Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joe America

This is an oldie but a goodie

Joe America

“Joe gets up at 6 a.m. to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medications with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to ensure their safety and guarantee that they work as advertised.

“All but $10 of the medicines' cost is paid by Joe's employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance. Now Joe gets it too, because his employer needs to offer competitive benefits to hire the best people.

“Joe prepares his breakfast bacon and eggs this day. Joe's bacon and eggs are safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing and poultry industries.

“Joe takes his morning shower, reaching for his shampoo. The bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air is clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting the air.

“Joe drives to work in one of the safest cars in the world because some liberal fought to raise safety standards and emission controls.

“Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with good pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these improved working standards. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a workers' compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

“It's noon and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 because some liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from greedy, unscrupulous bankers like the ones who ruined the banking system and helped cause the Great Depression.

“Joe needs to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and his below-market interest rate federal student loan, which he got because some liberal decided that Joe and his family and our society would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

“Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. Joe was the third generation to live in the house, which was financed by Farmers Home Administration because town bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

“Joe is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure Joe's dad could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

“After his visit with his dad, Joe gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show. The host keeps ranting that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn't tell Joe that his conservatives have fought tooth-and-nail against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.) Joe agrees that ‘We don't need those big government liberals running our lives; after all, I'm a self made man who believes people should take care of themselves, just like I have.’”

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Dickensian Mr. Nugent

A few days ago a friend e-mailed me the following article entitled “Nugent: Poor parental choices make poor children” and asked me for my thoughts. When are people going to learn not to do that…

First, allow me to express my keen disappointment in the Motor City Madman’s rather bland regurgitation of right-wing think tank talking points. This is work more akin to the bleating duckspeak of a second tier Fox news commentator than something from the man who inflicted “Wango Tango” and “Cat Scratch Fever” on the American public thirty odd years ago. You would think there would be more pyrotechnics.

However, there are some pleasures to be found in Mr. Nugent’s unlettered drivel, even if they were unintended.

Let’s take a moment and savor the delicious irony of Ted “Wango Tango” Nugent extolling the probity of middle class sexual mores to the feckless poor. To my mind, this is a bit like enduring an avuncular lecture about the evils of chemical dependency from Keith Richards.

Terrible Ted opens his salvo on the less fortunate with the admonition:

“The fault is with the parents or, often, the lack thereof.”

Nugent is so good as to graciously spare the children from being complicit in their parents’ inconsiderate actions which so aggrieve good conservatives such as he. This is a common complaint. Even at the most cursory glance, history is chocked full of examples of society’s betters bemoaning the fecundity of their lesser members (see Dickens). Setting aside the lack of originality, it’s Nugent’s shameless hypocrisy that comes to the fore.

Nugent has been married twice and is the father of eight children. His first wife Sandy divorced him, accusing him of “bizarre sexual practices”. Three of the children were from his first marriage and two were from the second. Wait a minute; that is only five, his other three were born out of wedlock! And if that wasn’t enough, he further warns “mindless baby-making machines”:

“… if you can’t afford to have kids, quit having them and expecting the taxpayers to pay for them. Men and women with no visible means of support other than the taxpayer dime shouldn’t be having children. That may sound ugly and controlling, but it’s much uglier to expect the taxpayer to pay for mindless baby-making machines…”

Of course, Ted takes his responsibilities very seriously, so much so that in 2004 he was sued for unpaid child support payments for a bastard he fathered in 1995.

It must be said that Nugent contributed more than his fair share to the corrosion of our cultural currency. His 1980 classic “Wango Tango”enlightens young minds with the following lyrics:

“Kinda like, goes kinda like this
You take her right ankle out
You take her left ankle out
You get her belly propped down
You get her butt propped up
Yeah lookin' good now baby
I think you're in the right position now baby…”

Oh there’s more,

“I got salivate late, salivate late, salivate late
I got the droolin', droolin', get all wet, salivate, salivate
Got salivate, salivate, salivate, salivate, heh heh heh
Yeah you look so good baby, I like it, I like it, I like it
You know what I been talkin' about honey…”

Ted, no vicarious tunesmith, often put these words of wisdom into action. He gained a bit of notoriety in October 2000 when Spin magazine declared what follows as #63 on their list of the "100 Sleaziest Moments in Rock". Channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis, the thirty-year old Nugent initiated a “relationship” with seventeen-year-old Hawaii native Pele Massa. (There seems to be some dispute as to Ms. Massa’s true age with allegations she might have been as young as thirteen). Due to the age difference they could not marry so Nugent joined Massa's parents in signing documents to make himself her legal guardian. The above lyrics probably give some insight into the type of guardianship “Uncle Ted” was providing. Nothing creepy here.

It is illustrative that Nugent chooses to quote William J. Bennett another leading light of the “do as I say, not as I do” school of conservative thought. Bennett, when not dropping millions on the tables of Las Vegas, spends his time cranking out unreadable tomes with a singular theme – blame the victim. Perhaps Bill “Know when to fold ‘em” Bennett wants the poor to parlay their lottery tickets and repair “The Broken Hearth”.

Of course, we have to “punish” the poor for their own good. They don’t work. That broccoli on your table just finds its way there. The toilets at the McDonalds just clean themselves. Damn, if those poor people would just work 100 hours a week between three or four jobs, they could make as much as $725.00 a week! “[We] must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.” You’re too late, Ted, poor people make hard choices every single day.

I suppose it is now de rigueur in conservative circles to blame teacher unions for AIDS, the Kardashians and the fall of Western Civilization. This argument is so tiresome and spurious, I can only respond as Christopher Hitchens would have responded; 'That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence'.

The most risible and laughable of his assertions is “…we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available…” It could well be argued that our government does a bit more than “embrace” the private sector. In fact, given its behavior toward Wall Street and the trillion dollar bailouts one could say they fellate the private sector. Now that we have protected the “job creators’” wealth from taxation, the question remains – where are the jobs?

If Mr. Nugent really wants us face the “ugly and uncomfortable” truths about poverty in America today, he might start by leaving his “canned hunt” in the wilds of Michigan and ask a few a few of his former fans – many of whom are becoming statistics in the longest recession since the 1930’s - in decaying rust belt cities that long supported his decadent rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. If this really all the right has to offer, along with the cavalcade of clowns they call their candidates; Mr. Obama, of whom I am no fan, should have nothing to worry about this November.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

US hypocrisy on free speech at United Nations

Found this disturbing article at the "Index on Censorship" website:

The UN Human Rights Council has passed a resolution condemning “stereotyping of religion”. It’s a move that flouts freedom of expression – and it was sponsored by the United States. Roy W Brown reportsThe United States has backed a new UN resolution on free expression which would be considered unconstitutional under its First Amendment — which protects freedom of expression and bans sanctioning of religions.

The UN Human Rights Council on 2 October adopted the resolution, which the US had co-sponsored with Egypt. The US had finally joined the Human Rights Council in June, and its support for the measure reflected the Obama administration’s stated aim to “re-engage” with the UN.

While the new resolution focuses on freedom of expression, it also condemns “negative stereotyping of religion”. Billed as a historic compromise between Western and Muslim nations, in the wake of controversies such the Danish Muhammed cartoons, the resolution caused concern among European members.

“The language of stereotyping only applies to stereotyping of individuals, I stress individuals, and must not protect ideologies, religions or abstract values,” said France’s representative, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, speaking for the EU. “The EU rejects the concept of defamation of religion.”

France emphasised that international human rights law protects individual believers, not systems of belief. But European members, eager not be seen as compromise wreckers, reluctantly supported the measure.

On the other side of the fault line stood the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which lobbied for a measure against “religious defamation”.

“We firmly believe that the exercise of freedom of expression carries with it special responsibilities,” said Pakistan’s delegate, speaking for the OIC. The “defamation” of religion, he said, “results in negative stereotyping of the followers of this religion and belief and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

Following the OIC’s logic, one could equally apply the language of the resolution to Islamism, a political form which is arguably a “contemporary manifestation of religious hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. It results in negative stereotyping of the followers of other religions and beliefs and leads to incitement, discrimination, hatred and violence against them, therefore directly affecting their human rights.”

The EU also had other worries. European members felt that the provision in the resolution on “the moral and social responsibility of the press” was objectionable in that it went beyond the limited restrictions set out in article 19, the provision on free expression in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Finally, the EU encouraged the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank LaRue, to continue his work. This was an indirect reference to the attacks made against LaRue by several OIC members at the June session of the Human Rights Council. (Read more here)

The Council stopped short of repeating the OIC’s criticisms of the Special Rapporteur but encouraged him to stick to his mandate. That indicates that he should continue to focus on violations of free expression, rather than purported “abuses” of that right.

While this new resolution reflects new efforts by the US to broker compromises between Western and Muslim nations, it also represents an ominous crack in the defences of free expression.

Monday, October 15, 2007

An infinite number of monkeys...

A new report suggests that an infinite number of monekys hacking away at an infinite number of typewriters will NOT produce works of the quality of William Shakespeare.

A spokesman for the report said: "Plainly, the internet has shown our findings to be true".

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Local Scientists Raise Concerns about Creation Museum

Statement of Concern

We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis.

How to sign this statement

Click “List of signatories” (below) and scroll to the end of the list.
Post your name, title, institutional affiliation, and website. Submit only your name, institutional affiliation, and website, if you have one. No text, please.
Your email address is required to post the comment, but will not be shown publicly.

Your signature will be posted after it is validated.

Please sign only if you are a scientist (faculty or post-doctoral level) from IN, KY, or OH. Thanks!

List of signatories

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West
by Roger Crowley

Five hundred and fifty-four years ago today, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople fell to the forces of the Ottoman Turks ending a thousand years of Christian rule in the east. Its significance to us today is underscored by the daily headlines emanating from that region of the world. Iraq, formally known as Mesopotamia, is a legacy of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

Roger Crowley’s fluency of writing and even-handed approach in bringing the events occurring in the spring of 1453 to life avoids the simple-mindedness so common in “popular” histories. Crowley argues the fall of Byzantium “is unusual in being history largely written by the losers.”

Contemporary Ottoman accounts barely exist; they were still largely a preliterate society and the accounts from their oral tradition ossified into terse chronicles with the aim of creating an Ottoman dynastic legend. It is from reading between the lines of writing from Christendom, which can hardly be relied upon to be impartial. There is also a paucity of records from the Byzantine Greeks themselves. The story is largely left to Italian eyewitness accounts that give the Byzantines, with the exception of the 57th emperor Constantine XI, unfailingly bad press. The Ottoman emperor, Mehmet II who was a mere 21 years when he took Constantinople, is often label by European sources as a “blood-drinker”.

Crowley’s challenge is to sort out what was plausible and to engage the reader in the description of a two-month siege and he succeeds admirably. He takes the reader through the geopolitics of the 15th century as well as the engineering and tactical preparation of both the Muslim army – a multinational force of 80,000 containing a sizable number of Christians, and the defenders, a motley force of 8,000 comprised of Greeks, Venetians and Genoese as well as a contingent of renegade Turks and a intrepid Scotsman.

For anyone interested in the end of the medieval world and the origins of current situation in the Muslim world, I would highly recommend this informative and entertaining read.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Northern Exposure

Like most readers, I carry an image of Alaska that was formed in large part by the quirky television program Northern Exposure. A populace comprised of congenial misanthropes and eccentrics who were charming against a backdrop of majestic natural beauty.

The frozen north it seems is not quite as friendly – at least to nonbelievers – as we were led to believe. The following letter has a decidedly less tolerant tone than one would expect to find in the Kenai Peninsula Clarion where stories of moose charges and Grizzly bear sightings make the front page. A certain Alice Shannon, whose letter appeared in the Clarion holds somewhat xenophobic notions in regard to infidels:

“It’s time to stomp out atheists in America. The majority of Americans would love to see atheists kicked out of America. If you don’t believe in God, then get out this country.

The United States is based on having freedom of religion, speech, etc. which means you can believe in God any way you want (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.), but you must believe.

I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion. Our currency even says, “In God we trust”. So to all the atheist in America: Get out of our country.

Atheists have caused the ruin of this great nation by taking prayer out of our schools and being able to practice what can only be called evil. I don’t care if they have never committed a crime, atheist are the reason crime is rampant.”

Well, Alice certainly has a bee in her bonnet. One hardly knows where to begin with this (but I am sure some readers do!). If I might throw in my two cents worth, I’d like to address Alice’s failing memory, “I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion.” To quote Thomas Jefferson, author of the amendment she so clearly admires;

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

So to all you evil-doing atheists (with or without felony records) out there, watch out! Alice Shannon is on to you, and she has the [final?] solution.

My thanks to the Raving Atheist for this gem.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

I found this disturbing little bit of news in the latest issue of Editor and Pulisher magazine:

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

By E&P Staff

Published: May 25, 2007 10:05 AM ET
NEW YORK About one-third of the American adult population believes the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word, a new Gallup poll reveals. This percentage is only slightly lower than several decades ago.

Gallup reports that the majority of those "who don't believe that the Bible is literally true believe that it is the inspired word of God but that not everything it in should be taken literally." Finally, about one in five Americans believe the Bible is merely an ancient book of "fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man."

There is also a strong relationship between education and belief in a literal Bible, Gallup explains, with such belief becoming much less prevalent as schooling continues.

Those who believe in the literal Bible amount to 31% of adult Americans. This is a decline of about 7% compared with Gallup polls taken in the 1970s and 1980s. It is strongest in the South.

Believe in the literal word of the Bible is strongest among those whose schooling stopped with high school and declines steadily with educational level, with only 20% of college graduates holding that view and 11% of those with an advanced degree.

E&P Staff

Friday, May 25, 2007

For Shame

This past Sunday the Cincinnati Enquirer devoted the front page and an entire section to the creation museum opening here on the 28th. Of course, the praise was lavish and what few criticisms there were, buried in the "letters" section (yours truly was included). An entire spread was dedicated to Ken Ham, the Chaucerian mountebank who swindled the credulous out of $27 million to erect this shrine to ignorance where Adam and Eve go to Sunday school riding dinosaurs; a place where Darwin, secular science and troubling evidence hold no sway.

If our bumpkinhood was not already confirmed, this insult to every natural history museum in the world was splashed across the pages of the New York Times yesterday. And to my horror, it remains the most popular e-mailed, blogged and searched article today. Now the whole world knows of our shame and can only conclude we are hotbed of inbred goobers.

This utter barking lunacy make one almost wish for biblical wrath; a nice plague of locusts or a Sodom and Gomorrah tactical nuclear strike, anything to end the embarrassment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Christopher Hitchens on "Militant Atheism"

This appears in the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine:

"All you need is to ignore the difference between someone who believes in, say, heaven and hell and someone who doesn't. The first has a lot of work to do by way of providing anything that even looks like evidence. The second rests his case on the extreme improbability of any such evidence being adduced. Are these positions really describable as morally or intellectually equivalent? Or take the case of someone who believes in punishment for blasphemy or in prior restraint on those who might commit it. Is this the same dogma as the argument that says that religion, since it makes such huge claims, must expect to have them submitted to rigorous questioning?...The faithful believe that certain truths have been 'revealed.' The skeptics and secularists believe that truth is only to be sought by free inquiry and trial and error. Only one of those positions is dogmatic."

Well said...