Sunday, October 30, 2005

Flip side!

I said before I do not like some actions taken by school to make sure that religion is kept out of them. The extreme ones always rumored about are the ones I mean: No Bibles allowed on school grounds, no religious clubs at all, no crosses worn...

Well, here's one that is on the other side of the coin. "Fall-O-Ween"? Flying Spaghetti Monster, protect us.


Touching on something I wrote in the previous post.

I know that people who've come in here and read my blog must think that I am a Democrat, or a liberal. The two sites which have been nice enough to mention my on their blogrolls - The Moderate Voice and Balloon Juice - have me on the left voices section, as per my request. I do consider myself to be an independent moderate; it's just nowadays I find much more to be annoyed at from the Republicans than the Democrats. This is most definitely not to say that the Democrats are innocent of making me angry. It's just that their offenses seem lesser than those the Republicans offer, both due to the usual ineptitude of the party itself and the fact that they're not in power to do much damage.

Beyond that, though, the Republicans (and by this I mean the loud ones, the ones who are in charge nowadays) have hit several points of my psyche that grate like sand in the mouth.

I did not and do not appreciate being told that since I hold a different opinion about the war than those in charge, I am against America. Folks, if America was ever not embodied in a group of people, it would be Frist, DeLay, Cheney, Bush, Dobson, Perkins, and their kind. I do not say they are bad people in toto - I do say that when it comes to politics, they are bad people in situ. The only other example I could add to the antimatter embodiment is Joe McCarthy - and this tactic of smearing people who disagree makes him not fit in this group only by the small impediment of him being dead.

I do not and did not like the way the group of people in office acted with the maniacal energy of true fanatical believers, trampling over laws and customs to get their ways enacted. I fear the way the loud ones feel that extremitism in the act of THEIR conscience is not a virtue, it is a calling. And while I have to laugh at the hypocrisy displayed in their defense of it - see perjury and how the crime decision is based on which party does it - I also have to shudder that they don't a.)seem to NOTICE they're this hypocritical and biased or, perhaps worse, b.)don't think it matters anyway.

I do not and never will like the unholy conjoining of religion and the Republican party. We saw the square-dance calling the Republicans danced to in the Terri Schaivo case, performing the steps demanded of them by the guys in the painted on haloes playing the tin harps. We've seen how much pull they have by helping to destroy Harriet Meirs's candidacy, since she didn't seem like the "right type" according to their dip-in-the-moral stricture litmus test. (Of course, Ms. Meirs didn't need they help in self destruction - her appointment was the closest thing to a political suicide attempt I've seen in a while. That being said, the self appointed censors certainly pulled some weight in this matter.) We see that for these people, morality is a distant second to power, and the image they want to remake their neighbor in is called a "mirror".

I hate the way any fact that doesn't mesh in the puzzle pieces making up the loud Republican's view of the world is discarded. (The Republican War on Science exposes much of this.) It reminds me far too much of
"E pour si muevo", or Japan's rewriting of Pearl Harbor in their history books. It is a reflection of IDiocy; refusing any and all facts that call your beliefs into questions. There's the crux - to these people, science is merely a casting of belief - those facts that match your faith are okay, whereas those that don't are wrong. I wish I could have used this kind of reasoning in school.

Believe me, I groan at many things the Democrats do. But what they do that makes me angry, or embarrassed, are just not as important as being told that I am a traitor since I doubted the WMD information (odd to have been called so many names for being right), that science is wrong since it doesn't adhere to a conservative stance, that religion should be used for political power and separation, and that what was wrong when a Democrat did it is right when a Republican does. These ideas (for lack of a better word) are anathema to me.

So you see, I can remain independent and yet criticize the Republicans mainly. From polls I've seen, I'm not the only one doing so.

Plame Gate, Opening Now!

I start by saying I'm apparently not a liberal or a Democrat, since most sites see the solitary person getting nailed as a defeat for those groups. Odd, I saw it as someone who tried to get away with something and got caught, for now. (And never forget, Fitzgerald has said that there could be more coming - IF they're deserved.)

Libby now seems to be ready to use the "I forgot" defense. This may be hard to get people to believe, since evidence is coming out that Libby knew about Mrs. Wilson by his own request just a few days before he leaked it:

On June 9, the CIA faxed classified accounts of Wilson's assignment "to the personal attention of Libby and another person in the Office of the Vice President." Two or three days later, Grossman told Libby that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and had been involved in planning Wilson's trip. An unidentified "senior officer of the CIA" confirmed Plame's employment for Libby on June 11, and Cheney told Libby the next day which part of the agency employed her.

Yes, it IS possible to forget things, but is it believable? Time will tell. However, if true, Messr. Libby may need to buy some gingko biloba:

On June 23, Libby allegedly crossed his first big line. At a meeting in his office with Miller of the Times, he said Wilson's wife might be a CIA employee.

Two weeks later and Libby claims he forgot he's the one who knew about this? Two weeks? Does this say a lot for the qualifications needed to be a top staffer in the White House? Not only that, but the man who can't remember something two weeks old is able to remember a false story he tells to the grand jury more than once - a story that could have easily been disproven by a simple glance at, say, the June 9th notes. Yeah, right. Sorry, but this defense seems laughable. On the other, more stupid hand, gloves sizes have helped people walk, so who knows?

If I'm right and Libby did intentionally lie - which I do feel is more than likely - why did he? There's an interesting question. The answers range from he didn't want to be caught (quite likely) to wanting to avoid embarrassment to the White House on a case which he never thought would happen (also likely) to wanting to protect someone else. The last choice I list is possible, especially given hints like "other officials" in the indictments and Cheney's involvement, but it's still unknown. I hope people accept that as of now, there is no real evidence of a conspiracy. Lots of hints and thoughts, but nothing real yet. It could very well just be Libby doing something stupid - I mean, isn't that what most people feel is the hallmark of the Bush Admin anyway? (However, keep your eyes on the Niger forgeries for some interesting possibilities - but as of now, that's all they are. They may develop and they look worth checking into - but NOT using them as evidence yet.) I don't want to see Monica redux, where every single conspiratorial theory is trotted out as serious evidence and the investigation to follow them commences. I don't want to see the Democrats morph into the Republicans from the 90's, following the lead of Republicans morphing into the Democrats.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mistaken Identity


"Mr. F" and "Ms. P" next on list

by Satire News Service

Today, as expected, Scooter the Muppet was indicted on charges of perjury, misleading statements and bad gofering. He immediately turned in his resignation and swore to fight the charges, "assuming my uncle who owns the theater doesn't make them disappear." His resignation was accepted by Kermit, manager of Muppet Theaters, and Robin the Frog was appointed in his place.

The charges stem from the outing of some secret agents, Statler and Waldorf. They had been assigned to the Muppet Theater to keep tabs on the audience and performers, to make sure snacks weren't being smuggled into the theater illegally. "The owners were especially fixated on cake, for some reason - yellow cake," recalls Statler. "Yeah, they hate yellow, so they really hate your teeth!" chortled Waldorf, leading Statler to smack him in the mouth. Assault charges are expected.

The pair was going about their business as usual one day when a column by one Fleet Scribbler appeared in the Muppet Times, outing them and their spying. The story was quickly picked up in a Muppet News Flash, further spreading the story. The backlash was immediate and harsh. "We used to be the ones booing that bear; now the crowd was booing us - and the bear was joining in!" said Waldorf, cringing a little. Statler sighed, "You don't know what it's like, having that furball of a joketeller leading the crowd in taunting us." There are also unconfirmed reports of pie and flying fish throwing, and even an attempt on the duo's lives by a dynamite attack. Lew Zealand and Crazy Eddie are currently wanted for questioning; consider them armed, dangerous, and strange.

The investigation centered on a as-yet unrevealed character, Mr. F, suspected of leaking the information to the paper and TV. Fleet Scribbler refused to name Mr. F., and went to Muppet Jail, however, he was quickly released accidentally and has since been writing his memoirs, "Pulling the Strings." Muppet Police Sergeant Link Hogthrob, when asked about the release, stated, "Well, my Patrol Bear he swore he was innocent!" Patrol Bear Fozzie refused to answer questions about the case, preferring to crack bad jokes.

Scooter was linked to Fleet Scribbler when Fleet printed a story, "I will never reveal my source, since Scooter asked me not to." He was quickly identified as the leak and was shown to have lied and misled the investigation many times, although his boss Kermit stated that Scooter was pretty forgetful anyway and may just have forgotten what happened, as he so often forgets to mention things like guest stars cancelling and roofs falling in. However, the jury felt Scooter's actions rose to the level of criminal activity. "His grave error may have been offering to get them all coffee and never doing it," stated his friend Rowlf the Dog. "Say what you want about Scooter, but don't say what you want to him - you'll never get it."

There is another mysterious figure in the investigation as well, a "Ms. P." This woman, presumed French from the transcripts supplied, seems to be more interested in causing trouble for Muppet Theater to drive the manager, Kermit, into a needed vacation and possibly a higher billing in the cast. When asked to reveal "Ms. P", both Fleet and Scooter refused vehemently, stating fear of their lives. "You don't understand, she knows karate!" stated Fleet, before running away.

Gonzo the Great, once a suspect in the case due to general strangeness, has been told that indictments are not forthcoming. He will celebrate the news by playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on a xylophone whilst - and at the same time - trying to crack a safe before a bomb explodes.

Kermit the Frog, the seeming overall target of the case, has come in for charges of cronyism on his appointment of Robin to Scooter's vacated position. Robin is the cousin of Kermit. When asked about the seeming cronyism, Kermit said, "Hey, it ain't easy being green, so I try to help when I can."

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Regarding this post, originally linked from Balloon Juice.

If holding a vigil is, in actuality, a party...

...does this mean that every January 22nd, people like this are actually just finding a reason to crack open a cold one? Or every December 7th, these guys are kicking out the jams?

And as for the response from one proponent of this theory:

"They obviously don’t like it when their sick plans are exposed."

This isn't an argument - it's a dodge. Call someone a name and they respond, suddenly it's THEIR fault? (I refer to sane responses, by the way - not slander, name calling, and lies. In other words, sane discussion and not any wannabe Ann Coulters. But the links listed are all at least sane.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How Dumb Do They Think We Are?

Try to believe this one: (from DefCon)

The policy also prohibits students and teachers from discussing intelligent design in class after the statement is read.

Said policy being the one where:

The school board voted a year ago to require students to hear a statement about intelligent design before ninth-grade biology lessons on evolution. The statement says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact," has inexplicable "gaps," and refers students to a textbook, "Of Pandas and People," for more information.

So, to expose kids to "different schools of thought" (a common IDiotic claim), you mention it as an alternative to evolution, and then you refuse to allow any debate on it? Or questions? Or arguments? This isn't scientific exposure, it's the equivalent of a flasher's indecent exposure!

Plame Gate Open

If we can accept the recent leaks as true and correctly reported by the media (neither of which I would bet the house on, but possibly would make a wager) Fitzgerald has a dead lock on a perjury charge on Libby. He got Valerie Plame's name not from the media, as he claimed and was so often accused by Bush apologists, but from Cheney himself. So it appears that Libby lied. (I suppose he can fall back on the "Huh?" defense, i.e. bad memory, but for my money, he lied.)

Is Cheney in trouble? Not as such from this report. Maybe he didn't know that Mrs. Plame was undercover and mentioned the fact in "innocence". Maybe not. We don't know. We do know that Cheney was extremely misleading in public, though. He kind of threads the needle on lying, but it sure seems like he knew more than he was telling Russert, given the fact he had been briefed on all that just three weeks before. What was it that was said so often during Clinton's numerous investigations - "Where there's smoke, there's fire."

Check out Just One Minute for some intelligent counter proposals. He does a good job bringing up timelines and questions - but he also admits he feels some people are going down for this. Also, for some suppositions about why Fitzgerald is looking into the Niger documents, look at Washington Monthly - I do find it possible, if still nebulous right now. And for some late news that could be rather huge check this out.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Doesn't the mental whiplash hurt?

Ms. Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

So...infidelity was the real Clinton impeachment reason? Funny, I seem to recall it was perjury. Ken Starr, dude, you just got dissed! It was "just something to show"!

"Other people sympathetic to Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have said that indicting them would amount to criminalizing politics and that Mr. Fitzgerald did not understand how Washington works."

Dammit, we in Washington don't HAVE to follow the laws! Wasn't this DeLay's defense as well? "Everyone does it, so I do to!" Hey, I also seem to recall that was the argument for Clinton as well..."everyone cheats on their spouse!" But these Republicans, they follow the Bible, which CLEARLY mandates the sanctity of marriage and says nothing about outing spies or doing illegal fundraising and contributions. (In other words, these guys like their Constitution to be viewed in a strict constructionalist style and their Bible in a loose interpretation way.)

Some Republicans have also been reprising a theme that was often sounded by Democrats during the investigations into President Bill Clinton, that special prosecutors and independent counsels lack accountability and too often pursue cases until they find someone to charge.

Which is just hunky dory in some cases, apparently.

So, once again in politics, we see that if WE do it, it's okay, but when THEY do it, it isn't.

You must have flexible morals and views to be a politician. Call it the Karma Sutra of hypocrisy.

A possible explanation

We discover that Bill Frist's "blind" trust wasn't. In fact, he was regularly updated as to stock moves and prices during all the times he was claiming it was Stevie Wonder-ed. This raises more than a little conflict of interest, since Dr. Frist often voted on bills that could affect the stocks in his portfolio. Now, I'm not saying the man who diagnosed Terri Schaivo via videotape could allow his self interest to override his morals. Why would I? (/sarcasm) In fact, I think there is a reasonable and likely explanation that can explain both that VHS reading and this quote:

"I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust," Frist replied. "So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock." He added that the trust was "totally blind. I have no control."
Two weeks before that interview, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., a Frist trustee, informed the senator in writing that one of his trusts had received HCA stock valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.

And the answer is...DR. FRIST IS A BAD DOCTOR.

See, he skipped that day in medical school when eye problems were covered and doesn't know what "blind" meant. Heck, even being a bad doctor, he's a heart surgeon anyway ("Nurse, we're ready to begin, now, where's the chest?") so eyes are AT LEAST a few inches away for his concern and expertise anyway. I mean, do you expect a proctologist to know about athlete's foot, barring some limber sex play? Or do you really think that an ear, nose and throat doctor would have the knowledge to diagnose a knife in the chest? Please.

Of course, there is the logic puzzle of if Mr. "VHS" Frist didn't KNOW he had HCA stock, how could he have directed his stockbroker to SELL said HCA stock (paging Uri Gellar, stockbroker!)...but Dr. Frist isn't a logician either, so we can excuse him that as well.

So Frist is either a bad doctor or a bad liar. Or both.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I Stand Corrected!

And all this time I've thought that ID wasn't a science. Well, according to Michael "Mousetrap" Behe, it most certainly is! As long as you allow for a certain flexibility in the boundaries of the definition of "science", of course.

The side effect of this flexing is the relatively minor fact that astrology is also a science:

Eric Rothschild, attorney for the plaintiffs, asked beau about whether astrology was science. And beau, after hemming and hawing and launching into an abbreviated history of astrology and science, said, under his definition, it is.

Which means that the guy who writes your horoscope in the local paper should be addressed as "DOCTOR", if you please.

Of course, "Mousetrap" also dispayed the almost inbred trait of true believers to deny that things are what they say:

As the cross-examination continued, another pattern developed. Rothschild would show beau, on a big screen in the courtroom, a quote from "Of Pandas and People" and ask him a simple question about it.
The quote said, "Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feather, beaks and wings, etc."
Rothschild asked him whether he believed that statement said intelligent design meant life began abruptly on this planet.
It apparently was a trick question becausebeaue had a hard time answering it.
"I disagree," the scientist said.

Don't think it says what it says, think it says what I think it says!

And this is the main guy for IDiocy, ladies and gents. Maybe we should start debating him this way...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Best Action of the Week

Got this from DefCon, a recent addition to my blogroll.

For the first time since the trial began in a U.S. Middle District courtroom three weeks ago, a scientist testified that intelligent design is science, one based on a fully testable, falsifiable theory.
Attorneys for Dover Area School District started presenting their case with Michael Behe, the Lehigh University biochemistry professor who came up with the term "irreducible complexity."


Just as a mouse trap's working parts reveal a designer, design can also be determined in nature by the "purposeful arrangement of parts," Behe said.


He (Behe) uses the bacterial flagellum as an example, arguing that for the propeller-like appendage to move, between 30 and 40 protein parts are needed. Removal of any one of those parts causes the system to stop working — just as a mousetrap depends on all its pieces to operate.


Miller had testified that if 10 of the protein parts were removed, the flagellum would take on a different function, one allowing bacteria to inject poisons into other cells.


Miller says the separate purpose is an explanation for how a complex system might have evolved through genetic mutation and natural selection. To illustrate his side of the argument, Miller showed up the first day of the trial wearing a partially disassembled mousetrap as a tie clip. He took it off before taking the stand.

Lying Bastard - Color Me Unshocked.

You can see why the Bushies felt this man was needed as a consultant:

The 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as Aug. 28, the day before Katrina made landfall. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Brown quit after being recalled from New Orleans amid criticism of his work.

(Gee, can't imagine WHAT he did that deserved to be criticized.)

On Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours."
"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."
A short time later, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," Worthy wrote.
"Restaurants are getting busy," she said. "We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

(Let them eat...well, no, they didn't have cake, did they?)

In e-mails, Bahamonde described to his bosses a chaotic situation at the Superdome. Bahamonde noted also that local officials were asking for toilet paper, a sign that supplies were lacking at the shelter.
"Issues developing at the Superdome. The medical staff at the dome says they will run out of oxygen in about two hours and are looking for alternative oxygen," Bahamonde wrote regional director David Passey on Aug. 28.
Bahamonde said he was stunned that FEMA officials responded by continuing to send truckloads of evacuees to the Superdome for two more days even though they knew supplies were in short supply.

(I'll be fair and say I didn't know FEMA was the one doing that; I thought it was the state. However, it doesn't surprise me if it was FEMA.)

"heckuva" Brownie, ladies and gentlemen! Obviously the best qualified man for the job.

Best line this week

From The Daily Show's Lewis Black:

Some priest in interview: "The Catholic Church views homosexuality and pedophilia as the same."

Black, commenting: "Of course they're not. Homosexuality is what you are and it can't be cured. Pedophilia can be cured by transferring to another diocese."

You know, if other media would be as CORRECT as The Daily Show - forget funny - there wouldn't be no heavy reliance on celebrity bullcrap.

First Impression

They always say that first impressions matter the most, and in the matter Miers, Bush is an excellent example.

As more and more merde comes out about Miers - her Q-and-Avoid questionnaire, her dumbfounding linkage of the Equal Protection Act and the Voting Rights Act via "proportional representation", a figment of her legal knowledge (cited in Tooth Fairy v. Santa Claus and elves), and her law license oppsies for starters - it is more and more apparent that when Bush claimed she was the most qualified person he could think of, he was either a.)deluded, b.)talking out of his ass (as I believe George Will said, if you asked the top 100 lawyers to list 10 people they thought should be on the Supreme Court, Ms. Miers would have been in none of the 1000 spots) or c.)other.

And here's where first impression matter. "Other" here ranges from cronyism, extreme loyalty, and stupidity. However, had Clinton pulled some move like this, can you guess what the main reason given would have been?

"He's boinking her." Right wing radio would have been all over it. Ann Coulter would have made a book out of it, calling it "Sex in the Supreme Court Nominee". Rush Limbaugh would have opined that Hillary drove Bill to it and that Ms. Miers would be called in days. Bill O'Reilly would have offered a loomfah. Sean Hannity and Bill Bennett would have demanded impeachment.

Now, I don't think there is any sex involved here. For everything wrong I see about Bush, I don't see being a victim of sexual blackmail being part of his faults. I just find it amusing how what may be the most jumped-to assumption in any situation like this - "How did SHE/HE get that job?" "Oh, you know, them and the boss..." - hasn't been mentioned around this particular little debacle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Top 10s, TV

Here's a tough one - trying to narrow down my favorite things to 10.


Babylon 5 - One of the best shows ever. The plotlines were tight, the surprises were many, and the way everything was woven together was nothing short of incredible. This is a show you can watch over and over and still enjoy how things are built up to climax. The last season was a little weaker, though, due to fears of an early cancellation in season four and a major cast member leaving the show. Still good, but not up to the first four seasons.

Quantum Leap - Scott Bakula is a superb actor. He leapt into several characters, and made them all believable. I mean, you may laugh at him at first in a dress when he's portraying a woman, but you believe it in the end. Add to that some fun shows, nice little nods to history, and a few plot twists that kept you interested, and it's a show well worth your time.

Scrubs - proof the Emmys don't know what the Hell they're doing, that this show hasn't been nominated each and every time for Comedy and Actors and Actresses. You will howl.

Arrested Development - another show that will make you laugh - and you never know where the Hell it's going.

Monty Python's Flying Circus/Fawlty Towers - The pinnacle of comedy.

M*A*S*H - For Alan Alda's Hawkeye alone.

Picket Fences - Again, forget the last season and enjoy the first ones. I have never forgot Rome, Wisconsin. This is the show that David Kelley keeps on trying to recapture and ends up getting wrapped in whimsy.

The Muppet Show/Sesame Street - Hey, I'm a Muppet fan. But the Muppet Show is still funny, and Sesame Street deserves a place of honor for its contribution to children's education.

Gilmore Girls - The wittiest of shows out there now, and you gotta admire the writing that boldly references things from Oscar Wilde to The Girl On the Bus.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel/Firefly - Any Joss Whedon series is worth checking out. I'd have Angel and Firefly up at first, with Buffy either close behind (first four seasons) or a distant second (last three).

Teen Titans - The best story line new animation I've seen so far.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Thank You, and I'm Sorry

First of all, I'm sorry I haven't been blogging more. My son was off from school all last week, and we decided to make a bold move and get both DirectTV and high speed internet access during that time as well. (Recommendation for music: Pandora. Put in favorite songs and groups and it will play ones related to them.) But that's kinda jammed up the writing time. Also, my wife has started getting ready for her MBA, and that means lots of study time on the computer (the reason we got high speed access.) So the opportunities have been lessened.

However, thanks for people still coming to this site anyway. Checking my stats, I've still had people checking here anyway - even though some of those had to be some bad links. Still, thanks for those who do like this site enough to keep up with it. I'll start writing more soon, promise.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


With the news that "Two-Ton Ego" Roy Moore is running for Alabama governor, and the often cited religiousness of Harriet Meirs being offered as prime, if not sole, evidence of her fitness to serve on the Supreme Court (one assumes she will be automatically placed in charge of the opening prayer) AND the recent announcement from the Catholic Church regarding the Bible - it ain't ALL "Gospel Truth" - religion's been a lot on my mind recently.

As stated before, I am an agnostic. This means I just plain don't know if there's a God, and if there is, whose God he is and what He/She is like. I am also very heavily skeptical of most organized religions out there. I consider most of them to be mainly in business for themselves, notwithstanding some of the great things they do, and absolutely abhor people using religion to justify various political ideas. You can imagine my absolute love of the times.

However, I am not absolutely against religion. I have several friends both on line and off line (I live in a red state that's very religious - at least people say they are...) who are religious, ranging from just attending church to fundamentalist. I know people who refuse to read certain books because they feel they are unholy in some form or fashion. I get along with all these people and would call several of them friends, and I feel at least 50% sure they would reciprocate. I have no problem with people wearing religious symbols and even argued for Moore's first Ten Commandments set as being harmless and overreacted to. (This was until Moore went from publican to Pharisee and decided to saddle up the Ten Commandments and hi-yo Sanctimonious, away, into the political arena. And scarily, given this poll, ol' Two-Ton may have a shot at the governorship.) I don't flinch when strips like B.C. give Christian messages, read the religion sections of the paper, feel many of the anti-religious moves in public schools are over the top (while drawing the line at teacher led prayer) and can feel religion and science can get along, when one isn't trying to annex the other's areas of study. Hello, IDiocy! There are several people who are religious I admire - for example, Billy Graham and Kurt Warner - mainly because they use religion as I feel it should be used - for the benefit of others. I mean, come on, do you EVER feel that Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer are in it mainly for other people, or for themselves? They use their religion as a Country Club card, to mark the hoi polloi and try to get others to be what THEY feel is right. So while I am cyncial of MUCH religion, I'm not knee jerk against it.

I feel that agnostics are the only group that can judge religion fairly. If you're a particular religion, you will at least have some issues with other religions, (Muslim/Jew, Christian/Muslim, etc.) and will also more than likely have issues with different groups within your religion (Muslim = Shiite/Sunni, Christian = Catholic/Baptist/whatever, etc.). You will have certain predispositions that will tilt you one way or the other. Agnostics, keeping an open mind and doubt about all religions, may be more free of that than the others. May be. I know some people would have issues with that - some of my friends and I have debated that I don't "get the religious viewpoint". So maybe I'm too neutral.

But nowadays, that's rare. People seem to follow some current icon and cleave to their views, without ever questioning if the human megaphone of choice is actually religious or simply parroting religious views for their own power and glory. If Jesus DID come back to Earth, many of these so-called preachers would have a lot of explaining to do. But people seem to accept people as religious because they say they are. To use an earlier example, have you EVER seen Billy Graham acting as politically motivated as Dobson/Perkins?

It's a depressing situation, because the loud ones are the ones in charge. You know the loud ones - the ones that see in black and white and they are always white and their opponents are black as sin - literally. (Not only in religion, of course.) The loud ones never accept anything that weakens their position - see IDiocy and the opposition against stem cell research. Any contrary points are argued away on faith - evolution CAN'T be right; it's not explicitly said in the Bible; stem cells CAN'T have any benefit that may justify them; because embryos are destroyed. How do you argue with faith? By definition, you can't - which is fine for religion, but in society and science, it's more than a little extreme. And the loud one won't accept any kind of counter arguments in anything, because God forbid they be wrong. See Terri Schaivo - how many pious proclaimers have stepped up and admitted the accusations of abuse against the husband were unfounded? You can count them on the fingers of one foot. And while many people are willing to listen to reason, or at least admit there IS some people out there who aren't cloven-hoofed and horned who may disagree, the loud ones are the ones with the clout.

You can see that both in the opposition and the proponents of Meirs. The proponents say, "Hey, she's a religious person, therefore she is fit for the Supreme Court." There are arguments and stories that "religious" is code for "will vote against Roe", but the main thrust is "She's a good judge because she's religious." Okay. So would YOU vote for your preacher/minister/priest just because of his job? How about an accountant? Or a plumber?

The opposition, which includes many religious people who apparently feel that "Cast not the first stone" doesn't apply to their hallowed selves, feel she isn't religious ENOUGH. These people appear to want someone who always votes for the religious side of arguments (but the right religious side - watch out if she found for a Muslim) and on her down time was protesting Roe continually, and perhaps doing exorcisms as well. There are other arguments against her, and good ones at that, but religion is a large part of the pro and con. Why? Because in today's world, religion isn't private for the loud ones - it's central.

That's kind of sad - first of all, religion should be private mostly. You can be motivated to act by religion, but it shouldn't be paraded about like a Macy Day's Parade balloon as your reason. You can wear your symbols and read your Bible, but thrusting in other people's faces to proclaim how holy and good you are is like somebody wearing a camo outfit and claiming they're a Navy SEAL.

Second of all, you can be a good person and be a lousy leader. No one seems to doubt that Bush is a nice guy, the kind of man who you wouldn't mind having as a neighbor. Again, would you vote for your neighbor for President based on the fact he was nice? And touching on an above point, today you can be religious and not be good. Sojourners makes this point a lot - the people saying they act in God's name apparently selectively select which part of the name they act in.

And third of all, religion is being used to separate US from THEM. And the loud ones have made more than one US. The ones who keep quiet but are good don't matter much to them - after all, the quiet ones don't sign petitions and protest in front of the cameras.

Thinking on it, I think there are three reasons I became agnostic. First was my experience in Catholic school, which was eye-opening to say the least. (NO abuse, I want to make clear.) Second was when I read the Bible all the way through, and was hard-pressed to make it match what many people felt it was. Third was seeing how the loud ones and organized religions acted in their own view of religion - see abuse in the Catholic Church. The first two things have kept me an agnostic. The loud ones and religions make me wonder sometimes if perhaps atheism is more correct.

For what it's worth...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Lighter Stuff

Ah, bliss. Just got the Complete Calvin and Hobbes Collection and am happily going back and looking at the classic strips that are still just as funny and thoughtful. If you buy this set (and please use the Amazon box on the side there), you'll get all the strips, Sundays in color; you will get all the extra stories and interstitial drawings in the book collections, and you will get a new essay from Watterson. AND a picture of Sprite, the cat who inspired Hobbes. I would recommend you still go and get The Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book as well, because that has a lot of stuff as well from Watterson, ranging from where Mrs. Wormwood got her name to how some of the stories came about to some more history about the strip - none of which appears to be in the Complete collection. Also, be ready, the Complete set is heavy - over 20 pounds. But well worth it.

Our weather has finally turned down here, and it seems like we're at my perfect time - just cool enough to feel good but not so much where the heat comes on. You know, the kind of weather you can throw open the windows and get a nice breeze in the house. This weather generally lasts about two weeks, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

I was watching some college football a few weeks ago, and Alabama finally did something I've always wondered about. There was a play for Alabama that looked iffy - a completion that may have been dropped - and Alabama immediately rushed to the scrimmage line and got ready for play, looking like a new play had been called the second it became apparent the completion may be reviewed. (Naturally, they backed off for some reason, and the play was reviewed in their favor anyway.) I've often wondered why teams didn't have some kind of sacrificial play made up, ready to go, for when they get a good play that may be reviewed. I mean, get to the line, snap the ball, do a quarterback sneak, that's all she wrote. Call it "Lamb" or something like that - because there are times when you HAVE to have the controversial play (for yardage in the final moments of a game, for time, whatever) and it's worth the loss of another play to keep it - yet I haven't seen any team do that until Alabama looked like they were about to. There have been hurry-ups and stuff like that, but never anything close to what happens in a two minute drill anyway.

I finally got a radio station I like. Down here, all I can get our country stations (well, new country anyway, stuff that Johnny Cash would have gagged at) and poppy stuff. We had one good alternative station for a while, but now they play pop-alternative stuff - groups that play the same old songs but dress in black. But we found The Buzz while twirling the dial, and in thirty minutes I got to hear Mudvayne, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, System of a Down...if you like louder music, give them a try.

"Good Night and Good Luck" looks like a good movie, from the clips and interviews I've seen. Of course, I do like Edward R. Murrow anyway. Also like to see Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Serenity, but those will probably be DVD purchases.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Okay, I think this sums up a lot of my worry about Bush: (from the DefCon blog)

"President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq Â…" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

I THINK that his saying "God would tell me" is simply his way of saying he felt this was right, not a literal "God spoke to me" mental asylum and special burlap tuxedo claim. So I won't go there.

However, this one statement pretty much wraps up a lot of Bush's actions in one ill-tied package. He THINKS something is right, and acts on it without planning for it. He felt the need to free Iraq, and acted on bad information and bad planning, leading to the deepening morass we're in now. (Unless anyone wants to argue that Bush's post-war plans were good?) He felt like SocialSecurityy should be changed and tried to enact policies that would have worsened our debt and notrelievedd anything. He felt like taxes needed to be cut and now the debt and deficit are immense. He acts like his belief that something is good is enough to see it through.

Feeling something is right is wonderful and good, and it may BE a sign thatsomeonee (whoever he may be) is reaching down and touching you to start your actions. But guess what? When he's giving you that nudge, he expects you to do the job right. Good intentions, road to Hell, ring a bell?

And Now In The News...

Iraq is perfect.

Bush handled everything about Katrina perfectly.

Everything is fine.

This news brought to you by Karen Ryan.

Plagiarism in theory?

I write, obviously, since you're staring at 1's and 0's shaped into letters. But I am also a (very lapsed) freelance writer as well, being lucky enough to have sold some stories to be published back in the day. To avoid any hurt feelings on my end, I won't mention the day exactly, but Babylon 5 was still on the air. First run.

Anyway, let's say I had a hankering to get published but was fresh out of ideas. So I take some already published book, rewrite it using exactly the same plot and setting and characters, but simply change the names. (Cynically, I wonder if that's exactly how many books and TV shows are made today anyway, but let's ignore that.) I think just about anyone would agree that all I did was change minor things while keeping the story intact, and therefore my "book" was nothing more than a near carbon copy of the original.

So, when an Intelligent Design book is made by going back and replacing "creation" with "design", is this scientific (chuckle chuckle snort!) plagiarism or simply an admission that IDiocy is nothing more than creationism in a prettier costume? If you still say no, IDiocy is a real theory, than I'd like you to buy my new books, Moby Tom and Dick Sawyer. Coming soon, For What the Bell Tolls and Gone with the Breeze.

Update 2 - Iraq

The Iraqi Parliament has now decided to let "voters" mean the same thing no matter what kind of vote cast. The United Nations and some American diplomats raised all kinds of Hell over that little redefinition attempt, and thankfully managed to get sanity back into the vote.

There IS some depressing news, though:

Most members appear to have voted Sunday without clearly understanding what they were voting for, and then reversed themselves on the orders of their party leaders, who were themselves taking orders from the United Nations. "They told us, please don't discuss this or make objections, just vote for the statement," Shatha al-Musawi, a Shiite lawmaker, said of the Shiite leadership.

What better way to engender confidence than by not knowing what you're voting for and then taking orders from higher-ups to undo what you just did? Hmmm...sounds familiar...

Update 1 - Judicial

I blew it in saying that the religious right were hunky-dory with Miers - apparently, only Dobson has issued full-throated support (and mysterious statements to boot) while others aren't quite so enamored. Of course, it also appears that Dobson may now be hedging his bets a tad as well. (from TMV, who has a GREAT article about the divisions over Miers - the crack may be widening into a ravine...)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

No, no, everything's going fine!

We just needed to redefine certain terms like "Voters". And if it's a GOOD way - if 2/3 of the actual votes CAST are for the Constitution - than the good votes are votes. But if it's a BAD way - if the constitution is voted down - than "voters" means 2/3 of all registered voters for it to count. So if 100 of 300 people actually vote, and 100 say "Aye!", that's a win! But if 100 people out of 300 vote, and they all vote "Nay!", well, see, that don't count, since it's less than 2/3 of all registered voters. So it's a win too!

Did Tom DeLay assist on this little maneuver?

"It's all a matter of perspective, whether you are interested in the next election or the next generation." - unnamed 2nd Lt. Interviewed by Edward R. Murrow, July 11, 1943. From "In Search of Light"

So...which do YOU think the Shiites and Kurds are interested in?

Judicial Nominations

Wow...after scoring what appeared to be a home run with John Roberts, did President Bush slam a foul ball off his noggin with Harriet Miers?

The only problem I had with John Roberts was his dodging on every single question asked of him during confirmation. That was shifty. But overall, he wasn't the fire-breathing Dominionist Bush could have nominated and had a good chance of getting confirmed. (Someone like Roy "Two-Ton Ego" Moore, who is now running for governor of Alabama, and I can't wait for his campaign slogan: "Vote for me - God wants you to!" Or perhaps "A two ton monument in every yard!" Or perhaps, "Rules don't apply to me - I AM Caesar and God.") Roberts may turn out to be a Souter or a Republican version of Souter, but there was nothing really to get him on but party affiliation at the hearings.

Now comes Harriet Miers, and it has some conservatives up in arms - Bill Kristol, Michelle Malkin (who links to several other naysayers) and the people at Power Line, to name a few that have issues with Miers. (Hat tip to The Moderate Voice for those links) The reasons range from "not conservative enough" (she gave money to Al Gore's campaign back in the 80's) to cronyism.

And some Democrats aren't too happy either. Ms. Miers has never been a judge - this HAS happened before in nominations to the Supreme Court, but it gets antennae twitching when it does. It does have more than a whiff of cronyism, especially when you see this: "Harriet worships the president and has called him the smartest man she's ever known." I mean, come on! Admiring is one things, worshiping is another...and never forget, given the plethora of lawsuits aimed at the Bush people, there is a chance should she be confirmed she will be judging one of these cases. Feel secure about her neutrality?

About the only thing Bush may have done is get the religious right behind him - they seem to be hunky-dory with Ms. Miers. Maybe he's consolidating his base, since that's about all he has left. But this could be the cutting off your nose to spite your face move - if it ticks off ALL the other conservatives, what does he gain? (I also see this possibility in the Roy Moore run - could this fracture the Republicans between non-Religious Right conservatives and RR ones?)

Fun times ahead.

Monday, October 03, 2005


William Bennett has managed to stir up a little firestorm:

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --
CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.
BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

Dumb thing to say. Some people have been arguing it's true, which by definition it is - abort every single baby of any ethnic group and crime will go down. Doesn't mean it still wasn't a dumb thing to say. Real dumb.

But from all the blogs I've seen, they've all said that Bennett isn't a racist, and I can believe that. I also believe he, like everyone, does have some racial bias out there, and that may have led him into saying this spur of the moment comment. He's even admitted that the stories of crimes in New Orleans after Katrina (of course, now many of them are being shown to be false or exaggerated - our local paper today ran a story that said there has been no confirmation of shootings at rescue aircraft) was on his mind when he said this:

BENNETT (audio clip): Stories about looting and shooting and gangs and roving gangs and so on. ... I'm sorry if people are hurt, I really am. But we can't say this is an area of American public policy that we're not allowed to talk about race and crime.

(I do note that on the one hand some defenders say it wasn't racial, it was just a comment, but now Bennett specifically mentions race and crime...)

Anyway. Many of the blogs I read are not fans of Bennett's, and you can count me an anti-fan as well. I think he's a moralistic self-righteous wannabe Puritan (unless it's a social problem he actually likes, such as gambling). But you can make a stupid, racial comment and not BE a racist in toto. I fully support calling him out on a stupid statement, but it's a little much to call him a racist.