Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arsonists hit Sarah Palin's home church

[Photo by Stephen Nowers]
It happened yesterday evening. Unknown miscreants started a fire at the entrance of the Wasilla Bible Church, which then spread inward. It appears five women and possibly two children in the church were alerted by a fire alarm and escaped unharmed.

Damage is being estimated at $1 million.

An investigation is underway by a "multi-agency task force," but as yet no motive has been uncovered. When pastor Larry Koon was asked whether the church had received any threats recently, he avoided the question. "There are so many variables," he said, "I don't want to comment in that direction."

Governor Palin made a statement in which she apologized ahead of time if it turned out the fire was in any way a response to "undeserved negative attention" from her vice presidential campaign.

While we don't want to make light of this act of domestic terror, assuming it was arson, we would chide the governor for that cheesy remark. Any negative attention she received, she deserved in spades!

Palin's office also commented that "Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good."

We'll have to wait and see if the governor's faith is to be rewarded or if it is misdirected.

New advert campaign for AA?

Just couldn't resist this from Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe here.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks to Der Spiegel

Billboard bimbos fight war on Xmas

[Photo by Robert Yosay]

The "war" on Xmas continues.

This story comes directly from the front lines in Ohio where the battle rages! But it appears the christianists are gaining over the forces of Satan. The forces of righteousness are focusing on atheist, agnostic and "other" grinches who would take away your "right" to say "Merry Christmas!"

It all began with two ladies, Joanne Brown and Linda Bennett, who got a bit miffed when they realized that too many people in their Ohio town were greeting them with "Happy Holidays," rather than "Merry Christmas."

They were soon joined by Judi Hanna, Laurie Kramer and Pat See, and began a campaign to raise money to put up billboards with the messages, "I miss hearing you say Merry Christmas," and "Why have you stopped saying Merry Christmas?" and each message was signed, "Jesus."

Is that sick or what?

In 2007 and 2008 they collected almost $6,000 to erect seven billboards! And they are proud of their work. Christmas should be "Christ-centered," they believe. If Jesus should come walking down a street in Ohio, the ladies want us to be ready to greet him with "Happy birthday, Jesus!"


No doubt these nice christianist ladies think they are doing a good thing. They believe, as Ms. Hanna said, the billboards are a way of feeding "those poor in spirit," and help people understand the "reason for the season."

It's just aggravating that we have to go through this sentimental, pious claptrap every year when most people are well aware that Christmas has become one of most secular of holidays and don't give a damn! It doesn't matter how many billboards these godly ladies put up in Ohio or any other state, Christmas is not going to get more "Christ-centered," or religious.

And, for non-christians, said billboards are often an irritation, like an itch you can't scratch.

So give 'em up, ladies! Go to church. Light candles. Pray. Sing "Happy birthday, Jesus." Sing carols. Have a very merry Christmas.

And when you go home, leave your sanctimonious need to display your faith on grotesque billboards at the church.

Richard Cizik, evangelical leader, gets religion

The National Association of Evangelicals was at one time a relatively moderate organization which could abide within its ranks some difference of opinion and theological diversity.

All that has changed. Theses days, a more descriptive and accurate name for the NAE would be the National Association of Fundamentalists.

Richard Cizik has been "fired."

Well, it is reported that he resigned his position as vice president for governmental affairs because, as NAE president Leith Anderson put it in a letter to NAE board members, there has arisen "a loss of trust in his [Cizik's] credibility as a spokesperson among leaders and constituencies."

Here's the translation: On December 2, Cizik appeared on NPR's "Fresh Air," where had the audacity to admit that he voted for Barack Obama (in Virginia's primary) and that he thought it was OK for Christians to vote for pro-choice candidates as well as candidates who supported same-sex marriage.

Even worse was Cizik's confession that his mind was changing and that while he did not at this time support same-sex marriage, he did support civil unions for gays.


Cizik, of course, is no longer considered a "good" Christian by the "true believers" affiliated with the National Association of Fundamentalists, aka NAE.

Obviously, Cizik has denied god's truth regarding abortion and homosexuality as it is not laid out in the Bible, but he also thinks there might be something to this thing called "global warming." Yup! What a creep, huh?

But it was the same-sex civil union bit that got him relieved of his position.

Perhaps Wendy Wright, who presides over the extremist christianist wingnut group, Concerned Women for America, said it best. What Cizik believes, said Wendy, is "not anywhere close to biblical orthodoxy, traditional Christian theology, nor the bulk of Evangelicals who ground their faith in the Bible."

Ingrid Schlueter, one of the "Limbaughs" on the right, and co-host of Crosstalk America, got truly nasty, and forgot all that her savior taught in his brief time upon the earth. What Cizik said, she said, exemplifies the moral decay in our great land. "The moral anarchy in America worsens daily do (sic) the refusal of evangelical Christians to stand for biblical truth in all areas of life. Those who are at war with God, the author of life, should be publicly confronted by evangelical Christians. Instead, they are aided and abetted in their evil by craven leaders like Cizik."

Whew! Cizik. Evil. Craven leader!

"Love your neighbor as ourself." "Do unto others." "Turn the other cheek." "Forgive seventy times seven."

Don't you just love this christianist religion? So long as you're anti-abortion; so long as you hate homosexuals; so long as you deny global warming, you can call yourself as born-again, saved by Jesus, going to heaven Christian. You don't have to walk the walk or do anything that Jesus said defined those who followed him.

It appears that Cizik finally came to his senses - more or less. One wonders what the hell took him so long!

Peggy Noonan on how George Bush kept us safe

Not so long ago, Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal suggested that whatever faults George W. Bush may have, at least he kept America safe.

"...the one big thing he had to do after 9/11, the single thing he absolutely had to do, was keep it from happening again. And so far he has. ...

"We have not been attacked since 9/11. Someone--someones--did something right."

Noonan's comments are old news and, ultimately, what Noonan thinks is not appropos about anything, much less George W. Bush.

But people do read what she says, even though, in this case, she lost her way somewhere out in the proverbial left field.

As Blue Texan said, writing at Firedoglake, Yeah, Bush kept us "safe," "Unless you lived in New Orleans after Katrina. . . or were killed by anthrax. . . or were shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan."

Noonan neglects to mention that Bush and Company failed utterly to protect the country on 9/11/2001. And it wasn't because they had not been informed such attacks were imminent. As Blue Texan points out, "the 9/11 Commission concluded that 6 of the 10 major missed opportunities to prevent 9/11 occurred under Mr. Kept Us Safe's watch." Bush and Company were advised specifically in the summer of 2001 that bin Laden might use airplanes to attack the U.S., and they blew off the warnings!

However those facts work themselves out historically and however the characters involved are called to account for their perfidy, the pressing questions now are: What's the situation in 2008/2009? How "safe" are we?

George and the neocons continue to blather about how they brought "democracy" to Iraq and helped stabilize that country and got rid of the evil Saddam Hussein, and the Middle East is a much better place and isn't it wonderful!

Thus they try to soothe our anxieties by muttering platitudes as to how we're so much safer now than we were pre-9/11 and pre-war in Iraq.

The truth is the opposite.

Ron Suskind, in his book, The One Percent Doctrine, tells how, as American tanks rolled through Baghdad, Americans had identified an important al Qaeda operative, Yusef al-Ayeri. Not only was al-Ayeri "behind a Web site, al-Nida, that U.S. investigators had long felt carried some of the most specialized analysis and coded directives about al Qaeda's motives and plans,

"He was also the anonymous author of two extraordinary pieces of writing--short books, really, that had recently moved through cyberspace, about al-Qaeda's underlying strategies. The Future of Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula After the Fall of Baghdad, written as the United States prepared its attack, said that an American invasion of Iraq would be the best possible outcome for al Qaeda, stoking extremism throughout the Persian Gulf and South Asia, and achieving precisely the radicalizing quagmire that bin Laden had hoped would occur in Afghanistan.

"A second book, Crusader's War, outlined a tactical model for fighting the American forces in Iraq, including 'assassination and poisoning the enemy's food and drink,' remotely triggered explosives, suicide bombings, and lightning strike ambushes. It was the playbook."

The neocon dream began to fall apart soon after the invasion of Iraq. Bush and the neocons never considered seriously the possible negative consequences of their military exploits in the Middle East. While some of them, namely Cheney and Rumsfeld, had spent time in the Middle East, even cozying up to Saddam Hussein when it was to our advantage, they seemed to have been so blinded by ideology that they simply ignored the probable outgrowth of the seeds they planted, or they didn't care.

Then there are those who argue it was all about the oil, anyway. None of them gave a damn about democracy! None of them give a damn about the Middle East!

Whatever the motivation, the invasion of Iraq produced the reverse of what they had dreamed; it became their worse nightmare. It will, as historians write of this period, mark them as the creators of nightmares in which morning never comes!

While Saddam and bin Laden eyed each other from afar with undisguised hatred, the United States, under George W. Bush, proceeded to answer bin Laden's prayers.

Suskind puts it this way:

"One hundred fifty thousand U.S. troops in the center of the Arab world was a jihadist recruiting tool of almost unfathomable magnetism. Terrorist recruitment was on the rise, visibly and markedly, across the Arab world. CIA reports indicated that the madrassas in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iran were overflowing, as were contributions to radical clerics and their operations. Images flashed to millions each day by Al Jazeera of U.S. tanks in Baghdad and Tikrit, and the carnage that was now Iraq, were dissuading young Arab men--in Iraq and across the Gulf--from standing on the sidelines. They were joining the global fight against the 'crusader' Bush and his infidel army as the cause of their generation."

Bush had lied to the American people about Saddam's WMDs, his nuclear program, his threat to the United States, and his relationship to terrorists.

But now - again from Suskind, "there was, finally, a connection between Iraq and the broader 'war on terror.' It was a catalytic relationship, like gasoline on a fire."

Unfortunately for the U.S. and the Iraqis, it's not over yet. And Peggy Noonan, you were and are so very wrong!

In 2008, as Bush prepares to crawl back to Texas, leaving behind the smoking remains of what was once a powerful and prosperous civilization, we, the people of the United States, hunker down, knowing that we are more vulnerable, as a nation, than ever before.

For that we can only thank George W. Bush and his friends for whom failure is the name of the game.

Crooks and Liars has an excellent take on Noonan's article and Bush, pre-9/11, here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama & Rod Blagojevich

Persons wishing to gain perspective on the attempts of the mainstream media to somehow tie Barack Obama to the corruption of Rod Blagojevich in spite of the fact that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has said there is NO evidence that Obama was involved in any wrongdoing, should read this article by Jamison Foser at Media Matters.

Here's the first two paragraphs:

"To anyone who lived through the media feeding frenzy of the 1990s, during which the nation's leading news organizations spent the better part of a decade destroying their own credibility by relentlessly hyping a series of non-scandals, the past few days, in which the media have tried to shoehorn Barack Obama into the Rod Blagojevich scandal, have been sickeningly familiar.

"Whenever reporters think -- or want you to think -- they've uncovered a presidential scandal, they waste little time in comparing it to previous controversies. Yesterday, CNN's Rick Sanchez tried desperately to get the phrase 'Blagogate' to stick -- the latest in a long and overwhelmingly annoying post-Watergate pattern of ham-handed efforts to hype a scandal by appending the suffix '-gate' to the end of a word."

Those of us who knew Sanchez when he tarnished the airwaves in south Florida expect no less than some seedy, sordid attempt to exploit a non-issue so as to better feather his nest at CNN. But he's just one pitiful example of what Mr. Jamison describes as the ongoing perfidy of news organizations that find it easier to create a scandal than to ferret out the truth.

Here's the link to Jamison's article.

Rick Warren and what to do with the bad guys

Rick Warren, pastor of the noted and increasingly notorious Saddleback Church, has a new book on the market called The Purpose of Christmas.

On December 3, Warren appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" to promote the book and exercise his well-honed theological expertise for the glory of god and all those who decided they had nothing better to do than listen to three bozos discuss the reason for the season.

Hannity, being a "good" Christian, drooled all over Warren with sappy comments like "...this is a great book."

To which Warren responded brightly, "Thank you."

It went on like that for awhile and then Warren told Hannity "...we've got to remember why Jesus came to earth."

Hannity responded, "Well, it was for the salvation of man's soul and reconciliation to God."

[There's that "soul" business again. Again, caught off guard, I checked the bottom of my shoes but my soles were just fine. Ah, yes. Different kind of "soul." Have you ever seen one? Do you got soul? Is the body separate from the soul? Where doth the soul go when the body dies? So many questions, so little time.]

Warren, Hannity and Colmes weren't having any of that theological talk, though. So it was back to Christmas and how busy everyone was and Hannity suggested "we don't really stand back and reflect a lot. And this book makes you reflect and think of the real purpose and meaning of life and things."

I like that "things." What "things"?

"Christmas is God's gift to you," Warren intoned. "God has given us a gift in Jesus Christ. And people don't understand: it's for our benefit. One of the things that says, 'For unto you is born this day a savior.' They say, 'Well, I don't need a savior.'"

Pfft! says Warren. God wouldn't have sent Jesus if we didn't need a savior - "because he wouldn't have wasted his time."

So it went. Blah, blah, blah.

Colmes entered the fray by announcing he was Jewish and suggested that maybe everyone didn't need to "go that route" - the Jesus route.

Aw, but "Jesus Christ came for everybody," said the pastor.

Colmes wondered if someone who didn't accept Jesus would get to heaven.

Here's where Warren took the easy way out. "I'm not an authority on that, but I believe Jesus is. And everybody's betting their life on something Jesus said, 'I am the way.' I'm betting that he's not a liar. I'm betting that he told the truth."

Ah so. Warren says he's not an authority but immediately proceeds to pontificate that if Jesus said he was the ONLY WAY it must be true. Sheesh!

It should be noted that this wee saying of Jesus is found only in the Gospel of John which was written almost a hundred years after the legendary Jesus left the scene by someone who never met Jesus, and yet was able somehow to put long theological dialogues into Jesus' mouth, none of which were ever mentioned by the writers of the Synoptic Gospels! In fact, 90% of the Gospel of John does not appear in the Synoptics!

They bantered a bit more and Warren continued to hold forth about issues on which he is not an authority.

Then the shit hit the fan, so to speak. Hannity said that everyone has sinned and that "there's always going to be human evil," and asked how do you get rid of it. "Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, wants to wipe Israel off the map, is seeking nuclear weapons."

And then, "I think we need to take him out."

Warren said, "Yes." And the reason, claims this biblical pundit, is that "the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to be stopped. ..."

Hannity asks if that should be done by force.

Warren says, "Well, if necessary. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God put government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."

Oh damn! It appears that Rick Warren is just another religious hack of the christianist stripe, perched on the far right of the fundy wingnuts! The only difference between him and say John Hagee, is that he tries to do a few good works, which are not necessary for salvation, you understand, but make him look better to the Trinitarian god(s) in paradise..

The Bible, you see, says lot of things, but it doesn't say one can't negotiate with evil. In fact, many biblical stories relate quite clearly how the "chosen" folks, God's people, negotiated with evildoers.

So what the hell is Warren talking about? What he has done is wrap his religious beliefs into a political ideology.

Matt Duss at the Wonk Room at Think Progress, figured Warren was basing this nonsense on Romans 13. So he contacted Warren's office and asked exactly where the Bible says that "God puts government on earth to punish evildoers." They told him they'd have to get back to him on that.

Romans 13 says nothing close to what Warren claimed. Paul is telling the faithful they should "submit to governing authorities," because government is from God for the well-being of all. Not many Christians believe that, but then there's a lot in the New Testament they don't believe.

As Duss says, "This [Romans 13] has nothing to do with invading foreign countries and killing their leaders...

"In any case, if this were a conversation between an Iranian TV host and an ayatollah in which they discussed scriptural justifications for 'taking out' high ranking members of the U.S. government, you'd probably see Sean Hannity running the clip on his show -- while slowly shaking his head in pious disapproval -- as evidence of what crazy extremists those Iranians are. As it is, they'll probably be running this on Iranian TV as evidence of what crazy extremists those Americans are."

Duss reports that Warren's office did call back [surprise, surprise!] to confirm Warren was referencing Romans 13. He suggested to Warren's minions that Romans 13 does not say what Warren said it says. Again they said they'd check and get back to him.

I think I'd not buy Warren's Christmas book. If this interview is any indication, it will be filled with pious platitudes and scriptural quotes and sentimental seasonal stuff, none of which will be spiritually or otherwise fulfilling.

And what is the difference between an Iranian ayatollah and a Rick Warren?

The Satanic Salute

I'll bet you didn't know that the above hand sign is the sign of Satan and comes straight from the Satanic Bible!

Jesus! This is scary! So many "Satanists" out there.

You can read all about it here.

And here's what George W. Bush thought of it!

Roman Catholic gay schizophrenia

Item 1:

Cardinal "Rat" Ratzinger, known now as Pope Benedict XVI, is classically homophic - that is to say he believes homosexuals are fundamentally disordered. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, who recently presented a report from the Congregation for Catholic Education titled "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood," represents, obviously, the Pope's position.

Cardinal Grocholewski is said to have described homosexuality as "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound."

It is unsurprising, then, that these new "Guidelines" place, not only homosexuals, but those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" out of contention for the Roman Catholic priesthood. In order to determine if potential seminarians are homosexuals or have these "deep-seated" tendencies, they will be required to undergo psychological screening.

Item 2:

At the end of last month, the Vatican issued a new directive in a pamphlet banning Roman Catholic priests from using "heterosexist" language in their churches. The purpose of this ban is to refrain from offending gay worshipers.

The pamphlet or leaflet advised priests and worshipers to be welcoming to gay people, and thus should "Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful - a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain."

Item 3:

Various studies done over a period of many years suggest that a fair percentage of Roman Catholic clergy (priests, bishops, cardinals, etc.) are homosexuals and a fair percentage of those carry on an active sex life.

The exact percentage is difficult if not impossible to determine, but estimates of homosexual Catholic clergy range from 25% to 50%.

A schizophrenic summary:

The Roman Church believes that homosexuality is a disorder, "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound" and a person suffering from that particular disorder is so flawed that he cannot serve the church as a priest.

At the same time, upwards of 50% of Catholic clergy are so flawed and in light of Vatican guidelines should immediately resign their ministry for they are deviants and have been deemed as unworthy of priestly orders.

It is these gay clergy, along with "normal" clergy, who have now been instructed to refrain from using language in their churches which would somehow denigrate their gay members.

I asked one homosexual priest what he thought about all of this and he looked at me with wide, terrified eyes, threw his hands up in the air, and ran away screaming "Arrrrrrrgh!!!!"

Seasons Greetings!

This photo/painting card was done by Chris Lambright and Randy Pugh at Give their blog a look. They do beautiful work.

And Seasons Greetings to all!

Christmas songs written by Jewish songwriters

Nate Bloom has done extensive research on Christmas songs written by Jews. He says "the main reason that Jewish songwriters wrote and still write Christmas or holiday songs was and is commercial. A hit Christmas song means a lot of sales. [What he doesn't say is that very few new Christmas songs are accepted by the public and many singers are simply not interested in them.]

No doubt Bloom is right, though, when he says that Jewish as well as non-Jewish songwriters we "motivated by commercial considerations. They were professional tunesmiths ... and ... turned out songs on every imaginable topic."

And yet, "it would be a mistake to say that an important part of the spirit of Christmas--'good will to all'--was not in the air as both American Jewish and American non-Jewish songwriters penned their popular holiday tunes. Given the opportunities Jewish songwriters found in America--and the horrors they left behind in Europe--they must have felt an openness towards the Christmas spirit that their Old World forebears didn't."

Some of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish songwriters (and that seems especially appropriate as the legendary baby Jesus was Jewish!):

1. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - 1945 by Mel Torme and Bob Wells. Both were Jewish.

2. Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed the World) - 1984. Midge Ure and Bob Geldorf for the "Live Aid" concert. Geldorf, raised a Roman Catholic, had Jewish ancestry.

3. Holly Jolly Christmas - 1962 - Johnny Marks. Marks studied music in Paris after graduating from Colgate University. He became a "prominent radio producer. He had a heroic World War II combat record, winning the Bronze Star and four battle stars. He wrote three of the most popular Christmas songs ever.

4. Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer - 1939 (written as a poem) - Johnny Marks.

5. Santa Baby - 1953 - Joan Ellen Javits.

6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - First sung in 1934 - Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie. Coots was Jewish.

7. I'll Be Home for Christmas - 1943 - Walter Kent and Buck Ram. (Huge hit for Bing Crosby)

8. Silver Bells - 1951 - Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Written for the Bob Hope movie, The Lemon Drop Kid.

9. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - 1963 - George Wyle and Edward Poal. Wyle was Jewish.

10..Sleigh Ride - 1950 - Leroy Anderson and Mitchell Parish. Parish, the lyricist was Jewish.

11. Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! - 1945 - Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (One of the best and most famous songwriting teams of all time!)

12. There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays - 1954 - Bob Allen and Al Stillman. Stillman was Jewish.

13. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - 1958 - Johnny Marks.

14. White Christmas - 1940 - Irving Berlin.

15. Winter Wonderland - 1934 - Richard B. Smith and Felix Bernard. Bernard was Jewish.

Feds hiding financial records

The Federal Reserve has handed out more than $2 trillion in "emergency loans."

Let's put it this way: The Federal Reserve, through 11 lending programs, has doled out $2 trillion of our tax money to unknown persons and institutions.

And the Feds are not going to tell you who got the money!

Bloomberg News asked the Federal Reserve to provide the data: names and places; the who and when. The Feds said no way! So, on Nov. 7, Bloomberg News filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act.

On Dec. 8, the Federal Reserve said it wasn't required to provide that information. And to do so might cause "substantial, multiple harms," according to the secretary for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors.

Isn't this our money? Remember that phrase, "We, the people"?

What a crock! And I'll bet you thought you lived in a democracy!

The entire Bloomberg article is here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A field trip to the Creation Museum

SAIU trip to the Creation Museum from Secular Alliance on Vimeo.

The Secular Alliance at Indiana University took a field trip to the Creation Museum and made a video of what they experienced.

The video is worth watching for two reasons. It will kill any further curiosity you might have about the Museum, and you will be amazed and appalled that this kind of a monument to ignorance and superstition should even exist in 2008.

It is truly sad that so many people are willing to be deceived into believing Creationist crap!

And anyone bringing their young children to the Creation Museum should be arrested for child abuse!

h/t to PZMyers at Pharyngula

Bush and the Bible

No beating around the bush, George does not believe the Bible is "literally" true.

Oh, boy! I can just hear his base blathering about how Bush fooled them and they should have known and he's probably drinking again and it's no wonder the economy is in the tank, and how could they have been such fools, and they wish he could run for prezident again so they could vote against him at least once!

Cynthia McFadden interviewed da Bush on ABC's Nightline. She asked him if he believed the Bible was literally true.

"You know. Probably not. ... No, I'm not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is ... has got ... You know, the important lesson is 'God sent a son.'"

Evidently, George didn't realize how deep he had stepped into "it," and continued to ramble about how "Is is hard for me to justify or prove the mystery of the Almighty in my life. All I can just tell you is that I got back into religion and I quit drinking shortly thereafter and I asked for help. ... I was a one-step program guy."

It got worse, from say, James Dobson's point of view. Da Bush said he thinks the god to whom he prays is the same god as those with different religious beliefs. "I do believe," he said, "there is an almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people."

Mein gott! He doesn't even mention Jesus as the only way of salvation!

And there's more to baffle the base. Da Bush, in a crushing blow to biblical literalista and creationistas said while he believed God created everything, that creation is not "incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."

He is, as he admitted, a "simple" prezident, and if he wasn't in charge of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth, no one would care what he believes about anything, but in 2000 and 2004, the christianists, convinced he shared their religious insanity, jumped on his bandwagon and got out the vote, proudly proclaiming da Bush was one of them.

Now it looks like the simpleton fooled them all - Dobson, Hagee, Reed, Parlsey, Warren, Osteen, Robertson, Falwell, Wildmon, Perkins, Sheldon and even Copeland!

Or, as Brody put it in his CBN blog: "At least he doesn't have to worry about winning the socially conservative base anymore because with comments like that, he'd have to go into damage control mode."

Actually, this is probably the first time in eight years that I have heard Bush say anything remotely sensible and sane. Unfortunately, it's too late to undo the damage caused by his friends on the right who made it possible for him to access the controls of power and destroy everything he touched, including the country he claimed to "love."

The problem of the disappearing Jesus

[AP Photo by J. Pat Carter]

Wellington, Florida is a snazzy, upscale community in Palm Beach County, Florida. During the Christmas season, folks in Wellington put up a nativity display on the lawn of the local community center, along with other religious symbols such as a menorah.

The Jesus used in that nativity display is an original ceramic figurine, made in Italy, and valued at approximately $1,800.

Sounds good, but baby Jesus tends to disappear.

That pissed off the leaders of Wellington so they put a GPS unit inside the figurine. Last year, when baby Jesus disappeared, they were able to track it to an apartment where they found it face down on the floor. Police arrested an 18-year old woman.

But a question remains: Why would anyone place a figurine worth $1,800 in an untended outside display?

Similar thefts of Jesus figurines, as well as other religious symbols have led New York-based Brickhouse Security to offer some 200 nonprofit religious institutions the use of security cameras and their GPS product free for a month.

Just another way that Jesus brings "peace on earth and goodwill to all"!

A final thought. The earliest Gospel, Mark, does not mention Jesus' birth, nor does the latest Gospel, John. Only Matthew and Luke take an interest in when or where Jesus was born. Unfortunately, they got their wires crossed or their sources mixed because they don't agree on very much.

But even more curious is that after the miraculous birth we hear nothing of Jesus in any of the Gospels until he is an adult, except for the little tidbit about his parents leaving him behind in Jerusalem where he proceeded to "teach" the teachers.

Just think: If they had had a GPS unit, they could have sewn it into his robe and bingo, they would have known immediately where he was!

More importantly, they could have kept track of everything he did from his birth to his baptism, a period the Gospel writers ignore completely.

That would give christianists more material to argue about.

Waiting in line on voting day

[USA Today photo]

Richard Wolf, writing in USA Today, says that on Nov. 4 "African-American voters waiting more than twice as long as others to vote ... and Hispanics were asked to show identification more often, this as per a survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the AARP and the Pew Center on the States."

The survey also discovered that Hispanics were required to show ID more often than other voters in states where a photo ID was required.

Why are we not surprised?

One question not addressed by this survey is how many people simply gave up and went home after waiting in line for hours. In south Florida, in some communities, in took hours of waiting to finally reach a voting booth.

If anything needs an overhaul in this country, it is our failed system of voting. Is a democracy still a democracy when large segments of our population are denied the right to vote by systemic breakdowns in the voting apparatus?

Christianist wingnuts come loose over Newsweek article on gay marriage

It was to be expected, of course. Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, unworried, said, in so many words, "bring 'em on!"

And they have! Christianist wingnuts everywhere are coming loose over the Newsweek article supporting gay marriage.

Albert Mohler takes Newsweek religion editor, Lisa Miller, to task for her one-sided approach to biblical teachings. Mohler argues, for example, that while "family" in the Old Testament meant something different than we do, at the center of the biblical unit "stands the institution of marriage as the most basic human model of convenantal love and commitment."

Oh, if only it were so. Assuming momentarily that the partriarchal figures were historical, one can only laugh at Mohler's gratituitous comment. Generally, marriage in those tribal units meant an old man grabbed a young girl of his liking and threw her in his tent. Then, he grabbed another young girl; and another. If, down the road he decided he no longer wanted one of his "wives," he threw her out of his tent like an old wine bottle. That's not really a "human model of covenantal love and commitment."

Mohler has much more to say and you can read it all here if you're interested. You won't find anything new. It's a rehashing of the same old "biblical" arguments. But it is a good case study on why the answers to this and many other of life's questions are not to be found in that musty collection of ancient scribblings known as the Bible.

Mohler does register a bit of paranoia, however. And, as one might suspect, the media are at the heart of it! Mohler says the reason Newsweek published this article is because:

"The national news media are collectively embarrassed by the passage of Proposition 8 in California. [I wonder if he includes Fox News or the WSJ in his definition of 'national news media?'] Gay rights activists are publicly calling on the mainstream media to offer support for gay marriage, arguing that the media let them down in November. It appears that Newsweek intends to do its part to press for same-sex marriage. Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition."

Uh, oh! Watch out all you good christianists 'cause the national media's gonna grind you down and help establish gay marriage and that means your traditional marriage is no damn good anymore! It says so in the Bible! Of course, more than half of you get divorced anyway, so it probably doesn't matter much.

The American Family Association calls Miller's article "one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by a major news organization," and calls upon all good christianists to e-mail Newsweek saying that "you are disappointed with its distorted interpretation of scripture."

Jim Brown at writes that "Bob Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, believes there is ample evidence of media bias on the marriage issue, but calls this example one of the worst he has seen. Knight says Newsweek published a 'cartoon' version of Scripture that is a gay activist's dream."

Knight claims that Lisa Miller's trying "to take the Bible and make it say something it flat-out does not say is journalistic malpractice."

Omigod! "Journalistic malpractice!" I wonder if that's against the law? I'll check in Leviticus and get back to you.

Not only so, Mr. Knight also claims that "the article is an attack on the authority of scripture, evangelical Christians, and absolute truth."

I would hope so!

Then we have the Family Research Council, which has also come out of its cave to step into the fray. Tony Perkins goes straight to the Hebrew Bible and straightens Ms. Miller out. It's hard to make sense of what he says, though. For example, in his rebuttal to Miller, notes that many of the Bible's "fathers and heroes were polygamists." Well, says Perkins, that's because "There is a difference between how the Bible defines marriage and how it depicts it in all it's sin-corrupted reality. It is defined in the creation."

You know, when Adam and Eve stood before the serpent in the garden and Eve brushed back her veil and gave Adam his ring and promised to love him only and forever. See Genesis 2. There doesn't seem to be any "traditional" marriage in the Genesis 1 creation story! Damn, this gets confusing!

There's more of Perkins here. Ugh!

Another wingnut, this time a "biblical scholar," Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a fundamentalist school affiliated with the fundamentalist Presbyterian Church, USA.

He disagrees, naturally, with Miller's take on the Bible. "Miller," he says, "restricts her research to biblical scholars supportive of homosexual unions and exaggerates discontinuity between Scripture's marriage values and our own."

Hmmm. Did he just say there is, in fact, "discontinuity between Scripture's marriage values and our own," and Miller's problem is she "exaggerated" that discontinuity.

By god, I think he did!

Gagnon's arguments are another good example as to why referencing the Bible on this or any other "moral" position is a losing proposition. As we steadfastly maintain, "Every evil cause on the fact of the earth is and has been justified on the basis of the Bible."

Gagnon has a rather long article arguing against Miller here.

Richard Land, the self-righteous Southern Baptist poohbah, isn't worried at all about any of this. "If they [Newsweek?] think they're going to cause Evangelical Christians or Bible-believing Christians of different stripes to somehow say, oh, the Bible doesn't matter on marriage, I think they're mistaken. I don't think too many in the Evangelical world are too concerned about what Newsweek has to say."

He's probably right. But that doesn't mean Newsweek is wrong. It means Christians of his kind of stripes drift through life with closed minds. And if these "Christians" try to open the doors and let some fresh air in, Land and his cohorts are there to nail it shut again. That's their job, doing the work of god.

Finally, some of these wingnuts make us wonder what they hell they want. writes about how they go through all this biblical justification to oppose gay marriage, and then turn around and say, as did Ralph Reed, [the ethically-challenged former director of the Christian Coalition and close pal of convicted felon, Jack Abramoff],

"There's more of a practical, sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution than I think is generally understood by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage."

Huh? "A "practical, sociological foundation"? What does that mean? Is Reed saying what the Bible says isn't all that important because his case against gay marriage is based on "a practical, sociological foundation"? And if so, what would that be?

Land concludes by saying something of the same thing. The arguments used around the country in the "anti-same-sex marriage referenda" did not mainly involve "biblical instructions," but "secular arguments, arguing about marriage being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage. Broadening the definition of marriage could 'shatter' the social role married couples have traditionally played.

So what is it? Are the wingnuts opposed to gay marriage because the Bible says it's a bad thing and god's gonna get you, or are they opposed to gay marriage because it's bad for society and will mess up traditional marriages (as if they're not messed up enough anyway!)?

It's really hard to play god, isn't it? It's really hard to preach "absolute truth" based on the bible when no one has a frigging clue what that is! And then you end up being a sociologist. Or maybe a sociopath?

Don't you feel sorry for the wingnuts?

O'Reilly & Rove - the moronic twins on the economy

This from Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

O'Reilly and Rove are Crazy, Say the Economic Crisis Is Just a Media Conspiracy

Break out the tinfoil hats.

The economy isn't really in the shitter. It's just a liberal media

If Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove say it, it must be true -- because they are, I don't have to tell you, well-known truth-sayers.

So everyone go out and spend your dosh like it's going out of style, and, if you should hear rumors of cutbacks at your job, don't listen to them. It just means your boss is in cahoots with Big Media.

And if you get laid off, it probably means you are. Dirty conspirator.

O'REILLY: OK, now the economy. Do you agree with me that the media is not-the economy, but Afghanistan and Iraq and every other problem the United States has spinning as negative as possible now so that they can buy Barack Obama some time and set up a thing where if anything goes right after he becomes president, they can jump on it.

ROVE: Yes.

O'REILLY: And then they can blame everything on Bush for quite a long period of time?

ROVE: You know, it’s interesting to me, this question of proportionality and consistency. I wanted to take you and your viewers back to March of 2000 when the stock market peaked out. We had a 38 percent decline in the Dow Jones. We had a 50 percent decline in the S P 500. And we had a 78 percent decline in the Nasdaq before the markets bottomed out.

Now, I don’t remember The New York Times or the national or The Washington Post or some of these national news organizations treating the precipitous decline in the markets under Clinton with the scare words that they’re using today. Similarly look, and I don’t want to diminish the challenges we face, particularly when it comes to unemployment. If you don’t have a job, it’s 100% unemployment rate for you. But the unemployment rate today was at certain times during Clinton and in most of Carter time in office higher. And, yet, we don’t see the similar scare tactics and the similar phrases and words out of the n ational media about these Democrats as we hear about the current situation.

O'REILLY: All right, so you are agreeing with me then that there is a conscious effort on the part of The New York Times and other liberal media to basically paint as drastic a picture as possible, so that when Barack Obama takes office that anything is better than what we have now?

ROVE: Yes. And watch their words when they describe the steps that he wants to take. I noticed again this past weekend, he described this enormous program of spending on infrastructure, on roads and highways and improvements in our infrastructure. And watch how they treat this when he comes into office if he actually pursues this package. And you’ll see very few of them raising serious questions about what kind of stimulative effect it really is going to have, because what we do know is on these kind of big projects, only one out of every four dollars that’s appropriated for them gets spent in the first year. The rest of it gets spent in the out year. So these are not going to have an immediate impact. And let’s see how tough they treat him on this and how much they hold him up to scrutiny.

O'REILLY: Now you know how that’s going to come down, Mr. Rove.

ROVE: We can always hope. We can always.

O'REILLY: Well, see I know hope. All I want is an honest press. I’m not hoping one way or the other.

* These two really are morons. Of course they have operated for years -- with some justification -- on the assumption that the American people are truly stupid! So, once again they blather on as if their words had meaning. Not!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tripping around Europe, for Crist's sake!

Charlie Crist, the Republican guv of Florida, bundled up some two dozen folks to take a two-week trip to Europe to "foster" foreign business for the Sunshine State.

One can't help wonder why his fiancee, her sister, nine bodyguards, and photographer had to schlep along. I didn't get invited. Of course, I'm not his biggest fan, but still.

Crist and entourage flew to London, to Paris, to St. Petersburg (not Florida) and Madrid.

Initially their travel budget was a "mere" $225,000 but skyrocketed to $430,000 by the time they hit the dirt back in Florida. Of course, when that many people spend $148,000 on eating, drinking, sleeping, transporting themselves, and "incidentals," it do add up!

Florida currently has a $2 billion budget deficit; a big problem. And that's exactly why Charlie and friends had to take this trip! Got to get more overseas bizness, said Charlie's office, as that will be "instrumental in keeping our state from greater distress."

Maybe Charlie, being a Republican, confesses to the belief one has to spend money to make money. But did they need to go "first class"? Did they really need to lay out $1,300 on minibar refreshments and $320 on electric fans to keep ol' Charlie cool when speechifying?

The trip occurred in July. Do you suppose part of the reason was to give Charlie some "foreign policy" credentials the better to boost his chances of becoming McCain's VP candidate?

You think?

Some feel maybe Charlie should have stayed home considering the state of Florida's economy and to show solidarity with the large number of Floridians who are facing foreclosure because they've lost the jobs needed to pay their mortgages.

For some people the trip created a "perception" problem. A short time ago, House Speaker Ray Sansom, "landed a part-time, $110,000 job at Northwest Florida College after years of championing the college's funding projects."

What a controversy began to brew, Crist downplayed things by suggesting "It may be more of a perception problem. ... Sometimes stories like this can get going and conclusions can be implied that may not be true. ... Don't assume that a couple of facts can be laid together necessarily lead to a particular attack."

While some have compared Crist's tripping about Europe with Sarah Palin's profligacy, perhaps this comment by an anonymous person sums up how many Floridians feel about Mr. Crist's trip:

"Is Crist kidding??? Seriously, 'a perception problem'? This guy takes the cake.

"How are: 9 bodyguards, $1300 minibar tab, fiancee's sister riding along, 'perception problems'?

"Hey Crist the 'perception' you are a good governor is a 'problem'!

There's more here.

"Rice ready" cars

It isn't surprising that O.C. Welch hails from South Carolina. South Carolina is the great state that gave us Strom Thurmond and now Jim DeMint.

What's one more racist from Carolina south?

Welch runs a Ford dealership near Hardeeville. He's angry because his car sales have taken a dive. He decided the way to deal with that was to place an ad on local radio stations blasting people who dare buy cars from Toyota.

"All you people that buy all your Toyotas and send that money to Japan, you know, when you don't have a job to make your Toyota car payment, don't come crying to me. All those cars are rice ready. They're not road ready."

Rice ready? Is that an accusation of shoddy workmanship? Hopefully not, as Toyota manufactures 60% of their vehicles in the U.S. of A. Toyota puts 36,600 Americans to work building their cars.

Rice ready? Every Ford vehicle I've had was nothing but trouble, starting with a new hardtop in 1957! By the 1980's I was sick of dealing with American-made cars that fell apart on the road. My new 1996 Toyota Camry was a dream. After seven years it still looked and drove as good as new.

Floyd Mori, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, was not too happy with Mr. Welch, and noted that Welch's "rice ready" remark was "a blatant, ignorant, racist remark from somebody who should know better."


If Mr. Welch is angry that fewer people are buying his Ford vehicles, he might want to put at least some of the blame on the Ford company which, like Chrysler and GM, keeps building cars that people don't want to drive.

But, again, Mr. Welch is from South Carolina, so you can't expect much.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christianist protest in Olympia

Olympia, Washington. The Capitol city.

As I recall, it began about three years ago when Guv. Gregoire allowed a menorah to be installed in the Washington State Capitol building. Sometime after that a "holiday" tree went up. This year, the Freedom from Religion group put up their now infamous sign suggesting that god does not exist and we'd be better off without religion which is nothing but myth and superstition.

Christianists went nuts! In fact, a couple of days ago, some unknown culprits stole the FFR sign. It was found, however, and returned.

Why are christianists pissed? Well, because, they are convinced they have the right to hang their stuff in public buildings and it's OK if "good" Jews do their thing with their menorahs, but anti-religious people have no place in this god-fearing country!

So, on Sunday, December 7, about 500 people, mostly christianist lovers of the god who loves all people, gathered on the capitol steps to denounce those goddamn atheists who think they have a right to express their beliefs, too!

One christianist partisan, the Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson, pastor of a "bible" church, said "...we want the state of Washington and the governor to represent everyone in the state. But just because you must represent everyone in the state doesn't mean that you put up with intolerance from the people that you represent."

Huh? Let's decode that. Everyone should be represented except those that christianists don't agree with and take offense at.

And to suggest that religion is myth and superstition equals "intolerance."

Hmm. There's something awfully "intolerant" about that position.

Then State Rep. Jim Dunn, a Repugnican (naturally) from Vancouver, cried "It's time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers."

What? Is the state Capitol the "house of God"? Are unbelievers evildoers ... unlike the evildoer George W. Bush?

The situation deteriorated even more. Hutcherson's church, those good bible-believing, god-loving folks, put up a sign mocking the atheists' sign! Someone or some other groups erected a nativity scene and two other religious signs.

To give a sense of the intelligence and education of the very nice christianist trolls who attended this rally, some quotes:

"It's fine if you want to express your religion, but just no hate language."

"We love everyone and let's be kind to one another. ... This was a way our family decided that we had to stand up for Jesus."

"... the sign is an in-your-face hate sign. It's not in keeping with the displays of the season."

"We all have freedom of speech, but for them to put down religion, isn't that more than freedom of speech?"

What have we been teaching in our public schools? Obviously, all of these good people missed that part as to what freedom of speech means. They didn't get the stuff about separation of church and state, either. And they failed to learn that by the time people living on this side of the pond decided they'd rather be independent than pay any more taxes to King George, they fought for and then established a government free of any damned religion!

Makes sense. At the time of the Revolution, only about 4% of our population darkened the doors of the church.

And that's why there are no references to God in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Men like Jefferson regularly mocked the Christian faith and insisted on the secular nature of our nation.

That's also why all of this hoopla in Olympia is quite insane! The governor of the state of Washington should throw the whole damn bunch out on the street. No religious signs belong in a state building for any reason! There is no establishment of religion in this country.

And whether the Hutcherson's and the Dunn's of this world like it or not, the anti-religionists and the atheists have just as much right to express their beliefs as they do! But get all the religious crap and the anti-religious crap out of the hallowed halls of government!

[The photo is from Mission Confident, and you can read a christianist take on this "rally" here.]

Whining about wine in the U.K.

This from the

In Beit Jala, a Jerusalem suburb, a Roman Catholic order called the Salesians of Don Bosco has been making organic wine for about 100 years. For some time, now, they've been selling a bunch of it to Roman Catholic and Anglican parishes, as well as to religious houses and university chaplaincies in the United Kingdom.

Not at the moment, however. For some reason Israel has refused to allow the wine through the Hebron checkpoint so it cannot get to Haifa to be shipped to Europe. No one seems to know why but the Israeli Army is reported to have said allowing the wine to pass into Israel may involve a security risk.

Maybe there are teeny little monks hidden under the cork? Wouldn't want any teeny little monks running around loose in Israel! Monkee business, you know!

Della Shenton, employed by the Roman Catholic diocese of Plymouth, has been involved in the flow of wine from Beit Jala to Europe and is terribly distressed. Even though 4,000 bottles of the altar wine have already been imported this year, another 1,000 bottles were on order to be used for the Christmas festivities.

"What this is doing is causing havoc and a lot of distress," said Ms. Shenton. "It is sad that this Christmas Christians are being denied the opportunity to be at one with the people of Bethlehem by drinking its wine."

Havoc and distress? That seems a little over the top!

It is true, I believe, that for Christians, the Eucharist or Mass involves, through partaking of the bread and wine (body and blood), becoming one with Christ and the worldwide community of believers?

Can Christians in the U.K. not be "at one with the people of Bethlehem" by drinking wine from South Africa or Australia or Chile or the Napa Valley?

Does wine from the Salesians of Beit Jala become better "blood" than wine from the local pub?

Omigod. All this havoc and distress!

There's sure a lot of humorous hocus pocus that goes on amongst the churches at Christmas!

In God (weak, impotent) We Trust!

The fundamentalist christianist god is really weak and powerless. He just can't seem to stop these damn atheists from putting up signs that get fundamentalist christianists all bent out of shape.

Because their god is so weak, fundamentalist christianists have put together a "national advocacy group" called In God We Trust, which is a misnomer if there ever was one.

In God We Trust was established precisely because the folks who established it DO NOT trust in God!

You can tell because they're in an uproar over signs by the Freedom from Religion Foundation which suggest that gods, angels, devils, heaven and hell do not exist and that religion is myth and superstition "that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Bishop Council Nedd, (who ever heard of the name, "Council Nedd"?) the chief and very righteous poohbah of In God We Trust is UPSET!

"In God We Trust will oppose any effort to place these signs in any state capital or in any government location in Washington, D.C.," he said. "These signs have nothing in common with a menorah, a nativity scene or a Christmas tree. They are an attempt by anti-religious bigots to equate a belief in God with enslavement and to ridicule the majority of Americans who believe in God."

Ah, yes. Actually, the signs have something to do with a Christmas tree, for Christmas trees derive from pagan celebrations. And the people of the Freedom from Religion Foundation are not bigots like Bishop Nedd is a bigot, as they simply want to present an alternative viewpoint. The bigotry is all on the side of the bishop who hate atheists with a passion and thus tries to deprive them of their First Amendment rights. Furthermore, the sign does not "equate a belief in God with enslavement [other than in a mental or spiritual sense] and it does not ridicule anyone.

Nedd is not too bright. He whines "Why do these zealots have the right to post signs on public property attacking their countryment?"

Well, bishop, as we said, the signs do not "attack" anyone, and if you think you have the right to erect religious signs and figures on public property, then those who disagree with you have the same right. Read the damn Constitution!

Ultimately, it comes down to irony. Bishop Nedd and his cohorts simply do NOT trust in God! That's why they are out in the cold, secular wind, blowing hot against atheists and other nogoodniks: God doesn't have the power to stop the infidels by herself.

Or maybe God doesn't care? That would sure put hair back on a bald head!

Actually, this nonsense should stop. Throw all this crap out of our hallowed government buildings and off of our hallowed government property.

And Bishop Nedd should go home and drink a couple of gallons of eggnog and mellow out! Especially since the FFR had no plans to erect their sign in the nation's capitol in the first place!!!!

More here.

Holsters and the Department of Homeland Stupidity

[Photo of a Don Hume "Duty Holster." I have no idea if this is the DHS holster.]

It really isn't that hard to find holsters that fit a particular pistol and do not cause people to shoot themselves in the foot.

Unless, of course, you're the U.S. Department of Homeland Stupidity.

Pilots flying our airplanes are now allowed to carry a weapon. Could be a good thing. Sometimes maybe not. Depends, it seems, at least in part, on the holster. On March 22, the pilot of a USAirways flight accidentally discharged his .40 caliber pistol. The bullet went through the cockpit wall and fuselage but no one was hurt. The pilot was fired.

Now, however, the inspector general of the DHS says that the design of holsters used by pilots increases the possibility a weapon may go off accidentally. "We examined the holster and observed that its design renders the weapon vulnerable to accidental discharge if improperly handled."

Well, now. Any holster is going to "render [a] weapon vulnerable to accidental discharge if improperly handled."

It appears that the Department of Homeland Stupidity realizes that the holster they bought for pilots is defective but they are still trying to cover their collective ass.

So DHS is looking at "new holster systems that meet program safety, security and tactical accessibility."

What's really scary is that these are the very people who are supposed to ensure the safety and security of the people of the United States.

Holy crap!

Obama stands up for factory workers

[Photo by Metroblossom at Flickr]

In Chicago, Republic Windows and Doors shut its windows and doors. It appears that Bank of America is involved, perhaps preventing the company from meeting its obligation to the workers.

Workers who were let go staged a sit-in over the weekend. They are pissed. Bosses gave them three day's notice; they're supposed to get 60 days. They also claim they are owed severance and vacation pay.

Meanwhile, Congress is passing out billions, bailing out companies running to ruin, the result of their own greed and mismanagement! Not only so, but their chicanery set in motion an economic crisis not seen since 1929! And as if to complete this surreal picture, the CEO of Merrill Lynch has the unmitigated gall to insist he "deserves" a $10 million bonus for his "work" in 2008!

Meanwhile, President-elect Obama jumped into the fray on the side of the workers. "The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned," said Obama, "I think they're absolutely right and understand that what's happening to them is reflective of what's happening across this economy."

Obama didn't quit there, either. As part of a more extensive statement, he said "...number one, I think that these workers, if they have earned their benefits and pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments.

"Number two, I think it is important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll so we are not seeing these kinds of circumstances again."

Finally we have someone soon to be in charge who doesn't think that the first thing to do when ordinary people are in trouble is cut taxes for the rich!

Finally we have someone who walks the walk instead of merely talking the talk.

Finally we have someone who actually gives a damn instead of pretending to care while pulling the rug out from those most in need!

Finally we have someone who recognizes that millions of Americans hanging by their fingernails to a sinking ship as the sharks begin to circle also need a "bail-out."


In Detroit, when all else fails, they try prayer

Some people in Detroit, finding themselves at the end of their collective ropes, are giving prayer a go.

I wonder how many of these folks have tried prayer before only to discover that the line between earth and heaven somehow got disconnected.

But now they're desperate.

Nick Bunkley, writing for The New York Times, describes last Sunday's service at the Pentecostal Greater Grace Temple in Detroit where Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, surrounded by three shiny new SUVs in the chancel area, led his congregation, many of which had some connection to the auto industry, in prayer.

"I don't know what's going to happen," said the bishop, "but we need prayer."

A couple of U.A.W. vice presidents repeated that theme. "We have done all that we can do in this union, so I turn it over to the Lord," said General Holiefield. James Settles Jr., told the worshipers "to continue your prayers, so we can see a miracle next week."

Bishop Ellis, in a moment of theological lucidity, suggested the congregation not pray that Congress give the car companies a bail-out, but rather that the car companies survive the economic meltdown.

Desperate times call for desperate measures as someone once said somewhere I think. The people in Michigan are desperate. Hope is fleeting. Thus, Bishop Ellis provides this quotation from Romans: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Whatever that means.

Cardinal Adam Maida, Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Detroit area, sent out a letter to the faithful encouraging them to keep the faith. "At this darkest time of the year, we proclaim that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope," saith the AB.

All of these spiritual exhortations are mere placebos, and prayer is going to get the people nowhere. They might sound good and make folks feel better, but they're not going to get the job done.

Archbishop Maida knows that. So he got together with a bunch of other religious poohbahs from Detroit "to call on Congress to approve the $34 billion in government-backed loans that they automakers have requested."

It would appear that, at this point, it is more effective to "call on Congress" rather than to call on God.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hail to the Prince of Peace

As we approach the festival of Christmas, Christians around the world will be celebrating the birth of the one called The Prince of Peace.

The image is from John Moore/Getty Images. It is located in the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

More here.

The simple life

Page 13, Newsweek, Dec. 15, 2008.

An ad by The De Beers Family of Companies, titled "Here's to Less."

The copy begins: "Our lives are fill with things. We're overwhelmed by possessions we own but do not treasure. Stuff we buy but never love. To be thrown away in weeks rather than passed down for generations."

Blah, blah, blah.

How do we overcome this craving for things we "own but do not treasure," that "we buy but never love"?

How do we salute living with "less"?

Well, hell, we buy more. Not only that but we buy some really expensive THING, like a De Beers diamond!

How dumb do they think we are?

On gay marriage and the Bible

Sometimes I don't agree with Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, at all.

But he's right on in his editorial in this weeks issue.

Meacham describes the schism in the Episcopal Church noting that it roots in the "conservative forces of reaction to the ecclesiastical and cultural acceptance of homosexuality" who claim "their opposition to the ordination and the marriage of gays ...[is] irrevocably rooted in the Bible--which they regard as the 'final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.'"

Aha! Meacham will have none of that! Whatever one's position on gay rights, he says, "this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst kind of fundamentalism."

"Given the history of the making of the Scriptures and the millennia of critical attention scholars and others have given to the stories and injunctions that come to us in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament, to argue that something is so because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt--it is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition."

I've argued time and again that fundamentalists who want to pretend that the Bible is literally true and inerrant, fail to take that collection of material seriously, but rather use it as a magical talisman to justify whatever it is they want to hate at the moment.

Bishop Krister Stendahl, of Sweden, once said that the Bible is a very dangerous book, especially in the hands of the ignorant, for every evil cause on the face of the earth has been and is defended on the basis of the Bible.

Meacham notes first of all that sexual orientation is not something one chooses, "but is as intrinsic to a person's makeup as skin color."

Then, even more to the point: "The analogy with race is apt, for Christians in particular long cited scriptural authority to justify and perpetuate slavery with the same certitude that some now use to point to certain passages in the Bible to condemn homosexuality and to deny the sacrament of marriage to homosexuals."

Leaving the word, "sacrament," out of the argument, for that is a specifically religious term which many would not understand, Meacham is again right on when he says "This argument from Scripture is difficult to take seriously ... since the passages in question are part and parcel of texts that, with equal ferocity, forbid particular haircuts."

Agreeing with Dr. Stendahl, Meacham points out that biblical texts "have been ready sources for those seeking to promote anti-Semitism and limit the human rights of women ... "

And all sorts of other evils...

But it is hard to see the light when you're bound between the covers of ancient darkness.

Vito Fossella going to jail - maybe

Vito Fossella, Republican representative from New York, was convicted of drunken driving and has been sentenced to five days in jail. He is to begin serving his sentence on December 19. His lawyer promised an immediate appeal the purpose of which is to postpone indefinitely his reporting to the clink.

Fossella, an ultra-right homophobic conservative, has other problems, too. When he was arrested for DUI back in May, it was revealed that he had been involved in an affair with an Air Force officer with whom he'd fathered a child. His wife and three children were not thrilled with the news.

This led to Fossella's decision not to seek re-election.

The best part is that a Democrat won his seat in the November election.

One less Repugnican hypocrite in Congress is always a cause for rejoicing!

Happy holidays!

The unreal world of George W. Bush

From The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind:

"Each morning, it is widely known, George W. Bush rises at 5:30, works out, brings his wife a cup of coffee, generally reads a religious text--the Bible or mini-sermons--and arrives at his desk by seven-thirty."

Shortly thereafter a "team" of confidants enter to tell him what he wants to know. What Bush doesn't want to know is details.

Suskind writes that "by the spring of 2003, it was becoming clear that the way policy was, or wasn't vetted, inside the White House was an extension of George W. Bush's leadership style. A president, it is often said, gets the White House he wants, and deserves."

George W. Bush "met America's foreign challenges with decisiveness born of a brand of preternatural, faith-based, self-generated certainty. ... Issues argued, often vociferously, at the level of deputies and principals rarely seemed to go upstream in their fullest form to the President's desk; and, if they did, it was often after Bush seemed to have already made up his mind based on what was so often cited as his 'instinct' or 'gut.'

This kind of go-it-alone stance was further exacerbated by his faith-based religious views and his tendency to sort out and define complex foreign policy issues in terms of good and evil.

And because Bush was not a detail man, he was not fed details. Or, as Suskind puts it, "hard, complex analysis" of both foreign and domestic issues were served to him as a "thin offering, passed through the filters of Cheney or rice, or not presented at all."

But that was what he wanted, for it gave him deniability and the flexibility to state his case without reference to facts, e.g., going to war against Iraq.

It allowed him to live in a cocoon or a world where reality rarely made an appearance; a world where peace became war and suppression became freedom, where even a failed flight-jockey could pretend to be a warrior and worse, a "war president."

This disconnect from reality came sharply into focus in an interview Bush gave Nadia Bilbassy-Charters of MBC TV (Middle East Broadcasting Center) on December 5.

One of the first things Bush mentioned was his first decision as President-elect: the color or rug for the Oval Office. While he delegated the choice to Laura, he told her "I want the rug to have a message, and that is 'optimistic guy goes to work here.'"

"Optimistic guy" is not the phrase most people would use to describe George W. Bush.

Bilbassy-Charters then asked him about his Greater Middle East Initiative, which was about democratizing and reforming the Middle East.

Bush responded: "...I believe we're in an ideological struggle against people who want to achieve their ideological vision through the use of violence and murder."

He doesn't see it. He doesn't see that is exactly what HE did! The neocon vision, adopted enthusiastically by Bush, is to remake the Middle East into our image, no matter how many people we have to kill to do it! Violence and murder define George W. Bush.

Bush went on to talk about his belief in a God who gives the "gift" of freedom. He said he felt a "moral calling" to do something about bringing freedom to people. And that's what has happened in the Middle East.

What Middle East is he talking about?

When asked about the Palestinian issue and whether Hamas should be part of the peace process, Bush said:

"I share the vision [of Tony Blair] that the only way there's going to be peace is where those who assume that violence is necessary to achieve peace cannot be part of the process. In other words, people have to renounce violence in order to have peace. It's contradictory to say, I am going to use violence to achieve my objectives, and oh, by the way, I'm for peace."

What is especially sad and depressing about this comment is it illuminates the befogged mind of this faux cowboy. One of the most "important" rationales [after WMDs lost their credence] Bush gave for his invasion of Iraq was the need to bring peace and democracy to that country. He does not understand that he's the culprit!

More delusion here. When asked whether or not Barack Obama will be able to "pick up from where you left" relative to the Palestinian problem and the "unresolved dispute" between Israel and the Palestinians, Bush said, "Well, I think we've left it in good shape. We've left it with the vision intact.

I wonder what Obama will think?

There's much more to the interview. Hopefully, it will find its way into the Bush archives for it is instructive as to how this president has operated for eight years in a delusional web spun by his own faith-based self-righteous morality and the secret chicanery of Dick Cheney and the neocons.

We are probably fortunate that this country is not worse off than it is. January 20 cannot come soon enough!

The entire transcript of this interview is here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Religious delusion

In one of the comments made to an article in Cincinnati's Courier-Journal about the plan to jointly promote the Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum, the writer said this:

"...I believe the Bible is true, but don't necessarily believe that all of the Creation Museum's message is true (for example, I don't believe the earth is 6000 years old). However, I am convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, and that belief does not depend on what someone else has told me."

The comment caught my attention for several reasons. First, in spite of what Ken Ham and other creationist kooks would like us to conclude, most Christians think creationism is nonsense and have no problem with the concept and thus the theory of evolution. They do not think the first chapter of Genesis is to be read literally, but poetically or metaphorically. They recognize that the second creation story (actually the oldest of the two) beginning in Gen. 2:4, contradicts the first story in Genesis 1 in several important ways, and that fact alone blows creationism out of the water.

The commenter recognizes the fallacy of the creationist viewpoint.

Secondly, the writer is "convinced" that Jesus is the Son of God." "Son of God" is a theological term which, while it does appear in the Gospel accounts, scholars cannot agree on its precise meaning. Jesus does not use this term to refer to himself. It is likely an attempt on the part of the Gospel writers to stress what they thought was Jesus' unique relationship to the "Father." Son of man," which is the more common term for Jesus, is generally conceded to refer to a human being and presupposes no divine attributes.

"Son of God," however, being a theological term, was taken to suggest divinity to 2nd century Christians in that the term was used of most gods in that era, and was also used in reference to the Roman emperor. Exactly how that works - how Jesus is the "Son of God," though, cannot be effectively described. The church fought over this concept for hundreds of years, sometimes violently, until the bishops came to an agreement -- more or less -- which resulted in the confusing and inscrutable terminology of the Nicene Creed.

The Nicene Creed didn't clear up the issue, but muddied it. What does the term "Son of God" mean when the Son of God is God also, along with the Holy Ghost? The whole business breaks up in a jumble of gibberish and the term "Son of God" remains a meaningless concept because it cannot be defined with any precision whatsoever.

Finally, the commenter claims to believe Jesus was the Son of God all on his own: "...that belief does not depend on what someone else has told me."

Really? Where did it come from, then? Out of the blue? A voice in the heavens? A dream at night?

All religious belief derives from someone else! A belief in that "Jesus was the Son of God" derives from Christian writings that began in the 2nd century which were preserved by the church to the present time.

He believes only because someone else, who had read that Jesus was the Son of God and believed it, told him this was the right thing to believe!

Hopefully, he has also looked at some other options.