Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Good Book

It is my firm belief that the dictionary is a much more important book than the Bible.

From Atheist: Africa Needs God, Not Just Aid by Ethan Cole:

The problems in Africa cannot be solved with aid money alone, but Africans need to know God, contends an atheist journalist and former politician.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an atheist as “one who believes that there is no deity.” And of course, deity is defined as “God.”

Good God! It is so hard to refrain from calling people names sometimes. Without saying it, we all know what Ethan Cole is. Don’t we?

"This threw evangelicals into a tizzy"

From Heaven for the Godless? by Charles M. Blow:

In June, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published a controversial survey in which 70 percent of Americans said that they believed religions other than theirs could lead to eternal life.

This threw evangelicals into a tizzy. After all, the Bible makes it clear that heaven is a velvet-roped V.I.P. area reserved for Christians. Jesus said so: “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” But the survey suggested that Americans just weren’t buying that.

The evangelicals complained that people must not have understood the question. The respondents couldn’t actually believe what they were saying, could they?

So in August, Pew asked the question again. (They released the results last week.) Sixty-five percent of respondents said — again — that other religions could lead to eternal life. But this time, to clear up any confusion, Pew asked them to specify which religions. The respondents essentially said all of them.

And they didn’t stop there. Nearly half also thought that atheists could go to heaven — dragged there kicking and screaming, no doubt — and most thought that people with no religious faith also could go.

What on earth does this mean?
It means that when it comes to religious beliefs people believe whatever the hell they want to believe. I believe this is a sign that eventually religious belief will go the way of the dodo bird.

No matter how hard they try to hold on to the things that the Bible and other religious anachronisms tell them, many religious people are becoming more and more secular, whether they know it or not. The more religious people that drift away from the fundamentalist beliefs of religion the weaker religion will become.

From page 19 of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris:
Religious moderation springs from the fact that even the least educated person among us simply knows more about certain matters than anyone did two thousand years ago - and much of this knowledge is incompatible with scripture. Having heard something about the medical discoveries of the last hundred years, most of us no longer equate disease processes with sin or demonic possession. Having learned about the known distances between objects in our universe, most of us (about half of us, actually) find the idea that the whole works was created six thousand years ago (with light from distant stars already in transit toward the earth) impossible to take seriously. Such concessions to modernity do not in the least suggest that faith is compatible with reason, or that our religious traditions are in principle open to new learning: it is just that the utility of ignoring (or “reinterpreting”) certain articles of faith is now overwhelming. Anyone being flown to a distant city for heart-bypass surgery has conceded, tacitly at least, that we have learned a few things about physics, geography, engineering, and medicine since the time of Moses.
Even though it seems like it is taking forever, and even though things like intelligent design, trying to ban stem cell research, all the bitching about the "new atheists", and Barack Obama sidling up to Rick Warren may slow the process down, at some point the rubber band of religious belief has to break as more and more people become unable to reconcile their beliefs with reality.

God's Blessing

From Religion versus religiosity by Paul Campos:

Choosing somebody like Warren is an insult not only to political progressives, but to religious believers (and especially politically progressive religious believers). It trivializes religious belief -- which I would bet even most of Warren's biggest fans will recognize as well, thus eliminating any supposed political advantage to be gained from this nauseating little exercise in pseudo-ecumenical posturing.
I’m OK with thinking that this is an insult to religious believers. I agree, and I think that it is a good thing to point out. But I do have a question. How do you trivialize something that is already trivial?

Den Of Thieves?

From Americans think Madoff's behavior is common - poll by David Goldman:

Most Americans believe that investment fraud like the recently revealed Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff happens regularly on Wall Street, according to a recent survey.
Government regulation has been a hot political topic since the credit crisis began in mid-September. Many Democratic lawmakers have accused the Bush administration of allowing institutions and investors to operate with too little oversight, leading to irresponsible bets and illegal activity that spelled disaster for the markets.

Bush appointee Christopher Cox, the SEC's chairman, has been widely criticized for failing to act on information that could have prevented Madoff's scheme. Cox said last week at a Congressional hearing that "credible information" had been brought to the SEC's attention over a period of nearly 10 years about Madoff's activities, but no formal investigation was made.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hey Hey, My My

Why are we letting a “sport” contribute to global warming?

From Gentlemen, Stop Your Engines by Robert Weintraub:

But NASCAR's biggest problem isn't fixable with a couple of sexy drivers or a breathless season finale in Miami. The sport can't escape the fact that the internal combustion engine and fossil fuels are technologies on a steep downslope. With hybrids and electrics on the way in, it's hard to see where gas-guzzling, emission-belching stock cars fit in. Unlike the Indy Racing League and Formula 1 (open-wheel racing circuits famous for the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix, respectively), NASCAR has yet to implement alternative-fuel programs—hell, it only switched to unleaded gasoline last season!
Continuing to fund stock-car racing would be a sign that Detroit simply cannot function in the new century. When and if U.S. automakers come up with a better alternative to their outmoded product, I'll be all for getting them out to racetracks to trade a little paint. But there is an unshakeable anachronistic whiff to NASCAR these days. Like the saber-toothed tiger and the cassette tape, stock cars had their time—but that time is now past. Yes, it flamed out quickly, but that's how Neil Young says it should happen. Detroit's nightmare is an opportunity for NASCAR to do the right thing and suspend operations. Once it goes, we'll probably wonder why it ever existed in the first place.

What Will Bush And Cheney Do After The White House?

After Washington, what will Bush and Cheney be moving on to? Are they the type to go gently into that good night? I don’t think so. My guess is that Bush and Cheney will nominate themselves for the position of God. After all, they both see themselves as infallible (they never make mistakes, according to themselves of course) and they both see themselves as deserving of unlimited power. The next logical step for them is that most ultimate of executive branches.

They spent eight years trying to destroy the United States of America. Will they now spend eternity trying to destroy heaven and hell?

Let's Pardon Everybody!

If some people can be pardoned for breaking the law, why not pardon everyone? Let’s open all the prison doors and set everyone free. After all, America is the land of equality.

From If Criminal Penalties Are Removed, What Will Deter Lawbreaking by Political Officials? by Glenn Greenwald:

We already weighed the competing considerations between freedom and security and then enacted laws which authorized certain behaviors and criminalized others. If that balance should be altered, the solution -- in a society that lives under the rule of law -- is for the laws to be changed democratically, not for political leaders to decide at will and in secret that they will break those laws and then argue after the fact that the laws they broke were bad ones. Political leaders aren't vested with lawbreaking power. To the contrary, the Constitution explicitly requires that they "faithfully execute" those laws, not violate them at will.

Isn't this all so painfully basic? When the predominant Beltway argument is stripped of euphemisms, it amounts to nothing less than the claim that our political leaders should be -- and are -- free to break our laws. And that's the system we've adopted. It's why Dick Cheney feels free to smugly admit in public that he authorized these war crimes. He knows that the Ruth Marcuses of the world will intervene to defend him. Still, it's one thing to argue that American political leaders should have the power to commit crimes. It's another thing entirely to advance the insultingly deceitful and Orwellian claim that doing so is necessary so we can focus on preventing similar lawbreaking in the future.
Bush may pardon Cheney, and all the rest. I never will.

Family Values

Don’t worry, Sarah will pray for her and make everything OK.

From Bristol Palin's boyfriend's mom arrested in drug case by Martina M. Stewart:

Sherry Johnston, whose son is having a baby with the daughter of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was arrested Thursday on drug charges, Alaska State Police said.

Johnston's teenage son, Levi, is the boyfriend of Bristol Palin, eldest daughter of the former GOP vice-presidential nominee.

Johnston was arrested in her home in Wasilla, Alaska, on six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance, police said.

Dick Cheney Deserves It More Than Patrick Leahy

Fuck off Dick Cheney, go fuck yourself!

Go crawl into a cave somewhere in Wyoming (fucking yourself en route, of course) and leave the rest of us alone for a change. You will make the world a better place.

From Cheney: Senator deserved the f-word by Ed Hornick:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, deserved it when Cheney launched the f-word at him in 2004.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Cheney was asked if he had any second thoughts or embarrassment. "No. I thought he merited it at the time," Cheney said, laughing.

The incident occurred in June 2004 when both Cheney and Leahy were on the Senate floor.

Sources who related the incident to CNN at the time said the vice president had told Leahy to either "f— off" or "go f— yourself."
Dick Cheney, someone children can look up to, and emulate. Gee daddy, when I grow up I want to be vice-president, he gets to say fuck.

Let's Throw Shoes At Clueless Cheney

From Cheney: 'I Don’t Have Any Idea' Why People Don't Like Me by Faiz Shakir:

Only 29 percent of Americans approve of the job Dick Cheney is doing as vice president. In an interview with his hometown Wyoming newspaper, the Caspar Star-Tribune, Cheney expressed his bewilderment over his low approval numbers:
QUESTION: How do you explain your low approval rating?

CHENEY: I don't have any idea. I don't follow the polls.

My experience has been over the years that if you govern based upon poll numbers, upon trying to improve your overall poll ratings, people I've encountered who do that are people who won't make tough decisions. And the job the president has, and those who advise him, is to make those basic fundamental decisions for the nation that nobody else is authorized or able to make.
What happens when all those decisions are the wrong decisions, Mr. Cheney?

Oh, and here's a clue for you Mr. Cheney. Most people don't like pompous, arrogant, self-centered, lying, evil bastards. Let the door hit you really hard on the way out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jesus Has Returned To Earth

When was the last time that a standup comic was crucified?

Jesus H. Christ! Jesus has “shit to do” and from the cross he can “see Sarah Palin’s house.”

So Help Me God, Rick Warren Is Being Sued

Actually, Rick Warren and a bunch of other people are being sued.

From Atheists suing to remove religion from inauguration by by Trina Hoaks:

A lawsuit if being filed today in the District of Columbia, according to an article on the Friendly Atheist Web site, to ban religious ceremony from the inauguration. As I have expressed my disdain, more than once, over the fact that religion is included in this governmental ceremony, you can imagine how pleased I am to see someone taking action to end it. My only lament is for the fact that I am not a part of it.

It is difficult to anticipate how this will turn out, as attempts like this one have, in the past, failed. But, make no mistake, just because they have failed, that doesn’t mean they weren’t valid complaints.

Because the US is predominantly Christian, madness like this is supported and allowed to continue. As per usual, lawmakers and politicians allow their politics to be influenced by their religion – which they absolutely should not do as they are supposedly legally bound not to do so. Hopefully, they will wake up once and for all and do what it is they are supposed to do… defend the law of the country.

Got An IRA?

From How much do you know about IRAs? by Robert Powell:

Make no mistake about it: The IRA is America's savings vehicle of choice. In 2007, assets in such accounts totaled $4.75 trillion, more than any other type of retirement account, according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute study published Wednesday.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that most Americans still don't have a clue about IRAs, even though they've been available for more than 25 years. Most Americans -- even those who don't have access to a 401(k) plan at work -- don't contribute to an IRA.

Just 10% of eligible taxpayers contributed to IRAs each year from 2000 to 2004, according to EBRI. And much of the growth in IRAs comes from rollovers (when a worker leaves his employer and transfers his 401(k) to an IRA) rather than new contributions.

So, it would appear that Americans still have much to learn about IRAs. Here are the best features - and least-known facts -- about IRAs, according to the experts:
Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Have you heard? Digital TV is taking over from analog TV in February. Of course you’ve heard. Who hasn’t? Martians probably know about this. Why is this news so important? Does it require the huge media blitz attached to it? More important, in these times of economic turmoil, how much is it costing? How much of it is taxpayer money? I don’t know. Do you?

Can you say overkill? How about overspending?

What a waste of money!

Laura Bush Talks About Shoes

From Laura Bush ‘wasn’t amused’ by shoe incident by Kristi Keck:

First Lady Laura Bush said that although she “wasn’t amused” when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at her husband, she sees the incident as a sign that “Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves.”

Earlier this month, an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Bush ducked, and the shoes, flung one at a time, sailed past his head.

“It was an assault. And that's what it is,” the first lady said in an interview that aired Sunday on “Fox News.”

“And the president laughed it off. He wasn't hurt. He's very quick. As you know, he's a natural athlete. And that's it. But on the other hand, it is an assault, and I think it should be treated that way,” she said.
Dubya was amused, why wasn’t Laura? Do you find “Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves” to be an extremely arrogant expression? I do. Do you find it to be extremely insulting? I do. Do you find it to be delusional? I do. Laura Bush is effectively saying that Iraqis should be thankful that we invaded their country, killed and maimed many of their civilians, and bombed them into the Stone Age so that they could throw their shoes at President Bush. She wants them to be thankful that she and her idiot husband gave them freedom. (How free are the ones who are dead, Laura?) And yet, when one of them chooses to express himself using this wonderful freedom, Laura Bush doesn’t like it. Freedom. Does Laura Bush even understand the meaning of the word?

I have a question for Laura. If throwing shoes is an assault, what do call what your husband did to Iraq? If Muntadhar al-Zaidi is to be held accountable for his actions, shouldn’t George W. Bush also be held accountable for his actions, as well? Let's remember that Muntadhar al-Zaidi did not kill anyone. He didn't even injure anyone. What kind of assault is that? Assault. Does Laura Bush even understand the meaning of the word?

Perhaps we should have invaded Iraq with an army of shoe throwers.

Perhaps someone should have given Laura Bush a dictionary for Christmas.

Here is more on the topic of the shoes of Muntadhar al-Zaidi by Bruce A. Jacobs.
And so Bush, feckless and clueless as ever, makes his final victory lap, and the shoes fly. And, thankfully, in another month we will be airlifting him out of Washington.

Quote Of Note - Benjamin Franklin

“If you make yourself a sheep, the wolves will eat you.” Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lumping Together

Personal Religulosity, Part One

Meanwhile, over at the Multiplexcomic forum many words have been written about Personal Religulosity.

Friday, December 26, 2008

25% Of Americans Have Had Their Brain Removed

From Poll: 75% glad Bush is done by Paul Steinhauser:

A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel President Bush's departure from office is coming not a moment too soon.

Did Lady Bird Abuse Her Power?

In this country that prides itself on freedom of speech, you better watch what you say. If a person is powerful enough, you could end up getting screwed.

From Sultry singer, actress Eartha Kitt dies at 81 by The Associated Press:

Kitt was plainspoken about causes she believed in. Her anti-war comments at the White House came as she attended a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.

“You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed,” she told the group of about 50 women. “They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”

For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.

"The thing that hurts, that became anger, was when I realized that if you tell the truth — in a country that says you're entitled to tell the truth — you get your face slapped and you get put out of work," Kitt told Essence magazine two decades later.
From Eartha Kitt 'Speaking Freely' transcript:
Paulson: This is a show largely about free expression and the First Amendment. And you had a singular experience one day having lunch at the White House. And I’d like to explore that with you because that story’s been told from a number of different perspectives. And I’d just like to walk through it very carefully. We’re going to get the definitive story of Eartha Kitt and Lady Bird that day at the White House. You were invited to lunch with fifty other women. What did you believe you were going to do? What was the expectation of that luncheon?

Kitt: First of all, the invitation said, “Why is there so much juvenile delinquency in the streets of America?” And I took the subject seriously because I work with different areas of the United States among the young people. I still have an organization in Watts called Kittsville, where we bring the young people in to teach them physical therapies of the dance form, et cetera, et cetera … as well as other things. But this luncheon was with us fifty women who were to discuss the problems among the young people at that time, and when the time came, I raised my hand and told Mrs. Johnson what the young boys of this country had told me, who had fled United States, met me in my dressing rooms, no matter which part of the world I was in, such as Canada and England, et cetera. And we would sit on my floor of my dressing room, or in my hotel suite, and we would discuss what it was that they was problemed with, and the biggest problem among them was our involvement in Vietnam. And they said, “If you’re a good guy, you don’t get sent … you get sent to Vietnam. If you’re a bad guy, you have a little stigma against you and you don’t go to Vietnam.” Not that they did not love the country, but they didn’t want us to be involved there. It was a dishonorable war, and it was an unwinnable war. So when I raised my hand and told Mrs. Johnson what those boys had told me and also how I felt about our involvement in Vietnam, it seems that within two hours I was out of work in the United States, according to my dossier that was given to me not just … not the whole thing, just a smidgen. It said that I was on the CIA list in the United States of America.

Paulson: Now you spoke up during a discussion that was largely devoted to the beautification of America.

Kitt: Well, her idea, and according to the ladies there, too, was to plant wild seeds along Route 66.


Kitt: And I thought, that’s all very well and good. But what we need is education for everyone, equal education for all, and why is it that our schools are so dilapidated and our educational system so much at fault? Because I believe that if you get an education, you can cross anybody’s line. Because it’s your intelligence that counts, not what you look like.


Paulson: Did you have any sense as you walked from the White House that day what was about to hit you? Did you have any idea that you had jumped into boiling water?

Kitt: No. Because I have a feeling of freedom in my country, and we are on grounds that says you have that freedom of … freedom of speech, freedom from oppression, freedom from … all sorts of oppressions. I still feel that way. And as I said, we in our country can solve our own problems on our own home grounds, and therefore what we feel in our own country should be exercised, the freedoms that we have here.

Paulson: Did you have contracts canceled on you immediately when you went … I mean, was it a matter of weeks, was it a matter of minutes that you knew that something terribly bad was going to happen to your career?

Kitt: It was a matter of, I think, weeks because after the luncheon, three weeks later I was supposed to open at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. And I called the agency to go over the contract to see that everything was so and so and so. And they said, “What contract?” And I said, “But … blah-blah-blah.” Said that you had … don’t have a contract there. And when I called the Ambassador Hotel, they … acted as though they’d never even heard of me. And I think I still have that contract somewhere in my scrapbooks. And that’s when I began to realize what is happening. Has my popularity waned? Am I … what … what did I do wrong? Have I done something wrong? And that’s when I began to realize that I wasn’t able to get work in the United States. Not because they didn’t want me as an artist, but they didn’t want the CIA or the FBI on their doorsteps. That’s why you’re out of work, without even realizing it.

Paulson: And what we have found out since then, thanks to some investigative reporting, is there were in fact both CIA and FBI agents looking into you.

Kitt: Yes.

Paulson: They … the dossier, I think the most ugly thing they could find to say about you, let’s see, was … you were a sadistic nymphomaniac. That was …


Kitt: I think I lost a page in my life somewhere, but … yes.

Paulson: Which some would regard as a compliment.


Paulson: But … that was … that was the ugly thing they asserted about you.

Kitt: And that’s all they could come … back with, because they’re doing … they’re doing investigations behind your back and you don’t even know it. And all you know is that you can’t work and you don’t know why. Nothing is ever explained to you.

Paulson: By all accounts, you spent about eleven years without Stateside work. When did you know that the curtain was lifting that you were … you were in effect able to come back and work in the United States?

Kitt: When Geoffrey Holder called me … he flew to Los Angeles and he came to my house in Beverly Hills and asked me if I would do Celine LaLong in his production of “Timbuktu,” which is “Kismet,” as everyone knows. And it’s the number five character. She’s not number one, two, three or four. But I never worried about whether you are the lead character or not. The audience knows that. The audience always knows who is the star, and therefore I don’t have any arguments with that. So when he asked me … naturally, I said, it was wonderful. So I came back to do “Timbuktu.” And I was brought in on the stage in the hands of Tony Carroll, who is the … the opposite, or I suppose the same kind of person as Schwarzenegger. They were in competition with one another at one time. And he brought me in onto the stage and I had one foot on his body like that. The other foot was in his hand. And my derriere was in his hand.


Kitt: I’ve always wanted a man like that. I haven’t found one yet. But when I walked up … when I came on the stage, before I could take my body and my feet down, the audience … the audience stood up and gave me a standing ovation, even before I opened my mouth. That’s when I realized …


Kitt: … I was okay. (Laughs)

How Many Americans Acutually Have Brains?

Why is it so hard for so many Americans to understand something as simple as the concept of the separation of church and state? Do they not have a brain, or do they simply not use it?

From No win in war on Christmas, not even for atheists by Bruce Ramsey:

In Olympia, the atheists won. After Christmas 2008, there will be no Nativity scenes until further notice.

Here is one infidel not celebrating. My fellow rationalists, I think, are being unreasonable. Their anti-Christian sign is in poor taste. To denounce the festivities of other people's religions is ill-mannered.

Christmas a holiday from work and strife, a day for tolerance and pardons. It is a day of family gathering and good food, of handing out presents and watching kids unwrap them, of carols and colored lights and decorated trees. At my house, a day for delicious Nürnberger Lebkuchen.

Much of my family is Christian, which gives them an extra reason to celebrate. That's all right. If they want to say grace at my table, they can. It's Christmas.

It was in a generous spirit that Gov. Christine Gregoire allowed a Nativity scene to be placed in the Capitol. Then came the atheists demanding equal time to put up a sign attacking belief in God.

The atheists wanted to pick a fight. But Christmas isn't the time for a fight, and a Nativity scene is not a challenge.

So there was a fight. Fox Network's Bill O'Reilly goaded some 15,000 listeners nationwide to phone our governor and pester her about it. Three groups of believers got the state's permission to put up counterattacks. Jews asked for a menorah. Two nutball groups in Kansas asked to put up signs, one to warn Washingtonians that "Santa Claus will take you to hell" — thank you for that — and another to promote something called the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The state wisely let in the menorah and shut the door on the zanies from Kansas. A public-relations guy for the Department of General Administration explained the state could have no more displays because it had run out of room. More likely, someone had run out of patience.
Bruce Ramsey describes himself as a rationalist. I do not believe that he is one. “To denounce the festivities of other people's religions” is not “ill-mannered.” (Never mind that no denouncing of festivities took place. See what the sign actually said later on.) If the religious are free to talk about and demonstrate their belief, then the irreligious and unreligous have a right to talk about and demonstrate their belief. Does not Mr. Ramsey believe in freedom of speech, and freedom of religion?

From Fighting Words For A Secular America by Robin Morgan:
Jefferson professed disbelief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ, while respecting moral teachings by whomever might have been a historical Jesus. He cut up a Bible, assembling his own version: “The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful,” he wrote Adams (January 24, 1814), “evidence that parts have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds.”

Scorning miracles, saints, salvation, damnation, and angelic presences, Jefferson embraced reason, materialism, and science. He challenged Patrick Henry, who wanted a Christian theocracy: “[A]n amendment was proposed by inserting ‘Jesus Christ,’ so that [the preamble] should read ‘A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion’; the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination” (from Jefferson’s Autobiography, referring to the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom).

The theme is consistent throughout Jefferson’s prolific correspondence: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God” (letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787).
Somebody better teach Thomas Jefferson some manners, because in the world of Bruce Ramsay good manners are more important than the truth. Does Ramsay wish that the colonists had shown better manners to the British way back when the king of England decided how people should practice their faith? Mr. Ramsay, are you sure it is not you who is being unresonable?

“It’s Christmas” as a reason for anything is like a parent telling a child “because I said so.” Ramsay has a right to speak for himself, but not for other “rationalists.” It may not bother Ramsay when some graceless clod says grace at his table, but I find this practice to be insulting, insensitive, and rude. How dare Ramsay say that the atheists are the “ill-mannered” ones.

A true rationalist realizes that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is actually much less a “nutball group” than the Catholic (or any other) church is. At the very least, they have a much better sense of humor than the Catholics.
Then came the atheists demanding equal time to put up a sign attacking belief in God.
Their anti-Christian sign is in poor taste. To denounce the festivities of other people's religions is ill-mannered.
This is what the sign said:
At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.
This statement does not attack belief in God. It is a statement of beliefs. It just happens to be a set of different beliefs than the ones held by the religious. Anyone who sees this as an attack is paranoid, and/or unable to read with the comprehension level of a seventh grader (a literate seventh grader, that is). The sign does not mention festivities at all, so how is it possible that it denounces them? If this sign is an attack on Christianity, then the Nativity (which symbolically says exactly the opposite of the sign) is an attack on atheism. How biased are you Mr. Ramsay? How is the sign anti-Christian? The sign is an equal opportunity employer. All religions are included, not just Christianity. Again, how biased are you Mr. Ramsay?

I disagree with your statement that “the atheists wanted to pick a fight.” That is your interpretation, not mine. Why isn’t Christmas a time for a fight? To an atheist it’s as good as any other time. Christmas holds no meaning for me. Once again, Mr. Ramsay, you are showing your bias. Not something a truly rational man would do. How is a Nativity scene, in the context of a public space, not a challenge to an atheist? Does not Mr. Ramsay understand the symbolism of the Nativity? Does Mr. Ramsay not understand the concept of separation of church and state?

As hard as it may be to do so, Mr. Ramsay, put yourself in the place of an atheist who looks at the nativity scene in a public place and sees the same ill-mannered attack on their beliefs that you see in The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s sign.

All the atheists are asking for is equality. How Un-American of them.

Better A Day Late, Than Never

‘Twas the Hate Before Christmas

I'm sure that the hate will remain after Christmas, as well.

Grinch This!

From The Atheists Who Try to Steal Christmas by Mary Grabar:

Tis the season. . . for atheist Grinches to display their hatred of Christmas by trying to stomp out one of the most visible displays of Christianity in a country founded, and still operating on, Judeo-Christian principles.
Good God Almighty! First of all, why would atheists want to steal something they don’t want? What would an atheist do with Christmas once he stole it? Contrary to popular belief, most atheists are very moral people and would never think of stealing anything.

Mary Grabar gets it, and doesn’t get it, all in one short sentence: “… to display their hatred of Christmas by trying to stomp out one of the most visible displays of Christianity…”. Many atheists dislike, even hate, Christmas because of its incessant visibility. Some atheists simply want equal time. Some, like me, would be happier without Christmas. After all, the true meaning of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the son of God. Again, Good God Almighty, why would an atheist possibly object to that?

How idiotic is it to write of “Judeo-Christian principles” while trying to defend the righteousness of Christmas?

How many times will “good” Christians ('You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.') repeat the lie that the United States was founded as a Christian nation?

In Fighting Words For A Secular America Robin Morgan says it better than I will ever be able to:
The Declaration of Independence contains not one word on religion, basing its authority on the shocking idea that power is derived from ordinary people, which challenged European traditions of rule by divine right and/or heavenly authority. (Remember, George III was king of England and anointed head of its church.)

The words “Nature’s God,” the “Creator” and “divine Providence ” do appear in the Declaration. But in its context — an era, and author, Thomas Jefferson, that celebrated science and the Enlightenment — these words are analogous to our contemporary phrase “life force.”

Jerry Falwell notoriously blamed 9/11 on “pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians … [and other groups] who have tried to secularize America.” He’s a bit late: In 1798, Alexander Hamilton accused Jefferson of a “conspiracy to establish atheism on the ruins of Christianity” in the new republic. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence William Boykin thunders, “We’re a Christian nation.”

But the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli — initiated by George Washington and signed into law by John Adams — proclaims: “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.”
Click on the link above (or this one right here) and read the quotes that Robin Morgan has gathered together from Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

To pick one, here is Thomas Paine:
Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity.
Religious people wonder why atheists are so angry. One answer is people like Mary Grabar. I try very hard to be civil when I write about this topic, however it takes every bit of restraint that my body and mind possess to refrain from hurling every epithet of a cursing nature that I know of at people like Mary Grabar. And like any good American, I know quite a few.

There are fifteen paragraphs in her article. I’ve only written about the first one, as well as the idiotic title. Will the future bring fourteen more posts from me about what an idiot Mary Grabar is?

I just found this. Last year Jillian at Sadly, No! proposed a new verb:
Grabar (vi): To ramble incoherently on a topic about which you know nothing, esp. in a manner possibly offensive to listeners, most often while in a state of extreme intoxication or other cognitive impairment. “Dude, you so totally grabared at the party yesterday that my girlfriend doesn’t want me hanging out with you anymore.”

How Rude Is It?

How rude is it to celebrate someone’s birthday by unconventional gift giving?

  • The person whose birthday it is doesn’t get any gifts.

  • The guests at his party give each other gifts.

  • The guests then spend the next day returning those gifts because they don’t like them.
Perhaps it is not so much rude, as it is insane.

Hey Dubya! Boot You!

From At Last, Giving Bush The Boot by H.D.S. Greenway:

The image of shoes being thrown at George W. Bush during his tarnished legacy tour of Iraq has already entered legend. That a Saudi offered to pay $10 million for just one of the shoes attests to the power of symbolism. The Turkish cobbler who made the shoes is being inundated with new orders from around the world.

It was outrageous, and the Iraqi government may have been embarrassed, but you can count on a substantial number of Arab boys born this month being named Muntader, after Muntader al Zaidi, the thrower. He is in deep trouble in Iraq, but for much of the world he is goody-two-shoes.

In Bush's last pathetic days, with the world going broke and his administration in a moral chapter 11, he continues to misrepresent his culpability in the calamities that have befallen the country on his watch. The most egregious was his statement, when asked if he had any regrets, that he wished the intelligence on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction could have been better. Bush blithely ignored the efforts his administration went to in order to twist the intelligence to his liking. The march to war was one of the greatest frauds of our time.
Greenway then goes on to describe how careless Bush was as president. Greenway uses this word many times to describe Bush. Others frequently describe Bush as incompetent. This irks me. Bush is simply immoral. Bush’s legacy of war, torture, and not upholding the Constitution (as he swore to do twice) is immoral. The fact that he is immoral is why he is careless, incompetent, and deceitful. A moral man would not start wars, a moral man would not let others suffer after a natural disaster, a moral man would never allow torture of other human beings, a moral man would not imprison others without giving them a fair trial, a moral man would not try to destroy the Constitution.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quote Of Note - Prince

"I don't understand what this holiday really means. It seems to be some ridiculous convention that everyone assumes." Prince

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Is Inescapable And Totalitarian

Christopher Hitchens makes Christmas sound an awful lot like communism. If Bill O’Reilly knew the truth about Christmas, would he switch sides in the war on Christmas?

Christopher Hitchens explains it, so that I don’t have to.

From 'Tis the Season To Be Incredulous by Christopher Hitchens:

The core objection, which I restate every December at about this time, is that for almost a whole month, the United States—a country constitutionally based on a separation between church and state—turns itself into the cultural and commercial equivalent of a one-party state.

As in such dismal banana republics, the dreary, sinister thing is that the official propaganda is inescapable. You go to a train station or an airport, and the image and the music of the Dear Leader are everywhere. You go to a more private place, such as a doctor's office or a store or a restaurant, and the identical tinny, maddening, repetitive ululations are to be heard. So, unless you are fortunate, are the same cheap and mass-produced images and pictures, from snowmen to cribs to reindeer. It becomes more than usually odious to switch on the radio and the television, because certain officially determined "themes" have been programmed into the system. Most objectionable of all, the fanatics force your children to observe the Dear Leader's birthday, and so (this being the especial hallmark of the totalitarian state) you cannot bar your own private door to the hectoring, incessant noise, but must have it literally brought home to you by your offspring. Time that is supposed to be devoted to education is devoted instead to the celebration of mythical events.
It takes a totalitarian mind-set to claim that only one Bronze Age Palestinian revelation or prophecy or text can be our guide through this labyrinth. If the totalitarians cannot bear to abandon their adoration of their various Dear Leaders, can they not at least arrange to hold their ceremonies in private? Either that or give up the tax-exempt status that must remind them so painfully of the things of this material world.
It disturbs me that the worst aspects of Christmas are spreading. Witness what has happened to Halloween. Lights and decorations, and much consumer spending on worthless junk. And much of it is plastic. Talk about wasting a precious commodity such as energy. Talk about filling our landfills with more discarded huge blowup plastic pumpkins and snowmen. How much lead gets added to landfills because of Christmas? Is this why Jesus was born?

Does Reason Injure Spirit?

From No Reason for the Season by Torie Bosch:

Most of the classic songs and movies that celebrate Christmas don't even mention God or Jesus. Santa doesn't check church attendance to decide whether he's going to give a child a present—he checks whether she's been naughty or nice. He's the perfect secular judge of moral fiber. To say that the secularists injure the Christmas spirit is much like the claim that two men getting hitched will besmirch the sanctity of marriage. Why should the way I mark Christmas bother anyone?

The Ignorance Of Sarah Palin And Ann Coulter

From Sarah Palin: Conservative of the Year by Ann Coulter :

Sarah Palin wins HUMAN EVENTS’ prestigious “Conservative of the Year” Award for 2008 for her genius at annoying all the right people. The last woman to get liberals this hot under the collar would have been … let's see now … oh, yeah: Me!

The entire presidential election year was kind of a downer for conservatives. Once the “maverick” John McCain won the nomination, the rest of the year was like watching a slow motion car crash. Except at least a slow-motion car crash is occasionally entertaining. So it was going to be a long year.

Until Palin.
It was not genius, but ignorance that annoyed “all the right people.” The right people in this case being the American voter.

Let’s hope that future “Conservative of the Year” Award winners are as successful as Palin at winning elections.

Get The Lead Out

Does God hate kids because so many of them care more about Santa Claus than Jesus at this time of year?

From Christmas Lights May Pose Lead Hazard by Emily Sohn:

December is a festive month, but the holiday season is also full of hazards. Falling on the ice, frostbite, overeating, and now this: According to a new study, many types of Christmas lights contain dangerously high levels of lead.

Lead is a toxic metal that can disrupt brain development, especially in kids, causing learning disabilities, aggressive behavior, loss of IQ points, and more. The new study didn't directly link Christmas lights to these problems, but researchers found enough lead on the cords of lights to cause concern.

Church Attendance Is Flat

My guess is that the local bar, pub, and tavern has seen an increase in attendance.

From Poll Finds No Boost in Church Attendance during Economic Crisis by Audrey Barrick:

While tens of thousands of Americans have been laid off in recent months and religious leaders have blamed corporate greed for the economic crisis, churches have not seen a jump in attendance numbers as many might have expected, according to a new poll.

Over the last three months, about 42 percent of Americans reported that they attended church, synagogue, or mosque weekly or almost every week, which the Gallup Poll found to be the same percentage reported earlier in the year.

History has shown that a significant crisis usually results in fuller pews, as was seen after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. During this latest crisis of economic challenges, some reports have indicated that houses of worship have drawn larger crowds.

But while some churches have seen higher numbers, the recent Gallup Poll found "absolutely no change" in church attendance after reviewing almost 300,000 interviews Gallup conducted throughout this year.
Read the rest here.

Paranormal Restraining Orders

Do you need a paranormal restraining order?

From Paranormal Restraining Orders:

David Letterman

Never be hip-mo-tised by David Letterman again!

Is he sending subliminal messages to you too? Known for his severe mental cruelty and insincere marriage proposals, finally be released from his mental harassment and hammering.
The usual suspects, such as God, Satan, and Death are also to be found at Paranormal Restraining Orders. I can understand fearing the Reaper… but David Letterman?

I’d buy a paranormal restraining order against Christmas, but unfortunately there isn’t one. Heck, I’d even buy lots of them, and give them out as Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Wit And Wisdom Of Sarah Palin

Whose side was Sarah Palin on? According to her, not enough voters knew how unqualified she was to be running for vice-president. She wanted even more people to know the truth.

From Palin's biggest campaign regret: not enough media interviews by Rebecca Sinderbrand:

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s biggest mistake of the presidential campaign: not enough time with the media, the Alaska governor said in an interview published Monday.
Maybe she really did vote for Barack Obama.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Screw You Joe

Meet the new almost boss, same as all the old bosses.

From Biden on prosecuting Bush officials for torture: ‘I think we should be looking forwards, not backwards.’:

On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos asked Vice President-elect Joe Biden whether high-level Bush administration officials should be prosecuted for prisoner abuse. “The questions of whether or not a criminal act has been committed…is something the Justice Department decides,” Biden responded. “That’s a decision I’d look to the Justice Department to make.” While stating he was “not ruling it in and not ruling it out,” Biden underscored that he and Obama are are “focusing on the future.” “I think we should be looking forward, not backwards,” he argued.
I’m all for reason, restraint, and letting the Justice Department do their job, but we simply can’t ignore the past eight years, and hold no one accountable.

I condemn the past that is the Bush administration, I do not want to repeat it.

Bailout Money Secret

From Where'd the bailout money go? Shhhh, it's a secret by Matt Apuzzo:

It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan: Where's the money going?

But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.
Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Billboards And Bus Signs And Histrionics, Oh My!

I don’t really care if “theists and atheists are guilty of histrionics.” So what?

From Both theists and atheists are guilty of histrionics by Steve Goble:

On the one hand, I fully support the rights of everyone -- on both sides -- to express their views. I'm deeply grateful to live in a country where people can debate these things openly. It's good that the sign battle has people talking about these matters. As long as people are talking, there's a chance at understanding. Not much of a chance, considering the deep divide, but a chance nonetheless.

It's also refreshing to note that people who feel differently from the majority no longer seem intimidated, and are no longer content to keep quiet. We all live here, and we all have a right to be who we are.
So far, so good.
OK, I have some serious problems with the billboard battles as well, and not so much stemming from the signs themselves as from the reactions they spark. It is appalling that so many people are howling "those people shouldn't be allowed to say that!" Or, "They should get out of America if they don't believe in our God!"

C'mon. It's a free country, remember? If you disagree with one side or the other, that's fine, but don't toss the Bill of Rights into a trash bin. If you dislike the other guy's sign, get your own sign.

It also bugs me that so many people these days instantly see any opposing viewpoint -- on just about any topic, but especially regarding religion -- as a "vicious attack." Say you don't believe in God, or that you want the government out of the religion business, and you are lambasted as an "atheist" who "hates Christians" and wants to "wage war" on "all that is good." If you tell someone you believe in God, you get labeled as an "anti-intellectual theocrat" who wants to "cram religion down everybody's throat."

Sorry. It's not a vicious attack on atheists if someone else believes in God and says so out loud. It's not a vicious attack on Christianity if someone believes in something else, and says so.

I think the histrionics on both sides hinder discussion and understanding. Consider the Bible-believer who says, "This is a Christian nation and if those God-haters don't like it, they can leave!" That person leaves the false impression that Bible-believers are all narrow-minded fools, which is not true. Some Christians believe that, but not the majority.

Consider the atheist who says, "Christians are all morons who want to set up a theocracy and burn the witches!" That person reinforces the false idea that all atheists hate Christians -- again, not true. Some atheists believe that way, but not the majority.

Hysterical, unreasoned comments from both camps prompt sensible people in the middle to keep their heads down and stay out of the discussion -- thereby assuring that nobody is actually listening to anybody.

In a debate like that, who wins?
It all depends on who the moderator of the debate is. If he is biased to one side or the other, then that is who will win. Otherwise this is a debate that no one will really win. The atheists claim their side has already won, the religious believe that their side has already won. Is that the best we can do? Agree to disagree?

I think that the “histrionics” (Steve Goble’s word, not mine) are an important part of the debate. Eliminate the fringe and you have censorship. Who gets to decide which voices are “histrionic” and which are not? The fringe are the most intolerant. Eliminate the fringe from the debate and you eliminate the debate itself.

I think that we are talking about more than one debate here. The debate that concerns me the most is actually the one in which “histrionics” plays the biggest part. The “agree to disagree” world would be one that I could be content with. Unfortunately it is not our reality. The reason many atheists are speaking out more frequently and more loudly as of late is because religion has become increasingly more political. It’s bad enough that religion has always been political, but we did have the Enlightenment and the U.S. Constitution, which led to a period of a little bit of separation of church and state. Now, we are taking steps backward. It seems to me that Roe v Wade was too much for many religious people to take, and that 9/11 and George W. Bush (along with his fundie following) were too much for non-believers to take. Sam Harris acknowledges that 9/11 was a catalyst that caused him to write The End of Faith. This debate is not really about whether God exists or not. It is about whether believing in God has made us more intolerant of one another. It is about whether believing in God can cause one person to kill another person, in the name of God. Let me take a moment here to point out that most atheists would believe in God if they were given irrefutable proof of his/her/its existence. Most atheists simply want to live a life of reason, and would prefer that reason dictate the choices made by others that have an effect on said atheists. In other words, it pisses me off that George W. Bush hears the voice of something akin to the tooth fairy as support for his invasion of Iraq. And I agree with what Sam Harris (who believes that religion played a large part in the 9/11 attacks) writes on page 31 in The End of Faith:
As I have said, people of faith tend to argue that it is not faith itself but man’s baser nature that inspires such violence. But I take it to be self-evident that ordinary people cannot be moved to burn genial old scholars alive for blaspheming the Koran, or celebrate the violent deaths of their children, unless they believe some improbable things about the nature of the universe. Because most religions offer no valid mechanism by which their core beliefs can be tested and revised, each new generation of believers is condemned to inherit the superstitions and tribal hatreds of its predecessors. If we would speak of the baseness of our natures, our willingness to live, kill, and die on account of propositions for which we have no evidence should be among the first topics of discussion.
How willing are the religious to have this discussion? This is a simple debate about life and death, about pain and suffering caused because of religious beliefs. (It is curious, as well as despicable, that for those who chant the mantra of “Choose life” that life seems to not be a state of existence that pertains to adults and children.)

If the debate is simply about the existence of God, it seems that this should be an easy debate to have. And it actually is. There is no proof for the existence of God. Believe if you must, but there simply is no proof. Yes, the universe is a wonderful place. Yes, it exists. The fact that the universe exists is not proof that God exists. There is no reason to think that someone had to create the universe in order for the universe to exist. (In spite of the big bang theory, I tend to think that the universe had no beginning, and will have no end. No one had to create anything.)

Let’s get back to Steve Goble. He should read The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. Sam Harris has plenty to say about religious moderates and religious extremists. In fact, Harris’ viewpoint is completely the opposite of Goble’s.

From page 20 of The End of Faith:
While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. From the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts, the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist. He is, in all likelihood, going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don’t like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God. Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance - and it has no bona fides, in religious terms, to put it on par with fundamentalism. The texts themselves are unequivocal: they are perfect in all their parts. By their light, religious moderation appears to be nothing more than an unwillingness to fully submit to God’s law. By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally. Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question - i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us - religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out the the wilderness.
How can we come together when we play by three very different sets of rules? The atheist plays by the rules of reason, the religious moderate plays by the rules of faith and reason, and the religious extremist plays by the rules of faith.

I feel that I must point out to Steve Goble that from the atheists point of view there is no such thing as a reasoned point of view from either the religious moderate or the religious extremist. Therefore, atheists do not see the religious moderate and the religious extremist as “sensible people.”

Steve Goble says “It's not a vicious attack on atheists if someone else believes in God and says so out loud.” I agree. I also know of no atheists making this claim, so I’m not sure what his point is. What is disturbing to many atheists is when the belief in God is taken outside of the realm of the church and into the secular world. I have already mentioned violence and killing. Add to that the issues of abortion, stem-cell research, and the creationism/evolution “debate.” These are vicious attacks on reason and logic, and they are too much to take lying down. These are also “debates” that simply have no place in the secular world, because belief is not proof.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Saga Continues

Will the sign stealers be joining the atheists in hell?

From Stolen atheist sign to be replaced in Ill. Capitol by The Associated Press:

An anti-religion group plans to replace a sign that disappeared from the Illinois Capitol and will add a biblical warning this time: "Thou Shall Not Steal."

Annie Laurie Gaylor heads the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. She says the sign protesting the display of religious symbols will be replaced Wednesday.

The apparent theft from the Capitol's rotunda overnight Monday was reported to police.

The sign referred to religion as "myth and superstition" and stood near a Nativity scene sponsored by a Springfield group.

An identical atheist sign in Washington state was stolen and recovered, and one in Wisconsin was vandalized.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let's Leave God (And Rick Warren) Out Of It

Why do we even have an invocation at inaugurations? Obama could prove he is the man who believes in “change” by getting religious ceremonies out of politics. It seems that all of the reporting on this focuses on Warren not liking gays. He also doesn’t like atheists. I didn’t vote for Obama so that he would bend over backwards for the religious right. The religious right has had too many “voices” in politics recently. It doesn’t need another. Rick Warren already has a very powerful forum in which to voice his opinion. Why is Obama giving him another one? If the religious right is going to have a voice in politics, then America won’t ever come together without gays and atheists having a voice in politics as well.

I wonder why Obama didn’t pick Jeremiah Wright?

From Obama defends choice of pastor for invocation:

President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of a popular evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, rejecting criticism that it slights gays. The selection of Pastor Rick Warren brought objections from gay rights advocates, who strongly supported Obama during the election campaign. The advocates are angry over Warren's backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. That measure was approved by voters last month.

But Obama told reporters in Chicago that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said.

Obama also said he's known to be a "fierce advocate for equality" for gays and lesbians, and will remain so.
Read the rest here.

From Warren Says Candidates Have to Believe in God:
KING: Rick Warren is our guest. Rick, let me ask you a couple of Rick Warren questions. OK?


KING: Does a person have to believe in god to be president?

WARREN: I would say so. I couldn't vote for a person who was an atheist, because I would think -- I think the presidency is a job too big for one person. I would think there's a little arrogance that says, I don't need anybody else. I could vote for someone of different religions than mine, but I don't know that I could personally vote for somebody who denies that we need somebody greater than ourselves to help us.
Let's take a moment to reflect and remember how much God has helped out George W. Bush.

I agree with PZ Myers:
Obama had a chance to set a non-sectarian, progressive tone at this event, and he has chosen to kow-tow to the wretched evangelical movement.

"See if you can dodge this, you draft dodger!"

From For a Last Hurrah, Protesters Give Bush the Boot by Dana Milbank:

And so they assembled yesterday on Pennsylvania Avenue, outside the White House gate, to take a few final shots. Literally. They assembled a pile of clogs, boots, flip-flops, slippers and pumps, and, in celebration of the journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush in a news conference Sunday in Iraq, they tossed the footwear at a man wearing a papier-mâché Bush mask and a prison uniform.

"Here's my goodbye kiss, George!" shouted Medea Benjamin, coordinator of the Code Pink activist group, as she hurled a shoe, missing her target.

"For your greed! For your politics!" shouted fellow antiwar activist David Swanson, aiming a pair of clogs at the Bush figure.

"See if you can dodge this, you draft dodger!" contributed veteran Jim Goodnow, launching a pair of boots toward the Bush character's head.

The Bush figure dodged, weaved and taunted: "I can take it! I can take you all on!" But then somebody hit him in the crotch with a sandal, and he fell to his knees.
Read the rest here.

The Era Of “personal responsibility”

From Two Cheers for Rod Blagojevich by Frank Rich:

Blagojevich’s alleged crimes pale next to the larger scandals of Washington and Wall Street. Yet those who promoted and condoned the twin national catastrophes of reckless war in Iraq and reckless gambling in our markets have largely escaped the accountability that now seems to await the Chicago punk nabbed by the United States attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.
Bush had arrived in Washington vowing to inaugurate a new, post-Clinton era of “personal responsibility” in which “people are accountable for their actions.” Eight years later he holds himself accountable for nothing. In his recent exit interview with Charles Gibson, he presented himself as a passive witness to disastrous events, the Forrest Gump of his own White House.
The Times calls its chilling investigative series on the financial failures “The Reckoning,” but the reckoning is largely for the rest of us — taxpayers, shareholders, the countless laid-off employees — not the corporate and political leaders who led us into the quagmire. It’s a replay of the Iraq equation: the troops, the Iraqi people and American taxpayers have borne the harshest costs while Bush and company retire to their McMansions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is Anyone Listening?

Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw his shoes at George W. Bush. His message is Yankee go home. George W. Bush didn’t get the message. He is too stupid, too self-absorbed (like many Americans), and too arrogant to hear. Now more voices have joined the chorus of Yankee go home. Is anybody listening?

From Iraqis urge government to free shoe-thrower:

Protesters across Iraq Tuesday urged government authorities to free the TV correspondent who threw his shoes at President Bush.

Hundreds of students at Diyala University in Baquba carried banners demanding the release of Muntadhar al-Zaidi -- described by demonstrators as an "honorable Iraqi."

Smaller protests emerged in the Anbar province city of Falluja and in two Baghdad locations -- Baghdad University in the northern part of the city and western Baghdad's Ameriya district. In those events, students also took to the streets.
Dhirgham al-Zaidi, the shoe-thrower's brother, said the journalist hated the "material American occupation" and Iranian influence in Iraq.
TV networks across the world continue to air the shoe-throwing scene, which has touched a nerve in the Arab world, where there has been an outpouring of support for al-Zaidi -- a correspondent for the Egyptian-based Al-Baghdadia TV.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Callous George

Is George W. Bush the most callous man on the planet? He is a man with absolutely no empathy. Worse than that, he shows absolutely no desire to be at all empathic.

Here are some selected quotes by Bush from Bush 'Not Insulted' by Thrown Shoes:

In response to the shoe throwing incident:

“…it was amusing.”

“…I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his shoe at you. But I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible. And so, the guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is. But whatever it is I'm sure somebody will hear it.”

Would someone please tell Bush the reason for the shoes being thrown. Death and destruction caused by Bush himself. And yet, Bush is merely amused, but not insulted, by this very courageous demonstration of self-expression. It seems that most of the world knows why the shoes were thrown. Why doesn’t Bush? Is he truly that much of an idiot? Or is he that sheltered by his handlers? Bush looks at this incident and sees something like a silly frat party prank, so he is amused and not insulted. Incurious to a fault, will he ever look beyond the simple act of shoes flying through the air to understand the why of the act?

And what is the deal with “I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible.”? Has he no concept of individual thought, individual expression, and individual actions? And yes, the only motivation to do anything these days is to get on television. Let's ask Hollywood for a new reality series: "The Amazing Shoes."

“Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11.”

This is a totally illogical statement. There were no attacks before 9/11 on Bush’s watch either. He must have been doing something right then. Right?

In response to al Qaeda not being in Iraq until after the U.S. invaded:

“So what?”

Here is more from Bush 'Not Insulted' by Thrown Shoes:

Raddatz: Just let me go back because you brought this up. You said Saddam Hussein posed a threat in the post-9/11 world. They didn't find weapons of mass destruction.

Bush: That's true. Everybody thought they had them.

Raddatz: So what threat?

Bush: Saddam Hussein was the sworn enemy of the United States. He had been enriched by oil revenues. He was a sponsor of terror. I have never claimed like some said that he -- you know, oh, that he was directly involved with the attacks on 9/11, but he did support terrorists. And, uh, Saddam Hussein had the capability making weapons of mass destruction.
How can Martha Raddatz sit through this and not grab Bush by the throat, like Homer Simpson grabs Bart, and scream “Lies, Lies, Lies!”?

Everybody thought they had weapons of mass destruction, except all of the weapons inspectors searching Iraq, who couldn’t find any.

Perhaps Bush never claimed that Saddam Hussein was directly involved with the attacks on 9/11, but people in his administration certainly did, and the American people believed a lie, and Bush didn’t stand up and tell them it was a lie.

From Bush stands by al Qaeda, Saddam link:
Critics have accused the president and other administration officials of falsely inflating the links between Iraq and al Qaeda in the months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech Monday in Florida, raised eyebrows by reasserting claims that Saddam "had long-established ties with al Qaeda."
From The impact of Bush linking 9/11 and Iraq by Linda Feldmann:
In his prime-time press conference last week, which focused almost solely on Iraq, President Bush mentioned Sept. 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11.

Bush never pinned blame for the attacks directly on the Iraqi president. Still, the overall effect was to reinforce an impression that persists among much of the American public: that the Iraqi dictator did play a direct role in the attacks. A New York Times/CBS poll this week shows that 45 percent of Americans believe Mr. Hussein was "personally involved" in Sept. 11, about the same figure as a month ago.

Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding Al Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression, as it seeks to maintain American support for a possible war against Iraq and demonstrate seriousness of purpose to Hussein's regime.
From Bush Gang Swore Saddam Was Behind 9/11 In Lawsuit by Evelyn Pringle:
Much to the dismay of President Bush, Americans can remember all on their own, without any coaching from Democrats, that in the run up to war in Iraq, it was top official from the administration who were making the claim that Saddam was in cahoots with bin Laden and that he was secretly involved to 9/11.

The fact that the administration's disinformation campaign was entirely successful is evidenced by an October 2004, Harris Poll, taken three weeks before the last presidential election, which reported that 62% of all voters, and 84% of those planning to vote for Bush, still believed that Saddam had ''strong links" to Al Qaeda, and that 41% of all voters, and 52% of Bush backers, believed that Saddam had ''helped plan and support the hijackers" who had attacked the country on 9/11.

As we now know, the basis for these allegations were false but the saddest part of the situation is that many Americans are just now beginning to realize that Bush knew the stories were false for more than a year when he cited them as justification for taking the country to war.
Read the rest of the ABC News Martha Raddatz interview with Bush here, if for some reason you need your blood pressure to go up to dangerous levels.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Throwing Shoes At Bush

Muntadhar al-Zaidi literally threw his shoes at George W. Bush.

From Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad:

A man identified as an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at -- but missed -- President Bush during a news conference Sunday evening in Baghdad, where Bush was making a farewell visit.

Bush ducked, and the shoes, flung one at a time, sailed past his head during the news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in his palace in the heavily fortified Green Zone.

The shoe-thrower -- identified as Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network -- could be heard yelling in Arabic: "This is a farewell ... you dog!"

While pinned on the ground by security personnel, he screamed: "You killed the Iraqis!"
Bush, never one to resist an opportunity to prove that he is an insensitive clod, joked about the incident:
Al-Zaidi was dragged away. While al-Zaidi was still screaming in another room, Bush said: "That was a size 10 shoe he threw at me, you may want to know."
I hope that Muntadhar al-Zaidi is not punished severely for this. He is not responsible for killing, maiming, and destroying people’s lives. Bush, on the other hand, is. Bush is the one who should be punished.

What would it be like if Muntadhar al-Zaidi has started some kind of movement? I imagine a future where Bush is inundated with shoes everywhere he goes for the rest of his life.

On the other hand, or foot, the Justice Department has found a way to throw some figurative shoes at George W. Bush.

From Justice Dept. Times Cases For Obama's Arrival by Ari Shapiro:
Some lawyers who have worked at the Justice Department for years say they are delaying certain cases in hopes that the Obama administration will give them more attention than they received from the Bush administration.

That is especially true in parts of the Civil Rights Division, where the Obama administration's priorities are expected to be very different from those of the current administration.

Civil rights prosecutors also say they are dusting off old investigations that have sat untouched for years. They hope new leaders will take interest in those old cases, which makes some companies that have long been under investigation nervous.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Violater-In-Chief

Hopefully, George W. Bush is an endangered species.

From Conservation Groups Challenge Bush Administration's Gutting of ESA by Dan Bacher:

George W. Bush, the worst-ever president for fish and the environment in the nation's history, will leave office after eight years the same way he came in - with yet another attack on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental laws.

The lame-duck Bush administration finalized a rule change today that greatly weakens the ESA, the only law that stands between many imperiled fish, wildlife and plant populations and extinction.

Environmental advocates and commercial fishermen are vowing to reverse this last-ditch move and restore protections for America's endangered and threatened birds, fish and wildlife, according to a news release from Earthjustice. Conservation and fishing groups, represented by the national environmental organization Earthjustice, announced they will challenge the new rule in federal district court. "The Bush rule change violates federal law by not adequately considering the true impact on wildlife populations it will inflict," the release stated.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Quote Of Note - John Kenneth Galbraith

"Regulatory bodies, like the people who comprise them, have a marked life cycle. In youth, they are vigorous, aggressive, evangelistic, and even intolerant. Later they mellow and in old age - after a matter of 10 or 15 years - they become, with some exceptions, either an arm of the industry they are regulating or senile." John Kenneth Galbraith

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deck Us All With Boston Charlie

Since it “Tizzy seas on melon collie”, I present you with Walt Kelly's (Pogo) version of Deck the Halls:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!
A hearty bow-wow of folly to you! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and prepare my bowls of barley.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Doing It

From Science!

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.
I think that this applies to life in general… and religion… and playing the stock market… and sex…

How's That Bailout Working So Far?

We are being played for fools.

The financial industry is getting billions of dollars, for what? So that they can fire people, that’s what. I thought the idea of the bailout was to help save people’s jobs.

From Bank of America to cut up to 35,000 jobs:

Bank of America Corp said on Thursday it plans to eliminate 30,000 to 35,000 jobs over three years after it completes its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co).

The cuts could affect about 11 percent of the combined companies' roughly 308,000-person workforce. Bank of America employs about 247,000 people and Merrill about 61,000.
I wonder what will happen if the government bails out the auto industry.

The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

Visit The Human Rights Action Center.

The Future Is Now Past

I’m glad that someone at Foreign Policy has been paying attention.

From The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008:

1. “Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary.” —William Kristol

2. “Bear Stearns is not in trouble.” —Jim Cramer

3. “…only a naval power of the United States’ strength could seriously disrupt oil shipments.” —Dennis Blair and Kenneth Lieberthal

4. “[A]nyone who says we’re in a recession, or heading into one—especially the worst one since the Great Depression—is making up his own private definition of ‘recession.’” —Donald Luskin

5. “For all its flaws, an example to others.” —The Economist on Kenya’s presidential election

6. “Arizona’s maverick senator, John McCain, will end up the country’s next President.” –BusinessWeek

7. “These events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and destroy our planet.” —Walter Wagner

8. “The possibility of $150-$200 per barrel seems increasingly likely over the next six-24 months.” —Arjun Murti

9. “It starts with the taking over of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which has already happened. It goes on to the destruction of the Georgian armed forces, which is now happening. The third [development] will probably be the replacement of the elected government, which is pro-Western, with a puppet government, which will probably follow in a week or two.” —Charles Krauthammer

10. “I believe the banking system has been stabilized. No one is asking themselves anymore, is there some major institution that might fail and that we would not be able to do anything about it.” —Henry Paulson

Maybe we should pay less attention to all of these people in the future.

Some of these people I am not familiar with. Some of them, such as William Kristol, Jim Cramer, Charles Krauthammer, Henry Paulson, and even BusinessWeek; I’ve never much cared for. Only arrogant fools think they can predict the future.

Esmin Green And Edith Rodriguez

“Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” Pearl S. Buck

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.” Samuel Johnson

"…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. " Hubert H. Humphrey

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." Mahatma Gandhi

How selfish we all are. The only reason any of us even consider tolerating multi-billion dollar bailouts of horrendously mismanaged companies is because we are afraid of a trickle-down effect that will hurt us financially. Fear is not always a good reason to do something. Rewarding incompetence is idiotic.

Why give billions to failed corporations, but nothing to Esmin Green and Edith Rodriquez? I think I know the answer. We are hoping to benefit financially in some way from the governments bailouts of troubled companies. We might get some money, or get to keep our jobs. That is our hope, even it the odds are slim. What can someone like Esmin Green or Edith Rodriquez give us? Certainly not money. Perhaps our dignity, if we weren’t so blind and uncaring as a society.

Who is Esmin Green? She is the women depicted in the following article by the NYCLU.

From After Death on ER Floor, NYC Finally Agrees to Some Improvements at Brooklyn Hospital Named in Civil Rights Lawsuit:

The shocking June death and shameful neglect of a 49-year-old Brooklyn woman in the borough’s public hospital psychiatric emergency room had advocates who filed a major civil rights lawsuit against the hospital last year back in court today demanding immediate, urgent reform. Disturbing security videos show employees ignoring the woman’s convulsing body, walking past her as she lay face down and dying for more than an hour. Further, hospital medical records misrepresent her condition in a way that suggests they have been altered or not maintained with the integrity the law requires.

Nicknamed “Killer County” by those familiar with its conditions, Kings County Hospital Center is the subject of a lawsuit filed in May 2007 by the New York Civil Liberties Union, Mental Hygiene Legal Service, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. The lawsuit describes the hospital’s psychiatric emergency room and inpatient unit as “a chamber of filth, decay, indifference and danger,” and seeks an end to abusive treatment in the hospital’s psychiatric facilities where patients are regularly ignored and those that dare advocate for themselves are punished with forcible injections of psychotropic drugs.
Kings County Hospital is the only option for many in the overwhelmingly black, low-income neighborhoods that surround it, including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Canarsie, Crown Heights, East New York and Flatbush. But for those desperate enough to go to the hospital’s psychiatric emergency room – the notorious G Building – too often there is little help to be found. An investigation by advocates in the lead up to the lawsuit found overcrowded, dangerously unsanitary conditions where patients – including children and the physically disabled – may be ignored and abused.

In this case, the 49-year-old woman had been in the emergency room for nearly 24 hours waiting for treatment. Videos document that at 5:32 a.m. on June 19 – more than a full day after she arrived for urgent care – the woman rolled off of a waiting-room chair and fell face down on the floor. She writhed on the floor until she stopped moving at 6:07 a.m., during which time multiple hospital staff saw her and ignored her. At 6:35 a.m. a hospital employee approaches and nudges the body with her foot. Not until 6:38 a.m. – more than an hour after the patient collapsed, and a half-hour after she last moved – did staff members bring a crash cart and oxygen tank into the area.
Who is Edith Rodriquez?

From Death by vomiting on ER Floor; Murder Weapon: Denial of Universal Health Insurance by Rob Kall:
The Latina who died in the ER, Edith Rodriguez, writhing in pain, on the floor of LA's King hospital blood, was not only killed by the heartless inaction of the doctors, nurses and staff on duty there.

An LA spokesman said that "even the janitors doing an elegant job of cleaning up the vomit did nothing to help her."
Edith Rodriguez is a highly visible case. But there are an estimated tens of thousands of people who die because they don't have health insurance. Compare that to the victims of 9-11 or the 3500 troops who were killed in Iraq. These victims were killed too-- by lobbyists, politicians and health insurance corporations. Where is the outcry? And for Edith Rodriguez, let's be sure that the right people and entities are accused.
How civilized are we?

“I got mine, let me tell ya
I got mine.
I grabbed that money
Out the back door I went flying
Well, ever since the big crap game
I’ve been livin’ on chicken and wine.
I’m the leader of society
Since I got mine.” Anonymous