Thursday, May 28, 2009

Disgusting Political Social Games

From Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal by Nicholas D. Kristof:

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust.

Some evolutionary psychologists believe that disgust emerged as a protective mechanism against health risks, like feces, spoiled food or corpses. Later, many societies came to apply the same emotion to social “threats.” Humans appear to be the only species that registers disgust…
Conservatives systematically register more disgust than liberals.
It appears that we start with moral intuitions that our brains then find evidence to support. For example, one experiment involved hypnotizing subjects to expect a flash of disgust at the word “take.” They were then told about Dan, a student council president who “tries to take topics that appeal to both professors and students.”

The research subjects felt disgust but couldn’t find any good reason for it. So, in some cases, they concocted their own reasons, such as: “Dan is a popularity-seeking snob.”

So how do we discipline our brains to be more open-minded, more honest, more empirical? A start is to reach out to moderates on the other side — ideally eating meals with them, for that breaks down “us vs. them” battle lines that seem embedded in us. (In ancient times we divided into tribes; today, into political parties.) The Web site is an attempt to build this intuitive appreciation for the other side’s morality, even if it’s not our morality.

“Minds are very hard things to open, and the best way to open the mind is through the heart,” Professor Haidt says. “Our minds were not designed by evolution to discover the truth; they were designed to play social games.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon And Kate

I don’t know anything about Jon and Kate, and I don’t want to know anything about Jon and Kate. Please alert Matt Lauer to this pressing need for non-information.

The Newt Speaks, Must We Listen?

From Gingrich: 'Absolute obligation' to investigate Pelosi:

Pelosi said the briefing she received from the CIA was incomplete and inaccurate, and she called on the CIA to release a full transcript of the briefing. She also accused Republicans of jumping on reports of the briefings to cause a distraction.

"She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior," Gingrich also said in the blistering interview.

"Speaker Pelosi's the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses," he continued.
The Newt thinks that Pelosi should be investigated, yet he has never called for an investigation of Bush and Cheney?

I’m not a big fan of Nancy Pelosi. Impeachment belonged on the table. Perhaps the Newt is right about her. However, let me share my thoughts on the Newt. Is he any better than Pelosi? He is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes. He dishonors the Congress by his behavior. He’s a big loser, because he either comes across as incompetent or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses for the Newt.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Colin Powell Still World's Biggest Asshole

Newburgh Four

From How A Government Mole Won The Loyalty Of The Newburgh Four by Zachary Roth:

Reports last week suggested that the Newburgh four -- the men arrested Wednesday for plotting to bomb two New York synagogues -- perhaps weren't the swiftest ships in her majesty's fleet. But over the weekend, people close to the four came forward to describe how the government informant at the center of the case against them -- the man known to the suspects as Maqsood -- aggressively courted the men before luring them into an imagined jihad.

Here's what the New York Daily News, Post, and Times reported about how "Maqsood" (identified as a Pakistani immigrant named Shahed Hussain) won the men's loyalty:

Kathleen Baynes, the girlfriend of James Cromitie, described as the plot's ringleader, said Maqsood had given Cromitie cash, food, cameras, rent money, and marijuana. "Maqsood gave him a lot of marijuana," she said, adding: "Whenever we needed anything, Maqsood would help -- like financially -- he gave us money to pay rent." She also said Maqsood offered Cromitie $25,000 to join him, and promised a black Mercedes. And she said a friend told her Cromitie had said he was going to be getting $50,000.

Baynes also said that Maqsood aggressively kept after Cromitie. "Maqsood would keep ringing our doorbell, and James would hide behind the sofa." She continued: "He was very persistent, and every time he came for James, he took him away. They said they were going out to eat dinner." And: "He was just constantly around. It was like he was stalking him."

Elizabeth McWilliams, the mother of another of the accused plotters, David Wiliams, said that Maqsood had promised to help pay medical bills for Williams' sick brother, whom he had returned to Newburgh to help care for. "Maqsood said, 'Don't worry, brother, I am going to help with your brother's hospital bills.' This man did nothing but set these guys up."
Read the rest here.

From Isn’t This Just Damned Perfect? by Susie Madrak:
I hardly know what to say. What’s worse: A healthcare system where someone is so desperate, he’d blow up buildings to pay for his brother’s treatment, or homeland security that thinks nothing of setting people up so they can claim they caught some “terrorists”?

I Refuse To Live In Dickworld

From Fresh Air Versus a Bunker by Eugene Robinson:

Which reality do you inhabit, Obama World or Cheney World? If it’s the latter, remember that storm clouds are always gathering. Don’t forget your umbrella.

In Obama World, it’s always morning. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the pollen count is low. In Cheney World, it’s perpetual twilight. Somewhere in the distance, a lone wolf howls at the rising moon.

In Obama World, human beings are flawed but essentially decent and rational. Most will behave in a way consistent with enlightened self-interest. In Cheney World, humanity’s defects are indelible and irredeemable. Absent evidence to the contrary, evil should be assumed to lurk in every heart. Better to do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you.
Read the rest here.

Charlotte Allen

From Why is Charlotte Allen so mad at atheists? by PZ Myers:

Charlotte Allen is very, very angry with us atheists -- that's the only conclusion that can be drawn from her furious broadside in The Times on May 17. She can't stand us; we're unpopular; we're a problem. What, exactly, is the greatest crime of modern atheists?

We're boring.
Read the rest here.

Made To Answer

From To Paraphrase Howard Baker by Anglachel:

Yeah, I'm pissed at the cowards in Congress, too, and with the lack of backbone in the Democratic leadership. I'm pissed about both of those situations today and not just on the topic of torture.

The trouble is that the hoopla over Pelosi is doing the Republican's dirty work for them by implying that she has some responsibility for the policy of torture, rather than her true responsibility, which was reviewing, comprehending, and opposing such policy.

The crime lies first and foremost with the people responsible for authorizing the use of torture. Once they have been made to answer for their original crimes against humanity and the nation, then we can get around to the pissant Congress critters who may or may not have been informed fully and unequivocally about the use of torture.

Viral Incompetence

Why are there so many ignorant “experts”? Why does incompetence greet us with more and more frequency?

Is incompetence like a virus? Does it spread like wildfire unless a strong logical defense is put in place? Or do we wait until it destroys everything except that which is immune to it?

Glen Greenwald asks Should a Brookings "expert" know what the presidential oath says?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remember A Day

Will the day ever come when we do not need to have a Memorial Day?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bill Moyers Meditates On War

Here is Bill Moyers from the May 22, 2009 edition of Bill Moyers Journal:

…my friend Louis Bickford spends his days, and often his nights, on the healing and prevention of atrocities and crimes against humanity. Cruelty, horror, and misery are part of his portfolio at the International Center for Transitional Justice, along with the power of memory.

On The Huffington Post, Louis has an essay in which he says that Memorial Day is meant to remind us of the hardship of war. But he goes on to ask, "What does it mean to choose how to remember?" What does it say about us, for example, if "...we choose to remember the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, more in terms of heroism than error..." This, he reminds us, is the "...tendency of all nations."

Louis got me to thinking that when we meditate on war this weekend - our recent wars that is - will we overlook the suicides? Sweep under history's rug the recent murder in Iraq of five American soldiers by a comrade who may have been driven mad by the horrors around him? Will we forget the death from friendly fire of a Pat Tillman and the shameful cover-up by the brass, including the role of the very general who now heads our operations in Afghanistan?

What of all those villagers killed by drones remotely fired in our name? Why aren't they part of the narrative we tell ourselves about war? Louis Bickford wonders if we'll ever remember, "...that there was a place called Abu Ghraib on the dusty outskirts of Baghdad, and that torture took place there, for which we were responsible?" After all, he says, it was the complicity of Republicans, Democrats, journalists and lawyers - some of them scholars - that allowed us to ignore international and American law prohibiting torture.

Over some 40 years now it has seemed to me that as time goes by we tend to remember wars, and the suffering they bring, as if they were inevitable, natural acts of history, rather than politically inspired choices. But war, as was famously said, is politics by another means - the lethal legacy of failed leadership, enabled, even ennobled, by propaganda, the partisan opiate of politics. It is good to be reminded, as my friend Louis so eloquently reminds us, that war is too important to forget, and that's one reason to observe Memorial Day. There is another - to hold before our face a mirror, so that we might see the images of war reflected in our own eyes.

Same As The Old Boss?

From Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Unexceptional Americans by Tom Engelhardt:

Murder, torture, abuse… and photos of the same. We've seen some of them, of course. Now, evidently under pressure from his top generals, President Obama has decided to fight the release of other grim photos from the dark side of the Bush years of offshore injustice -- on the grounds that their publication might inflame opinion in the Middle East and our various war zones (as if fighting to suppress their publication won't). In this way, just as the president is in the process of making Bush's wars his own, so he seems to be making much of the nightmare legacy of those years of crime, torture, and cover-up his, too.
Read the rest here.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Aspirational" And "Fully Controlled"

From Government Foils Government Plot by Jesse Walker:

Bill Anderson highlights the most salient fact about the Riverdale Temple bombing plot, quoting a passage from a New York Times report:
A federal law enforcement official described the plot as "aspirational" -- meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives -- and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group.

"It was fully controlled at all times," a law enforcement official said.
Such stings are not unusual. The equally "aspirational" Liberty City 6 scheme of 2006, for example, would not have congealed -- to the extent that it congealed at all -- without the government's helpful informants. In the days before 9/11, agents provocateurs infiltrated militia groups; back in the '60s, they invaded the New Left. I doubt such entrapment makes anyone safer. But it does make people scared.
All of the links make for interesting reading. Episiarch wrote a comment that I really liked:
Let's see: completely incompetent plan, and the government gets in there, helps them along, and busts them. 9/11: insanely simple plan, achieves more than expected, and the government has no fucking clue.

Yeah, the government does an excellent job. Really.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Waterboarding Is Not Torture, Unless It Happens To You?

Can Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al, be next? Pretty please.

From Mancow Waterboarded, Admits It's Torture by Ryan Pollyea:

And so it went Friday morning when WLS radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided to subject himself to the controversial practice of waterboarding live on his show.

Mancow decided to tackle the divisive issue head on -- actually it was head down, while restrained and reclining.

"I want to find out if it's torture," Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture.
Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke,"Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "

Last year, Vanity Fair writer Christopher Hitchens endured the same experiment -- and came to a similar conclusion. The conservative writer said he found the treatment terrifying, and was haunted by it for months afterward.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Catapulting The Biblical Propaganda

I really wish that I believed in the devil and hell when I hear news like this. Then at least I would have the satisfaction of believing that the entire Bush administration would eventually be burning for eternity. Alas, if only it were true!

From Iraq war briefings headlined with biblical quotes, reports US magazine by Daniel Nasaw:

One of the top planners of the US war in Iraq gave President George Bush secret intelligence briefs headlined with biblical quotations, in a bid to boost his standing with the deeply religious president but one that risked sparking a conflagration in the Muslim world if the papers leaked.

In the days surrounding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld prepared top secret briefing papers for the president adorned with triumphant images of US military personnel and adoring Iraqis, along with the quotes, according to a new article in GQ magazine.

Rumsfeld, said to be personally disinclined toward ostentatious displays of piety, included the quotes because he believed the religious message would appeal to Bush, whom he knew frequently to quote the Bible, journalist Robert Draper wrote.

Rumsfeld and other top military aides brushed aside complaints that the quotes were an inappropriate injection of religion into intelligence matters and ignored fears that if the documents leaked to the media, they would touch off worldwide fear that the US had embarked on an anti-Muslim crusade.

The previously unreleased documents are a shocking and unusual admixture of the two realms. The cover of one intelligence briefing shows US soldiers kneeling in prayer, headlined with a selection from the book of Isaiah: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?/ Here I am Lord, send me!" The same page is covered with the classification codes and handling instructions typical to secret US government documents.

Other cover sheets released by the magazine feature images of US military vehicles and troops trudging through desert landscapes, manning a machine gun emplacement, and US soldiers inside what appears to be a posh palace once belonging to Saddam Hussein. One shows an image of Saddam speaking into a television camera and quotes 1 Peter 2:15: "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."
I believe that I do some good. Why have I not silenced at least a small portion of the ignorant talk of the foolish men of the Bush administration?

So, it appears that while Bush was busy catapulting, that he himself was being catapulted. Again, I wish we could catapult them all to hell!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Neither Snow, Nor Rain…

From Atheist preparing for the end of days:

A South Florida atheist is reaping the rewards of the coming apocalypse, charging “True Believers” for mail delivery to loved ones who get left behind in the aftermath of the “Day of Reckoning.”

Joshua Witter promises customers that he will suffer the plagues of Armageddon all in the name of a successful post-apocalyptic postal delivery.

“It’s too late for me,” Witter says. But, he adds, “I’ll do my best come hell or high water to deliver those letters.”

Redefining Truth

From Redefining 'Wealthy' by Jim McTague:

WHO WILL BAIL OUT THE TAXPAYERS WHO are paying for all those bailout buckets? Contrary to fables told to gullible voters and journos by President Barack Obama and other Democrats, the rich didn't enjoy a virtual tax holiday under George W. Bush. To the contrary, the share of the tax burden paid by households in the top 20% of U.S. income distribution -- those with average pretax incomes of $248,400 -- increased significantly between 2000, Bill Clinton's last year as president, and 2006, the latest year for which reliable data is available. You will find this in an April report of the relatively neutral Congressional Budget Office. It was brought to our attention by Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The Obama administration is preparing to tax the upper-crusties even more, justifying it as a form of retribution for the big breaks they allegedly received from Bush at the expense of middle-class and poorer folks. Dubay's analysis of the CBO data finds that the top 20% of households in fact paid a record-high 86.3% of all taxes in 2006, versus 81.2% under Clinton.

If Democrats increase the tax burden, they risk killing the golden geese.
Is that so? I wonder how many of you who are willing to believe these numbers, also believed Bernie Madoff’s numbers at one time?
Dubay contends that shifting more of the tax burden onto high-income earners is dangerous. Those who pay little or no taxes don't feel the pain of the high cost of big government, and so they are more inclined than taxpayers to clamor for more public services. This demand for a nanny state in turn drains more money from the top 20%; it is impossible for government to go on funding itself this way indefinitely.
Those who pay little or no taxes feel the pain of having no job, nothing to eat, and nowhere to live. If the top 20% would stop hogging all the money and pay workers a decent wage, then maybe the bottom 20% would have more money to contribute to the tax base. As opposed to, like, you know, nothing.

Also, who has been on the receiving end of the bailout money? The top 20 per-centers or the bottom 20 per-centers?

More Peter King

Representative Peter King thinks that there are too many mosques in the United States. I wonder if he thinks there are too many churches as well?

In This Together?

Why would the ACLU want to attack itself?

On Face the Nation yesterday Peter King demonstrated the typical face of the Republican Party as of late. The face of a stupid, ignorant, name-calling bully. Would it have been too much for guest host Harry Smith to have pointed out to King that the ACLU consists of Americans? Just because members of the ACLU have different opinions than King does not mean that they are not Americans. This is what King is implying by saying that the American Civil Liberties Union is "tearing down the United States." Why does King need to resort to arrogance and insults? Is it because his arguments and knowledge of the facts are so weak? Why doesn’t King have faith in our system of justice? Also, why does King think that the only place the detainees can be tried is either New York or Virginia? What about an international court? What about the Hague?

From Rep. Peter King: ACLU Is "Tearing Down The United States" by Michelle Levi:

Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) said that by opposing military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay and by advocating for the release of photographs of torture committed upon detainees, the American Civil Liberties Union is "tearing down the United States," during a heated debate with the ACLU's executive director, on Face the Nation Sunday.

The Obama administration's decision to go forward with the trials of terror suspects held at Gitmo, and to try to block the declassification of photographs of abuse, were flashpoints this week, with the president being accused by some of reneging on campaign promises to roll back the Bush administration's policies on interrogation and the shutdown of the American prison at Guantanamo Bay.

King admitted that "in every war there are going to be abuses," but added that he is not sure "what purpose the ACLU serves in constantly tearing down the United States, constantly attacking our government."
Anthony Romero makes so much sense to me. King claims Romero has “venom” for the President. I do not see it. The only venom I see is leaking from King, as if it is impossible for him to contain it. King says that there “is no CSI guy in Afghanistan” as if that is supposed to mean something. It is very hard for me to comprehend why so many dislike the ACLU so much.

No Offense?

If Carrie Prejean really meant “no offense” then why has she aligned herself to a group with a board member who is calling for the criminalization of gays?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Photographs

From Obama is Wrong on Torture Photos:

Perhaps, what Obama’s predecessor managed to visit on America and the rest of the world in the name of fighting terror over the past eight years can never be obliterated. But this president, with his historic mandate and extraordinary global support, is at least trying. And there are signs that the world is beginning to revise its opinion about America. That is why President Obama’s decision to block the release of photographs of torture and prisoner abuse by the US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is unfortunate.

The Pentagon had agreed to release the damning photographs, after the American Civil Liberties Union approached a court to make them public. Now the president has used his extraordinary powers to veto the court ruling.
The right-wing argument is that releasing these photos would be harmful to the troops. Don’t the people who would want to “harm” the troops the most already know what the photos depict? After all, they are the ones living what the photos show. Or they have relatives and friends who have told them what the pictures show. It is the American people who are being kept in the dark here. Why do you suppose that is? What is it that they don’t want us to know? Could the reality depicted in the photos be worse than what we can imagine?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Two Recent News Items

From Tom Golisano "Moves" To Florida Over High NY Taxes:

The Buffalo News reports, "Golisano told a gathering of Rochester business executives that he will remain as owner of the Buffalo hockey team, but he is fleeing the Empire State to avoid paying $13,000 a day in state income taxes.
From Buffalo crash probe focuses on pilot fatigue, low pay:
Officials with Continental's regional carrier, Colgan Air Inc., acknowledged at the hearing that Shaw was paid about $23 an hour and had a salary of $16,254, although she could have earned more if she worked extra hours.

She previously had a second job working in a coffee shop.

Illogical Dick

If Torture Stopped In 2004, How Is Obama Endangering Americans By Banning It?

Sex Without God

From Why Atheists Have Great Sex by Greta Christina:

I want to offer a positive way of looking at sexuality and sexual transcendence that doesn’t involve any sort of belief in the supernatural. I want to offer a sex- positive philosophy that is entirely materialist. The materialist view of life in general and sex in particular is often viewed as cold, bleak, narrow, mechanical, reductionist, and generally a downer. I don’t think it is. And I want to talk about why.
Read more here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Checking And Balancing

It seems to me that most Americans (except Dick Cheney) favor the systems of checks and balances that we have in place for our system of government. Why is it that so many people do not favor a system of checks and balances for our economic system? If we do not want our government to run amok, shouldn’t we also not want capitalism to run amok? In other words, why do so many fear an unrestricted government, yet they do not fear unrestricted corporations?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Carrie Prejean, Let Me Count The Ways

The first thing that made me dislike Carrie Prejean was her saying “no offense to anybody out there.” Like so many religious people she wants absolution. When she didn’t get it she acted outraged. Tough luck, Carrie. Donald may have absolved you, but not everyone will.

The second thing that made me dislike Carrie Prejean was the tone of her voice and the look on her face when she spoke. How sanctimonious can you get?

The third thing that made me dislike Carrie Prejean was her whining. Specifically her whining about freedom of speech. She seems to think that she is being punished and attacked for stating her opinion. What bullshit! It is true that, as Americans, we have freedom of speech. (Unless, of course, you went out in the streets to protest against George W. Bush. Then you were arrested, shot at, and/or jailed.) Any idiot knows that speech can have repercussions and consequences. Any idiot knows that we all restrain our speech from time to time. Like the times we don’t call our boss an asshole to his face. Certain conventions usually dictate a restraining of speech. Imagine the preacher preaching to his congregation that “Jesus was the biggest fucking asshole that ever lived.” Now imagine the reaction of the congregation. Now imagine a beauty contest where a contestant says something offensive to gay people. Now imagine the reaction of gay people. Oh wait, you don’t really have to imagine that one, do you?

The fourth thing that made me dislike Carrie Prejean was thinking about Matthew Shepard and how he might still be alive today if people didn't believe that the Bible tells wackos like Prejean that the homos are sick bastards and don’t deserve the same rights as the rest of us.

No offense Carrie, but screw you. I can’t wait for your fifteen minutes of fame to be over.

My Oh My This Is Just Plain Weird

Who the hell is Greg Gutfeld and why is he writing such crap for

From Media Questions Prejean But Not Garofalo? by Greg Gutfeld:

Two women are in the news today: Janeane Garofalo, for refusing to apologize after calling every single tea party protestor racist, and of course, Carrie Prejean, again, for answering a question honestly about her religious convictions.

Now Janeane was approached by FOX News' own perversely handsome Griff Jenkins, who had asked her if she regretted her reverse racism. To her strange, delusional credit, she stood by her original comments: that every tea party protestor hates black people.

Meanwhile, Prejean continues to be hounded over semi nude pictures — pictures I might add, that offer undeniable proof that God is a dude and he totally exists. Seriously, I am so going to church on Sunday.

Now, according to Griff, Janeane is so scared of conservatives that she confessed to cutting out chunks of her hair. Which is weird, because other than FOX News, no one in the media seems to question her comments. Garofalo, really has nothing to worry about. She's only slightly less objective than a CNN reporter.

Now I ask you: of the two, which one is uglier?

Is it the one who answered a question — rightly or wrongly — based on her religious convictions about the "opposite marriage?" Or is it the woman who, not off the cuff, stereotyped an entire group of people based on the fact they don't want their taxes raised?

The point is, the media excuses Garofalo's ugliness, because they agree with it. The witch hunt against Carrie exists only because it carries a stamp of overwhelming approval by the media.

You can't get much uglier than that. And yes, I'm including my prom photos.

And if you disagree with me, then you sir are worse than Hitler.
I almost never quote articles in their entirety, but Greg is just so darn weird, so I made an exception.

"Worse than Hitler." Is that really the best you could come up with, Greg?

Greg, it’s obvious that you think Janeane Garofalo is ugly. You’re entitled to your opinion. And I’m entitled to mine, and I think that you are a fucking pig.

Oh, one last thing,Greg. I’m glad you don’t think that you are part of the news media. I don’t think that you are either.


I had forgotten about Anita Bryant. That’s probably a good thing.

From Carrie Prejean, Let's Talk About Milk by Anna Wainwright:

I wonder if Carrie Prejean has heard of Anita Bryant. Maybe I'm wrong in assuming that the current Miss California USA has not seen the film about the first openly gay elected official in the United States, and that she does not know much about the history of the gay rights struggle in her home state and country over the course of the last century. She may not recognize the similarities between herself and Ms. Bryant, the Evangelical Christian, Oklahoma-born singer and Florida orange juice spokeswoman, who is most famous for her tireless 1977 fight to save children from the threat of being taught by homosexual teachers. Anita became a symbol. Utterly confident in her own moral rectitude and superiority, she circled the country, campaigning on a platform of Christian virtue and warning the masses that because homosexuals could not have children, they would "recruit your own."
It is curious that Anna Wainwright left out one of the main similarities between Anita and Carrie.

From Anita Bryant:
Bryant became Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and was a second runner-up in the 1959 Miss America beauty pageant at age 19, right after graduating from Tulsa's Will Rogers High School.
Now it’s time for me to try to forget about both Anita Bryant and Carrie Prejean.

Excuse Me Your Dick Is Out

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It's Alright, Ma (I'm So Holy)

“Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It's easy to see without looking too far
That not much
Is really sacred.” Bob Dylan

Tiny Dick

From A Very Small Man by Josh Marshall:

Cheney's conceit is that he's tough enough, perhaps best to say, icy enough to make the trip to what he calls 'the dark side' to protect America. But the picture emerging even from his own comments is very different. It's of a small and paranoid man, a half-comic character off the pages of mid-20th century anti-totalitarian fiction, with a seemingly inordinate protectiveness for torture practices that seem to have been only marginally effective at best.
You start to get the sense that just as Cheney committed his historic goof of launching off into Iraq while forgetting about dealing with al Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan he was doing something similar getting all wrapped up in the tough guy porn of torture that he remained ignorant of or just plain ignored the actual nuts and bolts of taking down or disabling terrorist organizations.

So by all means let him keep talking. As TPM Reader BH notes, he seems unable to maintain his famed self-discipline and indifference to public opinion as his own sorry record dribbles into the public record. The more that comes out about him, the more pathetic he seems. Paranoia, serial poor judgment, inability to distinguish desires from facts and an almost adolescent inability not to get drawn into the thrill of the 'dark side'.

An Agnostic And Atheistic Trek

Damn it Jim! I’m a doctor, not the pope!

From Why the original "Star Trek" still matters by Andrew O’Hehir:

In the middle of the Cold War, Roddenberry imagined a radical-progressive, Enlightenment-fueled vision of the human future, one in which the conflict between capitalism and communism had been long transcended, along with other earthbound forms of racial, ethnic or religious strife. Strikingly, there is no religious or mystical dimension to the "Star Trek" universe at all, at least until much later in its development. (Roddenberry regarded himself as an "agnostic atheist," and banned any religious references from the show.)

Recovering Religiholics

From Welcome to Recovering from Religion by Darrel Ray:

If you are one of the millions of people who have determined that religion no longer has a place in your life, this may the the right spot for you. Many people love the social support they get from religion, but can’t deal with all the crazy ideas they are required to espouse. It can be difficult to leave a religion because family and culture put so much pressure on us to stay and pretend to believe. If this is you, we want to help you find your way out. We are Recovering Religionists™, people who have given religion our best shot but just can’t bring ourselves to believe in virgin births, resurrections, 2000 year old miracles and the “power of prayer.”
Read the rest here.

Save The Pope's Hats!

Quote Of Note - Jesse Ventura

“It is torture… It’s drowning… You give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders. Jesse Ventura

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is God Tasty?

From Faith Diary: Consuming God:

Changing religion is widespread in the US, according to new research, but why? The BBC's Religious Affairs correspondent Robert Pigott investigates. Also this week - nuns surfing on the wave of eco-sustainability, and why you CAN find some atheists in (Afghan) foxholes.
Read the rest here.

Voiding The Void

Disbelief in God does not equate to nothingness, no matter how many times some people say that it does.

From Atheism: A Cost/Benefit Analysis by Randal Rauser:

Let's just admit it: atheism boasts some significant advantages. For one thing, the atheist does not have to get up early on Sunday mornings and corral the kids in a frantic effort to make the service on time. Rather, he is free to loll around the house, reading the Sunday paper over a cup of smoky French Roast while getting all the latest political gossip on "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation".

And there is no requirement to give to the poor. If the Christian kept the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars that she spends every month in tithes, in no time she too could have a new Samsung LED TV sparkling in her living room.Now that's the good life!

And while the Christian groans under the weight of the cross she has been directed to take up and carry every day, the atheist is free to go play tennis, ride a bike, or do simply whatever his little heart desires. Not bad at all!

But like the "Don't pay for sixty days" ads for that new Samsung TV, atheism also has a cost that eventually comes due. And you start paying it once you begin to realize that, according to atheism, we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing. For the shallow atheist, that "for nothing" promises to liberate (no obligations!). But the thoughtful atheist understands that "for nothing" means that there is no meaning or purpose to life. And the repercussions of that are staggering indeed.

So staggering is the cost that many atheists cannot admit that there is no meaning to life, and so they engage in the futile and self-deceptive attempt to project meaning onto the universe.
Once again we have a religious mind-reader telling us what atheists think. Because I do not believe in God, the arrogant assholes tell anyone who will listen that my life has no meaning. How dare they assume that what I do, say, and think has no meaning to me. How dare they say that my wife and family have no meaning to me!

Whose life is more shallow? One who only finds meaning from believing in God, or one who finds meaning in everything but believing in God?

Does Randal Rauser actually believe that there is no meaning to life? ("So staggering is the cost that many atheists cannot admit that there is no meaning to life.") Why does he care if some atheists do find meaning to life? Perhaps he’s jealous.

How Low Can You Go?

From When 50 is Too Old by Richard Primus:

It is now widely understood that presidents must value youth in their Supreme Court nominees. The reason lies in the combination of two factors: life tenure and the party system. Because justices serve for life, presidents can increase their influence on the law by choosing young nominees. Given two-party competition, this incentive can provoke an unhealthy game of how-low-can-you-go: If one party nominates young justices, the other party risks ceding long-term control of the judiciary if it does not choose justices who are at least as young. As a result, it is hard for anyone much older than 50 to be a serious contender to fill David Souter's seat.

Things have not always been this way. Between 1945 and 1980, both parties wanted their nominees to dominate the Court, but the locus of competition lay in winning presidential elections, and perhaps in choosing effective justices, rather than in choosing young ones. In that period, there were 18 new justices, and their median age upon appointment was 55.5 years. Crucially, 55.5 was the median age for the eight Democratic appointees and also for the ten Republican appointees.
Read the rest here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

First, Furthermore, And Finally

From A Life With Religion, and Without by Owen C. Thomas:

First, if you follow John Dewey in his assertion that “whatever introduces genuine perspective is religious,” then there is no such animal as the nonreligious. Furthermore, historians of science now know that biblical religion was a major factor in the rise of the empirical side of modern science.

Finally, since following Dewey and many others, if everyone has a worldview, whether implicit or explicit, and none can be proved to anyone else who does not share it, then we all “walk by faith, and not by sight,” as Paul put it.
First, what if you don’t follow John Dewey and his assertion? (Or perhaps the better question is: what if you don’t follow the Owen C. Thomas interpretation of John Dewey and his assertion?

Furthermore, how many ancient scientists were burned at the stake for being heretics? What effect did these murders have on the development of the “empirical side” of modern science? (Is there a non-empirical side to science?)

Finally, faith in one’s own worldview does not equate to faith in God.

Why Do Atheists Care?

From God doesn't believe in atheists by Jack Chapman:

I noticed people who claim to be atheists always get upset whenever Christians have a National Day of Prayer, or set up a nativity scene somewhere, or maybe even say “God bless you.”

I even read a couple of weeks ago that some atheists are being “de-baptized.”
These are people who once believed in God, accepted him, then decided he doesn’t exist.

That has me wondering: Why do they care? Why waste their time if they believe our belief doesn’t exist? What’s so offensive about that?

It’s because every atheist deep down inside knows there is a God, they are mad at him and want to fight him with every bone in their body. Sad, isn’t it?

But there is good news, God doesn’t believe in atheists.
Obviously, Mr. Chapman doesn’t believe in listening. He seems to have never listened to any atheists at any time in his life. He also seems to not listen to himself. Otherwise, why would he write anything as stupid as this?

Why do we care? I’ll give a two word answer. Arrogant assholes. Arrogant assholes like Jack Chapman who presume to know what we think. Who don’t believe us, actually they refuse to believe us. According to the arrogant assholes we are not only wrong to not believe in God, we actually believe in God!

Mr. Chapman, I could ask you the same questions. Why do you care what atheists say and do? Why are you wasting your time on atheists? And the question that confuses me, what is so offensive about believing your beliefs don’t exist?

Mr. Chapman, you are correct that some atheists are angry. However, we are not angry at something that does not exist. That would be rather foolish. We are angry at arrogant assholes. Arrogant assholes who say that belief trumps logic when it comes to what our laws should say, when it comes to the appointment of our judges, when it comes to voting for our politicians, and when it comes to what should be taught in our schools.

Mr. Chapman, you should try a little empathy. Try to put yourself in the shoes of an atheist and you may gain a little insight. You give the examples of a National Day of Prayer, a nativity scene, and the expression “God bless you.” Use your imagination. How would you feel about a National Day of something you do not believe in, little statues put up once a year in honor of martians, and people saying “May the flying spaghetti monster grace you” every time that you sneeze? Do you think that this would be silly? If you do, then you are beginning to understand the atheists' point of view. Thank you for that.

Mr. Chapman, if you do believe in God, why do you insist on making your God into an idiot? After all, atheists do exist. For God to not believe in atheists would really be rather stupid of him, wouldn’t it?

Dick Denial

Does Dick Cheney really think that he is a righteous, moral, and just person? Does he truly believe his strange and twisted ideas of what is best for this country? Does the fact that the majority of this country think that he is not only wrong, but also evil, have any chance of changing his mind? Or is he simply in denial?

Quit Screwing Around

I didn’t like it when George W. Bush made jokes and I don’t like it when Barack Obama makes jokes. Please leave the bad jokes where they belong, with professionals like Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live.

The Dark Dick

Dick Cheney was on Face the Nation on Sunday.

From Dick Cheney's Faux Arguments by Conor Friedersdorf:

This is confusing. One minute, Cheney is arguing that it is wrongheaded to abandon a tactic that works, never mind strategy, because it’s important to do whatever it takes to get the information needed to save American lives. So Schieffer asks, “what you’re saying here is that we should do anything”? And Cheney won’t defend that proposition. He implies that no, we should only interrogate in ways that are in accordance with American law and international treaties we’ve signed. Except he clearly doesn’t believe that — actions speak louder than words!

Even focusing narrowly on the words above, Dick Cheney is unable to defend any coherent position. It is difficult to refute him, as he isn’t saying much of substance directly — much of his arguments are implied. But I can say this: certain assertions he is definitely making are factually wrong — the Bush Administration violated domestic law and the Geneva Conventions, the OLC be damned — and the arguments he implies are inconsistent with one another.

If this is the best case that can be made for the Bush era interrogation practices, they’re even less defensible than I imagined.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Unfair And Unbalanced

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a huge Bill Clinton fan. My opinion of him is mixed.

Jon Friedman has gone off the deep end over at

From Recalling Bill Clinton's eruption on 'Fox News Sunday' by Jon Friedman:

Wallace has interviewed countless newsmakers over the years, but he is likely best known for the Clinton show. The former president, who ordinarily kept his cool throughout his pressure-packed presidency, famously erupted when Wallace introduced the topic of whether the Clinton White House had done enough to go after Osama bin Laden.

Clinton sparked what broadcasting insiders like to call "great TV." The exchange, readily available on YouTube, underscores what I appreciate about Wallace and "Fox News Sunday." He is always calm and tough, but fair and well-prepared. He also treats his subjects with respect.

In a profession where lesser broadcasters preen to get noticed, Wallace, 61, is part of a vanishing breed of ultimate, old-school professionals.

Clinton vs. Wallace

That Sunday morning, Clinton emotionally made his points that he had tried hard to kill bin Laden. He also accused Wallace of "doing Fox's bidding" and orchestrating "a nice little hit job on me."

When I asked Wallace about Clinton's outburst, he stressed his "absolute astonishment." He said his questions were "not at all inflammatory" -- and I agree.

"I was genuinely surprised at his eruption," Wallace said.

What was going through Wallace's mind when Clinton was haranguing him? "'Don't let him roll over you but don't get into a fight with him,'" Wallace told me.

Wallace was able to consider the magnitude of the moment. "As I got past the astonishment," he recalled, "I did think, 'This is great stuff!' We're seeing this side of Bill Clinton that we've never seen before on television."
What the hell is this all about? Is Friedman in love with Wallace or did Wallace pay Friedman to write this extremely biased claptrap?

At the time, others thought differently of this interview. Check Keith Olbermann Response to Clinton Fox News Interview and Clinton Kicks the Crap out of Fox News Part 2.

If Wallace is such an outstanding journalist then why did he lie about Bush and Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda? Check out Chris Wallace Claims Bush Never Linked Hussein and al Qaeda and Fox News Host Chris Wallace Claims Bush Never Linked Saddam and al-Qaeda.

Watch the interview yourself. Judge for yourself. Did Clinton erupt? Or was he simply using his words in a very Clinton-like way.

Part One:

Part Two:

There is no way that anyone can paint this interview as some sort of win for Chris Wallace at Bill Clinton’s expense. And not everyone thinks that Chris Wallace is a great journalist.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sensitive Americans?

From Cue the coconuts: 'Holy Grail' gallops on by Steve Johnson:

"Holy Grail" is only No. 2 in England, No. 2 in the eyes of the Pythons. Although "Grail" does better stateside, in England, "Life of Brian," the Pythons' 1979 satire of the origins of Christianity, is seen as the true comic classic. "The general feeling of the group is that 'Life of Brian' is their best work," says John Goldstone, the films' producer. "America seems to be a lot more sensitive about examining religion."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Keep Up The Good Work, Rush!

With Rush and Sarah in charge of the Republican Party the Democrats will probably retain power for quite some time. Is this the best the Republicans can do?

Seriously, I would welcome a rational and civil challenge to the Democratic Party. They aren’t perfect, you know.

From Limbaugh: Palin most “prominent and articulate voice” for conservatism by Jack Cafferty:

As the Republican Party continues to struggle, some of them are starting to sound silly. Rush Limbaugh is now suggesting that Sarah Palin is the most prominent and articulate voice for good old-fashioned American conservatism. Recalling the disastrous interviews Ms. Palin did with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News during the campaign, ‘prominent’ and ‘articulate’ are not the words that immediately pop into my mind.

But the leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, thinks differently…

Why Does God Hate Republicans?

Why would an all powerful God allow the Republican Party to be such losers? After all, isn’t God a Republican?

From Pizza Party by Christopher Beam:

The question hovering over the proceedings—as over the party in general—was, should Republicans compromise or stand strong? Moderate their views or embrace conservatism? The answer coming out of this group seemed to be, Yes. On the one hand, said Cantor, "We should be an inclusive party." On the other, "the essence of being a Republican is a belief in free markets, a belief in individual responsibility, faith in the individual, faith in God."


From Atheists fight to keep God out of Irish law by Henry McDonald:

A group that claims to represent the rights of atheists in Ireland has launched a campaign to expel God from the Irish constitution, starting with an attempt to block plans for a new blasphemy law.
The Dublin-based writer said many atheists found parts of the Bible insulting, but would not wish it to be banned or discussion about it closed down. "Parts of the Christian Bible suggest that women must not teach and must learn in silence, or that effeminate people are unrighteous, or that people should worship a god who threatens to make you eat your own children. But we do not believe the Bible should be banned, and neither should discussion of the Bible in terms that cause Christians to be outraged," said Nugent.
Atheist Ireland's campaign against the proposed blasphemy law has been backed by Index on Censorship, the global campaign group for freedom of expression. Padraig Reidy, Index's news editor, said: "Ireland's ethnic and religious make-up has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. If the country is to thrive, surely the state must create a space where we can talk more, and more vigorously, about our beliefs and ideals, rather than shut down conversation."

Nugent said blasphemy was not the only anomaly in the constitution. "You cannot become president of Ireland or be appointed a judge in the republic unless you take a religious oath asking God to direct and sustain you in your work.

"What an atheist is offered is an Irish solution - to ignore it, to pretend you believe in God. But this means, for example, that a new judge who is privately an atheist but swears to God is technically committing perjury.

The Worst And The Dimmest

From The "best and the brightest"? Spare me by Michael Lind:

"Is President Obama trying to kill Wall Street and drive its talent to London?" asked one blogger, Scott Reeves. Scott Talbott, head of government affairs for the Financial Services Roundtable, has warned that "top salespeople, the lifeblood of any company" could be driven by TARP restrictions to work for overseas banks.

Where will the best and the brightest of the financial sector flee, to get away from regulation and earn obscenely high salaries? Not Canada, where tight regulation of banks prevented the kind of meltdown that has occurred in the U.S. Nor Australia, where similar strict banking regulations also spared that country's financial sector. London, Singapore or Dubai are sometimes mentioned as possible rival financial centers that would be eager to welcome the kind of overpaid financiers who wrecked the U.S. and global economy. Most Americans, I think, would agree that it is worth the risk. The voluntary expatriation of leading Wall Street geniuses might help to restore the U.S. economy and wreck potential rival financial capitals at the same time. The thought brings to mind the observation by a wag on the defection in the 1970s by John Connally from the Democrats to the Republicans: "He raised the IQ of both parties."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Libertarian Point Of View

If Housepets Were Libertarians

500 Years Of Female Portraits In Western Art

Women In Art by Philip Scott Johnson:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Some Tips

Here is some advice to make Christians act, well, more Christian when dealing with atheists. Another ten commandments, as it were. When dealing with atheists thou shalt not do these things. Do you think that any of them will pay any attention?

From Ten Tips for Christian Evangelists (Courtesy of Atheists) by Hemant Mehta:

5. Don’t talk about Jesus like he’s part of the conversation.

The people you’re talking to don’t share your beliefs, so they’re not going to be thrilled to hear that Jesus is listening in on their thoughts and sending messages or providing inspiration to the person talking to them.

This makes you come off as either crazy or… well, mostly crazy. I get that you actually believe that Jesus is alive and God is everywhere and all-knowing, but to non-Christians, he’s just an imaginary friend of yours, and so telling us to listen for his voice in our hearts is creepy.

6. Don’t plant literature.

We’re already stuck with Bibles in hotel rooms (thanks for that, Gideons and pushover hotels!). There’s no need to hide tracts inside books at the bookstore or leave those horrible fake $20 bill pamphlets with (or instead of) the tip at a restaurant. They don’t work. They’re impersonal, often accusatory, and extremely classless. If someone isn’t already a Christian, a pamphlet isn’t going to change that.
8. Don’t assume that we have “God-shaped holes in our hearts” and try to get us to admit it.

I certainly think that religion helps meet various psychological needs, and there are plenty of warm, fuzzy feelings (and deeper emotional experiences as well) that come along with it. But just because you have a proverbial hole-in-your-heart that only Jesus can fill doesn’t mean that all of us do.

Trying to convince us that our lives suck or are incomplete without God isn’t going to work. Stop insulting us and implying that we’re secretly miserable. We’re getting along just fine without any gods, so this line of strategy won’t work.

9. Don’t compare your past experiences to our present.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard Christians enthusiastically share their stories of horrible, sinful lives that left them feeling empty and lonely.

These “sinful” lives usually consisted of such shockers as swearing, going to R-rated movies, looking at porn, drinking, partying, smoking, and occasionally doing drugs. Oh — and having premarital sex.

The thing is, maybe these things made you feel guilty or empty; maybe you developed addictions or other problems relating to these activities, and maybe you’re much happier now that you don’t do them. That’s great. But it doesn’t mean that hearing your story is going to shock us or convince us to change our ways. There is such a thing as a healthy balance, and it can include some (or maybe all) of those “vices.”

This tactic seems especially silly when different Christians groups and denominations can’t seem to decide what’s sinful and what’s not.

10. Don’t talk down to us, as if we’re just not understanding something perfectly obvious.

Many of us have read the Bible, prayed, attended church for years, and still ended up as atheists. There’s no magic bullet that converts people to Christianity. Whatever experience led you to believe probably happened on a pretty personal level. We haven’t witnessed anything miraculous or heard any voices, and we don’t see anything self-evident about God in nature or humanity. So if you insist on trying to save us, at least familiarize yourself with our perspective before jumping in, because assuming we’re simply uninformed or dumb is only going to hurt your chances.
I singled out these five of the ten tips because I have had similar thoughts on these issues for many years.

It is annoying and even insulting to an atheist to have Jesus become a part of a conversation or greeting when he has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

It pisses me off that God is all over the place. No, I suddenly did not start to believe in God. What I mean by God being all over the place is that he is on our money, in our mottos, our Pledge of Allegiance, our swearing in ceremonies, at the end of Presidential speeches, etc. I find all of these things to be ridiculous and insulting, as well as illegal. (I know that the courts don't agree with me on the illegal part. However, they've been wrong before, you know.) And yes, God's book is in my hotel room, even though I didn’t ask for it, and I don’t want it there.

I would be miserable if I tried to be religious. It’s not the other way around. I would always know that I was lying to myself if I pretended to believe in God. I allow you your belief, please allow me my non-belief. Let’s leave it at that. The problems come when you try to convert me. The problems come when you try to inject your beliefs into the public dialog and pretend that they are facts. I am not trying to stop you from believing. I just think that you are being stupid by believing. I think that you are being stupid giving your money away. I think you are being stupid when you elect George W. Bush because of his values.

I don’t need God to make me be a moral person. I don’t need to be born again. There is nothing wrong with me in that department. I’ve got plenty of other flaws that need working on, and no imaginary monarch (good Lord!) is going to help me there. Oh, and by the way, it would be a little bit easier to even think about believing in God if he himself was a little bit more moral. Not to mention his sexually abusive priests.

Yes! Please don’t talk down to us. I've been down the religious road. I reject it. I’ve read (and still do read) chunks of the Bible. It hasn’t made me believe. If God’s own words don’t make me believe, why are you so arrogant to think that you have something to add?

Not all religious people are arrogant and rude. It’s just that the ones who are arrogant and rude happen to be especially so. I find it most irritating to have someone place their need to convert me above my existence as a fellow human being. If you are going to try to convert me, you should, at the very least, try to get to know me first.

Religious people seem to be the least empathic people on the planet. It is unfortunate that there are so many of them.