Christian Bickering

I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Chrisian Spirituality. I’m not a Christian so I ended up nosing around a few websites that I’ve never seen before.

It’s always fascinating seeing a group of people you don’t normally hang around talking, more or less, amongst themselves. You pretty quickly learn that people are people and whether there are talking about God, politics, horror movies, beauty pageants, baseball, Spanish cooking, WHATEVER — I don’t care what the subject is, but certain patterns of human behavior emerge. It’s the Serious Diehards vs. the Loosen Up, Dudes. It’s the One True Way vs. the Let’s Get Modern. It’s the Prickly Intellects vs. the Emotionals.

So here’s an interesting video of Christians bickering about some inside baseball Christian pastor stuff. The body language, the defensiveness — all very human. It’s also worth noting that they seem to have a whole TV show dedicated to it. Debate is healthy.

Chandler and Furtick from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

I found this video on a blog I liked a lot, by thw way — Carlos Whittacker’s Ragamuffin Soul. Interesting discussion of authenticity there that would be of interest to any Seth Godin fan.

Will Iowa Become Ground Zero In Pigford Debate?

There are number of factors that could lead to the Pigford scandal becoming a political issue in Iowa, of all places. The state’s demographics – about 95% Caucasian – might make this seem unlikely but it’s very interesting how many of the major political players in the Pigford scandal are from the heartland state.

1) One of the major Senate proponents of Pigford is Republican Chuck Grassley

2) The major political opponent of Pigford is Republican representative Steve King

3) USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, is also the former governor of Iowa who also served in the state legislature with Steve King. Vilsack has made Pigford a priority in his administration and has opposed any efforts to investigate fraud in the settlement.

4) Vilsack was also the fall guy in the forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod; Mrs. Sherrod has stated publicly that she believes the White House was behind her firing because she was told this by USDA Undersecretary Cheryl Cook. Vilsack has denied White House involvement. The White House and the USDA both had good reasons for not wanting publicity about Pigford and Mrs. Sherrod; she, her husband Charles and the New Communities farm that she helped manage were by far the largest single recipients of Pigford money, getting over $13 million.

5) Vilsack’s USDA also did an end run around the court decision and created their own expedited process to give money to women and Hispanic farmers — and significantly, women and Hispanics who claim to have attempted to farm. This "attempted to farm" distinction is exactly what led to significant fraud in Pigford.

6) Sec. Vilsack and Sen. Grassley have both praised "Dr." John Boyd and have advocated using Boyd for outreach in the Pigford, women and Hispanic farmers cases. For more on John Boyd watch the segment from my documentary Pigford Blues.

7) "Dr." John Boyd recently did four events in Iowa related to the women farmers settlement. This number is surprising because Boyd has typically done one women farmers settlement meeting per state — so why FOUR in Iowa? It should also be pointed out that Boyd is working with millionaire Pigford attorney Al Pires on this women farmers outreach — for more on Al Pires watch this segment from a recent John Stossel special.

8) Vilsack’s wife Christine Vilsack has announced a potential political challenge to Rep. Steve King, moving into the exploratory phase, planning to move to Iowa and launching a website.

It’s the political challenge by Christine Bell that could make the Pigford scandal newsworthy in Iowa. Her husband connections to this multibillion-dollar fraud and the subsequent attempt to cover it up are certainly a viable issue question her on. The fact that both Sen. Grassley and Rep. King have spent a fairly considerable amount of political capital on either side of this issue also make it something that Hawkeyes may start to take notice of.

Right now, I’m looking into the possibility of creating some :30 second commercial spots to help explain some of the issues to Iowans.

The Truth About Trig Trutherism

Although it’s coming a couple of year too late, Justin Elliott at Salon has written the definitive takedown of ‘Trig Trutherism’ and it comes to same conclusion I did when I looked into the matter a couple of years ago …

Trig Trutherism, the surprisingly resilient conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin is not actually the mother of 3-year-old Trig Palin, is experiencing a boomlet thanks to a new academic paper that endorses the concept. Long pursued by the blogger Andrew Sullivan and a significant segment of the Palin-hating left, Trig Trutherism holds that Trig’s real mother is either Bristol Palin or some third party, and that Sarah Palin herself faked the pregnancy to avoid embarrassment for her daughter or for political gain or some combination of reasons.

In light of the recent attention this subject has received and the considerable passion it has stirred, Salon embarked last week on an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Trig’s birth. The exhaustive review of available evidence that we conducted, along with new interviews with multiple eyewitnesses who interacted with a pregnant Sarah Palin up-close in early 2008 — most of whom had never spoken publicly about the matter before — has produced one clear conclusion: Sarah Palin is, indeed, Trig’s mother and there is no reason to suspect any kind of a coverup.

We’ve learned, for instance, that an Associated Press reporter in Alaska who was covering Palin during her pregnancy in early 2008 (before she became a national figure) thoroughly investigated rumors that the pregnancy was a hoax. The reporter directly questioned Palin about the matter in a private meeting in her Juneau office before she gave birth. Gov. Palin responded by voluntarily lifting her outer layer of clothing, offering a clear look at her round belly. The reporter quickly concluded that there was no truth to the rumors and never wrote about them. (emphasis mine)

Will it satisfy the unssatifiable? Of course not. Towards the end of his piece, Elliott covers the epistemological point well, discussing Andrew Sullivan’s seeming inability to accept reality on this issue.

Sullivan’s refrain on this issue is that he does not endorse any conspiracy theory, he is merely asking questions. He simply wants Palin "to debunk this for once and for all, with simple, readily available medical records." He hasproposed, for example, the release of "amniocentesis results with Sarah Palin’s name on them."

It’s worth noting that this posture is identical to the rhetoric used by Obama birthers (for instance, WorldNetDaily Birther czar Joseph Farah employs the "just asking for definitive piece of proof x" line here).

But the larger point is that continuously demanding more "proof" on an issue about which there is already overwhelming evidence is either irrational or disingenuous. And why would a piece of paper with amniocentesis results and Sarah Palin’s name be more dispositive than the doctor’s many statements and the testimony of all of the reporters who saw Palin pregnant? If you already believe everyone is lying and everything is a hoax, it wouldn’t.

Late Night Music: Sing Your Life

Twenty years ago! Johnny Carson! Skinny Moz! Bill Cosby in a Hawaiian shirt, literally stunned!

And there’s Place In Hell For Me & My Friends.

Listen to what Morrissey is telling you.

Make no mistake, my friend, all of this will end…
But before you go, can you look at the truth?
You have a lovely singing voice.
And all of those who sing on key, they stole the notion from you and me…

(GRRR – Embedded Disabled – WHY DO PEOPLE DO THIS?!?!  But click to watch it on YouTube.)