You may have heard of the heartbreaking and outrageous case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who has been convicted of adultery (which she denies) and sentenced to death by stoning. We might want to note, as we rightly condemn this kind of brutality, that the Old Testament mandates death by stoning for a large number of crimes, including worshiping other gods, not being a virgin on your wedding night (just for the ladies, of course), disobeying your parents, failing to keep the Sabbath, and -- you guessed it -- adultery.
The Washington Monthly has an interesting article by James Verini about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its president, Thomas Donohue. You already know that the chamber is a major player in Washington -- they spent $120 million on lobbying in 2009 and have pledged to drop $50 million on races this fall, mostly to elect Republicans. But the question one has to ask about the chamber is this: are they actually serving the interests of American business, or are they really just serving the interests of the Republican Party?
If like most Americans you're a longtime watcher of television, you've probably noticed a loosening of language standards over the last decade or so. You can now hear a number of words on TV that used to be bleeped out; we won't go over the list, but you know what they are. They're a subset of the broader category of taboo words that have to do with what the Supreme Court refers to in obscenity cases as "sexual or excretory organs or activities." Cable has loosened the standards considerably -- the FCC operates on the somewhat outdated theory that while broadcast is ubiquitous and therefore able to infect children's minds willy-nilly, your affirmative decision to get cable means you've agreed to hear a higher level of naughtiness.