Saturday, October 31, 2009

Deep in the Cornyn hole of Texas

I got an e-mail from Texas Senator John Cornyn this morning. Somehow I had the urge to take another shower. In the relentless crusade to mock, rebuke, deride, insult, sneer at and taunt the "opposition" Cornyn is an endless cornucopia of crepuscular reasoning and shady opinions, such as his assertion that the "delays" in supplying Texas and the United States with hundreds of millions of H1N1 vaccinations argue against the public option in health care reform.
"These delays and limited access make me question whether the government, which cannot run existing public health programs competently, should be trusted with even more responsibility – such as running a new government health plan. " [italics mine]

Of course Cornyn doesn't give examples of how the government can't run health care, either from Medicare, the Veteran's Administration or indeed from the Government health care Cornyn and his cronies enjoy. Of course he doesn't have to, he's preaching to Republicans -- a faith-based group who never seem to question the tenebrous tenets of that faith. The Government just can't do anything right: Reagan said so and the Republicans are hell bent for leather to make sure it's self-fulfilling.

Perhaps John can explain what the failure of the oil industry that supports him to end oil shortages and give us 29 cents a gallon gasoline again argues for or against, or why we shouldn't say that Exxon can't run anything properly, including keeping tanker captains sober. One offensively stupid argument deserves another, I should think, and the argument that the Government can't do anything and so shouldn't be allowed to do anything is a stupid argument and an annoying one coming from someone who is part of the government and is stalling, obfuscating and sabotaging health care reform -- right after having supported Bush's massive increases of unaccountable executive power and failed wars for 8 years.

No, A public option for health care is a
"Trojan horse that will ultimately lead to a government takeover of our health care system. "
says John Cornyn: another way of invoking the slippery slope fallacy. If we allow A we'll allow A+B and if we allow A+B, we'll allow A+B+C. . . Of course any truth to this is no more than accidental because none of these steps compel the other, That's why we call it a fallacy, but again, he's arguing to Republicans and Lone Star Republicans at that, not exactly a constellation bright enough to light up the sky. Funny that he didn't argue that an invasion of Iraq would lead to a "government takeover" of the world or that warrantless surveillance and the end of Habeas Corpus would lead to a police state.

No, we're not on a slippery slope toward invading Ireland, the US Postal Service isn't going to take over DHL or UPS or FedEx and none of those could handle a minute fraction of the envelopes, post cards, advertising fliers or periodicals the USPS delivers. No, the public schools aren't going to take over the private schools and the Social Security Administration isn't going to take over your pension. The County Hospital or the VA hospital isn't going to take over the private hospitals. It isn't the "Government" producing the vaccines and if we had to depend on the profitability of doing that to induce the pharmaceutical industry to do it, we'd have far greater shortages and tens of millions who wouldn't get any and couldn't afford it and would help the disease spread because of it. Of course I'm sure Tex Cornyn will get his vaccination, one way or another. He'll get it for free. He gets all his health care for free, so why should he give a Texas damn about you?

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's a cream puff!

Would you buy a used car from this man? That used to be a popular phrase back in the Nixon years when we were asked to buy his "secret plan to win the war." The secret was that there was no plan, but never mind, there was nothing to win and we didn't win it.

It's the first thing that comes to mind listening to the last ditch effort by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is still telling us the public option will kill us all, although you can see he's having a hard time keeping his face straight while doing it. It's a prodigious effort of course, since he and his henchmen all have government health care just like the French and the Norwegians and the Germans and everyone else and all too many of them live to really ripe old ages because of it.

"I think if you have any kind of government insurance program, you're going to be stuck with it and it will lead us in the direction of the European style, you know, sort of British-style, single payer, government run system, and those systems are known for delays, denial of care and, you know, if your particular malady doesn't fit the government regulation, you don't get the medication. And it may cost you your life. I mean, we don't want to go down that path."

Yes, we do want to go down that path -- the majority of us anyway -- and it's an argument dependent on American ignorance of what the rest of the modern world enjoys and benefits from and chooses to have. There is no slope here, it's only his logic and his grasp of truth that's slippery. The problem with our health care cartel system is exactly the problem he tells us we will have if we abandon it and the coverage we have to buy now isn't even available to millions and millions. It may cost you your life and it's cost millions of lives already.

No, I wouldn't buy a load of fertilizer from this man and that's what he's selling and no matter how many times the truth is flung back at him, he'll continue. He's paid handsomely to continue and he's got a great health care plan as well which isn't known for denial, delay or enormous annual price increases like the one we have if we're lucky, young, in a good job and haven't ever been sick.

It's the old Republican song he's singing -- the corporate song, the best money can buy: I've got mine and screw you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blood diamonds and Halloween

Pat Robertson -- where do I begin? I don't know whether his record speaks worse of American stupidity or of his character.

No, I'm not talking about the soliciting of funds for relief in Rwanda that actually were spent on Diamond mining operations in Zaire with dictator President Mobutu Sese Seko and to benefit other African genocidal madmen. I'm not talking about questionable use of Katrina relief funds or various tax-evasion charges. This Bozo runs a faith-based circus of stupidity and one of his side show acts is to be the grinch who stole Halloween or All Saints Day as it was known for a while.

Robertson's God forsaken parody of a broadcasting network, CBN, has a dire warning on its blog about virtually all Halloween candy having been "prayed over" by witches and carrying curses and spells which will be absorbed by any children eating it. Halloween is dangerous, it warns. Don't buy candy in October! It's a holy day, but if it's not a Christian holy day, it's a SATANIC holy day. Nice insult to the vast majority of humanity that's given up belief that ancient Celtic religious practices had anything to do with the Devil the Christians invented to demonize other religions.
"Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store." Says
The colors orange brown and red are dedicated to Satan. Respect for the Earth is Satanic. Bonfires are about Satan, even the harvest is about Satan. Everything he doesn't like is Satan -- everything is Satan and the world is full of evil entities and magic and spells and his followers listen with a straight face.

I could go on, but there's enough raging pathological, libelous insanity and foul ugliness to drive any normal person to projectile vomiting. Read it yourself,** but there's something wrong with a nation that once considered this man for President, something insane about a Nation that still talks about witches and spells and a political party that embraces this ugly medieval madness.

** Since writing this last night, the article about witches, Halloween and demonic tootsie rolls has been removed from the site. View the cached article here.

Mutant ninja drivers

That guy in front of you, the one who can't stay in his lane, who takes 20 seconds to respond to the light changing to green, who needs four lanes to make a turn, who slows down for green lights and sails through the red -- who amongst us hasn't made rude anatomical and ancestral references? Perhaps we should be more tolerant.

Steven Cramer, a neurology professor at the University of California Irvine, has published a study in Cerebral Cortex that indicates the presence of a gene variation in about 30% of the population that makes them not only bad drivers, but drivers that don't learn from their mistakes. I've read many studies showing that nearly all accidents are caused by a small percentage of drivers and that that group is not distinguished by high speed driving. They're just bad drivers and maybe we now have some idea why. As to whether this genetic marker occurs more frequently in some population segments? Why yes, I do have a ten foot pole, but it's on my boat and I'm not going there, thank you.

I don't want to put too much faith in one study, but I do like studies that confirm my prejudices and maybe the next time some idiot looks me in the eyes and pulls out onto the highway 5 feet in front of me or stops on the entrance ramp or cruises through the red making a right turn, I'll roll down the window and shout "You miserable brain-derived neurotrophic factor deprived mutant!" instead of the usual.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Through the Looking Glass

No offense intended to the Buddhists out there, but the middle path is often the road to hell. While I'm as apt to ask why we can't just get along as any other exhausted and beat up person, I'm not about to attempt it with the people who tell me that it's OK to launch into hysterical fugues of hyperbole about leading Democrats and things they never said or did, but insist that reacting to it in any way but submissive whimpering is nastiness or name-calling and a justification for further libel, slander, bigotry and threats.

I'm disgusted enough to dream about my own gun-toting tea party when citing established facts or exposing blatant lies of the previous administration are described as being just as bad as the furious lies about death panels, birth certificates and Presidential Marxism. Citing massive evidence for global warming is just as bad as comparing Democrats to Communists. Detailed studies showing that certain economic policies produce recessions, that markets self-regulate only within certain limits is just as bad as incitement to murder the President's family, as accusing him of murdering his grandmother and planning to murder yours. It seems to escape a great number of trolls that calling a thief a thief is not the same as accusing an honest man of stealing. Truth matters, facts matter and nothing but weeds grow in the space between facts and lies.

Is retaliation really the equivalent of unprovoked aggression, is self-defense? I don't think so. Is there a reasonable middle ground in an unreasonable attack against reason? I don't think so. Where after all can a middle ground exist between lies and truth; between insane accusations of Marxism or Fascism or extending Medicare being just like Pol Pot or Leon Trotsky? And where does the accusation of being the most, far-left radical Liberal ever to sit in the Senate intersect with the actual Obama who so far seems far too conservative for the people who voted for change?

Are we really the "party of hate" for "picking on" poor Rush for engaging in unprovoked and dishonest slander or trying to defend against him? Is there really any relationship between the label Liberal and the attempt to identify it with irrational hate, beyond the wish of an unscrupulous aggressor to distract us from discussing truth and responsibility?

No, the shadow world, the bizarre country between whatever the truth is and the worn out, beat up used car the Republican apologists are trying to sell is down some rabbit hole somewhere. Some twilight zone where all the terrible things we said about Nixon were untrue and just political, but none the less Obama, by beginning to denounce some of the lies told about him is "building an enemies list" just like Nixon. Nixon wasn't a bad guy they say; it was all political, but Obama is a bad guy for being like him -- even when he isn't. I told you this was a strange land.

Old Nixonian Lamar Alexander suggests that the administration might, like Nixon adviser and Watergate felon Chuck Colson, be planning to "use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." So what advice is Lamar giving here? Obama should, he suggests, stop blaming the banks, should stop chastising the insurance companies, stop taking advice from advisers Congress hasn't approved ( remember when Bush asserted his right to do so and our non-right to know who they were or what they said?) and stop "calling out" members of congress who disagree with his policies. That's like "street brawling." Calling a lie a lie? That's the equivalent of Nixon's plan to use the IRS to "go after the Jews." That's just like burglary, Arson and obstruction of Justice!


Curiouser and curiouser, this path between truth and fiction and somewhere Lewis Carroll is watching this through a looking glass.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's not true but it is because we know it is

No, that's not some Zen Koan, it's Rush Limbaugh. Caught being fooled by some blog with a fake Obama speech allegedly from his college years, Rush didn't apologize for his total lack of journalistic integrity but instead called it "satire."

"You can't beat that", said Chris Matthews this evening on Hardball this evening and he's right. Rush did his usual bouncing up and down excoriating Obama for advocating massive redistribution of wealth and using as evidence a speech Obama never made. Typical Rush stuff and typical Limbaughian attempt to weasel out of it.

Humor he said, needs to have a grain of truth in it and this is humor, which of course wasn't identified as such until it became clear Rush was a victim of an amateur hoax, and that truth is provided by our inner knowledge that although Obama never ever said it he somehow has inner knowledge that Obama was thinking it - as has not been demonstrated. Get it? That's right. Rush is a mind reader and therefore can be excused for denouncing someone for something he never said or did. You can't beat that and since we know Rush is a Satan worshipping prophet of the Auntie-Christ who eats cute puppies, has sex with dead goats, is an admirer and homosexual lover of Slobodan Milošević and has a secret collection of Nazi memorabilia in his attic that he wears on Jewish holidays -- since we know it, we can sell it as the absolute truth and claim that it's journalism. That's Rush.

You can't beat it.

Nothing too shameful

There are a lot of Facebook and web pages and blogs from all kinds of people and organizations and it's nothing all that unusual to find something racist, something disturbing something shameful in all the vastness: the enormity amongst the enormousness, for those of you who still make the distinction. I'm quite old enough to remember segregation, Jim Crow, miscegenation laws and even the outrageous Coon Chicken Inn, something that would shock most of us today, and I remember who supported the civil rights we now take for granted and who opposed it.

We have come a long way, or at least most of us have, otherwise there would be more widespread laughter at the audacity of the RNC Facebook page now showing off Susan B. Anthony and Abe Lincoln as GOP heroes. A few years back they were trying to sell Martin Luther King as a Republican hero and some continue to portray Jesus as a Conservative.

Neither audacious or shameful adequately covers posting racist pictures a short time ago, including this one of the President of the United States eating fried chicken and demanding repeal of Love Vs. Virginia that in 1967 locked the intrusive government and its God fearing Southern Conservative bigots out of deciding which races could marry which. It was only a few years after they were forced to stop telling us where we could eat or sleep or live or ride or swim or picnic or find a bathroom or go to school, based on our race. Obviously some Republicans haven't forgiven us for it. Evidently the GOP has done little to excommunicate or even to censure such people. Indeed many of the Republicans I know think such things are funny.

It remained up on the RNC site until those pesky and humorless liberals complained. Disgusting, but typical, and all the sniping from the snarky, snickering anonymous trolls won't change that fact.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Look, up in the sky. . . it's a bird, it's. . . .

I'm constantly accused of making gratuitous and unfair fun of religion. Whether or not that's fair to say, I couldn't begin to approach the creativity of some pious people who having no sense of humor, much less the knowledge or ability to see their creations in the context of history, in giving us their truly American and truly hilarious concept of the holy.

I'm indebted to Libby at The Impolitic and Gymo at The Spork for pointing out the work of Merritt Ministries of Tracy, California who found a unique, reverent and authentic way to represent the love and compassion of Jesus as he descends from the clouds on his apocalyptic mission, (which includes the horrific immolation of Jews and other infidels) with "compassion and love."

And what better way to do it than to flip the bird at the Second Commandment by making a likeness of the heavenly Jewish offspring, with Northern European features and straight, chestnut brown hair, wearing purple and gold robes like a the Roman Emperor under whose auspices Jesus was tortured to death? And what better likeness than a huge hot air balloon to provide that reverent touch? After all, if you're going to create God in your own image, isn't hot air the perfect filler for this flying apocalyptic cream-puff?

Just as the secular right finds all they need to know of the Constitution in the Second Amendment, all a large segment of the Religious Right requires to serve the needs of 'authenticity and reverence' is the Book of Revelation, written far away and in another country and selected for the cannon almost a quarter of a millennium later by the high priest of Sol Invictus.

I'd love to see this catch on though. I'd love to see the sky filled with lighter-than-air deities of all sorts, from YHWH blimps to Buddha balloons; soaring Shivas and zooming Zoroasters and gas-bag Ganeshas. Launch them all and let the real God sort them out!

(Cross posted from The Swash Zone)

Friday, October 23, 2009

No exit, no return

I like pawnshops. I've been a fan of the recent History Channel series Pawn Stars featuring a 24 hour pawn shop in Las Vegas and of course I like to hunt for treasure at flea markets. The local B&A flea market isn't so great and is only open on weekends, but since the economy tanked, every day is like a bad day at the crap tables and cool things do turn up at pawnshops. So yesterday I happened to be passing one on US1 in a shabby strip mall between CW's Barbeque and a vacant storefront and having little else to do, eased the Red Rocket into a parking spot right by the door next to a badly repainted yellow 50's pick-up truck and stopped in.

Yes, they sure did have more stuff than last time, which was a few years ago. The walls were festooned with T-shirts comparing Obama to Mao Zedong and a whole pandemonium of tyrants. One showed some Greek columns and read "Obama -- molon labe" a reference to the words the Spartans supposedly said to the Persians when asked to turn over their weapons: "come and get them." Tools, motorcycles, construction equipment, raggedy stereos, drum sets, guitar amplifiers and shelves full of stuff to the point where I could hardly walk -- and guns: lots of them.

A large plasma TV had Fox news blaring out the hysterics of the day and the friendly pistol packin' proprietor oversaw a forest of racked long guns and glass cases of overpriced handguns.
"You can't trust the government to do anything" he was saying to a couple of camo hatted compatriots. "Except maybe to run an army"
"Not even that!" replied one. "They should just tell the generals what they want done and then let them run it the way they want."
I feigned interest in an 1851 Colt Navy revolver with all the original finish gone (I'm quite sure it was a fake) while the conversation shifted to why they weren't racists for hating "that SOB" it's just that he's such a far-left radical and why any competent president would have restored the economy to it's former glory under George Bush - he's had months, after all.

I grew up on science fiction and I'm used to stories that begin with someone walking though holes in space-time into other universes. I thought maybe I'd just walked into the fantasy universe of the Republicans but I'm not too sure what I walked back into is real either. In the "real" world, there's a new video game out, I read today. It's another alternate reality where "patriots" can compete to capture Obama before he can:
"toss out the Constitution, ban guns and merge the U.S. with Canada and Mexico into a 'North American Union.' "
As with science fiction, the stuff I liked best had some degree of possibility attached to it. This thing only stinks of stale sweat, damp basements, fear and industrial disinfectant -- like a madhouse: like America.

Internet Freedom Act and Net Neutrality

No, no, no. The Internet Freedom Act isn't about freedom for you as an internet user and you should know by now that when a Republican uses the word Freedom it's about corporate control over your options. John McCain's "freedom act" appears now, after we've just begun to recover from eight years of the Bush FCC acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of big communications corporations; fudging the science and ignoring its own rules with impunity. Under Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, the Commission has stifled, hidden and falsified studies concerning the adverse effects on the public airwaves and even disaster relief services, of using power lines as a conductor for broadband internet and has made censorship of "indecency" a prime directive. It's high time they were prevented from protecting the public interest rather than the power of the telecommunications industry and the religious right.

If McCain's legislation is passed, the Internet Service Providers will have the power to limit your web bandwidth and mine and give preference to - you guessed it - the people they like, the people they own and the people who say what they want said. Have a blog that criticizes Comcast? Back to the days of 300 baud for you old chap! Fox News can blaze along at any speed they like with all the streaming and screaming video and Glennbeckery they can produce and the FCC won't be able to represent you. The freedom of giant corporations and puritanical moralists to censor you -- that's the kind of freedom John McCain thinks is worth fighting for!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jews, Guns and Jim DeMint

"There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves,"
said James S. Ulmer Jr. and Edwin O. Merwin Jr. chairmen of the Orangeburg and Bamburg county, South Carolina GOP.

There are a lot of "sayings" about the Jews. In fact there are a lot of "sayings" about all kinds of groups in South Carolina; real or fabricated but I suspect that these gems say more about South Carolina, the rest of the Bible Belt and it's prevalent mentality than they say about anything else.

Of course to substantiate an item of bigotry, one only has to show one example and I'm sure one could be provided, but I know a large number of Jews, rich and otherwise and those who have money seem to have acquired it by the same means as anyone else -- from inheritance to hard work and if I have to include myself, I'm notorious for letting the pennies fall where they may. I can't remember the last time I bothered to balance my checkbook and the luxury of not having to think about money is far more enjoyable than the big house and the boat and the sports cars.

Anyway these two party Chairmen wrote in a letter to a local newspaper that criticism of Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is unfair because he is like a penny pinching Jew for not bringing in federal dollars for projects in South Carolina. I hate to accuse the Republicans of being stupid, small minded and ignorant bigots, but they are in South Carolina. Imagine being dumb enough to print such things, not knowing how outrageous it is, not caring because there probably aren't enough Jews in those places to matter or enough decent people to be offended. They were wrong, of course but the comments at The Palmetto Scoop post decrying the letter are loaded with anti-Semitic diatribes so scurrilous I'd be hard pressed not to gun down the writers in cold blood, given the chance. Well maybe not so cold. In fact this prompted me to renew my membership in JPFO despite the furious anti-Obama rhetoric. Later today I plan to take advantage of a sale at a local gun shop and purchase the AK-47 I've always wanted. That way, I'll be more prepared to discuss "old sayings" with redneck Republicans. Sometimes discussion just isn't enough. Sometimes 9mm just isn't enough either.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Fox lies and America pays the price. Sean Hannity's latest witch hunt against anything good and decent has found yet another victim in Kevin Jennings. The Obama administration employee whom Czar Hannity, mad with power, calls a "safe schools Czar," has been accused of ignoring or not reporting the sexual abuse of a minor. Of course not only is Jennings not the absolute monarch of anyplace, he's only Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools (OSDFS) and more importantly, the story isn't true.

Hannity lies and one more piece of justice dies. Of course Fox sometimes quietly retracts a story after the damage has been done -- as they have with the story insisting that Jennings one ignored a report of sexual relations between a minor student and an older man, but such lies have momentum and the mad dogs of the GOP are issuing demands that he be fired for promoting a "radical gay agenda" they would like you to believe includes the exploitation of children by gay teachers.

Fifty-three House Republicans have written President Barack Obama calling on him to fire Jennings. Jennings isn't a Czar of any kind and the gay "child" in question was above the age of consent, but Jennings is also gay and Jennings has spent a lot of time trying to make schools safer for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Such things infuriate bigots and witch hunting religious idiots and Retro-Republican trolls and Fox is happy to fan the flames regardless of who burns as long as those ratings stay high.

The disgusting, shit-eating cockroaches calling themselves the Family Research Council (FRC) launched the “Stop Kevin Jennings” campaign this week, warning that he is a
radical homosexual activist” who has “worked tirelessly to bring the homosexual agenda into our nation’s classrooms.”

None of these people care that the story was a lie or that the accusation is a lie. Even if Fox were to give serious time recanting it ( and ten thousand other lies) it wouldn't matter. The excuse to persecute heretics, to stomp all over freedom and justice is too valuable to let go. More foetid slime to fling at Democrats is far more valuable than truth or justice.

If a lie is as good as the truth, if preventing the abuse and promoting the safety of gay students is radical activism and if truth and justice for all is to be despised as the "Gay Agenda" then maybe it is time to stand up and say "Long live the Radical Gay Agenda!" Maybe it is time for those decent citizens to say we've had enough of the hate-stinking madmen with hate-foam on their lips and the lying enemies of freedom who whip them into a religious frenzy.

Is it any wonder the Republicans oppose hate crime legislation so vehemently? The persecution of Kevin Jennings is a hate crime and the lies of Fox are hate crimes and the Republican Party is the party of hate mongering, small mindedness, injustice and persecution of liberty. It's long past time to tell those values voters their values are evil and their deeds are evil and certainly at odds with anything this country claims it stands for. We get tens of thousands of armed idiots in the streets protesting a tax increase that's actually a decrease, but why is it that we sit by and let a good man be ruined and say nothing? Why is it that we keep watching Fox and giggling and never speak up? Is it because we're no better?

Tightening the belt

When A Texas jury set out to decide what to do with convicted murderer Khristian Oliver, the decision was made easier by a supply of Bibles in the jury room with specific passages highlighted. Whoever highlighted them chose words carefully because the jury decided to kill him -- based on their reading of the Bible.

Although the US Supreme Court decided in 1967 (Loving V. Virginia) that the government has no right to tell people they can't marry someone of another "race" the news may not have made it to parts of Louisiana. Keith Bardwell, (who claims he's not a racist) justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward refused to marry Beth Humphrey and her boyfriend, Terence McKay because Terence is "black" and she's not. Actually Terence is no darker than this sun tanned white Floridian, but it's not about that, it's about the "traditional value" of not "mixing the races" one finds in the Bible belt and it's about the result of preaching that this is a Christian nation whose law emanates, like the musty smell of unwashed laundry and pious injustice, from the Bible.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bonfire of the vanities part II

Frank Schaeffer has been right in the center of the Christian Right. His father, Dr. Francis Schaeffer, is considered to be the godfather of the modern religious right movement, says an exclusive article at Raw Story. So when he says he's worried about the extent the insanity has reached and that it's all too likely that some Christian fanatic will blow up another building or make an attempt on the President's life, I worry too. All over America, the loonies are restless.

The insanity, you might ask? What about a North Carolina church planning to make a bonfire of all "Satan's" books which include, to the amazement of anyone informed about the history of Bibles, all non-King James versions. Our with that silly Hebrew and Greek stuff or whatever Moses brought down the mountain - the real one was written in Robert Cecil's dining room in Hertfordshire, like God intended.

Of course the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, N.C., says there are "scriptural bases" for the book burning, so you know it's OK with God who always defers to the Reverend Marc Grizzard particularly on matters of inerrancy and infallibility.

Hate Crime

Race, religion and gender are "Immutable characteristics" said a spokesman for John Böhner. The House Minority Leader feels that existing Federal protections ore OK for people born with such handicaps as being female or dark skinned, but not for people who against nature and for entertainment purposes choose to be gay or to be in a wheelchair.

"He does not support adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes,"
said Böhner spokesman Kevin Smith in an email to CBS News. It's important to note that he includes religion as something worthy of special protection. Of course gender is not currently given special protection, and religion is hardly "immutable" or innate or the product of genetics, but we're quoting Republican leaders here, who can't be expected to be rational or consistent, not normal human beings.

Rep. Tom Price, who heads the GOP conservative circus caucus cites the slippery slope fallacy to predict that such legislation would lead to "thought crimes" while felonies of intent which account for a good part of our prison population would not. Sounds dishonest to me and it's apparent that the real opposition comes from the fear that some preacher might be called to task for preaching hatred against infidels or "sinners" or witches even though no violence can be traced directly to him. Don't tell me it doesn't happen, I've endured many a sermon that prompted me to leave in disgust and I don't mean Pastor Muthee. The danger of exposing the inherent anti-Semitism in certain foundational documents must seem very real to people like Price.

"We believe all hate crimes legislation is unconstitutional and places one class of people above others,"
said a spokesman for Buck. Perhaps this is all about principle, despite all appearances, yet it seems like yesterday to me when segregation was the backbone of American Conservatism and the exclusion of ethnic groups from neighborhoods and hotels was de regueur and fiercely defended by people like Barry Goldwater. Of course I think it's not about egalitarian sentiment at all. I think it's that if you took the license to preach hate away from the far right religious faction that owns the GOP, they'd be out of business.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Honor our troops - at least some of them

Yes, sir, I'm glad we have real men like Anton Scalia on the Supreme Court instead of some "activist" liberal pansy. Who but a Liberal would come up with the idea that putting a cross on a Jewish ( or Muslim, or Buddhist or atheist) soldier's grave would be an insult to the troops we're told to honor and support?

The court is hearing a case on the constitutionality of erecting a cross on Government ( our ) land in order to honor the dead of WW I. It's not really a religious symbol, opined Scalia but just a common thing to do in cemeteries. In Christian cemeteries -- certainly but here's where Scalia seems unimaginative enough to recognize that many of us and certainly many of us whose families have been here far longer than his, are not Christians nor is there an established religion in the US; Christian or otherwise.

Crosses never appear in Jewish cemeteries, said the ACLU lawyer, but like the hard hearted biblical Pharaoh, Scalia could only reply
“I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that’s an outrageous conclusion.”
Well I don't think it is outrageous and I imagine there are more than a few people buried in any military cemetery who would, if they could, disagree with him. As Ann Woolner points out on,
"Hundreds of thousands of non-Christians served in World War I. Jews alone accounted for 250,000, or about 5 percent of the troops deployed. To memorialize them, Muslims and other non- Christians who gave their lives for their country with a Christian cross doesn’t honor them. For many of their families, it insults them. "
There is no secular purpose and therefore no legitimate government purpose in putting a cross on government property, says the Amicus brief filed by Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. Of course that's true and in my opinion, as each grave has it's own appropriate marker, the only reason to Christianize the entire cemetery is to put a Christian stamp on the US military and all it's endeavors and all it's men. One would think that the truly devout might say that it puts a US military stamp on Christianity and indeed some do.

All things considered, I'd rather not have a symbol of a religion ( particularly Scalia's) that's been persecuting and vilifying my ancestors since the Constantine administration on my lawn or my grave or the graves of any of my family who has been in the US military for the last 150 years. The party that so often screams about their "freedom" being taken away is usually quite silent when someone else's freedom of religion is being taken away and the honor and dignity of so many of our troops is being trod upon by their fellow Americans.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

lying for God

I don't expect much from anything attached to the Breitbart enterprise, whether it's politics or religion or movie criticism and in part because such things are all the same in that venue.  Take the review of Ricky Gervais' new movie The Invention of Lying by the Great S. T. Karinick.  The movie was made to lampoon Christianity, he says, yet it proves, despite itself, that not only are we better off with God ( the Christian God ) but because belief is the source of all that's good, belief proves itself valid.

" The godless society is unpleasant and uninspired."

he says, never mind that most people would find much more inspiration and cultural development  in increasingly Godless and humanistic Europe than in the bigoted, gay hating Bible Belt. Most normal people that is, rather than failed people who find life so horrible and frightening that they have to invent another mystical one to mystically be transported to. Perhaps withdrawal from the opiate of the masses is indeed unpleasant for the addicted, but for others, like me, the flowering of humanism and liberty is to be preferred.

Freedom of belief is all well and good but if they would stop mocking and persecuting the sane for their efforts to improve the human condition and further the cause of secular liberty fewer of us would need that fantasy world they find so comforting.

"So what we have here are two worlds. One, without God and controlled by thoughts of evolution, is a spectacularly dreary, unhappy place without love or meaning. On the other hand, even a fictional God brings the world meaning, joy, liberty, and wonder."

Can it be that only someone trapped in the fictional world we call "conservative" could read this without sadness, pity and yes, horror?  I find precisely those things in a meaningless and hostile universe. I love the more because of love's futility, I treasure life more for it's evanescence and meaninglessness.  I wonder more at the spectacular  and vast and complex universe of reality than at the childish little one born of ignorance and legend -- and most of all I'm free without Gods as no man could be with their jealous tempers and wrathful deeds, their narrow minded  priests, preachers and divine retributions trapping him in a world of guilt, fear, original sin and self-loathing.

"Thus although Ricky Gervais has publicly said that his film takes an atheist position, it appears that even he cannot imagine a happy, emotionally fulfilling world that does not acknowledge a good many fundamentally religious thoughts, and in particular Christian ones."

What a smug and loathsome statement and how offensive to other religions -- as though love compassion, emotional fulfillment  and the rest of the fuzzy fulsome package belonged exclusively to any form of extant Christianity other than the ad hoc and ephemeral chimera he puts together for this argument -- as though history, it's wars, persecutions, tyrannies, oppressions and inquisitions  could be disregarded as anomalous and never anywhere was there a Buddha or an atheist willing to lay down his life for his family or his country.

Regardless of how I loath this man's precious, smug and egotistical disdain for non-believers and non-Christians, I have to smile a bit at how he claims Gervais' movie "undercuts" his atheist position,  because if even a fictional God is as good, as he says, as a real God; if objective reality is less important than the noble lie,  then truthfulness, objectivity and indeed honesty are unnecessary and perhaps dangerous in his happy world of fiction, a conclusion which undercuts everything that, in his conceit, he attempts to prove.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Guns, Guts and Nuts

I hardly cringe any more when they call it Floriduh. All I can do is shake my head in agreement and defeat. I'm quite sure we have as many brilliant residents as any other state, and looking at all the billionaires and retired intellectuals and scientists we have, perhaps we don't rank as low on the intelligence totem pole as we do on the latitude scale, but nevertheless -- we have our idiots in Florida. We surely do.

I don't think it's a big deal that The Southwest Broward Republican Club would choose to hold their monthly meeting at a shooting range. Of course I'd rather see my politicians doing something worthwhile along the lines of community service, or self education or discussion of our problems, but I'm from planet Earth after all and I don't expect it. It's more productive not to be associated with problems anyway since it might prompt people to ask for answers rather than gleefully to participate in the business du jour: mockery and macho posturing.

It's just that President Napolitano explained the idea by hinting at armed resistance to a democratically elected government and democratically approved legislation once more.
"Without the Second Amendment, I don't think the other amendments would hold up. I think they would just be suggestions that the government would decide to do whatever they want."
Even though we're certainly no more democratic or less oppressed than Norway or Belgium for instance, I guess he would know because the last Republican administration did just that and much of what they wanted was unconstitutional. Of course if we're talking revolution we hardly need to elect anyone in the first place, but OK, I understand the usefulness of such gestures. They're hoping to retain the Cracker vote by playing with guns although Broward county is a rather urban setting these days and overwhelmingly Democratic, yet still, it's a choice, a strategy even if it's a childish, stupid and certainly poorly thought out one.


How much pre-frontal lobe capacity does a politician need to realize that shooting at human shaped targets with the initials of one's political opponents isn't really appropriate behavior for an adult, much less a candidate selling the idea of his wisdom, maturity and mental stability?

"One of the shooters at the Tuesday evening event was Robert Lowry, a Republican candidate hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston. Lowry's target had the letters "DWS" next to the silhouette head."
says the Sun Sentinel. A joke, said Lowry and if I were 7 years old I might agree. I might think the targets portraying a turbanned "terrorist" carrying a rocket launcher was funny too, but I'm not 7 years old and feel no affinity for the giggling idiots who think it's a riot.

I'm fond of shooting sports myself and the ranges I go to have as many real country and backwoods people there as well as more urbane sophisticates from Hobe Sound and Jupiter Island, none of whom has ever exhibited a "personalized" target although Republicans dominate around here. Could it be that Broward County Republican Brats can't measure up to the maturity and manners of my friends from Yeehaw or Osowaw Junction?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Back in the loony bin

535 e-mails were waiting for me when I returned Wednesday night. As you can imagine, many were spam, many were blog comments but more than enough were little packets of outrage; pictures of Muslims carrying signs warning of retribution billed as a general picture of all Muslims, dire warnings of collapse if we reform health care, little buckets of irrational snickering about Obama and much more. All unworthy of further comment.

Every time I leave the US and come back I'm shocked and have to wait a few days for the numbness to set in and the shivering to stop the way you do when you jump into cold water.

I watched BBC news every day whilst in the UK. We really have nothing like it here. It's dull, reasoned, thorough, polite and controversies are actual and not designed to make facts look dubious and madmen seem sane and well intentioned. Yes, there was much discussion about "reforming" health care and disability insurance, but no shouting, no interrupting, no slogan shouting, no insults, no comparisons with Pol Pot, Hitler or Karl Marx: more like engineers talking about making your car run better by adjusting the spark advance or fuel mixture curve. "Yes sir, we could perhaps remove some people from inability payments but wouldn't we have to provide more money to train them?" I'd forgotten what civility was like.

We're a crazy country, mad, ill informed, agressively rude, contemptuous of reason, terrified of civilization and of its demands. I'm sick to death of it, sick of talking about it and sick of trying to do something about it -- at least for today.