Friday, December 30, 2005

Militantly Moderate

From The Moderate Voice, I found this website and its call for Militant Moderates. I agree wholeheartedly. It is the job, the responsibility and possible even the sacred duty (and I don't exaggerate much) in these times for moderates to point out that the other side of the debate DOES have points and DOES have reason in some of their arguments, even if you don't agree with their reasoning. This doesn't mean, of course, that you have to say both sides are right, or that neither side is. Nor does this mean that every argument from the other side must be admitted to have points in every case. However, the ongoing demonization by the conservatives/liberals of the liberals/conservatives is inimical to a democratic way of thinking - it doesn't offer solutions, it offers ultimatums, and any admission of fact or reason for the other side is seen as a traitorous act by many. It's also appealing because it appeals to the people who don't want to think about things - much easier to decide that where an idea comes from determines its rightness. Call it thought racism - instead of the color of skin being the deciding factor, it's the political leaning.

Report From the Field

(With apologies to Bull Moose, who uses this kind of format)


The following tape was brought to the home offices of Satire News Services and dropped off. We have no information about the man who left it, other than he was tall, dressed in a dark coat, and had horns and a tail.

The tape transcription follows:

"Allies, infidels, and enemies of Christianity! Fellow brethren, I bring you the end of year report on the War on Christmas!"

(loud cheering)

"Before I begin, let us start with the traditional chant to our Gods."

(thirty minutes of chanting follows)

"...and all worship Eris, hail Discordia, and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster's tendrils wrap us in his noodly goodness. And now for the end of year report!

"It was a good year for the war on Christmas and, in extension, the war on Christianity. Several of our agent provocateurs succeeded brilliantly in our agitprop. We must thank Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson especially for their lies and disproven gossip, which led to much suspicion about the motives of the so-called protectors of Christmas and set back Christmas to the point of near expiration in many communities across the nation." (Loud applause, cheers, and chants of Gib-son, Gib-son, Gib-son)

"We must also mention the stellar cooperation we received from many megachurches, who elected to shut down on Christmas Day. This one act of placing convenience and attendance figures over the birth of their Savior did more to cast cynicism and doubt over churches than all our previous attempts such as The DaVinci Code, South Park and even The Book of Daniel. Sometimes you just get lucky in this line of work, I guess." (laughter)

"Hollywood also continues to be our ally, with movies like Brokeback Mountain doubtlessly causing many children across the nation to turn gay - and you will notice Christmas was never mentioned in it either in a subtle attack not mentioned. While there were some regrettable lapses - The Passion of the Christ and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe come to mind - the movie arena is still ours. We expect Hollywood to convert everyone to an anti-Christian by the year 2010." (cheers)

"We must single out one member for his idea of stirring a war over the greetings 'Merry Christmas' and 'Happy Holidays'. While people starved, froze and died in need of charity and help, Christians of all stripes chose to focus their attention over the difference between syllables uttered at Wal-Mart and Target by someone paid less than minimum wage. I cannot think of another case of missing the forest for the trees since Pope Benedict elected to blame gay priests for the sexual abuse scandals - kudos!

"We have some existing hopes for the new year as well. With polarizing figures such as Roy Moore announcing a run for governor of Alabama, the upcoming debate about whether Easter Eggs are really a tool to kill Christians by high cholesterol, and the old stalwarts Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson ready to make a laughing stock of religion, we are confident that we will close even more churches, temples and mosques next year than we did this year, even without the help of the IRS. Onward, colleagues - we will destroy religion soon!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Have Ladle, Will Travel


Trays were best item on menu

by Satire News Service

Today, in a surprise visit to Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appeared in a dining hall and served dinner to soldiers, making his total number of days in Iraq close to double digits. According to the soldiers present, Mr. Rumsfeld was an excellent server and very cordial. "In fact, I think that should be his new job," stated one soldier who asked to remain anonymous.

However, there were some problems during the days. The first one, a major faux pas, was when Mr. Rumsfeld wished "Happy Holidays" to several soldiers at the beginning of his ladle duties, thereby incurring the wrath of Bill O'Reilly and many others. Luckily, he was alerted to this error, and spent the rest of his time wishing people Merry Christmas instead. "I didn't notice," said Private James Leibowitz. "Seemed okay to me," stated Corporal Omar Duballah.

The next problem happened when the soldiers started to eat the meal. There were several complaints about the quality of the food, ranging from raw meat to watery gravy. Mr. Rumsfeld was visibly upset by all the complaints, and said heatedly, "Hey, you don't go to dinner with the menu you want. You go to dinner with the menu you have. And besides, if the food is so bad, why has everyone come back for seconds?"

"These trays are great!" responded Harold Cumin, banging on one for emphasis. "Me and my buds, we're gonna get as many as we can and solder it unto our Humvee. We're calling it the 'Lunch Wagon', ha! As soon as we get the better armor we were promised, we'll give the trays back."

The final, and most embarrassing incident, happened when one soldier realized that they were in an area around Tikrit, where Mr. Rumsfeld had claimed chemical weapons had been stored during the war with Iraq. He began making jokes about how people better watch what was in the salt shakers, saying the powdered sugar was really anthrax, and others jokes like that. Thankfully, Mr. Rumsfeld chuckled and even laughed out loud during the man's routine.

"Of course I'm laughing," he said. "I can laugh at myself, can't I? And besides, I control where that man goes next."

Democrats were quick to decry Mr. Rumsfeld's trip as a photo op and staged, even holding a press conference to claim they had at least three people in Congress who were much more proficient at wielding a ladle. When asked for names, they promised to get back to us later.

I'm Back - Did You Miss Me?

Well, after a break, I feel ready to start blogging again.

It's been a hectic Christmas season. My son's preschools all let out, so I had him all day, which cuts down on the time I can have to myself. He's gotten really good at opening the fridge and turning on water faucets, so leaving him alone for long lengths of time isn't the best idea. Add to that a fairly long bout with stomach viruses, and a trip to the emergency room for a crack on the head, and there's some of the reasons.

Also, my brilliant wife passed a business certification test which had required much study time on the computer, and also got accepted into an online MBA program as well. A late congrats to her, and I love you babe.

But I'm back now - and to whatever readers I still have, I thank you for your patience, and ask that you start leaving a few comments. I'll answer them as often as I can.

Saturday, December 03, 2005



"...this whole 'Happy Holidays' thing made me," says Jesus.

by Satire News Service

In a burst of incense-smelling smoke and accompanied by a Heavenly choir singing hymns, Jesus Christ came back to Earth today, which was quite a surprise for the Jews and many other religions. He agreed to be interviewed by our news service immediately.

SNS: ""

Jesus Christ: "Please. I put on my shirt the same way you do - after I get it over my halo! Ha!"

SNS: "Well, first off, I gotta say, you look nothing like James Calavizel."

JC: "Eh, I would have preferred Leonardo DiCaprio, but you know Hollywood - I couldn't even get a cowriter credit on the film."

SNS: "Well, I guess I better ask this question right off: Are we in the End Times? Do we need to be on the lookout for an evil Romanian?"

JC : "What, that tale? Nah, the people you need to watch out for are the Sumerians. Them guys are tricky."

SNS: "I don't think there are any Sumerians left, though."

JC: "That won't stop them."

SNS: "So, why did you come back? Is it a statement about gay marriage? Or the treatment of the poor? Is it to show the world the true way, or to redeem people?"

JC: "No, I came for a more important reason, the most critical need the world faces."

SNS: "Yes?"

JC: "The removal of Merry Christmas greetings - the whole 'Happy Holidays' thing made me come back."

SNS: (stunned silence)

JC: "Well, come on, can YOU think of anything else I should pay attention to beside two words?"

SNS: "Well..."

JC: "I mean, if known Christians like Jerry Falwell and Bill O'Reilly are upset about it, I have to be as well! Can you think of two more important, moral, saintlike beings than these two?"

SNS: "Um..."

JC: "So I've decided to come back to Earth and spread the word - by God, you better say Merry Christmas around this time of the year. Forget good works, forget helping the poor, forget charity, forget everything else. You don't say Merry Christmas, by gum, you're going to Hell."

SNS: "Um, I don't mean to sound doubting..."

JC: "That's okay, some of my best apostles doubted."

SNS: "I guess it sounds very, well, superficial. I mean, Happy Holidays is all inclusive, yes, but the sentiment of well wishing is there. Merry Christmas is the same thing but only targeted at one religion - Christians. Not to mention distilling your views of Christianity down to how you greet someone seems quite shallow."

JC: "Duh!"

SNS: "Um. Even ignoring that, it seems very shallow and selfish to demand a particular greeting to correspond to your own beliefs. I mean, if the Jews demanded Happy Hanukkah, wouldn't that seem a little selfish?"

JC: "Of course it would. But this is different - it's Christians doing the demanding."

SNS: "So Christians should be allowed preference here?"

JC: "It's all to the good here, which is why I support all those people who demand stores say Merry Christmas. I mean, where else can you find the spirit of Christmas but in stores?"

SNS: "Wasn't there something you said about "Render unto Caesar that which is chasers, and unto God's what is God's"?"

JC: "Well, yes, but I didn't say Wal-Mart, did I? And besides, Caesar was a Republican anyway."

SNS: "Why does that matter?"

JC: "Well, I guess I'll go ahead and spill the beans - the Republican Party and I have worked out a deal. I now formally support all their goals and actions. I mean, they've been claiming Me for so long I figured I'd go ahead and make it official. Don't want to embarrass them.

SNS: "So you and the Republican party agree on everything?"

JC: "Damn right! If you read between the lines of the New Testament, it clearly states I'm for tax cuts, invading Iraq, and the Ten Commandments on every wall space across the country! I don't know how people have gotten this whole 'help the poor, turn the other cheek, don't be a show off about your religion' idea. Strange.

SNS: "Well, once you've gotten the whole Merry Christmas deal taken care of, what will you do next?"

JC: "Well, I intend to follow the Republican path to success. I'm starting up the INRI Lobbying Agency on K street soon."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bible Study?

Alabama Democrats will soon call for Bible Literacy to be offered as an elective high school class. The idea is that knowing about the Bible will make understanding much literature easier.

Well, you can't argue about that. Several pieces of literature directly reference the Bible and allude to it. On the other hand, in all my literature classes, the few times I didn't recognize a reference the teacher pointed it out. A separate class wasn't called for.

I do have my suspicions about the motives of the Democrats. I would be willing to lay money that should some teacher start, I dunno, preaching instead of teaching, that would be okay to many of the people calling for this. On the other hand, if it was JUST teaching, that wouldn't be wrong. At least one religious right group doesn't like the textbook, which seems to imply it's not a religious tool disguised as education, a la IDiocy. Of course, it could always just be that the book doesn't go far enough for these people.

It's an interesting idea though, with me having leeriness about how it's to be implemented. From some of the sample pages given in the above site, the book does seem to encourage questions about the Bible, which if it's being taught as a source (and not THE Source) it should. I am open to see where it goes, while nervous about the central idea of this course being hijacked by true believers.

The press

Now that the press has printed another negative story about Iraq - the paid propaganda - how long will it be before some people say the press wants us to lose, is in a vendetta against Bush, is liberal, anti-military, all of that? And is it true?

My answer to the first question - I would guess not too long at all.

The second question goes to the basic idea about the press - does it print any and all stories, or only ones that further a political position? If only certain stories can be printed, then it's not a free press, by choice or by edict. If it's a free press, it will end up printing stories that hurt the current party in power. (That, to me, would be its main job as a matter of fact - showing the grit and grime of the powerful.) If a certain story hurts a certain power, or the military, them's the breaks.

Another question that should be asked is: SHOULD the press not print certain stories if it would hurt the party in power or the military in a war? I would hope we can rule out stories that are badly sourced and questionable (Koran abuse), i.e. stories that shouldn't be printed anyway, but we've seen these stories out there. They shouldn't have been. But other stories, more fully sourced and, shall we say, TRUER ones that hurt the military or a party in power during a war, such as this propaganda one, the abuse stories...should they be printed?

Of course.

The fact the story isn't printed doesn't make it disappear. Especially nowadays, a story will get out through several sources. Would it be of any help for the American public to be kept in the dark over Abu Gharib or propaganda, when the story is out elsewhere? We all know some fruitcakes who insist that Jews were behind 9/11 or something equally as insane, and we all view these people with at best mockery and at worst contempt, since they choose not to believe the facts. You can't believe the facts unless you know the facts, though, and we'd look just as stupid by claiming Abu Gharib didn't happen or that there is no propaganda in Iraq.

Perhaps instead of blaming the press for revealing these things, we should blame the people DOING these things. Just a thought.


Yes, more propaganda from the Bush Admin, but this time not in the United States, surprisingly.

Is it a big deal? As Andrew Sullivan says, perhaps the simple fact we're using it isn't. It's war, and propaganda has been used in all wars, ranging from the chest-thumping accounts of heroic stands that embellish some facts (see Jessica Lynch), to lies told to keep a good image going (see Pat Tillman), to stats mangled and twisted (see body counts in Vietnam) to outright lies (see Baghdad Bob). So perhaps the mere use of it isn't, and all it's doing is telling the story from one side (you know, just like that damned LIBERAL media does).

What does hurt us is now that this story is out, people can look at good news from Iraq papers and wonder if it's real. (I just know that someone is going to say this proves the press is anti-American since they revealed it, more on this later.) The mirror image of Abu Gharib abuse cases making the false Koran stories more believable, here the tilted stories will make real stories more doubted. The fact that the stories had been labeled as written by independent journalists and that we paid the Iraqi papers to run these stories add some more layers as well - not only was the news slanted, it was slanted by intention and acts - this isn't accidental bias, it was meant this way. It also certainly taints the idea of a honest press in Iraq, which can't help at all.

This tactic may have been used in all wars, but nowadays I question whether or not it can work. It's a tactic that, especially nowadays, is more risky, given the worldwide nature of news and easier access to it, as Sullivan points out, and also specifically given that the Bush Admin. has been caught with its hands in the tilting public opinion cookie jar many times now. Once bitten, twice shy; once lied to, always doubted. We don't seem to have a good handle on how to use propaganda well, and you have to ask can propaganda like this work now, excepting countries like China and North Korea? Or is it more likely to backfire and sow doubts, both about any future stories and about how the U.S. is handling Iraq?

Is this another example of the Bush people not knowing how to handle the post-war phase? I have to say yes. Also, notice the fairly incestuous route taken to get the propaganda out - the good ol'boy network ain't doing a good ol' job.