual impact, but make sure you get the meaning of the characters straight before jumping right in.”

via The Independent.

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What Ails Literary Studies

Cover of Baby Dayliner's second album

“The major victory of professors of literature in the last half-century — the Great March from the New Criticism through structuralism, deconstruction, Foucauldianism, and multiculturalism — has been the invention and codification of a professionalized study of literature. We’ve made ourselves into a priestly caste: To understand literature, we tell students, you have to come to us. Yet professionalization is a pyrrhic victory: We’ve won the battle but lost the war. We’ve turned revelation into drudgery, shut ourselves in airless rooms, and covered over the windows.”

via The Chronicle.