Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas 24/7

It's already started. In most every single store in the whole world, Christmas carols and Christmas ditties are recycled over and over again, ad nauseum, through a speaker system that reaches into every nook and cranny so there is absolutely no escape! Not even the dressing rooms are immune!

And this assault on our senses will continue for at least another month!

I have nothing against Christmas songs per se, in fact I've written a couple of them. And as the holidays approach, the very first time you hear one of these tunes, it might sound good to your ears and provoke warm memories of Xmas's past. But the 115th time you hear that same song while engaged in a two-hour shopping spree at The Great Consumer Mall you're ready to throw up.

And, as I said there's no escape! They're everywhere!

I'm sorry to break the news, but if you thought it couldn't get any worse, you were wrong!

According to, yesterday, November 28, the Gospel Music Channel began "more than a month of world premiere Christmas specials, series and holiday programming..."

"...GMC will feature Christmas Voices - Christmas music video blocks weekdays with prime time Christmas specials at night. More Christmas videos and specials are added as Christmas draws hear and Gospel Music Channel goes to Christmas music 24/7 starting Saturday, Dec. 20 through Christmas Day.

Fortunately, we live in a free country. If you don't receive the Gospel Music Channel, you have nothing to fear. If you do receive the Gospel Music Channel, you have two options: call your cable company and cancel GMC; or simply don't watch it between now and the first of the year.

Grinches have rights, too, you know!

Stephen Colbert isn't exactly a grinch, nor a songwriter, nor a singer. I'm not sure why I posted this video. Oh, yeah, it's kinda funny.

Wild boars in church

Photo of wild boar from Field & Stream

Germany has a problem with wild boars. There are way too many of these animals in the country, and they are big and dangerous! According to the, there has been "a recent and massive explosion in Germany's wild boar population." It is estimated that 10,000 of them live within Berlin's city limits. Last year, German hunters killed 477,000 of the things but the wild boar population doubles each year.

Recently, at St. Martin's Protestant church center in Frankfurt, a wild boar exploded through a French window (shut) and then ran out the way he came in. Children and parents, screaming, jumped up on tables to get out of the boar's way.

It could have been a serious incident, but fortunately, no one was hurt.

I've been in a lot of churches and while I've never encountered a wild boar, I have seen some wild boors. I've also read sermons by wild boors, such as John Hagee.

Most of the time, though, churches are led by mild boors. And while the parishioners tend to fall asleep in their presence, few are actually hurt.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Atheist billboard taken down

The Freedom from Religion Foundation erected the above billboard in Rancho Cucamonga, in San Bernardino County, California. It was supposed to be in place through January.

A bunch of christianist wingnuts, fearful that their jealous little god would be offended, complained and whined and cried and finally the General Outdoor Advertising sign company took it down.

The administrator of the First Baptist Church of Rancho Cucamonga, Judy Rooze, was very happy. She thought the sign was "unsettling." She said, "I understand people have freedom of speech, but this is taking it too far. It's very jarring."

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, was not happy that the General Outdoor sign company broke their contract, even if they did promise to refund the money that the foundation paid for the sign.

Gaylor said that the sign's inspiration came from John Lennon's song, "Imagine." It was intended to provoke discussion and also to recruit new members for the foundation. Gaylor thought this kind of censorship was inappropriate, that religious viewpoints are aired all the time but atheists and agnostics are shut out of the marketplace. "There should be some balance," she said.

Gaylor's right and Rooze is wrong. Whether you agree with the Freedom from Religion Foundation or not is irrelevant. This IS a matter of free speech. Just because a billboard offends some religious people should have no bearing on the matter at all. Freedom of speech means the freedom to offend.

And those wingnuts who complained and whined and cried should be very careful. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so they say. If the Freedom from Religion Foundation cannot put up their billboard, than billboards promoting religion must be dissallowed also.

In fact, we've got a ton of them in the community where I live, consisting of pithy little "god" comments and a bible verse. Very unsettling. Very jarring.

Take the damn things down, now!

And, so far as Rancho Cucamonga goes, the Freedom from Religion Foundation should file suit immediately against General Outdoor Advertising for interfering with their right of free speech.

Thanking Palin

This is just too funny!

The Our Country Deserves Better political action committee has produced two TV commercials to thank Sarah Palin. They began airing yesterday. Fortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to see them.

But wait until tomorrow - Thanksgiving Day. All four major networks will run them. Ugh!

Thank Palin for what? Well, how about for being such a neat conservative, and like, well, like her service. What service? Well, like running around the country in Neiman Marcus outfits assassinating the character of Barack Obama; or like revving up the rednecks and the racists to the point that threats against Obama's life increased exponentially? Maybe like dragging down the McCain ticket to its certain demise?

Sal Russo is one of the honchos for OCDB and he thinks Palin was unjustly attacked during the campaign. She took a lot of cheap shots, he thinks. And the problem is the Washington "elites," of course. "Washington elites don't like outsiders," said Sal. "We want her to know that doesn't reflect what millions of Americans think."

Of course not. Hell, millions of Americans voted for the Smirking Chimp! Twice! Does that tell you something, Mr. Russo? Not only is it possible for ten million Frenchmen to be wrong, as the saying goes, but so can ten million Americans. Or more!

And please get off the elitist stuff. No one ever tells us exactly who these people are. John McCain, for sure. The entire Republican contingent in Congress, also. Furthermore, if you knew anything about Palin you'd know that there is nothing that she wants more than to be part of the so-called Washington "elite."

Actually, if any group ought to thank Palin, it's the Democratic Party: Thank her for her winking eye, for her inanity, for her whiny voice, for her stupidity, for her multiple lies, for her inability to put two sentences together that make sense, for her failure to release her medical records, for her wanting to ban books in the Wasilla library, for her "selling" her plane on eBay, for her lack of ethics, for her $27 million in earmarks when mayor of Wasilla, for her backing the "Bridge to Nowhere" and then lying about it on TV, for her slinging of mud day after day on the campaign trail ...

Thank the gods enough Americans put all that together and decided Palin the pervaricator is not the kind of person we want anywhere near the White House. John McCain went down in large part because he put politics above principle, choosing Palin as his running mate in order to pander to the christianist right-wing when anyone with half a brain could see she doesn't have the qualifications to be a decent human being, much less a vice president who sleeps a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

The PAC is rightly named, however. Anyone knowing the least little bit about Sarah Palin and who isn't sunk in the mire of rightist wingnuttery, would say of her, "Our Country Deserves Better"!

Missionary's faith upended in the jungle

[Photo of Daniel Everett from the Chicago Tribune]

This is from an article by Andrew Herrmann in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Moody Bible Institute in the Windy City has long been a source of missionaries sent around the world to save people from everlasting hellfire by converting them to Jesus. Moody Bible is an infamous fundamentalist outfit that teaches anyone who has not accepted Jesus as his/her personal savior will end up in a very unsavory and very hot place for all of eternity.

Now, that's damn scary!

And the young missionaries they send trekking out to convert the heathen really worry about those poor lost souls. They have been taught and thus they are certain that the God "who so loved the world" will have no problem charring pagans forever if they've never accepted his son, Jesus, who is, of course himself.

Daniel Everett, in 1977, a 26-year old emissary of this god, headed for the Amazon rain forest in central Brazil where the Piraha people lived. His mission was to bring them the good news of Jesus and translate the New Testament into their language. The latter turned out to be impossible.

In his book, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, Everett tells how the Piraha turned everything he had believed topsy-turvy. He had thought people needed Jesus to be happy, but soon concluded that "these people, were, if anything, more secure, happier."

He stuck it out until 2006. Everett, now a self-proclaimed atheist, teaches linguistics at Illinois State University. And he worries about the Piraha, specifically that river traders and other missionaries are going to screw up their lives by introducing western culture and western goods.

"The Piraha don't feel poor," he said, "they feel satisfied and that's the basis of their happiness. If they start to feel a lack in their own culture, a need for western goods, that will be a very destructive force in their lives."

Yup. Most missionaries are a destructive force. And it's nice to hear when one of them sees the light. Is it possible that the christianist god will consider the Piraha his children even if they've never accepted Jesus?

Read Herrmann's entire article here. Everett's story is covered more in-depth here.

School children without a home in Marion County, Florida

[Photo of homeless by Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino]

There are almost 43,000 students attending public schools in Marion County, Florida.

As of about a month ago, more than 1,000 of those students were homeless. No doubt that number has increased over the past several weeks as additional families have lost their homes to foreclosure.

Contrary to the thinking of some pundits on the right, most people do not choose to be homeless. As Mark Imes, CEO of Ocala's Independent National Bank and Chairman of the board for the United Way, explains in an article at, "...they're homeless because they lost a job, or had unexpected medical bills, or had to stay home with a sick child, or had expenses to take care of a parent. As time passed quickly, the rent fell too far behind and they moved in with family members, found a motel room, or stayed in their car until they could earn enough money to catch up."

But for many, it's too hard, if not impossible to catch up. Unemployment in Marion County continues to rise and community support systems are overburdened with needy people.

And children suffer. It's not easy to do homework when you're sleeping in a parked car.

Homelessness is by nature unstable. Moving is part of the game. "[A]nd each time this happens to a child, they face new educational and social challenges. They must change schools. They must change friends. Each time it becomes more and more difficult to fit in."

Mr. Imes notes that the United Way is focusing on this issue and intends to work toward "mobilizing community resources" to deal with it.

Unfortunately, that won't be enough. The system is broken. The state of Florida, and other, local governmental agencies, have chosen to focus on the needs of the rich and powerful rather than the poor and oppressed.

And if there are 1,000 homeless children in Marion County, Florida, one can only imagine how many of our youth are living on the streets in the major cities of our nation.

Why is it that we can find the massive amounts of money needed to beat up on a non-threatening country like Iraq, and bail out the scumbags who created this housing mess, and throw money at CEOs who ran their companies into the ground by making stupid business decisions, and cannot take care of our fellow citizens who find themselves without the resources to exist at even a marginal level?

Sometimes I'm not very proud of my country.

Why the auto industry needs a bailout

The 2010 Toyota Prius

They flew to Washington awash in luxury - these captains of the auto industry - in their limousines of the sky to kneel before Congress and beg for money to stave off the imminent collapse of their automobile companies.

The personal jet thing is emblematic of what's wrong with the American automobile industry. Ever since I can remember, the attitude of the car companies relative to the common man, has been expressed in the slogan, "What's good for General Motors is good for the U.S. of A."

Maybe not.

Why are our car companies in deep caca? Why have they been operating on such thin margins so that within days of an economic downtown, they begin to disintegrate before our eyes? No one is suggesting that the disintegration is not real -- although it's good to be suspicious of the poohbahs heading any major corporation these days -- the numbers are clear and too many local dealers are filing bankruptcy and shutting up shop.

Methinks the number one reason, as expressed in the arrogant slogan noted above, is that "Detroit," in its self-aggrandizement, has not paid close enough attention to what people want in their vehicles, and in spite of a constant and growing trend whereby Americans purchase "foreign" cars rather than American cars, the automobile industry kept building ugly behemoths like the new Chrysler line, which were not only not attractive, but failed on the driveability, reliability and safety levels too.

Thus, the editors at Kelley Blue Book, in their 2009 list of cars with the "Best Resale Value," show only three American cars: the Jeep Wrangler in the SUV category; the Chevrolet Tahoe in the Hybrid SUV category, and the Cadillac CTS in the full-size category. The 12 other categories are filled with imports.

It gets worse for the American manufacturers. In Kelley's "2009 Best Resale Value: Top 10 Cars," not one is American made. Honda takes the number one spot and Volkswagen number 10. Six of the others are captured by Toyota/Scion.

Then, there's Car and Driver's list of the Top Ten Best Cars for 2009. Only two American cars made that list, a Cadillac and a Corvette - both GM products.

There is no question that the collapse of the auto industry in the United States would wreak economic havoc. Maybe a bailout of sorts is necessary. But if that happens, it sure as hell needs to be tied to specific performance guidelines as to how the money will be used (not for executive bonuses or expensive retreats for head honchos). And it should be in the form of a loan not a Christmas present.

Most importantly, any bailout money must be related to the manufacture of vehicles that Americans will actually buy - in other words, our cars and trucks must be made to the same specs that companies such as Toyota use.

And before the first dollar is lent, the American auto industry must have in place a plan showing exactly how they intend to do that as well as the costs involved.

Well, hell, I can dream can't I?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Evangelicals, Gays and traditional marriage

Evangelical Christians tend to oppose same-sex marriage. This is especially true of those who fall into the fundamentalist spectrum of evangelical Christianity. Fundamentalist Christians are up in arms all over the United States, loudly lamenting their fear that same-sex marriage will destroy traditional marriage.

Some groups, such as The Traditional Values Coalition, Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association, are rabid in their homophobia and their opposition to gays tying the knot. In fact, homophobia is a major pillar upon which they build their houses of hate. One of the most important items on their agendas is the enactment of legislation which would deny gays the right to marry.

This article from The Traditional Values Coalition provides a look at some of the usual arguments used by fundy wingnuts against same-sex marriage.

Methinks they ought to shut the hell up and tend to the disorder in their own house before they attack gay marriage.

A variety of studies and polls over the years have shown that "Divorce rates among conservative Christians [are] significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience."

Fundy Christians, who "value" traditional marriage so deeply, divorce more often than other faith groups, and much more often than atheists and agnostics!

At this point we can't say much about gay divorce rates because they aren't allowed to marry in most states, and studies relative to divorce among gays vary wildly largely due to lack of information. One study in Denmark, however, found that about 17% of gay marriages ended in divorce.

But once again we are confronted with the monumental hypocrisy of fundy Christians who rail that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage even as they wend their way to the divorce courts to end their traditional marriages.

There's more here, and here, and further discussion here.

The Gods are in their heavens - Ann Coulter can't speak!

All's well with the world.

Ann Coulter fell down last month and cracked her jaw. It has been wired shut.

Thanks to all the gods everywhere!

Click here.

h/t to Agitprop

Virgil Goode goes down in Virginia. Good!

[Photo of Virgil Goode]

The good news yesterday, according to People for the American Way, is that Virginia's Repugnican Congressman, Virgil Goode, was defeated by Democrat Tom Perriello.

Goode is the clown who made a name of himself by attacking Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. You may recall that Ellison chose to be sworn in on the Quran rather than the Bible, which makes sense except to the wingnuts on the right.

Goode also sponsored bills to build the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico and to amend the Constitution so children of illegal immigrants could not become citizens. In a letter to constituents, Goode tied his anti-Muslim feelings and anti-immigrant stance together.

The letter, sent to a Mr. Cruickshank, said in part:

"When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran ...

"The Ten Commandments and 'In God We Trust' are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, 'As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.' ... "

Here is another example of a Repugnican who knows not our Constitution and seems to be under the delusion that the United States is a country only for people who share his religious sympathies. Thus, all Muslims are bad.

Do you believe a Muslim student asked him about the lack of a Koran comment on his wall?


Goode has been worried for years that our immigration policies are allowing Muslims to infiltrate our country and they "want to mold the United States into the image of their religion, rather than working within the Judeo-Christian principles that have made us a beacon for freedom-loving persons around the world."

I wonder if he could define "Judeo-Christian principles"?

Goode has also aligned himself with nutcases like Jerome Corsi and Phyllis Schlafly and the John Birch Society.

It is very good that Goode is gone! One less nutcase in Congress helps!

Yuval Levin's "science"

[Photo of Yuval Levin]

Wingnuts on the right always seem to turn things upside down.

Yuval Levin, formerly executive director of the President's Council of Bioethics, is connected to the right-wing think tank, the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Yuval Levin is one of those Bushites who thinks science should be defined by ideology and not the other way around.

He is currently concerned that Barack Obama might overturn the ban on embryonic stem-cell research. Bush, says Levin, put that ban in place "to balance the need to advance science with the need to respect human life."

Levin is also worried that Obama plans to make "radical changes" in abortion law, like sign the Freedom of Choice Act. This, Levin claims would "basically overturn all restrictions and limitations on the practice of abortion at the federal and state levels -- including parental notification requirements for minors, including physician conscience protections for pro-life doctors who don't want to be fired for refusing to perform an abortion."

Ah, the possibilities. They weigh heavily on the minds of rightists like Levin. In a new book, Imagining the Future: Science and American Democracy, Levin lays out what he believes to be the most important science questions for the U.S. to consider. You can guess what these include: stem-cell research, abortion, and global warming.

Here's how he turns it all upside down: In dealing with these issues, we must set up "life-respecting guidelines for science."

That is baloney. It is the same old argument the Bushites have used to rewrite the findings of scientists for the past eight years. It operates from the position that if you don't like what scientists find with regard to global warming, you simply eliminate those conclusions and write your own report. Thus, "geniuses" like Sarah Palin can argue that human activity is not a cause of global warming.

Levin is supposed to be a scientist. But he is really an idealogue in scientist clothing. In his mind, science must conform to rightwing ideology and theology. Science cannot be allowed to roam free for it might come to conclusions which would question and even falsify his "life-respecting guidelines," said guidelines being derived not from scientific investigation but from a religious or political philosophy.

Given his predeliction to corral science into his wingnuttery box, he should be worried. Methinks that Obama's gonna crack that box wide open and allow reality to reign in our government for the first time in a long time.

Fresh air at last!

For your consideration: Here's a hit piece Levin did on Michelle Obama. Nasty!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Burn a cross on your lawn for Xmas

I'm exaggerating. The American Family Association is not selling a cross that you can actually burn on your lawn.

It just looks like that.

But to get in the mood for the one some claim came to bring peace to mankind, it's always nice to put up a flaming cross in front of your house during the Christmas season. That brings so many things to mind - like the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the Klan.

AFA suggests that this is a great way to portray "your Christian faith this Christmas," and "to honor our Lord Jesus."

Well, maybe not. Christmas is the winter solstice and Easter is the spring solstice. If you want to put up a simulated burning cross in your yard, wait until Easter, when the crucifixion event is said to have happened. Christmas has to do with little no, sorry, that's Easter. Christmas has to do with little babies in mangers and wise men and shepherd and angels singing in the sky. It's a fuzzy-warm time. Oh, and it has to do with Santa Claus and reindeer flying through the sky, and shopping and shopping and shopping and spending gobs of money so our fair merchants will have a splendid Xmas season.

Whatever. You can buy your cross here. I'm not sure, but you'll probably have to buy your own white robes.

Obama may be the last black president

[Photo of CBN pundit, Gailon Totheroh]

It's amazing. The guy hasn't even been sworn in yet and at least one pundit is suggesting that Barack Obama may be the last black president.

Who would say something like that? His name is Gailon Totheroh. He's a health and science reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He has a M.A. from Regent University (Pat Robertson's monument to ignorance and superstition), and that should tell you all you need to know.

Here's the problem, says Totheroh: There are so many abortions in the black community that the black population will continue to decline and "That would mean fewer good candidates for future political office and fewer voters down the road."

And the worst places for black babies -- where 50% of all abortions involve black women -- are Alabama, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Mississippi.

All of that begs the question, of course, as to why the black population has not declined over the years so that, in 2008, Obama's election would have been impossible.

Totheroh quotes figures from 2004 which show there are "a disproportionate number[] of black babies lost to 'pregnancy termination.'" Assuming those figures are correct, that "disproportionate number" did not arise suddenly in 2004, but long before. In other words, following Totheroh's logic, the black population, by 2008, should have declined to such an extent that Obama could have never been elected.

Totheroh wonders why Obama would support "abortion on demand," when it might mean he would be the last black president.

I wonder why Totheroh doesn't get a real job. Like so many christianists on the right, he likes to make stuff up and then wax profound. And why is everything about abortion? And is it really necessary to suggest that because Obama supports a woman's right to choose that he is "more interested in power than principle."

Perhaps he just can't understand that, in 2008, all kinds of different people of all different colors rejected the christianist "values" of exclusion and intolerance. It's a rainbow world and at the end of the rainbow was the golden hope of a new day symbolized by the election of Barack Obama. And a piece of the golden hope is the right of a woman to choose.

Oh, by the way, the number of abortions has decreased steadily [with a couple of bumps] over the past 30 years. Click here.

In God We Trust - Just another old license plate

In January of 2007, the State of Indiana began offering license plates bearing the pithy religious slogan, "In God We Trust."

They should have been sued for false advertising. Neither the State of Indiana, nor any state in our beloved Union trusts in God. The states may "trust" in a lot of things, like cutting taxes for the rich, higher sales taxes which gouge the poor, Republican legislators, legislation prohibiting same sex marriage, political bullshit, letting the infrastructure go to ruin, shutting down Medicaid programs, teaching creationism in public school science classes, etc., but they sure as hell don't trust in God.

You'll also note that the plates don't explain which god it is that the State of Indiana trusts. It would be hard pressed to find two people who believed in the same god, even in the same church or the same state legislature. Most of them couldn't even offer a sensible description of their god.

None of that is the problem for the State of Indiana, however. The problem that arose in Indiana was that people who opted for the "In God We Trust" license plate did not have to pay the specialty plate fee of $15.00. [One other plate, which reads "Lincoln's Boyhood Home" is also exempted from this fee.]

And that's the reason the ACLU of Indiana sued, charging that people who chose the "In God We Trust" plate received special treatment.

The court decided against the ACLU. The decision was appealed. The appeals court stuck with the original decision, saying that these plates were nothing special, merely alternatives to the standard license plate.

In other words, "In God We Trust" is essentially a meaningless slogan and if you want your car license plates to bear those words, you shouldn't have to pay extra. It's really no different than the standard plates, said the appeals court. Or you can get a plate that says "Lincoln's Boyhood Home." Again, there's no difference between that and the standard plate or the "In God We Trust" plate.

Personally, I think no state should nod to god on their license plates for the simple fact that the Constitution of the United States forbids such nods to no god.

But it's nice to know that if christianists in state legislatures offer that option, it really doesn't mean anything. It's just a slogan, like "Kilroy Was Here," or "Lincoln Slept Here."

Christian Episcopalians forming new church

Wheaton College in Illinois has long been a hard, rocky bed of fundamentalist religion and biblical literalism.

So, it's appropriate that a bunch of fundamentalist Episcopalians, who consider themselves the "real" Christians of the Episcopal communion, decided to meet on December 3 at Wheaton College to begin the process of developing a brand-new "real" Christian Episcopal Church in the United States, which they will call an "Anglican" church, the better to pretend to be historical and right. The process begins by writing a constitution, naturally.

Over the past several years, a number of Episcopal parishes and Episcopal dioceses have broken from the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, mainly because of the "liberal" attitude of mother church toward homosexuality. I mean the Episcopal Church actually ordains gays and has actually ordained as bishop! And "real" Christians know what god thinks about that! How can you stay in a church which is condemned by god?

Other matters of controversy that have boiled up in this usually staid group of mostly Republican Christians, have to do with biblical interpretation -- the Bible must be interpreted literally and is inerrant which means that god hates the whole gay thing, and forbids anyone to have an abortion. God also said to keep the Sabbath, but they forgot about that!

It is truly a loss for the Episcopal church in terms of monetary and other resources. At the same time, however, it is not all that big a loss. Who needs a bunch of fundamentalist monkeys climbing over the pews crabbing about "God said this, and God said that, and God's gonna get you"?

Sadly, too, is the fact that this new "Anglican" group has associated itself with a bunch of self-righteous African bishops who happen to be extremely homophobic and fundamentalistic in their treatment of the Bible.

Quite frankly, I don't see why these people just don't up and join the Roman Catholics. They'd fit in perfectly. Of course they might lose their bishopricks.

China's spying and prying

Would you believe that China has been spying on the United States? How dare those sneaky Chinese? The United States would never spy on China! Or any other country. Would it?

That's the problem with technology. Anybody can get their hands on it and use it for their own benefit. Sheesh! In fact, a congressional advisory panel reported a couple of days ago that "China has stepped-up computer espionage attacks on the U.S. government, defense contractors and American businesses."

Not only so, but "aggressive Chinese space programs were allowing Beijing to better target U.S. military forces."

Larry Wortzel, chairman of the congressional commission, said "China is stealing vast amounts of sensitive information from U.S. computer networks."

Why would this be the least bit surprising? Why would anyone think that China would refrain from trying to expand "its sphere of control even at the expense of its Asian neighbors and the United States."

It is the height of hypocrisy for U.S. leaders to bitch about any of this, for the Chinese have simply adopted our M.O. Bush and the neocons went full-blast in their attempt to expand our "sphere of control" in the Middle East. First, it was Iraq, and then it was going to be all those damn Arab/Muslim countries. We'd show 'em how to do it and turn them into mini-democracies modeled after our own.

Furthermore, we've had spies in the skies for years and you can bet that we know the name of every person who owns a car with a license plate in Beijing and Shanghai. And if we haven't been hacking Chinese computers, we need a thorough house-cleaning of our intelligence agencies.

This is what countries do, even friendly countries.

So, maybe all that lovey-dovey stuff during the Olympics a few months ago was just for show? Or maybe the Chinese have stepped up their efforts at spying and prying because they watched our own "great" leader 1) fall all over himself in the Olympic stands, and 2) further fall all over himself trying to pat the asses of our women's volleyball team, and 3) they figure he's an idiot.

The Chinese probably thought, "Sheesh, with a prez like that, how hard could it be to dig deeper into America's secrets?"

Not too hard, evidently.

Focus on the Family asks "Where's God?"

[Photo of FOF building by Houdini2]

That's the trouble. You just can't depend on the deity anymore.

Focus on the Family, god's favorite extremist christianist font of charlantry, is having financial problems. I know we're in a recession/depression (no matter what the Chimp says), but really, who'd a thought that god woulda let Focus on the Family suffer money pains.

Last year, FOF took in $146 mil from suckers around the world. That's a lotta loot for old James to play with!

The "economic downturn" (dontcha just love that phrase?) means that FOF's budget is going to shrink from $160 mil to only $138 mil in 2009. Shucks! Evidently a few people are concluding that they'd rather eat than give money to FOF so James can beat up on gays and try to destroy our public schools; all in the name of god, you know.

FOF, with a total staff of 1,150, will be laying off 202 employees and make other changes in how they get the "word" out, such as reworking some print magazines into online publications.

So, where's god? Doesn't she care about FOF? Did Dobson not pray hard enough? Wouldn't you think that god, knowing all the good work that FOF does around the world, would ensure that it operated at its peak capacity?

Or maybe...just maybe...there is a god after all!

Pope Benedict XVI, George W. Bush, and signing statements

During the tenure of George W. Bush, aka the Smirking Chimp, when he didn't like a law passed by the Congress of the United States, he simply signed a statement saying he would not necessarily follow the law. If what he wanted to do was against the law, he would ignore the law.

That's a neat trick if you can get by with it.

George W. Bush has gotten by with it many times, and in fact has signed more signing statements than all of our other presidents put together.

Pope Benedict XVI plays that same game. Maybe he learned the rules from Bush? Nah. Popes have been playing the "signing statement" game for hundreds of years.

Benedict has in mind to reinstate the Latin or Tridentine Mass. He intends to issue a decree that would declare the Latin Mass an "extraordinary universal rite." The vernacular mass, now in use today, would continue as "an ordinary universal rite."

Whatever else that means, it certainly symbolizes that the former Cardinal Rat is bent on overturning some of the reforms instituted by the Second Vatican Council of 40 plus years ago.

Here's the thing. A number of "senior cardinals" are opposed to this move by Benedict. It is a regression, they think, to when the church was even more dictatorial and totalitarian than it is now. It symbolizes priestly authority even as the faithful are clamoring for more real involvement in the life of the church.

But Benedict doesn't care about what the faithful think or what the cardinals wish. So, as new editions of the Latin missal go to press, Benedict is considering issuing a papal "mou proprio" (which means, literally, on his own initiative), in order to bypass the need for approval by various church bodies.

A mou proprio is like a signing statement.

Mou Proprio is Benedict giving the middle finger to the "modernist" cardinals.

Hail Mary and welcome to Bushdom!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why Christianity is good for the world

[Photo of the Rev. Douglas Wilson]

This from WEBBlog by CBN News Anchor, Lee Webb.

The Rev. Douglas Wilson, in a new book titled Why Christianity is Good for the World, gives what Mr. Webb calls "sublime evidence for the existence of God."


But first, who is Douglas Wilson, you ask? Mr. Wilson lives in Moscow, Idaho. He is pastor of Christ Church in that city. He founded something called Logos School, and he's a Fellow of Philosophy at New St. Andrews College, also in Moscow (Idaho).

Mr. Wilson's "evidence" for the existence of God goes thusly:

"God knew that we were going to need to pick up dimes, and so He gave us fingernails. He knew that twilights [sic] displayed in blue, apricot, and battle gray would be entirely astonishing and beyond us, and so He gave us eyes that can see in color. He could have made all food quite nourishing, but which tasted like wadded up newspaper soaked in machine oil. Instead He gave us the tastes of watermelon, pecans, oatmeal stout, buttered corn, apples, fresh bread, grilled sirloin, and 25-year-old scotch. And He of course knew that we were going to need to thank Him and so He gave us hearts and minds."

Now that is not sublime. It is simply stupid
. But he goes on:

"The issue of thanksgiving is really central to the whole debate about the existence of God. On the one hand, if there is no God, there is no need to thank anyone. We are here as the result of a long chain of impersonal processes, grinding their way down to our brief moment in time. If there is a God, then every breath, every moment, every sight and sound, is a sheer unadulterated gift. And, as our mothers taught us, when someone gives you presents like this, the only appropriate response is to thank them."

First off, if I'm going to thank a god for fingernails to pick up a dime, then I'm also going to refuse to thank him for sending neuroblastoma to an 8-year old girl. I'm not going to thank him for that tornado that wiped out 200 homes and 30 lives. I'm not going to thank him for the hurricane that destroyed New Orleans. I'm not going to thank him for the stroke that took my father's life, or the senility that destroyed my mother way before her time. I'm not going to thank him for the assholes who call on his name and work to extend their theocratic rule over me and my country. I'm not going to thank him for sending us a faux cowboy to play at being a war president and arranging for a million or more people to die to satisfy his fantasy. I'm sure as hell not going to thank him for allowing Hitler and his minions to kill 11 million people in a racial assault on humanity itself!

Sorry, Mr. Wilson, if you're going to thank your god for the good things in life, or what you perceive to be the good things in life, you're must, at the least, acknowledge his complicity and culpability in the bad things humans experience!

And that puts your "sublimity" in another light!

Furthermore, all of this intense thankfulness is too much. Life may be a gift, but it does not follow logically that there must be a giver. Some gifts simply happen, like a rainbow. We know, scientifically, why there is a rainbow, and thus there's no longer a need for a rainbow maker. But we can still be thankful for a rainbow. In fact, we can live thankfully for many things, including our hearts and minds, without positing they come from some divinity "out there."

The problem with Mr. Wilson and others of his ilk is that they transfer their own peculiar prejudices and theologies upon those who believe differently than they do. They set up straw people and then try to knock them down. It simply isn't true that people who do not believe in Wilson's divine creature cannot live thankful lives. If he'd open his eyes and look around, he'd see that quite clearly. But then, his thesis would fall apart.

The "truth" of course would set him free. It might also destroy him. Long live the fantasy!

Furthermore, I thought "real" Christians didn't drink at all, much less 25-year-old scotch!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike Huckabee and "conservative" America

Mike Huckabee, the ex-governor of Arkansas, the ex-Baptist preacher, the ex-presidential candidate, never gives up. His lop-sided grin is showing itself on various talk shows, political rallies, and at gatherings of downtrodden conservatives everywhere. His lop-sided political stance that doesn't have a lick of sense is popping up on the radio, in articles and in books.

In fact, ol' Huck has just written another book, Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America.

Now, ol' Huck doesn't believe that Obama won by a landslide. Just one percentage point, he says. 52 to 48 doth not a landslide make, he says. Only 4 points he says. No biggie, he says.

Huck, however, fails to note the massive move in Congress toward the Democratic (read "left") side of the aisle; a movement that is still going on in Georgia and Minnesota. Something happened in this last election and whether Huck wants to call it a landslide or an avalanche is really beside the point.

You see, Huck, like so many extremist fundamentalist Christians who think they should be president so they can lead the country back to their god, tends to turn away from reality.

Why did Obama win? Well, he ran "an absolutely flawless, masterful campaign" says Huck. Yup. But. really, why did Obama win? Well, he didn't show us who he really is, says Huck. He didn't say, "at least openly -- that he was going to redistribute people's income and that he would be a very pro-abortion-type president."

Aha! Obama isn't even in office yet, but Huckabee knows that he's going to do what Huckabee said he didn't say he would do.

Ol' Huck must think he's still on the campaign trail, tossing out those discarded and tattered McCain/Palin attempts at character-assassination.

But he is a believer! That's the trouble with Huck and fundamentalist Christians in general -- they "believe" even without any evidence.

So Huck says "I think most Americans are pro-life. Most believe in the Second Amendment. Most believe that smaller government is better than big government."

In other words, Huck is completely out-of-touch. Huck does not know what the hell is going on in this country. Huck better head back to the Baptists and see if he can get another preacher job. He's a perfect fit as they don't need any evidence for their beliefs, either!

Texas, evolution and the rabbis

[Photo of Rabbi Ana Bonnheim]

The great state of Texas continues to be embroiled in a battle about how to teach evolution (or not) in Texas public schools. The Texas State Board of Education is considering a science curriculum that would provide for the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

Why we have to have this same old fight over and over again in our various states is beyond all comprehension. Creationism and intelligent design are not science by any stretch of the imagination. They are "religious" in nature and in content! Those, such as the Discovery Institute, that push for teaching such nonsense are not about learning but about evangelism. They are fundamentalist Christians! The number of real scientists that back either creationism of intelligent design would fit on the head of the proverbial pin.

Three rabbis of the Reform persuasion appeared, along with other people, before the Texas State Board of Education to ask, please, don't foist this junk on our public high school students. Specifically, the curriculum would require science teachers to note the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories such as evolution.

Sounds reasonable? Not. As Rabbi Ana Bonnheim said, "On the surface, teaching about the 'strengths and limitations of scientific explanations'... may not seem like teaching religious beliefs. Yet...when science teachers answer questions about evolution and origins of life by pointing to the divine or supernatural, they are incorporating religion into science classrooms."

Yes, they are. And what Rabbi Bonnheim did not say, is that the "religion" being incorporated is fundamentalist Christianity!

I know that other religious leaders in Texas have spoken out on this issue, in particular clergy of the United Methodist Church. But where are the others? Are the pastors of mainline denominations so intimidated by possible fundys in their congregations they are afraid to speak against creationism and intelligent design? Are they afraid they may alienate these parishioners? Are they fearful these conservatives in their midst might leave to find another church taking their money with them?

Let's hear from the Lutherans, the "liberal" Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal priests.

Silence tends to insinuate consent.