Archive for the ‘Christian_Taliban’ tag
How Mike Huckabee Imagines the World
I wasn’t going to write anything about the horrific events in Newtown, CT, but Christian Taliban propagandist Mike Huckabee has really enraged me with his illogical bloviating.
Steve Benen of Maddowblog has the video and transcript:
Neil Cavuto said that many invariably ask after tragedies like this, “How could God let this happen?” Huckabee responded:
“Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? [...]
“You know, God wasn’t armed. He didn’t go to the school. But God will be there in the form of a lot people with hugs and with therapy and a whole lot of ways in which I think he will be involved in the aftermath. Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.”
So, by Huckabee’s reasoning, the separation of church and state is at least partially responsible for a gunman killing 26 people, including 20 children. There are a few problems with such a perspective.
Theologically, many Christians believe God is omnipresent, and can’t be “systematically removed” from anything. For that matter, there’s very little in the Christian tradition that suggests God punishes children when constitutional law hurts His feelings.
Politically, Huckabee’s comments — seeking to exploit a violent tragedy to push a bogus cultuyre war agenda — are reminder that the former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate occasionally just isn’t a nice guy.
(click here to continue reading This Week in God – The Maddow Blog.)
According to Huckabee’s reasoning, if the children had sacrificed a virgin goat that morning, god would have taken time out of his busy schedule picking which football teams win, and whatever else he occupies his time with, and stopped the massacre. God may omnipotent, but he is apparently also petulant. “No goat sacrifice in my name today? Then thou shall die by the hands of a nut job with a high-powered gun.” As any student of history realizes, Christians, even devout Christians, are not immune to violence.
So nice of Mr. Huckabee to blame the victims for not praying harder, after they are shot to death. I blame the NRA instead. They are actually on this earth, and from my perspective, as culpable in the murders as any other entity.
which leads me to the second point I’d like to make: namely that the corporate media is complicit with their shameless and breathless reporting whenever a slaughter occurs. Where is the same sort of hyperventilating when ten people were shot just last night in Chicago? Unfortunately, a fairly typical number of shootings for 21st century Chicago.
Watch Your Damn Mouth
Roger Ebert said it more eloquently:
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
(click here to continue reading Elephant :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.)
But these aren’t reasonable times. Some right-wingers are urging the Senate to reject the treaty, saying it’s a plot by one-world-government bureaucrats to undermine American independence. Rick Santorum, the former senator and Republican presidential candidate, called it a “Pandora’s box” that could lead to the United Nations making medical decisions for disabled children like his daughter Bella, whom he brought into a Senate hearing room last week while he made his point.
Mr. Santorum, having fallen far from his moment in the electoral sun, has found a new platform at the conspiracy-mongering right-wing Web site WorldNetDaily. That was where he wrote a column condemning language in the treaty requiring that actions concerning disabled children be taken in the “best interests of the child.”
Rick Santorum Lashes Out At Disability Treaty – NYTimes.com
Lots of verbiage has been spewed regarding the VP debates, and to be honest, there are very few voters who choose a president based on what a Veep says or doesn’t say. However, there was one statement that really bothered me, a secular person, and bothered others too, like The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik:
But beyond the horseshit something genuinely disturbing and scary got said last night by Paul Ryan that is, I think, easily missed and still worth brooding over. It came in response to a solemn and, it seemed to some of us, inappropriately phrased question about the influence of the Catholic Church on both men’s positions on abortion. Inappropriately phrased because legislation is made for everyone, not specially for those of “faith.” (And one would have thought that, at this moment in its history, the Catholic Church would not have much standing when it comes to defining the relationship between sexual behavior and doctrinal morality. However few in number the sinners might be, the failure to deal with them openly casts doubt on the integrity of the institution.)
Paul Ryan did not say, as John Kennedy had said before him, that faith was faith and public service, public service, each to be honored and kept separate from the other. No, he said instead “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.” That’s a shocking answer—a mullah’s answer, what those scary Iranian “Ayatollahs” he kept referring to when talking about Iran would say as well. Ryan was rejecting secularism itself, casually insisting, as the Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan put it, that “the usual necessary distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.” And he went on to make it quietly plain that his principles are uncompromising on this, even if his boss’s policy may not seem so:
All I’m saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that, therefore, doesn’t change the definition of life. That’s a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. Our system, unlike the Iranians’, is not meant to be so total: it depends on making many distinctions between private life, where we follow our conscience into our chapel, and our public life, where we seek to merge many different kinds of conscience in a common space. Our faith should not inform us in everything we do, or there would be no end to the religious warfare that our tolerant founders feared.
(click here to continue reading Of Babies and Beans: Paul Ryan on Abortion : The New Yorker.)
The Founders of the United States were not infallible, they made several mistakes1 but one thing they were very clever about was removing religion from the state. I don’t want to live in Saudi Arabia, or 19th century Poland, or The Vatican, or anywhere where the law of the land is dictated by religious law. Paul Ryan very seriously intoned that if he were in charge, he would throw out 250 years of American tradition, and turn us into a Catholic-based theocracy, a scary place where the Pope would be in charge of our laws. If that isn’t a reason to vote for Biden-Obama, I don’t know what is.
one other thought, Mitt Romney’s religion is even more draconian – no alcohol, no caffeine, no contraceptives, etc. Is Romney ok with turning the US into a Mormon Republic?Footnotes:
- at least to our modern society’s norms – slavery, rights of women to vote, rights of non-property owners, etc. [↩]
Maureen Dowd says what many, many have been saying recently re: Todd Akin and his party of mouth-breathers.
Other Republicans are trying to cover up their true identity to get elected. Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother.
Paul Ryan, who teamed up with Akin in the House to sponsor harsh anti-abortion bills, may look young and hip and new generation, with his iPod full of heavy metal jams and his cute kids. But he’s just a fresh face on a Taliban creed — the evermore antediluvian, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-gay conservative core. Amiable in khakis and polo shirts, Ryan is the perfect modern leader to rally medieval Republicans who believe that Adam and Eve cavorted with dinosaurs.
In asserting that women have the superpower to repel rape sperm, Akin ratcheted up the old chauvinist argument that gals who wear miniskirts and high-heels are “asking” for rape; now women who don’t have the presence of mind to conjure up a tubal spasm, a drone hormone, a magic spermicidal secretion or mere willpower to block conception during rape are “asking” for a baby.
“The biological facts are perhaps inconvenient, but whether the egg meets the sperm is a matter of luck or prevention,” says Dr. Paul Blumenthal, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who directs the Stanford Program for International Reproductive Education and Services. “If wishing that ‘I won’t get pregnant right now’ made it so, we wouldn’t need contraceptives.”
When you wish upon a rape.
Dr. Blumenthal is alarmed that Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
“What is very disturbing to me is that people like Mr. Akin who have postulated this secret mechanism for avoiding pregnancy have developed their own make-believe world of science based on entirely self-serving beliefs of convenience or just ignorance,” he said. “I don’t think we want these people to be responsible for the lives of others.”
But, for all the Republican cant about how they want to keep government out of the lives of others, the ultraconservatives are panting to meddle in the lives of others. Contrary to President Obama’s refreshing assertion Monday that a bunch of male politicians shouldn’t be making health care decisions for women, this troglodyte tribe of men and Bachmann-esque women craves that responsibility.
(click here to continue reading Just Think No – NYTimes.com.)
Todd Akin – Christian Taliban by Ben Sargent 120821
Akin isn’t some outlier in the GOP, he’s just voicing what most of his colleagues have the political sense not to mention on television. He shouldn’t be forced out of the election for his views, but he shouldn’t be elected either. However, the odds are still 50-50 he’ll win; there are a lot of Missouri Christian Taliban who believe exactly what Akin and the GOP do – namely that the government should be in charge of a women’s body.
The GOP convention in Tampa is going to codify this outrage, as Jodi Jacobson explains:
As of today, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan may find themselves in a wee bit of a bind.
For the past two days, the pair have been running around trying to assure the press and ultimately women voters that they really do believe in “real rape,” not just “legitimate rape,” that they are not as misogynistic as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, and that, of course, a Romney-Ryan Administration would never eliminate rape and incest exceptions for abortion.
And, now it appears that, all the while, the people really in charge of the GOP—fundamentalist anti-choicers among them—have been writing a party platform that not only makes all of that a lie, but is in effect a promise to make the personhood of fertilized eggs the law of the land.
The draft official platform strongly supports a “a human life amendment” to the Constitution:
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the draft platform declares. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Let’s be very, very clear that such an amendment—which Mitt Romney has said unequivocally he would sign—would not only criminalize abortions of any kind for any reason, but also would outlaw many forms of contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and treatment of pregnant women with life-threatening conditions such as cancer. Moreover, it would also criminalize miscarriage.
(click here to continue reading As Romney and Ryan Dissemble, RNC Prepares Radical Anti-Choice Platform Based on Personhood | RH Reality Check.)
Zion Illinois, a Christian theocracy, sounds like hell on earth, at least to me. Why would anyone want to live there? Maybe there’s more to Zion than just the repression and hypocrisy, but I’d never want to find out.
As in other Chicago suburbs, Zion leaders struggle to provide services with less money, dealing with shrinking budgets, employee layoffs and declining tax revenue. But officials also remain beholden in some ways to the city’s colorful, religion-centric past.
Called “Mayberry-esque” by one business investor, Zion is home to residents who can still recall praying twice daily when a bell tolled. They live on streets named after biblical figures and landmarks, such as Gabriel, Hebron and Ezekiel avenues.
And in trying to balance a community’s history with modern economic development, perhaps no issue is more fraught with controversy than alcohol sales. In Zion, liquor has been sold under strict parameters since voters ended the local prohibition in 2004.
Zion was among the last suburban holdouts as a dry community. Even Wheaton — college alma mater of evangelist Billy Graham — overturned its prohibition on alcohol in 1985 after much controversy.…
Yet ever since the 1998 closing of Zion’s nuclear power plant — once dubbed the “golden goose” by Harrison — officials have tried to replace the millions in lost revenue. They have enjoyed mixed success, aided by the addition of alcohol sales that opened the door to chain restaurants and a hotel that caters to Zion’s largest employer, the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center.
(click here to continue reading Zion officials struggle with brewery proposal – chicagotribune.com.)
a small bit of history:
JOHN ALEXANDER DOWIE was born in Edinboro’ Scotland on May 25, 1847 and received his religious conviction — while singing a hymn from a street pulpit in that city — at age seven. His family emigrated to Australia when he was thirteen; there he attended seminary and held a number of pastoral positions in the Congregational Church before resigning the last to become a full-time non-denominational evangelist in 1878.
As a young man he experienced a healing from chronic indigestion which he attributed to divine intervention; this led to his growing activity as a faith healer and ultimately to the foundation of his International Divine Healing Association. He left for the United States in 1888, and after two years on the Pacific coast moved to Evanston, Illinois. During the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 he led healing services in a large tabernacle across the way from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
…Following a decade of legal wrangling with the Chicago authorities, between 1899 and 1901 Dowie secretly bought ten square miles of lakefront land 40 miles to the north and founded a true American theocracy: Zion, Illinois. Here people could — and would — live sinless lives in conditions approximating (as nearly as possible) those obtaining after the Millennium. Whether the New Jerusalem’s citizens will, in fact, be summoned to worship by steam whistle remains to be seen; but they were in Zion.
…Dowie owned everything personally, although settlers were offered 1,100-year leases (i.e., 100 years to usher in the Kingdom and 1,000 for Christ’s millennial reign — after that, seemingly, you were on your own). The leases specifically forbade gambling, dancing, swearing, spitting, theaters, circuses, the manufacture and sale of alcohol or tobacco, pork, oysters, doctors, politicians — and tan-colored shoes. The city police carried a billy club on one hip and a Bible on the other; their helmets were adorned with a dove and the word “PATIENCE.” At the height of his power and influence, Dowie was worth several million dollars and claimed 50,000 followers, 6,000 of whom lived in Zion City.
In 1901 Dowie proclaimed himself “Elijah the Restorer” and began to wear High-Priestly robes. This caused many disciples to fall away; the subsequent decrease in income combined with the expenses of building Zion marked the beginning of Dowie’s slide into bankruptcy. It was at this time that rumors of his polygamous teaching and activities, use of alcohol, and extravagant lifestyle began to gain currency, not only in the world, but also within the Church
(click here to continue reading John Alexander Dowie | Evangelist – Biography | Zion City, Illinois.)
…and since business decisions are secondary to interpretations of Christian doctrine, Zion is not a home of the free…
Finally, the businessmen were referred to the Planning and Zoning Board, which would review their original request to rent space within the former lace factory. The 385,000-square-foot brick building was one of the first businesses Dowie opened in Zion, which was incorporated in 1902.
Dowie’s early designs for the city are woven throughout Zion’s fabric, and they have continued to court controversy over the years.
“He would roll over in his grave because of the liquor. Other than that, I think he’d be fairly impressed,” said Commissioner Jim Taylor, citing the city’s attempts to preserve buildings such as Dowie’s original home, the Shiloh House.
By 1903, Dowie had attracted newcomers to his Christian utopia from Southern states and elsewhere around the world, with many hoping that he could heal them of disease. He had gained notoriety for his faith healing during Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and found an international audience with a publication, “Leaves of Healing.”
He opened a wood-frame hotel where new residents lived until their houses were built. The hotel is long gone, but a gold dome was salvaged and is about to be repainted by a local business, Coral Chemical Co.
In 1990, city leaders were forced to drop the Zion corporate seal, which included a cross, a dove and a crown, after a federal court found it to be an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.
Well-known atheist Rob Sherman took the city back to court over the seal last fall, after city Commissioner Shantal Taylor resurrected it in an ad for a community event.
Taylor promised Judge James Zagel she wouldn’t use the seal again. She continues, though, to frame her personal vision for Zion within a Christian context.
“I really believe that great things are going to happen in Zion again,” said Taylor, opposed to the brewery. “If we go by a saying, ‘History repeats itself,’ then Zion is in for one heck of a repeat because this city was created to bring the God of gods glory.”
(click here to continue reading Zion officials struggle with brewery proposal – chicagotribune.com.)
Joan Walsh articulates what I wondered earlier - how can the Catholic Church claim non-profit, tax-exempt status when they are so overwhelming partisan? and joining the ranks of the Christian-Taliban Republicans? ewww. Social justice be damned I guess, the Church flock might be using condoms! The horror! The horror!
And at Sunday Mass, bishops and parish priests throughout the nation read aloud the stunningly political letters about the controversy they already had planned. Now, with the bishops’ blessing, Republican are hard at work on legislation that would force HHS to strip the contraceptive coverage requirement for all employers, not just religious employers. Sen. Roy Blunt would allow employers to decline to cover any service they deem objectionable; Sen. Marco Rubio would restrict the legislation to contraception coverage.
I have a couple of reactions to the bishops’ extremism. First of all, as someone raised Catholic, I wonder why they’ve never read letters about any of their social justice priorities: universal healthcare, increased protection for the poor, labor rights, or action to curb climate change? Why does this topic – not even the morally challenging issue of abortion, but the universally accepted practice of birth control – merit such a thundering reaction from the pulpit?
Second, as an American, I also wonder: How do they continue to demand tax-exempt status when they’re railing in their churches about blatantly political – and divisively partisan – public concerns? As the first writer on my remarkably sane Catholic tribalism letters thread remarked, their public support for the extremist GOP position makes me think they should register as a Republican political action committee rather than remain a tax-exempt religious institution outside the bounds of politics.
I’ve written repeatedly that my inability to quit the Catholic Church entirely comes from the fact that its social teachings formed my social conscience, and to this day some of the people doing the most good for the poor and the excluded are devout Catholics. But the bishops are impossible to defend. Today, they are working on behalf of the Republican Party. “They have become the Pharisees,” says Andrew Sullivan, a conservative practicing Catholic. “And we need Jesus.”
(click here to continue reading The bishops go off the deep end – Catholicism – Salon.com.)
The Economist writes that, in balance, Susan G Komen for the Cure of Anti-Choice Women Only might be the loser in their misguided war against half (or more?*) of the women in the US.
It’s a cynical thing to say, but I suspect this might cost Susan G. Komen more than it does Planned Parenthood. The former has long been criticised for sugar-coating or even commercialising breast cancer. See Barbara Ehrenreich’s 2001 essay “Welcome to Cancerland” for an elegant indictment:
What has grown up around breast cancer in just the last fifteen years more nearly resembles a cult—or, given that it numbers more than two million women, their families, and friends—perhaps we should say a full-fledged religion. The products—teddy bears, pink-ribbon brooches, and so forth—serve as amulets and talismans, comforting the sufferer and providing visible evidence of faith. The personal narratives serve as testimonials and follow the same general arc as the confessional autobiographies required of seventeenth-century Puritans: first there is a crisis, often involving a sudden apprehension of mortality (the diagnosis or, in the old Puritan case, a stem word from on high); then comes a prolonged ordeal (the treatment or, in the religious case, internal struggle with the Devil); and finally, the blessed certainty of salvation, or its breast-cancer equivalent, survivorhood.
Planned Parenthood, by contrast, serves several million people a year; mostly women, but also men. The bulk of its activities are focused on contraception, STI screening, and cancer screening, and it places a particular emphasis on providing reproductive health care to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access. They also provide abortions, which are controversial, obviously, but legal, obviously. And insofar as access to contraception and other family-planning services reduces the demand for abortion, Planned Parenthood also prevents abortion. In my view, it is an important part of civil society. Even from a pro-life position, I would think it qualifies: being pro-life is a coherent moral position, and not one that necessarily implies a lack of concern for women’s health. So I really don’t understand why Planned Parenthood gets so much grief from the right. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I understand what the complaints are, but I’m not really convinced. Last year, for example, Kathryn Jean Lopez published an admiring interview with Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist. Among other things, Ms Johnson said that Planned Parenthood should be defunded:
Planned Parenthood is an organization that does not provide quality health care. Our tax money should go to organizations that provide comprehensive care to women, men, and children. There are better uses of our money. Planned Parenthood provides shabby, limited health care. Why would we want women to get some health care when they can go to a different clinic, other than Planned Parenthood, and receive total health care? That makes some sense—Planned Parenthood doesn’t focus on comprehensive health care—but what clinics is she talking about? The emergency room? Crisis pregnancy centres?
(click here to continue reading Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood: The rift | The Economist.)
Kaiser Health’s blog, of all places, has a pretty good roundup of national media coverage on the dustup, including articles from the NYT, LA Times, NPR, AP, Texas Tribune, and others.
And Mollie Williams, former top public health official at the organization, resigned in protest. I guess she isn’t one of the three sources Jeffrey Goldberg spoke with…
But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no-investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) I’ve tried to reach Handel for comment, and will update this post if I speak with her.
The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board’s decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants. Williams declined to comment when I reached her yesterday on whether she had resigned her position in protest, and she declined to speak about any other aspects of the controversy.
But John Hammarley, who until recently served as Komen’s senior communications adviser and who was charged with managing the public relations aspects of Komen’s Planned Parenthood grant, said that Williams believed she could not honorably serve in her position once Komen had caved to pressure from the anti-abortion right. “Mollie is one of the most highly respected and ethical people inside the organization, and she felt she couldn’t continue under these conditions,” Hammarley said. “The Komen board of directors are very politically savvy folks, and I think over time they thought if they gave in to the very aggressive propaganda machine of the anti-abortion groups, that the issue would go away. It seemed very short-sighted to me.”
(click here to continue reading Top Susan G. Komen Official Resigned Over Planned Parenthood Cave-In – Politics – The Atlantic.)
Kudos to Ms. Williams…
*I was looking for reliable statistics regarding how many American women are pro-choice, and haven’t found the stats yet. I suspect more than half of women (and men) support a women’s right to control her own body, but as always, a loud-mouthed minority drowns out the consensus. 40%-50% of the eligible voters vote in most election opportunities, and of those, the 20% who are rabidly anti-choice seem to set policy. ACORN, NPR, PBS, and Planned Parenthood all have felt the GOP Christian-Taliban wrath, with various degrees of success in fighting it.
Following up on the recent discussion of where germs reside in airplanes and airports, especially this part:
People get bunched up in lines, where there is plenty of coughing and sneezing. Shoes are removed and placed with other belongings into plastic security bins, which typically don’t get cleaned after they go through the scanner.
A National Academy of Sciences panel is six months into a two-year study that is taking samples at airport areas to try to pinpoint opportunities for infection.
With limited resources, airports and airlines have asked researchers to help figure out where best to target prevention, said Dr. Mark Gendreau of Boston’s Lahey Clinic Medical Center who is on the panel.
Check-in kiosks and baggage areas are other prime suspects in addition to security lines, he said.
what about a film plot that basically works off of this fact? Imagine – Christian evangelicals develop some deadly bacteria or virus, some variant of Ebola, for example, and these Christian End-of-Worlders smear their shoes, coats, and computers with it. When they take their shoes off and place them through the security line, the deadly toxins spread, and infect the next 200 people who go through this same security line. Can you just imagine if a whole plane full of people died mid-flight?
The hero could of course track the source back, but what then?
Tangentially related, Charles Mann and Bruce Schneier think the TSA is a joke:
To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest. Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed just 17 people on American soil, all but four of them victims of an army major turned fanatic who shot fellow soldiers in a rampage at Fort Hood. (The other four were killed by lone-wolf assassins.) During that same period, 200 times as many Americans drowned in their bathtubs. Still more were killed by driving their cars into deer. The best memorial to the victims of 9/11, in Schneier’s view, would be to forget most of the “lessons” of 9/11. “It’s infuriating,” he said, waving my fraudulent boarding pass to indicate the mass of waiting passengers, the humming X-ray machines, the piles of unloaded computers and cell phones on the conveyor belts, the uniformed T.S.A. officers instructing people to remove their shoes and take loose change from their pockets. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”
(click here to continue reading Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer? | Culture | Vanity Fair.)
Looking Up- Texas Capitol Building Austin
Baffles my mind that such an ignorant, government-hating hypocrite as Rick Perry is considered Presidential material. Also, remember those quaint old days when politicians honored the intent of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and considered Church and State separate entities? Wouldn’t it be pleasant to have some secular humanists in charge for a change, instead of these Christian Taliban fools?
Anyway, Rick Perry is hosting a Christian-only indoctrination camp in Houston which is decidedly anti-secular. Anti-humanity, in fact. Read on:
In early August, Texas Republican governor and possible presidential candidate Rick Perry will host a prayer summit at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The event, dubbed “The Response” and funded by the American Family Association (which was labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center), is designed to combat the economic, political, and spiritual crises facing the United States by returning the nation to its Biblical roots. The Response’s website proclaims, ”There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.” And in a video message Perry sent out this week, he noted, “I’m inviting you to join your fellow Americans for a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our nation.” Perhaps Perry should have clarified what sort of “fellow Americans” he meant, for at this event only Christians will be allowed to share the podium with Perry.
Since the event was first announced in early June, organizers have suggested that it would be a great opportunity to convert non-Christians. Now, they’ve gone even further: According to an email blasted out by The Response, only Christians will be permitted to speak at the non-denominational event. If representatives of other faiths (particularly Muslims) were to be included, the email noted, such inclusion would promote “idolatry.” In a message sent out under The Response’s official letterhead, Allan Parker, one of Perry’s organizers, described the event in less-than-ecumenical terms:
This is an explicitly Christian event because we are going to be praying to the one true God through His son, Jesus Christ. It would be idolatry of the worst sort for Christians to gather and invite false gods like Allah and Buddha and their false prophets to be with us at that time. Because we have religious liberty in this country, they are free to have events and pray to Buddha and Allah on their own. But this is time of prayer to the One True God through His son, Jesus Christ, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
With this prayerfest, Perry is associating himself with rather radical folks. The American Family Association’s issues director, for instance, has said that gays are “Nazis” and that Muslims should be converted to Christianity. Another organizer, Doug Stringer, has said that 9/11 was God’s punishment for the nation’s creeping secularism. And then there’s Jay Swallow, whose endorsement is trumpeted on The Response’s website, and who runs “A Christian Military Training Camp for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America” (his description). Consequently, it’s not much of a mystery why only one of the nation’s other 49 governors has so far accepted Perry’s invitation to attend the event (Perry invited all of them)—arch-conservative Sam Brownback of Kansas.
(click here to continue reading Rick Perry’s Christians-Only Prayerfest | Mother Jones.)
I do wonder how the organizers of this summit will screen potential visitors. Will they check their genitals for signs of circumcision? Will they float potential ticket holders in the water to see if they float? Curious.
Tax breaks for 6,000 year old Earthers is a travesty. Tax breaks for any religious organization is absurd, actually, but especially for the Christian Taliban who want to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and institute a theocracy in its stead.
On Dec. 1, Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear announced that the state would provide tax incentives to support the construction of Ark Encounter, a sprawling theme park on 800 acres of rural Grant County. Under Kentucky’s Tourism Development Act, the state can compensate approved businesses for as much as a quarter of their development costs, using funds drawn out of sales-tax receipts. It’s a considerable sweetener to promote development and jobs.
But in this case, say critics, it may pose a constitutional problem. The developers of Ark Encounter have close ties to a Christian ministry called Answers in Genesis, which promotes “young-earth” creationism—the belief that the account of creation provided in Genesis is scientifically accurate and that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
More seriously, civil libertarians’ are concerned that the park would involve an unconstitutional advancement of religion. But over the past two decades federal law has moved toward nondiscrimination against religious organizations. This began with the “charitable choice” provisions in Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform package, which sought to allow religious groups to receive government-funded social services. The trend continued with the Bush administration’s promotion of faith-based initiatives, which the Obama administration has extended in barely modified form. The constitutional argument therefore seems tired, supporting a form of discrimination that the government is abandoning in other quarters.
Should the promotion of tourism be subject to this kind of discrimination? The legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has stated that he objects to the park receiving state funds because it “is about bringing the Bible to life.” But why is that different, legally speaking, from Disneyland bringing Pirates of the Caribbean to life? At what point did the planners of Ark Encounter go too far in their concerns for religious authenticity?
(click to continue reading Wilfred M. McClay: Rebuilding Noah’s Ark, Tax-Free – WSJ.com.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite the outcry, Kentucky gives in to these fanatics.
Mark Twain’s will stipulated that his autobiography not be released until 100 years of his death, in 1910. Curious as to what new nuggets will be revealed.
Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.
The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.
That milestone has now been reached, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain’s autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on the quintessentially American novelist.
(click to continue reading After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all – News, Books – The Independent.)
Speculation about the contents:
One thing’s for sure: by delaying publication, the author, who was fond of his celebrity status, has ensured that he’ll be gossiped about during the 21st century. A section of the memoir will detail his little-known but scandalous relationship with Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, who became his secretary after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. Twain was so close to Lyon that she once bought him an electric vibrating sex toy. But she was abruptly sacked in 1909, after the author claimed she had “hypnotised” him into giving her power of attorney over his estate.
Their ill-fated relationship will be recounted in full in a 400-page addendum, which Twain wrote during the last year of his life. It provides a remarkable account of how the dying novelist’s final months were overshadowed by personal upheavals.
“Most people think Mark Twain was a sort of genteel Victorian. Well, in this document he calls her a slut and says she tried to seduce him. It’s completely at odds with the impression most people have of him,” says the historian Laura Trombley, who this year published a book about Lyon called Mark Twain’s Other Woman.
And the Texas State Board of Education will probably stop teaching Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in Texas classrooms, because Mark Twain had opinions of his own, opinions that the Christian Taliban won’t like:
Another potential motivation for leaving the book to be posthumously published concerns Twain’s legacy as a Great American. Michael Shelden, who this year published Man in White, an account of Twain’s final years, says that some of his privately held views could have hurt his public image.
“He had doubts about God, and in the autobiography, he questions the imperial mission of the US in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. He’s also critical of [Theodore] Roosevelt, and takes the view that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. Twain also disliked sending Christian missionaries to Africa. He said they had enough business to be getting on with at home: with lynching going on in the South, he thought they should try to convert the heathens down there.”
The Christian Taliban, that is.
AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.
The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.
In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.
Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.
[Click to continue reading Texas Conservatives Win Vote on Textbook Standards - NYTimes.com]
For all of the charms of Texas1, the power of the Christian Taliban over Texas politics is certainly in my top five reasons for moving away. There are just too many of these anti-21st century, anti-intellectual, anti-free thinking radicals in positions of authority. The Texas Board of Education is an elected position, and the Texas Board of Education believes in a 6,000 year old Earth, hence the majority of voters in Texas also believe2 that humans rode around on dinosaurs. Scary, scary people.
George W. Bush was an honorary member, at the least, but the current Governor of Texas is a founding member of the Texas Flat Earth Party of the Christian Taliban. And Governor Good Hair is about to be elected for a third term. The will of the people indeed, just not people I wish to affiliate with.
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”3
They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel.Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
I wouldn’t be sad if Texas actually did secede, as long as there is a bullet train that goes to Austin so I can visit family.Footnotes:
- and there are quite a few [↩]
- or don’t care [↩]
- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. [↩]
A few interesting links collected December 23rd through December 29th:
- Fun phrases in Latin – Ridiculum sum, ergo sum
- Glenn Greenwald – Karl Rove: Champion of “traditional” divorce – [he ] engineered multiple referenda to incorporate a ban on same-sex marriage into various states’ constitutions in 2004 in order to ensure that so-called “”Christian conservatives” and “value voters” who believe in “traditional marriage laws” would turn out and help re-elect George W. Bush. Yet, like so many of his like-minded pious comrades, Rove seems far better at preaching the virtues of “traditional marriage” to others and exploiting them for political gain than he does adhering to those principles in his own life:Karl Rove granted divorce in Texas
Animated stereoviews of old Japan ::: Pink Tentacle – In the late 19th and early 20th century, enigmatic photographer T. Enami (1859-1929) captured a number of 3D stereoviews depicting life in Meiji-period Japan.
A stereoview consists of a pair of nearly identical images that appear three-dimensional when viewed through a stereoscope, because each eye sees a slightly different image.
[ Right Turn Ahead]
In June, [The Weekly Standard] was handed from one conservative billionaire, [Rupert] Murdoch, to another, Philip F. Anschutz, for about $1 million, according to an executive close to Mr. Murdoch who spoke anonymously because the terms of the deal were meant to be confidential. The new ownership comes at a time when conservatism, especially the version espoused by The Standard involving American muscularity to spread freedom abroad, is not in the ascendancy.
Mr. Anschutz, who made his billions in oil, real estate, railroads and telecommunications before turning to media, is more closely aligned with Christian conservatism, a thread not associated with The Standard.
Staff members say Mr. Anschutz, who has visited the magazine’s Washington offices once since buying it, did not meet with the staff as a whole. He instructed the two top editors — William Kristol, who last year was also a columnist for The New York Times, and Fred Barnes — not to alter the publication’s ideological complexion.
and second, for purchasing a crowd-sourced news web site, NowPublic
Examiner.com, a media company controlled by the conservative billionaire Philip F. Anschutz, said on Tuesday that it had acquired NowPublic, an innovative Web site for citizen-generated media.
With the sale, Examiner.com, a unit of Mr. Anschutz’s Clarity Digital Group, became the latest company to show interest in a lively corner of the Web: the tools that let people read and share the news around them, sometimes down to neighborhood blocks.
[for instance, this photo of mine was used by a NowPublic user]
The Weekly Standard does not interest me, except in abstract terms, ((liberals would do well to at least have a vague idea of what the latest conservative talking points are)) but NowPublic’s users have used dozens1 of my photos in various articles over the four years of their existence. Not a huge number, but at least ten that I noted. I don’t want my photography to be anywhere close to any corporation owned by Philip Anschutz.
Who is Phil Anschutz you might ask? Well, for starters, from his Wikipedia entry:
Anschutz, a Republican donor and supporter of George W. Bush’s administration, has been an active patron of a number of religious and conservative causes:
Helped fund Colorado’s 1992 Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn local and state laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation.
Helped fund the Discovery Institute, a think tank based in Seattle, Washington that promotes intelligent design and criticizes evolution. 
Supported the Parents Television Council, a group that protests against what they believe to be television indecency.
Financed and distributed Christian films, such as Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for mass audiences through his two film production companies and ownership of much of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains. In addition, as a producer Anschutz reportedly required the removal of certain material related to drug use and sex in the 2004 film Ray because he found it objectionable.
Financed The Foundation for a Better Life.
There’s more, but that was enough for me to send an email to NowPublic co-founder Michael Tippett, asking
In light of super conservative Republican Philip Anschutz purchasing your company, how do I go about removing my photos from the various stories they’ve been used on?
Cheers, and hope you haven’t been fired, or forced to take a loyalty oath to the anti-evolutionary forces
If I get a response, I’ll add it to this post.Footnotes:
- or more, I stopped keeping track [↩]
The Republican Party standard bearers are such a strange1 species. They would love to destroy our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and institute a theocracy in America. I call them the Christian Taliban2. To whit:
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who recently urged his fellow party members to dig in their heels and create a Waterloo for the president. “It would break him,” DeMint added appealingly.
DeMint is an increasingly influential voice in the Republican Party, and he is now regarded as a potential Republican presidential nominee in 2012. This is partly because of his new book, “Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America’s Slide Into Socialism,” and partly because almost all the other potential Republican presidential nominees have been sidetracked by lively sex scandals. At present, DeMint does not seem to have a sex scandal, although if he ever comes up with one, I promise to remind you that in his last campaign he said that openly gay people and unwed pregnant women should not be allowed to teach in public schools.
[Click to continue reading Gail Collins - The Health Care Sausage - NYTimes.com]
What century is this DeMint jerk-off living in? The 13th? Does he want to burn the unwed pregnant women at the stake? His Virgin Mary was supposed to be an unwed pregnant woman, would DeMint be happy burning his alleged savior on a cross?Footnotes: