7 things @ 11 o’clock (8.9)

1. Evangelical-leaning-fundie Cedarville University recently eliminated its entire philosophy department, citing budget constraints. Now Cedarville University is hoping to build a new, $6 million gun range in support of its student marksmanship club. OK, then.

2. I have to disagree with the headline of this Raw Story report: “Anti-Obama Arizona protest turns racist.” Talking Points Memo has the same mistake in their story: “Anti-Obama Protest Turns Racist in Phoenix.”

“Turns” implies that these protests started out as something other than racist and then somehow surprisingly changed their character. Not true. They revealed their character more explicitly than they perhaps initially intended, but that character did not change. These are Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s supporters. They didn’t “turn” racist this week — they’ve been that way for a long, long time.

3. Kudos to Sarah Pulliam Bailey at RNS for stating this correctly: “The Supreme Court will soon decide if CEOs can impose their religious convictions on the people who work for them.”

You have to ignore an awful lot of reality to imagine that giving CEOs that right would in any way enhance “religious liberty.”

To all those evangelical Christians who imagine that Hobby Lobby et. al. are “standing up” for them, ask yourself this: What if your boss is one of those radical secular humanists Tim LaHaye and Jerry Falwell warned you about? What if your boss is a Muslim? Or a Mormon? What if your boss is an atheist? Or a wiccan? Or — heaven forfend! — a mainline Protestant?

4. I saw a “Gerlach for Governor” bumper sticker a few weeks ago and frowned. Gerlach represents my district in the U.S. House and he’s a nice enough fellow, but he always campaigns as a moderate, sane Republican and then governs as a rubber-stamp for the excesses and extremes of his colleagues in the House. So I don’t trust him.

It took me a moment to realize, though, that this wasn’t a pro-Gerlach bumper sticker. It was an anti-Tom Corbett sticker.

Corbett is the governor of Pennsylvania and he’s running for a second term. The problem is that nobody likes him. Decent schools and being allowed to vote because you’re an American citizen turn out to be pretty popular, so Corbett’s agenda opposing both of those hasn’t endeared him to most of the state. This is a bipartisan sentiment, and barring some large and unforeseen change, his chances at re-election are slim and shrinking fast.

PA Republicans have been casting about for someone, anyone, to challenge Corbett in a primary, but most of the potential candidates — including Gerlach — seem to think that four years of Tom Corbett have soured the electorate against any Republican’s chances of winning in November. They’re probably right about that, but they don’t understand why. They think it’s because Corbett puts an unpopular face on their policies. They don’t realize that it’s those policies that made Corbett’s face unpopular.

5. The City of Detroit is not attempting to defraud workers out of their pensions because the city has declared bankruptcy. The City of Detroit declared bankruptcy in order to defraud workers out of their pensions. That was the whole point — the intent, the design, the cause.

The city learned this from its automakers, who did the same thing. And from the airlines who have done it as well. Livable pension packages allowed those companies to pay lower wages for decades in exchange for future payments. Bankruptcy was a way of escaping those future payments, retroactively stealing from thousands of people every day for years and years. Steve Buchheit puts it well:

With the Detroit bankruptcy the media is trolling out the conservative line about public employee pensions being a burden and how we can’t and shouldn’t ever pay this money to retirees.

Let me say first off this is complete bullshit. This isn’t money we need to pay to people who aren’t working, this is money these people earned while they were working. This was a part of their contracts, this was a part of the deal we made to get their labor. We agreed to take care of them later as long as they worked for a little less now. Oh, and they needed to put their own money on line as well as their employers committing funds to the pension. This is their money.

6. So is Eric Metaxas a xenophobic wingnut? Or does he just enjoy hanging out with xenophobic wingnuts? Look, this isn’t complicated: If you’re supposedly an expert on the life and times Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but you’re advocating restrictive immigration, then you apparently didn’t learn anything from your studies. How does someone crank out 500 pages on the life of Dietrich freaking Bonhoeffer and still think America needs to go back to the Johnson-Reed Act? How does one study an icon of theological resistance to the persecution of Jews and come away embracing fraudulent conspiracy theories about international Jewish bankers? Are we sure Metaxas’ book was about Bonhoeffer and not, say, Pat Buchanan?

I’m not suggesting that Eric Metaxas is not too bright. I’m saying that “not too bright” is absolutely the most charitable interpretation of the man.

7. Here’s John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, Pa., talking to Stephen Colbert four years ago about his community’s efforts to resurrect and revitalize their struggling former steel town. And here’s what Fetterman is up to more recently. Good for him and good for Braddock.


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  • Jenny Islander

    I still would’ve liked to see him compete in a sport where he would be on a level playing field with everyone else, because the other kids were really running that race and he was just messing around. Archery, maybe, or golf.

  • Matri

    Food. Water. Shelter.

    Food, water & shelter mean fuck-all when you’re dying from diabetes simply because the hospitals say you don’t have enough money for treatment.

    And spending their savings on the treatment means they won’t have any money left for food, water, and shelter.

    And you really expect us to believe that you have never fallen ill, or received an injury, in your entire life?

    Not even once?

  • mattepntr

    They never do.

  • MarkTemporis

    My father is this way: very opposed to immigration but otherwise completely progressive. I wouldn’t say he’s racist either — he married a woman of a different race and had friends of all ethnicities back when we actually had friends coming over.

  • MarkTemporis

    At least one person I respect kind of wished Jodie Foster was the whole movie. So I guess the riches aren’t cartoon bad guys either.

  • MarkTemporis

    Awww… I got into it with him, and he’s just about the only person I got into it with when as an atheist he seemed to back biblical dominionism, but I’m pretty sure its because we were talking past each other. Respectable opponent, if a bit predictable on free market stuff.

    I *really* don’t understand his incredible level of butthurt over the downvotes. It’s pretty obvious this blog has a mystery downvoter who just hits shit randomly for some time now.

    Really, though, if we have to lose either him or Ellie…sorry, dude.

  • Zed

    I think it would depend on the religion.

    If for example a major figure in the hypothetical religion in question has demonstrated an aversion in for-profit activities in holy places, like objecting to trading or monylending in a temple, then I think it is fair to assume that profit and the religion in question shouldn’t be combined.

  • AnonaMiss

    I’ve heard a somewhat convincing argument that immigration is also bad for the environment, though of course that argument applied only to ‘the environment of the US’, not ‘the environment worldwide’.

  • Ross Thompson

    Food. Water. Shelter.

    Do you have a right to food? If you’re hungry, should people be forced to buy food for you?

  • Ross Thompson

    Even Fred has not been convinced by my tireless commenting against the
    minimum wage, posting the same things about it on August 4 of this year
    as he did the year before that.

    It’s almost like arguments against the minimum wage aren’t convincing.

    I missed the time you explained how it was a statistical anomaly that every single time any country has increased its minimum wage it’s not led to an increase in unemployment. That would probably be a good place to start.

  • Ross Thompson

    I prefer Samuel L Jackson (NSFW)

  • Eric Boersma

    The City of Detroit is contributing zero dollars to the new Hockey Arena. That’s 100% coming from the State of Michigan.

  • Carstonio
  • Cathy W

    Not quite the scenario I was describing – they can stock whatever they want in the vending machines. But would they have stopped you from drinking tea, coffee, or soda brought in from elsewhere?

  • The_L1985


  • Beroli

    Well, I see Enopoletus’ dedicated campaign against reason, empathy, and people responding badly to his lack of same on the Internet, finally earned him enough experience for his 21st level of Commoner, and he took the Epic Whine feat.

  • Lori

    I don’t think her point was that Detroit was paying for the arena. The point is that the state won’t pony up any money to keep public sector workers from being screwed out of their pensions, but it will chip in for a sports facility. Yet another version of no money for people who need it to live on, but plenty of money for giveaways to the rich*.

    *Public “investment” in pro sports facilities is truly one of the great boondoggles of our time. The tax payers virtually always get mightily screwed and the already incredibly wealthy owners get richer lining their pockets with tax payer dollars. Anyone who has the opportunity to vote on any sort of referendum on funding a pro sports stadium should vote “no”.

  • themunck

    *sighs* Speaking of those…he’s been upvoting at least one comment on another post. After the grace period was over. Does it have to be actual comment to count? Given that his post seems to imply he’s completely cutting off Slacktivist, I’m leaning towards this counting, and you winning the bet. Agreed, or shall we wait for an actual comment by him?

  • Beroli

    Technically, the letter of what he said…and, it appears, what he actually meant…is that his comments from this day forward will be limited to, “Fuck you all.” Not that he’ll comment any less prolifically necessarily, but that his comments will be even more one-note than previously.

  • …EH is leaving? o/ I missed that! When did that happen?

    (EDIT: Nevermind, found it! I was working outside most of yesterday, and didn’t have time to read the comment-threads, so this one caught my eye. I’m trying not to be overly relieved because it seems graceless, but the line “Undoubtedly, my presence has improved the quality of ideas here on Slacktivist, though not the quality of tone” just got to me. I’d be miffed, but it’s mostly just hilarious. He’s so offended that we didn’t celebrate his obvious superiority and listen to his obviously superior ideas! Ye gods and little fishes. It’s just precious.)

  • themunck

    He also said he’d unsubscribe the post feed. That certainly insinuates that he wouldn’t be reading the blog at all.

  • The_L1985

    “I support employer-based plans, which have worked well for the vast majority of residents.”

    Tell it to the Marines. Most companies have started deliberately cutting hours so that employees who used to qualify for insurance are now part-time and no longer qualify.

  • The_L1985

    Let me rephrase that, only using something that, for millions of Americans, is exactly as vital to them as healthcare is.

    “You don’t have the right to food. You can purchase food. You can receive food as a gift. But you don’t have the right to force someone else to grow or provide food for you.

    Not-starving is a service, not a right.”

    Seriously, did it never occur to you that the vast majority of people with chronic, life-threatening health conditions are also TOO POOR TO AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE? Is that honestly too fucking difficult for you to grasp?

  • …not gonna lie, I think if we had all been reading EH’s comments in the voice of Droopy Dog this whole time, we’d all be in better spirits about the whole thing. It improves them a great deal.

  • Diona the Lurker

    Did you notice that he just upvoted your comment? I suppose he’s trying to be contrary.

  • Eric Boersma

    Ah, I may have misunderstood the point. I was reacting primarily to the meme that went around the internet a couple weeks ago when the stadium was first voted on that criticized Detroit for going bankrupt (something they didn’t do) and then spending money on a sports stadium (something they didn’t do).

  • Fusina

    It had two downvotes shortly after I posted it, which disappeared. It has become a game for me, seeing if I get downvoted, similar to a competition I had with my husband and his sibs, annoying my Mum-in-law. Not too much annoyance, just enough to get her to say “Go take a shit” in Italian.

  • AnonaMiss

    Hi Aunursa! I’m poking you for an answer again, but I waited a couple days this time in the interest of not being annoying. I didn’t intend my question at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/08/09/7-things-11-oclock-8-9/#comment-995021054 to be rhetorical – do you also support an employer’s right to discriminate in cash compensation based on the sex of the employee?

    If not, please elaborate on why you are then OK with the hypothetical health plan I outlined above.

    If you do support an employer’s right to discriminate in cash wages based on the sex of the employee, then I understand your position (though I disagree with it) and have no further questions. My utopian thinking, too, leans towards the libertarian – but I don’t think we’re ready for it yet.

  • Tapetum

    I have a doctor’s note for my contraception. It’s called a precscription. I need it to get the contraception in the first place, and anything beyond that is absolutely none of my employer’s business.

  • Fanraeth

    That sounds scarily like my grandma.

  • Jim Roberts

    An atheist with a theology blog? Huh. A many-layered and complex troll.

  • Lori

    Or just someone who lies a lot. He has stated several times that he’s an atheist, but I suppose that may not be true.

  • JustoneK

    it’s impressive, innit?

  • Diona the Lurker

    I don’t know if your plan is working – EH upvoted this comment too. And mine. And other random comments talking about his flounce. Maybe you win by default, since he can’t seem to keep away…

  • Lori
  • Original Lee

    Health care benefits information is not easily available for most employers. Small businesses are the most numerous of all businesses in the U.S., and those that do offer health care benefits are spotty about making that information available to non-employees. Also, large privately-held companies do not usually make that information readily available to non-employees. If you have looked for a job lately and tried to research benefits information for a company you were interested in beforehand, you would know this. Standard practice in many companies nowadays is to avoid disclosure of specific benefits packages before making the job offer.