[+/-] Condi does classical
A humanist, she ain't.
A frail grandmother from Albania could face deportation to the country she left five years ago as Waukesha County tries to avoid having to pay perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars for her medical care.
Second, mock seniors -- as W does in this video (courtesy of AmericaBlog) -- where he criticized a reporter at a news conference by telling the reporter he's acting like a senior because the reporter, according to Bush, has poor memory.
One of the ways -- one of the things that you could say is, the amazing thing is we are been taken over basically by a cult, eight or nine neo-conservatives have somehow grabbed the government. Just how and why and how they did it so efficiently, will have to wait for much later historians and better documentation than we have now, but they managed to overcome the bureaucracy and the Congress, and the press, with the greatest of ease. It does say something about how fragile our Democracy is. You do have to wonder what a Democracy is when it comes down to a few men in the Pentagon and a few men in the White House having their way.
He sees two ways out: a military coup to depose Bush, or an economic meltdown:
There's a lot of anxiety inside the -- you know, our professional military and our intelligence people. Many of them respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as much as anybody here, and individual freedom. So, they do -- there's a tremendous sense of fear. These are punitive people....
Another salvation may be the economy. It's going to go very bad, folks. You know, if you have not sold your stocks and bought property in Italy, you better do it quick. And the third thing is Europe -- Europe is not going to tolerate us much longer. The rage there is enormous. I'm talking about our old-fashioned allies. We could see something there, collective action against us. Certainly, nobody -- it's going to be an awful lot of dancing on our graves as the dollar goes bad and everybody stops buying our bonds, our credit -- our -- we're spending $2 billion a day to float the debt, and one of these days, the Japanese and the Russians, everybody is going to start buying oil in Euros instead of dollars. We're going to see enormous panic here.
Movement on the economic front has already begun. A top Chinese economist said yesterday at the World Economic Forum that his country has lost faith in the stability of the US dollar. Fan Gang, director of the National Economic Research Institute at the China Reform Foundation, said the issue for China isn't whether to devalue the yuan but "to limit it from the U.S. dollar."
"This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed... were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards..."
The answer is in the comments section...
The vibe throughout Pennsylvania Ave. was downright funereal; Bush’s supporters appearing even more defeated and depressed than any of the protesters. My theory is that they didn’t fully realize just how nerve-wracking and demeaning the checkpoints would be ("Buh-buh-but we’re the GOOD guys! Why are you treating US like potential terrorists?!?!" Welcome to the Brave New World, sweetie-pie.) I was reminded of footage I’d seen of peasants in any random banana republic dutifully and joylessly lining the streets as el presidente drove through.
Nor would it report that later it turned bloody:
"We are peaceful!" I shouted. "We are non-violent!" An officer very calmly and deliberately walked up to us, extended his baton, and with all his strength smashed it against the face of the fellow to my right. If you’ve never heard the sound of a billy-club collide with a person’s skull, it is one of most disturbing noises you’re likely to ever hear. It isn’t so much of a crack, really. More of a crunch and a squish. The guy crumbled to the ground beside me spilling puddles of blood all over the sidewalk.... Apparently these cops had been training for the arrival of al qaeda, and when they didn’t show this collection of young American would-be radicals would have to suffice....
Like being trapped in an out-take from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, I watched as well-dressed yuppie couples exited their nightspots and dance clubs and walked out onto blood stained sidewalks into the war zone, obliviously chatting away about meaningless trivial bullshit as people lay cuffed on the streets, helicopters slashed open the air above, and armored shock troops lined the sidewalks.
Welcome to George W. Bush's Amerikkka. You reap what you sow.
A divided Senate Judiciary Committee (news - web sites) on Wednesday approved Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general, rejecting Democratic complaints about his role in formulating administration policies blamed for contributing to the torture of detainees.
On a party-line vote of 10-8, the Republican-led panel sent President Bush (news - web sites)'s nomination of Gonzales to become the nation's highest ranking lawman to the full Senate for anticipated confirmation, possibly as early as next week.
The committee Democrats who opposed all deserve praise: Leahy (VT), Kennedy (MA), Biden (DE), Kohl (WI), Durbin (IL), Feinstein (CA), Feingold (WI) and Schumer (NY).
Democrats MUST hang together in the full Senate to go on record against this bastard. NO ONE who supports him deserves re-election, much less American citizenship.
"With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him."
It seems we need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again....
That battle was about the church's desire to place limits on thought. The Enlightenment wasn't a battle against the state but against the church. Diderot's novel La Religieuse, with its portrayal of nuns and their behaviour, was deliberately blasphemous: it challenged religious authority, with its indexes and inquisitions, on what it was possible to say. Most of our contemporary ideas about freedom of speech and imagination come from the Enlightenment. We may have thought the battle won, but if we aren't careful, it is about to be "un-won"....
The idea that any kind of free society can be constructed in which people will never be offended or insulted, have the right to call on the law to defend them against being offended or insulted, is absurd. In the end a fundamental decision needs to be made: do we want to live in a free society or not? Democracy is not a tea party where people sit around making polite conversation. In democracies people get extremely upset with each other. They argue vehemently against each other's positions. (But they don't shoot.)
BQ: Judy, welcome to you. We were noticing all the snow in Washington. I hope that doesn't put a crimp on anybody's plans.
JB: Well, I have a feeling that maybe it should put a crimp, or at least something should put a crimp in the plans of the White House, to have such a very lavish Inaugural at a time of war.
JB: Yes. What I've noticed is that the worse a war is going the more lavish the Inaugural festivities. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, during a time of war...he had a very modest Inauguration and a very tiny party where he served chicken salad...and that was when we were winning.
JB: When it seems like...Sorry?
BQ: Well...no...I...look...I mean...The President has addressed this hasn't he? He's said that this is a...I believe the quote was that we're celebrating. We're celebrating democracy, we're celebrating a peaceful transfer of democracy...what's wrong with doing that?
JB: Have you noticed any peace or any transfer of democracy in Iraq? If you have, you're the first person to have seen it....?
BQ: I've noticed the elections coming up, and Judy, to be honest with you, I didn't really want to argue politics with you this morning...
JB: Oh really? I thought was allowed to talk about what I wanted to talk about.
BQ: Weh..You certainly...certainly have that right. Let me ask you this--what should they have cut back on?
JB: How about 40 million dollars.
BQ: Alright....well, how would you have planned it?
JB: May I say something...may I say something...may I say something?
JB: We have soldiers who are incapable of protecting themselves in their humvees in Iraq. They have to use bits of scrap metal in order to make their humvees secure. Their humvees are sitting ducks for bombs, and we have a President who is using 40 million dollars to have a party. That's a start.
BQ: Judy, what would suggest for the Inauguration--how would you do it?
JB: How about a modest party, just like FDR. I'm sure you will agree he was a pretty good President with a fine sense of what's appropriate, and what's not, and during a time of war, ten parties are not appropriate when your own soldiers are sitting ducks in very very bad vehicles.
BQ: Well, don't you think that the President has...has given his proper respect to our troops, I mean, yesterday as far as I can tell, the festivities opened with the military gala, they ended with a prayer service, there just seemed to have certainly been a tremendous effort over the past couple of days and more than that, to honor our troops?
JB: Well gee, that prayer service should sure keep them safe and warm in their flimsy vehicles in Iraq. I'd rather see that money going to them rather than to a guy who already is President for a second time...
BQ: Alright...Well, Judy Bachrach, I think we've given you more than your time to give us your point of view this morning.
JB: Well, thanks for having me on.
All human embryonic stem cell lines approved for use in federally funded research are contaminated with a foreign molecule from mice that may make them risky for use in medical therapies, according to a study released Sunday.
Researchers at the UC San Diego and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla report that if the stem cells are transplanted into people, the cells could provoke an immune system attack that would wipe out their ability to deliver cures for diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes.
The finding is a setback to the Bush administration's controversial policy of providing federal funding only for research using a limited number of embryonic stem cell lines already in existence.
Humanists care about the natural world, which we all depend on and which will have to sustain our descendants. Because humanists have no belief in a god or supernatural force that will solve our problems for us, they know humans must take sole responsibility for sorting out environmental problems.
Some religious people think that God created the world and gave humans "stewardship" over it. This is not a belief shared by humanists, who believe that human beings evolved and go on evolving, along with the rest of nature. Others on the far fringe of the religious right see no reason to protect the environment, since the rapture is expected soon:
[M]any Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed -- even hastened -- as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.
Humanists are unlikely to subscribe to deep ecological beliefs about the intrinsic value and superiority of nature. Rather, humanists have a scientific view of the world, and would not automatically blame science and technology for environmental problems. Indeed, it was and is scientists - mainly biologists and ecologists - who notice and monitor environmental problems.
The rise of Christian fundamentalism in America has been indirectly responsible for much of the lasting damage that has been inflicted on the national -- and indeed world -- environment. You might recall in 1981, when President Reagan's first secretary of the interior, James Watt, told the US Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ:
"God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back," Watt said in public testimony that helped get him fired.
Today's Christian fundamentalist politicians are more politically savvy than Reagan's interior secretary was; you're unlikely to catch them overtly attributing public-policy decisions to private religious views. But their words and actions suggest that many share Watt's beliefs.
If you doubt it, consider that nearly half of Congress in 2003 earned nearly perfect approval ratings from the nation's three most influential Christian right advocacy groups, while simultaneously receiving flunking grades from the League of Conservation Voters.
The environmental effect is real. Today's NYT reports, for example, that the US currently ranks 45th of 146 in protecting the environment:
Countries from Northern and Central Europe and South America dominated the top spots in the 2005 index of environmental sustainability, which ranks nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or improving air and water quality, maximizing biodiversity and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems.
Finland, Norway and Uruguay held the top three spots in the ranking, prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities. The United States ranked 45th of the 146 countries studied, behind such countries as Japan, Botswana and the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and most of Western Europe.
The lowest-ranking country was North Korea. Among those near the bottom were Haiti, Taiwan, Iraq and Kuwait....
The rapturistas may not have to wait long. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the official Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told an international conference attended by 114 governments in Mauritius this month that he personally believes that the world has "already reached the level of dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere" and called for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive".
What is especially notable about Pachauri's comments is that he is a Bush guy, appointed to his post after Exxon complained that his predecessor was too "aggressive" on the issue.
In sum, if you care about the environment, you must dethrone the fundies.
As part of the extraordinary army of 13,000 troops, police officers and federal agents marshaled to secure the inauguration, these elite forces were poised to act under a 1997 program that was updated and enhanced after the Sept. 11 attacks, but nonetheless departs from how the military has historically been used on American soil....
The precise number of these Special Operations forces in Washington this week is highly classified, but military officials say the number is very small. The special-missions units belong to the Joint Special Operations Command, a secretive command based at Fort Bragg, N.C., whose elements include the Army unit Delta Force....
[T]he contingency plan, called JCS Conplan 0300-97, calls for "special-mission units in extra-legal missions to combat terrorism in the United States" based on top-secret orders that are managed by the military's Joint Staff and coordinated with the military's Special Operations Command and Northern Command, which is the lead military headquarters for domestic defense.
The FBI is fighting in court to limit how hard it has to search for government documents requested by the public under the Freedom of Information Act, one of the main laws for ensuring openness in government.
"It’s hard to conceptualize what it was like before Roe v. Wade unless you were actually there," Connell says, barely containing her anger. "In the large hospitals, ward after ward was filled with women suffering and dying from botched abortions. In some hospitals, it was the job of the first-year resident to sleep all day, because he would be up all night scraping out the remains of illegal abortions, giving blood to the women who were bleeding, trying desperately to keep them out of shock and treating their infections. This was the norm until we got Roe v. Wade and the New York law that preceded it. I’m very much afraid that the way things are going now, we could go right back to that again."...
"What I remember so clearly—every day and every night—was the constant stream of women coming in for help with their botched abortions. Over time, we saw the patterns," she says. "You got to know pretty quickly who had done the abortion. We knew who was out there," including one man who did 'nice clean abortions,' putting a little red rubber catheter into the uterus to start the abortion. "We also knew the absolute butchers. The women ran the gamut of circumstances, but they kept coming into the Philadelphia hospitals, and we had to deal with them. It made me sick at heart but also very angry."
Roe is 32 years old today. For the humanist take on abortion, please refer to my earlier post.
President Bush is like a financial adviser who tells you that at the rate you're going, you won't be able to afford retirement - but that you shouldn't do anything mundane like trying to save more. Instead, you should take out a huge loan, put the money in a mutual fund run by his friends (with management fees to be determined later) and place your faith in capital gains.
That, once you cut through all the fine phrases about an "ownership society," is how the Bush privatization plan works.
Between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives 19 to 7 on FOX, 10 to 1 on CNN (not including a Republican-skewed panel featuring Ohio voters), and 13 to 2 on MSNBC. Moreover, the rare Democrat or progressive guest usually appeared opposite conservatives, whereas most Republican and conservative guests and commentators appeared solo or alongside fellow conservatives.
As Eric Alterman explains:
In a careful 1999 study published in the academic journal Communications Research, four scholars examined the use of the "liberal media" argument and discovered a fourfold increase in the number of Americans telling pollsters that they discerned a liberal bias in their news. But a review of the media's actual ideological content, collected and coded over a twelve-year period, offered no corroboration whatever for this view. The obvious conclusion: News consumers were responding to "increasing news coverage of liberal bias media claims, which have been increasingly emanating from Republican Party candidates and officials."
The right is working the refs. And it's working. Much of the public believes a useful but unsupportable myth about the so-called liberal media, and the media themselves have been cowed by conservatives into repeating their nonsensical nostrums virtually nonstop.
The lesson [Oliver Wendell] Holmes took from the war can be put in a sentence. It is that certitude leads to violence. This is a proposition that has an easy application and a difficult one. The easy application is to ideologues, dogmatists, and bullies--people who think that their rightness justifies them in imposing on anyone who does not happen to subscribe to their particular ideology, dogma, or notion of turf. If the conviction of rightness is powerful enough, resistance to it will be met, sooner or later, by force. There are people like this in every sphere of life, and it is natural to feel that the world would be a better places without them.
-- Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for History)
Sounds like Holmes was thinking of modern-day reTHUGlican fundies.
On December 2, 2005, the Mall of the States became a victim of a low-tech terrorist attack. In the preceding years malls in Israel, Finland, and the Philippines had been attacked; so far, American malls had been spared. As security professionals knew, this was partly luck; such targets are difficult to protect. In June of 2004, after learning of intelligence reports indicating that the Madrid train bombers had originally planned to strike a suburban shopping area, Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator from New York, called for increased funding to secure U.S. shopping centers and malls. Congress chose instead to focus on defending other targets against more-sophisticated terrorist acts.
The 4.2-million-square-foot mall, located in Minnesota, was globally recognized as the largest entertainment and retail complex in America, welcoming more than 42 million visitors each year, or 117,000 a day. On this day neither the 160 security cameras surveying the mall nor the 150 safety officers guarding it were able to detect, deter, or defend against the terrorists. Four men, disguised as private mall-security officers and armed with TEC-9 submachine guns, street-sweeper 12-gauge shotguns, and dynamite, entered the mall at two points and began executing shoppers at will....
At the same moment, at the Tower Place, in Chicago; the Crystal Place, in Dallas; the Rappamassis Mall, in Virginia; and the Beverly Forest Mall, in Los Angeles, the scene was much the same: four shooters and hundreds of dead shoppers. America's holiday mall shopping effectively ended that day, as customers retreated to the safety of online retail. read more...
"From what we've found... is that we have what appears to be a little yellow sponge that talks like a pervert. When you turn it upside down, there are two unmistakable testicles and a semi-erect penis hanging from its face. Thank Jesus that children are not watching this program standing on their heads, or we'd all be in trouble."
At a black-tie dinner for members of Congress and political allies to celebrate the election results, Dobson said that
...SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video,"... The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."... "We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids," he said. "It is a classic bait and switch."
"The only knock against Howard Dean is that he's seen as too liberal," Mr. Maddox said. "I'm a gun-owning pickup-truck driver and I have a bulldog named Lockjaw. I am a Southern chairman of a Southern state, and I am perfectly comfortable with Howard Dean as D.N.C. chair."
"What our party needs right now is energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to do things differently," he said. "I think Howard Dean brings all three of those things to the party."
You know the country has become radicalized when Dean, a pro-gun fiscal conservative, is perceived as "liberal".
For generations, Parisians have known that the Eiffel Tower is a portal to hell, and have left unsuspecting tourists prey to Satan's sinister minions who enter our world through a secret trap door under the tower. "People frequently say they leave the tower changed, and they do. The demons sometimes take people back down with them, but more often they suck their souls and leave the bodies to climb back down in a daze and carry out their evil missions," says Jacques Boudreau, visibly shuddering.
"History aside, the almost universal opinion that one's own religious convictions are the reasoned outcome of a dispassionate evaluation of all the major alternatives is almost demonstrably false for humanity in general. If that really were the genesis of most people's convictions, then one would expect the major faiths to be distributed more or less randomly or evenly over the globe. But in fact they show a very strong tendency to cluster...which illustrates what we all suspected anyway: that social forces are the primary determinants of religious belief for people in general. To decide scientific questions by appeal to religious orthodoxy would therefore be to put social forces in place of empirical evidence..."
-- Paul Churchland, Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
Canon Professor Robin Gill, a chief adviser to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said people should not be prosecuted for helping dying relatives who are in pain end their lives....
"There is a very strong compassionate case for voluntary euthanasia," Gill told The Observer . "In certain cases, such as that which involved Diane Pretty [the woman who was terminally ill with motor neurone disease and who campaigned for the right to be helped to die], there is an overwhelming case for it."
This position conforms to what most humanists -- myself included -- support. Humanist concern for quality of life and respect for personal autonomy lead to the view that in many circumstances voluntary euthanasia is the morally right course under the proper circumstances, including extreme pain and suffering; helplessness and loss of personal dignity; and permanent loss of those things which have made life worth living.
To postpone the inevitable with no intervening benefit is not a moral act. Indeed, there is no rational moral distinction at all between allowing someone to die and actively assisting them to die in these circumstances: the intention and the outcome (the death of the patient) are the same in both cases, but the more active means is probably the more compassionate one.
Some religious people maintain that there is a moral distinction between acts which cause death (active euthanasia) and omissions which cause death (passive euthanasia), only the second being morally permissible. I think they've got it the wrong way round, because the first is quicker and thus kinder for everyone involved, though both are probably painless for the patient.
“Don’t take on the Bushes” is becoming an unwritten rule in American journalism. Reporters can make mistakes in covering other politicians and suffer little or no consequence, but a false step when doing a critical piece on the Bushes is a career killer.
So my question is why isn't failure within his own administration considered a fireable offense?
1. Memogate: The Senate Computer Theft
2. Doctor Detroit: The DOJ's Bungled Terrorism Case
3. Dark Matter: The Energy Task Force
4. The Indian Gaming Scandal
5. Halliburton's No-Bid Bonanza
6. Halliburton: Pumping Up Prices
7. Halliburton's Vanishing Iraq Money
8. The Halliburton Bribe-apalooza
9. Halliburton: One Fine Company
10. Halliburton's Iran End Run
11. Money Order: Afghanistan's Missing $700 Million Turns Up in Iraq
12. Iraq: More Loose Change
13. The Pentagon-Israel Spy Case
14. Gone to Taiwan
15. Wiretapping the United Nations
16. The Boeing Boondoggle
17. The Medicare Bribe Scandal
18. Tom DeLay's PAC Problems
19. Tom DeLay's FAA: Following Americans Anywhere
20. In the Rough: Tom DeLay's Golf Fundraiser
21. Busy, Busy, Busy in New Hampshire
22. The Medicare Money Scandal
23. The Bogus Medicare "Video News Release"
24. Pundits on the Payroll: The Armstrong Williams Case
25. Ground Zero's Unsafe Air
26. John Ashcroft's Illegal Campaign Contributions
27. Intel Inside ... The White House
28. Duck! Antonin Scalia's Legal Conflicts
30. Iraq: The Case for War
31. Niger Forgeries: Whodunit?
32. In Plame Sight
33. Abu Ghraib
34. Guantánamo Bay Torture?
Could these scandals account for the findings of the latest Annenberg poll?
There ARE in fact many “Atheists in foxholes” who have served and are serving our country proudly, in all branches of the armed forces. In fact, nearly thirty million Americans do not profess a religious belief. This group includes many people who describe themselves as Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists or with other appellations.
Isn’t it time that we acknowledged and saluted them?
[I]t now appears the warming from greenhouse gases has been offset by a strong cooling effect from dimming - in effect two of our pollutants have been cancelling each other out.
This means that the climate may in fact be more sensitive to the greenhouse effect than previously thought.
If so, then this is bad news, according to Dr Peter Cox, one of the world's leading climate modellers.
As things stand, CO2 levels are projected to rise strongly over coming decades, whereas there are encouraging signs that particle pollution is at last being brought under control.
"We're going to be in a situation unless we act where the cooling pollutant is dropping off while the warming pollutant is going up.
"That means we'll get reducing cooling and increased heating at the same time and that's a problem for us," says Dr Cox.
Even the most pessimistic forecasts of global warming may now have to be drastically revised upwards.
That means a temperature rise of 10 degrees Celsius by 2100 could be on the cards, giving the UK a climate like that of North Africa, and rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable.
Membership in the Washington-based American Humanist Association has jumped 5 percent since the election and 15 percent since January to reach the 7,000 mark.
The Secular Coalition for America has grown its lobbying fund from $8,000 a year ago to $50,000 today. At $100,000, the group intends to hire a lobbyist and possibly an administrative staffer.
At the Los Angeles-based Atheist Alliance International, donations in November 2004 outpaced those of the prior three months put together as donors, apparently troubled by President Bush's re-election, began giving in four- and five-figure amounts.
First they came for the terrorists, and I did not speak out --
because I was not a terrorist;
Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out --
because I was not a Muslim;
Then they came for the atheists, and I did not speak out --
because I was not an atheist;
Then they came for the Democrats, and I did not speak out --
because I was not a Democrat;
Then they came for me --
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I am a father, and I find this to be literally sickening. The last thing I would ever do to my four wonderful kids is crush their free will, and train them to obey (quickly), and not think for themselves. WTF is this asshole thinking? Sir, are your children mere automatons?
A bit of advice to new parents from a veteran parent: if you want to maximize the chance that your child will fall prey to a cult, teach them like Bradley. When your children are older, and all they know how to do is obey, they will: to the first "leader" that comes along. David Koresh and Jim Jones and their ilk do not find their recruits among critical thinkers, be they atheists, scientists, or even Christian humanists.
You must teach children how to think for themselves. Yes, fundies, this will increase the chance that they may reject your religion. So what? What are you afraid of? That your beliefs will not stand up to scrutiny? If so... perhaps your beliefs are wrong.
In an attempt to defend his decision to accept $240,000 from the Bush administration in return for promoting the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education law, Armstrong Williams has claimed that he always supported the policy. But in 2001, he strongly criticized the administration's decision to drop private school vouchers from NCLB, even touting this criticism on television and going so far as to write in his nationally syndicated column that by dropping the voucher provision, Bush had "scooped out" the legislation's "soul."...
According to a Media Matters search, Williams mentioned No Child Left Behind in only one article prior to accepting the money to promote the law in December 2003 -- and specifically praised NCLB in at least five columns since....
D'Oh! Hannity, Limbaugh, and every other conservative pundit should be asked a simple question: "Are you now taking, or have you ever taken, money from the administration for a favorable op-ed piece?"
Scientists say... [t]hey have pinpointed crucial differences in a gene found in rhesus monkeys that can prevent HIV infection, and its human counterpart, that cannot.
It appears that only a single change to the human gene is needed to enable it to block HIV infection.
The scientists say their work indicates that HIV would not have become established in the human population if mankind carried the same version of the gene found in rhesus monkeys.
Bush himself is neither an evangelical nor a fundamentalist Christian. Take it from someone who knows. A good and decent family-values fundamentalist Christian would not allow his daughters to drink all night with Secret Service agents, appear in public in tight pants with their boobs hanging out, hair uncombed, and allow gays to work for him. A good and decent family-values evangelical Christian would not allow his wife to smoke and drink (Laura professes to taking sneak smokes and to enjoying Margaritas with her friends). Bush’s “Christianity,” like all of Bush, is a fraud, a fake, a mask, a political tool. He is no more a Christian than my pet rock. (Ashcroft, now there is a Christian for you. Not my type of Christian, mind you, but at least the man walks the walk. He covers bare breasts on statues with drapes. Bush’s daughters let theirs hang out.)...
Before [November 2], I never thought we had evil in the White House. Those of you who hated Nixon, Johnson, and Clinton will look more kindly on them when you watch a puppet for Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson try to destroy your life. In a couple of years, we will all be longing for the moderation of a Rehnquist Supreme Court. You think weapons of mass destruction was a lie? Wait until you hear the lies that will be told in the name of religion. Wait until Bush tells you that God told him that all Unitarians or Jews who don’t “accept” Jesus can’t get a passport. Wait until he tells you that AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and more are God’s way of punishing you for sins past. Wait until he tells you that if God meant for you to have health insurance he would have given you a job to pay for it. I know this will come to pass because this is what they believe. This is what they say. This is what they do.
Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, and I am asking for your vote....
That word -- 'values' -- has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.
We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party -- and the vast majority of Americans -- together.
Go Howard go!
In response to news of the death of over one hundred thousand Asians drowned by the December tsunami, Americans swiftly raised $18 million towards the ultimate goal of $40 million ... to pay for the several lavish parties that will follow George Bush's inauguration on January 20....
The privately-funded inaugural celebration organization had considered inviting a family of survivors of the tsunami as a gesture of sympathy, but the idea was rejected, said Weinot, as "kind of a downer." She noted, however, that leftover food will be donated to Washington area soup kitchens.
Meanwhile, Dan Thomasson asks some important ethical questions about the whole affair:
Wouldn't it have been appropriate for the president to declare a moratorium on the usual outpouring of merriment surrounding his swearing-in? Wouldn't it have been far more seemly to ask that money raised for that purpose be added to the huge amount already donated to tsunami relief efforts? What would have been wrong with just a simple inauguration in the Capitol Rotunda followed by a compassionate speech and a few fireworks?
[T]he memorandum represents the administration's latest legal salvo to overturn judicial interpretations that have prevailed since the Supreme Court last spoke on the Second Amendment, in 1939. Although scholars long have noted the ambiguity of the 27-word amendment, courts generally have interpreted the right to "keep and bear arms" as applying not to individuals but rather to the "well-regulated militia" maintained by each state.
In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gambling habit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.
In my bad novel, crusaders for moral values will be driven by strange obsessions. One senator's diatribe against gay marriage will link it to "man on dog" sex. Another will rant about the dangers of lesbians in high school bathrooms.
In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan "support the troops" to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor....
Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.
How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel?
LEAHY: "Does U.S. law allow for torture, in your opinion?"
GONZALES: "Bush has already said there won't be any torture."
LEAHY: "That's not what I asked. In your opinion, does U.S. law allow for torture?"
GONZALES: "That's a hypothetical question that I won't answer."
LEAHY: "U.S. law. Torture."
GONZALES: "That involves a lot of complex law that I don't know."
Did you catch that? He doesn't know the law.
Two memos written or ordered by Gonzales in his role as the president's chief legal adviser, are at the heart of this questioning. In January 25, 2002, a memo to President Bush from Mr Gonzales asserted:
"I note that you have the constitutional authority to make the determination you made on January 18 that the [Geneva Convention] does not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taleban."
"...this is a new type of warfare - one not contemplated in 1949 when the [Geneva Convention] was framed - and requires a new approach in our actions towards captured terrorists."
"You should be aware that the Legal Adviser to the secretary of state (Colin Powell) has expressed a different view."
That the US would continue to be constrained by its commitments to treat detainees humanely, by applicable treaty obligations, by minimum standards of treatment universally recognised by the nations of the world and by applicable military regulations regarding the treatment of detainees.
On August 1, 2002, Jay Bybee, an official at the justice department and now an appeals court judge, wrote a 50-page memo at the request of Mr Gonzales. In that memo, Mr Bybee asserted:
"Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
"Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of battlefield combatants would violate the constitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president."
That if certain interrogation methods "crossed the line" of the US anti-torture laws, soldiers or US officials might defend themselves from prosecution if "the threat of an impending terrorist attack threatens the lives of hundreds if not thousands of American citizens".
Josh Marshall asks a good question: "What if Gonzales had had some roughly equivalent position in Argentina or Chile in the late 1970s? Would he have faced subsequent legal vulnerability and/or consequences?"
[T]he most noble aspect of scientific inquiry is that it is self-correcting. In fact, in science skepticism is a virtue. In religion it's a vice. In other words science welcomes opposition, but religion avoids it. Religious institutions condemn those who disagree but science thrives on open debate.
This illustrates the major difference between scientific evolution and fundamentalist creationism. Creationists don't care about facts. They only want to convince the world that God exists, that the Bible is infallible and that they are right.
I've believed for a long time that the main philosophical difference between naturalists and supernaturalists is the importance of evidence.
Imagine that it were possible to prove beyond all doubt that a god really did exist. Scientists, being concerned with empirical evidence, would eventually accept it. Now imagine the reverse: if we proved beyond all doubt that a god did NOT exist, do you think supernaturalists would accept it? Of course not. Evidence (i.e. facts) are simply not as important as belief. This is why "intelligent [sic] design" rings so hollow: it isn't concerned with evidence.
You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore....
How are you to believe Mr. Gonzales when he says he's through with torture? His mission is clearly to do whatever he thinks Mr. Bush wants.
All gall is divided into parts, so what's next?
The Commerce Department nominee promising that giveaways to big business will be done with subtlety?
The Environmental Protection Agency nominee promising that the toxin content in water will never rise to Yushchenko level?
It's comforting to start the new year in the hands of a party that cares so much about morals and values.
One morning years ago, when I was working as a resident, a nurse brought me in to talk to a pregnant girl. When I walked into the room, there was this child -- an 11-year-old. She had come in for a procedure, and it soon became obvious that she had no understanding of sex -- she didn't really understand that she'd even had it, or that it had any connection to her pregnancy. We literally had to teach this girl about what it means to have sex -- about STDS, abstinence, and pregnancy. I remember thinking: In a world where people don't want kids to learn about these things, how can you not give them the choice to terminate a pregnancy? Even if she had chosen to continue the pregnancy and opt for adoption, what would that have done to her own childhood? How can we not provide a child with any education about sex, then force her to become a parent long before she's ready?
Humanists respect life and value happiness and personal choice, so they (I include myself here) would likely agree with this physician's rationale. Because humanists take happiness and suffering into consideration, they tend to be more concerned with the quality of life than the right to life, if the two come into conflict. The probable quality of life of the baby, the woman, the father and the rest of the family, the doctors and nurses involved, would all have to be given due weight. There is plenty of room for debate about how much weight each individual should have, but most humanists would probably put the interests of the woman first, since she would have to complete the pregnancy and probably care for the baby, whose happiness would largely depend on hers. She also exists already with other responsibilities and rights and desires which can be taken into account - unlike those of the unborn fetus which cannot be so surely ascertained.
[I]t is now becoming a commonly spoken sentiment on the right to wish for violence against liberals and to simultaneously suggest they and all "traitors" (including Muslim Americans) should be locked away....
Now, you won't hear this talk on the upper levels of the conservative movement.... You hear it when conservatives -- especially those red-state cultural conservatives from the working class who are most likely to vote against their own self-interest, and then blame liberals for how lousy their lives are -- get together among themselves for their communal liberal-bashing hatefests. They'll say it when they think no one else is listening. You can hear it from "fringe" radio figures like Michael Savage. Or you can read it in the unpublished letters to the editor that most publications choose not to run....
My very clear impression of the rank-and-file American right is that many if not most of them, at the behest of their leaders, now believe that opposing George W. Bush and the Iraq War, as well as his handling of the War on Terror, is an act of genuine treason worthy of the ultimate social condemnation, including incarceration and execution. They feel not only vindicated but profoundly empowered by the election result, empowered to silence their opposition, by force if need be.
I absolutely agree that eliminationism is on the rise in America, but only on the right; I know of no lefties writing about how all the wingnuts are traitors and demanding that they be shot. But those wingnuts, damn. Tom Corbett, for example, equated a vote for Kerry as equivalent to treason. Or check out this post by Adam Teiichi Yoshida from 2003:
The enemy we are facing has several columns. Of these, the fifth is the strongest.... In these days of danger, the old divisions of party and ideology have become almost meaningless. There are but two parties now: patriots and traitors. Active opposition to this war is treason, and nothing less.
Note how anyone who dissents is an enemy: not wrong-headed, not stupid, an enemy. You don't compromise with enemies: you rout, defeat and kill them. That is exactly what Yoshida suggests:
Sometimes I think that the treason is so deeply ingrained in our society that nothing short of martial law, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the repeal of Posse Comitatus will do. Sometimes I think that we will need to think to the Revolution, where Tories and other traitors were dealt with harshly by a righteous people.... This is too important to be dealt with civilly. Civility will bring us only defeat.... [W]e need to drive anti-war sentiments underground by making it difficult to be anti-war. For example, if you know for a fact that the owner of a small business is opposed to the war, look for ways to hurt that specific small business.
Yesterday I reported the news that Bush Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries. World War II had the Japanese Internment; will the "War on Terra" have an "Muslim Internment?" If so, do you doubt that a "Liberal Internment" would follow?
"God is angry with Aceh people, because most of them do not do what is written in the Koran and the Hadith," the collected sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, explained Cut Bukhaini, 35, an imam. "I hope this will lead all Muslims in Aceh to do what is in the Koran and its teachings. If we do so, God will be merciful and compassionate."Fundie christians:
"The Biblical proportions of this disaster become clearly apparent upon reports of miraculous Christian survival. Christian persecution in these countries is some of the worst in the world." Eight of the 12 countries hit -- Malaysia, Burma, Bangladesh, Somalia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, he says -- "are among the top 50 nations who persecute Christians."
Fascinating how fundies of different religions think alike, isn't it? Check out what that corrupt rat bastard Tom DeLay had to say during a live C-SPAN telecast of the 109th Congressional Prayer Service from a church on Capitol Hill yesterday:
Matthew 7:21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?
23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
29. For he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as the scribes.
So what are you saying, Tom? You are thankful that there are 150,000 dead? Fucker.
On a related note, check out what the religious right values voters are doing for tsunami victims.
A dozen high-ranking retired military officers took the unusual step yesterday of signing a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing "deep concern" over the nomination of White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general, marking a rare military foray into the debate over a civilian post. The group includes retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The officers are one of several groups to separately urge the Senate to sharply question Gonzales during a confirmation hearing Thursday about his role in shaping legal policies on torture and interrogation methods....
Other prominent signatories to the letter include retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former chief of the Central Command; former Air Force Chief of Staff Merrill A. McPeak; and Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy, the Army's first female three-star general.
Wow! These guys must really hate America! How dare they criticize our glorious leader!
This letter arrives on the heels of news that Bush Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries.
You hear that giant sucking sound? It is your civil liberties -- your freedom -- being taken away.
As much as we can say in social science that something is impossible, it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote counts in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.
Let the debate end here. Bush was never elected. Not in 2000. Not in 2004.
If you follow hate-filled sites such as Free Republic, you know that the populist right in this country has been advocating nuclear holocaust and mass bloodshed for more than a year now. The militarism and nationalism dwarfs anything I saw at any point during the Cold War. It celebrates the shedding of blood, and exhibits a maniacal love of the state. The new ideology of the red-state bourgeoisie seems to actually believe that the US is God marching on earth – not just godlike, but really serving as a proxy for God himself.
Along with this goes a kind of worship of the presidency, and a celebration of all things public sector, including egregious law like the Patriot Act, egregious bureaucracies like the Department of Homeland Security, and egregious centrally imposed regimentation like the No Child Left Behind Act. It longs for the state to throw its weight behind institutions like the two-parent heterosexual family, the Christian charity, the homogeneous community of native-born patriots.
In the ranks of the new conservatives... I see and experience much hate.... There appears to be a large number of Americans who are prepared to kill anyone for George Bush.
The Iraqi War is serving as a great catharsis for multiple conservative frustrations: job loss, drugs, crime, homosexuals, pornography, female promiscuity, abortion, restrictions on prayer in public places, Darwinism and attacks on religion. Liberals are the cause. Liberals are against America. Anyone against the war is against America and is a liberal. "You are with us or against us."...
Like Brownshirts, the new conservatives take personally any criticism of their leader and his policies. To be a critic is to be an enemy. I went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision when I wrote that the US invasion of Iraq was a "strategic blunder."
It is amazing that only a short time ago the Bush administration and its supporters believed that all the US had to do was to appear in Iraq and we would be greeted with flowers. Has there ever been a greater example of delusion? Isn’t this on a par with the Children’s Crusade against the Saracens in the Middle Ages?
"My professor told me that you have to be careful not to get too much education, because you could lose your foundation, your core values."...
What will happen to higher education in America if this fear of "too much education," and this presumption that liberal views are the devil's snare rather than natural consequences of uncensored exposure to science, philosophy, literature and diversity, becomes widespread?
It seems true: the best-educated, most-informed people in the world overwhelmingly reject the religious wingnut version of reality.
In 1914, psychologist James H. Leuba conducted a landmark survey of belief among scientists. Leuba found that the majority of a randomly selected scientist doubted the existence of god. In 1998, the Nature repeated Leuba’s survey. The results are summarized here:
1914 1933 1998
Atheist 52% 68% 72%
Agnostic 21% 17% 21%
Believer 27% 15% 7%
Doubt is highest among National Academy of Science biologists (95%). Physicists come in a close second (93%). Mathematicians scored the lowest (86% -- still pretty high).
As many as 5,000 Americans are still unaccounted for a week after the world's deadliest tsunami pounded a dozen countries across the Indian Ocean, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
We find it meaningless to invoke God in the good times; we find it both meaningless and cruel to invoke him in the bad.
Atheists don't expect life to be fair, except insofar as we make it so. Look at nature: Does anything within it correspond, except by merest chance, to the human conception of justice? Is there any reason, discernible in nature, to expect that it should?
Atheists fight disaster with penicillin and iodine, with airlifted rice and, proactively, with seismic early-warning networks. This is not to say that believers reject such methods--on the contrary, they tend to be quite charitable about them. We unbelievers, though, hold that in life there is no reckoning--save the one we create for ourselves. The good is here, and now--or never. We embrace nature, in all its unfairness, and seek to change it. We hold that the height of human purpose is to redress the wrongs of mere nature, to bring it--at least as far as humans are concerned--into accord with the justice we imagine.
The religious are victims. I don’t hate them or want to hurt them, I feel sympathy for them. I reserve my contempt for the vehicles of their infection, the church, the evangelists, the entire nasty cultural edifice that raises people to identify with their affliction.
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