Saturday, November 22, 2008

On withdrawing from Iraq - it's all about "stuff"

[Photo of Camp Victory dining room]

It's difficult to ascertain exactly what's going on with the US/Iraqi pact to withdraw US troops in Iraq. At last report, it would appear that the Iraqi government and the Bush administration have agreed to pull out US troops from Iraqi cities by 2009 and from the entire country by 2011.

However, there are substantive, unresolved issues still aboil. According to Aljazeera.com, one MP from the Iraqi National List is arguing against the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) because it does not guarantee Iraq's sovereignty. The agreement allows for ground troops to remain in Iraq until 2011 and there has been no consensus as to how many bases the US should retain in Iraq, or on the matter of immunity from prosecution for US personnel, or on an exact withdrawal timetable.

President-elect Obama has noted he wants US forces gone from Iraq within 16 months of his administration taking office.

None of this may matter at all.


As Tom Engelhardt notes in an Asian Times article titled "Stuff happens in Iraq," US withdrawal from Iraq "has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of Iraqi politics, the relative power of Shi'ites or Sunnis, the influence of Iran, or even the riptides of war. It really doesn't matter what Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki or oppositional cleric Muqtada al-Sadr think about it. In fact, [it]... has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with the American way of war (and life) ... "

Engelhardt refers to a comment made recently by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullen: "We have 150,000 troops in Iraq right now. We have lots of bases. We have an awful lot of equipment that's there. And so we would have to look at all of that tied to, obviously, the conditions that are there, literally the security conditions ... Clearly, we'd want to be able to do it safely."

To get all our troops and "stuff" out of Iraq would take, according to Mullen, not less than "two or three years."


In other words, the 16-month timetable is "physically impossible," no matter what the major players desire. Again from Engelhardt:

"We have too much stuff to leave Iraq any time soon. In war, as in peace, we're trapped by our own profligacy. We are the Neiman Marcus and the Wal-Mart of combat. Where we go, our 'stuff' goes with us - in such prodigious quantities that removing it is going to prove more daunting than invading in the first place. ...

"Some have estimated ... that simply getting each of the 14 combat brigades still stationed in Iraq on January 20, 2009, out with all their equipment might take up to 75 days per brigade. (If you do the math, that's 36 months, and even that wouldn't suffice if you wanted to remove everything else we now have in that California-sized country.)"


When we invaded Iraq, we moved in to stay. "On taking Iraq, they [the military] promptly began constructing a series of gigantic military bases, American ziggurats meant to outlast them. These were full-scale 'American towns', well-guarded, 22-32 kilometers around, with multiple PXes, fitness clubs, brand fast-food outlets, traffic lights, the works. (This, in a country where, for years after the invasion, nothing worked.)

Not only so, but then we put up a gazillion-dollar American Embassy in the middle of Baghdad, "safely" enscounced in the Green Zone, so 1,000 plus diplomats could do their work in luxurious comfort.


In other words, we have dumped loads of stuff in Iraq that has to be brought back home. One US Air Force expert noted our "stuff" includes "10,000 flatbed trucks, 1,000 tanks and 20,000 Humvees ... and the 300,000 'heavy' items that would have to be shipped back, such as ice-cream machines that churn out different flavors upon request at a dozen bases..."

That's only part of it. We've got tons of high-tech gear, computers, furniture, a/c units, generators, water plants. There are PXes full of stuff, gyms full of stuff, Burger Kings and Subways.

Then there's all that contractor "stuff" - "millions of tons of contractor equipment that belongs to the United States government ... "

Of course, we could leave it all there: let the Iraqis have it; bury it in the sand; take stuff out on ships and dump it in the ocean. We've done that before.


Ironically, the American dream followed our troops to Iraq and now we've got to figure out how to bring it all back home. That is the most important factor in any withdrawal timetable. Timetables are nice but unless they're related to moving stuff, they are not much use.

We are constrained by our "stuff."


Mr. Engelhardt offers a number of pithy and insightful comments on this mess and you can read his entire article here.

And here's a listing of U.S. bases in Iraq.

Why believe in a God? Ads on buses say just be good

Matt Staver, the extremist christianist poohbah of the extremist christianist legal flophouse known as Liberty Counsel, which is based right here in fatuous Florida, has set into motion "its 'Friend or Foe' Christmas campaign in an effort to defend America from the same secularization faced by people living under atheistic governments."

Thank god for that!

Whew. We sure wouldn't want to face what those people have to go through! Wow! I'll bet they can only say "Merry Christmas" twice a day and never on Sunday!


What's got Staver's shorts in a knot is another campaign - this one by the American Humanist Association - which paid for ads to be placed on buses in Washington, D.C. This campaign will continue through the month of December and the ads read: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

Staver said, righteously, "Christmas is a time of joy and hope, not a time for hate."

I have found in recent years that anytime you criticize right wing extremist christianists or just plain right wingers, they think you're filled with hate. And they all want to pray for me.

Hah!


The problem with an ad like this, from the christianist point of view, is that christianists don't believe people can be good without believing in their particular skygod. One of the densest christianists around, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, said "It's a stupid ad. How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in His word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world."

Well, now, think about that for a moment. No two people can agree on what the Bible says, so that's a huge problem right off the bat. Some people believe God said some things were good, and others think God said those same things were bad. And there are numerous places in the Bible where God comes off looking pretty bad himself!

Christians have a big problem here, because if you consider the history of Christianity, it's not a nice picture. It's two thousand years of incredible violence and horror. Where's the good in that?


And the AHA is not about hate, it's about prodding people to think about what they believe. Do you really need to believe in the christianist god to be good? A quick look around will provide you the answer: of course not. In fact, a lot of pretty nasty people claim to believe in the christianist god.

Actually, "Be good for goodness' sake" ain't a bad slogan, whether you believe in god or not.

Dontcha just hate it when the "bad" guys are right?

Pentecostals on the ropes

J. Lee Grady, erstwhile editor of Charisma magazine, is bemoaning the collapse of three "charismatic" Pentecostal churches.

Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Florida, has bit the dust and is looking at foreclosure. At one time, 23,000 folks would show up for worship, but when Randy and Paula White, co-pastors, notified the world that their marriage was on the rocks, the operation began going south. "On Nov. 4 their bank filed foreclosure proceedings and demanded immediate repayment of a $12 million loan on the property."

Up in Georgia, just north of Atlanta, Global Destiny Ministries is also in trouble. Sheriff's deputies showed up at a worship service and told the head honcho, Bishop Thomas Weeks II, to get out. Last June, Weeks divorced his wife, Juanita Bynum. Now the church is $511,000 behind in its rent.

Also in Georgia, the Atlanta congregation of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill has put their church up for sale. "The massive Gothic building--which at one time housed one of the nation's most celebrated charismatic churches, with a membership of 10,000-has slipped into disrepair after lurid sex scandals triggered a mass exodus. The church's founder, Bishop Earl Paulk, has turned the 6,000-seat church (valued at $24.5 million) over to his son, Donnie Earl, who in recent years has abandoned orthodox Christian doctrines, and embraced universalism."


All of this signifies a "Charismatic" meltdown, says Grady. He asks "How did a movement that was at one time focused on winning people to Christ and introducing them to the power of the Holy Spirit end in such disgrace?"

He probably knows the answer.

But he warns that God's gonna get "us" [Pentecostals] if we don't change our ways. "God requires holiness in His house and truth in the mouths of his servants. His is loving and patient with our mistakes and weaknesses, but eventually, if there is no repentance after continual correction, His discipline is severe. He will not be mocked."


While I wish no one ill will, I'm not displeased that these charismatic fonts of religious quackery have crumbled into piles of broken bricks, shattered glass and prostrate pulpits. They represent a movement which erects monstrous monuments of ignorance and superstition from which they feed their flocks a form of Christianity that has little or no connection to the Jesus of the Gospels.

Grady writes that "The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of God's Word."

That seems to me not the problem. When Pentecostals talk about "the integrity of God's Word" they are referring to a method of understanding the Bible that rests on the medieval pillars of literalism and inerrancy. Fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge the work of biblical scholars over the past 300 years because the findings of these scholars would show their theology to be thoroughly suspect and would call into question many of their most cherished theological suppositions.


So let these churches fall. Nothing will be lost. Unfortunately, as long as Grady and his ilk pretend their decimation is the work of God and not the result of Pentecostalism's internal weaknesses and that derives from its treatment of the Bible as a magic talisman, nothing much will be gained, either. Other of these monuments to superstition and ignorance will soon arise from the ashes to continue the ministry of charismatic foolishness.

But watch out, 'cause lots of these folks want to remake the U.S. into their own image!

Grady's entire article is here.

Say "Merry Christmas" or else you're going down!

Daniel Henninger proves once again that you can write for the Wall Street Journal and have your head up your ass.

In an article titled "Mad Max and the Meltdown," Henninger bemoans the fact that too many people are afraid to "say 'Merry Christmas' and perchance, give offense. Christmas, the holiday that dare not speak its name."

Ah, jeez. What a terrible problem!

No, wait, that's not the problem! The problem is that "A nation whose people can't say 'Merry Christmas' is a nation capable of ruining its own economy."

Yes, he really wrote that!


But there's more. It wasn't the chicanery of the financial industry, per se, that caused our current financial crisis. In fact, says Henninger, "The path to 50% wealth reductions and the death of Wall Street was paved with good intentions." The bankers really, truly, out of the goodness of their hearts, wanted everyone to own a house "even if that required giving away the house to untutored borrowers with low-to-no-interest loans."

Isn't that sad? Those poor beleaguered bankers who only wanted to do the 'right thing' are now caught in the maelstrom of financial meltdown?

Yup. And, says Henninger, "This good intention set off history's largest chain of moral hazard. The bankers' good intentions led them to do bad things like misrepresent loan applications and underwrite subprime loans "poorly." Plus other stuff.

Henninger explains further: "What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. ...

"Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of 'Merry Christmas.'"

Oh, if only we had been able to say "Merry Christmas"!


You knew he'd get there, right? Well, Henninger thinks that when you dig deep enough into the muck and mire of our national psyche, you'll find "that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous." You can tell because we can't say "Merry Christmas" anymore without the gnashing of teeth!

Please!

No, really, he said that. Furthermore, according to Henninger, "That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions."


Okay. Let's see if we've got this straight: Northerners and atheists have been bad-mouthing Southern evangelicals, who know right from wrong. So, it's the "Southern evangelicals" who can lead us out of this mess because, why? They got that ol' time religion? They got Jesus? They got TV preachers? They got racists? They got the Klan?

And we're having so many problems because "Northerners and atheists" vilify these poor Southern evangelicals, who are "nurturers of useful virtue"? I suppose he's speaking of the likes of George Wallace, and Jesse Helms, and Mike Huckabee, and Saxby Chambliss. Maybe Santa Claus? [Santa says "Merry Christmas" more than anyone! Oops! I think Santa's a "northerner." Bad!]

Notice that Henninger doesn't seem to much care what religion one follows. Just get a little religion because it will keep "most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines," he says.

And you can tell because we can't say "Merry Christmas" anymore without "perchance," giving offense. Yup! Chalk line gone!


Can you say "bullshit"?

But what in the world does Henninger mean by "nurturers of useful virtue."

If it means tolerance, openness, fairness, decency, concern for the less fortunate, concern for upholding the Constitution, then Mr. Henninger is way off the mark. For, far from being "nurturers of useful virtue," those Southern evangelicals whom Henninger seems to think hold "virtue" which translates into solutions to our financial crisis, are too often, fundamentalist theocrats, who would impose their peculiar and particular "Christian" values on the rest of the nation - values which lack any semblance of tolerance, openness, fairness, decency, concern for the less fortunate, and/or upholding the Constitution!

Or, to paraphrase another famous bullshitter, the B-movie actor icon of the right, Ronald Reagan: Religion is not the solution; religion is the problem!

Happy Holidays! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Winter Solstice! And, oh, yeah, Merry Christmas!

Read all of Henninger's article here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who's the turkey? A Palin interview



This has been all over the information highway - mainstream and Internet - but just in case you missed it, ta ta!

Sarah Palin, gives an interview while turkeys are being slaughtered behind her...she likes a little levity after seriously running for vice president and it's almost Thanksgiving, so this is the appropriate place for her to be.

Basket of Puppies has a funny post about it all - here.

Why do we want to teach the Bible in public schools?


World famous biblical scholar, Chuck Norris, says "Teach the bible in public schools, or else!"


Why do we want to teach the Bible in public schools?

Only god knows!

The old argument is that so much of our literature, etc. has biblical references that it behooves our public high schools to teach the Bible as part of their curriculum.

Bah, humbug!

Nobody, and that includes all Christian and a bunch of non-Christian religious groups, can agree on what the Bible is, what the Bible means, or the place of the Bible in either ancient or modern society! Why would we foist it on public school students when the Constitution quite clearly states there shall be no establishment of religion?

If the Bible is taught in the public high schools, then the "holy" book of every other religion with a presence in the United States must be taught also!


Except they don't think that way in states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. Somehow politicians in those states (and other states), being Constitutionally-challenged, have bought the notion that the Founding Fathers were all evangelical Christians and really intended to establish a Christian nation -- in fact that's exactly what they did, but liberals and Democrats have disguised their true beliefs and that's why the country is in such a mess.

So, Alabama's the most recent state to adopt a curriculum that teaches a blatantly fundamentalistic form of Christianity and includes all kinds of historical errors mostly from the mind of the truth-challenged theocrat, David Barton.


"The Bible in History and Literature" is a product of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. We've written extensively on this group previously. It is a fundamentalist Christian operation designed to convert high school students to fundamentalist Christianity!

The ACLU of Alabama will, hopefully, file suit to stop this nonsense as soon as possible. For as Allison Neal, of the Alabama ACLU says:

"The curriculum is deeply flawed and constitutionally deficient in many ways. The textbook presents the Bible from the perspective of Christianity in general, and a particular interpretation of Protestant Christianity specifically. Additionally, the curriculum also teaches the Bible as literal, historical truth, contrary not only to a variety of Catholic, Orthodox Christian and Jewish interpretations, but also to many other Protestant interpretations. The textbook also shows no serious familiarity with scholarly debate over the date and authorship of the Bible. ...

"Furthermore, the NCBCPS course promotes a particular religious interpretation of American history that is not part of objective historical scholarship, and instead provides an inaccurate, monolithic view of the Founding Fathers -- well known for their religious diversity -- as champions of a Protestant Christian nation.

Olivia Turner, Executive Director of the Alabama ACLU says, correctly, "While the theological viewpoints expressed in the NCBCPS curriculum are constitutionally protected when taught in Sunday school, they are not appropriate to be taught in public school."


The fundamentalist bozo who pushed for this is an Alabama State Senator by name of Scott Beason. He claims, very untruthfully, that "this elective course on the Bible ... has been thoroughly reviewed by scholars and is proven to be academically legitimate for study."

Not true! There isn't a real biblical scholar in the world that would accept the tenets of this faux Bible course! The curriculum is, not to put it too neatly, bullshit!

The only reason that Beason or anyone else would promote a course like this is to evangelize public high school students! That's it. The course has no legitimacy from either a biblical or historical point of view. It's fundamentalist evangelism, pure and simple and does not belong in any public school!

The notion that, as Beason claims, "It is extremely difficult to understand western thought including history, politics, and social interaction without an understanding of the content of the Bible" is misleading, at best, and simply wrong. He doesn't care that students "understand western thought." He wants to make little fundy christianists out of public high school students. And, quite honestly, one can understand western thought quite well "without an understanding of the content of the Bible."

Get the Bible out of our public schools and back into the churches where it belongs! Either that or, as I said, teach every damn holy book that exists in this fair and secular country! Or as in the words of that old song, "Got along without ya before I met ya, gonna get along without ya now!"


You can read more on the NCBCPS curriculum here in an essay by Chris Rodda. And here's a brief article featuring the famous biblical scholar, Chuck Norris. There's more here from Panda's Thumb.

For a comprehensive study done a few years ago by the Texas Freedom Network on the NCBCPS, click here.

World leaders refuse to shake Bush's hand



Just in case you missed it...at the end of the G20 economic summit as they walked on stage for a photo op, virtually every one of the world's leaders refused to shake the hand of President George W. Bush. Notice how he walks along with his head down...it almost makes one feel sorry for him.

Nah...notice I said "almost." This is what the good book refers to when it talks of "reaping what you sow."

h/t to Daily Kos

Pathetic christianist voices on Obama's election and the anti-Christ


Miley Cyrus, the anti-Christ!


It is not easy for normal people to get inside the minds of the christianists on the right who believe in a fantastical god to whom they speak and from whom they get messages. The following, however, may open the door of insight a bit - actually, more than one might wish. It is rather frightening that people living in the 21st century, surrounded by a world that science has de-deified, if you will, not only believe these things but live their lives as if they were reality and not superstition.

Historically, we have seen that people who base their lives on supernatural superstitions are freakily dangerous and liable to act in ways that inhibit the good of the greater community while believing they are doing the will of their god.


Craig von Busek, writer of a blog on cbn.com, offers what he calls "Prophetic Voices on the Election of Barack Obama."

A better title would be, "Pathetic christianist voices." [A disclaimer: I know not who some of these so-called "prophets" are. I do know they are pathetic.]


Here's a sampling:

Kim Clement

Clement says the election of Barack Obama "is not bad." God is sitting on his throne, you know, "and He will do whatever He wants." In fact, "God has some surprises for you, America."

How does Kim know this? Well, on June 17, 2008, God gave him a "prophetic word." God said, "A president that I will bring into the White House, and they will say 'He is ungodly.' They will say, 'He does not know God.' Even as Jesus disguised Himself at the great feast, so I have disguised this man's heart. When he comes to the White House, not only shall he be mine, but he shall pray as a man that has never prayed in the White House. ... Fear not, for he shall sit in that seat in the White House and suddenly my Spirit will come on him and baptize him with fire and with the anointing, says the Spirit of the Lord.'"

Well, holy crap! That must have happened already! That explains why Obama chose Hillary to be Secretary of State!


Dutch Sheets (extremist right-wing christianist)

Dutch takes a different tack. His god told him another story. He is "quite confident" that the election of Barack Obama was not god's will, partly, at least, because of what Sheets thinks is Obama's position on abortion. But there's more to it. "As a nation we put on blinders concerning Barack Obama's background, associations, beliefs and practices, and set these causes back years, possibly decades. And in doing so we took another step away from God and His plans for America, and another step toward judgment."

Blah, blah, blah!


Not all of these "prophetic" voices were so negative. J. Lee Grady (editor of Charisma and extreme christianist), for example, suggests that god wants "us to work out our differences with sensitivity and mutual understanding. He as given us 'the ministry of reconciliation.'"


But then we have Cindy Jacobs, the prayer-movement warrior who led the prayer attack at the site of the "holy" bull on Wall Street. She gets direct communication from god through the ghost (holy).

"The Holy Spirit spoke to me ... and He said, 'Cindy, you're a general. Don't let the prayer movement rupture over this election.' ... We haven't lost anything. Because the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord. ...

"...The Lord showed me that there is a demonic oppression of depression trying to come against people in panic and fear. Satan wants to panic the troops. Satan wants to say to you ... '...We've lost the nation.' ... I just want to say, 'Stop! Don't do it. We can still pull this out.'"

Note that all of these christianists assume that god is on their side -- the conservative Republican side -- and some, like Cindy, further assume that Satan represents the other side -- the "liberal" Democrats.


Here's a more reasonable "prophet," one not nearly so pathetic.

"It's amazing how all these so-called prophets come out of the woodwork as soon as a black man is elected as president. Where were all these so called prophets when there were 43 white presidents in this country? You are all nothing but a bunch of hypocrites. ... Also lets pray for each other and stop trying to persecute one another."

Yeah, you bunch of hypocrites, let's get together and do some bi-partisan praying!


But then, this.

"I along with several other McCain-Palin supporters and volunteers I've met truly/sincerely believe that our Manchurian Candidate president-elect Barack Hussein Obama IS the Anti-Christ." All you have to do is watch the movie, "Left Behind," which shows clearly that "Obama shares 3 distinct qualities with the Anti-Christ from that movie, named Nicholas Carpathia": the anti-Christ is hailed as a "savior"; he is "cool/popular'; and he is "handsome/good-looking."

"Also, like Carpathis, Obama is also revered by the secular (Godless) nations and Communist Nations and enemies of America as well who also hate conservatives/republicans such as President Bush for example of the world such as W. Europe, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and Iran.

"Not to mention that Obama has the most liberal ... of all Senators in the US Senate and he supports abortion on demand, PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION AND gay marriage. And he is Godless Marxist/Socialist who opposes Christian teachings."

I guess if one (even one almost illiterate) "truly/sincerely" believes something, although it is fiction, it's gotta be godly!


And another who hears the "voice" of god:

"Even before the election, I received a word from God by reading it from HIS love letter to us.

"Matthew 24:24, 'For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible even the ELECT.'"

Obama is a "false" christ and a "false" prophet? I'll betcha a lot of the ELECT were out there cheering in Grant Park - being misled!


And this fruitcake.

"I wish people would stop making this into a racial issue. It is not his color but his morals that we christians are upset about. His name sounds like a terrorist: BARAK rhymes with IRAQ (if you have a southern accent) OBAMA has the sound BOMB to it." This genius explains how when people make bad choices, god turns his back on them, and Obama deserves whatever criticism he gets because he put himself out there, and "God has turned His back on His people before." But not to worry, "He is a Just God."

Rhyming Simon! That's the problem. BARAK rhymes with IRAQ (if you have a southern accent). Sheeet! Wait, what does that have to do with anything?


The anti-Christ again.

"I didn't vote for Obama because he is the most liberal Senator and has a completely different worldview than mine. ... One day the Anti-Christ will appear on the world scene and have much charisma and popularity. We will be pressured to support him, and persecuted if we don't. Even the elect will be deceived. ... I have the sense that time is drawing very near."

Okay. Obama may or may not be the anti-Christ, but if the shoe fits, and it seems to...


Barack is Muslim.

"I didn't vote against Obama because he is a black man but become one he is a muslim and secondly because he wouldnt produce documentation to prove he is a US citizen ..."

This person is not prejudiced against black people, just Muslims! Oh, yeah, and those goddamn immigrants!


Like this one.

"The color of a persons skin should never be an issue in any Political Race. I did not vote for Obama, NOR do I TRUST HIM. I believe he is a Muslim and Muslim Countries financed his campaign. HE IS A DECEIVER. Where else would someone with no political experience come up with $600 Million Plus to spend on a Political Campaign. I BELIEVE he paid off the Biased Media to COVER his campaign and make fun of McCain in their reporting. ..

"I DO NOT TRUST THE MAN ... IT IS HIS LACK OF INTEGRITY, HIS BLATENT DISHONESTY AND OUTRIGHT LACK OF RESPECT FOR AMERICA, HIS ARROGRANCE AND HIS REFUSAL TO SALUTE OUR FLAG THAT DISQUALIFIES HIM IN MY BOOK FOR THE PRESIDENCY. ... "


Enough already. There are pages of this kind of crap and you can read all of it here.


For the most part, these so-called "prophetic" voices are truly pathetic. They represent people on the edges of society--alienated, gullible, naive, and disturbed. Reality does not intrude in their worldview, and thus, fearful, they cling to their bible, religion, and their fantasies (guns, too, perhaps). It is all extremely depressing, especially when you realize these were the base of the McCain/Palin ticket and remain a strong part of the base of the Republican Party.

If I were as loony as the people who wrote the tripe above, I would say God must have been looking out for America in the election of Barack Obama.

So, tongue-in-cheek: Thank God for Barack!


Special note: I have just learned that the anti-Christ IS .... Miley Cyrus

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dean Rotbart is a putz!

Just in case you're wondering, a "putz" is a Yiddish term: literally, a penis. It is also a slang term for "fool" or "idiot," or "jerk."

Rotbart is described by all of them!

Maybe if you've been nominated for the Pulitzer and have worked for the Wall Street Journal, you think you can be a prick, a fool, an idiot or a jerk and no one will notice. Not so.


Writing on behalf of who, I don't know, [maybe his own shadow Orthodox Jewish constituency] Robart scribbled off a "letter of apology" to Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin for the fact that 78% of American Jews voted for Senator Obama on November 4.

That's enough to make him a fool. What follows makes him the other things:

Because he added he was also apologizing to "Republican voters, Christian evangelicals, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher and everyone else in the non-Jewish universe who stands four-square behind the State of Israel."

Let's see, Ann Coulter cannot tell the truth, is filled with vile hatred of anything she considers to be "liberal," claims to "love" the Jews, but believes they are all going to hell unless they accept Jesus. They need to be "perfected" in Christ, is what she says.

Sean Hannity has shown his anti-Semitic streak by inviting his friend, the known anti-Semite, Andy Martin on his show. Andrew Martin is a vicious anti-Semite. (Details by Glenn Greenwald here.) Mike Gallagher is a ultra-conservative radio talk-show host, who sometimes makes Rush Limbaugh blush: One minor example - Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, said Gallagher, was racially motivated.

These are the people to whom the putz, Rotbart, is apologizing!


In his letter, Rotbart suggests that Jews who voted for Obama did so because the were "So enamored ... of the symbolism of electing a man of color to the Oval Office that they fatefully overlooked what he stands for and worse, what he will not stand against."

Then Rotbart invokes the threat of Holocaust II: "Who would have ever imagined that it would fall to our non-Jewish neighbors to take up the cause of Israel's survival and the necessity to be every vigilant against the gathering clouds of Holocaust II."

Jews who voted for Obama are "Philistines," says Rotbart.

Nor does Rotbart think that the 78% of American Jews should be forgiven of their "willful callowness." They knew well, he writes, of "his proclivities to associate with anti-Jewish, anti-Israel friends and preachers."

Hot damn, for a minute there I thought he was talking about John McCain! McCain fits that bill of indictment better than does Obama!!



There is much more such crap by this putz. The worst, though, is his conclusion. He quotes Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute (a conservative think-tank), who "warned that not since Hitler's time has civilization teetered so perilously on the brink of catastrophe."

She put it this way: "So when you cast your ballot this election, make no mistake: You are voting for or against a nuclear holocaust."


And I thought the Protestant fundamentalists were a bunch of dummies! Rotbart and Bayefsky put them to shame!


Read all of Rotbart's diatribe here.

Read Marc Stanley's (National Democratic Jewish Council) response here.

"Hello?" - Calling heaven in New York City


These things could come in handy. If you're lost, or being chased by a mugger, or Letterman told some really lousy jokes, or you're planning to run the New York City Marathon, or you can't find a cab, or you're having trouble with sex in the city, or you got booted from The Apprentice, or your monthly rent just went through the roof, or you fell on the ice at Rockefeller Center, or St. Patrick's locked their doors ... well, just find a prayer booth and call on heaven for help.

Yup. There's a couple of prayer booths near the entrance to the Roosevelt Island tram in midtown Manhattan. They even include flip-down kneelers.

Hurry, though, 'cause they'll be gone after December 7.

You can tell what they are because they look like phone booths.


The prayer booths are the creation of an artist who also pastors the Rivercity Community Church in Kansas City, Missouri, Dylan Mortimer. Mortimer, 29, recently graduated from New York's School of Visual Arts, and wanted to "help passers-by make free long-distance calls to heaven."

Oh, stop laughing!

Mortimer is a serious fellow with a sense of humor. I think. He's hoping frantic New Yorkers, running to and fro, will stop, kneel and pray. He's also hoping these booths will "spark conversations about private faith in a very public place."

He thinks the more prayer in the world the better off we'll be.

I'm not so sure.

Let's pray about it.

Away in the manger at the Supreme Court

[Ten Virgins photo]


It's always something. In a new twist on the old "war on Christmas," the National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition -- two right-wing, extremist christianist groups -- are in process of setting up a Christmas nativity scene this morning on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This pious plot to portray the birth of Jesus is called Operation Nativity, "an annual effort to promote the display of nativity scenes across the country on private and public property." At 10:30 this morning, November 20, 2008, there will be a news conference featuring such christianist wingnuts as Bob Schenck, Charles Nestor and Patrick J. Mahoney.


This is, of course, another attempt by radical christianist theocrats to push their notion that the United States is a Christian nation and therefore Christian symbols should be allowed in all of our public spaces. If liberal Christians, non-Christians, and atheists don't like it, tough. Go live somewhere else.


The funny thing is that the Jesus birth story is all a myth anyway.

Except for two contradictory stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, the birth of Jesus goes unmentioned in the New Testament. The birth of Jesus was so unimportant, it was not celebrated by Christians for 400 years.

Not only so, but there just happen to have been a number of "saviors" down through history whose birth stories (and lives) are very similar to the legends in the Gospels. One of these was the god, Mithras, who derived from Persia and India. Many scholars believe Paul used Mithraism as the basis for his version of Christianity.

Mithras (6th century BCE) was born on December 25, of a virgin, in a cave, with only a few shepherds present.

Virishna, of the East, (1200 BCE) was another "savior" born of a virgin, conceived through the agency of a spirit or ghost, his birth attended by angels and shepherds, and given gifts of frankincense, and myrrh. He was threatened by a evil ruler so that his parents had to flee to another city. A miracle man, he was crucified between two thieves, descended to hell, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven.

Beddou (b. 1027 BCE), is an ancient Chinese god who "is incessantly rendering himself incarnate." His most recent and important incarnation was 3,000 years ago under the name of Fot. In this case he derived from a young virgin of royal blood. The king became concerned that this child would want the throne so he tried to kill him along with all the male children born at that time. The child was sent to the desert where he was kept free from harm by shepherds.

Quexalcote of Mexico (born about 300 BCE). Quexalcote was an incarnate god born of a "spotless virgin," lived a life of "piety and humility,' went into the wilderness where he fasted forty days and was worshipped as a god, and "was finally crucified between two thieves; after which he was buried and descended into hell, but rose again the third day.

Krishna (India) was another incarnate god born of a virgin. His father was a carpenter; he was considered a "savior" and like many others, ended up being crucified between two thieves.

Horus, the sun god of Egypt was born of a virgin on December 25.

There are many others, including:

Dionysis, born of the virgin Semele.

Buddha.

Hertha, an "old Teutonic goddess ... was a virgin impregnated by the heavenly Spirit and bore a son.

Frigga, a Scandinavian goddes, "was impregnated by the All-Father Odin and bore Balder, the healer and savior of mankind.

Zoroaster (Persia) was born of a virgin.

Tammuz was born of a virgin.

Adonis was born of a virgin.


In light of the above, I therefore move that any Christmas creches erected in public places in the United States include hymns of praise and joy to each and every one of the aforementioned "saviors of mankind" as a means of celebrating their births.

We won't be able to call them "Christmas" creches anymore, so we'll change the name to "Saviors born of virgins" creches.

That should solve the problem and make everyone happy. Right?

Platform preaching for Jesus or "I shoulda thrown the son-of-a-bitch under the train!"


You are standing on an elevated platform waiting for a train to take you to your job in downtown Chicago. You're late because the damn alarm didn't go off and you're hungry because you there was no milk for cereal and the bread was moldy. You didn't have time for breakfast anyway.

It is very cold. The wind blows through your jacket leaving trails of icicles up and across your back. Your fingers no longer move even though they're stuffed deep into your pockets. Your nose is numb, your eyes water, and you're stomping your feet to keep them warm.

And that's the good part.

Your job sucks, and your manager told you yesterday that your pension fund has been cut in half and your health benefits have been reduced by one-third. Last night you discovered your kid has some kind of wormy thing going on which may require hospitalization. The car wouldn't start this morning and your wife said she wasn't going to work, that it was too damn cold and the kid was sick anyway.

While you're standing on the elevated platform shivering and runny-eyed, a clean-cut, well-shaven young man wearing a cashmere overcoat pulls on your arm. He doesn't seem cold at all. He tries to hand you a tract.

He asks, "Have you been saved? Do you know Jesus as your personal savior? Do you know that you're going to heaven when you die?"

You stare glassily at this youthful apparition of godly devotion and wonder where the hell he came from. You look at the tract. It is black with red print and flames appear to be consuming the edges. It asks the question, "Where will YOU spend eternity?"

You try to hand it back to the young man. He refuses to take it. You turn away from his toothy grin and shiver.

Just then a Transit Authority cop comes up and tells the young man to give it up, go away, move on. The kid stands there, defiant now. Another cop arrives and grabs the kid's arm and tries to move him off the platform and down the steps. The kid goes limp. Together, the cops hoist him off the ground and drag him away.

Your relief is palpable. You had just about decided to throw him under the next train that came along.

The train arrives, you hop on, and in ten minutes you're sitting in your cubicle, trying to thaw out your extremities. You glance at the morning newspaper sprawled across your desk. The headline reads: "Chicago Transit Authority OK's evangelism of Moody Bible Institute students on train platforms."

"Omigod!" you exclaim, as you scurry between the cubicles to the break room to get a cup of coffee. "I shoulda done it! I shoulda thrown the son-of-a-bitch under the train!"


Read the full story here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Biblical reasons to discount biblical pundits

Scott Ross, who writes a blog at cbn.com (cbn is Pat Robertson's christianist network), provides his readers [especially those concerned that Obama might be the anti-Christ] with a variety of biblical admonitions regarding voting, rulers and the role of believers.

These biblical admonitions, he says, are "ultimate truths" which "should give you peace and assurance that everything is under God's control, and He was not surprised by the outcome of the recent election."

That's a relief. I'd sure hate to think God wasn't up there pulling strings. He must have wanted Obama in the White House so we'll just have to put up with "that one."

But Mr. Ross offers a disclaimer: "These following verses get into the realm of individual free will and the ultimate sovereign will of God and His eternal purposes, which we don't always understand but must trust."

I don't get it. If God wanted us to understand something, why can't he just say so loudly and clearly so that everyone knows exactly what the hell he's talking about? How about a voice from heaven or an announcement on CNN from God's throne room - kinda like the pope prognosticating from his papal chair in Roma?

We need direction and clarity about this god stuff and bible stuff. If you tell ten people to read the same passage in the bible you'll get ten different interpretations. And that often leads to ill-will, anger, fistfights and lots of murder, as we've seen all through history. Seems like a pretty dumb way to do business.


Okay, here's a few of Ross's quotes. He's put them in categories and the first category is "God votes!"

1. Cast your votes but God has the final say (Proverbs 16:33) The actual wording from the Jewish Study Bible is: "Lots are cast into the lap; The decision depends on the Lord."

2. People are urged to "Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God" (Romans 13:1)

[This is nonsense, of course, and is a good example of what happens when you read the bible literally with the belief that it contains no errors or contradictions. Does Mr. Ross believe that Stalin and Hitler and Bush were "placed in power by God"? How about Saddam Hussein? My god, we took old Saddam out! If was placed in power by god, we're in deep ca-ca!]

3. "Because of Me, kings (all rulers) reign, and rulers make just laws. Rulers lead with My help, and nobles make righteous judgments." (Proverbs 8:15-16) The actual wording here, again from the Jewish Study Bible is: "Through me kings reign and rulers decree just laws; Through me princes rule, Great men and all the 'righteous judges."

[What Ross doesn't tell us is that this is one of the poems to the goddess, Wisdom. So that doesn't help much.]


Ross's other categories are: "...some good reasons to pray for those in authority;" and what to do "if you don't agree with a government's policies;" and "All rulers are ultimately accountable to God; whether they, or the nation, believe it or not;" and "...finally, be assured, God puts term limits on leaders."

He builds those categories on biblical foundations. For example, we are to "Pray for kings and all others who are in authority." We must "Never make light of the king, even in [our] thoughts," because "The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord."

Now, if you don't like your prez, remember this from Psalm 109:8: "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." Hell, I was praying that from the first day Bush took office but it took god almost 8 years to toss the clown out!


There is more but none of it makes any sense. Psalm 109:8, for example, is probably part of an enemy's curse, a common thing in the ancient Near East, and has no relevance whatsoever to our modern world.

Furthermore, biblical contradictions abound! They are embarrassing! But Ross's attempt to make the bible somehow relevant to 2008 exposes the impossibility of such efforts. He, like so many christianists, simply do not take the bible seriously for what it is, but use it like a magic charm.

Got a problem? Need some advice? Are you lonely? Feeling bad? Well, just thumb through the bible until you find a verse that gives you an answer or makes you feel better.

Like I said, it's Magic!


You can read Ross' article in its entirety here.

Untruths about Iranian arms

The Bushites never quit lying.

They led us into war against Iraq based upon non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction and they've been lying about Iranian weapons being supplied to insurgents in Iraq.

It was in April of this year that the Bushites "launched a new round of charges that Iran had stepped up covert arms assistance to Shi'ite militias."

As reported in the Asia Times, Robert M. Gates, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, "suggested there was 'some sense of an increased level of [Iranian] supply of weapons to support these groups.' And Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung was told by military officials that the 'plentiful, high quality weaponry' the militias were then using in Basra was 'recently manufactured in Iran.'"



The problem is that most of this was bullshit. In fact, "a US military task force had been passing on data to the Multi-National Iraq (MNFI) command that told a very different story. The data collected in the previous six weeks showed that relatively few of the weapons found in Shi'ite militia caches were manufactured in Iran."

Over a five-month period the task force "analyzed a total of roughly 4,600 weapons caches," and discovered that "Iranian-made weapons were a fraction of 1% of the total weapons found in Shi'ite militia caches during that period."

The Bush administration neither knows nor cares about the truth. Let us hope the Obama administration will do better.


The full story is here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

GOP re-election efforts, Texans, and death

The Republican Party, which has died, is now being embalmed.

Maria Recio, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, notes that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx) will become the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which puts "him in charge of re-election prospects for the GOP in 2010."

In the House it appears that Rep. Pete Sessions, a Repug from Dallas, will become the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

While the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference is up for grabs, there is a possibility that Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, will gain that seat although the current chairman, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, has the support of John Boehner, the House Minority Leader.


Why would this be important? Isn't one Repugnican just as bad as another Repugnican?

Not really. Texas Repugnicans are a special breed. Let's take a look at the womb from which Cornyn, Sessions and Burgess sprung and the teat on which they continue to suck.

The womb is the Texas Republican Party and the teat is the current platform of that party.


Vince Liebowitz at capitolannex.com gives us a glimpse of the worst of this paean to radicalism and Christianism. Here are a few of the planks: [Note that Liebowitz's comments follow each plank]

* We believe that human life is sacred, created in the image of God. Life begins at the moment of fertilization [my emphasis] and ends at the point of natural death. All innocent human life must be protected.

[So, if you don't believe in God, tough: you were created in his image anyway. Oh, and that 'natural death' part? We assume the Texas GOP counts a lethal injection as a 'natural death.']

* We believe that traditional marriage is a legal and moral commitment between a natural man and a natural woman. We recognize that the family is the foundational unit of a healthy society and consists of those related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property.

[... of course, it wouldn't be a GOP platform without gay-bashing within the first 1,000 words.]

* Promote stem cell research with public funds, and prohibit public funds for research that destroys human embryos.

[Isn't that kind of emasculating stem cell research?]

* Law enforcement should make Child and Sex Abuse and Methamphetamine Drug Manufacturing their top priority.

[Fighting meth should be a higher priority than fighting domestic violence, rape, and murder? How sad.]

* Protect the authority of the State Board of Education to manage the Permanent School Fund and control textbook content; expand the cap on charter schools; and remove funding for bilingual education.

[... of course, no GOP platform is complete without something to make sure the money men get theirs and smack[ing] down immigrants.]


Here's a quick run-down on a few other rotted planks in this rotten platform:

1. Opposition to the Census. Count only the people living in a dwelling.

2. Turn churches into an extension of political parties.

3. No reparations.

4. People who get a law degree online should be allowed to take Texas Bar Exam. [This is directly related to a former state legislator's daughter.]

5. Support federal or state photo ID at in-person voting.

6. Make it a felony to provide a same-sex couple with a marriage license.

7. Homosexuality breaks down the family unit, blah, blah, blah. No rights for homosexuals.

8. Oppose legalization of sodomy.

9. Oppose "morning after" pill.

10. Do away with Social Security.

11. Beat up the disabled.

12. More school vouchers.


Ah, there's so much more. You can read Leibowitz's entire article here.


So what does it mean that GOP re-election efforts in 2010 are likely to be led by congress folks from the state of Texas who subscribe to and represent this platform!

It is a gift that keeps on giving for the Democrats.

The Texas GOP represents the neanderthals of political life in 2008; Texas Repugnicans walk in lock-step with the extremist Christian right, the racists and the rednecks. Because they do not represent a growing majority of Americans, they become more irrelevant every day. The Republican Party is dead. The embalming will be done by Repugs from Texas between now and 2010.


Whosplayin.com has reduced the Texas Republican Platform to its irrelevant essence.

"We, the Radical Right Republicans of Texas, hate everything and everyone. We therefore call upon Angry Jesus to ride in on his Righteous Dinosaur of Death ... and smite all of the liberals, moderates, economists, scientists, educated elites, Mexicans, Muslims, and homosexuals. Amen."


That's about right!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Newsweek and the Antichrist cretins

An article in the latest Newsweek asks the question, "Is Obama the Antichrist?"

Why such an article would appear in Newsweek is another question. What's the point in giving the Antichrist cretins any more publicity?

Lisa Miller, author of this nonsense, reminds us of an anonymous e-mail " that was circulated among conservative Christians in October implying that he [Obama] was the Antichrist."

Millions of Christianists believe we're living in the end-times, the last days. According to Miller, they "believe a great battle is imminent. After years of tribulation--natural disasters, other cataclysms (such as the collapse of financial markets)--God's armies will vanquish armies led by the Antichrist himself."

And who is this Antichrist? "He will be a sweet-talking world leader who gathers governments and economies under his command to further his own evil agenda. In this world view, 'the spread of secular progressive ideas is a prelude to the enslavement of mankind,'" according to Richard Landes, "former director of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University."

Then you have "Former 'Saturday Night Live' ingenue Victoria Jackson ... who wrote on her Web site that Obama 'bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ.'"

It gets even crazier. We've written previously about the idiotic Web site, RaptureReady.com, run by one Todd Strandberg. He's a believer in the reality of the Rapture, defined as "a huge, upward whoosh" which will carry the "saved" up into heaven when the end comes.

A key index as to when the end-time will arrive is the presence of the Antichrist. Strandberg doesn't really believe that Obama is that person, but "he's watching the president-elect carefully. On his Web site, he has something called the Rapture Index, a calculation based on signs and prophecy of the proximity of the end. According to Strandberg, any number over 160 means 'fasten your seat belts.' Obama's win pushed the index to 161."


Now be advised that, even if you consider the Bible or the New Testament to be the word of God, this end-times scenario is bullshit, the fruit of diseased minds who treat the Bible as a magic charm, a kind of amulet.

Admittedly, there are passages in the Gospels which indicate that Jesus expected the Kingdom of God to come in the future. In other passages, though, he told his followers that the Kingdom of God had already arrived and was an internal phenomenon -- inside them. Was he talking about the end times?

Early Christians, including Paul, were convinced that the end would come and Christ would return in their lifetime. Paul, knowing nothing of Jesus or the Gospels, was disappointed, and he and other early Christians had to adjust their theology to fit the new reality.

In the same way, probably in the early 2nd century, the Gospels were revised to have Jesus counsel his followers that NO ONE, except the Father, knows when the end will come!

That did not stop the kooks, however. Throughout the history of Christianity, various persons and groups have predicted the end times. As the year 1,000 approached, for example, some Christians became almost hysterical with fear as priests and prophets warned that signified the end. In the past 150 years, many religious movements have predicted over and over again the end of the world, often giving specific dates. Incredibly, while those false predictions led to some dissension, the "prophets" continued their predictions and the people kept believing them!


Today, we have conservative Christianist fruitcakes who take passages from the New Testament -- the Revelation of John, mostly -- and interpret those passages as having something to do with modern times or the future. Sorry, Charlie. The Revelation of John was written for people living in the 2nd century who were being pressured by Rome. It was written in a code that only they would understand. It is apocalyptic literature that is open to interpretation, but only for that period of time. It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with us today.

In fact, the Revelation of John was such a controversial book, it was left out of many, if not most, early manuscripts of the New Testament. The bishops who, after much bitter fighting, decided -- more or less - what should consist of what we call the New Testament (in 381 CE) thought at first to toss the Revelation of John as being unworthy of inclusion in the sacred material. In the end, however, they stuffed it in to bring up the rear.

What a mistake that was! It has caused nothing but trouble ever since by the fearful, the deranged, those who love conspiracies, and those who love to put their own spin on things. It remains an enigma. The only people who use it are the end-time theorists and conservative Christianists who like to write novels and books about how everyone except born-againers are going to get cooked - and it will serve them right! - when their loving savior comes back. And only they, of course, know when that will be!


Mathew Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's monument to biblical ignorance, doesn't think that Obama is the Antichrist. (Isn't that nice of him?) But he understands why other ultra-conservative Christianists might. Obama's "liberal" positions on abortion and gay marriage "threaten their freedom." So, according to Staver, those who think Obama is the Antichrist "are perhaps jumping to conclusions, but they're not nuts."

The hell they're not. How else would you define people who believe crap like the "Rapture" and the "Antichrist" which derive from the manic writings of a second century wingnut who put down his ravings in apocalyptic form? In fact, no one knows who wrote the Revelation of John or when it was written or where it was written. Most "normal" Christians try to pretend it doesn't exist as it is an embarrassment to the Christian faith and to common sense.

All of this garbage about the end-times, Armageddon, the Rapture and the Antichrist is pure fantasy and has no relationship to anything real. It is irrational and insane to believe any of it. Therefore, those that do, no matter how well-intentioned they might seem to be, are clearly "nuts"!


So we're back to the question as to why Newsweek would print such an article. I can't think of one good reason. Maybe the editors simply needed to fill space. But, if that were the case, they could write about how other nutcases believe Santa Claus is real or that Belgium doesn't exist, or that the Holocaust didn't happen, or that Hitler was really a nice guy, or that FOX is a real news station, or that George W. Bush was a great president.

Those fantasies have as much validity as Christianist belief in an Antichrist or the Rapture!

Roman Catholic Womenpriests - taking the power


The Roman Catholic Church is a dictatorship. It is totalitarian. The Pope rules in Roma. The bishops rule their dioceses. No dissent allowed. Obey or else.

This totalitarian institution, has, of course, changed its mind with regard to theology and practice many times over the years. There was a time when the priestly class was allowed to be married. As Christianity began to take shape in the second century, before there was any such thing as the Roman Catholic Church, women played a vital role in church life, and even served as leaders of Christian groups.

That didn't last, however. Soon thereafter women were forced to take a back pew and do whatever they were ordered to do by the men who assumed the power. Such as been the situation until the present. And today, while the Roman hierarchy praises the work of women in the church, they still insist that women stay in their place -- which means a nunnery, or a teaching slot, or a secretary, or a women's group. Women are not allowed to be priests.

That's a rather amazing position to take in the 21st century, when glass ceilings have shattered and fallen apart all over the world in almost every other organization. And in many Protestant groups, women pastors have proven every bit as capable, if not more so, than men pastors.

The Roman hierarchy, however, refuses to budge. Jesus was a man, you know, and his disciples were men, you know, and therefore women cannot be priests. This, in spite of the fact that even if you accept the Jesus story as more or less historical, Jesus had nothing to do with the formation of the Christian church. As the story is told in the Gospels, Jesus was an observant Jew until his death. He knew nothing of a church, much less a Roman Catholic Church! It is the height of conceit or stupidity to claim male supremacy in the church on the basis of what Jesus never said or taught!


But some changes come slowly, if at all. There has been a movement growing for some years to open the priesthood to women. It's known as the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and in spite of opposition by the Vatican poohbahs, has gone ahead and ordained a number of women to serve as Roman Catholic priests.

Many, if not all of these women have been excommunicated by the church, which is, if you're an observant Catholic, a dire penalty -- you're going to burn in hell!

Nevertheless, and realizing that the Vatican often knows not what it does, Roman Catholic Womenpriests has plowed ahead, fully aware of the consequences, but believing in the rightness of their cause. And they have good reason to hope, that, as it has done so many times on so many issues, the Church will see the light and begin to ordain women officially.

Not yet, though. In June, in Lexington, Kentucky, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest. She expects to be excommunicated. In fact, the archbishop of St. Louis excommunicated three women back in March for participating in a woman's ordination.

The Rev. Roy Bourgeois is gonna get his, too. A priest of the Maryknoll religious order, he had the gall to attend the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska and even gave a sermon in which he stated his support for women priests. The Vatican claims his excommunication is an automatic process. Bingo, gotcha, you're dead.

The Rev. Sevre-Duszynska issued a statement which said "We condemn this action by the Vatican as a blatantabuse of power."

Ah c'mon. That's what the Vatican is all about - power. She knows that, but I like her statement anyway. It calls attention, once again, to the fact that the Roman church puts their hidebound practice over people. The Pope is about being the Pope and engaging in popery which is about power. And this pope would take the church back to where it was in say, 1871. So Benedict XVI ain't coming to save the women priests.

He could. All it would take would a stroke of his pen and an announcement that women are now accepted for ordination. That's it!

But he'd rather send them to hell!


You can learn more of the womenpriest movement here.

Cardinal accuses Obama of being "Aggressive, Disruptive and Apocalyptic

Where do these guys come from?

And he dares claim the title of "His Eminence." James Francis Cardinal Stafford, in a speech at Catholic University of America, accused President-elect Barack Obama of being "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic" and that his campaign was "extremist" and "anti-life."

The Roman Catholic prelate wasn't done, though. He referenced Jesus' suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and compared that with what "true" Roman Catholics will be in for during the Oama administration: "For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden. On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake."

It's all about abortion, of course. These elderly celibates dressed up as women think nothing else is equal in importance! Supreme Court decisions upholding the right of a woman to choose, said the Cardinal, have uprooted respect for human life in the United States.

Not only so, but this pious representative of Roman orthodoxy would ban all forms of contraception, in spite of the fact that the great majority of Catholics in this country flaunt his predeliction to undermine their ability to plan their families. Elizabeth Grden, writing in The Tower Newspaper, said Stafford claims that "the truest reflection of the love between the believer and God is that of the relationship between husband and wife, and that contraceptive use does not fit anywhere within that framework."

One wonders if the Cardinal realizes in saying that he has admitted to the world that a priest, by virtue of his celibacy, is unable to experience "the truest reflection of the love between the believer and God"?


We do not take issue with the Cardinal's right to believe whatever religious nonsense he wishes to believe, no matter how contradictory. We do not take issue with his right to express those beliefs.

But we also do not renounce our right to say he's full of pious claptrap. We also claim the right to accuse him of monumental hypocrisy. He can tell the faithful what they must believe to be good Catholics. Whether they follow his advice or not is up to them.

What he cannot do is claim the right to insinuate his beliefs into the laws of this most secular nation and force non-Catholics to obey Roman Catholic mandates!

The hypocrisy comes when the Cardinal takes our President-elect to task for his pro-choice views; when he accuses our President-elect of being "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic." Those accusations don't play well when the Cardinal's skirts are dragging through the muck stirred up by thousands of his priests molesting thousands of innocent little children!

And if he's really concerned about killing, he should be on the front lines bolstering Obama's efforts to bring the war in Iraq to a close. He should be standing with those in front of our prisons crying for a halt to capital punishment! He should be clamoring for public policy that feeds the starving and provides health care to those who are dying for lack of it!


Finally, what the hell does he mean by accusing Obama of being "apocalyptic." The word refers to a "prophetic revelation."

Methinks he's a bit pissed that so many Catholics blew off the hysterical rants of their skirted poohbahs on November 4th.

He, like the rest of the Roman hierarchy, have become irrelevant in the 21st century. The faithful will continue to go to Mass and will continue to believe, but they no longer take their marching orders, especially with regard to sex and family, from aged celibates who are still living in the Middle Ages.

Note: Stafford is "an American Cardinal and Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See." Get that? In other words, he's part of the Roman Curia.

The coming vindication of Dan Rathers?

On September 8, 2004, the CBS program 60 Minutes, anchored by Dan Rather, carried a segment detailing George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard.

It was a "riveting" and revealing report. Mary Mapes, a long-time reporter and producer for CBS News, and the producer of this 60 Minutes segment, tells the tale in her book, Truth and Duty -- The Press, The President, and the Privilege of Power.

The September 8 program aired the "first ever" interview with former Texas Lt. Governor Ben Barnes who admitted that he had helped Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard as a way of avoiding service in Vietnam.

New documents were obtained which showed that Bush had, in effect, gone AWOL; Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Bush's commander, "had not approved Bush's departure from the Guard in 1972 to work on a U.S. Senate campaign for Republican Winton Blount in Alabama.

"They [documents] showed that Killian had ordered Bush to take a physical that was never completed and that Killian had been pressured from higher up to write better reports on Bush than were merited by the future president's performance. ... These new memos made Bush look like a slacker, not an ace pilot."

It was clear that George W. Bush was a neer-do-well who had used his family connections to pull plush duty, avoid combat, and then duck out of his commitment many months before his scheduled discharge.


The report, instead of receiving the immediate acclaim and applause which Rather and Mapes were justifiably sure it deserved, was greeted by a wave of derision and right-wing hate. CBS, to its eternal shame, not only failed to defend its reporters and producers, who had put their heart and soul into the investigation over a period of years, it threw those reporters and producers to the rabid, blood-thirsty wolves snarling on the right.

Although the documents used by 60 Minutes to build its case had been thoroughly vetted by experts, CBS caved to the crowd and its corporate ownership, and like a whimpering dog said "it could no longer vouch for the authenticity of the documents."

To soothe the wounded beasts crying for the heads of Rather and Mapes and all others involved in that 60 Minutes segment, the network declared it would commission an investigation to "determine how the segment got on the air," which is more less admitting that Rather and Mapes had deliberately done a hatchet job on the "Smirking Chimp."

The investigation was to be led by Republican smurf, Dick Thornburgh, who had been the attorney general for Reagan and the elder Bush. That tells us something. But there is further evidence that this so-called "investigation" was intended from the first to be a lynching party. Other people being considered to serve on the panel included Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter and Pat Buchanan. Also, it is likely that Roger Ailes, founder of Fox News, was a candidate.

Talk about "rabid, blood-thirsty wolves on the right"!


The panel issued its final report in January 2005 and, while it "found no evidence of liberal bias in CBS's preparation of the segment, it did rush "the Bush segment onto the air."

Big fricking deal. Too late. Mary Mapes' career was trashed. Dan Rather announced he was stepping down as the anchor of CBS Evening News, "under pressure."


Last year, in September, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS "charging that CBS had violated his contract and that the investigation was compromised. Evidence has been discovered that CBS was very much involved in the investigation, even while claiming the opposite, and that the investigation was tilted against Rather.

In spite of efforts by CBS lawyers to have the case tossed, Judge Ira Gammerman has said it will continue. It could go trial in the first part of next year.

While I don't expect a trial will validate the truth contained in that 60 Minutes segment of 2004, it will, hopefully, show the world how CBS News, owned body and soul by corporate America, caved to the power of the Bush dynasty and the right-wingers. And while $70 million won't put much of a dent in CBS's finances, it would be a nice middle-finger for Rather to wave as he walks out of the Manhattan courtroom into a new New York moment!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God's plan and purpose for sports heroes

Fundamentalist Christianity, has had, for as long as I can remember, a deeply-felt inferiority complex. It's as if, no matter how much the fundys insist that only they have god's Truth, they're still afraid someone might prove them wrong.

You can check this out yourself. If you're confronted by one of these deluded individuals, force-feed them facts about the bible, its history, its meaning, its contradictions, the craziness of their theology ... often they'll slip away into the night mumbling about how hot you will find it in hell!

Cradled as I was, in the arms of the fundys, I caught on to their tactics at an early age. One of the most humorous and most obvious attempts to counter their deeply felt inferiority, was to glom on to some sports star who had found Jesus, and parade him around the tent or chancel at revival meetings. I thought that was pretty stupid from the get-go. What did a super sports hero have to do with me? And why would his religious experience be any more meaningful that Joe the Plumber's. (I'm sorry, I couldn't stop myself!)

This charade continues. Charisma magazine, whose editor hails from the same religious holy roller hocus-pocus as does Sarah Palin, reports that "Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, affectionately known around the world as 'Kaka,' recently shared his faith with millions of prime time TV viewers in Brazil."

To be truthful, I've never heard of Kaka, not that it matters. Obviously a lot of other people have and "adore" him. What's important is that he was paraded in front of whole bunches of people at the beginning of "My Hope Brazil -- a three-night, TV-based outreach sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and reportedly one of the largest evangelistic crusades ever."

Kaka did good, too! "I truly cannot imagine my life without Christ," he said. "Everything I've accomplished, everything that God has done in my life ... was because God has a plan and purpose for my life. The Bible says that he will do more than we ever thought or imagined, and this is truly how it has been. If God wasn't in my life, then my life certainly would not be like this."

Kaka can believe anything he so desires, of course. And that's fine. But his story is a crock! Why would anyone believe that? Did god seek him out and give him a special plan and special gifts so he could be a soccer star? What kind of god is imagined here?

And what about all those people -- many with lesser abilities than Kaka -- that have accomplished a lot of stuff, in and out of a sporting arena, without knowing about god's plan for their lives?

More importantly, what about all those people who have struggled their entire lives just to earn a decent living but never quite made it? What about our veterans sleeping on the streets? What about the single mom who's trying to put food on the table? What about the elderly couple that has to choose between breakfast and medicine? What about the eight-year old girl dying of cancer? What about all the millions of people dying at this moment from disease, famine, or war? What's god's "plan" for their lives?

Or does god care mostly about soccer stars, and football players, and hockey moms who would be prezident?

Please! This kind of theology stinks. And to hold up someone like Kaka as if to say, "Look what god did for him and he can do that for you, too" also stinks because it is phony and false and is nothing more than a play for the pocketbook of the religiously gullible and theologically naive.

I wonder if Pele wore a T-shirt that said, "I Belong to Jesus." Wasn't Pele sorta successful?

Don Feder's boycott of The New York Times

Perhaps the best thing one can say about Don Feder is that he doesn't try to hide his bigotry and his hatred for all things "liberal."

Now a media consultant and author, he formerly worked as an editorial writer at the Boston Herald. In 2005, he founded and assumed the presidency of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation. Feder is a rabid conservative, with a bent toward theocracy, with the need to impose his beliefs on the rest of the nation.

He has written several books and numerous columns expressing his extremist views, and has appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hannity and Colmes," "Politically Incorrect," "The 700 Club," "Focus on the Family," and "Fox and Friends." Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham have referenced his columns on the air.

Those affiliations tell you most of what you need to know about Don Feder.


Currently Feder's mission is to organize a boycott of The New York Times. He is, in fact, the editor of Boycott The New York Times website. This boycott is a project of Accuracy in Media (AIM), which gives you a further clue, as AIM is about anything BUT "accuracy" in the media.

What has Feder so upset that he's taken on The New York Times? It's quite serious, actually; a major problem in our world; and something that desperately needs to be rectified immediately.

It has to do with -- ta ta! -- the so-called "war on Christians." Yup! The New York Times, in a November 12 editorial, had the unmitigated gall to suggest that the United States Supreme Court rule a Ten Commandments display in a public park in Pleasant Grove, Utah, is in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Pleasant Grove, you see, refused an offer by The Church of Summum to set up its own monument to its Seven Aphorisms in proximity to the Ten Commandments display.

There are some 10 other monuments in Pioneer Park in Pleasant Grove.

So, the Supremes are considering this "monumental" matter. The Summumists (or whatever the hell they're called) are arguing if a Ten Commandments monument can be erected, well, so can their Seven Aphorisms monument!

Summum is a rather kooky religion started in 1975 by a guy named Corky. I am not making this up. You can read further about Summum and this fracas in Utah here.


But back to Feder. Feder has been "summumed" by his higher power to fight The New York Times because of its lack of "true" religion and its assumption that all religions, including a kooky religion by Corky, must be accorded equal treatment.

Feder disbelieves that equal stuff. This is a Christian nation, says Feder. The New York Times is "distorting the First Amendment to promote secularism," says Feder. If this wasn't meant to be a Christian nation, asks Feder, "why was Congress's first official act to hire a Christian chaplain? (They couldn't find a Jewish one?)

Feder then delves into the repository of right-wing theocratic historical crap that fills the history books of the Reconstructionists: Congress appropriated money for Christian missionaries to the Indian tribes (that's not quite the way it went, but no matter). "What about 'In God We Trust' on our currency and 'One Nation Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance ...."? Now, I'd guess Feder is being coy here, 'cause he must know that both of those items were inserted much later in our history and were a political ploy to nod to god in hopes he/she would give the U.S. special blessings and protection and had nothing to do with the founding of our nation.


Let us say once again - this is a secular nation! It is a nation comprised of people who believe in just about every religion under the sun; or none. True, most of the folks profess Christianity although you'd never know it considering the shape we're in. Furthermore, the word, Christian, has several thousand different meanings for there are thousands of Christian cults.

The New York Times is right. Toss out the Ten Commandments display, the Summum monument to the Seven Aphorisms, or any other religious monuments that might have misguidedly been placed in the public Pioneer Park, in Pleasant Grove, Utah!

And then Feder can go on ranting about how badly Christians are "persecuted" in this secular nation of ours. I mean, hell's bells, they can't tell anyone what to believe any more. And it seems like the number of atheists has increased by .0001 percent.

Feder claims to be Jewish. Sounds like a "closet" Christian to me!

The massive irony of the Interfaith Conference

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah "initiated" a United Nations interfaith conference held in New York over the past couple of days. The conference was first suggested by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal.

Roger Runningen and Bill Varner, in an article for Bloomberg News, noted that King Abdullah, "in his remarks, said it was 'high time' for leaders to learn from harsh lessons of the past, adding that 'terrorism and criminality are the enemies of every religion and every civilization.'"

Human Rights Watch in New York critized the Saudis, and "cited Saudi Arabia as an example of intolerance, because the kingdom forbids the practice of any religion other than Islam."

That's the irony! But that's just one problem with the Saudis. In spite of the fact they have been our "allies" through a succession of presidents as Craig Unger reports in his book, The House of Bush, the House of Saud, the Saudis have sponsored terrorism (specifically al-Qaeda) for years through various Islamic charities. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Not only does freedom of religion not exist in Saudi Arabia, persons who attempt to practice other religions are treated with the utmost harshness. And Saudi Arabia continues to refuse to recognize the state of Israel.

Which makes the statement of Israeli President Shimon Peres, in which he praised the Saudi king's speech, quite incredible. More irony!


Altogether 14 world leaders attended this conference. If you consider talking the talk without walking the walk as significant, the conference was a success. For example, at the end of the conference a declaration by 80 nations was read which "expressed concern 'at serious instances of intolerance, discrimination, expressions of hatred and harassment of minority religious communities of all faiths.'"

When Saud was asked if Saudi Arabia would now allow freedom of religion in his country, he demurred: That is "an important question," he said, but it would take time. Here's another important question: The king rules absolutely (more or less). He could with a single pronouncement make freedom of religion a reality in the kingdom. Will he do so? (That would, of course, put him on the outs with the imams, and he needs their support to prop up his regime. So Abdullah is not likely to allow tolerance in Saudi Arabia, no matter what he says in New York.)


Now, for more irony. President George W. Bush stood up in front of these 14 world leaders and suggested that the fruit of greater religious freedom and tolerance was peace and stability. So far, so good.

Then he said, that his administration is putting religious freedom front and center; it is "a central element of our foreign policy." The United States, said Bush, has helped to protect the rights of Muslims in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We believe," said the prez, "God calls us to love our neighbors and to treat one another with compassion and respect. We believe God calls us to live in peace" and to "oppose all those use his name to justify violence and murder."

It is a wonder that the entire group didn't break up in hoots of laughter at the comic irony provided by the man one blogger calls "the smirking chimp."

This is the man who said God told him to invade the non-threatening country of Iraq and who lied to the American people to justify that invasion. This is the man who used the name of God, not to bring peace, but war. This is the man who used the name of God for the very reasons he now condemns, "to justify violence and murder."

No one broke into hoots of laughter. More irony. The world leaders present included the Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Israeli President, the Pakistani President, the Turkish Prime Minister, the Iranian Ambassador (who attacked Israel), the Saudi King, the US President, the Spanish King, the Kuwati Emir, the Lebanese President, and the King of Jordan: it would be hard for them to laugh when some bear as much guilt as Bush.


Maybe the conference will do some good. We have no way of knowing at this point. We can be sure the Islamists will not voluntarily give up power in any country where they hold sway. The United States has its own problems for theocrats like the Christian Reconstructionists and the Pentecostalists with which Palin is associated, are moving to make the United States completely intolerant of any other religious expression.


While Bush may believe "God calls us" to do certain things, that's not the answer. Too many people have too many different understandings of what God calls us to do!

The answer is to leave God out of the equation entirely, as did our Founding Fathers in both our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. They knew how religion and notions of God often create wars and justify violence and murder. Therefore, they deliberately and carefully constructed a secular nation, based upon the ideas promulgated in the Magna Carta, and common law as refined during the enlightenment.

In a secular nation such as ours, all religious expressions are to be tolerated and no religious dogma of any kind is to be promulgated by the state.

Problem solved.


You can read King Abdullah's entire speech is here.