Monday, October 30, 2006

The Eleventh Commandment:
Thou Shalt Be Ignorant


Over on Leitmotif, Ergo was having a discussion about Human Perfection, and how while it is possible for man to obtain such a state insomuch as we understand it to be so from a certain perspective, others who come at life from the view of "man as fallen" or "man is wrong" conceive of standards of probability and impossibility. His take is quite nicely put, but I wish to follow the lines of argument on a more practical plane, as I tend to think in terms of practicality, or obvious and immediate application as such.

The reason I bring it up is because, in reading his post, my mind reacted to certain "tangents," shall we say, and thought I'd expound upon some of the thoughts and ideas this caused to happen in my mind.

1. Man Was Created Perfect in God's Image:
No, no, no, not that I believe this, but it is one of the "standards" to which a Christian (mostly literal, fundamentalist ones) which eventually leads them down the road to the "fall" of man, or the insertion of the "sin" nature that prevents man from ever re-attaining his so-called perfect status within the realm that they believe their god intended. In a nutshell, god created man in his image (woman as an after-thought from a supposed spare rib [which in turn begs how a creature created perfectly could still be so when missing a rib]) and thus, in all ways possible in the realm of earth and its reality, man was, indeed, perfect. But, this perfection, as it were, left much to be desired, as anyone can tell from a simple, short reading of the Genesis account. So let's start with a definition of perfect,shall we?

Perfection: 1 : the quality or state of being perfect : as a : freedom from fault or defect : FLAWLESSNESS
Free from fault or defect. I think anyone would allow for that as a perfectly reasonable working definition, wouldn't you? But, then, if god created such a perfect man in his image, how was man able to be duped by so silly and naive a trick as the snake going, "Hmm-hmm, doesn't that fruit look yummy?" Now one could argue that, as Eve was made from only a rib, and Adam had the audacity to be created from scratch, she didn't have much of a shot, did she? Or perhaps, one could argue that being "perfect" apparently didn't include a working knowledge of good and evil, therefore she didn't know it would be wrong to disobey god and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (but then the whole "fall" story falls apart, as it were, for without knowing good and evil, how could she actually commit "evil" by eating from the tree?) Then there is the argument, the most logical one, as it were, that the story is just that--a story. Any critical look, using the working facilities of our supposedly god-given brains (which begs why more people don't use them) leads one to make supercilious leaps of logic and a suspension of disbelief that even B-rated horror movies can't attain.

Then there is the question of body parts alone, never mind the working facilities of brains that Adam and Eve couldn't employ even in a state of perfection. If their bodies were designed perfectly, in the image of sky god (although bodily structure is generally not considered to be in god's image--wonder why? Does the thought of god having a penis or a vagina really bother people that much?), how is it there are so many genetic defects, flaws, diseases, and such? If the body were truly "designed" and made "perfect," as a literal reading leads one to believe, no matter how disingenuously, how could the body then leave that perfect state simply from a working knowledge of the good and evil that was supposedly contained in a piece of fruit? Logically, if something is perfect, it cannot be unperfect, or even fall from that perfection, or it wasn't truly perfect from the get-go!

Further, if one is to buy into the whole "perfect bodies" fallacy, where in the hell did the appendix come from? It has no function whatsoever!! (and if it does, someone needs to get mine back from the doctor who removed it when I was in ninth grade!!) One needs again to suspend disbelief in order to come up with plausible reasons as to why god, in his perfect design, would include a useless organ? (Never mind the extra rib that was used to fashion Eve!) Along those lines, one I suppose could argue the appendix was only used for eating "perfect" fruit (i.e., fruit not containing a knowledge of good and evil, or knowledge of snake anatomy, for that matter); or perhaps argue that we "micro-evolutionized" it away, which, in all actuality, a perfect body would have no need to micro-evolutionize anything away from anywhere--supposedly it's already perfect! (not to mention that, if the body evolutionized away from having an organ in a perfect body, wouldn't the body then be even closer to perfection as it figured out it didn't need said organ?)

Then there are the countless mutations, birth defects, abnormalities--I suggest anyone who would like a firsthand glimpse, or better yet, an awe-inspiring account of the actual numbers that still carry on to this day of Cyclops', webbed feet and fingers, double-headed persons, multi-eye faceted, hair covering, extra-limb carrying births--live births!--that happen every day in our world pick up a copy of Mutants by Armand Marie Leroi. Subtitled "On Genetic Variety and the Human Body," it's a fascinating read! You've no idea! (And it's has pictures and illustrations!!) Point being, though, a perfect body wouldn't break down, wouldn't devolve into the hunks of junk we currently pull around against gravity, and there certainly wouldn't be over 100,000 miscarriages every year in the United States alone! God could have done a lot better with this "perfect state" he supposedly created us in, wouldn't you say?

Regardless, the "created in perfection" isn't a plausible working model, no matter which way you slice the pie. As to whether Ergo's greater point in his post, that perfection is attainable by man, I don't know if I follow it correctly or not. I may not be the brightest bulb (in fact, I know I'm not!), but I think even if you do buy into the whole "man is in sin" argument, it allows for a great read, so I suggest you check it out (and not because he links back to me in it! :D)

2. The Only Way for Man to Reach Perfection Again is Through Jesus.
Now, never minding the fact that we are now being asked to appeal to the very god that made us flawed (in that, what he gave us neither retained its supposed perfection, and even in our state of perfection, we simply needed to be asked and were indeed looking for something more than what had been provided), in the hopes that, if this radical cult leader form the zero-st century is correct and to be believed, he was again perfect, and died perfectly flawlessly so that we can all once again join in happy bliss and ignorance this creator for eternity (and I know some of you are cringing, as this would be your definition of hell! :D) Darkmind brought up a great point earlier in his comments on my last post, and I agree with him whole-heartedly (though my optimistic nature prevents me from believing anyone to be truly evil! :D), that without a working knowledge of what evil, or bad, is, one cannot even begin to know what good is, and vice-versa! It is impossible for one to assess, for instance, the "goodness" or "badness" of a toaster, until such a day comes as a toaster stops working on you; but even then, you don't swear off toasters! You simply label that particular toaster as bad, and go out to buy a good toaster. Perhaps you may go so far as to label the brand of toaster as "bad," or, less than ideal, but toasters in and of themselves remain "good" only because you have now experienced a "bad" toaster.

When it comes to fluid morality (and the other half of you that couldn't understand why we would think of heaven as hell are now up in arms over the very concept!), good is only as good, and bad is only as bad, as it affects us directly. True, one can hold to "murder" as bad without having been murdered, or having been a murderer--but murder has to have occurred within your realm of existence to be labeled so, otherwise you wouldn't even know what murder was, and without knowing what it was, it couldn't be bad. Morality is dependent upon human perception. It kind of goes back to that wise old Chinese saying, "If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Well, one wouldn't know unless one were there. And though one could reasonably argue about sound waves and vibrations and such that there theoretically was a sound, the sound itself is dependent upon your ear bones being there to catch the vibration, thus enabling there to actually be a sound! Without those bones in your ear, there isn't a sound, as nothing was contacted, or vibrated, as a result of the falling tree. As such, it goes back to "right" and "wrong." "Right" can only be "right" or "good" insomuch as there is a comparative "bad" or "not so good" in comparison.

Concluding, therefore one could reasonably argue that naivete, or a non-working knowledge of right and wrong, could allow for a "state" of perfection; however, it is a mislabelling to use the word "perfection" in describing this state of non-morality. The opposite wouldn't be amorality, or bad, as this would imply a working sense of moral and good--this state would actually be ignorance, or naivete. And in being naive or ignorant for eternity with a sky god that couldn't even keep your "perfect" bodies from breaking down and mutating, you have not attained perfection, you have obtained ignorance. Heaven could not possibly be a "happy" or "blissful" place unless one were well aware of the "hell" or "suffering" place with which to compare your existence as such. You can't know the beauty of a rose unless: you've seen a rose and you've also seen a dead flower. You could know it is a rose if someone tells you, but unless you have something "ugly" or "plain" to compare it against, you don't know that you find it beautiful (and, even then, perhaps you don't find it as such, but instead see it as pretentious and gaudy, in which case you still need a daisy or buttercup to have a reference point).

Are you catching my meaning here? For a man to claim to be the way to heaven, you in actuality wouldn't be attaining heaven, insomuch as heaven is to be understood from a Christian perspective. You'd simply be attaining ignorance. And, I dare say, ignorance is to be found aplenty here on earth, and we are not in need of a place which would allow one to not have use of his faculties. For you'd only end up in nonexistence--which is where we're all going to end up anyway...


On a slightly unrelated note, it seems a hacker has been wreaking havoc on Agnostic Mom, The Atheist Mama, and God Is For Suckers websites. It's hard to believe that this isn't religiously motivated, wouldn't you? It's nice to know that fundies not only whine and bitch about being persecuted, but that they also take an active role in doing it to others.... Let's see, what would they call themselves? "WWJH: Who Would Jesus Hack"? Cause, you know, Jesus was all about getting others to shut up....

My Kingdom for a Chocolate-Covered Pretzel...

It seems ironic that on the blog Journey to Enlightenment, I had just told Darkmind how he wasn't the kind of evil that hurts people, but the kind of evil that would deny the world chocolate-covered pretzels just because, and lo and behold, when I get to work on Monday, for once in the mood for some of these delicious pretzels that transport me to a heavenly plane...

There are none in the vending machine.

Granted, I can't eat a whole hell of a lot of chocolate. One of the blessings I inherited from my mother was an allergic reaction in the form of a rash that covers the arms and chest when the body feels too much chocolate has been consumed. Not deadly, no, but irritating nonetheless. And on those rare occasions when I feel that the rash is worth it, it just happens to be that Mr. Vending Machine has decided not to restock them at A-6...

Sure, I could get the peanut M&Ms, which are also known to satiate the chocolate beast within, but there's just something about the crunch f the salty pretzel surrounded by all that milk chocolate that just waters the mouth, delights the taste buds, and settles the monsters that wish to rip out the throats of coworkers on a given Monday, know what I mean?

Something tells me I'll be stopping at a gas station on the way home, but not for the car...
Only nine days until my Voting Party, in which I will gladly watch the Democrats win back the House (and hopefully the Senate). October has become the 4th deadliest month for our soldiers over in that hellhole known as Iraq, and Bush has decided that "stay the course" is a silly slogan, and on the search for a new one: David Letterman, I believe on Friday night, offered "Find Osama," but when has that ever been one of Bush's priorities? (Hint: Never.) For a while there, it was "Mission: Accomplished" which, had the Bush administration been paying attention, whenever you start with the words "Mission:" the word "Impossible" is kind of a forgone conclusion, wouldn't you think? And usually when something is only one degree away from crazy Tom Cruise, that's enough to make me want to second guess anything even remotely positive sounding. Then we heard about how wonderful it was that, even though no WMD were to be found anywhere, and Rice's brilliant use of "mushroom cloud" propaganda was a silly, even remote possibility at best, at least that ruthless dictator was now out of power, and winning in Iraq became letting the people rule through democracy. But, as always, one who tries to enforce individual law onto a tribal society based on "good-of-the-tribe" mentality, the people decided to run things as if Saddam had never left, and they're killing each other, and our soldiers, right and left (not to mention up and down). So winning was now no longer about WMD or rebuilding the country, but keeping the country from falling apart due to "insurgents" and "sectarian violence."
You remember Vietnam, right? Well, apparently, the same arguments were made back in the day if we withdrew from Vietnam. "They'll fight us here instead of there," "The region will fall into chaos," "We'll lose face with the global society," yadda yadda...

We withdrew anyway. We Americans are smart enough to know when we're engaged in something pointless. But Bush, lacking the fortitude to admit he may have been wrong (or better yet, that he knew he was wrong but did it anyway), will continue to have our brothers and sisters in freedom killed for no other reason than Bush not wanting to lose face. They say that pride goes before a fall... I only hope Cheney ordered some mattresses for them to land on, because when the investigations start in on this mess, heads are going to roll. And you hard-core right-wingers will scream about patriotism and all sorts of other negligible matters, but the fact of the matter will remain: We didn't invade Iraq to protect our interests. And even if, through some twisted logic, you can claim that the data wasn't hand-picked and lied about, and that we truly did believe that WMDs were there, we should have left when we found out the truth. Bush Sr and Clinton knew the quagmire that Iraq would draw America into--and that's giving Bush Sr a lot more credit than I normally do!

So what would be a "win" in Iraq? Their soldiers have yet to "stand up and take over" like we've been hearing they're supposed to do since before Kerry tried to usurp the dictator of our country. (Hint: That was over two years ago: I was trained in less than six weeks to hold an M16 and shoot!) Face facts, people. Face facts before more pointlessly die in a war built on lies...

Perhaps if we just fed Bush some chocolate-covered pretzels, his blood lust for war would pass?

I don't think so, either...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Conversations With God...

So a lovely, misguided couple came to our door today, handing out fliers for a "revival" service at the Bowmantown Borough building, to be held every night next week. Now, if I actually lived in Bowmanstown, I'd be calling our mayor to wonder why a public building was being used to endorse religion, but I digress. I felt bad for the couple, and especially the young girl who was obviously their daughter, as they trudged up and down our side of the street (a quick glance revealed another homely looking couple covering the other side) as today was windy, rainy, and just plain miserable. I took their flyer, thanked them, and they would have gotten away scott-free of sarcasm if the grinning ear-to-ear woman, her hair pulled ferociously back in a tight bun, said, "Praise Jesus! Hope to see you there, brother!"

Me: Brother?
Jesus Lady: Well, you are a son of Christ, the one true God, are you not?
Me: No, actu--
Jesus Lady: Has no one ever shared with you the saving knowledge of Jesus our God?
Jesus Man: Oh dear (shaking his head sadly...)
Me: Been shared, but thanks any--
Jesus Lady: You simply must come to our revival service, then! This is on opportunity for--
(Rich walks up behind me, standing at the front door, saying--)
Rich: Who is it, babe?
Me: Christians...
Jesus Man: Yes, sir (speaking to Rich) we were just talking to your friend, inviting him, and yourself, to our revival service on...
Jesus Lady: (Gasps) Are you-- are you a homosexual couple?
(I think the word "Babe" took a few seconds to permeate through the tightly pulled back hair)
Me: Yes, ma'am, we are--
(Jesus Man grabs their daughter and move quickly away from the front door to stand out in the driving, cold, windy rain...)
Jesus Lady: Oh, I... uh...
Me: Thank you for stopping by, anyway--
Jesus Lady: Don't you know--
Jesus Man: (from rainy sidewalk) Mabel--
Jesus Lady: Uh... Well, um, hope to see.... I... God bless! (and hurriedly removes herself from our front step and they move quickly as a unit to our neighbors house... I watch them sadly...)
Rich: That was weird...
Me: Not really...
So I add the flyer to the burn pile (it should come in handy for heating the home in the coal stove this winter) and then I gave God a call, for I was truly curious as to if they were truly, well, as brainwashed and naive as they appeared. Since God is long-distance, I used my cell.

Me: Hello, God?
God: Hello? I can barely... Hello, anyone there?
Me: (I move closer to the living room window, where I can see our neighbor leaning out of her front door, shaking her head n a negative fashion) Can you hear me now?
God: Verizon guy?
Me: No, um, this is Gay Jay. From West Bowmans?
God: Oh, hey! How's it going?
Me: Well, these people just stopped by--
God: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just saw it while channel surfing on Earth TV.
Me: So they were for real?
God: (Sighs) Yes, yes, they truly were for real...
Me: Why my place? You know I have better things to do than argue with your followers--
God: Hey, don't blame that on me! I can't help it people get these ridiculous ideas in their heads!
Me: Um... really?
God: Of course not! You think I condone all that crap? Speaking in tongues and the like? I had a hard enough time learning Holy Spirits native tongue when we hooked up--
Me: Deity say what?
God: Oh, yeah, well, that's one of those things the writers of my unauthorized biography forgot to put in, didn't they? Yeah, she's from the next universe over, my Holy Ghost. When we relaxed our immigration laws in my universe, she could come over and we could finally tie the knot and-- well, let's just say, nine months later, there was little Christ! He was so cute back then...
Me: But they all grow up, don't they?
God: Yeah, well, he wanted to see what all the hoopla was down there and-- well, you know the gist of it. Your people treated him like crap!
Me: Hey, I ain't taking credit for that if you ain't taking credit for the fundie Christians...
God: Fair enough, fair enough...
Me: Hey, listen, you still running the show, or what?
God: Well, not really. You see, I went public with Earth quite some time ago, and...
Me: And?
God: Well, it's all kind of up to the trustees now. You guys, you know. I sold most of my shares about 50 CE, when Jesus finally got back from his little--field trip, shall we say?--and ever since then, really, you all have been kind of on your own...
Me: Well, that certainly explains a lot!
God: Well, in all fairness, when I was technically the man in charge, I kind of left you to your own devices anyway! I mean, really! Who has the time?! And you people are worse than rabbits, I have to say!
Me: Hmm, yeah, I can see how we'd be a handful--
God: Yeah, but really! And the funny thing is, you people send me more junk mail then, well, Jupiter does!
Me: There're people on Jupiter?
God: No, no, no, not that Jupiter--the Greek God. He's my mother's cousins' husbands' half-brothers' nephew, you know, and he is such a forward junkie!
Me: Yeah, I know a few of those myself--
God: And they always say crap like "If you don't forward this to ten gods in a half hour, you don't believe in mankind--" or some other such nonsense. And I hit "delete" every time anyway--
Me: I hear ya!
God: Cause really! All that crap about "You are in my image"? Hogwash, and that's putting it nicely, let me tell you! You people are good and bad, all on your own. You need no help from me in either department! The only reason we're having this conversation is so many of them believe in me! My therapist says--
Me: You have a therapist?
God: Of course! You know what kind of complex you guys have given me? All "You are creator," "You are all-powerful," "You are all-mighty." It gives one a complex, you know. Holy Spirit and I almost divorced because of it! Such rubbish, really! Trying to blame me for everything--you all were around long before I was, I can tell you that! And making light! Hah! I need Bic just to start the fireplace, just like you guys do!
Me: Really?
God: Seriously! Well, my therapist said that you all need to learn how to take responsibility for yourselves. So I blocked all the prayers, all the begging, all the--just everything! My therapist--he's really good, even Zeus sees him twice weekly--he showed me how you were all able to force this crap on me as you guys created me!
Me: No way!
God: Yes, can you believe it?! I was flabbergasted myself! But, just look at your history! It's clear as day! I changed when you guys did! When you discovered that earthquakes weren't about me being angry, well, it just sort of became a common sense thing to not sacrifice your virgins! And when you guys figured out that locusts come and go with the seasons and such, and that it wasn't me "punishing" you or some other kind of crap, well, you stopped slaughtering lambs and firstborn children and what not--and I had nothing to do with any of it! Quite amazing, actually, the power you all hold. But then, since you all are so uncomfortable with all your power, well, it just seemed logical--at least, to you guys I suppose--to blame the "unseen" guy, the "creator" as it were.
Me: Mind-boggling!
God: Right?
Me: Well, I--
God: And then, about that whole "bubonic plague" thing--
Me: Listen, I--
God: --and New Orleans! I love New Orleans! Why in the hell would I--
Me: Um, listen, God, dude, I need--
God: --would I give two shits about two women tying the knot! I mean, I married a frickin' spirit for crying out loud! Jesus is inter-universal! You know how much ribbing he--
Me: Yeah, um, you're breaking up--
God: --and the whole "stay the course" crap--
Me: Bad signal, losing, what? hello?
God: --those moronic priests--
Me: Bshshshshshwashshshshs Click!
Yeah, so I lied to God, pretended to lose the signal, but I mean, really. The dude is long-winded as hell! But it certainly does explain a lot, doesn't it?

Friday, October 27, 2006

At the Risk of Being Called
Whine-y...; Family News... Anonymous persons who can't be bothered to actually take responsibility for their words...
So here's the low-down on New Jersey...
The court ruled unanimously (7-0) that homosexual couples must be afforded the same rights as homophobic and straight couples when it comes to the benefits and responsibilities of marriage; the vote was split (4-3) on whether marriage should be the term used for these homosexual unions (3 said that yes, they should be given marriage; 4 voted to send it to the NJ legislature to come up with either a civil union arrangement or use marriage already in place). From an article:

Several Democratic lawmakers said they will push for full marriage rights. But some Republicans, the minority party in both houses of the legislature, said they will seek a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris, vowed to have the justices impeached.

"Neither the framers of New Jersey's 1947 constitution, nor the voters who ratified it, ever remotely contemplated the possibility of same-sex marriage," Merkt said.
The framers of the federal constitution never imagined home owners having semiautomatic machine guns, either. Or for that matter, an internet, mobile-to-mobile text messaging (I'm now imagining what our Constitution would have read in text-alese...), or that religious folks would ever want a state-sponsored church in power--goes to show how much times have changed, hasn't it?

The issue, though, and why NJ is such a bigger deal than Massachusetts having gay marriage, is that NJ does not have a law on the books that prevents out-of-state couples from marrying there (Massachusetts has a law from 1913 that was used to prevent interracial couples from marrying if that marriage wouldn't be recognized in their home state; the law fell out of use after the civil rights movement of the 60s, but since Mass. never took it off the books, they now use their bigot law to prevent same-sex couples form marrying there as opposed to interracial couples. What's the saying, "Scratch a homophobe, find a racist"? Something like that...) And while Mass. did say Rhode Island couples could marry there as Rhode Island didn't have a law against same-sex marriage, the majority of same-sex couples in the country simply cannot go there to get married--they actually card you to see if you are a resident of Mass or not, and thus deny you...

But since NJ does not have such a law, couples such as Rich and myself would be able to get married in NJ, then come home and sue to have our state recognize our marriage (in which case they would have to, as the fourteenth amendment of the federal constitution demands that states recognize and respect all certificates and documents from all other states in the union), and then, the federal government would have to drop DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act, which actually doesn't protect marriage against anything remotely anti-marriage, such as divorce or spousal abuse...) as, since FCSuper pointed out very recently (and Darkmind also makes a very good point about court precedence in the comments below), the federal government has no domain over marriage to begin with, it is a state's rights issue, and hence, Rich and I would have marriage equality in our country, which I served proudly in the Army in the 1990s...

See how the cookie crumbles? Life is getting better in this country for all.

In a superbly ironic twist, in the Ivory Coast, two prisoners who courted each other through a peephole between the male and female cell blocks were allowed to get married, even though they never actually saw each other until the wedding day. Why are there no laws preventing child molesters, murders, thieves, rapists, and other not-good-for-society type persons from getting married? Is it truly the issue that marriage needs protected from same-sex couples? Or that people are just hypocritical asses?
In other news, my younger brother, while on a business trip in Florida, got into a bar fight with a co-worker (this is not big news; both he and the co-worker are apparently surly individuals when drinking...) The weird thing is, since Mike punched the dude in the mouth, it cut his hand open, and he received a very nasty infection. And since Mike has the pain tolerance of a drunk elephant on methanphetamines, he didn't get the hand looked at even as it swelled up to three times its normal size. Finally, his (not girlfriend) girlfriend convinced him to get it looked at. They had to keep in the hospital for three days. They say if he had waited much longer, his hand would have died, or he himself could have died.... He is now home and recovering, but he's still a dipshit sometimes... There's no medicine for that...
Nathaniel, my youngest sisters newest edition to our family, smiled for the first time!
Olivia, my other sisters daughter, does not have the degenerative eye disease that they feared she had, so, even though she still will live with Grave's Disease, she will not go blind because of it!! Whew!
All other sibling and nieces and nephews are well. All parents are fine, I'm assuming, since I got no panicky phone calls (although it is odd that mom hasn't been by lately... she must be cleaning all the dirt dad made when adding on their new front porch...)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006



More to come later when I get home...


New Jersey court recognizes same-sex unions

POSTED: 3:40 p.m. EDT, October 25, 2006
Adjust font size:

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

But the court left it to the Legislature to determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue believed the state posed the best chance for gay marriage to win approval since Massachusetts became the only state to do so in 2003 because the New Jersey Supreme Court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Instead, the high court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage and gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include gay couples or create new civil unions. (Opinion -- pdf)

The case was brought by seven gay couples who say the state constitution allows them to marry.

New Jersey is one of only five U.S. states with neither a law nor a state constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage. As a result, the state is more likely than others to allow gays to wed, said advocacy groups on both sides.

Only Massachusetts -- by virtue of a 2003 ruling from that state's top court -- allows gay marriages.

Proponents and opponents from across the country are watching the case closely.

"New Jersey is a stepping stone," said Matt Daniels, president of the Virginia-based Alliance for Marriage, a group pushing for an amendment to the federal Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. "It's not about New Jersey."

From a practical standpoint, the Massachusetts court decision made little impact nationally because the state has a law barring out-of-state couples from wedding there if their marriages would not be recognized in their home states.

New Jersey has no such law.

People on both sides of the issue expect a victory for same-sex unions would make New Jersey a destination for gay couples from around the country who want to get married. Some of those couples could return home and sue to have their marriages recognized.

Daniels said gay-rights advocates are already looking ahead to such lawsuits. "Their game, of course, is they figure all they need to do is execute this maneuver in a half-dozen states and they'll have the momentum," he said.

David S. Buckel, the Lambda Legal lawyer who argued on behalf of the seven New Jersey couples, said he expects some couples would travel to the New Jersey to get married if his suit is successful. But, he said, "it won't be tidal."

Buckel said that there have been relatively few such lawsuits filed in the U.S. by couples who went to Canada to exchange vows.

And, he said, while many same-sex couples would prefer to be married, they are getting more legal protections for their relationships. Several states, including New Jersey, offer domestic partnerships or civil unions with some of the benefits of marriage. A growing number of employers are treating same-sex couples the same way they treat married couples.

Cases similar to New Jersey's are pending in California, Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland.

Conservatives watching the cases believe the best chance for gay marriage to be allowed would be in New Jersey, where the state Supreme Court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Gay marriage supporters have had a two-year losing streak, striking out in state courts in New York and Washington state and in ballot boxes in 15 states where constitutions have been amended to ban same-sex unions.

Bitter Boys Battle About Bigotry

Boy Scouts suffer a setback in Supreme Court over discrimination

You'd think they'd know how the system works by now, wouldn't you? If you discriminate, you don't get public funds. Period. End of discussion. But I guess they get some type of merit badge for being numbskulls or something... I only know they aren't showing these kids how to earn that civics badge, and that ain't no lie...

Six years after the Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts could ban gay leaders, the group is fighting and losing legal battles with state and local governments over its discriminatory policies. The latest setback came Monday when the high court without comment refused to take a case out of Berkeley, Calif., in which a Scout sailing group lost free use of a public marina because the Boy Scouts bar atheists and gays.
What is it that they don't understand? They are throwing more money away that they could instead be plugging into local troops and actually teaching these kids some of their "values," but instead, they'd like to have their cake and eat it, too.

The action let stand a unanimous California Supreme Court ruling that the city of Berkeley may treat the Berkeley Sea Scouts differently from other nonprofit organizations because of the Scouts' membership policies.

Two years ago, the court similarly rejected a Boy Scouts appeal of a case from Connecticut, where officials dropped the group from a list of charities that receive donations from state employees through a payroll deduction plan.

And in Philadelphia, the city is threatening to evict a Boy Scout council from the group's publicly owned headquarters or make the group pay rent unless it changes its policy on gays.
See? The country doesn't agree with discrimination. Now, granted, you don't want us in your club, oh well. Seeing as how I was never a boy scout to begin with (my father instead had us in the ultra conservative version of AWANA), it's no skin off my back anyhow. But I do have a lot of friends who were scouts, and wonder what happened to the loving, all-inclusive group of people that used to run the organization. They were all about teaching valuable lessons, not about how to discern who the homo or atheist may be and letting them know they aren't welcome to learn about how to make fire, how to help old ladies cross the street, why lying is bad...

On a separate matter, federal judges in two other court cases that are being appealed have ruled that government aid to the group is unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts of America requires members to swear an oath of duty to God.
Hmm, didn't see that one coming, did you? Swearing fealty to god is an endorsement of religion, which the government constitutionally cannot do... I don't know the actual ramifications of the government handing money to a group that makes you swear to god, but it would seem an endorsement to me... Much like making people say "under god" in the pledge, but that's for another time...

Despite the string of legal setbacks, lawyers for the Scouts said they believe the Supreme Court ultimately will decide that governments are improperly denying benefits that they make available to similar organizations.

"The issue of governments seeking to punish organizations for exercising their First Amendment rights is a recurring one. There will be other opportunities for the Supreme Court to affirm First Amendment protections for organizations dealing with government agencies," George Davidson, the longtime attorney for the Scouts, said in a statement.
Can you hear it? "Uncle Sam won't give us money! You're denying us Freedom of Speech! Waaaahhhhh!!!"

Here's a clue: The government denying you money because you discriminate in no ways hampers your ability to discriminate (unless you were hoping to use the governments money to rent a billboard in Times Square to make sure the world knew you hate gays and atheists...)

In 2000, the court ruled that the Scouts have the right to ban openly homosexual scout leaders, a decision that rested on First Amendment rights.

"The Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill," then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court in a 5-4 decision.
How do you like them apples? One of the most conservative judges in the United States said, "You have first amendment rights, but that right to free speech comes at the cost of public funds." Too bad, so sad. You can't even trot out your "activist judges line on this one!

Even so, the California Supreme Court said in March that local governments are under no obligation to extend benefits to organizations that discriminate.

Berkeley, home of free speech protests since the 1960s, adopted a nondiscrimination policy on the use of its marina in 1997 and revoked the Sea Scouts' subsidy a year later.

The Sea Scouts are a branch of the Boy Scouts that teaches sailing and seamanship. City officials had told the group that it could retain its berthing subsidy if it broke ties with the Boy Scouts or disavowed the policy against gays and atheists, but the Sea Scouts refused.

Eugene Evans, who leads the Sea Scouts, has been paying $500 a month to berth one boat at the Berkeley Marina. The group removed two other boats because it could not afford the rent. The group has about 40 members, down from as many as 100 before the subsidy was removed.

Berkeley had allowed the Scouts free use of the marina since the 1930s, according to Evans.

The Sea Scouts said they were singled out because Berkeley's elected officials disapprove of the Boy Scouts' membership policies.
In other words: "The boy scouts do not like teaching gays and atheists how to sail. Oh, and if we find out you're a Jew, we'll probably try to convert you as well, but at least we have the same god, so... Plus, Jews don't need to sail.... They can part the seas. My bibble tells me so."

And I wonder what happens if they found out years later, after winning all your badges and such, if they revoke them and make you turn in your childhood uniform when you come out of the closet, or convert to Islam, or question evolution...?

By the way, all the images you see came from the boy scouts own website at Boy Scout Stuff Galleries... Perhaps they should read what their badges and certificates say, hmm? You see what that last one says? "...he respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion." I wonder where that respect for others of differing beliefs went? Probably left with all the decent gays and atheists...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Great Article About Creationism Vs. Evolution

It's a great read; you should all check it out: Creationism: God's Gift to the Ignorant Please don't feel too put off by the title, although, in reading it, you may feel so, anyway...

From the article:

The standard methodology of creationists is to find some phenomenon in nature which Darwinism cannot readily explain. Darwin said: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." Creationists mine ignorance and uncertainty in order to abuse his challenge. "Bet you can't tell me how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved by slow gradual degrees?" If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, a default conclusion is drawn: "Right, then, the alternative theory; 'intelligent design' wins by default."

Many evolutionary transitions are elegantly documented by more or less continuous series of changing intermediate fossils. Some are not, and these are the famous "gaps." Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a "gap," the creationist will declare that there are now two gaps! Note yet again the use of a default. If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition: God must have intervened.
This is only two snippets form the article, but I do hope you will all enjoy it as much as I did.
Has anyone been able to visit Agnostic Mom lately? Every time I ty to visit, I get a page loading error... If anyone can get a hold of her to let her know, it would be appreciated... It could just be my computer...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Radical Christianity Vs. Radical Islam...

We, as fellow human travelers in life, are engaged the world over in an ideological war. From here in America: The religious right trying to impose a Christian Rule of Law on all Americans; to Iraq and Europe: Where radical Muslims are actively persecuting and killing persons in the name of Allah.

Islam and Christianity actually have very, very much in common in their religious beliefs, moral codes, prohibitions and religious rights. They revere the same fathers of their respective branches of Judaism, they both have a monotheistic god, they believe that they war against infidels and demons for the souls and lives of peoples of either non-religious or different religious backgrounds.

But the wars they are presently engaged in are taking two very differing fronts in today's world.

True, the religious past of both Islam and Christianity are very bloody. From the crusades, to the battle for Constantinople, witch hunts, infidel burnings, religious persecutions, forced confessions and conversions... An accurate historical look at both religions will easily show you the bloody paths that these two religions have caused the world at large, resulting in millions of people's deaths. Both religions are guilty and there's no denying it.

Today, though, while Muslims are strapping themselves into cars and blowing up hundreds of innocents, Christians are warring ideologically (well, except for that brief period of time in the eighties when they thought blowing up abortion clinics and killing doctors was a better way to go about showing the love of Jesus...) Muslims and Christians (strictly in the "fundamentalist" sense, before Tom rips my head off for "lumping" Christians) rely heavily on fear, not to mention a healthy dose of piety, promises of rewards in the afterlife, and a great deal of self-loathing (while being prideful about that self-loathing and humility--one of the great ironies of life, I suppose, or maybe a biblical/koranical mystery?). Christians in North America are generally trying to work within the present system, trying to enact laws and a form of government in which all persons in said country will live under their strict "moral code; Muslims are undermining present governments to set up an entirely new government in which all persons living in said country will live under their strict "moral" code.


Let's look at some of their basic similarities:

ultimate realityone creator Godone creator God
nature of GodTrinity - one substance, three personsunity - one substance, one person
other spiritual beingsangels and demonsangels, demons, jinn
identity of JesusSon of God, God incarnate, savior of the worldtrue prophet of God, whose message has been corrupted
birth of Jesusvirgin birthvirgin birth
second coming of Jesusaffirmedaffirmed
God's role in salvationpredestination, various forms of gracepredestination
good afterlifeeternal heaveneternal paradise
bad afterlifeeternal hell, temporary purgatory (Catholicism)eternal hell
view of the other religionIslam is respected as a fellow monotheistic religion, but Muhammad is not seen as a true prophetChristians are respected as "People of the Book," but they have mistaken beliefs and only partial revelation

This list could actually go on for quite some time, but I felt that these were the basics. Not very much of a difference, is there? And that last one? How they view the other religion? Now imagine how they feel about... Buddhism. Hinduism. Pagans. (Not very highly.)

It stems from a firmly--and I do mean stubbornly firm--held belief that they have The Answer. You know, to everything. This life, the afterlife, what happened before there was life, and anything and everything in between! It is this, the fact that their god has chosen them to tell the world--and that's not an exaggeration--about the answers they have been given.

Both feel a need to convert "souls" to their particular brand of religion. Both will tell you of their "peace," their "mission," how they are right and you are wrong, how god will reward them and punish you, how it "burdens" their lives that you will "burn for eternity"--never mind the fact that once they reach heaven, since there's no sadness, they won't even remember what they were burdened about. Go figure, huh? Living now so that one day, you can live forever in blissful ignorance praising an egomaniac for eternity. (I know,sounds like hell to me, too!)

So what truly is the difference between them? What is the one overriding thing that means we nonreligious folk are any safer in a world ruled by Christians than a world ruled by Muslims?

The only hope we have at the moment is North American conservatives aren't yet too willing to give up their comfortable lifestyles to wage war on the infidels (a truly wonderful irony to it all...) They'd rather use guilt, laws, and pray for you, while Muslims in the Middle East and Europe (not living nearly as well off as their North American fellow monotheists due to socialism and racial bias in Europe) are more than happy to fight physically for their religious beliefs, as it means they will ultimately achieve better lives for themselves... whether in this life or the afterlife...

And the best irony of all? The self motivation dangling like a carrot in front of the eternal-searching eyes. Eternal life in heaven, blissfully ignorant, and rewarded for the more souls they convert, and, of course, an avoidance of hell...

Selfishness disguised as Piety, Pride disguised as Humility, and all in the name of a god who isn't there anyway...

I invite all of any religious or nonreligius background to tell me: What is the difference between Radical Christians and Radical Muslims? Cause, looking at it from an ideological point of view (which is all religion has...), there isn't a difference.

None at all.
Incidentally, if anyone knows how I can close that huge gap between the text and the beginning fo the table, lemme know. I can't figure it out for the life of me...

Posters of the Right-Wing...

Thanks to gingersnapp at Blue Gal in a Red State for this image.

There are many many more of these, but these were my favorites!

And before you start telling me that the right-wing isn't a bunch of fascists, here is the definition:

Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
  1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions;
  2. the primacy of the group, toward which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it;
  3. the belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external;
  4. dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences;
  5. need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible, or by exclusionary violence if necessary;
  6. need for authority by natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's historical destiny;
  7. superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason;
  8. beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success;
  9. the right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group's prowess within a Darwinian struggle.
Yep, sounds like Bush and his radical conservative base to me...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dubai, or Not Dubai... That Is the Question...

Remember back in February of 2006, when everyone was in a brouhaha over the sale of 22 U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirates corporation? When Bush approved, without the knowledge of the Congress or Senate, a secret deal that would allow the middle-eastern company to own these ports (in October of 2005)?:

Under a secretive agreement with the Bush administration, a company in the United Arab Emirates promised to cooperate with U.S. investigations as a condition of its takeover of operations at six major American ports, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The U.S. government chose not to impose other, routine restrictions.

In approving the $6.8 billion purchase, the administration chose not to require state-owned Dubai Ports World to keep copies of its business records on U.S. soil, where they would be subject to orders by American courts. It also did not require the company to designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government.

Outside legal experts said such obligations are routinely attached to U.S. approvals of foreign sales in other industries. (Source.)
Even Republicans pretended to be against the deal!:

[...] both houses of Congress were really prepared to forge ahead in the [Republican-controlled] Senate, somewhat reluctantly, at least on the part of the Republican leadership, to block this deal.
And the [Republican-controlled] Senate voted earlier today to allow an amendment by [Democratic] Senator Schumer to block the deal, something that they didn't particularly want. (Source; phrases in bold mine.)
At first, both the President and Dubai Ports World balked, and said they wouldn't sell, they would keep ownership of the U.S. Ports, despite the security concerns of the public the President is supposed to represent:

Dubai's government-owned port company said it would refuse to sell the six ports it is acquiring in the United States, despite intense criticism that the company's acquisition would undermine American security.

In Washington, President George W. Bush once again defended the sale, saying "people don't need to worry about security."

Speaking with reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting, Bush assured the American public that "the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by my government." (Source.)
His government. Read: Not Congress or the Senate, the only branch of government constitutionally allowed to make and agree to contracts with foreign governments. As always, we were supposed to just take his word for it. Ha!

The president said that people were not concerned about port security when a British company was running the port operation, but they felt differently about an Arab company at the helm. He said the United Arab Emirates was a valuable partner in the war in terror.

Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates, from which two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers came.(Source.)
It's good to see the President with the "plan for a safe America" so trusting of a government that brought us two of our 9/11 hijackers, isn't it? Regardless of whether it was actually safe or not (and I do actually think it was personally, but that's not what this is truly about...), we heard that Congress then blocked the sale in the beginning of March 2006, and Dubai would have to release it's holdings on the ports, right?

[...] the D.P. World statement says, they're not saying that they are selling them. They are simply saying that they are transferring them. So, that could very well mean that they [...] could still be effectively controlled by Dubai.
And that could be very well what the Dubai company is planning to do as well. (Source.)
So, not sell them, just relinquish control from overseas... Hmm... But, then, in the middle of March 2006, Dubai said they would sell the ports:

Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirates-owned company, confirmed on Thursday it would sell all its US port operations within four to six months to a US buyer. (Source.)
So we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. Whew! They would sell. By the beginning of June 2006, even World Nut Daily was saying:

Dubai Ports World--the United Arab Emirates-owned company at the center of a national security controversy earlier this year--has not yet kept its promise to sell its operations in the U.S. to an American company.

No announcements have been made by DP World identifying potential purchasers, and the company's spokesmen have no comment when pressed for details of any divestiture transactions that may be under consideration.(Source.)
And just a few short days later in June 2006, we heard:

Close to 100 companies have expressed an interest in buying facilities at major US ports from Dubai Ports World, a source close to the sales process said today.

Dubai Ports World, which is owned by Dubai of the United Arab Emirates, bought the facilities at six US ports earlier this year as part of its US$6.8 billion ($11.01 billion) purchase of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company of Britain.

But Dubai Ports World later said it would sell the US assets to a US entity, after American lawmakers said they had security concerns about the deal.

Among the companies expressing interest in buying the US port facilities are port operators, private equity funds, infrastructure funds, shipping companies and logistics firms, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. (Source.)
So we thought, Okay, things are still on track.

And guess what?


On October 1st, it was announced that:

DP World is close to agreeing the sale of its US ports business most likely to an international shipping line within six weeks, according to Jamal Majid bin Thaniah, group chief executive of Ports and Free Zone World. (Source.)
Oh, well, that's two months later than it was supposed to happen, but at least they're finally selling it, right? Not necessarily:

Under an agreement with the US government, P&O Ports North America's operations have been isolated from DP World, Bin Sulayem said.

"We have no say in it, we have no interference. The bank is negotiating the sale on our behalf," he said, describing the issue as "complicated" as P&O has terminal and logistics operations in a total of 22 ports in the US. (Source.)
It's "complicated." They have no idea if they're selling it or not, the bank is handling everything, but the have an agreement with the U.S. Wonderful, isn't it?

It's been 8 months. Eight.

To summarize: President makes a secret deal giving the Dubai Ports (owned by the middle eastern government United Arab Emirates) giving them full leeway and access to 22 U.S. Ports (the same government that produced 2 9/11 hijackers). Congress finds the backbone to stand up to him (which is amazing in and of itself) and gives the company 6 months to sell the U.S. ports to a U.S. company. DP says no at first, but then says, okay, in 4 to 6 months. By June, they haven't done a thing until someone comments about it. Suddenly there are 100 interested parties. Now, by October, they have no idea who's doing what because they aren't selling it, their bank is, and somehow, even though they say the sale should be complete in "six more weeks," they have an "agreement" to simply manage the U.S. ports separately from the rest of their company on American shores in New Jersey...

Yes, New Jersey. You mean you didn't know? Sounds pretty permanent to me, this control of the ports. In fact, Dubai is having an uproar about the new port security laws just passed by the Senate:

Sanborn said Dubai Ports World is working to form a coalition with other private port operators to address security issues and called on governments around the world to meet industry representatives early next year to hammer out new global standards for port security.

He said any large port would require a number of scanning devices capable of detecting nuclear or other weapons inside shipping containers to upgrade security without impinging on the international supply chain of goods.

The estimated cost of $500,000 per scanner is small compared with the $300 million overall investment for equipping even a small port, he said.
The act authorizes $3.4 billion over five years for safety measures, including installing radiation detectors at the 22 largest U.S. ports by the end of next year. (Source.)
Wait. Isn't Dubai selling it's U.S. Ports in just under six weeks? And doesn't the new standards for port security go into effect "by the end of next year? Why is Dubai worried about this for their U.S. Ports if they won't even be owning them "in six weeks"?

Anybody still think Dubai is actually selling the ports? Me neither...

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Family Dog from Amazing Stories

This is one of my very favorite movies from my childhood! If you have dial-up, it may take a long time for the video to load for you to watch... I will post parts 2 and 3 as well so you guys can watch the whole show! This was first aired on "Amazing Stories," but we watched the tape so much growing up, it broke!! I promise you'll find this hilarious! And if not...

Family Dog - Part 1

Family Dog - Part 2

Family Dog - Part 3

I hope you enjoyed them!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Refuting the Lies of the Right...

So I was having a discussion with Hondo over on Christian Conservatives regarding his post about why he's going to vote for Repub's and not Dem's using the "scare tactics" that both the Repub's and the AFA are saying will happen if Dem's take back control of the legislature (which they will anyway...) It took some time to refute Hondo's misperceptions about his Grand Old Party, but here is the result of that research... To catch the entire conversation which led up to this post, click here.

Armed with truth, are you? Since you only retouched on six items, I will only recover those six... The rest I'm assuming you agreed with? Hmm...

You said: 1. You say that Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism. Wrong. Iraq was a training ground for Islamofascist terrorists. Saddam had WMD and was laying the groundwork to working with more terrorist organizations, in order to facilitate terrorist attacks against America. Flat wrong.
I don't know why people still buy this reasoning when not only did the intelligence agencies tell everyone they doctored reports and biased them so that Bush could invade Iraq, and the 9/11 commission as well as other independent research groups have found not only no evidence of a link between Saddam and al-Qaida, but not a single weapon of mass destruction has been found after being in Iraq for well over four years now. (source; source; source.) Was Saddam a son-of-a-bitch? Yes. Are his people better off without him in power? We'll see in the long-term for sure, but in the short term, kind of yes and kind of no. Is it better to have him gone? Yes; but if that is the sole reason, the sole good reason we had for invading, then why haven't we invaded North Korea? Iran? Cuba? China? There are a huge list of countries who kill their own citizens, torture them, violate their lives in most horrible ways... Why don't we invade them? Because we know there are better ways to get rid of unwanted dictators and rogue governments without endangering our soldiers lives and ending up in a quagmire just like this one. Why do you think Bush Sr. and Clinton didn't invade? They knew this would happen! They learned the lessons of Korea and Vietnam! Sadly, Shrubya was asleep apparently (or drunk, or high) when they went over this at Yale...

You said: By going to war against Iraq, we have drawn the forces of Islamofascism from across the Middle East to Iraq where we can fight them away from U.S. soil.
I'm sure the citizens of Iraq appreciate the fact that we fight them in their backyards as opposed to ours. They are dancing in the streets and welcoming us with flowers and open arms, just like Cheney said they would, aren't they? (not.) While it is definitely a good thing that we are fighting them not here, it would have been a much better "war on terror" with smaller, perhaps secret missions to kill them where they were instead of ripping apart the most volatile region of the world! I think even you would have to admit that! Now instead of Saddam simply outsourcing his terrorists from Pakistan and Afghanistan to invade Israel and kill them, we now have hundreds of them together killing our men and women... Hmm, which is better?

You said: We have also deposed a murderous dictator who had publicly declared his intentions to inflict death and destruction against America. I covered this already...

You said: Incidentally, Bush didn't "drag" America into war. The House and the Senate Intelligence Committees had access to the intelligence on WMD, and the White House had access to the reports from the Clinton administration on WMD in Iraq, and all were agreed that attacking Iraq was the right thing to do. Don't try to re-write history. Talk about your re-write! The White House only gave the Senate and Congress what they wanted them to see! A very select pieces of information that Bush had the agencies hand-select to present as a case to invade! Biased information was used to dupe the legislative branch, and that's a fact! (source; source; source; source.)

You said: 2. You still believe all that "tax cuts for the rich" baloney, don't you.
Who did the tax cuts help the most? Fact: Richest 1% of the country. Here are the facts:

You said: ----Almost 7 million new jobs have been created since August 2003. That's more than all of the world's other industrialized countries combined. Our economy has added jobs for 37 consecutive months.
Roughly 3 million jobs have been lost since George W. Bush took office.(source) That's the worst job loss record of any president since Herbert Hoover was in the White House during the Great Depression. (source: International Herald Tribune, "U.S. workers' fears rise as jobs are lost and pay lags," 9/2/03.) More recently,

While two million jobs were created in 2005, this is 3.5 million jobs short of expectations by the President's Council of Economic Advisors, who estimate job growth at 3.1% in a normal year. Jobs grew by only 1.5% in 2005.
"The president's tax-cutting policy is a failure in regard to job creation, and we need to recognize it as such," said Anisha Desai, program director at UFE and one of the report's co-authors. "While there is no evidence that massive tax cuts create jobs, there is considerable evidence that they contribute to economy-choking deficits."

The report reviewed administration claims that "tax cuts create jobs" and found the following:
  1. Tax cuts have no predictable effect on employment, either in job creation or job destruction.
  2. Since 2003, job creation has fallen millions of jobs short of the administration's promises.
  3. The current weakness in job creation during an economic recovery is unprecedented since World War II.
The report highlighted other concerns about jobs and the economy as well. For example, the number of good quality jobs (defined as those paying at least $16 an hour, providing employer-paid health insurance, and providing a pension) has remained flat at 25% of all workers. Significant racial disparities exist: black employment is at 89.6%, compared to 95.2% for whites. And Latino workers average more than $10,000 per year less in earnings than whites, and this gap is increasing. (source.)
And Bush doesn't even use the standard measure that the country has used for years to figure out the unemployment rate! He:

The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households rather the employer survey used to calculate the payroll number. (source.)
From that same source:

Bush ignored another report issued Friday showing that U.S. payrolls grew by just 51,000 jobs in September, down from the revised 188,000-job gain in August.
"We have added 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003," Bush said.
Hmm. Lie much, Mr. President?

You said: Over the first half of 2006, our economy grew at a strong 4.1% annual rate. Over that same period, employee compensation per hour grew at a 6.3% annual rate adjusted for inflation.
What about 2000 through most of 2005? That's the best figure you could find? I've already shown from sources above that your figure is so way off, it ain't even funny...

You said: Real after-tax income per person has risen by 9% since Jan. 2001.
In 48 of the 50 states, jobs in higher-paying industries have given way to jobs in lower-paying industries since the recession ended in November 2001. Nationwide, industries that are gaining jobs relative to industries that are losing jobs pay 21% less annually. For the 30 states that have lost jobs since the recession purportedly ended, not only have jobs been lost, but in 29 of them the losses have been concentrated in higher paying sectors. And for 19 of the 20 states that have seen some small gain in jobs since the end of the recession, the jobs gained have been disproportionately in lower-paying sectors. (source.) Bush urged Congress to support outsourcing more American jobs abroad including well paid, highly skilled jobs. Bush claimed that the U.S. is not really losing so many manufacturing jobs if you count it as manufacturing "when a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger." (source.)

Employment increased in 48 states from Aug. 2005--Aug. 2006. The unemployment rate has risen from 4% to 5.7% under President Bush -- a 43% increase. (source; source.) Fewer than 6 million Americans were unemployed at the beginning of George W. Bush's term. By December 2003, almost 8.5 million Americans were looking for work. (source.) And the number of Americans suffering long-term unemployment of 27 weeks or more has risen from 660,000 to 2 million, an increase of 197%. (source.) An additional 433,000 "discouraged workers"--people not counted in the unemployment statistic--are out of work and not looking because they believe they will not find anything. They have "dropped out" of the labor market. (source.) The president's massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich are likely responsible for the nation's "jobless recovery." A study by the nonpartisan group OMB Watch says President Bush's "tax and budget policy are likely to blame" for the economy's failure to create new jobs. Because the Bush tax cuts are skewed so heavily to the rich--who are more likely to save rather than spend the tax cuts they receive--they are not pumping money into the economy. In contrast, tax and stimulus packages directed toward working families--who are more likely to spend what they receive--are more effective at spurring economic activity and creating new jobs. (source.)

You said: Gas prices have fallen 74 cents since August. Again, so? Ooh. 74 whole cents! Hot damn! What about the $1.30 it used to be before he decided to wage war with the world? What about the tax-incentives he continues to back in the budget every year for big oil and gas companies? Gas prices rose steadily ever since he took office, and it wasn't until April 25, 2006 that he finally said, "Hmm, perhaps I'll do something about this. Break our "addiction" to foreign oil. Oh, that sounds good, doesn't it, Exxon-Mobil?" (source.) The fact is, Big Oil wrote Bush's energy policies from the get-go (source; source.) Yeah, sounds like someone who really cares about how much we pay for our gas; fact is, he cares about how much money they throw his way whenever he needs to raise funds (source; source; source.)

You said: The number of black-owned businesses has risen nearly 50% since 2002.
I have some bad news for you:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, black businesses increased from 800,000 in 1997 to about 1.2 million in 2002, but Democrats say Bush plans to cut funding for the Small Business Administration, which helps minority-owned small businesses grow, by $85 million. The budget also provides no resources for the Microloan program, Democrats contend, even though this program is critical to aiding minority communities by supplying small loans to start up newly established and growing small businesses. (source.)
You said: I could go on and on, but clear-thinking people not blinded by ideology will see the point. Because you aren't blinded by ideology, right?

You said: The Bush tax cuts have worked magnificently! Oh, yes you are. My bad.

You said: 3. I'm shocked that you believe in conservative justices. I said I could respect your position--not that I agreed...

You said: I have read your blog, and your views on gay marriage, and I must say that the only way gay marriage will ever become the law of the land is if liberal activist judges impose it via judicial fiat.
Oh, that old line again. Yes, there are activist judges. Some states, though, are in the legislative process of legalizing gay marriage, so... What will your argument be then? "Activist legislators"?

You said: 4. Wrong again, Jason. I do know what the embryonic stem cell research bill said. It would open the door for embryos to be cultivated and harvested for the stem cells. That's immoral. It is also bad policy, seeing as how there has never been one single medical breakthrough in the field of embryonic stem cell research. Federal funding would be the same as money down the toilet.
What did the embryonic stem cell bill say?

To qualify for federal funding under the bill, newer embryos could be used in studies only if they:
  1. Were created for the purposes of fertility treatment.
  2. Were donated by in vitro fertilization clinics with written, informed consent of those being treated.
  3. Were "in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment" and would never be implanted in a woman.
  4. Would otherwise be discarded, as determined by those seeking treatment.
  5. Were not donated by patients induced to do so by financial or other incentives. (source.)

So much for your "harvesting and cultivating" argument. It was only for existing, unwanted, donated embryos. Nothing more.

You said: 5. There is nothing "fair" about the "Fairness Doctrine". The doctrine states that if a radio station airs 3 hours of Limbaugh or Hannity, they must balance that with 3 hours of liberal talk. If the station can't sell any advertising space for that liberal programming, they must air the liberal programming at their own expense and take the loss. The result? Radio stations just choose to air nothing at all. That's the way it works in the real world, and liberals know it. The Fairness Doctrine is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to suppress conservative dialog. I have a novel idea--why not let the market decide what is played on privately owned radio stations? Or would that be way too democratic for your liberal sensibilities?
I am a firm believer in market-driven products and services. Fact of the matter is that the Fairness doctrine would be an infringement upon freedom of speech, and if that were the sole basis of your argument, there would be no issue form me. But this whole "silencing conservative radio" nonsense is a straw-man argument and you know it. I for one was never in favor of it (although it won't stop me from getting in people's faces who cry "Wolf!" when there's a tumbleweed blowing through the herd) and neither has the Supreme Court or the legislators. In actuality, it was around since the sixties (when the Supreme Court upheld the doctrine) but stopped being enforced a long time ago. It was a policy of the FCC, which is always a reflection of the current administration, and no one but left-wing nuts and right-wing nuts even were concerned about it cause everyone knew it was hooey... So to congratulate Bush on "fighting and defeating the Fairness Doctrine" is a misleading (and false) reason to vote republican...

You said: 6. Wrong again, Jason. Bush took office and eliminated the "wall of separation" between the FBI and the CIA (another bright idea from the Clinton regime)
That wall was in place long before Clinton... During his administration, though, the republican controlled Congress codified it into law (not Clinton)... (source; source.)

You said: so that they could share information again. He raised the pay of the military. He leads the military with pride and confidence, and the brave men and women (all of them volunteers) of the U.S. Armed Forces respond with absolute loyalty.
Yeah, he raises their pay while every single freakin' year he cuts Veteran's benefits--every year!!--so that, while they make semi-good money while in service, as soon as they may need some long-term care from serving our country... Good luck, Vets! Sorry we can't afford to take care of you! (source 2003; source 2004; source 2005.)

You said: Yes Jason, you can go back to making fun of Rush. Perhaps you will have more success with that than you had in trying to debate with a conservative armed with the truth.

Truth my ass...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Subconsciously Rice Is Right, but the Right Disagrees... (Surprise, Surprise...)

From Agape Press, the so-called "news" of the American Family Association: Rice's 'Mother-in-Law' Comment Raises Conservative Hackles

No, you read right. Apparently, knowing that they have alienated their base to the point of no return, Bush's administration has no problem with admitting that there's no reason why gays shouldn't be married, even if it is a subliminal admission.

From the article:

The ceremony involved Secretary of State Rice and the swearing in of Mark Dybul, an open homosexual, as the nation's new global AIDS coordinator -- a position that carries the rank of ambassador. An Associated Press photo of the ceremony also shows a smiling First Lady Laura Bush and Dybul's homosexual "partner," Jason Claire. During her comments, Rice referred to the presence of Claire's mother and called her Dybul's "mother-in-law," a term normally reserved for the heterosexuals who have been legally married.
Oh, good god in heaven NO!!! She referred to his partner's mother as his "mother-in-law"? Of course, anyone who knows me knows I call Jane and Ralph my in-laws. Rich and I are married in everything but paper! It is a societal norm for persons to refer to their significant other's parents as "the in-laws" whether they're married or not. (SIDEBAR: Isn't it interesting to note that the term is "in-law" and not "in-god"? Things that make you go "Hmm...") But the AFA states in the article that

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, says the secretary's comments were "profoundly offensive" and fly in the face of the Bush administration's endorsement of a federal marriage protection amendment, though that backing be less than enthusiastic.

"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," says Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."

Sprigg says in light of the Foley scandal, "it's inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things." He also notes that Rice's comments defy an existing law on the books protecting traditional marriage. "So, for her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner's mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act," the FRC spokesman states.
Okay, first things first: How is this offensive? Who got offended? Who was personally maligned and had their reputation infringed upon? (HINT: No one.) Well, only the fundies were left with egg on their face as they tried to make sense of their poster-boy's employee's words. I'm sorry, but if the comment in no measurable way affects your life, you have no right to be offended--and even if you were offended, who cares? It isn't illegal to offend someone, and the day it does become illegal, I'll be moving...

Then we have the quote: "We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse[...]" Excuse me? Does anyone here know the history of AIDS? How AIDS is affecting this country at this moment? While we are the minority who suffered most grievously when this epidemic first hit the country (and were subsequently ignored by the GOP since it was thought that only gays and not "straight" people were getting it), we have a great sense of the devastation this disease ravages upon people. We lived through it--alone! It is still sometimes referred to as "the gay disease" even though it now stretches across all races, genders, and ways of life, in no part thanks to the Reagan administration's ignoring its existence! Yes, the prolific lifestyles of some homosexuals and drug users played a huge part in its spreading, but if people would have been able to spread the word and let people know what it was, how it worked, and its devastating consequences, hundreds of thousand of lives could have been saved! So, not only is it appropriate for a homosexual man to be in charge of this program, to try to educate the deluded portions of the population and educate them about the disease, it is probably best since our community has been fighting and educating about it since we first had it rip through our lives. This analogy would have been more appropriate if the person in charge were a conservative fundamentalist, who have never made it a secret that they feel we not only don't deserve to live, but we don't deserve to exist. (SIDEBAR: To see how AIDS is currently spreading among the population affecting both gay and straight worlds and lives, see their website here. Note that while "gay cases" are much higher than straight cases [because it includes a cumulative total all persons who were diagnosed with AIDS from the beginning who are still alive today as was noted the rampant spread among the gay population from the beginning], the fastest rising rate for HIV/AIDS is among the African American population, and more than 50% of those cases are among African American young women! And you still think this is a "gay disease"? Fundies suffer from "can't think" disease!)

But if their foot wasn't in their mouth far enough, they insert their other foot beside the first when they say "Sprigg says in light of the Foley scandal, "it's inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things." He also notes that Rice's comments defy an existing law on the books protecting traditional marriage. "So, for her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner's mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the Defense of Marriage Act," the FRC spokesman states.

"In light of the Foley scandal"? So now their Republican fucked-up pedophile stalker who claims victimization of "alcohol, homosexuality, and priest abuse" as the reasons for his fuck-up activity are now reasons to not refer to one's in-laws as in-laws? Not only that, but Rice apparently "broke some laws" by simply saying "in-laws." If that isn't fascism for you, I don't know what is. Was Rice marrying them? Oh, no. Was she handing them a marriage certificate? Um... no. Was Rice advocating for the repeal of the so-called (and hilariously so) Defense of Marriage Act? Uh... um... no, no she wasn't... She was talking about the not-so-traditional family (and it is a family, no matter how you try to deny it) up on stage with her as she honored him and his loved-ones on his new position within the Republican administration. And in there was a tacit (if subconscious) admission that, against not-so-popular opinions against the thought, gays should be allowed to get married, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to. End of facts.

But, being the obnoxious fascists that they are, the AFA goes on to say, in what I'm sure they think is a cleverly hidden jab:

According to news reports, in all three cases the men's homosexual partners held the Bible on which the oath of office was sworn.
You mean-- No, you're lying! A homosexual can touch a bible and not burst into flame? Was god asleep? Nuh-uh!! Get outta here!... Well, I'll be darned. (HINT [and quite a monstrous one...]: Swearing in on the bible is nothing more than a tradition... not a statement of belief or advocating to uphold said fairy tales within... I know many of you find that appalling, but it's none-the-less true. Sorry to burst reality for you like this, but someone had to, I suppose.) Yes, indeed. In fact, many a Buddhist, Hindu, satanic worshipper, liberal Christian, atheists, and hell, even a few child molesters and child stalkers (i.e., Foley!) have sworn on the bible, whether to hold an office or give testimony in a court of law. And none of them have died for that reason. Or been stricken with leprosy. Although perhaps bad fashion sense may have followed, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy existed for a reason, and all was well.

But I think this is what cracks me up the most from the article:

Some pro-family people are starting to wonder if this homosexual influence within the GOP may account for the party's lack of action on social conservative issues. FRC's Tony Perkins says that among the questions that need to be asked are: "Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members or staffers?"
What the "moral majority" has to realize, like so many voting blocks that make up the vast arena of voting Americans in this country, is that they are not a deciding block of voters, but they help. Gay Americans realize this, and so we take all candidates with a grain of salt, vote with the lesser of evils (one of the reasons I'm voting for Bob Casey in the upcoming Pennsylvania vote for Senator--he's not Rick Santorum, and that's good enough for me, even though I disagree with almost everything Casey stands for as well...). Not only is the so-called "pro-family" block of voters not a majority of voting Americans, the "pro-family" voters are only one of several million constituents that the representatives in office are trying to please and balance. Somebody needs a reality check--or, at least, a small enough dose to get them through the confusion...
Thanks to The Dyke Squad for the link to the article. You can read their take on this article by clicking here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

No, Your Uncle Wasn't a Monkey...

How many times must a fundie be hit over the head with facts before they relinquish their hold on fairy tale? I know, now the commercial is stuck in my head too. ("Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" "Hmm, let's find out... One... Two... Three... Crack! Three.")

Please pay attention, and keep hands and feet in the vehicle at all times:


Anyone need me to repeat that?

Evolution, for the record, does NOT state that we are descended from monkeys. I don't know what rock you claim to have found this "fact" under, but it is patently false. Evolution does state that we, as are most primates, descended from a common ancestor. If one is to take an objective, hard look at the fossil record and archeological sites and records, man's history throughout the ages has never been a simple: "And once there was a monkey who stood up one day, shaved off his fur, and became a man." It took millions of years a lot of adaptation along with natural selection and microevolution to get to where we are today.

Let me explain the three key tenets of evolutionary theory, and then I'll attempt to reasonably explain the use of the word "theory" as it pertains to science, okay?
  1. The first tenet is microevolution, when mutations occur (whether through external or internal factors) in the genetic sequence of an organism. Mutations are random and occur naturally through errors in the reproductive process or through environmental impacts such as chemicals or radiation, or both.
  2. The second tenet of evolution is natural selection. Natural selection is a process by which the fittest members of a species live to pass on their DNA, and the weaker ones die because they are unable to compete in the wild. Sometimes called "survival of the fittest" or "elimination of the weakest."
  3. The third tenet is speciation, which occurs when a species mutates to the point where they can no longer breed with other members of the same species. (Science has already proven that this happens quite frequently.) The new population becomes a reproductively isolated community that is unable to breed with its former community. Through speciation, the genes of the new population become isolated from the previous group.
Read it again if you need to. There's no shame in that.

I once explained it on another website (God Vs. Darwin) like this on this post:

Of course all change is within a species... that's how it happens. There's a fish. That fish learns that the bugs that live above the water are better. Gradually, as the fish tries to reach these insects on the banks of the river, the ones with fins better adapted (whether through muscle structure or bone structure through mutation in small bone and muscle genes) are the ones that survive and breeding continues with small mutations over many years until, if you go back and look at this fish compared with the other fish that didn't try to reach bank insects and instead preyed on smaller fish or underwater life; they don't even look the same and can no longer interbreed because the changes are now too drastic at this point (like a tiger and a lion--their genetic offspring is still a cat, but cannot produce offspring of its own; as opposed to wolves and chiuhuas, which, while both still dogs, cannot interbreed at all and produce no offspring). Soon these fish that have developed stronger fins to flop on land to catch the bugs develop other mutations, small, minor ones that make their front fins a bit stronger, maybe a little bent. Given another few hundred to thousand years (barring any major genetic mutations or leaps), that fin is no longer recognizable as a fin, but a leg. But the "fish," while no longer a fish, hasn't changed "species" per se. It is still the creature it was but has so adapted to its environment, that, while we as people categorize it has having changed species (as we like to categorize things: i.e., find design and categories where none exists in reality), it hasn't really--it's just an adapted creature. Same creature, but looking very very different after a few thousand years...
Now this is a major simplification of all the ramifications that go into evolution as a whole, but nonetheless still true. Some examples that we know of that show a bit of this process that are still alive today are the lungfish, the Walking Catfish, and the more recently discovered Walking Shark.

Now, a common argument is that "there are huge gaps in the fossil record that cannot be explained by science." A semi-valid point. Do you know how many conditions need to be in place for something to fosilize or mummify? Of course not everything is going to leave behind a nicely preserved skeleton or impression, and living things, when they die, typically decay. The fact that we can even find as many fossils and artifacts as we have is amazing in and of itself! But when one looks at the evidence, there is little wiggle room for not holding to evolution, as it is our best working model that can be tested, retested, measured, and recorded. So-called "missing links" are everywhere if you know how the dots are connected, but I'll digress for the time being (unless some of you really feel the need to push the issue... and I know some of you will...) Simply because all the supposed "gaps" haven't been filled is no reason to claim "It must be God! It must be God! Evolution is bunk!" Believe it or not, just because you haven't yet figured out the answer to something is in no way a road to attributing it to something supernatural. Lack of evidence in no way equals concrete evidence for the workings of a god--it simply means we need to keep looking, and if it leads to concrete proof in a god (i.e., not faith, but facts), than you may have something...

Now, on to scientific jargon:
Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact to explain an action or set of actions. It is accepted to be true and universal, and can be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. They don't really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true. Examples: Law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hook's law of elasticity.

Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observations made. It is a rational, logical explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what has been observed, but not been proved. Almost all hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation and continued observation.

Theory: A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains a whole series of related phenomena.

Any questions at all?

Now, on to man's and ape's common ancestors:

To see a relatively user-friendly map of man's evolution, click here.

To discover what separates primates from other branches of the evolution tree, click here.

To see a nice visual of the primate family tree, click here.

I'd actually like to go into this more in the future, but for now, just leave your thoughts or arguments or whatever have you. I'll be out of town for the next three days, but didn't want to leave you guys totally hanging out with nothing to discuss... :)

I'll pick this thread back up in the future, though, and go into more depth about our evolution as humans, what all was entailed, how it happened as best I can discover, and so on....

Hope you all have a great weekend! Oh, and Happy Friday the 13th!