Saturday, April 25, 2009

Republicans going down!

[Hatch on left; Cornyn on right]

It appears that Senate Democrats might utilize the reconciliation provision to pass health care. What the hell is that? you ask.

The Booman Tribune explains: It is "[A] little understood parliamentary trick called 'budget reconciliation' [which allows] the majority party in the Senate to pass legislation with a mere 50 votes (plus the tie-breaking vote of the vice-president). Basically, there is a rule limiting debate on the budget which means that the budget cannot be filibustered. Bill Clinton used budget reconciliation to pass his tax hikes in 1993 and George W. Bush used the process to pass his tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

"Technically, you are not supposed to use the procedure to piggy-back controversial legislation onto the budget in order to get around the filibuster. There's even a thing called the Byrd Rule which is supposed to prevent this from happening.

"If the Democrats include a health care bill as part of the budget reconciliation process the the bill will be subject to a point of order that it is in violation of the Byrd Rule. Then it will be up to the parliamentarian to decide whether the Byrd Rule has been violated. If the answer is 'yes', then it takes 60 votes to waive the rule."

Okay. The Repugs are worried that the Dems are going to utilize the reconciliation provision to pass health care! Omigod!

Hey, wait a minute. Didn't Bush use this provision? Oh yeah, but that doesn't matter. Only Repugs get to use rules to get around rules! That's in the consitution somewhere!

Anyway, two nogoodniks, Sen. John Cornyn, the neanderthal from Texas and Orrin Hatch, the guy who can't sing, another neanderthal from Utah, are threatening the Dems that if they do this nefarious thing of which they themselves are guilty, they will shut down the goddamn Senate! Yes, sir. They'll show these Democrats who want to provide health care for Americans a thing or two!

Here's how they might go about it, according to David Drucker (Roll Call) who "quotes a former GOP senate leadership aid (sic) as saying:

"The GOP might first go after White House nominations. Republicans could require each appointee to get a separate hearing and a separate roll call vote. They could stop attending committee meetings, and decline to provide 'unanimous consent' to move forward on even the most benign issues or routine Senate business. Republicans could also demand that the text of the bills, which are often hundreds of pages long, be read aloud."

Or, as the PoliGazette noted: "In other words, Republicans are preparing to lock down the Senate if Democrats push through reconciliation."

Heh. Heh. Let 'em try it! Two things:

1. First every one of the Repugnican nogoodniks in the Senate need to remember (perhaps someone should inscribe these words on their nogoodnik foreheads - what goes around comes around - and if, God forbid, the situation in the Senate should be reversed some day, the Dems will have a powerful precedent to follow when another Bush tries to pull a similar stunt!.

2. Secondly, if the Dems institute the reconciliation provision and get health care passed, it will be a great day for America. The majority of the American people will be overjoyed! How will it play on Main Street when the Republicans throw a tantrum about giving their fellow citizens health care, and shut down the government in response?

That should pretty well doom the reprehensible Repugs in 2010 and 2012 and many years beyond that into the future.

Would serve them right, too!

Read the entire Booman Tribune article here.

Keith Olbermann on a roll!

Rachel Maddow discusses Cheney's chicanery

John Boehner and King Coal's factories of death

[James Hansen photo from here.]

John Boehner thinks global warming is a laughing matter. CO2? Ha, ha, says ol' John. No problem. Why we emit all kinds of CO2 into the atmosphere just by breathing in and out.

My God, the man's an intellectual giant! Why haven't all the world's scientists figured that out before. We can save the planet just by killing off all the world's heavy know, people like Boehner and Steele and Limbaargh.

The Age of Coal and global warming

From Sierra Magazine, May/June 2009:

"The age of coal isn't over yet. More than 8,000 plants in the United States still pump billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, and they aren't going away any time soon. King Coal has taken a legal licking [thanks to environmentalists like the Sierra Club], but his armies of attorneys are still working overtime."

There is a ray of hope, however.

"In the last days of the Bush administration, his EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, tried an end run around the appeals board, issuing a 'midnight memo' ruling out CO2 controls on new power plants ..."

That ruling was challenged as soon as Obama took office (the Sierra Club was involved).

"In February, newly appointed EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced that the agency would reconsider Johnson's order, effectively killing it. Jackson also signaled that--finally--the EPA planned to use the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases."

In fact, shortly after Obama took office, the EPA "officially" found that global warming is a danger to the public. That was a first!

James Hansen, climatologist, has been sounding off about global warming for years. Hansen should know something about it, as he heads up NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies which "monitors temperatures at thousands of sites around the world and has documented an average increase of more than one degree since 1970."

Facts like that, of course, do not interfere with the thinking of such scientific brainiacs as John Boehner, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and others. The Bush administration was so threatened by Hansen they told him to shut up.

Bush, thank God, is gone. So, in December, Hansen and his wife, Anniek, appealed to President Obama to work toward a worldwide moratorium on burning coal. Sierra magazine printed the following adaptation of the Hansen's letter:

"There are a long list of things people can do to mitigate climate change. But the sine qua non for solving the problem is to stop burning coal. Coal is responsible for as much atmospheric carbon dioxide as all other fossil fuels combined, and is even more of a long-term threat given the earth's enormous coal reserves. (Oil, the second-greatest contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide, is already substantially depleted.) The safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is 350 parts per million. We are currently at 385 ppm. Continued reliance on coal-fired plants will raise atmospheric carbon dioxide to nearly 500 ppm. At that level, a conservative estimate for the number of species that would be exterminated is one million. Coal plants are factories of death.

"The world must end coal emissions rapidly, through a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants and a phaseout of those that do not capture and store carbon dioxide (no commercial plants do at present). This is a great challenge but one with enormous side benefits, including reduced local pollution and a sharp decrease in the toxic mercury (a byproduct of coal-fired power plants) that is now accumulating in fish stocks throughout the oceans. If coal emissions are promptly phased out, other actions--for example, improved agricultural and forestry practices--could bring the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide out of the dangerous range and save the planet we know--the planet of stable climate in which civilizations developed."

Who could possible be against saving the plant other than coal-plant owners and operators? The Republican Party, of course!

And the religious right. Jesus is coming back soon, so who the hell cares?

Read more here - a fascinating and informative article.

Cheney lining up his ducks - is he in trouble?

One of the great fantasies for true American patriots is to see this criminal sitting behind bars in a federal prison.

Olbermann calls Hannity's bluff

Do you think the asshat Hannity will take up Olbermann's offer? Nah. He's just another cowardly blowhard who cowers under the cover afforded by being a member of the FAUX News team.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Keith Olbermann on Rick "Secession" Perry

I missed this about a week's very much worth watching!

Privatizing your food-borne illnesses

Jim Hightower, in the latest issue of the Hightower Lowdown, writes about how the government has failed the people relative to food safety.

Deluded as we are, we tend to believe that our representatives in government really care more for our well-being than for the corporations who pay to put them in office. Silly us! Nothing could be further from the truth!

Hightower explains:

"In March 2008, the official inspector's report unequivocally concluded, 'The overall food safety level of this facility was considered to be: SUPERIOR.'

"The facility in question was the Peanut Corporation of America's processing plant in Georgia -- the very one that then shipped salmonella-contaminated products all across American last year, killing nine people and sickening more than 22,000.

"How could that inspector not see that a factory was alive with deadly salmonella?"

Aha. The inspection system didn't work. Here are a few of the reasons.

* Corporation honchos were told ahead of time that an inspector was coming, an inspector was coming!

* The inspector had just "one day to check a plant that handles millions of pounds of peanuts a month."

* The inspector knew nothing about peanuts. He was a fresh produce guy.

* The inspector didn't know that peanuts could contain salmonella.

* The inspector's job did not including testing for salmonella.

But...there's another problem, as Hightower points out. "...[T]he inspector doesn't work for the public. Instead, he works for a private food safety audit firm. He gets his inspection gigs by soliciting food processors directly, and the processors pay his salary. Cozy, no?"

It get worse! "More than 200 companies are in business doing safety audits for food processors. Because Washington has privatized government work and slashed federal inspection budgets, these for-profit companies now perform the bulk of America's food-safety inspections--essentially letting the processors buy a phony seal of approval."

All of this, of course, courtesy of the faith-based administration of George W. Bush and Dickie Cheney who operated at all times under the mantra that's what good for the corporate nogoodnikes who put them in office is good for the country. Who gives a damn whether a few people die?

Privatizing has been a pivot point of Repugnican platforms for a long time. They "believe" (so much of what Repugnicans do is based upon "belief" rather than reality) that private firms can do a better job than government agencies. That's the song they sing when it comes to government-provided health care (even though many of them revel in their own government-provided health care which seems to work just fine, thank you.)

Now that these snake-oil salesman have gone (at least some of them), it's time for Obama and company to make some changes.

Before more people die.

For more information, go to the Hightower Lowdown here.

The Third Wave - You ain't seen nothin' yet!

Bruce Wilson writing for Religion Dispatches tells the story and it begins with Wilson asking the question:

What is happening to Christianity?

"In 1996 a team from Ted Haggard's New Life Church flew to Mali and began furtively anointing entire towns with cooking oil." This was the beginning of "a missionary wave that has washed over the world since the early 1990s, bringing that Holvast [Rene Holvast, a Dutch missionary] calls 'a new paradigm.'"

Seems this new paradigm, like all bad things religious, emerged in Colorado Springs. "From its early days, New Life Church's members worked to map out all the territorial demon spirits inhabiting Colorado Springs. At some point in the process, they fed the mapping information into a computer database. Methodically -- street by street, block by block -- they used prayer-warfare to expel the demons from their city. And they maintained a 24/7 prayer shield over Colorado Springs to prevent demon re-infestations. As with inner-city cockroaches, the price of demon-free living was constant vigilance."

This new paradigm is what Alix Spiegel, a radio journalist who actually went to Colorado Springs to do a story on New Life Church, calls "medieval." Demons? Prayer warfare?

Nevertheless, it has spread all over the world and is known as the Third Wave of Christianity; a new, virulent form of the religion with no connection to historic Christianity that has grown so rapidly that by 2000 it claimed 385 million followers. And there are many millions more now.

"Within two decades," says Wilson, Third Wave Christianity encompassed over four percent of humanity. It is a seismic change."

Based upon the medieval notion that demons cause most, if not all, human problems, and that prayer can conquer these demons, this "new paradigm" has its followers all over the world involved in "prayer walks" in order to identify and confront the demons.

Sarah Palin is a member of the Third Wave. Thus, her church in Wasilla brought in the Kenyan witch doctor, Thomas Muthee, who blieves that "Christians can create a utopia on Earth by driving out territorial demon spirits and alleged witches with the power of massed prayer." You may recall how on August 16, 2005 at the Wasilla Assembly of God, Muthee blessed "Sarah Palin against 'every spirit of witchcraft.' Several days later after that 2005 ceremony, Palin launched her campaign for the Alaska governor's seat."

" ... World Christian Trends calls the Third Wave a 'new and disturbingly different kind of Christian renewal.' One very distinctive characteristic of Third Wave Christianity is its emphasis that average Christians can perform the same magnitude of healing miracles described in the New Testament to have been performed by Jesus Christ -- including raising the dead."

For normal people, who strive to live according to a modicum of common sense and reason, this is all ludicrous. Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer and fewer "normal" people out there. Which makes this medieval movement so dangerous. When the governor of Alaska adheres to doctrines that demons cause human suffering and that Christians can cast out demons via prayer, and can heal sickness and raise the dead, we've got a problem Houston!

I think the term, Third Wave, is misguided. It should be termed "Neopaganism."

A serious problem. Almost half of those who went to the polls last November voted for this caricature of a human being!

Read all of Wilson's article here. Mr. Wilson has done extensive research on the Third Wave phenomenon and that research is available at Talk2Action.


Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

GOP honcho is just really upset. Really!

[Photo from here.]

Yup. Michael, the man of Steele, is just beside hisself! Really, he is! I mean, he's the big cheese at the GOP factory of cheeseheads for Christ's sake, and nobody gives a damn. Nobody listens to him. Nobody cares what he says. And if he criticizes Limbaargh, he has to apologize!

Poor Steele. Respect he hath not.

But, he's trying. His puny little brain is working full-time these days on how to get the GOP cheeseheads to respect him. His puny little brain is telling him that because the GOP base is comprised of religious nutcases, extremistist rednecks, a few neo-Nazis starting to become a crowd, a bunch who never made it through high school, and Rush Limbaargh, he should pander to the pitful and thus, he has done so.

Yup. Michael, the man of Steele, is telling President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Kathleen Sebelius as Health and Human Services secretary until she answers just a few more questions on abortion.

Would someone please explain to this bozo that the Repugs lost the election and his demands with regard to what the president should do cut no ice with anyone?

And, it's always about abortion. Methinks Steele may have a plate in his head pressing on parts of the brain it shouldn't be pressing. Methinks Steele has been wandering around the halls of Focus on the Family too long and has lost touch with reality. Methinks Steele is trying so hard to hang on to his job he'll say or do just about anything.

Last I heard, 54% of Americans are in favor of a woman's right to choose, have no problem with Roe v. Wade, and don't really give a flying fart what Steele or anyone in the Repugnican party thinks about anything.

Now, for the typically humorous Repugnican encore: Steele hisself endorsed the right of women to choose last year in a magazine interview, saying that so far as he was concerned abortion was "an individual choice."

Well, what did you expect? Honesty? Forthrightness? Decency? Truth? Courage?

This is a Repugnican we're talking about!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hillary eviscerates Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind)

I stole this from Grandpa Eddie. Thanks, GE!

Balzeimers disease kata Jon Stewart

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Balzheimers Disease
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

PK's kids in Paraguay

[Photo from]

Used to be, back when I was growing up, that PK's were often teased relative to their familial relationship. PK's were preacher's kids and often they just couldn't win. If they were pious, they got a lot of flack for being so damn religious, and if they were, ah, like everyone else, they got a lot of flack for being too worldly, thereby bringing shame upon their father.

What brought all this to mind was reading about those poor PK's down in Paraguay. Only in Paraguay, they're not preacher's kids, they are priest's kids. I guess you could even call them BK's for bishop's kids.

Turns out that a former Roman Catholic bishop who is now president of Paraguay has fathered not just one child, but three! One kid is 16 months, one is 2 years and one is 6 years old.

This was one horny bishop! Which is fine, except for a couple of major problems: he took a vow of chastity and a vow of celibacy. Priests/bishops are not supposed to screw around and end up having a passel of little priesties and bishopricks.

Fernando Lugo was allowed to resign from the priesthood last summer/fall and thus was "relieved" of his vows.

I really don't care about any of this and I don't think it means he won't be a good president. But I sure feel sorry for those kids coming up. I can hear it now: "Shut up, you dirty son of a bishop!"

Oh, oh! Orrin Hatch gets punked!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Who's Riding My Coattails Now? - Blown Away by the USA
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Art reflects life?

I found this at Adult Christianity. "Yes, this is an actual logo designed in 1973 for the Catholic Church's Archdiocesan Youth Commission. It even won an award from the Art Directors Club of Los Angeles.

"Design Archives AIGA

"From AfroJacks via Cynical-C."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture and American Nazis

[The rack. Photo from here.]

If you had told me fifty years ago - hell, if you had told me ten years ago - that we would be having a discussion in this country as to whether it is legitimate for Americans to torture their enemies, and that American leaders, including a former attorney general and CIA director would be defending the use of torture, I would not have believed you. I would have considered such talk irresponsible and stupid.

Growing up in these United States, I knew we didn't torture our enemies. My God, that's one of the standards by which we differentiated ourselves from the bad guys. Oh, I had heard stories about how sometimes in certain wartime situations, Americans had gotten carried away and done some horrendous things, but those were aberrations and were considered reprehensible and indefensible by almost everyone.

Americans did not torture, period!

Thus, the Bush administration memos "authorizing" and "justifying" torture take my breath away.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky has a piece at AlterNet dealing with this subject. Schakowsky notes that the torture used by Americans against suspected terrorists included "'walling,' (repeatedly smashing a detainee against a wall), stress positions (hanging a person from the ceiling with feet barely touching the floor -- including a one-legged man), sleep deprivation for as long as 11 days, cramped confinement (put in a casket-sized box or smaller -- insects option), and that medieval favorite, waterboarding."

How the hell did they forget the rack?

These are the thing that former Attorney General Michael Mukasy and former CIA Director Michael Hayden defended in an April 17 article in the Wall Street Journal. Torture works, they said; it keeps us safe, they said; and then they implied the lack of torture led to 9/11, a result of "weakened intelligence gathering ... that we came to sorely regret," they said. If only we had tortured people before 9/11!

Huh? The attacks of 9/11 had nothing to do with our refusal to torture our enemies. It had to do with George W. Bush not giving a damn, not being able to read and understand anything, having a fixation on getting the man who gave his daddy the finger so many years before, wanting to spend most of his presidency on vacation and not paying any attention to the August 6, 2001 briefing which was entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S."

Schakowsky has much more. But there are a couple of lessons to be derived from this mess that should not be downplayed. First of all, many folks much smarter than I am have noted that by not dealing with those involved in establishing the American torture academy; without bringing those criminals to justice, even if it means putting a former president and vice president in jail, we are telling the world we are hypocrites who, for all our talk, don't really care about the rule of law; and we are setting a precedent for every other administration that follows: We are saying, "Go ahead, ignore the constitution, do whatever the hell you want to, there will be no consequences."

I agree we must go after and deal with the lawbreakers according to the law. No matter who they are.

But there's something else. A question that has rattled around in the back of my head for years is this: How could so many "normal," god-fearing, cultured, "nice" Germans not only support Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime, but actually work to help the Nazis accomplish their goals? Germany was much more a "Christian" nation than the United States has ever been. Hitler was a Roman Catholic as were a number of his top aides. (None of which were ever called to account by the Roman Church nor were they excommunicated).

I've answered that question with trepidation because what I've come to believe as true is that anyone of us can become a "Nazi"! A Nazi is a person who blindly follows a leader or an administration to the gates of hell. A Nazi is one who is able to twist reason and language to support the most horrendous of causes. A Nazi is a person who will "forget" his or her moral codes and ethical underpinnings to stay linked to power or to justify behavior that he/she would normally consider abominable.

Never before in my lifetime have we come so close to the brink; to losing it all as we did under the Bush/Cheney regime. Hordes of people like Mukasey and Hayden suddenly draped themselves in the flag of oppression and walked lock-step with those whose actions flagrantly defied our founding documents and our traditions.

And it ain't over yet! Nogoodniks and ignoramuses across the nation who don't know the difference between a tax hike and a tax cut, or between pedantry and intelligence, or between tact and belligerence, or between patriotism and jingoism are screaming "fascism" at the very people who would save them from it!

The line between sanity and insanity is very thin at times. This is one of those times.

Anyone can become a Nazi.

Read Schakowky's article here. There's more here.

More insanity in Texas

[Photo of Vicki Truitt]

Governor Rick Perry has fallen into a pit of political insanity.

But he's the Repugnican governor of Texas, so, as you might expect, other Repugnican poohbahs in Texas are jumping into the pit right behind him.

Legislators in Austin, are, according to the Star-Telegram, "considering issuing a 'cease and desist' order to the federal government."

No, really. I'm not making this up. They call it "House Concurrent Resolution 50."

One of the morons involved and a co-sponsor of the resolution, is Rep. Vicki Truitt, a Repugnican, of course, from Keller, Texas. "We prefer," she pontificates, "that federal government limit the amount of federal mandates it forces upon the people of Texas."

Another co-sponsor is wingnut Brandon Creighton, a Repugnican, of course, from Conroe, Texas, who is concerned that the feds may be "overstepping" their boundaries. Here's what he had to say:

"From restrictions on gun and ammunition sales, to freedom-of-choice issues, to the Real ID Act, the federal government [that's 'guv'mint' in Texan] is passing laws that limit a state's ability to govern itself. Texas simply wants to send the message that we want to govern ourselves and decide for ourselves how our money is to be spent."

Heh. Heh.

"Under this resolution, the 81st Legislature "hereby claim[s] sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."

[For those who can't remember, here's the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.]

Does anyone smell "secession"? Does this minor stink in Texas indicate that these dumb asses forgot they lost the Civil War? Are they so damn ignorant they do not know this issue was decided long ago; that a state may disagree, but a state may not order the federal government to "cease and desist" and insist it's gonna rule itself?

Actually, as we've suggested before, perhaps the best thing to do is call them on their self-centered insanity.

Thus, the United States shall immediately halt all federal funding of any kind within the borders of the state of Texas. That means no money for roads, schools, hospitals, courts, police and fire departments, prisons, parks, Medicaid, etc. No federal agencies will provide any services for Texas as of now. Texas can come up with its own FAA (The TAA?) to keep airplanes from crashing into each other and the ground. And when planes crash, Texas can establish its own investigative units. When a hurricane knocks out most of Houston, Texas may not call on FEMA or any other federal agency for assistance! Furthermore, all federal buildings and facilities, including military bases, will be abandoned forthwith. Texas can provide for its own defense. And there will be absolutely no federal money for university and/or scientific research.

We could go on and on, but that's a pretty good start. It would surely provide a ton of much-needed money for the rest of the states.

And all the wingnuts in the Texas Legislature, who believe in God but not evolution, and in corporations but not people, can stew in their own juices, which will soon smell pretty rank! I'd guess it wouldn't be long before the people of Texas would rise up and run them all out of town.

Well, maybe not. Hell, the people of Texas voted these wingnuts into office in the first place!

The Star-Telegram is here.

Telephone poles, war, lynchings and Christians

[Image from]

There really was a "war" on telephone poles, and Eula Biss, in her article, "The War on Telephone Poles" (Harper's, Feb. 2009, pp. 19 - 22) tells all about it.

Ms. Biss, with facts and humor, describes this war, which was first reported in 1889 by the New York Times.

"Whenever telephone companies erected poles, homeowners and business owners were sawing them down, or defending their sidewalks with rifles. Property owners in Red Bank, New Jersey, threatened to tar and feather the workers putting up telephone poles."

But there was a darker side to telephone poles.

"In 1898, in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi, a black man was hanged from a telephone pole. And in Weir City, Kansas. And in Brookhaven, Mississippi. And in Holdenville, Oklahoma, where the hanged man was 'riddled with bullets.' In Danville, Illinois, a black man was hanged from a telephone pole, cut down, burned, shot, and stoned with bricks. A black man was hung from a telephone pole in Belleville, Illinois, where a fire was set at the base of the pole and the man was cut down half alive, covered in coal oil and burned. While his body was burning, the mob beat it with clubs and cut it to pieces."

There's more, much more.

"In Shreveport, Louisiana, a black man charged with attacking a white girl was hanged from a telephone pole. 'A knife was left sticking in the body.' In Cumming, Georgia, a black man accused of assaulting a white girl was shot repeatedly, then strung up from a telephone pole.

"A postcard was made from a photo of a burned man hanging from a telephone pole in Texas, his legs broken off below the knee and his arms curled up and blackened. Postcards of lynchings were sent out as greetings and warnings until 1908, when the postmaster general declared them unmailable. 'This is the barbecue we had last night,' reads one."

Moving right along.

"In Pittsburg, Kansas, a black man's throat was slit and his dead body was strung up on a telephone pole. 'At first the negro was defiant,' the New York Times reported, 'but just before he was hanged he begged hard for his life.

"In Cumberland, Maryland, a mob used a telephone pole as a battering ram to break into the jail where a black man charged with the murder of a policeman was being held. They kicked him to death, then fired twenty shots into his head. They wanted to burn the body, but a minister asked them not to."

Ms. Biss says that over 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the 20th century, but none of them became law. "Seven presidents lobbied for anti-lynching legislation, and the House of Representatives passed three separate measures, each of which was blocked by the Senate."

I recall, years ago, of reading how men from a Methodist church in a small southern town, following an evening prayer meeting, decided they needed to lynch a black man, and did so. They had a great time. Knowing something of the religious demographics of the southern part of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, one can be fairly certain that most of those involved in the lynchings of blacks were members of either a Methodist or Baptist church.

Good Christians, too. Believed in Jesus. Going to heaven. Baptized and born again in the Holy Spirit!

Of course, the religious right, is not into lynching blacks today, but rather have taken after gay people (in every way but actually stringing them up), and they cry out, in wounded whimpering, that these United States is a Christian nation, always has been, and by God, if they have their way, it always will be. Some wish to stone gays to death just like God instructs his followers to do!

As if that would make us better people.

If we've always been a Christian nation, maybe we ought to look for another God. Or none at all.

Jon Stewart - This Week in Demagogues

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
This Week in Demagogues - Ahmadinejad & Chavez
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Indigenous irony in Palin's Alaska

Sarah Palin has not put much credence in climate change, or specifically, in global warming. In essence she has said that if there is such a thing as global warming, it is not because of anything humans have done.

In this regard, she has followed her idol, George W. Bush, for the past eight years. Climate change was not something Ms. Palin worried about. She'd rather shoot wolves from a helicopter. Climate change? Ignore it; maybe the naysayers will go away.

And that in spite of the consensus of scientists around the world that the danger climate change poses is not only real, but is growing more serious much more rapidly than anyone thought. It seems now that the only so-called "scientists" who kicked back against the reality of climate change were those paid by the oil companies and other corporate liars to do so.

Here's the irony. According to the Anchorage Daily News, "Hundreds of indigenous people from around the world are gathering in Anchorage this week to discuss climate change and solutions for a warming planet."

It isn't any secret that few governments and few government officials give a damn about indigenous people. That has been true since time immemorial and while there has been some movement to address the special needs of indigenous people, they remain way down on the priority lists.

So, ironically, indigenous peoples gather in Palin's state to see what they can contribute to the solution of this threat to all humanity. Their gathering is called "The Indigenous Peoples' Global Summit on Climate Change" and is "a five-day United Nations-affiliated conference" [which] will run through Friday, with about 400 people from 80 nations expected to attend."

Mary Pemberton tells the story in an excellent article for the Anchorage Daily News. She quotes Patricia Cochran, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, an organization representing about 150,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka in Russia, who said "Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to the global problem of climate change but will amost certainly bear the greatest brunt of its impact."

Cochran went on to say that indigenous people are seldom listened to when it comes to climate change and she hopes this conference will turn that around.

"We wanted to have a unified voice, to be able to have more influence over the political and other decisions that are being made that impact our communities."

How is climate change affecting indigenous people? In Newtok, in Western Alaska, says Pemberton, a river is rising so fast that residents are having to flee to higher elevations. "The whole village is sinking," said one resident.

Furthermore, "the permafrost has become extremely delicate and the tundra now is prone to tearing if vehicles run over it in the summer." And once it tears it begins to melt.

Indigenous people from around the world have similar stories which, different in kind, still derive from climate change. Southern Australia is in the midst of one its worst droughts ever!

Other areas of concern include Papua, New Guinea; Borneo; Mexico; South America; Africa.

It's about time the rulers of the nations listened to the people. Hell, they might even learn something!

You can read all of Mary Pemberton's article here.

Here's a video examining the effect of global warming on Mount Everest.

An open mind is a dangerous thing...Tim Minchin

Monday, April 20, 2009

What would Yahweh do?

What's wrong with talking?

[Image by Reuters]

For the wingnuts on the right, including dipshits like New Gingrich, talking to one's "enemy" is tantamount to making him/her king.

So, when Obama lifted some travel restrictions, etc., regarding Cuba (but not the trade embargo), the wingnuts went crazy as if he was single-handedly turning the U.S. into a satellite of Castro the Marxist. P. M. Carpenter put it, "What Obama did in tandem with lifting those travel restrictions ... was to announce, in a kind of diplomatic dance, his one and only bargaining chip. His administration, he said again at the Summit of the Americas, is 'prepared to ... engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues -- from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues."

Bingo! "And sure enough, it was also last week that Cuba's president Raul Castro, announced for the first time that his government is 'willing to discuss everything, human rights, freedom of press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything they want to talk about."

Now while this isn't the second coming, it does change the type of missiles and trajectories the two countries have been aiming at each other -- words have been exchanged for weapons.

What can be bad in that?

But the apopoleptic response of the Repugnican right grew even more shrill and vociferous when Obama actually dared shake the hand of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

The wingnut who Carpenter calls "that little toad of a Big Thinker," Newt Gingrich, ran out of the house to get away from his 12th or 13th wife, and said "[Obama] has made life easier for the Castro dictatorship in Cuba, why not embrace or at least be cheerful and friendly with Hugo Chavez?"

But he wasn't done. Newt, the paragon of serial adulterers and foreign policy expertise, claimed that Obama's actions "sends a terrible signal to all of Latin America, and a terrible signal about how the new administraton regards dictators."

But Newt, of course, was not the only one. A women, speaking for John Boehner, another Repugnican weeper, claimed Obama was allowing Chavez to gain publicity at the "expense of the United States." And "Republican Senator John Ensign labeled Obama's cordiality 'irresponsible.'"

Well, Newt, most of the hoi polloi are probably ignorant of our recent history, but you can rest assured that some of us are quite aware of the love exhibited for rotten, no good dictators by previous Republican administrations is a matter of public record. Saudi Arabia comes to mind, as an example, Newt. What do you have to say about them apples? With Repugnicans, it's always been about protecting American interests (read corporations). Any dictator is good if he's willing to protect our corporate interests. Hell, we'll even let him terrorize his own people!

And isn't it better, in the long run, to try to mend fences, to better understand each other, to try to come to some agreement so that we can all live together and maybe work toward a peaceful solution to our differences?

That is not in the Repugnican playbook, I guess. There it is written "drill, baby, drill," and "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" or any other country that we don't like at the moment! And if we discover another Iraq which has oil we want, we'll just invade and blow the country to smithereens, no matter the human costs!

Methinks Obama's is the better way. But it sure as hell would be nice if a few "leaders" of the opposition would show a bit more concern for their country than getting reelected by their Ignorance R us base!

P.M. Carpenter has much more to say at BuzzFlash and he can say it better than I can; read his entire article here.

Another interesting article here.

Irony among the wingnuts

You will remember, I'm sure, how during the last presidential election, wingnuts on the right, including one of the chief wingnuts, Sarah Palin, attacked Michelle Obama for a statement she made in Wisconsin about how for the first time in her adult lifetime she was proud of her country.

"Omigod," cried the wingnuts. "We love our country," cried the wingnuts. "We've always loved our country," cried the wingnuts. And they preened and pranced on stages around the nation, patting themselves on the back for being great and long-time patriots even though they helped George W. Bush damn near destroy our constitution and everything we stand for in the process!

Where are these wingnuts today? Well, some of them are talking about seceding from their "beloved" country! Some of them seem to be not at all proud of their country anymore since a Democrat is president; hell, not only a Democrat, but a black Democrat! And he's probably a socialist on top of it! What's this country coming to, anyway?

Oh how time has made ancient good uncouth, to quote an ancient hymn. Now, even though they lost the election and can no long run the country into the ground, they think it might be best if they pull out and start their own country. If they can no longer be proud of their country, and its tendency to make war on people in other countries, they'll just go and start their own damn country, thank you very much! In Texas, they've even got a president lined up - some dumbass B-grade movie star, by name of Norris, who pretends he's a warrior, when in fact he's a washed up bum from nowhere.

Where's the outrage? Why isn't fat-ass Limbaargh bellowing into his microphone about these phony patriots who no longer love their country or only love their country when everything is going their way? Why isn't airhead Beck weeping in front of the cameras about all of these traitorous assholes who obviously hate their country? Why aren't Newt and Sarah and old John and all other Repugnican nogoodniks screaming their heads off about the seemingly treasonous comments by Perry and the like about seceding from the union?

It's ironic.

Who's loves her country now? Who took up the challenge to work with her husband to try to right the wrongs of the deviants who for eight long years insinuated their criminality into the very fabric of our nation?

Even more ironic, the two wingnuts complaining most about the federal government, taxes, and non-representation are Palin and Perry, governors of states who lead the list of those that get the most bang for their buck from the feds.

Watch our first lady speak. With grace and eloquence she exhibits a true understanding of the fundamental nature of the United States of America.

Uploaded by krs601

How to know you're a fundamentalist Christian

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Would Jesus NOT Do?

Another take on an omniscient and omnipotent god. It's fairly long but worth every minute.

(via The Friendly Atheist)

Ray Comfort meets the Evangelist's Nightmare

I'd say this is about right. And it will certainly bring a much needed smile to your face. Unless, of course, you are a Ray Comfort fan. In that case, you'll probably scowl, scowl, scowl all the way to your holy book.

Thanks to Dan Florien at Unreasonable Faith.

Ignorance R Us

We are a nation of ignoramuses who believe facts don't matter and are led and misled by a corporate media that long ago gave up truth and honor and thus its mission in a quest for the almighty dollar and the privilege of being admitted to the White House briefing room.

For eight years, the MSM parroted the lies of the Bush/Cheney gang, rarely questioning even the most outrageous of the falsehoods, but rather promoting those variations on the truth to an unsuspecting and increasingly ignorant public, even when faced with confirmation of Bushite dissembling.

The fact that Bush ignored briefings in August of 2001 which specifically stated Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States, and noted it was likely that aircraft would be the carriers of destruction, was simply not important enough for the MSM to cover in any detail and/or would like raise an unnecessary stink which would in turn frustrate its corporate owners who walked lockstep with the Bush administration in order to obtain Bush's beneficial grants to the richest among us.

The enormous lies, constantly changing, that Bush promoted to justify his imperial invasion of a sovereign country as he swaggered from Washington to Texas, simply didn't resonate with the MSM, which refused to confront the enormity of this treason, and thus became complicit in the devastation it has caused.

Torture, illegal wiretapping, turning the White House into a chapel for the faith-based, destroying whatever residual goodwill there was for America around the world - none of these things caused enough of a stir amongst the MSM to make any difference whatsoever. But wasn't it interesting how, on his ranch, the faux Texan cleared brush and rode around in a pickup? Now that was a good story!

Today, the MSM welcomes the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, providing them a platform to opine to the hoi polloi that President Obama is leading us down the path to terroristic destruction. Today, generals and former attorney generals write articles which appear in major newspapers decrying the release of the torture memos as if the truth and not the torture was the problem.

And the majority of Americans do not know enough about our country or our constitution to quibble.

Mark Slouka, in February's Harper's magazine, wrote an article entitled "A Quibble," which begins by noting that "Bucking all recent precedent, we seem to have put a self-possessed, intelligent man in the White House who, if he manages to avoid being bronzed before his first hundred days are up, may actually succeed in correcting the course of empire."

But it won't be easy, because he leads a nation of ignoramuses who are proud of their stupidity.

For example: Slouka tells of his neighbor, a high school teacher, who "wants to torture a terrorist. He's worried because he believes that Osama -- excuse me, Obama -- cares more about terrorists than he does about us. He's never heard of the Spanish Inquisition."

Another neighbor wants to ban a book in the high school library because it contained some mild cuss words. Of course he hadn't read the book, "He didn't really go in for reading, himself, he said."

No doubt each of us knows people just like those two. Many of them. Too many.

Slouka continues:

"What we need to talk about, what someone needs to talk about, particularly now, is our ever-deepening ignorance (of politics, of foreign languages, of history, of science, of current affairs, of pretty much everything) and not just our ignorance but our complacency in the face of it, our growing fondness for it."

We love how stupid we are. "Ignorance gives us a sense of community; it confers citizenship; our representatives either share it or bow down to it or risk our wrath."

We care about a lot of things, say Slouka, like car racing and celebrities, and Jesus (though we don't have much of a clue about what he actually taught), and America and the flag ...

Ignorance R us. "One out of every four of us believes we've been reincarnated; 44 percent of us believe in ghosts; 71 percent, in angels. Forty percent of us believe God created all things in their present form sometime during the last 10,000 years. Nearly the same number--not coincidentally, perhaps--are functionally illiterate. Twenty percent think the sun might revolve around the earth."

Not only so, but because of our ignorance, we have come to believe that opinions are just as valid as facts. It matters not that we know nothing about socialism or climate change, we can be agin' it and hate it, and believe we are justified in our "opinions."

Slouka dramatizes such nonsense with a story about a man he met "in the Tulsa Motel 6 swimming pool ... last summer [who pronounced]: 'If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us.'"

Thus we have devolved to the point where many, if not most of us, are convinced that "when it comes to the realm of ideas, all folks (and their opinions) are suddenly equal. Thus evolution is a damned lie, global warming a liberal hoax, and Republicans care about people like you."

Sarah Palin exemplified the ignorance that permeates our population and in fact, it was her ignorance that drew so many to her side. "So what if Sarah Palin couldn't answer Charles Gibson's sneaky question about the Bush Doctrine? We didn't know what it was either."

Sarah Palin also represents the danger inherent in our ignorance. As Slouka points out: Of the approximately 130 million Americans who voted this past November, very nearly half, seemingly stuck in political puberty, were untroubled by the possibility of Sarah Palin and the first dude inheriting the White House."

Perhaps worse is the fact that fully 38 percent of the population didn't care enough or know enough to get off their obese asses and vote.

Even worse than that, and the point of this essay, is that we have "Millions of others ... [who] are adults who don't know what the Bill of Rights is, who have never heard of Lenin, who think Africa is a nation, who have never read a book. I've talked to enough of them to know that many are decent people, and that decency is not enough. Witches are put to the stake by decent people. Ignorance trumps decency any day of the week."

When ignorance R us, beliefs matter, knowledge not so much. Thus rightwing conservatives cherry pick stories from the Founding Fathers to demonstrate they were born-again Christians engaged in creating a Christian nation. That's not surprising because they've been cherry-picking their holy book for 2,000 years to justify whatever crazy and cranky theology they believe at any given moment.

Evolution is a myth because they are ignorant of biblical studies and believe their frenzied, lying preachers who pontificate about an inerrant bible. Global warming is not a problem, and all the scientific evidence means nothing because they are "conservatives" and "believe" that somehow, for some unknown reason, "liberals" are trying to use global warming to take over the government and make us "socialists," although they remain ignorant of what socialism is and indeed some of the ignorant at the tea parties equated socialism with fascism.

Slouka's final paragraph should be framed and hung in every American home:

"Praise me for a citizen or warm up the pillory, it comes down to the unpleasant fact that a significant number of our fellow citizens are now as greedy and gullible as a boxful of puppies; they'll believe anything; they'll attack the empty glove; they'll follow that plastic bone right off the cliff.

"Nothing about this election has changed that fact. If they're ever activated--if the wrong individual gets to them, in other words, before the educational system does--we may live to experience a tyranny of the majority Tocqueville never imagined."

We came close, Mr. Slouka. The last eight years brought us to the brink. The question is whether we can back away and get our bearings and turn this country around? We've got a long way to go, because, in fact, ignorance R us.

Mr. Slouka's entire article can be read here (and it's worth reading)!

Need a bigger god?

Some folks in Florida are looking for a bigger god, what with hurricane season some upon us. Where will they go to find such a god? To Texas, silly, that where all the big gods hang out!

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Headzup - This week in cartoons

Thanks to Video Cafe.