Friday, April 28, 2006

Rabbi Gellman Tries to Understand Atheists... and Doesn't Quite Make It

A friend of mine sent me an article that I found pretty unintentionally hilarious.

Trying to Understand Angry Atheists:
Why do nonbelievers seem to be threatened by the idea of God?

Now, because simply saying "They aren't" wouldn't be any fun, let’s take a walk through this article, shall we? I think it touches on a lot of what’s wrong with religion, and with the perception religious types have of themselves and others.

Before I start, let me just establish that I am not an atheist; I’m more of an “i-don’t-have-any-freakin-idea-and-neither-do-you”-ist. Also, this Rabbi Gellman cat seems like a decent guy, and I am in no way attacking him. He seems like he'd be interesting to talk to. For a while, anyway. Wait, wasn’t Rabbi Gellman the Rabbi on "Seinfeld?" The one who told Elaine “shiks-appeal is a myth, like the Yeti, or his North American cousin, the Sasquatch?”

Anyway, let’s see what the Rabbi has to say:

I think I need to understand atheists better. I bear them no ill will. I don't think they need to be religious to be good, kind and charitable people, and I have no desire to debate or convert them.

So far so good. This separates the good Rabbi from like, 70% of the other religious people out there. I’m waiting for the “but” though... and here it comes:
I do think they are wrong about the biggest question, “Are we alone?” and I will admit to occasionally viewing atheists with the kind of patient sympathy often shown to me by Christians who can't quite understand why the Good News of Jesus' death and resurrection has not reached me or my people.

First of all, “Are we alone?” is more of a Fox Mulder question than a religious question, isn't it? A more accurate presentation of the question would be, “Is there a Supreme Being that directs the world and our actions within that world and rewards those who follow His will in the afterlife?” Although I suppose a reasonable answer to both questions could be “I want to believe.”

I do like the fact that the good Rabbi acknowledges the condescending way he views atheists. Although he seems to miss the fact that this might be answer Numbero Uno to his question. The "Why are atheists so angry?" question, not the "Are we alone?" one.
However, there is something I am missing about atheists: what I simply do not understand is why they are often so angry.

I will point out here that Rabbi Gellman gives exactly zero examples of this alleged anger, although he does mention the angry letters and emails he gets. He must have gotten a real doozy to prompt him to write this article. Wait, did I just say “doozy?”
I don't know many religious folk who wake up thinking of new ways to aggravate atheists, but many people who do not believe in God seem to find the religion of their neighbors terribly offensive or oppressive, particularly if the folks next door are evangelical Christians. I just don't get it.

I think I can help here. First, his implication here is that atheists wake up every morning thinking up new ways to torment their churchy (or templey) neighbors. Not being an atheist, I don’t know for sure if that’s true, but it seems wrong to me. I do know that if I lived next door to evangelical Christians, I would move. Immediately. I mean, who wants to hear a cheerful "You're going to hell, you know?" every day from over the hedge while you're raking leaves or mowing the lawn or waking up hung-over in your underpants in the front yard on a Sunday afternoon?

Seriously though Rabbi, first off, nobody is “threatened by the idea of God.” Well, somebody probably is (like that little girl in this movie I saw once; she could spin her head all the way around). But nobody with half a brain, or free from demonic possession, is. I would venture to guess that the majority of atheists share your tolerance of others’ opinions, and are perfectly happy to let anyone and everyone worship whatever they want in their own private way.

What angers those of us who don’t subscribe to any particular religion is the compulsion a great many of the "believers" out there have toward foisting their beliefs on the rest of us. What makes us angry is that religious-types try to force their religious beliefs into science class in the guise of “intelligent design,” that they refuse to fill a woman’s doctor-prescribed medication based on their personal superstitions, that they try to hang their religious iconography all over state courthouses, that they write laws prohibiting people from marrying whomever they damn well please, that they purposely withhold information about safe sex from teenagers in favor of abstinence-only education, and that they sometimes, in extreme cases, toss bombs into family planning clinics or strap bombs to themselves and blow up soldiers or civilians, all in the name of their religious beliefs.

These are things forced upon all of us, and they’re all a direct result of someone’s religious beliefs, and THAT is why some people get angry when confronted with religion. Not God, but religion. There's a difference.
This must sound condescending and a large generalization, and I don't mean it that way, but I am tempted to believe that behind atheist anger there are oftentimes uncomfortable personal histories.

Yep, that sounds condescending and a large generalization, alright. It’s also dismissive to think that this “atheist anger,” which isn’t defined and of which no examples are provided, is the result of some personal trauma. The implication is that something really bad happened and turned an otherwise “normal,” believing person into some loony non-believer, the same way shell-shock could turn someone into a catatonic.

Maybe a person just woke up one morning and thought, “Gee, you know, that whole thing about a guy being born to a virgin and rising from the dead, or that guy going into the mountains and getting a couple of stone tablets of rules directly from God, or Xenu blowing up a bunch of aliens in Earth’s volcanoes, just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” And maybe after making this realization, said person’s “anger” comes from all that religious stuff I mentioned before being crammed down his throat. Maybe.
Religion must remain an audacious, daring and, yes, uncomfortable assault on our desires to do what we want when we want to do it. All religions must teach a way to discipline our animal urges, to overcome racism and materialism, selfishness and arrogance and the sinful oppression of the most vulnerable and the most innocent among us.

An “uncomfortable assault” on my urges and desires? Sign me up! Seriously, if religion was all of those things he just said (after “animal urges,” anyway) I’d have a lot less of a problem with it, and I suspect most atheists would too. Mostly, though, it seems to be a lot of gay-bashing and social repression and child abuse lately.
Some religious leaders obviously betray the teachings of the faith they claim to represent, but their sacred scriptures remain a critique of them and also of every thing we do to betray the better angels of our nature. But our world is better and kinder and more hopeful because of the daily sacrifice and witness of millions of pious people over thousands of years.

And also due to the contributions of non-pious and non-religious people. What exactly does this have to do with people being “threatened by the idea of God?”
To be called to a level of goodness and sacrifice so constantly and so patiently by a loving but demanding God may seem like a naive demand to achieve what is only a remote human possibility. However, such a vision need not be seen as a red flag to those who believe nothing.

Well, now we know why Rabbi Gellman can’t understand atheists. He has them confused with nihilists. I’m sure atheists believe in a lot of things, like science and reason and the basic decency of most humans and self-discipline for the sake of self-improvement, not to please some angry or vengeful god. And, news flash, if it turns out that there is no God, or that you chose the wrong God, well, then you’re the one who believes in nothing. Just sayin’.
I can humbly ask whether my atheist brothers and sisters really believe that their lives are better, richer and more hopeful by clinging to Camus's existential despair: “The purpose of life is that it ends."

And I would ask my religious siblings, is your life really made more enjoyable by denying yourself a myriad of experiences and (mostly) harmless indulgences because some 2000 year old text tells you to?
I believe that the philosopher-rabbi Mordecai Kaplan was right when he said, “It is hell to live without hope, and religion saves people from hell.”

Again with the condescension Rabbi? Oy vey. Seriously, the Rabbi seems to think that the lives of everyone who doesn’t believe in God are so dreary and hopeless and pointless that it’s a wonder they don’t all line up on the edge the nearest cliff and fling themselves off. Or maybe us non-religious types just do our best to enjoy the time we have here on earth, instead of wasting it pining away for some magical, wonderful after-life that may or may not exist and denying ourselves the things that make us happy.

So, the Rabbi’s last paragraph is some bizzaro tangent about the time he took a couple of chicks to some lab, so I won’t really address it. But, seriously, as understanding and open-minded as he’s trying to be, Rabbi Gellman actually answers his own questions with his little “think” piece here. It’s a softly-spoken little sermon delivered in such a way that I can picture the Rabbi standing there, hands folded in front of him, looking down with a kindly, pitying smile on his face, gently shaking his head and thinking, “Poor little non-believers, they’ll never be as happy as people like me.” And, if there are a bunch of “angry atheists” out there, I suspect it’s things like that that make them angry. Because I bet they’re just as happy as anyone else, thank you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm Waiting for the Summer of Love 21st Century Style

If you had bet me a year ago that I would be plugging a new song by the artist Pink, I'd have taken that bet and laughed and laughed...

She has a new song, Dear Mr. President. Give it a listen.

How do you sleep while the rest of us cry
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye
How do you walk with your head held high
Can you even look me in the eye
Then there's Neil Young's new album about impeaching the president and such. Are we turning the corner on the willful ignorance of the American people? I mean, Neil Young and his fogey rock isn't going to influence any of the youth vote. But Pink might.

In the world of ClearChannel and money grubbing agents and record producers, it's nice to hear some real protest music again. Peace, man!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Bush Calls Cabinet Meeting To Get Story Straight

EPA Didn't Know Anybody Was Still Drinking Water

It's Pronounced "Nookyoolar" Disaster

I heard a little retrospective report about Chernobyl this morning on NPR. The reporter, who was born and raised in Kiev, talked about how after the explosion at the nuclear plant, the only way people could get the real story about what had happened was through rumors and gossip, since all the official pronouncements from the government were of the "move along, nothing to see here" variety.

Aren't you glad we don't have to deal with that here?

Rumsfeld cites 'impressive progress' in Iraq

Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War: Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary

Iraq insurgency in 'last throes,' Cheney says

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How Do You Spell Relief?

Thank Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior for George W. Bush. W, in his infinite God-given wisdom, will deliver us from high gasoline prices. Mind you, he has no interest in "saving the world" or getting us into rehab for our "foreign oil habit." No, no, silly monkeys. He wants to make sure that you aren't so annoyed with high gas prices that you vote the GOP out of power in Congress. (A 32% approval rating will make you a little twitchy.)

So, toward that end, Bush is enacting another Bushian Remedy.

Bushian Remedy:
1) A policy initiative which will do nothing to solve the problem at hand, but have the appearance of great effort.
2) A complicated set of goals the point of which is to confuse the feeble-minded supporters of failed Republican president George W. Bush, while simultaneously enriching President Bush's friends and cronies.
3) (pejorative) Much ado about nothing.
Georgie-boy is going to stop sending oil to our national reserves and relax the environmental rules surrounding the production of gasoline. Whew! I almost thought he might do something hasty like stop price gouging by the oil companies. Oh, part of this particular B.R. is to look into illegal price gouging. Of course! What's a phony plan without a phony investigation into something? I am more concerned about the legal price gouging. The price gouging that allows ExxonMobil to have record breaking profits each and every quarter as long as gas prices get higher. The adherence to the religion of capitalism that says it's more important that fat fuck Lee Raymond gets to retire with a pension which pays him more than $140,000 per day to sit on his Jupiter-sized ass than to protect American consumers from paying 3, 4, 5 bucks a gallon for his gasoline.

Absent from the Bush plan is, of course, any new limits on gas mileage; an Apollo-style program to end our dependence on foreign oil like Brazil, Sweden, and Iceland; ending tax subsidies for oil companies; any call for sacrifice, personal responsibility, or public transportation improvement.

Nope – just more gas, more pollution, more of the same. God bless motherfucking America. Fuck everyone else, especially the next generation. Boy are they going to inherit one uninhabitable shit heap. Good thing we didn't put have to put down a security deposit on this hunkajunk.

It Takes Two People to Lie; One to Lie, and One to Listen

So I was reading this article at about the FDA's new report that there is no benefit to be had from medical marijuana. Well, that is, as it turns out, total bullshit. But here's the part of the article that I think is really important:

Why would the agency inaccurately claim that the science is settled when it isn't? I hardly need to say it: This isn't a medical or scientific conclusion. It's a political one.

This is certainly not the first time that politics has trumped science at the FDA. Another recent example: the agency's decision to block over-the-counter availability for emergency contraceptives in the face of overwhelming evidence that the treatment is safe and effective, and support for over-the-counter availability by the FDA's own advisory committee. From my standpoint as a doctor, the question is this: What do you do when federal agencies become so politicized that their recommendations can't necessarily be trusted? Do you have to treat other things they say as suspect? I depend on good advice and honest information from government agencies in the daily conduct of my work. I need to know what epidemic illnesses are circulating in my neighborhood even if that information might put a government agency in a bad light. I need to be able to trust government-sponsored research (especially because, goodness knows, I have learned not to trust manufacturer-sponsored research). I need to know that the advice I glean from government-sponsored agency Web sites will lead to the best care for my patients.

And thanks to the Bush administration and Republican Congress, we can't rely on any of that information any more. There have been so many lies and so much bullshit that we almost have to assume at this point that everything they say is bullshit. Need some examples? Ok:
  • Gale Norton recently told us that we'd seen "unprecedented gains" in wetlands in the U.S. over the last 10 years. Of course, we'd actually lost half a million acres of wetlands during that time, but by redefining wetlands to include golf course water hazards and man-made ponds outside of apartment complexes and probably those mysterious puddles of liquid in the subways (ok, so everyone knows it's pee), they were able to claim a net gain.
  • Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative, which helps us beat the pollution reduction goals of the Clean Air Act... by lowering the standards and redefining what "clean air" is.
  • Speaking of air, who can forget the administration's denial of, then grudging acceptance of and complete inaction on, global warming?
  • And let's not forget the grand-daddy of them all, the whole cherry-picking of intelligence that the administration shared with Congress in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
Of course there are a lot more examples of this stuff, but you probably already know most of it. The question is why do they keep doing this stuff? I mean, they get caught in their lies time and again, so why keep doing it? I think the answer is pretty obvious:
They've already made their minds up about everything, and little things like facts and reality aren't going to get in the way.

Obvious, right? We’ve all seen it. "We want to invade Iraq, and we'll use WMDs as an excuse. Who cares if it's not true? We'll make sure all anyone hears about are things that support our case."

"We need to give all our natural resources away to big corporations that will destroy them. Who cares if it fucks up the environment? We'll just change the definition of what it means to be polluted."

"We don't want anyone to use pot for medical purposes because they can just grow it themselves and not have to pay drug companies billions for it. Plus we saw a movie once that said it was bad. Who cares if there's no real evidence to support our claim that it won't help you, other than Reefer Madness? We'll just have the FDA release a report saying it's true."

It's like Babe Ruth pointing to the right field bleachers before the pitch, grounding out to second base, then trotting around the bases and having his buddies put a run up on the scoreboard.

So, what's the upshot of all this? Well, I guess the most disturbing thing should be that this administration and this Congress are wrong almost all of the time. Their ideas are wrong, their policies are wrong, their plans are wrong, almost everything they do is wrong. But that won't stop them from doing it any way. And then lying about it. And the faithful will keep believing it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. But the rest of us, the people who's heads aren't up their own asses, are left to wonder what's actually true. Personally, I'm just gonna continue assuming it's all bullshit.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Come On and Safari with Me

Great news for anyone reading this right now. A judge has just ruled that you cannot be fired for surfing the internet at work.

Whew! All we need now is for someone to be fired for blogging and see what the judge says about that. I can see the defense – "Your honor, my fourteen regular readers need to know my every unexamined thought the second I have it. What am I supposed to do? Think of the children! The CHILDREN!"

I Heart Pataki

Democrats are mad because Governor Pataki keeps appearing in all these commercials that air up and down the east coast. It's costing New York taxpayers a few million dollars and all for the purpose of getting the governor more exposure for his Quixotic bid for the White House in 2008.

Not so says the governor's office. They claim the ads are for the purpose of promoting tourism in New York.

Tourism or terrorism? Because if you want tourists to come here, then why have Pataki appear in them? Seriously, have you seen this guy? George Clooney he's not. People are going to take one look at that mug and go to Vegas instead.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Buck Up, Champ!

Apparently, Bush is in a bit of a funk. He's all nervous and twitchy about all the people Bolten's been bootin' lately. Hell, even W's own wittle wuv muffin Harriet Miers has her head on the block. And it's hitting the Dubster hard:

Republicans who talk regularly to senior West Wing advisers say the president has been unhappy and on edge about the staff changes...
Awwww... Don't you feel sorry for him? The poor guy has to deal with this miserable failure in Iraq he started, a staff that just refuses to not break the law, a vice-president who likes to get drunk and shoot old men in the face, and now he has to fire some staffers and replace them with different cronies from other parts of the staff? Dang, I sure am glad I didn't run for an office for which I was woefully unqualified.

And then he has to find out from his very own news channel that even his friends don't like him anymore. Woe is Georgie.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rummy Says

Thanks to Think Progress, I found this:

Of course the implication that there was something wrong with the war plan is amusing almost because of the fact that the war plan’s fashioned by the combatant commanders and it’s reviewed in great detail by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then it’s recommended to me and the President.
See here's the problem with this guy. Nobody's implying anything, Donnie. We're saying it right to your fucking face.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oh No You Didn't

Heads up, DVR devotees. You're about to be forced to watch the commercials.

The secret, according to a new patent filing, is to take advantage of Multimedia Home Platform - the technology behind interactive television in many countries around the world. MHP software now comes built into most modern digital TV receivers and recorders. It looks for digital flags buried in a broadcast, and displays messages on screen that let the viewer call up extra features, such as additional footage or information about a programme.

Philips suggests adding flags to commercial breaks to stop a viewer from changing channels until the adverts are over. The flags could also be recognised by digital video recorders, which would then disable the fast forward control while the ads are playing.
Listen close and listen hard, McDonalds, Nike, Chevy, and all the rest of you -- I will destroy my television and live on the fucking dark side of the moon before I ever ever let you make me watch one of your commercials again. Trust me when I say that forcing people to watch your commercials is the surest way I can think of to make certain they buy from your competitor.

May I make a humble suggestion? I know that you are suffering (poor babies) thanks to DVR. I understand! So, instead of not letting us fast forward, why don't you just have a little logo pop up on the screen during the fast-forward? This commercial-skip is brought to you by Camel Cigarettes. Damn, you look cool when you smoke Camels! Alright, I'm no copywriter, but you get my point. The first idea's free...

Step wisely, corporate overlords. Step wisely.

Life in The D

As the playoffs begin in both the NBA and the NHL, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons finished the regular season with the best record in each of their respective leagues. I did not realize until yesterday that it is the first time in the history of the NBA/NHL that the top team in both sports were from the same city.

I think it's a sign. (And did you by chance see the most recent Super Bowl or baseball all-star game?)

I may live in New York today, but I'll always be from Detroit. Bring it!


Scotty's gone. What liar will they choose to replace him? The new guy might come from the Bush administration's own cable network. No need for a job interview, he's been lying for the president for years now.

Mr. McClellan is looking forward to spending more time with his family, looking at himself in the mirror and being able to sleep at night.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pick Up the Damn Phone!

Do you like funny things? I do. Wonkette does too.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A police standoff ended early Tuesday with metro police discovering there was nobody in the house they were monitoring.

A seven-hour standoff near Southeast 59th Street and Bryant Avenue started as a drug investigation of a home in the area. Officers said they were worried about activity in the house, and they called for a tactical team.

For hours, according to reports, they tried to make contact with anybody in the house.

At about 3:30 a.m., agents approached the house but found nobody inside. A search of the area did not turn up any culprits; however, agents remain in the area looking for leads.
This would be the same crack investigative team who discovered Saddam's WMD as well.

I'd Tap That

Bush Taps Portman As New Budget Director

Brilliant! This is, without question, Bush's greatest decision yet. Think about it. First of all, she has experience in federal government as the "elected" head of state. Then, she served in the Senate before handing over the reigns to Sen. Binks, so it's not as if she can only function in an executive role. She is able to work within the extensive, if not overwhelming committee structure, not to mention dealing with minorities and unusual cultures.

Furthermore, she has an insider's perspective on many issues of the day: terrorism, immigration policy, the state of American mental health facilities. She's spent some time in Britain and was born in Israel.

From Bush's ideological point of view, she believes in a higher power and she is most definitely opposed to human cloning.

I think she makes an excellent addition to the team. Shit, he should make her press secretary. Tell me C-SPAN's ratings wouldn't triple!

Senator to English Dictionary

Republican senator Chuck Hagel joins the chorus in handing Rumsfeld's ass to him in a jar with a bow on top. But because he's an active senator instead of a retired general, he parses his words a little differently. Allow me to translate. When Hagel says:

“The concern I’ve had is, at a very dangerous time, (the) secretary of defense does not command the respect and confidence of our men and women in uniform,”
He means: "The soldiers think Rumsfeld is one fucked up motherfucker."
“There is a real question about his capacity to lead at this critical time.”
"Why are we listening to this fucking moron?!"
“I have had many conversations with military leaders about their concern about what’s happening at the Pentagon and with our force structure.”
"The generals are all, why you let this fool fuck up our shit?!"
"President Bush 'needs to make the call' about Rumsfeld."
"That bitch gotta be put down, yo!"
Bush has expressed his continued confidence in his defense secretary.
"Laura, do I smell cookies?"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Capitalism, The One True God

Let's all follow Bush's advice following 9/11 and for the love of God, buy something!

Start here:
Impeach the Motherfucker Already

Illegal Union

The TWU is back in court today. For those of you from out of town, let me refresh your memories. In December, the transit workers union (TWU, the union that represents all of the subway and bus workers in New York City), was unable to reach a deal with the MTA (the government agency that runs the subways and busses, is woefully mismanaged, cooks the books, and still can't get the subways to run at any level one would consider reasonable), because the MTA's primary objective was to break the union as opposed to negotiating a settlement. So, the WTU was forced to go on strike. Also known as – what unions do when they're getting screwed by The Man.

Nevertheless, the strike was "illegal" because the union-busting Republican mayor and governor who (by coincidence) manage the MTA deemed it so. I agree that the strike was one major fucking inconvenience. Hey, I walked across the Queensboro bridge in December. Trust me. But to declare a strike illegal is to tacitly say that the WTU must accept whatever pittance the MTA decides to drop into WTU's panhandling can. Today, the union is in court to determine what mammoth fine the union must pay. Does the MTA who would not negotiate in good faith have to pay anything? Of course not! They were the innocent bystanders with the billion dollar surplus deficit surplus... well, they had a budget anyway.

An "impartial" judge will mete out an "appropriate" fine the only question being how many tens of millions of dollars they will pay; and while we're at it the judge will decide whether or not the union can deduct union fees from workers' paychecks. To put it another way, a judge will put the union out of business, or "break" the union as it used to be known.

What I don't understand is why Bloomberg/Pataki didn't just hire the same goons Henry Ford used to use to break some legs and bury a few bodies in the Meadowlands.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Support the Troops, Not the Generals

Have you heard about this war in Iraq thing? I know! You'd think that would be on the news more or something. As it happens, it's not going so well. Bush landed on that aircraft carrier with his loins girded some two years ago and declared our mission accomplished. The facts belie this claim, do they not?

Since then, Bush is passing the buck of his woeful lack of preparation onto the generals. He says that he would have been happy to provide more troops or make mistakes that were much less deadly except that's not what the generals asked for. He only listens to the generals. "Heck, I ain't no war-making guy. Ahm just a dude who ran a bunch of daddy's businesses into the ground. What do I know from warrin'? The gen'rals tell me what they need, and I give it to 'em."

Not so much. These generals can't quit fast enough so that they might tell everyone that the Boy Who Would Be King is one class-A motherfucking idiot for listening to this crackpot Rumsfeld.

Next step? Bush has got to start utilizing his role as commander-in-chief and order some non-retired generals to go on TV and tell everyone how wise, insightful, and strategeric he happens to be, and oh yeah, how frighteningly large of a weapon he's packing.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Golden Calf

My good friend, and nicest person you've ever met, Scott Korb is whetting our appetite for his forthcoming book in yesterday's Philadelphia Enquirer. He writes what I want to write, but instead of using foul language and amateurish metaphors, he uses, uh... what's that, um... oh – talent and insight.

...the most central notions of our faiths, like the dignity of our neighbor - created in God's image - are somehow cast aside as less central. We find distressing the results of the National Survey of Youth and Religion, published last year, which show that previously key elements of our religious imagination - repentance, selflessness, social justice, self-discipline, self-sacrifice and humility, for example - no longer hold a prominent place. And worse, for too many, the hatred and violence we see escalating every day in the name of religion have created additional reasons for these youth and others to reject such ethical values, seeing them as too intimately connected with the violent means some believe will establish God's kingdom on Earth.
Read the rest. You'll enjoy it. And then buy his book when it comes out and maybe he'll take us all out to dinner.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

He Was Lying

We know Bush was lying about pre-war intelligence. Did he know? Or is he just stupid?

They're not mutually exclusive. It's both.

Watch Scotty dance.

Nice Catch

From the great Tom Tomorrow:

Immigration rallies

Fox news doesn’t like them, not one little bit.

And they want you to know that protesters have been instructed to carry American, rather than Mexican, flags — no matter what they really think.

In contrast, of course, with all those American flags that photogenic Iraqis were waving on Pulling Down the Statue day, which were the result of the little-understood phenomenon of multiple spontaneous flag generation.

Friday, April 07, 2006

It's Good to Be the King

I've been saying it for some time now. Finally, Alberto Gonzales agrees with me. George Bush is above the law is the law. Nothing else matters.

Joshua Micah Marshall says it best.

Whatever You Do, Don't Pray For Me

Oh, I am on cloud nine, people. A group, The John Templeton Foundation, funded a study about prayer. I don't know too much about their group, and they're a touch vague in their mission statement, but it looks to me that they are interested in studying religion with science.

It is the Foundation's purpose to stimulate a high standard of excellence in scholarly understanding which can serve to encourage further worldwide explorations of the moral and spiritual dimensions of the Universe and of the human potential within its ultimate purpose.
It's like - I'll have an order of Christianity with a side of Scientology, please! Anyway, I'm all for studying religion using the scientific method. In fact, this is the first instance I can think of where a Christian group has actually set out to do this, and gasp! released the actual results.
The study of more than 1,800 heart-bypass patients found that those who had people praying for them had as many complications as those who did not. In fact, one group of patients who knew they were the subject of prayers fared worse.
Can you even fathom the significance of that sentence? No, no, not that prayer is useless; that was patently obvious. No, that a religious group would release data which undermines one of the most basic tenets of their faith. It would be tantamount to the Pope coming out and showing us Jesus' dried up old bones they've been hiding in the Vatican's musty basement all these years. Oops! Looks like that resurrection thing was a smidge exaggerated.

In Slate a few days back, William Saletan took a humorous look at the possible explanations for these results, most of which are lame excuses being proffered by Christians. They range from God being too busy to get to healing those people within the time frame of the study to God resents being told what to do – He'll damn well heal who He wants, when He wants. Not to mention, hey, God doesn't like taking tests. What omnipotent being does, am I right?

The irony here is that all of those excuses continue to undermine the existence of God whether they like it or not. At least the God they are praying to now. If they are following all these rules that everybody has written for them to follow and God doesn't do anything, then why are they doing it? To whom are they praying? It doesn't matter why He didn't answer your prayers. What matters is that He didn't. And if this part of your faith is wrong, what else might be wrong? The whole endeavor falls in on itself like a house of cards. That book of yours was handed down from generation to generation in the oral tradition. Finally, it was written down by some guy, translated about a million times, and twisted and transformed to reflect the wishes of the tyrant in charge at that particular time. Even if there is a God, do you really think the Bible is the literal word of God straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak? Pray on, my brother. Pray on.

By the way, I have inside word that one of the patients was gay, which may have undermined the entire study. We mustn't forget - Fags die, God laughs. Wicked sense of humor, that Guy.

Musical Interlude

All this talk about the myth of global warming, brilliantly planned wars of choice to bring freedom at gunpoint, and the president leaking classified information (or as I call it – patriot facts) has me a little bit down in the dumps. Then, just this morning, an optimistic tune spun into the rotation on my iPod.

So today I thought I'd take a moment away from my typical hard-hitting analysis of the day's important news stories to bring you the lyrics to a nice song I forgot about. Though it was written in the late 80s, it seems just as relevant as ever.

Without further ado, I present Scarecrow People by XTC :

Hope you enjoyed your flight,
In one of our new straw aeroplanes,
You’ll find things here are just like what you’re used to.
There’s lots of waste and razor wire,
And no one gives a damn about the land,
We just stand around and stare like you folks do.

For we ain’t got no brains,
And we ain’t got no hearts,
It’s just that wild old wind that tears us all apart.
We’re the scarecrow people,
Have we got lots in common with you.
And if you don’t start living well,
You’re all gonna wind up scarecrow people too.

Hope you enjoyed your meal,
It’s only gas and chemicals,
We thought that you’d prefer something not nature made.
Now while you’re here can you advise us,
On a war we’d like to start,
Against some scarecrows over there, a different shade?

For we ain’t got no brains,
And we ain’t got no hearts,
It’s just that wild old wind that tears us all apart.
We’re the scarecrow people,
Have we got lots in common with you.
And if you don’t start living well,
You’re all gonna wind up scarecrow people too.

We don’t have no tears here,
No one hopes or cares or fears here,
For the old, the sick, the poor and them what taint you.
We thought we’d base our civilization upon yours,
’cause you’re the smartest animals on earth, now ain’t you?

We don’t have no love here,
There’s no need to rise above here,
No one wants to write a book or try to paint thee.
We thought we’d base our civilization upon yours,
’cause we’re all dead from our necks up, now ain’t we?

And we ain’t got no brains,
And we ain’t got no hearts,
It’s just that wild old wind that tears us all apart.
We’re the scarecrow people,
Have we got lots in common with you.
And if you don’t start living well,
You’re all gonna wind up scarecrow people too.

And I ain’t got no brains,
And I ain’t got no heart,
It’s just them other humans tear my soul apart.
I’m a scarecrow person,
Have I got quite some message for you.
For if we don’t start learning well,
We’re all gonna wind up scarecrow people too!
I hope you enjoyed it. Now back to work!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Happy Fitzover!

I hope you stocked up on matzah, it's time for another Scooter Libby related holiday.

Remember how Scott McClellan insisted that if anyone in the administration was involved in the Valerie Plame leak, they would no longer be in this administration?

Well, what if Bush and Cheney told Libby to do it? Are they going to get fired?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Chris Matthews is Dead to Me

I've never been a fan of him in the first place. But if you are on the fence, there were two incidents yesterday that will convince you – whether you lean right or left – that he is not a journalist, but merely an operative working directly for the GOP.

First of all, the interview that aired, during which Matthews asked Tom DeLay some Hardball questions such as - "Why does everyone attack you? Is it because of your religious faith?" and "How bad would the country be if the Democrats took the House?" and "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "Does it feel good when I do this with my tongue?"

The second thing comes courtesy of that dastardly Harry Shearer (excellent...) who has some device that gets the satellite feeds of live shows when they think they're off the air. Watch the video and watch Chris Matthews climb almost completely up inside Tom DeLay's ass. Oh yeah, and watch DeLay tell the world that there's nothing worse than a woman know-it-all, (that's a quote). Wow.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lawyers – Scourge of the Earth

Remember the 2004 campaign? In fact, on my street the other day, I saw a bumper sticker that read, "Health Insurance Too Expensive? Blame John Edwards". Oh yeah, in the dreamworld of the GOP, lawyers fall somewhere between child molesters and homos – I'll leave it to you to figure out which is higher on the list.

Well, Salon's War Room catches an interesting point whilst discussing Tom DeLay's impending departure (I can't stop smiling today).

As the Washington Post points out, under federal election law, DeLay is allowed to convert the money in his reelection coffers into money for lawyers. "Election lawyers say one advantage of bowing out of the election now is that the campaign cash can be converted to pay legal bills immediately, instead of being drained in the course of a bid to stay in office," the paper says. (Why, one wonders, would such a law exist? Lawmakers and regulators sure do think about all the contingencies when drawing up finance rules.)
Think about that for a minute. Let's say for a moment that you are so naïve and uninformed that you actually think Tom DeLay (or any politician who would utilize this law) isn't a dishonest, corrupt, cheating liar. Let's say that you honestly felt that he was good for the country. Say you decided to give him $20 or $100 or $2000 of your hard-earned money. Then it comes out that your politician is in fact, a crook. Now you have to pay to help him get out of the trouble he caused while purporting to be working for you? That is such bullshit! He should be forced to hand back every single one of his donations in person while offering a unique apology to each and every donor.

Reading about Congress is like being a weak-stomached medical student. The more you learn, the sicker you get.

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Where The Lord Split Ya

That just seemed like a Texas thing to say. Texas in honor of Tom DeLay leaving Congress. Yeah, not just not running for re-election, but allegedly leaving early and everything. He says it's because the race was too close and he wants to make sure his district goes to a Republican. I bet. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the massive weight of the investigations and indictments.

But actually, I suspect it's something else entirely. As we have learned in the past, golf is rich-old-white-guy crack. No matter how hard they try to stop, they just can't. He couldn't do his one day at a time thing anymore. The withdrawal pains were too strong. And he couldn't afford to take another corruption indictment which would surely follow because the high isn't as sweet if you have to pay for the trip yourself.

Being out of Congress means he can take all the free golf trips he likes. With spring in the air and the flowers in bloom, The Hammer could almost smell the freshly cut Creeping Bentgrass deep from within the halls of Congress. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Farewell, Tom. I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about you in the days and weeks to come.