Saturday, December 3, 2011

In the News: Siri, the Newt, Democrats as Anti-Catholic, and Bachmann's Inanity

In the news right  now:

The controversy about the Siri phone app continues, with the news media reporting that petitions are circulating online asking Apple to address the app's apparent gender bias as it provides information to users.  Cecile Richards thinks the disparity between how Siri answers questions about male health care needs and how it deals with women's questions illustrates the decisive tilt of our health care provision system in a male direction.  Jill Filipovic thinks* Apple is likely not a misogynistic organization, but "they're just reliant on too many dude programmers."  With technology (including the internet), we get what programmers decide to make accessible--and those programmers have social locations and social biases.

As the trainwreck that is the national Republican conversation about a viable candidate to run against Mr. Obama continues, and as Mr. Gingrich takes command of the train, Dave Weigel reports that the evangelical base is restive.  A case in point: Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist church in Dallas, who tells Weigel,

I think there's now an evangelical tri-lemma . . . .Do you vote for a Mormon who's had one wife, a Catholic who's had three wives, or an Evangelical who may have had an entire harem?

And so the Newt appears to be seizing the lead among evangelicals by default, and, as Weigel indicates, the evangelical kingmakers (if not their wives) appear ready to welcome the thrice-married convert to Catholicism now with open arms, if he makes big public noises about how he's sorry for his sins.  

But no less than rabid-right media guru Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association thinks Mr. Gingrich would be a disaster for the Republican party's family-values message.  Fischer writes,

A candidate or president with such a troubled past would have little or no credibility in talking about the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity and importance of the intact family unit. "Who are you," folks would say, "to be lecturing us about the importance of family?" 

Indeed.  As I can hear my internalized mother-voice observing tartly as she scrutinizes the less than stellar field of candidates the Republicans are vetting, "If you make your bed hard, you will end up lying in it."  Make "traditional" family "values" the centerpiece of your platform for years while running one morals-devoid serial adulterer after another for office, and people will begin to see the disconnect.

Meanwhile, the Republicans keep trying to whip up the charge that the Obama administration is anti-Catholic.  As Leslie Rosenberg notes at Media Matters yesterday, FOX news is seeking to play Nancy Pelosi against the Catholic bishops with the claim that she has stated that the earth revolves around the sun views the bishops as lobbyists.

The precise statement on which FOX is focusing is one in which Ms. Pelosi says that, while the bishops are her spiritual leaders, they also take lobbying stances in D.C. with which she may or may not disagree--a statement with which just about any Catholic with a conscience and a head on her shoulders would easily agree.  And so now add the FOX crew, along with Steven Ertelt and Darrell Issa, to the stinky Republican tools with whom "liberal" Democratic Catholics like media maven Michael Sean Winters have gotten into a hard bed, as they try to argue that "Catholics" stand with the bishops and resent the Democrats' "attack" on "Catholics" via the proposed HHS guidelines requiring Catholic institutions to provide access to contraceptives in their health care plans.

And, finally, Alexandra Petri at Washington Post offers a brilliant send-up of Michelle Bachmann's inane observation, about which I blogged yesterday, that gays can, too, marry: they just have to pick a spouse of the opposite gender.  As Petri says, ask Ms. Bachmann, "Do you have apples?" and she replies, "Yes, I have oranges."

Read the whole thing.  It's hilarious, and it does the heart good to laugh.

*Warning: Filipovic's essay may be a tad bit racy for some readers' taste.

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