There are so many good bloggers who make us think. You are the best. Rather than infringe on their words, I wanted to highlight a few comments for general reaction and refer to others, where appropriate. In no particular order:
Pope Francis – Very Early Returns
I have shared my concerns in earlier posts, “Mea Maxima Culpa: When Piety Trumps Criminality” the most recent one, about the need for the Catholic Church leadership to make a major structural change. This was before the previous pope retired. These are initial impressions and the proof is in his actions, but Pope Francis seems to be doing things which are a breath of fresh air. His ministry has been to care for the poor, but he continues that outreach as pope. Getting out of the pope-mobile to greet people is yet another example. And, just this morning he commented on the fundamental role women play in “passing on the faith.” Plus, he has a welcoming smile and countenance – by themselves, that does not make him a great, compassionate leader, but he seems to very approachable, which is counter to his predecessor. The other thing I like is he is unnerving to those who want a formal, distant leadership favoring a status quo. They should be unnerved. And, I hope he continues down this path forward. The church needs him to, whether these status quo advocates understand the message or not.
Everything is Not a Debate
My friend Hugh on www.hughcurtler.wordpress.com wrote recently about our tendency of making a debate out of everything. He correctly asserts that when an issue is pretty much decided, there need not be an other side to the issue presented as if the issue remains open. On Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the conservative author, Steve Moore, was on the panel and the last guest who joined the panel was a young student from Louisiana named Zack Kopplin. While Moore has written numerous books, he is one of my least favorite guests as he often causes a shouting match to occur because of his inability to listen to arguments and his bent to argue with less relevant points that don’t define an issue. Kopplin has been advocating against a Louisiana law just signed by Governor Bobby Jindal to require creationism be taught as a counter argument to evolution in public schools. This articulate young man has 80 Nobel Science Prize winners on his side arguing the case.
The panel got on a discussion of climate change and fossil fuels. Like Hugh has noted, the scientists overwhelmingly (around 97%) conclude global warming is a crisis and is man-influenced and we need to do something about. Moore kept arguing that there is still a debate that many scientists say it is not and we should have a discussion about it. He used tired old arguments that don’t mean much. Maher had the best one-liner after listening to him and said “correct me, but you are not a scientist, are you?” After this discussion ebbed and flowed, Kopplin noted the need to act now and that in failing to do so, we are not being responsible stewards of the earth. When Moore kept on about needing debate over the existence of global warming, Kopplin repeated Maher’s line “you are not a scientist.”
I will echo Hugh’s post and say again what I have said many times before. The GOP is the only formal body in the world that not does believe global warming is occurring. They only do so because the fossil fuel industry who funds them says to tell people it is not. This industry has a vested interest in furthering debate as it permits them to get more revenue out of the ground at our expense. There is no longer a debate on this. The debate should be crafting a formal plan to accelerate the move away from fossil fuels. I wrote a post last spring about the Cartaret Islanders petitioning other bigger islands to let them move there. Why? They openly talk about how global warming is causing the ocean to consume their island. These islanders know more about global warming than 74% of GOP congressmen in the US who formally deny its existence and the islanders are acting while they still can before the ocean sweeps them away.
Kudos to Connecticut and Colorado
Between Barney of www.mountainperspective.wordpress.com and Amaya at www.thebrabblerabble.wordpress.com, there has been good discussion around the need for better gun control. Now, 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases. This should be a no-brainer. No one is taking anyone’s right to buy a gun away. No one is taking anyone’s guns away. People are just saying, this is a serious purchase and such a serious purchase deserves a seriousness of purpose through background check. I like one person’s idea of requiring training like you would with a driver’s license, but I can only dream about that.
With that as context, kudos to Connecticut for their bi-partisan call to action that has led to the passage of better gun control laws in that state. No law is perfect, but this one was text-book in how it came about. Both sides saw it was very important for the state to act after Sandy Hook, debated the issue and came away with a workable law. Living in NC with our GOP led legislature and some of their inane discussions and laws, I envy Connecticut and its adult debate. Colorado should be commended as well, as it came out of the gate earlier after the theatre shooting in the summer and in a state where many have weapons, came up with sensible gun laws.
My big question is are you watching this in Washington? A note to the GOP – the NRA does not speak for Americans and they do not even speak for most gun owners. A note to the few Democrats who are sheepish. If you help pass sensible gun laws and this becomes a campaign issue, remember the following words – “I voted to save lives. What would you rather I do? Next question.” As Barney, Amaya and I have noted, the problem is what happens every day. The mass shootings are tragic, but that is not the bigger problem. We lead the civilized world (the wealthiest 23 countries) by far in gun deaths and children gun deaths. We need to act like parents and do the right thing. If you cannot think like a parent, then act like an adult and do the right thing. Pass better gun laws starting with universal background checks.
Thanks to all the posts and blogs from those mentioned above and those not. Thanks to the many commenters as well. These blogs attract a very good group of thoughtful commenters who aid the debate. I also appreciate your comments as well. I would love to hear what you think of these issues.