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Monday, September 01, 2008

She had a choice?

So Palin says this about her pregnant daughter:

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."

They are "proud of her decision"? WTF?? I thought she didn't have one?

You see, Sarah Palin is staunchly anti-choice. In fact, even if her own daughter was raped and became pregnant, she would "choose life". She's a member of the anti-choice group "Feminists (sic) for Life". Their motto is "Refuse to Choose". And yet we are supposed to believe that her family allowed her to choose whether to keep her baby?

Let me be blunt here for just a second: Sarah Palin, take your pride and shove it up your ass. Sure, today your daughter actually had a choice because we live in a country where women are still free to control their reproduction. But if it were up to people like you, your daughter wouldn't have that choice (at least not legally and safely) in the first place. There is nothing to be proud of about forcing women to have a baby. So stop trying to pretend that you are a modern day enlightened parent and feminist who respects her daughter's decision about a major life-changing event. You aren't and you don't.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Liberal Blogosphere is Imploding

For the first time, I've found myself starting to remove blogs from my Google Reader. Of the political blogs I subscribed to, about half were pro-Clinton and half were pro-Obama. I liked it like that because I felt I'd get balanced coverage of the Democratic primary campaign. But what I have unfortunately come to realize over time is that instead of these blogs being either pro-Clinton or pro-Obama, they have gradually become anti-Obama and anti-Clinton. It's fine to constructively criticize your opponent when warranted, but too many blogs are obsessed with raking a fine-toothed comb over their opponent instead of supporting their own candidate. It appears the Liberal Blogosphere has gone negative. If I want to know what's bad about Clinton then I go to a pro-Obama site. If I want to know what's wrong with Obama then I go to a pro-Clinton site. So where do I go to find out what's good about either of these candidates? My choices appear to be limited.

I've always thought that the blogosphere was a great place to get information that the mass media wasn't willing to cover. And regarding a lot of issues this is surely the case. But as far as the two Democratic candidates are concerned, I'm beginning to hope that the majority of the population loses their Internet access for the next few months. Because if what I've been reading lately on a lot of the more popular blogs really reflects the majority of Democrats out there, then we're going to be stuck with McBush for four years because Clinton and Obama supporters have done such a good job of negative campaigning that they really won't vote for the other in the upcoming November elections.

I've heard more about Obama's preacher than Clinton's health plan. I've heard more about Clinton's trip to Bosnia than Obama's plans for reinvigorating our economy. I have to imagine that McCain is kicking back in a big comfy chair with his heels up on his desk, smoking a cigar and smiling because we are basically doing his campaigning for him and he doesn't have to spend a dime. If I hear one more Obama supporter tell me they will never vote for Clinton or one more Clinton supporter tell me they will never vote for Obama, then I'm going to teach them both a lesson and vote for Nader. From what I've been able to tell, there's really not that much difference between Clinton and Obama on the real issues. Any Democrat should be able to vote for either one this November. The Republicans are on the ropes. Bush's approval ratings are at an all time low. This is a no-brainer. We won't have Nader to blame this time. If McCain wins, it's our own damn fault.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Eric Alterman "Hearts" Dinesh D'Souza

I picked up Eric Alterman's new book "Why We're Liberals" a few days ago from my local library. I know that he is a critic of the mass media and his previous book "What Liberal Media" was quite good, so I thought I'd give this one a chance. But only after 38 pages, I've decided not to bother.

In the first part of the book (at least up through page 38) Alterman attempts to explain why The Left/Liberals have lost their hold on the American population. Some of his points include "Permissive social morality", "Forced integration schemes" and "Welfare payments - particularly to minorities". Now I'm not sure that Alterman thinks that these things are completely bad ideas, but it is implied that we should at least rethink our stance on such things that piss off Red State America.

But then we move on to his next point: "The use of the courts, rather than the electoral process". His first example is Brown v Board of Education. He writes "Desegregation decrees were quickly followed by barely less sweeping orders demanding institutionalized tolerance and often favorable treatment not only for blacks and women but also for gays, Hispanics, endangered species, and any other group with the ability to pursue a political agenda by class-action lawsuit". Oh the horror, people were forced to treat minorities and women and gays equally!!!

And he continues, "Such victories opened liberals up to the politically powerful -- and not entirely unfair -- charge by the likes of right-wing provocateur Dinesh D'Souza that these massive social changes had been imposed on Americans without regard for political process or the strongly felt preferences of significant majorities of Americans." In other words, if the majority of Americans are racists or homophobes or misogynists, then the victims of their discrimination should just grin and bear it.

And he finally concludes with a quote from D'Souza: "the left has relied on the courts to declare a 'right' and then enforce the right against the will of the American people and their elected representatives. In this sense, the biggest victories of the cultural left in the past few decades have all been achieved undemocratically". One word: Bullshit.

We have three branches of government. They all serve their important purpose. Using the courts to protect the rights of those who are discriminated against by the majority is just as democratic as using the initiative process to keep gays from getting married. It's called "checks and balances" Alterman, you might want to look into it. It forms the foundation of our government.

And using Dinesh D'Souza to support your argument? Giving that man even one iota of respectability is too much. The guy is a shill for the bigoted hard core Conservative Right. I'm sorry, but that's where I have to stop reading your book. I'm sure you make some great points after page 38, but I don't want to waste any more time on you. I've got way too many books to read by authors who won't look to the likes of D'Souza to support their arguments. I hope you really don't believe that using the courts for remedy against discrimination is undemocratic. If you do, then I won't bother reading any of your other books either.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008


I really wish Edwards was the front-runner right now. I didn't agree with him on everything, but I think he was the best shot for a more progressive, liberal agenda. But of course, that is the very reason he is not in the race anymore, he's too threatening to the existing power structure.

So we get to choose between Clinton and Obama. Because I live in Oregon, I won't get to make my choice until May, so I haven't felt the pressure to decide on a particular candidate just yet. Personally, I think they are both centrist candidates who are not going to do much to solve some of the bigger issues facing this country, such as the need for Universal Health Care and tighter regulation of the economy. But either one will be much better than McCain, so whoever ends up with the nomination will get my vote. But I've been content to just listen to both of them and keep my options open until our May primary.

But I think that Hillary just helped me make my decision. I just saw her attacking Obama as elitist and out-of-touch with the people of Pennsylvania based on some comments he made suggesting people are "bitter" about the economic situation in this country. And guess what? I also just heard a quote from the McCain camp saying the exact same thing! I expect this kind of bullshit from the Republicans, but I cannot believe that Clinton is purposely twisting his words in order to attack him with the same Republican playbook.

Obama was not talking down to the people of Pennsylvania. People are bitter about the economic situation in this country today. They are angry that their wages aren't keeping up with the cost of living. They are pissed off that their jobs move to countries with cheaper labor pools. They are incensed that CEOs who run their companies into the ground still manage to leave with golden parachutes. They are upset that they can't adequately take care of their family's medical needs. They are infuriated that gas prices continue to rise while oil companies are making record profits and we as a country have done nothing to find alternatives. They are outraged that they are losing their homes while Wall Street gets bailed out with taxpayer money.

And I could go on and on.

So Clinton doesn't think people are "bitter"? Are they "angry"? Are they "pissed off"? Are they "incensed"? "Upset"? "Infuriated"? "Outraged"? Apparently, according to Clinton, everything is just fine. People are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and doing what it takes to make ends meet. Does she also agree with Bush that working three jobs is uniquely American?

To deny that there is a problem in this country and that people are mad as hell about it is "The Elitist Position". I'd expect as much from McCain, but I'm disappointed when I hear it from Clinton. Obama is far from the perfect candidate as far as I'm concerned, but at least he is willing to speak some truth. People are bitter about the state of things in this country. Neither Obama or Clinton will be the people's savior, but at least Obama can admit that there is a problem.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taking Credit for Other's Work

In the current eSkeptic newsletter put out by Michael Shermer's Skeptic Society, Shermer has made his notes available from a recent debate with Dinesh D’Souza at Oregon State University on the topic "Is Christianity Good for the World?" Shermer's basic argument is that "It Depends". It's good when it does good and it's bad when it does bad. And in particular, one argument he makes is that often it is bad, even very bad, before it is good.

"Mark my words. Here is what is going to happen. Within a decade, maybe two or three, Christians will come around to treating gays no differently than they now treat other groups whom they previously persecuted — women, Jews, blacks — but not because of some new interpretation of a biblical passage, or because of a new revelation from God. These changes will come about the same way that they always do: by the oppressed minority fighting for the right to be treated equally, and by a few enlightened members of the oppressing majority supporting their cause.

Then what will happen is that Christians will take credit for the civil liberation of gays, dig through the historical record and find a few Christian bloggers or preachers who had the courage and the character to stand up for Gay rights when their fellow Christians would not, and then cite those as evidence that were it not for Christianity gays would not be equal."

Yep. That about sums it up. Attitudes toward gays have slowly been evolving toward tolerance and acceptance for decades now. Although the lunatic religious fringe still clings on to homophobia as a last resort to keep their weakening stranglehold on the sheep among us, just like we now shake our heads in disbelief at the treatment of Blacks pre-civil rights era, soon (and not fast enough) we will wonder what the big deal was over two people of the same sex loving each other.

Granted, this hasn't come easy. It has taken a lot of hard work to get to the point we are today and will continue to take just as much to get to the point where we should be. Many people have made sacrifices, and some have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the battle for equality. And though there is no doubt that many Christians have been a positive force in this struggle, while Christianity will try to claim credit for the ultimate victory, we should always remember that religion has been the primary oppressive force in this struggle. The driving force behind the gay rights movement is an appeal to fairness, equality and human rights, things that are completely and totally independent of religion. Meanwhile the driving force behind homophobia has been an appeal to "God's word".

My guess is that those words written in the Bible aren't going to change any time soon. Funny how in a few decades most Christians will read them differently though.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why I Cannot Vote for Dennis Kucinich

I like Dennis Kucinich's politics, I really do. In every Internet poll I've taken so far to determine who would be my ideal candidate, Dennis always comes out on top. The local Air America affiliate here in Portland (KPOJ 620) is running a straw poll on their web site and Kucinich always gets the biggest percentage of votes. There is no doubt that I would be extremely happy to have someone like Kucinich become the next President and the country as a whole would be a much better place for it.

But I can't bring myself to vote for him.

Kucinich was born in 1946 (the same year as my father). Seeing as he just had a birthday on Oct 8, that makes him 61. He's not "old", but he's in grandfather territory now (my parents have three grandchildren). My parents are still married, but if my dad were to remarry, I would expect him to marry someone close to his own age, at least within the ballpark. Eyebrows would be raised if my dad announced that he was marrying a 30 year old woman who was soon going to be the step-grandmother to grandchildren whose parents are older than the new step-grandmother.

So why shouldn't I be just a little weirded out that Kucinich married a woman half his age (she is currently 30 years old)?

I'm not going to try and psychoanalyze their relationship. I'm sure they are happily married for all the right reasons. I'm sure that if Dennis were to be elected, his wife would make an outstanding First Lady. If two people have found true love, then more power to them. A real Harold and Maude for the ages.

I'll just leave you with one thought. Fred Thompson is 65. He looks even older. I'm sure I'm not the only one who cringes just a little when I see Fred and his extremely younger looking wife (who is 41) posing for the cameras. And they even have very young children who will most likely be losing a dad within the next ten years. Don't tell me that you aren't at least slightly disturbed and disgusted by their relationship. Don't tell me that you wouldn't be at least a little embarrassed about having Jeri Thompson as a First Lady. Don't tell me that you don't think Fred Thompson is trying to make himself look just a little more manly by nailing a trophy wife. There is something not quite right about this relationship and unless you are one of those guys who thinks it should be every man's dream to bang a young hot chick to prove that his dick still works, you don't want someone like this as President.

But hey, at least Thompson stayed within the half-your-age limit.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Supreme Asshole

I'm in the middle of reading a very interesting book on the behind-the-scenes workings of the Supreme Court by Jeffrey Toobin entitled "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court". I highly recommend the book if you are into this sort of thing.

While I don't plan to do a complete review of the book, sometimes something in particular jumps out at me and I can't let it go until I rant and rave about it. In this case it happens to be that incredible waste of space Antonin Scalia. While he may never be Chief Justice, he will always be Biggest Douchebag of the Supreme Court.

In the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the Court struck down a Texas law making sex between two people of the same sex illegal, Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion which should not only compel him to recuse himself from any future cases involving the GLBT community but should send shivers down the spine of every clear thinking person in this country.

"Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct," Scalia wrote in his dissent, adding, "the Court has taken sides in the culture war." (p. 192)

First of all, the phrase "homosexual agenda" is merely code for "we hate gay people". Anybody who uses that phrase in this day and age is merely admitting that like their KKK counterparts, they hate gays for the same reason White supremacists hate minorities, simply because of who they are. People who see a vast "homosexual agenda" are the same people who used to think (or maybe still do) that there are too many "uppity niggers". Nope, your appeal to god's law can't get you out of this one. God once told you it was OK to have Black slaves. He was wrong. Now he's telling you that it is OK to hate gay people. Fool me once...

And notice how Scalia uses the phrase "homosexual activists" in the pejorative. I would think that a judge would be especially sensitive about using such a word as "activist" to insult a group of people when judges themselves, and not just the more "liberal" judges, are routinely threatened by right-wing wackjobs as being "activist judges" who need to be taught a lesson. Remember how a few Republican members of the House made implicit threats on judges (including the Supreme Court) after the Supreme Court refused to hear the Terry Schiavo case?

Scalia is upset that "activists" are trying to remove the "opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct". Hmmm, I read through the Constitution and it doesn't mention anything about "homosexual conduct". I did find things in there about equal protection clauses and such, but nothing about the wickedness of homosexuality. So I wonder how an Originalist like Scalia can justify the Constitutionality of a law that makes being gay a crime? He can't. So then what is his basis for making such a statement? His own personal views, which he would be the first to call any other judge who used merely his own personal views to rule on a case an "activist judge". You see, it's only activism when the other guy does it. When you want to put your own personal agendas into the law, especially when you are a religious conservative wackjob, you're merely defending the Constitution.

And then as a parting shot, Scalia derisively notes that "the Court has taken sides in the culture war." Holy shit, can this guy be any more dishonest. He uses the phrase "homosexual agenda" and supports the "moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct" and has the balls to criticize the Court for taking sides in a Culture War. He is the Culture War. He is the last of a (thankfully) dying breed of bigots who think they have the right to impose their morals on everyone else. If tomorrow every state in the Union were to suddenly legalize gay marriage, there would be an outcry from the fundies for a few months and then the controversy would die down, every one would go on living their lives as usual and a few years later we'd all look back and try to remember what the big deal was. The only thing stopping this from happening now is a loud gradually shrinking minority of religious gay haters who are trying desperately to cling on to their fading power by playing the "gay card" whenever they get the chance.

Scalia represents the worst that this country has to offer. A relic from the past who refuses to broaden his educational horizons and takes pleasure in his narrow views of how the world ought to be. And as the book makes clear, he relishes his ignorance and prejudice and wears it as a badge of honor. I know the fundies are real proud to have a man like Scalia on the court. And I'm sure their god approves.
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Win for the Good Guys

While Oregon is a great state to live in, I've always been ashamed that just enough of its people were fooled into voting a few years ago for "Protecting the Sanctity of Marriage" which legally defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman. It's a real black eye to this state that discrimination is now written into its Constitution. This is a state that has consistently defeated other anti-gay measures over the years. This is a "Liberal Bastion" which voted to legalize medical marijuana and doctor-assisted suicide (twice). We don't have a sales tax because it is too regressive. Hell, we won't even let you pump your own gas because of the fire hazard. But yet the bigots and haters were able to convince just enough of my fellow Oregonians that somehow the institution of marriage would crumble if we allowed all those gay couples who currently live together (or plan to) to legalize their union like the rest of us.

But I think the tide is slowly turning. Earlier this year, the Oregon legislature was able to pass two bills which would undo at least some of the damage. The first created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Granted, it's not marriage, but since marriage is defined in our Constitution as being only between a man and a woman, I guess it is the best that can be done for now. The second bill makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Now I haven't read the text of this second bill, but it strikes me as odd that we can have a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation at the same time that we actually have discrimination based on sexual orientation written into our Constitution (maybe this discrepancy will ultimately force a showdown on the constitutionality of the anti-gay marriage language?)

Now it should really not come as a surprise that some people have a problem with the two bills discussed above. Can you guess who? You guessed it, the same bigots and haters behind the marriage discrimination ballot measure. So sure enough, they immediately launched a campaign to put a ballot measure on the November ballot to force a vote on the domestic partnership bill, with the hope that they will again be able to fool enough people into thinking that allowing domestic partnerships will destroy their marriages.

But guess what, this time they were unable to collect enough signatures before the deadline to get their measure on the ballot.

Oh, I'm sure they will try again. There is no limit to the amount of bigotry and hate some people have. But I have always thought that a lot of the people who voted for the anti-gay marriage measure allowed themselves to be fooled by the smaller minority of true bigots and haters. I can distinctly remember the anti-gay marriage people saying that they didn't have a problem with domestic partnerships, only actual marriage. Yet, as soon as the Oregon legislature passes a domestic partnership bill they are trying to defeat it. And I think that over the few years since the anti-gay marriage measure passed, more people have come to realize that gay marriage won't destroy their own marriages and actually benefits society instead of harming it. Also, I think the rhetoric about protecting children has pretty much worn itself out. It's becoming blatantly obvious that religious-right Republicans don't really care about protecting children (take Bush's recent veto of SCHIP as an example). Keeping gays from marrying was never about protecting children or the institution of marriage. It has always been about punishing gay people for being gay.

Whether by ballot measure or judicial decree, I really do think that discrimination against gays will be removed from our Constitution within the next ten years and I will again be able to say that I am proud to be an Oregonian and live in a state that treats everyone fairly.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Outraged About Ahmadinejad

OK, so Ahmadinejad is an idiot who still questions the veracity of the Holocaust. We know this already, but it makes for easy fodder on the Right Wing march to war with Iran and thus will get repeated constantly on Conservative talk radio and TV. Here's what you'll hear: Ahmadinejad is an insane, self-deluded moron because he refuses to acknowledge the tragedy that is the Holocaust despite the mountains and mountains of evidence documenting the event. Faced with hard facts, he chooses to ignore them and instead push his own twisted version of reality in order to further his political agenda.

Hmmm. Does this mindset sound familiar??? Know anyone else who chooses to ignore the facts and twist reality to fit their agenda? Let's see now, who could it be ... CREATIONISTS!

Sorry Conservative Right Wing wackos, but if you deny the basic scientific facts of evolution then you have no right to criticize anyone who denies the Holocaust, because you both deny reality. Why should we listen to one nutjob criticize another???

And I'm sure you also got a kick out of the "apparent fact" that there are no gay people in Iran. I'm sure you care very deeply that Iran routinely oppresses gays to the point of execution. Just another reason to bomb them, right? The civilized world knows that you can't go around killing gay people, though you can still deny them the basic civil rights that normal God-fearing people enjoy.

I was thinking, there's another place that has no gay people. A happy magical place where all your dreams come true. HEAVEN. That's right, according to you, God doesn't like gay people and he certainly ain't letting them into Heaven. But you can sleep easy at night because you don't kill gay people, you let God take care of that in the afterlife (actually, it would be more merciful if he did kill them instead of torturing them for eternity). But like Ahmadinejad does now, you're going to enjoy a gay-free society someday and I know you are really looking forward to it.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: Monkey Girl

Most of us atheists are already familiar with the case of the Dover Pennsylvania school board's attempt to sneak Intelligent Design into science classes and their subsequent smack down by a Federal Judge. We already know that the school board was composed of a majority of god-fearing, evolution-denying Christians who were concerned that the paltry amount of time spent teaching evolution in biology classes (which is basically zero since most teachers practice self-censorship and avoid the subject in order to placate angry parents) was going to turn their children into rabid atheists. And we all took great pleasure in reading Judge Jones' total rebuke of the school board and their religious inspired policy. So why read a book about something we already know so much about?

What is the best detective/drama television show of all time? That's right, Columbo. And what happened during the first ten minutes of every show? That's right, we find out who did it and how they did it. But did you stop watching after the opening scene because you already knew the answer? No way. You kept watching because you loved to see some smug killer who thinks he/she is above the law slowly get trapped in a web of lies created by their own hubris as Columbo methodically rips apart their alibi with his non-stop questioning. And this is the exact same pleasure you will experience reading Monkey Girl by Edward Humes. You'll get to follow a bunch of arrogant Christians as they willingly and purposefully break the law for Jesus' sake and then slowly implode trying to cover their tracks with double talk and outright lies, in a Federal courtroom nonetheless. This is Columbo in book form, and it's real.

Of course the book is much more than a story about a school board who gets their comeupance. Humes gives us a history of both the Creationist and Intelligent Design movements, a history of church/state separation issues in public schools, profiles of all the main characters. In fact, in some ways you almost find yourself feeling sorry for the lead instigator and head of the school board, Bill Buckingham, but even a painful and somewhat unsuccessful recovery from an addiction to OxyContin is no excuse for putting your own town through such humiliation and perjuring yourself in Federal Court.

I think the last paragraph of the book best sums up the anti-evolution mindset:

"I still don't know why people got so upset about it," one thoughtful student at Dover High said a few months after Jones's [sic] decision. "People are going to believe whatever they want when it comes to Darwin and God and coming from monkeys. That's why they call it belief. Facts have nothing to do with it. So why get all upset about it?"

That's right, facts have nothing to do with the Creation/Intelligent Design movement, except for the ones that you make up yourself and then later deny that you ever said them. Fortunately, the spirit of Columbo happened to be channeling himself through a Federal judge and just like the TV show, the bad guys got what was coming to them in the end. And like me, you'll have trouble putting this book down because you're going to enjoy their implosion immensely.
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