Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ya Just Gotta Love Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens' most recent column on Slate from this past Monday is a wonderfully reasonable view on religion and the election. Here are a few of the juiciest tidbits that I enjoyed most, but I urge you to click on any of the links here to read the entire article:

Luvya, Christopher!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No Torture, No Immunity!

I received an e-mail today from the Committee for a Democratic Majority and it seemed like a worthy cause, so I thought I'd share part of it with everyone here:

The Bush Administration is trying to cover its tracks - and it's up to our Democratic Majority in
Congress to stop them.

The Administration wants Congress to pass a law to grant immunity to any phone company that participated in President Bush's secret domestic spying program. The CIA now admits it destroyed video tapes showing agents using torture to interrogate suspects. Torture is illegal, and covering it up is a crime too.

It's obvious this Administration thinks it's a law unto itself. They don't trust the American people with the truth. That's unacceptable.

Demand the truth from President Bush:

President Bush doesn't accept the rule of law, and apparently the phone companies don't either. With their help, the Bush Administration secretly spied on Americans for years, without any court orders or oversight. Now the president wants Congress to grant retroactive immunity to companies that broke the law at his bidding.

President Bush claims that American lives will be lost unless Congress changes FISA. He also says he'll veto any legislation changing FISA unless it includes immunity for the phone companies.

So if we take the President at his word, he's willing to sacrifice American lives to protect phone companies! Who's next? The private contractors they've let run amok in Iraq? The airlines they use to take suspects to other countries where torture is legal?

Enough is enough is enough is enough. Tell President Bush our laws apply to him too - and anyone who helps the Administration violate them: ttp://

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Beg Your Pardon?

Have you heard about the latest Republican jabfest? A recent television commercial from Mitt Romney accuses the surging Mike Huckabee of issuing too many pardons when he was the governor of Arkansas. The commercial talks of how Huckabee issued 1,033 pardons and commutations as governor of Arkansas while Romney issued none while leading Massachusetts.

This is kinda reminiscent of the Willie Horton stupidity of the 1988 election. You remember that, don't you? George Bush (the elder) accused Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis of poor judgement for allowing the weekend furlough granted to Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who went on to rape a woman and beat her boyfriend while free.

But if you dig a little deeper you have to start questioning old Mitt's motives. First of all, zero pardons? None? Doesn't that seem a little extreme in the other direction? You could almost make the point that Romney was planning a presidential run and avoided all pardons, even though it is a duty of state governors to review and consider reasonable pardons. Anything to not be lumped in with Dukakis, that liberal governor from Massachusetts!

Romney's most noteworthy pardon denial was his rejection of the request of an Iraq war veteran who was trying to become a police officer after his National Guard service. What did the guy do? Well, when he was 13 years old he shot a friend in the arm with a BB gun... and it didn't even break the skin.

The best thing about all of this ridiculousness though is that it is one Republican doing it to another. Let those fools bang on each other about useless things like this and none of them will look presidential come November 2008... and we'll elect the Democratic nominee (whoever that may be).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Can You Fart Like a Kangaroo?

I challenge anyone just surfing the web to come across that headline and then not click on over here to read this post. The headline is compelling and amusing and impossible to ignore!

When I ran across this story I just had to blog about it. According to The Age:

AUSTRALIAN scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say. Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

So, instead of altering our diet to reduce our intake of red meat, we appear to be more eager to alter the red meat?!?! Let's hope they just modify the stomachs and not the legs. I mean, who'd want to have to keep track of a field of hopping cattle? And who'd want to try to milk a kangaroo-like cow?

Just when I thought nothing new could ever surprise me...

Naturalist vs. Atheist

Both of the terms in the title of this blog post describe me, but after reading an essay in Christopher Hitchens' latest book I have decided that the first one (naturalist) better describes me than the second one (atheist). More on that in a moment.

The book, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, is highly recommended reading. It is a compendium of articles and essays written by a variety of different atheist luminaries. The book is thought-provoking and easily digested in small bites.

Anyway, one of the essays toward the end of the book succicntly discusses why the term naturalist is better (for atheists) than the term atheist. Basically, it is because the term "naturalist" defines the person in terms of what s/he embraces and not in terms of what s/he does not. A naturalist "believes in" the natural world around him and what can be viewed, measured, and enjoyed in nature. I like this and it defines me well.

Secondarily, being defined as a naturalist allows me to define theists as supernaturalists. That is they "believe in" things that can not be seen or measured in nature. It lumps them in with believers in ghosts, fairies, unicorns, and leprachauns. And rightly so, for these things are all supernatural.

Ahh.... do you feel it? I feel all refreshed and redefined heading into the holiday season and next year...