Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Catapulting the Propaganda

Someone from the Ministry of Truth in the Bush White House is very probably going to become a nonperson, in fact, a doubleplusungood nonperson in the next week if it hasn’t happened already. Of course, we will never know, because as a nonperson he never existed in the first place and any mention of him will slide down the memory hole just like the following statement President Bush made at one of those creepy Orwellian “Town Hall” meetings where the audience is carefully screened and the entire presentation scripted.

It seems this low-level functionary of the Outer Party forgot to delete the highlighted phrase on the speakwrite.

“Now, a personal savings account would be a part of a Social Security retirement system. It would be a part of what you would have to retire when you reach retirement age. As you -- as I mentioned to you earlier, we're going to redesign the current system. If you've retired, you don't have anything to worry about -- third time I've said that. (Laughter.) I'll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)”

Dubya flinging the spin... Posted by Hello

Yes, one can almost see the pneumatic tubes humming with frantic orders to “rectify” .

times 17.3.05 bb speech malreported iraq rectify

times 19.12.04 forecasts 3 yp 4th quarter 83 misprints verify current issue

times 14.12.04 miniplenty malquoted economy rectify

times 3.05.05 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

times 24.05.05 bb speech malreported social security rectify

O’Brien or Big Brother could not have said it better…well, okay, they probably would have used grammatically correct English.

Update on the FEC and the Internet

Go to the Center for Democracy and Technology website

The deadline is June 4th! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Memorial Day is set aside for the remembrance of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Those brave men and women deserve our respect and our admiration for their unselfish service to their country.

We now find ourselves at war again in Iraq.

Without belaboring the reasons we find ourselves there, it is enough to know that over 1,600 young men and woman have given their lives with no end in sight.

While I am not a pacifist, I do not support this war. However, I do believe our actions in Afganistan were justified and largely successful, but unfortunately hampered by our commitment of personel and resources to the Iraq invasion. We had the moral high ground there.

It is, by now, no secret to many of you that the U.S. Army is having grave difficulties meeting its recruitment goals. This report from Reuters:

“The U.S. Army missed its April recruiting goal by a whopping 42 percent and the Army Reserve fell short by 37 percent, officials said on Tuesday, showing the depth of the military's wartime recruiting woes.

With the Iraq war straining the U.S. military, the active-duty Army has now missed its recruiting goals in three straight months, with April being by far the worst of the three, and officials are forecasting that it will fall short again in May.”

Where are the Republicans? Posted by Hello

So, why aren’t young Republicans of military age, who ardently support this war, rushing to their nearest recruitment office and enlisting? Could it be that their leadership as evidenced in the following list has set a poor example? Please note that many of those named below were highly instrumental in leading our nation to war. I will let their service records, or more precisely their lack thereof, speak for themselves:

* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Five deferments, the last by
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." (This is the man
who attacked Max Cleland`s patriotism.)
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard service; assigned to Alabama to campaign for a family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam; AWOL
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role
making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Lt. Commander, USN; Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit,
Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued
playing in the NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Prominent Rightwing Pundits & Preachers & Posers or otherwise known as "the cheerleaders"

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a `pilonidal cyst.`)
* Bill O`Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve. (He only shoots at things that can’t
shoot back.)

Could it be that Eugene V. Debs was right when he said that “wars are fought to make rich men richer and poor men die”

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori...indeed!

(Trans. “It is sweet and glorious to die for one's country.”)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sunday Morning Cartoons - Brimb: On Jesus

Having take the oath of allegiance to the Evil Atheist Conspiracy®, it is my sworn duty to commit one evil act before breakfast or, at least, do something that will piss the godbotherers off.

Below is a cartoon from the website “Brimb: On Jesus”. There are several of these and they are all very witty. Try imagining Jesus today in the climate of the religious right.

Jesus as envisioned by the Christian Right Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Hammer Now Lashing Out at Fictional Characters

It’s been a bad week for Tom DeLay. The Texas Republicans ethics issues took a sudden turn for the worse when a Texas judge ruled that a political action committee he formed failed to disclose over $600, 000 in corporate contributions. The passage of a stem cell research bill came as another blow to his “culture of life”, with forty of his fellow Republicans supporting it, over his hyperbolic condemnations. DeLay decried using taxes for "the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings for the purposes of medical experimentation."

So, in the grand old tradition of Former Vice-President Dan Quayle battling the fictional television character Murphy Brown on the issue of family values, the ethically challenged House Majority leader has decided to take a crack at a reference to him in a police drama concerning the murder of judges.

Bad hair day, Tom? Posted by Hello

In the season finale of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent”, which this past Wednesday, a police officer, frustrated by the lack of clues, makes an offhand comment that, "Maybe we should put out an APB (all-points-bulletin) for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt."

In a letter to NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker, DeLay wrote: "This manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse."

The Texas Republican went on to suggest the "slur" against him was intended as a jab at comments he had made about "the need for Congress to closely monitor the federal judiciary."

NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly responded in a statement that the dialogue in question "was neither a political comment nor an accusation."

"The script line involved an exasperated detective bedeviled by a lack of clues, making a sarcastic comment about the futility of looking for a suspect when no specific description existed," Reilly said.

Producer Dick Wolf, creator of the "Law & Order" franchise, took a swipe at DeLay in his own statement on Thursday, saying, "I ... congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

Earlier this spring, during his failed crusade to “rescue” Terri Shiavo, the bombastic DeLay made a thinly veiled threat to members of the judiciary who did not embrace his “culture of life” stance:

"We will look at an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at the Congress and president when given jurisdiction to hear this case anew and look at all the facts ... The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today."

Judge Joan Lefkow, U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, appeared earlier this month before the Senate Judiciary Committee to rebuke politicians and other public figures who have used inflammatory language to criticize judicial decisions they disagreed with. She said that such rhetoric encouraged violence against judges.

Lefkow’s husband and elderly mother were murdered by a man angry at her sentencing a white supremacist to forty years in prison for plotting to assassinate a federal judge.

Thanks to the folks at "Crooks and Liars" for this story

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Congressman Accuses Bill Maher of Treason

Traitor? Posted by Hello

In another glaring example of how little our Republican overlords tolerate criticism or dissent, Republican congressman Spencer Bachus from Alabama has accused comedian Bill Maher of treason for comments he made on his HBO program, Real Time with Bill Maher.

The congressman took issue with Maher’s quip about the fall in recruiting figures in April, which he point the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

Army Reserve Pfc. England was accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"I think it borders on treason," Bachus said. "In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country."

Maher's Book Cover Posted by Hello

Maher, a strong supporter of the war on terrorism, has been highly critical of the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war and Americans’ lack of willingness to make sacrifices toward that end. His book, “When you ride ALONE, you ride with Bin Laden” released in 2002, revamps patriotic posters from the Second World War to modern day realities.

Its subtitle, “What the government should be telling us to help fight the war on terrorism” pretty much sums up Maher’s view. He is not only critical of the current administrations links to major oil companies, but our unwillingness to give up gas guzzling SUV’s ("Selfish Use Vehicles") which he contends puts more money in the pockets of Islamic terrorists.

Have the Republicans forgotten him? Posted by Hello

Some of Maher's more trenchant arguments are:

Wars are won by uniting and making sacrifices, so why not carpool as civilians did during WW II (hence the title of this book) instead of driving alone? Also, why not give up SUVs and other idiotic vanity vehicles in favor of fuel efficient ones that will reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, which is one of Al Quaeda's prime sources of revenue.

If the president gets a secret service, why can't we? Put real security in our airports like Israel does.

At the risk of being offensive, search likely suspects at airports, not random people including old women and children.

Why are we investing billions of dollars and lots of resources making sure cancer victims can't smoke pot when we could be directing all of that money and resources toward protecting civilians at home? Besides, it doesn't work and it simply makes more people hate us.

People are attacking us for a reason. Try to understand what that reason is, don't just resort to comfort and clichés.

Not Patriotic Enough? Posted by Hello

Bacchus says he does not want to prosecute Maher (after all, his accusations are groundless) but wants Maher off the air. Maher might be prickly and a thorn in the Republicans'collective side, but he is hardly a traitor. This is one more example of silencing any voice that dares disagree with them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bush’s Ongoing War on Science

While the nation was focused on the filibuster issue, another important bill (probably far more important than Senate procedures)passed in the House. This was clearly a rebuke to the growing "culture of life" presence in the Congress. Between his conversations with God and the Danish Prime Minister, President Bush clearly stated that he chooses the medievalist worldview of the fundamentalist faction of the Republican Party.

“I have made very clear to the Congress that the use of taxpayer money to promote science that destroys life in order to save life, I am against that,'' Bush told reporters in at the White House before meeting with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. ``If the bill does that, I will veto it.''

Bush has yet to veto a bill. But, then, why would he? The rightwing fanatics who control Congress are hardly going to pass something he isn’t going to like. Still, the issue of stem cell research is a sticky one for the Republicans whose poll numbers are going south.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published May 19th showed that 65% of those questioned believe Congress does not share their values.

Last night, fifty Republicans split with party leaders to back the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, written by Delaware Republican Mike Castle, after an emotional debate between advocates for such research into cures for debilitating diseases and those who believe use of the embryos is the unwarranted destruction of human life. Castle’s bill will remove the limit on the number of embryonic stem-cell lines eligible for federal research funding. The measure had 202 co-sponsors; passage required 218 votes. The 238-to-194 vote fell short of the 290 votes needed to override a veto.

The Gold Dust Twins of corrupt politicos, Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, both opposed Castle's bill, yet they agreed to allow a vote in part because public support is growing for expanded stem cell research. After the Terri Shiavo fiasco even “Tom the Hammer” is wary and apparently capable of reading the handwriting on the wall:

A poll released by Castle and other lawmakers last week found 66 percent of 1,300 voters in 13 Republican districts favored stem-cell research.

The danger for Republicans and opponents of embryonic stem cell research is a public backlash, Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute said.

``There are strong majorities of Americans out there who want embryonic stem cell research, and there is also evidence that the American people think Congress is out of touch,'' Ornstein said. ``This could turn into a case of, `There they go again.'''

Embryonic stem cells are like blank slates that have the potential to mature into any type of cell or tissue. Researchers say the cells, which scientists first began to isolate and grow in 1998, may lead one day to cures for conditions including spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Brilliant Fraud

This fake BBC online news article has now made it around the world several times and more than one blogger has been taken in by it. After the Newsweek fiasco, we should all be a little more careful…but, who could resist lion-fighting midgets!

Bring on the midgets! Posted by Hello

Go here to read the rest of the story.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Fairy Tales Pass As News at the Enquirer

Fairy tales, superstition and imaginary friends now qualify as facts at the Cincinnati Enquirer. In a marketing coup that would garner the envy of Fortune 500 corporations, “Answers in Genesis” (AIG) bamboozled the Gannett owned rag into spreading their message of extreme right-wing creationist nonsense all over the front page. I wonder who at the Enquirer is on the AIG payroll?

The piece entitled “Ministry uses dinosaurs to dispute evolution” has an uppercase banner above Ken Ham the founder of the museum with some of his dinosaurs, proclaiming, “How and when did life begin? Ken Ham wants you to find the answer in his $25 million Boone County CREATION MUSEUM.

A giant step backward Posted by Hello

Among the more idiotic beliefs that these bible-thumping morons want you to believe is that man and dinosaurs lived together and the world is only 6,000 years old.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, of Moral Majority fame, is featured prominently in the lead with quotes such as, “When that museum is finished, it’s going to be Cincinnati’s No. 1 tourist attraction. It’s going to be a mini-Disney World.”

Oh Joy! Cincinnati is soon to be overrun with throngs of ignorant, knuckle dragging hayseeds from Kansas and Alabama. Perhaps I can make my fortune selling pieces of the “true” cross at a roadside stand to the fat pig-eyed pilgrims and their slack-jawed spawn on their quest to seek darkness and eternal imbecility. I’ve a half cord of firewood left over from this past winter; if these troglodytes believe this nonsense, they believe anything.

Falwell goes on to say, “(Ham) is a very popular speaker here at Liberty University (a rival, no doubt to Oxford and Cambridge). He brings science down to a populist level where people leave saying, ‘That makes sense.’”

“And who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?” Ham doesn’t bring science down to a “populist level”, he buries is in the medieval muck of ignorance and superstition. His “science” is fabricated out of whole cloth. One of the life size models at the new museum will be a Triceratops sporting a saddle. They also contend that the Grand Canyon was formed by floodwaters in a matter of days. This is what passes for science at the Creation Museum. It would be as funny as anything Monte Python could concoct, only they believe it to be true.

More disturbing is the fact that the 95, 000 square foot complex on 50 acres in rural Boone County receives between $300,000 and $400,000 in contributions and operates on a $14 million budget.

Spread the Alarm

Brendan at spacetropic is alerting local bloggers to the pending amendment broadening campaign finance regulation before the Federal Election Commission concerning the use of the Internet. This amendment would open a can of worms concerning free speech issues, equal time and what qualifies as “press exemptions”.

...and soon, so may the FEC Posted by Hello

Brendan includes several links giving the background of the proposal as well as a copy his own letter to the commission. I agree whole-heartedly agree with Brendan that this is NOT a left-right issue but one that concerns the exercise of free speech. It deserves your attention and action. The deadline is June 3rd.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Guided By Voices

If you have spent more than fifteen minutes on the World Wide Web, you have probably come the conclusion there are some mighty strange people out there (present company excepted, of course). Recently, I have started looking at some of the advertisements that appear on this blog from time to time and it has given me pause.

Hearing voices again....The Serial Killer Evangelist Posted by Hello

David Berkowitz, a.k.a “Son of Sam”, was the infamous serial killer who terrorized New York City in the mid-seventies. His killing spree of over a year and a half was apparently directed by the neighbor’s dog, which transmitted evil messages telling Berkowitz to kill. The story had all the lurid details the tabloid press loves; satanic rituals, black magic, sex, and talking dogs.

Berkowitz is now incarcerated, serving several life sentences in an upstate New York prison and has converted to Christianity. And this is where the story takes another bizarre twist. He has become somewhat of a poster child for the “Focus on Family” organization. You know, the folks helping to lead the charge of the Christian Right. Its leader, Dr. James Dobson, is the fellow who discovered that SquareBob Spongepants was gay and has been instrumental in declaring the fight over judicial nominees was “attacking people of faith”.

Is “Focus on the Family” going to give us “Manson Family Values” next?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What the hell.....???

It gives to new meaning to the term “coyote date”. You know, the date where you wake up in the morning and would rather gnaw your arm off than wake her (or him).

Republican Sluts? Posted by Hello

Also, notice the use of the lower case "d" in democrat. Have Republicans become utterly contemptuous of those who believe in a democratic political system?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Scientific American Gives Up

This is a few weeks old, but it is still funny as hell. Scientific American, a magazine not normally associated with parody or humor, ran the following article:

"Okay, I give up" - Charles Darwin Posted by Hello

"There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong."

Go here to read the rest of the article in Scientific American

Friday, May 13, 2005

Panzer Pope Blitzkriegs Liberal U.S. Catholics

In a surprise pre-dawn attack, Überpapenfuhrer Benedict XVI began his campaign to purge his ideological and theological opponents within the U.S. Catholic Church.

“The announcement Friday that the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, an oft-quoted commentator on the workings of the Catholic Church, has been forced to resign after seven years as editor of America magazine has sent shock waves through the worlds of Catholic journalism and academia. Reese was ousted after facing five years of criticism from the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI for publishing articles that questioned the Vatican's writings on issues such as same-sex marriage, stem cell research, and salvation for non-Christians.”

Germans on balconies and adoring crowds: never a good combination Posted by Hello

Other Catholic editors and writers have expressed concern for the prospect of open debate within the church:

“''It would be hard for any Catholic editor not to say, 'Well, if this happened to America magazine, perhaps it could happen to others,' " said the Rev. Pat McCloskey, the editor of St. Anthony Messenger, a 311,000-circulation Franciscan monthly based in Cincinnati. ''I'm afraid that a move like this one will cause more and more Catholic thinkers to say that they want to write for publications that are not identified as Catholic and to teach at schools that are not identified as Catholic, because there is more freedom there."

The editor of Commonweal, a biweekly published in New York, arrived at his office to find an e-mail from a critic threatening, “you’re next.”

In related news, it is reported the Swiss Guard has taken to goose-stepping in their ceremonial parades at the Vatican.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Epistle to a Conservative

I recently received the following letter:

“I really don't understand the anger you libs have toward Republicans, especially Bush. Can you explain it to me...without sarcasm, in simple, straight language? I seriously would like to understand. Thanks.”

Without sarcasm? You really are asking quite a bit, but I will try.

Perhaps it might be best to start with another question: why do conservatives hate we “libs” (as you so derisively refer to us) so much?

A brief perusal of any newsstand or the Internet or a quick turn of the radio dial pretty much sums up who is doing the most trade in hate speech. It wouldn’t be Ann Coulter, the screaming banshee of the right, whose only regret is that Timothy McVeigh did not visit the offices of the New York Times and kill the liberal editors and reporters there? Or, perhaps the drug-addled Rush Limbaugh who supported a pretty healthy oxycontin habit while bashing liberals for fun and profit and blaming them for every conceivable human frailty and perversion including drug addiction, might hold part of the answer.

For a quarter of a century, the onslaught from the political right has been relentless. Liberals are accused of treachery, treason, and perfidy at every turn. In short, liberals hate America. Of course, when someone calls them on their lie mongering and sleazy innuendos, their retort is the well-worn plea of “liberal media bias”.

The question I have is: where is this “liberal media”? Certainly you cannot be talking about the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns and operates 62 television stations in 38 markets and reaches about a quarter of all American households, and last fall ordered all of its stations to air the anti-Kerry "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" without commercials in prime-time, just two weeks before the Nov. 2 election? When has Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Network or Al Neuharth’s Gannett empire (the largest newspaper chain in the U.S. and owner of The Cincinnati Enquirer) ever been considered in any way “liberal”?

Yet, all we hear is the bleating grievances of the weak and victimized conservatives at the mercy of the evil “liberal media bias”. It is hard not to find this contemptible to say the least.

It is also interesting to me that conservative Republicans, who proclaim to uphold the Constitution, conveniently ignore Article VI, paragraph 3, where is states: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust” requiring, de facto, what the Constitution expressly forbids. The recent antics of Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, the House and Senate majority leaders respectively, have both betrayed the public trust and have openly declared that Democrats are leading an attack on people of faith because they dare question the integrity of a few judicial nominees.

However, I am so relieved that the president felt it necessary during his latest news conference to say that unbelievers can be good Americans: “If you choose not to worship, you’re equally as patriotic as somebody who does worship.”

Gee, Mr. Bush, I’m sure Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin would no doubt be giddy with excitement to hear that they too could be patriots.

Perhaps it is this, the ignorant condescending tone of an officious fraternity brother that sets we “libs” off. More than the ill advised adventure in Iraq and the ever-elusive WMD’s; or the ridiculous tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of our country; or his desire to dismantle the social security system (do you really think he wants to strengthen it?); or his abysmal lack of acumen concerning cell stem research or evolution, it is his cock-sure, “never mind the facts” attitude of a son of Eastern privilege (his Texas “heritage” is as phony as John Kerry’s duck hunting) and a mind that is neither inquisitive nor tolerant.

Liberals in this country have a proud legacy. To be sure, we have our failings and missteps to answer for. We also have our cranks and our loonies – every family does. But, it was the dreaded “libs” that led this country through the Great Depression after the incompetent and corrupt conservative administrations had set the stage for the crash. It was the “libs” of the Democratic Party who constructed the New Deal that lifted a third of the population out of dire poverty and despair. The liberals not only faced the menace of World War II, they triumphed and rebuilt Europe and Japan with a magnanimity unknown in history. The Civil Rights Act, The Voting Act and the “Great Society” (without which, yours truly would not have been able to pursue higher education) are all great achievements, which brought freedom and opportunity to millions.

Were there excesses and failures? Of course, there were. But I wouldn’t be too eager to measure the accomplishments of the current resident of the White House against this. Even with a majority in the House and Senate and a Supreme Court that put him in power, the Bush presidency has remarkably little to show other than massive debt, declining opportunities, an education system in shambles, and a war with no end in sight.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Papa Joe Would Be Proud

Joseph Stalin, the late communist dictator of the Soviet Union, presided over numerous show trials and purges during his long reign. In the 1930’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of faithful party members who were deemed ideologically impure disappeared into the gulags or were immediately executed.

It now seems a Waynesville, North Carolina Baptist minister is channeling the ghost of Papa Joe. Chan Chandler, the minister of a Haywood County Baptist Church, is telling members of his congregation that if they're Democrats, they either need to find another place of worship or support President Bush. In a fit of Christian charity, Chandler has ex-communicated nine members of East Waynesville Baptist Church. Another 40 members have left in protest.

Adam and Eve being driven out of the Garden of Eden after God discovers they voted for Democrats. Woodcut by Albrecht Dürer. Posted by Hello

During last Sunday's sermon, he acknowledged that church members were upset because he named people, and he says he'll do it again because he has to according to the word of God. He claims his actions “weren't politically motivated”. I suppose that if you are prepared to believe the book of Genesis is the “inerrant word of God”, you can believe almost anything.

One former church member says Chandler told some of the members that if they didn't support George Bush, they needed to resign their positions and get out of the church, or go to the altar, repent and agree to vote for Bush. Another member who was “excommunicated” (I wasn’t aware Baptists could be excommunicated) said on TV that it was like a cult. Another man who was shown the door said that the rest of the congregation stood up and applauded when the Democrats were told to leave.

Personally, I would encourage more of this sort of behavior. After all, driving fundies into the ranks of the disaffected would only be good for those of us who believe in an enlightened secular society.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

New Literary Magazine: Fling Quarterly

Fling Quarterly Posted by Hello

A new online literary quarterly co-founded by Miami students Michelle Rose and Julie Bechtel has just made its debut on the web. Another Miami student, Meagan Sliger is serving as the premiere issue’s guest editor.

"We are a brand new web journal dedicated to the distribution & praise of literary works. We feel that as writers, we are all constantly 'flinging' work out into the world for possible publication. Consequently, some of it landed here, in our debut edition!

We are pleased and proud to have the following featured writers to christen the launch of Fling: Eric Melbye, John Tassoni, and Barney McClelland. Fling Quarterly is not only dedicated to our featured writers, but also to our up and coming writers. This edition displays work by several previously published writers, as well as several first-timers.

We are excited to have you at our launch! Look for our next installment coming in August 2005!"

Fling Quarterly is also accepting submissions for the next issue. Guidelines are available at their website:

Fling Quarterly

Scopes Redux

The Kansas Board of Education has scheduled six days of courtroom-style hearings to begin today in Topeka. More than two dozen witnesses will give testimony and be subject to cross-examination, with the majority expected to argue against teaching evolution.

Clarence Darrow (left) and William Jennings Bryant (right) Posted by Hello

William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor in the Scopes trial of 1925, said that trial was a "duel to the death" between evolution and Christianity. Apparently, the good folks in Kansas did not get the word.

For the next several days I will be publishing links and observations about the "trial" and I would be interested in hearing what my readers think about the all out assault on science in the 21st century.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Humanist Network News

HNN Posted by Hello

The Humanist Network News has published my article "Hypocrisy Under the Guise of Free Speech” in their April 27th issue.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Et tu, Leo?

This is the time of year when hope springs eternal. And believe it or not, there is something to be hopeful about.

It seems the juggernaut of rightwing theocracy is showing some cracks.

This is not to say they are defeated or even seriously set back, but for the first time since the election the fundamentalist fanatics have been suffering some serious public relations setbacks.

The Terri Schaivo case showed the face of political and religious opportunism on the part of the Republican Party. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s blood is in the water and the sharks are circling. His heavy-handed manipulation of the constitution and his threats against judges have come back to haunt him and the investigation into to his egregious ethical violations are making daily headlines.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist still cavorts with the far right in his cynical bid to be considered presidential material. His participation in Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council’s Two Minute Hate this past week called “Justice Sunday “ along with other religious fanatics such as James Dobson, the man who discovered that Square Bob Spongepants was homosexual, Frist purports that the idea that wanting to filibuster judicial nominees is an attack on people of faith.

This blatant pandering to the zealots is becoming worrisome some conservatives.
John Leo, conservative columnist for U.S. News and World Report, has never met a liberal he did not love to bash. Yet, the recent power plays of the far right fringe of theocratic thugs are a bit much for even him. In his most recent column entitled “Not a Religious Fight” calls the event a “woeful tactic based on a false premise.” He further elaborates on why the self-appointed ayatollahs of the right are dead wrong:

“Accusing the Democrats of running a jihad against believers clearly implies that people who vote Democratic are either terribly ignorant or simply not good Christians, Jews, or Muslims. This is a surefire recipe for increasing polarization within the churches.”

Et tu, Leo?

Even the daddy of right wing ideologues, the President himself, has tried to put a little distance between himself and the godbotherers. In his uninformative news conference Bush was asked whether he believed "that judicial filibusters are an attack against people of faith." He said no. "I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated," Bush said. It was the first of four times that the president rejected the notion that religious discrimination was motivating opposition to his nominees. "No, I just don't agree with it," he said. "I don't ascribe a person's opposing my nominations to an issue of faith," he said. "No, I think people oppose my nominees because -- because of judicial philosophy," he said.

Perhaps the rightwingers are discovering that most of us believe in the idea of separation of church and state and do not want a bunch of bible thumpers calling the shots? As I mentioned before, hope springs eternal.