Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Protesting

I was leaving work late and passed the monday evening anti-war protesters. Normally I'm not on that road and I get out earlier so I rarely see them. But yesterday I saw them and even saw my former english teacher that I think very highly of so I said what the hell, I've got nothing going on. So I stopped and chatted for a few, then grabbed a sign. As I would have expected the vast majority were indifferent, but there were far more honks, waves, thumbs up and peace signs being thrown than I had expected. There was also more negative feedback than at the last event. Some we could simply laugh at like the guy who yelled, "watch the news, we're winning!" as he drove away. I turned to my former teacher and said, "you can no more win a war than you can win an avalanche." She liked it and I admitted it wasn't mine but could not recall who said it. I then realized that I think the quote was earthquake not avalanche but it doesn't really matter. And for the record it is earthquake and it was said by Jeannette Rankin, although I don't know who she is/was.

The only negative feedback that was tough was the guy who said his cousin had been killed in Iraq then sarcastically thanked us for supporting him.This is a view I simply can't wrap my head around. I know people want to think that their loved one died for a good cause but sadly thats not the case, allowing more people to die doesn't make the cause any greater it only makes the pain greater.

On a total side note I find great irony in the fact that when looking at quotes on war at the bottom it has the previous subject as Violence and the next subject as Wealth. It's only because of the order of the alphabet but its still disturbing how those go together, but not for the same people.

Call me Oblio 'cause I'm going back to the point, those who claim that leaving would be an insult to those who have died seem to miss the fact that the wrong doing is not those who struggle to prevent unnecessary war but those who send others to fight in war that was never justifiable. Your friend and relative was not killed by peace activists, nothing we do can change the sacrifice that they made, but we can prevent others from having to go through what you've been through.

One thing that always pisses me off but I understand why its done is how we always have to talk about the sacrifices of our troops first then if you want mention the Iraqi children killed. To be fully un-PC about it I care a whole lot more about the innocent people in Iraq being killed than the soldiers, I know its blasphemy to our nationalistic fervor to say that but its the truth. As a humanist I care about people I don't give a shit about granfalloons, so when an innocent child is killed I care, when a soldier is killed fighting in a war they chose to be a part of then I still care, but not as much. Some will argue that most of the soldiers did not chose to be there, well they joined the military, even if they did it during peace and only wanted the military to pay for college they still made a conscious decision and joined the military. It's sad that I know there are places where I would be threatened with violence for the mere suggestion of what I just said.

I'd catch hell for that last paragraph but.... Ah the joys of low readership, I can say whatever I want. In the words of Mitch Hedburgh, "They said you can swear on XM radio. No shit, ’cause nobody can hear it. You can swear in the woods, too."

The New Scarlett Letter

You may have noticed a new little picture in the sidebar, thats the logo that was decided on over at Richard Dawkins.net. There are some who don't like the idea of a few famous atheists thinking that they can just command this and expect us to fall in line. Come on folk we call ourselves free thinkers no one expects everyone to "do as they are told" the fact remains that atheists are hidden. (PZ has a good post and is where I got started on this) We live our lives never knowing who has a similar world view to ourselves. We can be attacked without reproach because we are invisible to the world. Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and the rest of the Atheist Justice League are changing that slowly but many of us were yearning for a grassroots movement to be known by. Many but not all wanted to be able to proudly show off the fact that we live without fear of invisible beings. To be honest I was expecting a lot more hostility towards the idea because everyone keeps saying that its been dislike by a good many people, from reading the comments it seems like there are only two major complaints. One is using the term coming out, or coming out of the closet, they are claiming that by using their phrase we are comparing our campaign with their struggle and ours has been far easier, we don't mean to take anything away from the gay rights movement, we just think that they came up with a great analogy. We don't mean any harm, if you feel there is harm, well sorry about that. The second point of derision is the fact that the logo is not in public domain, this is a legitimate complaint but one that should be able to be cleared up easily enough, this is where someone like Dawkins can use his clout (and maybe money) to do some good for the cause, without having to write to much. I think this is a great campaign and when I get a couple spare bucks I'll probably get a shirt because this seems like a good idea to me and in the end thats all that matters, I'm an atheist I don't do things because I'm told to, I do thinks that seem like good ideas to me.

oh and there is a bit of silly bickering going on at Pharyngula, Dawkins comments were the ones I read originally and are generally positive.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Silly conservatives

I think I found this stuff via Planet Atheism, either that or it was Deep Thoughts, I've forgotten. But I was screwing around which is pretty much the entire purpose of the internet as I understand it when I came across acouple fun little things that got those rusty gears in my head slowly turning, and that squeak is pissing me off wheres that damn grease fitting, I might have to fit a new one..

Anyway I came across Chuck Norris's plan for what he would do if elected president, now it was clearly meant as a joke and parts of it were mildly amusing, but the bit about taking all atheists and tattooing a flag on their foreheads that says "in god we trust" is just rude. Plus this would give us standing as an openly oppressed group, and while trying to avoid breaking Godwin's law, I know of only one group that gave tattoos to others based on faith or lack of. Actually I think this would not only make people realize just how many atheists they already know that it might help, plus it would make it easy to identify other atheists, and it would be all the rage with the kids that just want to piss of their parents. Nah, the reality is most atheists would just lie on the form and claim to be christian or something, what are they going to do test us? As we know many atheists are well versed in biblical info, and many christians are not. So to finish this part, Fuck Chuck.

This on the other hand wasn't meant to be funny but I found a couple gems. Conservative t-shirts. The first thing I noticed was that they don't have a single shirt featuring our current president. Now I've been to this site before, and at one point they had plenty of "W's." I wonder why they don't anymore? They do have a large array of shirts for that worm food Regan. Oh wait they do have one Bush shirt, telling us to vote for him in '04... They also have Imagine No Liberals, funny that they stole the phrase from a liberal who wrote Imagine, and no religion too. I'm not sure whats going on with Nuke The Moon and Pave The Whales I guess if you just want to advertise that your an asshole then they are perfect. Not surprisingly they have plenty of anti-Hillary shirt. I guess the move towards Regan and "old school conservative" is just proof that even within they know that the neo-con hypothesis has failed miserably. The armed forces tour shirt is pathetic only because I don't have a harsher word in my mind right now. First off it somehow "forgets" a couple of major wars namely Korea and Vietnam, it also labels Iraq and Afganistan as Free, they are free to get shot by american soldiers, american mercenaries, sunni's shites or by random sucide bombers, can't ya smell that freedom? It smells like burning flesh. They also have some anti-Che shirts, ooh now were scared.

Silly Conservatives. Have a good one and play nice.

Letter to the Editor

My first ever Letter to the Editor was published, ok I did one almost a year ago but that one was rejected because something I had as a central point became dated before it could even get to print, oh well. This one made it though, and I have some good intel that something else I wrote recently will make it to press. It makes me happy.

July 27, 2007

There was an article about Iraq gripped by fear in the July 20 paper. I couldn't help but be amazed that despite a surge since January, we are being told that we need to continue to wait and that even the September report by Lt. Gen. David Petraeus will be too early to judge the effectiveness of the new strategy.

How long must we wait? How long are we expected to sit back and be told that it's almost over and we're about to turn a corner when every corner simply hides another roadside bomb. I am also forced to think about the words of Rep. John R. Kuhl Jr., who said that he is deffering judgment on Iraq until he hears Petraeus' report.

Why Kuhl would listen to that report but not to the Iraq Study Group or the countless other reports? In September are we going to be told that it's still too soon and that we need to wait until November? And what will we be told in November?

Please, Rep. Kuhl, bring our troops home. It's been long enough. You should have an opinion of your own on this issue by now. Bring them home.

Bath NY, Protest

So this weekend was my first ever protest. A few of us went up to Bath for a protest with, Americans against the Escalation of the Iraq War, or something like that, because thats the nearest office of our representative, Randy Kuhl. We had about 14 people in attendance and I was even given the task of speaking to the media.

Now the reality of it and then the positive. Kuhl's office is down a side street where the only traffic was the beer truck supplying the shady bar across the street, a couple folks leaving the bar at noon, and finally the two homeless/crazy people that seemed to be alternately following and leading us. We had a poster with Kuhl's "Report Card" on the war so it was decided that we should have "students" hand him his report card. We had two very nice corning residence come who were 19 and 20 and lacking anyone else under 50 save for the organizer that left only yours truly as close enough to a student. And it was decided that I should speak first, ugh. luckily the "media" was about as intimidating as the crowd, we had one guy show up from the local bath weekly paper, the Courier Advocate. Not that I'm complaining, every little bit helps. Then we entered Kuhl's office, we wasn't in, and we all left our contact info with the secretary who was very pleasant which actually surprised me a little. We are going to have a group meeting with Kuhl at some point, that should be fun. So the protest itself, honestly not terribly impressive, but it was great and I'll explain why.

Bath is a town of about 5,000 people and its the county seat that should be enough to explain the region were talking about, this is small town stuff, AKA it might be NY but we do have rednecks. To really drive that point home we went and had lunch after at the local dinner, as soon as we walked in I noticed the "freedom isn't free" and "welcome to america, now speak english" stickers in the window, then looked up at the anti-war shirts of the two people I was walking in with and a couple dirty looks from patrons. But thats the worst we ever got a couple of dirty looks, and to be honest for all I know thats just what that guys face normally looks like. So now on to the positive we walked along the main street of the small downtown of one of the most republican areas of NY carrying signs about ending the war and we received a few honks with arm pumps of support from smiling drivers, other shouts of yeah! from cars and several people we walked passed stopped us to talk, all in support of what we were doing, this is what really gave me hope. If people who probably don't have any significant spanish only families in their community but still put up signs saying "Speak English" have turned against this war then maybe we can create enough pressure on our government to change. Of course it's sad from the stand point of even if we end this war we still have a massive uphill battle against stupidity. Hope you all had a great weekend.

Oh and this is my 800th post, congrats to me!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Creative Protesting

I'm about to partake in my first protest tomorrow so I thought I would share my un-experienced views. First off I'm not convinced that protests are generally effective. I've talked of this recently so I won't get into all of that again. Another way that protests can be effective is creativity. We had one locally a few days ago. I actually drove by this and I must say at first I had no idea what was going on so in that regard it was not terribly effective. Here is how I encountered this protest. I'm riding with a co-worker to lunch, while sitting at a red light we see people going to the car ahead of us asking if the people would like some free wedding cake. They were still several cars away when the light turned green and we drove away, I could see someone on the other side of the street with a sign but it was pointing the other way so we drove off giving each other confused looks. Basically, WTF was that all about? As luck would have it we drove past them again on the way back to work, this time we see a guy with his sign on the ground talking to two police officers. At first the sign was obscured but finally I saw it, "Honk for Marriage Equality" with marriage written in rainbow colors, suddenly it all made sense, "Oh, now I get it" we both said. This made the news but I liked the creativity of it. This isn't the most open minded community but it was a great attempt and with more work and a little luck we might have an equal marriage law soon, the Gov is cool with it and the house has passed one, unfortunately the head dude of the senate isn't down at all, he said it won't even hit the floor. They keep fighting and they'll get it eventually.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Coming out of the godless closet

A friend of mine, who I would probably describe as a deist and not a christian one at that, was telling me that he's recently heard a few people tell him that they now consider themselves atheists. First I'll say that I've had lots of great conversations about religion with this very good friend of mine partly because he's jewish and therefore knows the history of chistians quite well, plus he got a minor in religion in college so hes fairly well versed in all the major religions. The final reason for so many conversation on religion with him is because his girlfriend's family are fundamentalist baptists. So he gets an up-close and personal view of some serious wing-nuttery. Plus he is a very intelligent person, very rational and better educated than most, plus hes one of my oldest friends so it essentially impossible to insult each other. And like I said he's basically a deist which is much easier to get along with, if your god doesn't get directly involved with human affairs and there is no hell, then your probably not going to injure others for your beliefs.

I have feeling that you will see a surge in atheism, not because more people are shedding their beliefs but because more people are going to stop pretending to belief. I think the so called "new-atheists" or as UTI crew calls them, "The Atheist Justice League" has an impact, again not because they are converting people but by the simple fact that they have had numerous best-selling books between them has gotten them quite a bit of media coverage talking about atheism. And all publicity is good publicity. The biggest help this has is making people more comfortable with the idea of being an atheist. The other reason atheists are coming out is the reason these people gave which is that they simply can't stand what is happening in the name of christianity. In the past if you weren't christian you had to justify where you get your morals from (some are still arguing about this) now days if you ARE a christian you need to defend your morals. How can you justify hating gay? stem-cells? Schiavo? anti-abortion? In other words thank you to all of you bug-fuck crazy fundamentalists (can't spell fundamentalist without mental) for helping get so many people to leave their faiths. Again though I think the numbers will swing our way in the near future (I don't mean a majority) but I don't think it will be because peoples beliefs really change its just that they are going to admit it now. For a long time I would have called myself a christian if I was doing a survey, it doesn't mean I believed that crap it's just a social norm.

Oh one other fun little story was my friend describing talking with his girlfriends mom, she asked about hinduism so he tried to explain the many faces of vishnu in similar terms as the trinity in christianinty. He also mentioned that its been around for about 6,500 years to which she said, "but the world barely older than that, and the jews were the first religion." Oh yeah your one of those he thought then explain that while judaism is nearly as old they don't have any evidence that can date it back quite that far while hinduism they can prove back that far. He was also forced to mention carbon dating which of course is a crap-science to her, because much like the hitchhikers guide, if the bible is in conflict with reality its reality that is flawed.

Thanks PZ.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Straight from the front

I saw this little post over at Salt On Everything, which is a site I'd heard of quite a bit but it hasn't been posted on in a month so I'm not sure whats up with it. Anyway the last post was a good one, even has a link to the onion.

Monday, July 23, 2007

More from the carnival

I've got nothing to add just telling everyone to take a look at this one. Enjoy

Answering the questions

Its an argument I've heard before but this time it stuck. I'll start with my quick thank you's, in the order of my clicking, Pharyngula, Aardvarchaeology/Carnival of the Godless and finally Evanescent with the article that started this thought train. This is going to be a classic Rambling post in that it is being written bit by bit with significant time between bit, in other words don't look for linear or even coherent line of reasoning.

Science vs. Religion, an all together too common battle these days, but one of supreme importance. First I will say that I am not a scientist, not by any stretch. I did well in my basic science classes back in high school took an AP class, then had almost no science at college. So these are not the words of an expert, these are the words, the thoughts of a laymen, someone who wishes to expand their own personal knowledge and maybe pique the curiosity of a few others. So let us begin. Science is not a religion, science is simply a method for discovering the true nature of the world around us. I won't bother to explain the method as it should be known but heres the long version and I'll give a super-brief. My version is this, question everything, assume nothing, test with empirical evidence, then test again. The idea that your testing must be falsifiable and must be able to make predictions, otherwise what good is it to anyone?

I made mention of the fact that science is not a religion, that should go without saying but lately I've heard that argument quite a bit, usually in reference to evolution, and how science needs just as much faith as religion. I feel bad for these folks as they obviously had some very bad science teachers back in school. The entire point of science is to find the truth, even when the truth is in stark contrast to the way we thought things were. I could get into how religions contradict each other so at most only one could be right at which point the overwhelming probability is that none are right, but this was better covered by Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion so I won't get into that.

Another fun avenue is to look at religion as a scientific hypothesis, this is also hardly a new concept but its fun so lets go for it. First off its non-falsifiable so it fails but we can ignore that so we can have some more time to play with this concept. Lets look at predictions, religions have made plenty of predictions, but how many have come true? And considering we are dealing with an omnipotent being they should be damn accurate. Well the biggest one would have to be the apocalypse, how many times was this supposed to have happened by now? And if I remember right (doubtful) the second coming was supposed to happen fairly quickly after the first, so that can easily be said to have been false barring any flying horsemen on the horizon. I'm not well enough informed on biblical matters to point out other predictions that haven't happened, and I'm sure there are some that people will say came true and therefore prove the bible true. Of course a single bit of info in your favor hardly "proves" your hypothesis correct but my bigger concern is that usually after an event people will show how it was foretold by the bible or Nostradamus or Mrs. Cleo, predictions are only useful if they can be clearly stated prior to an event.
My favorite was always "The Bible Code" it says 9/11 and osama and towers or whatever, thats great, after an event they dug around and found some ominous words, now give me a prediction based on your silly little code, tell me when the next terrorist attack will take place, do that and then I'll be impressed.

In screwing around I came across info on Wiki about Secular Humanism and how it earned the same legal protections as religions. First off secular humanism basically is a religion, just one that doesn't have a god. But people, simple people, have used this to say that if creationism can't be taught in school than neither can evolution because thats a part of secular humanism. They seem to be missing the opposite cause-effect relationships there. SH was given religious standing so they wouldn't have to pay taxes because they serve a similar function to a church and therefore should have the same right/privileges, and the religious are using it as another front to attack science. But there is a very simple solution to this delema, tax churches.

Oh man I have been rambling. The original idea of this post was to see what sort of questions religion has tried to answer over the years and then see how it does against science. Using basic examples like religion (some not all) teaches (taught) that the earth was at the center of the universe, which makes sense because according to those same religions the universe was created for humans, and only a few thousand years ago (only fundamentalists). Science has without a doubt proven that the earth is far far from the center of the universe, hell its not even the center of the galaxy, its not even the center of the solar system. Even the pope admitted they were wrong on that and apologized to Galileo, 359 years later... As for the age, well its ironic that this is still "debated," it seems to me that this is at least as obvious as the location of the earth and yet people today will argue against it. It seems to me that the only questions that religion still tries to answer is the ones that have little or no bearing on my life. "Why are we here" being the big one, we are here so have fun and play nice thats all I need to know and I have yet to see anyone with a better reply. Of course that assuming you even need a reply, some like Dawkins would reply that its a meaningless question. I've also seen a cartoon that summed it up well, it was the classic monkey to man picture with a thought bubble over each saying "eat sleep reproduce, eat sleep reproduce" up to man which thinks "why are we here." It was a good cartoon.

I had a way better post in my mind but it didn't come together very well, I'm sorry. Every time I hit on a subject it makes me think of three more things I want to say which is why these posts so often turn into incomprehensible garbage, hey I never claimed to be a great writer, I did take the pen name of a character described thusly, "His prose was terrible, only his ideas were good."

Anyway the fact that people now argue against the age of the earth, or if you really want to find the crazies there are those who will say that the earth really is in the center of the solar system, but thats the exception not the rule. I was hoping to have a link there but I can;t find the site right now, it was funny, and sad. It reminds me of a point made by Carl Sagan about how science has moved so far beyond the comprehensible that it is so often and easily misrepresented. The fact is all of the obvious questions have been answered now we have moved on to questions that no one who hasn't studied the field for ten years or more would even understand the question let alone think to ask it. Because of this science has become a mystery in its own right. Common folks don't understand it and its far easier to dismiss what we don't understand than it its to take the immense time required to learn. We are in a dangerous time when our world relies so heavily on science and technology and yet so very few really understand how it all works.

Ok I wrote this then added a little piece then finally remembered one of my bigger points a few minutes later. I firmly believe that people should practice what they preach (interesting how the most common expression on hypocrisy is in religious terms) therefore people who believe in the literal bible should practice it (sorta, I don't want them killing everyone). The bible says nothing of germs but it does speak of demons, those who want creationism taught in school should start by casting-off all of modern science, meaning no medicine-just prayer, no electricity, no cars, no running water just like back in the biblical days. I'd still think they were crazy, and I'd then have more proof, but at least they wouldn't by hypocrites. Thats why I have some respect for Jehovah's Witnesses, they might be crazy but at least they are consistently crazy... Ok I lied I don't respect them either but again, at least they are consistent.

If someone could give me a good reason to believe then I would, give me one claim that I can verify for myself and we can talk, until that time it seems like a hypothesis that failed mightily, it should go the way of geocentricism, and the dodo. Thats it for now, seriously this was supposed to make sense but I will assume it no longer does.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Does not play well with others

The Government has been told that it must share all evidence in the Gitmo trials. I was going to say more, much more, but I'm outta time for today.

Mitt Romney spent two grand on makeup

I don't care. I really really don't care. All the front runners spend insane amounts of money to look good on camera, or at least not look bad. It won't be long before plastic surgery become the norm (I think hillary was accused of it already) and I won't care then either.

Hey at least im consistent I didn't give a shit about Edwards five hundred dollar hair cut either.


Actually I'm in a fairly good mood, the title is referring to the magazine MAD, and yes its still around and apparently has been hitting back against Bush without concern for restraint. There is a new book out, The MAD war on Bush, and from the initial review over at buzzflash it sounds funny if nothing else. They warn that yes many of the jokes are pretty basic but there are some gems in the mix, some that take things to a level I never would have expected from MAD, hell I'd be slightly surprised if the Onion said some of these things.
And with a "Handy Glossary to the War on Terror," MAD defines "collateral damage" as "the official military explanation as to why there are so many empty seats lately in Umm Qasr's fourth-grade classrooms," and "hearts and minds of the Iraqi people" as "that stuff CNN and FOX don't show you, splattered all over the Iraqi rubble."
Wow. Oh and you can buy it straight from Buzzflash, you'll pay a little more but the money is going to a good organization.

Monday, July 16, 2007

God save the Children

There is a post over at Pharngula that will probably catch some heat from the fundies. But then again he's been doing that a lot lately, see?
The point is that there is a child dying of cancer, which is a tragedy thats occurring all to often. But the community is rallying behind them and helping the family. Unfortunately their favorite way of helping is by prayer.... Thats like me calling myself an activist because I get a bunch of e-mails everyday. Plus in a nasty side effect if the prayer doesn't work what does that mean? To me it means that this child was unfortunate the family did what they could, the doctors did what they could but to no ones fault she might not make it. Throw god in the mix and suddenly it means that their prayers failed, which can't mean that god failed so it must mean that they failed. The family failed, the community failed and saddest of all the child failed. This child should be told, we don't know what going to happen so lets just try to have as much fun as we can. If you want to go to school and be with your friends thats cool, if you want to go to the zoo thats cool, if you just want to sit home and eat milk and cookies till you puke thats fine, just keep a garbage can nearby. If on the other hand you tell the child that if they pray enough they will be saved then what can they do besides pray and if they don't feel better pray some some more. Now if they feel like they are getting worse they will think that they are doing something wrong, nothing like adding a huge pile of guilt and possible fear of hell onto the conscious of a dying child, thats very christian of you. Hopefully the doctors will be able to save her, but if not, it won't be the child's fault if they pass away.

Collateral Damage

Collateral damage, its not just for Iraqis anymore, brought to you by the American Legal system. For more information see you local representative courthouse.

Lets say your on death row, they say you killed a cop. Now most of the eye-witnesses have changed their minds and two who said he confessed have admitted that they simply made that shit up. Minor note there should be some legal persecution's for those who "made-up" the guys confession. Sweet this will be heard by the judge, there is no way the USA will kill a man after so much of the evidence against him turns out to be wrong. And thats where you'd be wrong. The chances of getting a new trial are slim and at this point most likely you will die at the hands our our legal system, but hey, it's more efficient.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Communism Vs. Capitalism

The battle between the two systems might be over (yeah odd fight as one is a government type and the other an economic) since the USSR's collapse and China becoming quasi-capitalist although were still nervous enough o continue to embargo Cuba. But thats not what this battle is over oh no this is a battle between the victims of capitalism and the victims of communism. Or no its not even that its a battle between the memorials to the Victims of Communism and the memorial to the Victims of Capitalism. First while I am not a communist I must give props to the second crew for being willing to call themselves a "group of militant communists" that takes balls. And what a pathetic play by Bush to create a memorial to the victims of communism. Seriously doesn't the freaking president have more pressing matters, like oh maybe the current war. Eh whatever. I'm not going to get into which caused more harm but a top of the head guess capitalism, It's been around longer and is still around. The difference is that those killed by communism were killed by communism, capitalism simply allows poor people to die but doesn't actively kill them (generally), but man it does put a lot of people into misery for the benefit of a few (us, sorry about that).


He was a bit before my time, ok quite a bit, and I know he wasn't exactly perfect but man this right here is good stuff. I wish you were still around.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured–perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again–not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me–but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source–where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials–and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew–or a Quaker–or a Unitarian–or a Baptist. It was Virginia’s harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson’s statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim–but tomorrow it may be you–until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end–where all men and all churches are treated as equal–where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice–where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind–and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe–a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

thank you to GiFS for this. Oh and there is a Video if you go here.

Hate Crimes

So a few of my friends were victims of a hate crime this weekend. Well maybe, sorta. The story as I understand it goes roughly like this. My friends were drinkin' pretty good and one of the guys girlfriends wanted to go dancing and the only place within walking distance that she could dance was the gay bar. Now I wish I could have seen how she actually convinced these guys to go, they are fairly easy going about that stuff, but not normally that easy going. This is a small town after all. So they have a good enough time and are now entirely inebriated and begin that long stumble home. When who do they run into but a group of guys in a pick-up that had been in the same bar earlier, the obviously creative guys shout, "hey faggots." Which despite the fact that he was walking home with his girlfriend somehow this was an insult and being drunk such disrespect could not go unanswered. Now at this moment it sounds like a defuseable situation, if someone had grabbed my friend yelled a good insult back to the guys, probably something about the fact that they were with girls and the others weren't, then it might have been over right there. Or maybe not. When I first heard the story that was my thought, my friend does have a history of getting into fights but he's old enough now that they are quite rare and he feels bad about them, but with enough Jagermister anyones disposition can change. But after learning that this is not the first time the others have been in similar possible hate crime fights, its a small town they know who the guys are, I'm not sure this fight could have been prevented. It's fully possible that my friends could have avoided the fight but that just means it would have been someone else, and most likely people who were as good at defending themselves. Thats the only possible silver lining here and its a reasonable possibility. My guess is that these guys went into the bar looking for a target, they see the wasted guys covered in tattoo's. They probably thought, ok these guys won't run away from a fight but are too drunk to be able to fight, oh and of the guys one is average size but fairly thin, another is a little shorter and quite skinny, and the last is a jockey not a big guy, perfect. So they waited outside and when my friends came out they talked a little shit. My friend goes to the truck to "find out who said it" basically trying to punk the kid down, but the kid was with three of his friends and neither is about to back down. Pretty soon a hand swings by my friend and in quick succession he swings back, repeatedly. At this point the other guys hoop out of the truck, one of whom is carrying a blunt metal object of some sort, a pipe or a golf club no one is really sure. The details of the fight aren't all that critical but one girl got thrown into a pricker bush, the other girl got punched in the face, One guy got hit on the top of the head with the pipe/club, another guy got hit in the face with that same club, barely missed his eye, also got hit in the back quite a bit, and then there was the jockey who is my friends girlfriends brother, apparently he fought like hell which they probably didn't expect given his size and he got worked over bad. He is ok but in a neck brace. Some guy hits you with a club or whatever then punches your girlfriend and his friend is fighting your sister, yeah all bets are off at that point. So the good news is everyone is ok, I mean there are some injuries but everyone will heal, the guy that got hit in the face is going to have a bad-ass scar and I honestly don't know about the jockey, I don't know him and haven't heard full details of his condition. Given that we had a crew of guys out looking to kick some ass, it could have turned out much much worse(my cousin had a friend killed in a bar fight). Plus I'm willing to bet that the guys in the truck have their share of injuries too, although they didn't have a weapon used on them. But they could be facing some serious legal repercussions, especially if they can hit them with the Hate Crime status, but even without there is assault with a weapon, at least that guy is facing time. I don't really care what the punishment is so long as they learn not to do that shit again. So there you have it my story of friends who got beat for being gay, while walking with their girlfriends. What a town.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Where is our spirit? (this might be one of my better writings, let me know)

The American spirit that is. Why are we terrified or self-sacrifice? Why don't we take back the freedoms that we have given away, and it was given because we did not hold on to it. These thought come while reading an article ghost written by Captain Obvious about how America was fairly well respected and even liked for the most part around the world so little as 6 years ago and how the change in that perception is a direct result of our current foreign "policy."
In my own travels abroad, the attitude I always encountered was that while occasionally the US would elevate a truly despicable leader like Ronald Reagan or Bush the First to power, people made a distinction between “America” and Americans. That distinction is fading away. Increasingly the attitude I get from friends in other countries and readers outside the US is, “If you guys hate George Bush so much, why aren’t you doing anything about him? He flouts your laws, he has ordered the invasion of a nation who never attacked you, he has subverted human rights and dignity around the globe. Why aren’t you rioting in the streets? Where is your famous American bravery now?”
Where is our bravery, why aren't we rioting in the streets? And I do mean rioting, not organized "protests" where people walk down a closed off street then listen to music after making sure that they have permits from the police I mean democracy, in the form of ten thousand people in the streets blocking traffic and getting right in everyones faces. Flying rocks, burning cars, police beating civilians, you know riots. Its easy to ignore a protest, but if you burned down K Street it'll make the news. We've tried the other options that may have worked in the past but clearly are now ineffective.

So why don't we? Well because we are too comfortable. No matter how much you hate this war it probably isn't really hurting you, unless you or a loved one are in Iraq, directly. Chances are that if you have enough energy to really pay attention to the world then you don't have major stresses in your life. Probably have a decent job or still in school and really your life ain't too bad. Again I'm assuming based on the fact that you have time to screw around and read blogs then your probably not out in the street trying to figure out how your going to eat next, fair enough? So are you going to risk being arrested thrown in jail, sent to prison, beat by police, possibly killed to maybe help to stop something that you know is wrong but doesn't really affect you?

There are days when nothing would make me happier than to be in a mob of people rushing like crazed wildebeests towards a line of riot police, throwing my molotov cocktail at whatever seemed appropriate at the time. Crashing against the shield like so many Persians at Thermoplae (300) but while we know we will lose the battle, (because how can you win a riot?) it will turn the tides of the war. If people in this country became willing to risk their lives to defend our constitution and its principles then we the people could move ourselves in whatever direction we see fit. But we don't, and neither do I. Those feelings happen but they pass quickly, to riot alone is madness, and to build large enough support to do anything would get you caught and arrested before accomplishing anything. Plus as salt in the wounds if you did create a group with strength to be a threat and were caught then the government would use that as reason to remove even more civil liberties. But at the end of the day it's just easier to do nothing, or maybe read a little and get excited, join a peace group, shout a bit, sign things maybe go to a protest but all without risk. But nothing can be gained without risk.

Take this how ever you want, if you think I am a violent rebel then obviously you missed the part about me being a lazy bastard, and if you think I'm un-american for wanting to see the government over thrown then I suggest you read some Thomas Paine. If the original George W. was here he'd be whipping the shit out of our current George, or maybe he wouldn't. Maybe he'd be the real modern Washington, checking his portfolio on his phone while listening to a podcast about the war while getting a tan at the beach saying, man we should really do something about that asshole Bush.

(movie guy voice) One quote to bind them all...

Question: Scott, is Scooter Libby getting more than equal justice under the law? Is he getting special treatment?
Scott Stanzel: Well, I guess I don’t know what you mean by equal justice under the law.
Big Tip of the hat to FDL for this one, thanks folks.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Darwin Award?

This needs at least an honorable mention. I know its not nice to insult the recently deceased but seriously guys...

More about Food

This time not so light hearted. As you have probably noticed there have been some recent problems with food coming in from China. Now some will trumpet the fact that only about 1% of the food from China gets turned away, but then you need to factor in that less than 2% actually gets checked. Now for those of you that are really bad at math that means that about 50% of the stuff they check gets stopped. that doesn't mean that 50% of everything has problems, but it should leave a bad taste in your mouth, and possibly a disease in your gut.

Damn You...... Garlic?

Finally a restaurant fit for Dracula, I just hope they stay open late. Basically its one chef's personal vendetta against Garlic which he says has been ruining Italian food for too long.
''Garlic for me is a sort of persecution,'' he laments. ''They put garlic in almost any dish: With meat, with fish, everywhere. It's not politically correct to impose garlic on everybody.''

Or maybe he's just bitter because he's allergic to it. And thats my random crap for the day.

Son of Gore

Ha! Ok I've got a hard time caring about someone getting busted for pot cause frankly I don't understand why it's illegal but the prescription pills are an issue. Some of them are serious drugs, and easily more dangerous to both user and the community than marijuana. Do I think this has any bearing on Al, um not really. Only as much as it hurts any family to have a child with a drug problem. I don't generally assume a "problem" fore being caught with drugs, but with multiple illegal prescription drugs, that guy needs help. Notice that he needs help, treatment, NOT Jail. Then again as the son of someone important its not real likely that he would go to jail anyway.

To be honest if this was the child of some outspoken war on drugs advocate then I might care, but while I don't know for sure I would guess that Al would like to change our drug laws so that those with problems get help and not turned into felons. So you can call me a hypocrite if you want but I'm being honest. I was much harsher on Rush Limbaugh but I fell that harshness is justified by that individuals stance on the very same issue.

Of course Not everyone will agree and some will say that this is proof that Al can't control his family and therefore has no right to tell us how to run our country. Then again if you still have absolute control over your 20-something child then your a much worse parent than the one who allowed their child to live, because that child will become an adult the other might never.

Better 4th of July Post

'cause I didn't write it, then again even the guy who wrote the post didn't write most of it. It's mostly quotes from Thomas Paine, and the whole thing gets summed up pretty well at the finish. From The Rude Pundit.

Thomas Paine. Today, he'd be shouted down by Bill O'Reilly for his treachery and oh-so preciously mocked by Maureen Dowd for his sincerity. But, as George Washington said, without him, we wouldn't have won the independence we're supposed to celebrate today.

10 fingers

I still got all my digits, hope everyone else had an hospital-free 4th of July, but if you didn't please share the story. Actually every fourth of July I think of a scene from The Simpsons when Homer is buying fireworks, "Celebrate the birth of our country by blowing up a small piece of it." Actually it rained all day yesterday and I didn't do shit.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So pissed off

Scooter isn't going to jail, which is good for him because with a nickname like Scooter I'm sure he would have had a rough time. What does it say about our country when Paris Hilton goes to jail (I never thought I would actually mention that here) for some traffic tickets, Guys who haven't even been accused of a crime have been rotting in Gitmo for years, and then the VP's Chief of staff was found guilty in a court of law for perjury and obstruction of justice. This is a serious crime, he knowingly blocked and investigation into the highest level crime there is for a country, treason. As is often the case there is only one website that was able to capture something of the indignation that must be felt by all who feel that the rule of law is a good thing, and that we should preserve that tradition. I'm actually a bit shocked by how polite the post was considering the topic and the author but here are two posts by The Rude Pundit, Short one Here and a Longer one Here. Actually fuck it The first one there I'm going to repost in its entirety, its quick and well worth it.

Scooter Libby Will Not Be Raped In Prison:
So, like, let's just get this straight: a jury convicts Scooter Libby, a court sentences him to jail time, and the President commutes his sentence.

Meanwhile, regarding Gitmo, the Secretary of Defense is trying to figure out "a statutory basis for holding prisoners who should never be released and who may or may not be able to be put on trial."

Seems like justice in America's running just fine.

(Tip o' the hat to rude reader B-Mac for the Gates quote.)
Thank You Mr.Rude, or would Rude be his first name, Mr. One?

But to try to be a little up beat about this whole debacle here is Christy Smith's take from Fire Dog Lake. Interesting if overly optimistic view.

At least the Dems have been willing to denounce the president for this overtly base action.

"The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed," Pelosi said. "He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his administration accountable."

"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law," Obama said. "This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."

"Today's decision is yet another example that this administration simply considers itself above the law," said Clinton of Bush's decision to commute Libby's sentence. "This case arose from the administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies.

"Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."


"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today," Edwards said. "President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI.

"George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today."

I'm not going to repeat the drivel that ran out of the mouths of the republicans.