Saturday, December 6, 2008
Well, the Gators won!
They are the SEC champions, beating Alabama!
I guess God does care about football! That Bible verse on Tebow's cheeks probably did the trick!
You Gator fans sure as hell better be in church tomorrow morning!!!
See original post here.
Here's my latest update, with word from on high! Click here.
Final update (I think) on Jan. 9, 2008 here.
It is commonplace and considered good form and decent human behavior for U.S. attorneys to tender their resignations when a new president takes office. That clears the playing field and allows the new executive to fill those slots with new appointees.
Mary Beth Buchanan is the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh. Appointed by George W. Bush, she's hung her hat in that office since 2001.
Mary Beth Buchanan is not resigning. Filled with love for her country and because of her ardent desire to ensure the upholding of the laws of the United States, Ms. Buchanan said righteously, "It doesn't serve justice for all the U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations all at one time."
From all accounts U.S. attorney Buchanan is a hard-core Republican loyalist, and erstwhile supporter of prezident Bush. She is a "political" U.S. attorney, who according to Faiz Shakir at Think Progress, "has been criticized for bringing politically-motivated investigations and charges against politicians in western Pennsylvania."
Not only so, but she's the person responsible for hiring the incompetent and theocratic Monica Goodling, and has "had a peripheral role in the U.S. attorney scandal" working with Attorney General Gonzales regarding the political firing of U.S. attorneys who refused to cooperate with the partisan orders of the Gonzales' Justice Department.
Additionally, she's considered the government's bulldog with regard to obscenity and pornography.
All of this is old news and has been reported in numerous places. The most significant and amazing piece of information to come from Buchanan's office, however, is that this "political Bushite," a woman who has fit like a glove within the Justice Department of Bush, Ashcroft, and Gonzales, now indicates that she would consider "further service to the United States."
Repugnicans continue to amaze me. Evidently, Ms. Buchanan also is devoid of an inner ethical core. She is a horrendously partisan political appointee who has acted in a horrendously partisan manner during her tenure as a U.S. attorney; she refuses to follow protocol and resign her office; and yet she wants to work with President-elect Obama!
Why? And how could she possibly think that President-elect Obama or anyone else on the Obama team could or would trust her?
Put her out to pasture. Please!
Maybe she can give legal advice to Alberto Gonzales when he comes to trial for abuse of power.
There's more here from Daily Kos. The entire Shakir article at Think Progress is here.
"Talk to bishops, priests and vicars and you get a sense that tectonic plates are shifting; that the national mood is changing; that we are turning our backs upon the hollow materialism of recent years and lifting our hearts to a higher, more spiritual plane."
As evidence of this "tectonic" shift, Nigel refers to a straw poll by his paper which indicated that church attendance was up last Sunday. And Canon Martin Warner of St. Paul's, along with other clergy, claims that he has seen an increase in the number of attendees at his services.
It could be, says Nigel, this is because churches are like sanctuaries. "When you look up at a barrelled ceiling and drowsily inhale the moist smell of mildew and incense, the noise of the traffic and the chatter in your head seems to subside."
A number of prelates, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, echo a refrain which indicates people are missing the spiritual aspect of life and are thus engaging the ministry of the church and its accouterments such as the singing of carols, sharing with families in need and contemplating the "true" meaning of Christmas.
Nigel puts it like this: "Somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten what it is we really want. Long before the gaudily dressed man with the white beard hijacked the tradition of giving presents and turned it into an orgy of excess, it was meant to symbolise the bringing of gifts for the infant Jesus."
And like this: "There is perhaps an element of stock-taking going on; a belated recognition of how decadent and greedy we have been in Christmases past. Now that they are in sharp focus, the bonuses paid to investment bankers in the boom period look obscene. Perhaps they always were, but they seemed to distract and unreal to latch our minds on to. ...
"Not any more. Perhaps we are coming to see that greed should not be worshiped; that actually it is something to be ashamed of. A profit motive - making money out of your fellow man - cannot be the sole purpose of society. The Christian message, by contrast, is that society is about how we live with each other; about loving thy neighbour, honouring your mother and father, and doing unto others as you'd have them do to you."
In summary, Nigel would have us believe that this minor uptick in church attendance is a signal that his English brothers and sisters have forsaken or are in process of forsaking materialism for something more substantial to "satisfy the human spirit." Indeed, it might mean a "rejection of consumerism that is being foisted upon us" and "that people find themselves looking forward, for the first time in years, to a Christmas Day with their families."
It would be nice to think Nigel is right. But I'm too much of a cynic. If, indeed, there is a real, albeit minor, increase in church attendance, it stretches the imagination to conclude this indicates a renewed spirituality and a rejection of greed and consumerism.
More to the point, I think, assuming its "truthiness," is that an increase in church attendance relates, not so much to a rejection of materialism, but rather to the old saw about no atheists in foxholes. In other words, when the going gets tough, we turn to God. When all else fails, we turn to God.
But again, I'm not at all sure Nigel's suppositions holds water. The evidence of increased church attendance may be mostly imaginary.
Whatever, you can bet your bippy that when the recession ebbs, when the money flows, when the sun shines, when the future glows, the bishops and priests and vicars will find themselves staring once again at empty pews on Sunday mornings.
Read all of Mr. Farndale's article here.
While the U.S. spend six times the amount of money on defense as does China, China "holds a six-to-one advantage over the United States" in another "strategic dimension" -- the study of piano. "Thirty-six million Chinese children study piano today, compared to only 6 million in the United States. The numbers understate the difference, for musical study in China is more demanding."
Musical study, then, metaphorically represents China's future.
"It must be a conspiracy," says Spengler. "Chinese parents are selling plasma-screen TVs to America, and saving their wages to buy their kids pianos - making American kids stupider and Chinese kids smarter. Watch out, Americans - a generation from now, your kid is going to fetch coffee for a Chinese boss. ... Americans really don't have a clue what is coming down the pike. The present shift in intellectual capital in favor of the East has no precedent in world history. ...
"The world's largest country is well along the way to forming an intellectual elite on a scale that the world has never seen, and against which nothing in today's world - surely not the inbred products of the Ivy League puppy mills - can compete. Few of its piano students will earn a living at the keyboard, to be sure, but many of the 36 million will become much better scientists, engineers, physicians, businessmen and military officers."
Spengler bases his predictions on the fact that the study of music, in particular classical music, "produces better minds, and promotes success in other fields." He cites academic studies which "show that music lessons raise the IQs of six-year-olds."
While "Any activity that requires discipline and deferred gratification benefits children ... classical music does more than sports or crafts. Playing tennis at a high level requires great concentration, but nothing like the concentration required to perform the major repertoire of classical music."
So watch out. There's more here than meets the eye. "China has embraced the least Chinese, and the most explicitly Western, of all art forms." Couple that with the fact that "[t]he Chinese, in some ways the most arrogant of peoples, can elicit a deadly kind of humility in matters of learning. Their eclecticism befits an empire that is determined to succeed, as opposed to a mere nation that needs to console itself by sticking to its supposed cultural roots. Great empires transcend national culture and naturalize the culture they require."
China is on the rise. And, says Spengler, Americans don't get the picture. "That is what makes America's music gap with China so difficult to remedy. Except in a vague way, one cannot explain the uniqueness of Western classical music to non-musicians, and America is governed not by musicians, but by sports fans."
Further complicating the matter is the fact that "American musical education remains the best in the world" and "the best Asian musicians come to America to study." And America is where they hone their skills, soon out-performing their American counterparts. "According to the head of one conservatory, Americans simply don't have the discipline to practice eight hours a day."
It all comes down to this. American policy-makers have tended to think of the Chinese, not as originators, but as imitators. "China has had little incentive to innovate; an emerging economy does not have to re-invent the wheel, or the Volkswagen, for that matter."
But, and here's the crunch: China has a long history of innovation. "China invented the clock, the magnetic compass, the printing press, geared machines, gunpowder, and the other technologies that began the industrial revolution, long before the West. When it comes time to develop the next generation of anti-missile radar, or electric car batteries, Chinese originality may assert itself once again. Chinese who have mastered the most elevated as well as the most characteristically Western forms of high culture [e.g. classical music] will also think with originality."
And didn't the Beijing Olympics give us a hint? And isn't China entering the space age with fine-fettled force? And in the last twenty years which country went from manufacturing crap to manufacturing excellence?
Don't say we weren't warned.
Spengler has much more to say and you can read it all here.
All of our economic troubles are God's punishment on America for its many sins. That's according to Bill Keller, founder of an Internet site called Liveprayer.com, a man some say is the "world's leading internet evangelist."
What's to be done? Keller wants President Bush to declare December 18th a National Day of Prayer and Fasting for the Economy. Keller has set up a petition which his followers can sign which will be sent to Mr. Bush.
Keller is convinced that God is using the economy to judge the nation for its sins. Bailouts won't work, says Keller, because the problem is a "spiritual" one and not an economic one. "The answer to our economic downfall is not an infusion of trillions of dollars, but the humble prayers of forgiveness and repentance for our sin and rebellion against God."
I'll be you didn't know that!
It's interesting, however, that Keller doesn't say much about the other countries around the world that are suffering their own economic crisis. Keller also doesn't explain why God would want to punish everyone in the United States in one broad judgmental swoop. Are there no "righteous" people in Sodom and Gomorrah, er, I mean our 50 states?
We must, says Keller, "turn back to God and biblical truths. This nation was once greatly blessed by God but today we legally slaughter over four thousand innocent babies each day, we have made a mockery of God's holy institution of marriage, we worship every idol and false god man has ever created, and we live in total rebellion to God and his truth. ... We spit in the face of God every day, and now we're simply reaping what we've sown."
And this is just the beginning, warns Keller.
Keller obviously gets special and personal messages from his god that somehow other religious types are not privy to. Prominent TV evangelists like Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell were certain that the 9/11 attacks were God's punishment for our nation's moral failings, but they failed to warn us of the impending economic crisis. They must have missed god's call on that one.
Keller did, however, hear from god regarding the Mormons. He has no good word to say about Mormons, and Mitt Romney. In fact, back during the Repugnican primaries, Keller warned his faithful that to vote for Romney was to vote for Satan! Mormonism, says Keller, is "a work of Satan and those who follow [its] false teachings will die and spend eternity in hell."
It's possible you've never heard of Bill Keller. If so, count yourself lucky. He's just another religious huckster getting rich off the ignorance and naivete of those stupid enough to listen to him or believe what they read on his Website.
He's got several money-making machines under the umbrella of Bill Keller Ministries, including the BK Media division and the Liveprayer.com internet operation.
But, it wasn't all candy and roses. Back in 1989, when Bill was "running from God," he was convicted of insider trading of the stock market. He "lost everything, and spend the next 2 1/2 years in a federal prison.
That's when he found Jesus again. And he went to school. His biblical "expertise" is explained in part by the fact that he got an undergraduate degree in "biblical studies" from that monument to superstition and ignorance, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
But every non-aligned preacher has to be credentialed and when Bill got out of prison in 1992, he was "discipled by two precious charismatic couples" (unnamed), and then received his "ministry credentials through an independent group of ministers, Spiritual Life Concepts in Largo, Florida.
In other words, he has no real biblical training whatsoever: Which is why he can come up with his outlandish and stupid beliefs.
But hey, this is a free country and religious scams make lots of money for lots of folks who don't want to get a real job.
I still wonder, though, why rotters like George W. Bush and his cronies, who are, in fact, the ones responsible for our financial meltdown, get a free pass from these phony TV and Internet preachers?
God spoke to me this morning while I was finishing my second hard-boiled egg and told me that Keller's a kook and Bush should be impeached. She also said that she had never heard of Keller until just the other day, and that she would never blame everyone for anything and she's truly pissed off and will have a special place in the afterlife reserved for the likes of Keller and his evangelist cohorts, as well as for Bush, Cheney and other nasties.
Friday, December 5, 2008
That, of course, is unmitigated bullshit!
George W. Bush loved playing the role of a war president. It wasn't that he wasn't ready, hell, he auditioned for the role and staged the whole thing. Just put him in a flight suit and he'd strut like a bantam rooster for all the world to see, a warrior in pretense, if not in fact.
And the problem he had was not bad intelligence. The intelligence was good. He just didn't want to hear it and didn't listen to it.
The problem was not even bad evidence. The problem was there was NO evidence that Saddam had done the things that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocons wished he had done in order to justify an invasion of Iraq.
None of this mattered ultimately, however, because of the Cheney doctrine which by the spring of 2003 had become the default of the Bush administration. The Cheney doctrine and what it meant for American foreign policy has been dealt with in clear and concise detail in Ron Suskind's book, The One Percent Doctrine [Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006].
To put it succinctly: The One Percent Doctrine as developed by Dick Cheney meant that if there was a one percent chance that a country might attack or harm the United States, the United States would be justified in taking preemptive action against that country.
In other words, evidence no long mattered. That's why the whole debate relative to Saddam's WMDs was a smoke screen. Nobody in the Bush administration cared whether Saddam had WMDs. They could make their case without that on the basis of the One Percent Doctrine. There was at least a one percent chance that Saddam was a threat to the United States. Therefore, blow the son-of-a-bitch up!
Here's a section of Suskind's book:
"Part of the default of this presidency is that Cheney is the global thinker of the pair. Usually, presidents fill this role .... Bush has sweeping ideas, some born of strong personal or religious beliefs, like bringing freedom to the world, or spreading democracy, or ending terror. Those are hopes--grand ones, common to the urges of many people--but not policies, or hard assessments of a nation and its place in the world.
"That part is Cheney's job. ...
"The Iraq war was launched, in large measure, from the left brain of the Vice President. The prospect of Saddam having destructive weapons and giving them to a terrorist is, in fact, 'a low-probability, high-impact event' that, despite the paucity of hard evidence of weaponry or al Qaeda links, would certainly meet a one percent probability threshold. So, the doctrine states, it must be treated 'as a certainty' in 'our reaction.' The minions fussing over evidence, or the lack thereof, in the lead-up to the war were missing the point. ...
"'Making a case for war' fell under public relations, under marketing, not R&D ..." [p. 213]
George wanted desperately, needed even, to be a war president, and to be a "better" war president than his daddy had been. Iraq offered the perfect outlet to satisfy this want, this need. With the right PR and the Cheney doctrine, there would be no stopping him. He'd take Iraq, bring Saddam down, and turn that Middle Eastern pile of sand into a democracy just like the good ol' US of A.
More importantly, perhaps, is that he would secure the Iraqi oil fields for his buddies in the bidness. He could also ease the fears of the Saudis that Iraqi oil would end up in the "wrong" hands.
He would be a hero!
Everything went wrong, of course, almost from the beginning and it's gone downhill from there. That's the trouble with a pretend war president who is essentially involved in playing a role, the script of which he forgot to read, in a war that he has staged which proceeds to tumble out into the real world to become a nightmare of death and destruction with global repercussions.
But he can't avoid the judgment of history or perhaps a world court by pretending he wasn't ready or that he had been given bad intelligence.
For the first time in his life, George W. Bush may actually have to answer for his actions. Neither his daddy nor his rich Saudi friends will be able to bail him out this time. He will stand before the bar of judgment alone.
Maybe he can appear costumed in a flight suit.
And that isn't a bad thing, for it coincides with the Winter Solstice and there are other religious holidays that come up on the calendar about the same time such as Hanukkah and Kwanza. So Christmas becomes part of the holiday season.
The trouble isn't with any of these religious celebrations or any pagan celebrations; it has to do with how we celebrate Christmas.
If you've been shopping at your favorite mall or your favorite store(s) in the past few days, you know the crowds have already grown ferocious and that it will only get worse between now and the middle of January: the shopping spree doesn't end on December 26, it just morphs into the "After-Xmas" sales and then the "New Year's" sales.
It is a madhouse out there, witness the trampling of a man to death in a Wal-Mart in New York State. In some cases, it's an armed madhouse - to borrow a phrase from Greg Palast - witness the shooting of two people in a Toys R Us in Palm Desert, California.
Christmas for most people is primarily about buying and consuming. For not a few it means going into debt to purchase junk gifts for children and other family members that often are neither needed nor wanted.
For many folks, Christmas also means decorating one's house with a tree (fake or real) covered with ornaments, littering the lawn with absurd plastic figures, cheap and gaudy creches and/or scrawny wire figurines and then draping the whole place with thousands of lights which send the electric bill into orbit.
We musn't forget all the hokey parades and the soupy, sentimental, crappy Christmas movies on TV. Between now and December 25, we'll have so many Christmas "specials" that the word "special" could better be defined as commonplace.
In the malls, all sorts of faux festivities take place in order to relieve you of your hard-earned cash (too often via credit card). It's difficult to get very far without hearing the screeching, sometimes in fear, of small children plopped on the lap of a faux Santa Claus with boozy breath, surrounded by faux snow and faux trees.
All of this culminates either Xmas eve or Xmas morning when the kids and parents, or whoever the kids are living with at the moment, gather around the tree to tear open their piles upon piles of presents faster than Mom can write down who they're from and then ask, amid the crush of crumpled paper and strewn ribbon, "Is that all?" "When do we eat?"
And a few minutes later, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do!"
It's too much. It's enough to drive a sane person insane and none of it has a damn thing to do with anything other than helping the purveyors of consumption make their sales projections.
We need to declare war on Christmas!
No mas! Get rid of it! Toss the baby with the bath water, so to speak. Excise it completely from our lives! It has become a meaningless and useless collection of expensive rituals that have no connection with anything. Churches could still hold services for people who feel the need to celebrate the 2000-year old birth of a Palestinian Jew, but there should be nothing of Christmas outside of those religious institutions.
I don't think Jesus would mind at all.
She's probably in her 50's. A small, black woman who has worked for the same department store for 27 years. She's very kind, gentle, soft-spoken and helpful to her customers. She likes her job. Usually.
But not at Christmas.
Today, already weary, she said, "You know, I've never been able to enjoy Christmas."
"What? Why not?" I asked.
"Because I worry so much about the day after. The store becomes a crazy place with people rushing around, grabbing the after-Christmas sales. And then all the returns! It's very hard!"
Let the war on Christmas begin!
It could be a breakthrough of sorts, this all-female art show in Saudi Arabia.
Carmen Bin Ladin would no doubt applaud it while at the same time express concern that one all-female art show does not indicate fundamental changes have been made in a Saudi culture dominated by males that treats females as inferior human beings.
Carmen Bin Ladin, an independent European woman of Swiss/Persian descent, living in Switzerland, married Yeslam, a younger brother of Osama Bin Laden, in 1974. She was very much in love. For nine years she lived among the bin Laden clan in Saudi Arabia. During that time she gave birth to three daughters.
Carmen tells the story in her book, Inside the Kingdom, (Warner Books, New York, 2004). It is a fascinating glimpse of life behind the scenes, of how the rich and powerful live in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom ruled by the Saud family but beholden to the Wahhabi mullahs.
Upon her marriage, Carmen entered "a complex clan and a culture she neither knew nor understood. In Saudi Arabia, she was forbidden to leave her home without the head-to-toe black abaya thaqt completely covered her. Her face could never be seen by a man outside the family. And according to Saudi law, her husband could divorce her at will, without any kind of court procedure, and take her children away from her forever."
While the bin Laden clan shared and enjoyed great wealth, the bin Laden wives' lives were "so restricted that they could not go outside their homes--not even to cross the street--without a chaperone."
Eventually, Carmen left Yeslam and moved back to Switzerland with her daughters. After a long and difficult struggle, she divorced Yeslam in 2006.
The all-female art show was held at the French Embassy in Riyadh. Seven Saudi women artists were involved, offering their paintings and sculptures to public view. Amazingly, one abstract painting of a woman showed clearly one breast. This could not have been done in another venue, as nudity is a no-no in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi religious (morality) police are not allowed in foreign embassies.
The Saudi interest in art is something new and a few women have been allowed to participate. An article in philly.com notes that "The first nongovernmental arts society was established a year ago, with four women on its 10-member board."
The battle for female equality in Saudi Arabia is far from won, however. In some ways it hasn't even begun. But because the prevailing view in many Muslim countries holds "that the depiction of human form violates Islamic law and that sculptures look like idols," this art show may signify a willingness to modify some of the more restrictive laws.
But maybe not. Saudi Arabia in many ways exhibits a national schizophrenia that can lead to unexpected and occasional violent eruptions, often against those who violate religious law or somehow "insult" the kingdom. While the House of Saud ensures that the mullahs are well paid, the mullahs, in turn, look the other way and fail to see the profligate lives of the wealthy Saudis.
That quiet agreement has not yet been extended to allow personal freedom for women. The sexes remain strictly segregated in Saudi Arabia.
But, again, this all-female art show may be a sign of new possibilities. Donna Abu-Nasr, writing at philly.com, describes the work of Eman Jibreen, which expresses "the dichotomy between a Saudi woman's public appearance and her inner self. A series of tall boxes were painted on the exterior with images of Saudi women swathed in the mandatory black cloak. Inside each box were pictures of Albert Einstein, a child, a kitchen - an expression of each woman's individuality that is masked by the cloaks.
"A nearby caption read:
"'We may look the same to you
'A scarf and a featureless black blob
'But it is just a cover over our heads. Our faces maybe.
'But it has never been a cover for our brains.'"
Carmen bin Ladin would approve. A step in the right direction. But one hell of a long way to go!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I see the vision of a nation, the hope of a people, a way out of the darkness. I see change, not for the sake of change, but for a new beginning, a clearing of the air, and for the good of all not just for a few; change in which we all want to believe.
Photo from Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish here.
There are so many things about what our government is doing around the world, especially militarily, that most of us are simply not privy to because we just don't care enough to find out or our news agencies are more concerned about Jennifer Aniston's wanting a baby than reporting news essential to our understanding of the world in which we live.
Maybe I'm just out of the loop. Have you ever heard of Africom?
Assuming a negative answer, I'm gonna tell you.
Africom is a new U.S. military command for Africa, established by President George W. Bush in February 2007: it is the Africa Command.
Daniel Volman, writing for AllAfrica.com says that "Throughout the Cold War and for more than a decade afterwards, the U.S. did not have a military command for Africa; instead, U.S. military activities on the continent were conducted by three separate commands: the European Command, which had responsibility for most of the continent; the Central Command, which oversaw Egypt and the Horn of Africa region along with the Middle East and Central Asia; and the Pacific Command, which administered military ties with Madagascar and other islands in the Indian Ocean."
So, why do we need an Africa Command now? Because the Bushites decided that someone had to keep a closer tab on Africa's oil! In fact, "the Bush administration declared that access to Africa's oil supplies would henceforth be defined as a 'strategic national interest' of the United States..."
The question is whether Barack Obama will continue to walk the path laid out by Bush and friends as regards Africa. Indications are that he will, with important reservations. In his response to a questionnaire by the Leon H. Sullivan Foundation, Obama said that Africom "should serve to coordinate and synchronize our military activities with our other strategic objectives in Africa."
Part of his reasoning was that "there will be situations that require the United States to work with its partners in Africa to fight terrorism with lethal force." And it will be helpful to have "a unified command operation in Africa" to facilitate such action.
Notice, that Obama spoke of "partners in Africa." In other words, unilateral action is unlikely but nevertheless many are fearful "that the Obama administration will continue to expand the entire spectrum of U.S. military operations in Africa, including increasing U.S. military involvement in the internal affairs of African countries ... and the direct use of U.S. comabat troops to inteervene in African conflicts."
Some folks, however, are re-thinking Africom, including members of Congress. In 2006, the Resist Africom Campaign was formed to educate the American people (boy, they missed me!) about Africom "and to mobilize public and congressional opposition to the creation of the new command."
The Resist Africom Campaign wants Obama to "pursue a policy ... based on a genuine partnership with the people of Africa and on a mulitlateral approach which includes other countries which have an interest in Africa, including China and India -- which promotes sustainable economic development, democracy and human rights, and a new global energy order based on the use of clean, safe, and renewable resources."
Sounds good to me. But, then there's that oil bizness. And we still ain't close to getting over our addiction to black gold.
Read Volman's entire article here.
It's nice to see people get into the Christmas "spirit" and act on the angel's message that the birth of Jesus was to bring peace on earth and goodwill toward all.
There are those, though, who seem to have heard different angels and a different message. Christmas, they believe, is the ripe time for attacking those with whom they disagree.
Some of these not-so-wonderful folks held an event titled "Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols" at St. James, Picadilly, an Anglican Church. That doesn't sound nasty, but here's a clue as to what it was all about: the event was organized by Open Bethlehem, which is a Palestinian group and Jews for Boycotting Israel.
So, altogether they sang the carol, "Once in Royal David's City". Only it wasn't the same. They changed they lyrics to:
Once in Royal David's City
Stood a big apartheid wall
People entering and leaving
Had to pass a checkpoint hall
Bethlehem was strangulated
And her children segregated.
And then this joyful tune - "The Twelve Days of Christmas." You may find the words unfamiliar, however:
Eleven homes demolished
Ten wells obstructed
Nine sniper towers
Eight gunships firing
Seven checkpoints blocking
Six tanks a-rolling
Five settlement rings
Four falling bombs
Three trench guns
Two trampled doves
And an uprooted olive tree.
Enough people complained about the excoriation of Israel and this trampling of the tradition of Christmas that the Rev. Charles Hedley, rector of St. James Piccadilly, said he would "think twice" before allowing such a thing to happen again.
Isn't that nice?
It is reported that the office of Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, criticized the service.
Sometimes merry effing Xmas ain't a lot of fun!
Thanks to the Telegraph.co.uk, from which this info was shamelessly borrowed.
"If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death--their bloodguilt is upon them." - Leviticus 20:13
The French have sponsored a United Nation's resolution which, according to Time magazine, "calls for an end to the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation. Most dramatically, in some countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by death."
All 27 European countries have backed this proposal.
The Vatican, however, has announced it will oppose the proposal. Father Federico Lombardi, the mouthperson of the Pope, said that this does not mean the Pope's people favor the death penalty. The Vatican is opposed to putting people to death.
What the Vatican doesn't like about this resolution is that some countries might be "somehow" targeted because they ban gay marriage. Notice the wishy washy in that statement. The papal envoy to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, said "Countries that don't recognize the union between people of the same sex as marriage will be punished and pressured."
Except...the resolution says nothing about gay marriage, and as Time points out, "most of the nations that support it themselves don't allow people of the same sex to wed."
When it comes to gays, the Roman Catholic church is caught between a rock and hard place. The church is rife with gay clergy. No one knows exactly how many priests are homosexuals because such data is difficult to determine with accuracy, but various studies indicate that as many as 50% of Catholic priests are actively homosexual or of homosexual orientation.
Stanley Kurtz, writing of "Gay Priests and Gay Marriage" in the National Review in 2002 suggested that "After Vatican II, and in conformity with the broader cultural changes of the Sixties, the U.S. Catholic Church allowed homosexuals to enter the priesthood in increasing numbers."
In the 1970s, says Kurtz, "homosexuals were flooding into Catholic seminaries all over the U.S.", many of them flouting the rule of celibacy. Kurtz quotes from Jason Berry's book, Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children (1992) in which Berry claimed that "as the proportion of homosexuals in the priesthood increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s, many gay priests were visiting the seminary 'on the make,' frequenting gay bars, and 'befriending' high school students."
In June of 2002, Catholic World News carried an article by the Rev. Paul Shaughnessy, which quoted an AP report from 2000:
"AIDS has quietly caused the deaths of hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in the United States although other causes may be listed on some of their death certificates, the Kansas City Star reported today. The newspaper said its examination of death certificates and interviews with experts indicates several hundred priests have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the mid-1980s. The death rate of priests from AIDS is at least four times that of the general population, the newspaper said. Kansas City Bishop Raymond Bolan says the AIDS deaths show that priests are human."
Bolan's comment also says something else. Gay bishops and gay cardinals have helped to conceal and play down the problem of non-celibate gay priests. Shaughnessy puts it this way: the actions of gay priests are "frequently ignored, often tolerated, and sometimes abetted by bishops and superiors."
The "problem" of gay priests is so widespread, says Shaughnessy, that gay priests "routinely gloat about the fact that gay bars in big cities have special 'clergy nights,' that gay resorts have set-asides for priests, and that in certain places the diocesan apparatus is controlled entirely by gays."
Here's an interesting tidbit. Not too many years ago, a rumor was floating around the Catholic world that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith planned to publish a ruling that would prohibit gays from entering Catholic seminaries. Cardinal Ratzinger is now known as Pope Benedict XVI.
When gay South Africa Bishop Reginald Cawcutt heard of this rumor, he wrote a letter to "his fellow gay clergy." Shaughnessy quotes from the letter:
"Kill [Ratzinger]? Pray for him? Why not just f--- him??? Any volunteers -- ugh!!! ... I do not see how he can possibly do this -- but... If he does, lemme repeat my statement earlier -- that I will cause lotsa s--- for him and the Vatican. And that is a promise. MY intention would be simply to ask the question what he intends doing with those priests, bishops (possibly 'like me') ... who are gay. That should cause s--- enough. Be assured dear reverend gentlemen, I shall let you know the day any such outrageous letter reaches the desks of the ordinaries of the world."
In fact, such a communication was issued some years ago. According to religioustolerance.org, "A Vatican document of 1961 bars persons with homosexual orientation from ordination and religious vows."
Pope John Paul II, on September 5, 2002, said "It would be lamentable if, out of a misunderstood tolerance, they ordained young men who are immature or have obvious signs of affective deviations [meaning homosexuality, primarily] that, as is sadly known, could cause serious anomalies in the consciences of the faithful, with evident damage for the whole Church."
Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez believes that the ordination of homosexuals is "...absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person or someone with homosexual tendencies is not, therefore, suitable to receive the sacrament of holy orders."
Vatican pronouncements and hierarchical statements have not been found wanting, but they have been essentially ignored.
Things are coming to a head, however. On November 17, 2008, the Los Angeles Times noted that "The Vatican recently issued a statement re-emphasizing that even chaste gay men are to be barred from the priesthood. Never mind that large numbers of gay priests -- estimates range from 25% to 50% -- already serve the faithful, with most adhering to their vow of celibacy."
What will be done with these men? That's an especially important question considering that dismissing them will, as Austin Cline notes, "devastate an already imperiled American priesthood. ... Things are so bad in the United States that many parishes are 'importing' priests from abroad."
And here we have a clear picture of schizophrenia. The Roman Catholic Church, with somewhere between one-quarter and one-half of its clergy being of the gay persuasion, opposes a United Nations resolution backed by all 27 European countries, which would decriminalize homosexuality.
To put it bluntly: The resolution calls for all nations to stop killing gay people because they are gays. The Vatican says it will not support the resolution. To stop killing gay people might lead to gay marriage.
Whether you approve of gays in the ministry or gay marriage ...
To oppose this resolution ...
Is, as pointed out by Franco Grillini, founder and honorary president of Arcigay, Italy's leading gay rights group ...
"total idiocy and madness."
[Thanks to Think Progress for the Gillini quote]
And here's a piece on the strangeness Bishop Cawcutt. More here on his weirdness and his resignation in July 2002.
And, finally, another "law" of god: "You shall not round off the side-growth on your head, or destroy the side-growth of your beard." - Leviticus 19:27
Michael Reagan, the rightwingnut son of the late B-movie actor and sleepy prezident, Ronald, writes for a rightwingnut outfit called Townhall.com. Reagan (Michael, 'cause Ron's no longer with us) rants and raves about the usual bad guys--the libs, lefties, commies and other nogoodniks who are working day and night to bring America to its collective knees.
These days Michael has jumped into the ring to join the fight which is known by luminaries like O'Reilly and Limberger as the "war" on Christmas.
And, boy, Michael is upset. "Christmas is Not a Holiday - It's a Birthday," says Michael and that's the title of a recent Reagan column. He's not happy, because "Christmas is once again upon us, and we can expect to witness countless new displays of the rampant secularization of what is meant to be a joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ."
Rampant! Secularization! Omigod!
Michael reminds his readers (hopefully, very few) that this country is literally inundated with Christians but unfortunately those Christians are wimps and have allowed the miserable SOB secularists to run all over them to the extent that they're fearful of ever saying the word, Christmas!
Now, that's serious. Seriously!
Got to put Christ back in Christmas, says Mike. And the menorah back in Hannukkah. He doesn't mention other religious groups. What Hannukkah has to do with Christmas Michael doesn't say, other than Jews ought to have a right to hang their religious stuff in public places, too, just like Christians who believe Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ.
Michael needs to take a few history lessons. We'll quickly remind him that the accounts of Jesus' birth appear in only two of the four Gospels -- Matthew and Luke, and the accounts contradict each other. They are clearly legendary, derived from stories of other savior gods, such as Mithras, who was born of a virgin in a cave on December 25, surrounded by shepherds ... the whole bit.
Furthermore, the birth of Christ was essentially a non-issue for the Christian church as it developed over the first four centuries of the Common Era. It wasn't celebrated in most places until nearly the end of the fourth century. It was at that point, when Christianity was proclaimed the religion of the Roman Empire, that the date of the birth of Christ was set as December 25 to line up with the Winter Soltice as well as pagan rituals and celebrations. It was a nice, easy fit, for the Romans had held huge Winter Soltice celebrations and celebrations of the birth of Mithras on December 24 (Mithras Eve) and December 25 (Mithras birth) for years.
Other of the accouterments related to our celebration, like Christmas trees and holly were later additions yet.
The fact is the Christian Christmas was grafted on to a "pagan" celebration nearly 400 years after the birth of Jesus is said to have occurred. And Christians who lived at the end of the 4th century would not know what to make of our Christmas celebrations today.
Furthermore, much of what we consider as essential to the Christmas celebration has secular roots. Fat guys in red suits and drunken office parties and candy canes and egg nog and pine trees and ornaments, and the insanity of decorating one's house with millions of lights -- all of which are now very much part of our Christmas celebration, have nothing to do with the legendary birth of the legendary Jesus.
What does Michael Reagan think it proves to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays"? What does he mean by "Merry Christmas"?
The birth of Jesus has very little to do with Christmas except for those Christians who believe Jesus was actually born in 4 BCE somewhere in Palestine and came to save the world from its sins. These are the people who go to church on Christmas Eve (most churches have given up Christmas Day services as the dedicated, believing faithful don't bother to show up), put stars on top of their Christmas trees -- to make the pagan tree Xtian, I guess, and parade around the neighborhood singing Xmas carols.
And in spite of the fact that a majority of people in this country confess to some form of Christianity, most of that majority do not darken the door of the church even at Xmas. They're too busy celebrating a very secular Christmas.
Thus, there is no "war" on Christmas. That "war" exists only in the frantic, oxygen-deprived minds of people like Michael Reagan. I have never, ever, heard anyone complain about being greeted with "Merry Christmas." It's true that some folks respond with "Happy Hannukah," and there are a few grinches that might say "Bah humbug!" but that doesn't mean they are engaged in a war with everyone who smiles at them and says "Merry Christmas!"
And because for a majority of people in this country, Christians included, Christmas is, in fact, a secular holiday, it should be OK, too, to say "Happy Holidays," or "Hullabaloo," of "Shove that candy cane where the sun don't shine!"
Did you get that last suggestion, Michael?
The state of California is having a budget crisis (not unlike many other states.) How California decided to resolve the problem, at least for the time being, offers a lesson in bureaucratic stupidity.
First off, the guv, the guy you know as movie actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, canned some 10,000 temporary and part-time workers. Secondly, Arnold "ordered the 200,000 permanent employees to be paid only the minimum wage of $6.55 an hour until the legislature passed a crisis-solving budget."
About one week after Arnold's drastic moves, John Chiang, the State Controller, told the guv that his plan was in jeopardy. It seems that the "state payroll records could not be changed to accommodate the cut because they were written in the antiquated COBOL computer language."
The only people who know COBOL are to be found among a few of those part-timers that Schwarzenegger had fired.
La Dee Dah.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Today he's busy trying to get people to boycott The New York Times which he feels is a bad, bad newspaper because it's way too liberal and who needs a way too liberal newspaper in the bad, bad city of New York?
His boycott, as we noted previously, is a project of AIM (Accuracy in Media - which is a misnomer if there ever was one) and you can visit his boycott site here.
Feder would have us believe that The New York Times is in dire straits. It is going down. He claims that advertising revenue is dropping and the paper's stock values are plummeting - "its shares have lost 66% of their value this year."
Why would this be? Feder says part of the reason may be the economy. Duh. It's not like The NYT is the only paper riding rough seas. But there's more to it, says Feder. The paper has seen a steady decline in readership over the past 15 years. Duh. It's not like the same thing isn't happening everywhere. Even in our little central Florida town the local newspaper is in such trouble that it has revisited just about everything it does, including the formatting of the paper, and finally merged with a paper from another nearby town.
That's the story of newspapers all over the country, whether one deems them "liberal" or "conservative."
But Feder sees something bigger here. The New York Times is sinking fast because of its "palpable bias." Feder says "As time goes by, The Times has swung further and further to the left - not just in editorials and commentary, but also in what purports to be news coverage." And that, dear friends, has led to such "disgust" that readers stopped reading it.
Feder, being a right winger and kook, wanted McCain and Palin to win the election. He is really pissed at the Times' "slanted coverage" of this year's presidential campaign, which he claims was "biased, brutish and business as usual. Its reporting here was on par with its coverage of gay 'marriage,' domestic energy exploration, judicial activism, illegal immigration, gun ownership, abortion, taxes, the $700-billion bailout - you name it."
Well, that about covers the right wing's playing field!
Feder is flying blind. He offers no facts to back up his assertions. In fact, as I recall, other writers have argued that The New York Times is, at times, too conservative. I'm one of them.
Feder is just another wingnut with the bolts coming loose. And like loose-bolted wingnuts everywhere, he thinks that if he hollers long and hard enough, what he asks us to take on faith will become reality.
Finally, one might argue that readers aren't quitting on the Times because it is too liberal. The majority of people in this country did elect Barack Obama! Thus, one could argue the reason The New York Times is losing readership is that it's too conservative and no longer in touch with the political beliefs of most of the people in the United States. That argument becomes stronger when one realizes that New York City, where the Times gets most of its readers, is even more liberal than the rest of the country.
So, not only is Feder wrong. He's really wrong.
And that's a good thing. It's also typical.
The TVC, headed by Andrea Lafferty and Lou Sheldon, a daughter-father team, is that absurd, ultra-right wingnut operation that spends millions of dollars of donated money annually to screech and holler about homosexuality mostly, with some whining done about abortion.
The TVC is terribly upset that President-elect Obama may "begin using Executive Orders to undo many of the Bush policies that protect life, national security, and other pro-family concerns."
That's right. Worry, worry, worry. What will we do?
Omigod, it's possible that Planned Parenthood, that evil and murderous abortion mill, is right when it claims that Obama's going to "rescind protections on taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling immediately after he takes office."
Furthermore, cries the TVC, "Obama's transition team is working closely with pro-abortion groups to set priorities on which Bush Executive Orders to reverse. It is likely that Obama will also reverse policies that protect taxpayers from having to fund abortions overseas. In addition, he will probably overturn Bush's prohibition against new embryonic stem cell research."
And all the sane people yelled "Hurrah!" and "It's about time!"
The TVC, though, is in mourning. It's all right, you see, if Bush signs Executive Orders and bypasses Congress to disobey laws he dislikes. It's OK if Bush signs Executive Orders allowing the military and the CIA to torture prisoners. It's OK if Bush signs Executive Orders that allow his corporate cronies to destroy the environment. It's OK if Bush signs Executive Orders approving the use of illegal wiretaps on American citizens.
The TVC has nothing to say about those things. They aren't important.
We wouldn't expect them to, of course, as the TVC is the scum of the religious right, one of the most virulent and hateful groups that claim Jesus as their guide.
TVC epitomizes the darkness of Christian fundamentalism and exposes the hypocrisy of fundamentalist theology.
Where is god when you need her?
This gay Bible is being put together by Max Mitchell, an American film producer, and published by Revision Studios of New Mexico.
It will be named The Princess Diana Bible because Princess Diana did so many "good works."
What makes this a gay Bible? We are given a clue in a preview version which describes the creation of humans as written in Genesis, chapter 2. God does not create Adam and Eve, but Aida and Eve.
"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Aida, and she slept: and he took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from woman, made he another woman, and brought her unto the first. And Aida said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of me. Therefore shall a woman leave her mother, and shall cleave unto her wife: and they shall be one flesh.' And they were both naked, the woman and her wife, and were not ashamed."
Mitchell figures that there are so many different versions of the Bible, gays should be able to have their own version, too. "I got the idea for the Princess Diana Bible from Horror in The Wind." Mitchell directed Horror in The Wind, a science fiction comedy "in which an airborne formula invented by two biogeneticists reverses the world's sexual orientation. ...
"After the world becomes gay, religious people created The Princess Diana Bible, which says that gay is right and straight is a sin. Then they burn all the King James Bibles."
Furthermore, "There are 116 versions of the Bible, why is any of them better than ours?" asks Mitchell.
Needless to say, some Christians, mainly on the right hand of god, are terribly upset. I haven't heard from James Dobson yet, or the Traditional Values Coalition or the American Family Association, but you can bet your bippie they ain't gonna like it!
Some commentators also believe the Princess Diana Bible is "disrespectful to the late Princess..."
Ah so. Should be an interesting few months ahead. First this and I just read that an Atheist Bible is also coming out in 2009 in which God creates Adam and then Adam kills God 'cause he looks like a cow! Joke? Whatever. The Christian Right is gonna come unglued. I'll betcha they even find several OT prophecies that foretold all of this, and that it's definitely one more sign the apocalypse pends.
h/t to Petulant @ shakespearesister.blogspot.com
Alison Flood's article is here.
Word is out that Jeb Bush, erstwhile brother of the current disgraced prezident is considering a run for the U.S. Senate when Mel Martinez relinquishes his seat in 2010.
We do not need another Bush in the government. We had Jeb as governor of Florida and he turned out to be just another right wing ideologue who put cronies into office, cut taxes for the rich, pushed faith-based operations and and fought for vouchers to allow parents to tap public funds to send their kids to private schools.
Jeb was a lousy governor. He would be an even lousier senator!
Worst of all he is a twig from da Bush family. We've allowed two these twigs to mess up the federal government royally! That's enough, already!
He may not be as stupid as his brother, but he's all the more dangerous for that!
But, he did. From mega-church clergyperson Rick Warren who hops around the world doing good things because Jesus told him to.
Here's the story:
"To mark World AIDS Day, Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren is hosting a Civil Forum of Global Health at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Warren will present Bush with the first 'International Medal of PEACE' from the Global PEACE Coalition in recognition of his unprecedented contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases. ... The Bush administration reports that its AIDS initiative helped treat two million people this year living with HIV/AIDS."
If one had X-ray vision, one would have seen that when Bush accepted this medal yesterday with one hand, the other hand would be dripping the blood of literally millions of people who have died because of his stupid, perverse, military mercenary mistakes.
Many think that Bush belongs in jail not on a podium receiving medals for "Peace."
Not only so, but most accounts of this travesty (which highlights what a dim light the Saddleback guy is) fail to note that millions of people were not given assistance for HIV/AIDS because of the religious right's restrictions on the program. This program was coerced and constricted by the theology of fundamentalist Christianity!
Lindsay Beyerstein at majikthise puts it this way:
"Bush is being honored for the PEPFAR program, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, that's the initiative that stipulates that 2/3 of the prevention money should be spent exhorting people in the developing world [to] practice abstinence before marriage and monogamy thereafter. The remaining 1/3 can be spent on condoms, but condoms may not be promoted to young people, whom PEPFAR thinks should be abstinent.
"In 2006, 56% of the money set aside for the prevention of sexual transmission of HIV was spent on abstinence only propaganda programs."
Not only so, but any organization that promoted condom use or abortion was automatically out of the loop. Thus, Planned Parenthood, probably the largest and most significant provider of information and assistance with regard to HIV/AIDS in Africa and other developing countries, along with other similar organizations, were not given any funds.
In truth, millions of people were refused assistance because of the religious right's meddling in government policy. When the Bush administration claims that their AIDS program "helped treat two million people this year living with HIV/AIDS," we don't have a clue as to what that means.
We do know, however, that the Bush administration's so-called "initiative" was pretty much of a joke so far as actually making a difference, and in many cases made the problem worse by refusing to give out needed information and by refusing to allow distribution of condoms, because of the insistence of the religious right that abstinence be the guiding principle of the program.
Maybe someone could tell Warren of Saddleback to put together a new medal for the Smirking Chimp: "America's War-monger." That could be followed by another more in tune with reality: "HIV/AIDS Failure."
Derek Black, 19, ran for and won a spot with the Palm Beach Republican Party. Black is the "son of a former Ku Klux Klan grand dragon ... and ... is now fighting his own party, which is trying to deny him his seat."
Defending Black is none other than America's favorite racist "and former KKK grand wizard David Duke."
"Derek's daddy, Don Black, runs Stormfront.org, the oldest continually running discussion board for the 'White Nationalist Community.' When he was 12, Derek contributed to a kids page on Stormfront and today helps Daddy Don with his podcasts on the "Racialist discussion borad for pro-White activists and anyone else interested in White survival.'"
You may wish to send a note to the Palm Beach Republican Party, reminding them that what goes around comes around. Tell them they are a bunch of nogoodniks who must take at least part of the blame for the election of the idiot George W. Bush in 2000. Tell them that Republicans have pandered to the racist element in our country for so long that racists naturally gravitate to the Republican Party. Tell them they should keep Derek in their ranks for he represents a good portion of their base. Tell them they can't deny their dark and devious and evil past by pretending all of a sudden they don't want an openly-racist character to play in their back yard.
The original Pensito Review article and a humorous follow-up can be found here.
There is a new Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. It cost $621 million. It is, according to McClatchy, "a grand monument-like building" of "marble-and-stone." It is expected to become a major attraction for the 3 million people who visit Washington, D.C. each year.
But there are a couple of problems.
Senator Jim DeMint, a Repugnican from South Carolina, naturally, toured the center back in September. DeMint is an ultra-conservative religious right wingnut who believes the U.S. was created by God and therefore he became upset when he saw that the national motto was inscribed as "E. Pluribus Unum" (from many, one), rather than "In God We Trust."
DeMint further thinks that the center fails to note the importance of the Christian religion in America's history. It doesn't give enough attention to "the faith of the Founding Fathers and other prominent figures."
Too many of the center's displays are "left-leaning and in some cases distort our true history," said this moronic congressman. He whined that the "most prominent display proclaims faith not in God, but in government."
Other Repugnican morons, such as Senators Tom Coburn (OK) and Roger Wicker (MS) as well as a Repugnican Representative from Virginia, Randy Forbes, also protested this utter failure to show America's trust in God in the center.
These idiots complained enough that those in charge plan to make some changes at a cost of $150,000.
The level of idiocy among the members of our Congress stuns the mind. Just when I think it can't get any worse, it gets worse. What's even more frightful is that these idiots were elected by the people of their respective states.
Does no one understand either American history or our Constitution anymore? Our Constitution and Bill of Rights says absolutely NOTHING about trust in God. It does hold up those documents as the basis for our government.
Can we have some sort of test which every person attempting to gain admission to Congress must pass before they can throw their hat in the ring?
The entire McClatchy article is here.
Speaking about incidents in which atheists allow themselves to suffer abuse without standing up to the abusers, the Daily Kos has a story of a presentation given to air force officers in England. This presentation was camouflaged as a talk on suicide prevention. It was, in fact, a propaganda lecture telling air force officers that a life is not worth living unless it is spent fighting against atheists, materialists (naturalists), and evolutionists.
(See: Daily Kos: Creationism: The Latest in Military Suicide Prevention.)
This slide tells the theme of the presentation:
This is a classic "us" verses "them" propaganda piece. Where "us", the "good guys", the ones who have lives worth living believe in God, and "them", "the enemy", "those the good guys are truly at war against", are those who do not believe in God.
The Daily Kos referenced above ends with a declaration that those who are responsible for this presentation should face trial.
This 'Purpose-Driven Airmen' mandatory presentation is the epitome of military-sanctioned 'hatred of the other' and those commanding its viewing must face trial by General Courts Martial."
They are entirely correct. If this were a story about an air force officer, not in uniform, expressing a private opinion – even if he does so before an audience as a guest speaker – then the only legitimate response would be in the form of words of condemnation and private actions – though both words and private actions should express the harshest condemnation.
As it stands, the people who used their air force authority to command attendance at this presentation should be treated no differently than if they had given a presentation in which "them" were the Jews and the nation of Israel, or "them" were blacks corrupting the pure and wholesome blood of the white race.
This case represents an abuse of authority and, unless it is punished, delivers the message that the official government position (the position that the government has the right to order those in uniform to learn) is that atheists are, in fact, the enemy, and deservedly regarded as such by all military officers.
We have a right to demand that the prestige and authority of the U.S. government not be put behind a message of hate such as this – and to punish those who use their authority as officers in the military to execute such a campaign of hate.
Yet, the question remains whether the people responsible for this presentation will get the punishment they deserve. It is a question about whether those concerned with right and wrong in this case care enough to demand punishment.
Please consider contacting the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and ask them how you can best help them ensure that justice is done in this case.
[General JC Christian, patriot, has a very funny post about all of this here. As the general says, "...who would want to commit suicide after learning we're a theistic nation and that the soviets were a bunch of damned atheists?]
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Damn, this "war" on Christmas is so tough.
The country is loaded with pagans, and liberals, and so many other trash-types, that Christmas just ain't like it used to be.
Don't you remember when we would all climb into the wagon and the horses would pull us through the snowy fields to the little white church with the steeple, and then after the services were over, we'd continue on, all the while singing carols like "Silent Night," to Grandma's house where we'd gather around the beautifully decorated real tree and daddy would say a prayer of thanks for the birth of baby Jesus and then the children would quietly open presents while the adults would smile and drink coffee laced with real cream?
You don't remember that? Well! That's what Christmas is all about! And that's why we greet friends and neighbors and even strangers, heck, even people we know don't know Jesus, with a hearty "Merry Christmas," you know, just to show them that we, at least, know the reason for the season!
It's just that it's getting harder these days 'cause the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and MoveOn and the Huffington Post and The New York Times and Talk 2 Action, and Media Matters, and ... well, there are all kinds of atheistic, anti-God groups out there who are fighting a war on Christmas and most of all they want to take Christ out of Christmas and make it Xmas. They want to make everybody stop saying "Merry Christmas" and stores to stop playing Christmas carols, and good Christians to stop putting up creches in front of courthouses!
But we've got just the thing with which to fight back! Buy the "It's OK to say Merry Christmas!" button or glossy sticker available at the American Family Association store here.
Don't let the pagans win! Show your faith! Stand firm. Say "Merry Christmas" to everybody! Demand the stores where you shop have someone out front wishing customers a "Merry Christmas." If the store refuses, or they have someone greeting customers with "Happy holidays!" boycott the store.
Then pin on your button and wear it proudly! Wear it everywhere! Wear it in the shower when you're singing carols (women can stick the pin through their ear lobes; men better pin it to a towel). Wear it to bed. Wear it to work. Wear it to your indictment. Wear it to church.
Jesus will love you and you will be rewarded with the Christian Medal of Honor for heroically defending the faith in the war on Christmas and you'll probably go to heaven where you can wear your "Merry Christmas" button and your Christian Medal of Honor as you parade around the Golden Arches. Oh, wait a minute. The Golden Arches are the other place. I should have said golden streets.
Oh...hold on, I'm just getting a fax from the strangest area code...777 something. Here it comes. Holy Crap! It looks like a business letter. The corporate name is "Heaven, LLC." Underneath that is a logo - the Star of David. Uh, oh. It says:
"You are quite an idiot. In heaven we do not have golden streets. They are bronze. And nobody wears medals up here because we are all heroes.
"Furthermore, we don't understand this "war" on Christmas at all.
"We don't celebrate Christmas here. We celebrate Hannukah!
"So 'Happy Holidays" is fine because "holiday" means "holy day," and that way everyone can have a good time during the winter solstice.
"Yours for all eternity,
"J.C. (for God)"
The niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Alveda King, is a "Pastoral Associate" of Priests for Life. She figures prominently in the "African American outreach" of Priests for Life.
According to Wikipedia, King "is currently a Senior Fellow at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a conservative 'think-tank' in Washington, D.C. She is a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and the founder of King for America.
To better understand Dr. Alveda King, note that she received her doctorate degree from Saint Anselm College. Saint Anselm is a Benedictine school and is classified by the Princeton Review as one of the "Colleges with a Conscience." She travels the country speaking at Pro-Life rallies, and endorsed the mossback, Sam Brownback, for the 2008 Republican nomination.
Dr. Alveda King is momentarily furious. She is specifically pissed at the Planned Parenthood organization. The Indiana branch of Planned Parenthood is selling gift certificates in $25 increments. According to PP of Indiana, these gift certificates "can be used for everything from birth control to $58 examinations that include breast exams and pap tests. Men who receive healthcare at Planned Parenthood can use them too."
Planned Parenthood offers men screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as HIV tests and general prostate exams.
When asked if these gift certificates could be used for abortions, PP said yes, but that isn't their purpose. Chrystal Struben-Hall, Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said "They are really intended for preventative healthcare. We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates so it's for whatever people feel they need the services for most."
Sounds reasonable and helpful.
Not to Alveda King. "To give someone a gift card from the nation's largest abortion business is to give death for Christmas," said Alveda. "Planned Parenthood really should call these 'King Herod certificates' after the Roman ruler who slaughtered tiny babies in his vain attempt to kill the baby Jesus."
Well, Alveda obviously isn't aware that Herod did no such thing, but that's a minor point. I guess when you've decided that abortion for any reason is bad, bad, bad, and have concluded that god is on your side, you can stretch the truth a little bit.
And Alveda, certain of her righteousness, is decimating the truth when she claims Planned Parenthood "is defiling the celebration of our Savior's birth."
It's this kind of rhetoric that, being so hateful, ends up so harmful. Even though most scientists and a majority of people in this country believe life begins at birth, there should be room for disagreement and discussion. To call abortion "murder" begs the question and shuts the door to engagement.
And to imply that Planned Parenthood is giving gift certificates to be used for abortions is to color the truth with King's particular prejudice.
The truth is it's a wonderful thing what the Indiana branch of Planned Parenthood is doing. There are many "newly unemployed and uninsured Hoosiers" who will find the certificates a "practical gift option."
As Struben-Hall said, "People are making really tough decisions about putting gas in their car and food on their table, so we know that many women especially put healthcare at the bottom of their list to do."
Planned Parenthood is trying to help. Before Alveda King sticks her self-righteous neck into the mix, she needs to be willing to accept and raise every single baby born into a situation where its basic needs cannot be provided.
Until then, Dr. King, shut up!
Planned Parenthood of Indiana is here.
Alfonso Chardy, writing for the Miami Herald, tells the tale of illegal immigrants, who, hurt by our ailing economy among other things, are heading back from whence they came.
Chardy says millions of undocumented immigrants are "facing new challenges brought on by slim prospects for legalization, more aggressive federal enforcement and a worsening economy." Not only are many of these returning to their homes but fewer are attempting to make the arduous trek to the United States in the first place.
No doubt many Americans would cheer such news. But this reverse migration has some less than desirable side effects.
"Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean report a reduction in remittances -- money sent home from the United States. That money is critical to the survival of families and the success of local civic projects. Border communities that once thrived as way stations for those heading north are now little more than ghost towns."
Not only so, but "While the potential ramifications of a reduced flow of immigrants may not be evident in a recession, labor shortages could emerge once the economy improves." Chardy says that last year, "at the height of the immigration reform debate, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez warned that without enough foreign workers, landscaping, farms and healthcare companies would suffer."
"'We will see rotting fruit,' Gutierrez said in June 2007. 'We will see lawns that don't get cared for. We will see patients who don't get cared for.'"
The immigration debate has often focused on the perceived harm done by illegal immigrants, with less attention paid to the services they provide, and the jobs they are willing to do which are shunned by more affluent Americans.
As our economy improves - which it will - the immigration debate may take on added dimensions as jobs go wanting for workers. Maybe then our Congress will come up with an immigration plan that works for all.
But don't count on it.
Read all of Chardy's article here. There's another article of interest (where the above cartoon came from) here.
But I forgot. They're lawyers. Oops.
Sherwood Ross, writes at LA Progressive that some of our federal judges have been "Accepting All-Expense Paid Junkets to Right-Wing Conferences."
This, according to Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.
Ross refers to Velvel's 2008 book of essays which describes how federal judges have attended "corporation-sponsored conferences at posh watering holes, at times on the very subjects of cases they have pending before them."
Velvel says that at these conferences, "judges not only hear right wing views propagandized to them, but also hobnob with, speak with, drink with, play golf with, and sometimes even meet on Boards with right wing figures, right wing lawyers, and others who have pronounced right wing views.
"The conferences are paid for by rich right wing foundations -- (Sarah) Scaife, of Pittsburgh, (Charles) Kock, of Arlington, Virginia etc. -- and by wealthy, powerful companies involved regularly in litigation where there side is, at minimum, the conservative side."
Not only so, but Velvel also charges that judges "have been known to go back home and alter rulings on cases on the issues discussed at a one-sided conference."
This is, of course, corruption, pure and simple. And it is just too damn sad. But it is not surprising. The country has been in a moral and ethical free-fall for the past eight years and that free-fall has had nothing to do with abortion or homosexuality. It has evolved out of pure, unadulterated greed and taken the shape of a war the rich have been waging, silently and behind the scenes, on the poor and the middle-class.
Sherwood Ross' entire article is here.