Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Congressional Reform Act of 2010

I received this e-mail today and agreed with it (mostly)... so I'm posting it here for ya'll to debate.

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two six year Senate terms and six two year House terms
B. One six year Senate term and three two year House terms


2. No Tenure / No Pension:

A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.


3. Congress (past, present and future) participates in Social Security:

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.


4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays Folks!


Here's wishing every a very happy holidays season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, or the Winter Solstice this time of year, I hope you have a happy, merry, joyous, rip roaring time.

I'm posting this today as I am about to embark on a trip to visit relatives for the next week or so and will probably not be posting or commenting here during that span.

Feel free to use this post to discuss any subject you wish... or simply to wish each other good tidings.

Cheers!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Good Example of Why Atheists Feel Persecuted by Christians

Religious bigots are trying to use an illegal provision in the North Carolina State Constitution to oppose an Asheville, N.C. elected official who is an Atheist.

Last fall, Cecil Bothwell won a position on the Asheville, N.C. City Council. During the swearing-in ceremony last Monday, however, Mr. Boswell -- an Atheist -- chose to not place his hand on a bible, or swear an oath to a deity. This has outraged opponents, including religious bigots who are trying to use a provision in the North Carolina State Constitution that automatically disqualifies anyone "who shall deny the being of Almighty God."

This provision violates the Constitution of the United States; and it is unlikely that Mr. Bothwell's intolerant opponents could prevail in the legal arena. Nevertheless, this story has spread in media throughout the country, and fueled another round of debate over whether Atheists, Humanists, and other nonbelievers are "really citizens" of the United States!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A French Racist Rears Her Ugly Head

A junior French minister has told young Muslims living in France they should dress properly, find a job and stop speaking slang.

Whereas finding a job is noble goal, the manner in which someone dresses, how they speak, and their culture are something that a government official should not be making broad generalizations about.

And, really, why should this idiot give a damn how anybody wears their cap (front to back or back to front)?

The world has enough diversity for us all to be individuals and not dictate how others live.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP


Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP

No, Wait... Now I Know the Only True Religion!

So much for the jealous God. A survey released earlier this year by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that the U.S. is a "nation of religious drifters." If, in the realm of love, Americans gravitate toward serial monogamy (moving from marriage to divorce to remarriage and so on), we likewise flit from one religious affiliation to another, pledging our fidelity, say, to Methodism in our youth, Catholicism in middle age and Episcopalianism in our dotage.

Most (not all) religious people would probably have a very hard time explaining exactly WHY they believe what they believe. Back when I was still a "believer" this is what started me toward the tipping point of dis-belief. I was asked "Why do you believe that? Who taught you that or where is that written?"

I was raised catholic and then drifted toward non-denominational christianity because of a lot of the stupidity in the catholic doctrine. And I adopted different "beliefs" - altering things I had been "taught" as a catholic to better suit "reason." But challenged as I was above, I soon realized that there was no firm basis for what I believed... and that was when I went to re-read the bible front-to-back... and realized that it was ridiculous, too. There was no "there" there!

So back to the article in the link above. Why do people switch religions when the one they are in claims to be the absolute truth? I'm not sure... fickleness? a nagging skepticism? that hot gal is a Baptist so I will be, too?

I think many people cling to religion because it brings them a sense of community and belonging. Nothing wrong with that, I s'pose... unless, or until, they start to impose their beliefs (whatever they happen to be that day) upon others.

When they choose to leave their religion, I'm guessing that it brings comfort to choose another religion, instead of putting the entire concept to the test. Your thoughts?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jesus? Was He Even in Police Academy?

I got a chuckle out of this... Thought I'd share...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are There Any Artists Out There Reading This Blog?

The Council for Secular Humanism is sponsoring a Free Expression Cartoon Contest . The Council – publisher of Free Inquiry, the first major U. S. publication to republish a selection of the Danish cartoons – invites professional and amateur artists to submit their sharpest, cleverest, and most ingenious creations touching on that most sensitive subject: religion. (Though secular humanism is not a religion, cartoons about secular humanists and other activists who live without religion are welcome, too.)

So This is What Socialism Looks Like?

Right off of the White House web site:

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent...

Government should be participatory...

Government should be collaborative...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Is This The Country We Want To Live In? Senator Al Franken

We need more Senators like Al Franken!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Who is Weak and Indecisive?

Osama bin Laden was "within the grasp" of US forces in late 2001 but escaped because then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected calls for reinforcements, a US Senate report says.

Yet many of these same right wing fuckers call President Obama weak and indecisive. All of the primary players in the previous administration should be lined up against a wall and shot for what they did to our country.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Global Blasphemy Law?

American Atheists reports: A key U.S. ally in the "war on terror" is one of two nations leading a group of Islamic countries proposing a global ban on "blasphemy."

Associated Press has obtained documents indicating that Pakistan and Algeria are spear heading a campaign to protect religious symbols and beliefs from mockery -- "essentially a ban on blasphemy that would put them on a collision course with free speech laws in the West."

Reporter Frank Jordans of AP observed: "If ratified in countries that enshrine freedom of expression as a fundamental right, such a treaty would require them to limit free speech if it risks seriously offending religious believers." He added, "The process, though, will take years and no showdown is imminent."

The proposed resolution has been presented to the United Nations several times in recent years at the behest of the Organization of the Islamic Conference which represents 56 predominantly Muslim nations. Islamic concerns over blasphemy have been growing. When Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" was published, for instance, India banned the book as an affront to Islam. Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran then issued his notorious "fatwa" or death sentence; and throughout the world, Islamists organized street demonstrations, riots and even bombings while demanding that governments prohibit the printing or distribution of Rushdie's novel.

In England and several other nations, select Christian, Muslim and even some Jewish leaders condemned the work as an "insult" to religious faith.

Four years ago, the publication of cartoons in the Danish press with an unflattering portrayal of Mohamed led to similar riots and the call for government action to enforce or craft strict anti-blasphemy statutes. And earlier this year, the OIC and its allies introduced a non-binding blasphemy resolution identical to the earlier version. That measure is now slated to be presented at the U.N. General Assembly in December.

Several factors may be fueling the Islamist campaign to rein-in "offensive" and anti-religious expressions. The growth of the Internet and other forms of communications technology has rendered traditional political borders less cohesive. So has the increase in international travel and commerce, along with greater interpersonal contact between diverse "civil society"
groups. Religious movements have benefited from this process as well, though. Islamic fundamentalists often cite the aggressive proselytizing of Christian missionary organizations which many in the Middle East view as a coordinated "attack" on Muslim cultural, religious and political institutions.

Islamists have found some common cause with other religious movements anxious at the spread of values they see as deleterious to faith --everything from consumerism, gender empowerment for women and gays, and secularism in general. Christian evangelicals have denounced American culture for its tendency to "privatize" religion, while at the same time demanding greater access to nations in the Third World -- including Muslim-dominated Southeast Asia and the Middle East -- in order to carry out "the Great Commission" and spread Christianity. Islamic activists have a similar agenda, calling for everything from jihad to the resurrection of an Islamic caliphate into Europe and even the United States. In Britain, for instance, Muslim leaders have expressed outrage at efforts to prevent the building of mosques and religious schools, and are calling for the institution of Sha'ria or religious law.

Pakistan in the Middle?

Pakistan has some of the most severe anti-blasphemy laws in the world. The government must also walk a tightrope between its influential military complex (armed with nuclear weapons, "the Islamic Bomb"), pressure from the United States to cooperate in efforts to suppress the Taliban, and a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement within its own borders. Ironically, a broad coalition of human rights groups, Christians and Muslim legal experts have become increasingly vocal in speaking out against any existing and proposed blasphemy statutes in Pakistan, charging that the measures actually contribute to religious tensions and violence. A report from Asia News last week noted: A popular front is emerging in the country which promises to bring the battle (against blasphemy measures) of laws that provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty for those who profane the Koran, or defame the name of the prophet Muhammed..."

One group calling for prohibition of blasphemy laws is the secular civil society movement Peoples Resistance. It found an unlikely ally in the Pakistan Christian Congress; and in late October, the two organizations held meetings and passed resolutions declaring blasphemy statutes "unjust, unconstitutional and an instrument in hands of extremists to target vulnerable religious minorities."

Feminist and gay liberation groups are also calling for action to abolish the blasphemy statutes; their concerns are being echoed by a number of prominent Pakistani government leaders an politicians who are demanding that the law be repealed. Women's rights activist Hilda Saeed told Asian News, "Pakistan is one of the countries where protection of minorities is respected." Other critics note that the blasphemy statutes were introduced in 1986 under the reign of military dictator Muhammed Zia Al-Haq, and are incompatible with a democratic society.

The blasphemy issue has also become a tool in the hands of religious zealots who cite the need for such a law while carrying out acts of violence against their theological and political opponents..

Ireland -- A Disgrace!

While blasphemy statutes are currently associated with intolerant, authoritarian Muslim governments, support for such measures in the West often takes the form of calls to prohibit "hate speech" and defamatory remarks directed against a specific faith or religion in general.

That rationale worked in Ireland -- for years a Mecca for cutting edge artists, writers and other creative talent --which recently enacted a blasphemy law that was signed by President Mary McAleese in July. It provides stiff fines for publications of utterances that violate the "Defamation Bill." Although it allows for "reasonable" exemptions, critics say that the measure is a slippery slope on the road to banning any criticism or "hurtful" remarks concerning religious beliefs. Procedural glitches have stalled enforcement of the statute, which is now expected to go into effect in January, 2010.

At the United Nations, observers who monitor the effort to enact blasphemy controls say that by continually introducing proposals, the OIC is simply counting on gradually accumulating support that, it hopes,will overwhelm any resistance. The prospect of violence over the next "offensive" cartoon, play, book or remark will also give added voice to blasphemy statute proponents. There is,finally,the on-going confrontation of values -- Enlightenment-era tolerance and civil liberties pitted against calls for religious (Sha'ria) law and "protection" for assorted religious groups. Ironically, as secularism spreads and contributes to the growth of authentic civil society groups, the religious become more anxious that their values are "under stack." In the meantime, it is imperative that defenders of free thought and free expression speak out vocally against any national or international measures like the OIC proposals which, under the guise of "protecting" faith-based groups and ideas, violate human rights, prevent questioning of religion, and provide the faithful a "free pass" from any criticism or doubt.

Fox News Dumbest Anti-Atheist Question of the Month?

Dumb questions on Fox, but a couple of good questions posed in this video.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody [1080p]

R.I.P. Freddie... 18 years ago today...

The Latest in Hard Hitting News From Fox


Yes, folks, this is the kind of journalistic prowess that earns Fox News the title of "fair and balanced."

It should surprise none of us, really, that all 193% of Republicans support Palin, Huckabee, and Romney.

Nor should it surprise us that dividing a pie equally results in the same sized pieces for 70%, 63%, and 60%.

All 193% of Republicans should be proud of this... as should Rupert Murdoch.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vaccines are NOT Dangerous

There is a growing anti-vaccine reaction among the uninformed that threatens our overall health. Some folks "believe" that a measles (mumps and rubella) vaccine can lead to autism. Some think that the H1N1 vaccine is unsafe. Bill Maher called people who get flu shots "idiots." And then there is the hatred directed at Paul Offit, a Philadelphia pediatrician and the coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine that could save tens of thousands of lives every year.

This anti-scientific thinking -- or better yet, lack of thinking -- is causing otherwise "sane" people to become fearful and thereby avoid getting vaccinated. This is unfortunate, as it reduces the overall immunity of the herd (us) and puts everyone at greater risk.

But is there anything to all of those beliefs? No! As Wired reports: To be clear, there is no credible evidence to indicate that any of this is true. None. Twelve epidemiological studies have found no data that links the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine to autism; six studies have found no trace of an association between thimerosal (a preservative containing ethylmercury that has largely been removed from vaccines since 20011) and autism, and three other studies have found no indication that thimerosal causes even subtle neurological problems. The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow. In fact, the growing body of science indicates that the autistic spectrum — which may well turn out to encompass several discrete conditions — may largely be genetic in origin. In April, the journal Nature published two studies that analyzed the genes of almost 10,000 people and identified a common genetic variant present in approximately 65 percent of autistic children.

So get your damn flu shot!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Which I Finally Agree With Sarah Palin (Yikes!)

OK, Sarah Palin has finally made a reasonable point. The photo at the left is the cover of this week's Newsweek. It uses a photo from a shoot that Palin did for Runner's World that was originally published in August 2009. (Click here to see the slide show of photos from that shoot.)

Palin's response: "The choice of photo for the cover of this week's Newsweek is unfortunate. When it comes to Sarah Palin, this "news" magazine has relished focusing on the irrelevant rather than the relevant. The Runner's World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness -- a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention -- even if out of context."

Yes, Palin is a nut case, train wreck and has no place in national politics. But she has a point here. A more appropriate photo for the tone of the coverage should have been used. Of course, if Hillary Clinton posed in short shorts like that I bet it would appear in the National Review (and that wouldn't be proper, either - - for many, many reasons).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Death To You All

The Hebrew Commandments and the punishments for those who transgress them, were as follows:

So if you wanna hang up these rules in schools or on public property, then you oughta be OK with hanging up the penalty for non-compliance, right? And then let me strangle or stone you to death because you've violated more than one of these... on multiple occasions.

Senior Health Care Solution

This is from one of those annoying e-mails that keep getting "sent around" the web, but I thought it made an interesting point.

So you're a senior citizen and the government says no health care for you, what do you do?

Our plan gives anyone 65 years or older a gun and 4 bullets. Your are allowed to shoot 2 senators and 2 representatives. Of Course, this means you will be sent to prison where you will get 3 meals a day, a roof over your head, and all the health care you need! New teeth, no problem. Need glasses, great. New hip, knees, kidney, lungs, heart? All covered.

And who will be paying for all of this? The same government that just told you that you are too old for health care. Plus, because you are a prisoner, you don't have to pay any income taxes anymore.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Don't Panic!

I re-designed the blog a bit today. The previous design was a bit cramped and this spreads things out a bit... and it is lighter and hopefully easier to read.

I also added voting buttons at the bottom of each post, so if you don' want to comment you can at least say whether you like or hate a post... or just want to say WTF (What the Fuck!) or that you found it amusing.

Are You Unable to Think for Yourself?

Religion - watch more funny videos

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Obama finally ‘taking control’ on Afghanistan?

First we see this: President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Then this: In the wake of an AP report on Wednesday that President Barack Obama is not satisfied with any of the options on Afghanistan he has received from his national security team and is demanding revisions, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow turned to veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh for insight.

"It could be huge," Hersh told Maddow, "simply that the president's finally saying, 'I'm taking control.'"

"The one thing that mystified a lot of people," Hersh explained, "was the decision to let General McChrystal write a report. There's no general in history that will come back, given that assignment, and say 'We can't win.'"

"This is basically a war, at best, that's going to be a stalemate," continued Hersh. "And so Obama is just putting his foot down, and that's great. ... He's grabbing it and he hasn't been grabbing it until now."

Hersh also commented on a New York Times story which revealed that the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, former Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, had cabled Washington last week to express "his reservations about deploying additional troops to the country," thereby putting himself "in stark opposition to the current American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who has asked for 40,000 more troops."

Hersh described Eikenberry's cable as "big news," especially because Eikenberry has been one of a group of generals -- which also includes McChrystal, Petraeus, and Odierno -- who graduated from West Point around 1973-75 and have stuck together over the years as what is seen by other military leaders as a "West Point Mafia."

According to Hersh, this has caused "a lot of trauma within the Army, which is very resentful. ... The top of the Army ... they've been very unhappy with the McChrystal appointment and the way things have been going."

That is why Hersh sees it as significant that Eikenberry is now steering an independent course. "This summer inside the embassy," he told Maddow, "there was a lot of concerns about the stability -- literally the mental stability -- of Karzai. And I think Eikenberry probably knows more than most people."

"Eikenberry is simply, I think, reflecting a huge split," Hersh concluded, "because he's now splitting from the McChrystal counter-insurgency wing that's been dominated by Petraeus."

Hersh called his conclusion about Eikenberry a "heuristic guess," but it is supported by one online analysis which tracks Eikenberry's statements since 2007 and suggests that "General McChrystal is on a special mission based a specific philosophy of warfare and that General Eikenberry is performing his duty according to his current assignment with an ongoing evaluation of the various players and facts at hand."

"General Eikenberry is both a soldier and scholar of history and political science," this analysis concludes. "He knows the history of occupations that fail to deliver for the populace and he's telling us right now that the U.S. can't succeed with more military forces in a nation run by an illegitimate president who has been exposed for election fraud. More troops are not the solution."

It will be interesting to see what comes next...

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Top Ten ways you know God is a man-made Construct

This is an interesting little video with some nicely thought out ideas.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oprah vs atheists in Denmark

What a twat! Maybe you believe and you don't know you believe? How fucking idiotic is that?

Foxx: Health care reform is a bigger threat than any terrorist right now in any country.

How do fools like this get elected?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Republicans For Rape

It has come to this. Unable to support anything that comes from the Democratic side of the aisle, Republicans now support rape.

30 Republican senators voted against Sen. Al Franken's anti-rape amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would prevent the federal government from funding contractors whose employee contracts prevent workers from pursuing allegations of rape against co-workers.

I don't know, but rape to me sounds like something that should be able to garner bipartisan contempt. Guess not. Which brings us to the nicely done web site titled Republicans for Rape. Not a woman among them... Not a person of color among them... Sad... Truly sad...

Test Your God Knowledge Here

Here is a short test. See if you can score 100% in your knowledge of the Christian God?

1. Did God kill every living human on earth with a flood?
__ Yes __ No

2. Did God order his chosen people to kill all the non-virgins in conquered cities, but to keep the virgin girls for slaves and raping?
__ Yes __ No

3. Did God send bears to maul children for mocking a bald prophet?
__ Yes __ No

4. Is God stronger than chariots made of iron?
__ Yes __ No

5. Who allowed his most devoted follower, Job, to lose his whole family, fortune, and friends, just to prove a point to the devil?
__ Moses
__ Bill Clinton
__ God
__ Larry King
__ Sean Hannity
__ Barack Obama

6. Did God kill millions of baby Egyptians after intentionally hardening the heart of the Pharoah so he wouldn't let the Israelites go?
__ Yes __ No

7. Are women allowed to speak in church?
__ Yes __ No

8. If you decide to follow Jesus, can you still love your family, or must you hate them?
__ Love __ Hate

9. Does God cause people to eat one another (I'm talking cannibalism here, not anything sexual)?
__ Yes __ No

10. Will God destroy the wisdom of the wise?
__ Yes __ No

Best of luck to you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Nizkor Project

Just a brief post today to share a wonderful site documenting the various types of "fallacies" that you may hear when the troglodytes try to argue with you.

The site is The Nizkor Project, and it contain the work of Dr. Michael C. Labossiere, the author of a tutorial named Fallacy Tutorial Pro 3.0.

Very informational, and also entertaining... check it out at The Nizkor Project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Blasphemy Day!

Apologies for not posting more regularly here lately but life has sort of taken over.

However, I just had to post a link to Gilgamesh's blog post on Blasphemy Day.

Now this is a "day" I can support.

(I deny the holy spirit.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teenage Pregnancies Higher Among The Religious

A report this week in the journal Reproductive Health describes what researchers call “a strong association” between the teenage birth rate of a particular state and its “level of religiosity.”

I find that interesting. I thought religion discouraged pre-marital sex? Goes to show how much people actually practice what they preach, I guess.

Although several suggestions are examined in this article, I particularly liked the assessment at the end “that religious communities in the US are more successful in discouraging the use of contraception among their teenagers than they are in discouraging sexual intercourse itself”.

Sad, really.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Oy Vey! Waxman Equates America with Judaism!

Off with his moustachio-ed head!

In an interview published on Jeffry Goldberg's blog (The Atlantic) Henry Waxman made several comments about how his faith (he's Jewish) informs his policy decisions. At the end, Waxman states "It's hard to sometimes know what's Jewish and American -- they're so close together."

How dare he? Doesn't he know that this here is a Christian nation, godammit?!?!?!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Go Ahead... Fire That Bus Driver

The below story comes from The Examiner... my thoughts are in the title of this blog post:

The Des Moines, Iowa, bus driver who refused to drive a bus with the above ad on it has been suspended from her job. According to a report, Angela Shiel refused to drive the bus because the ad of the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers goes against her Christian faith. The 8-year employee faces termination.

According to the report, the general manager of Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Brad Miller, said that "DART policy states that drivers cannot choose which buses they drive." He said, "'Drivers are not permitted to reject a working bus. It's a very fundamental policy for DART. ... It's an essential rule that we will maintain.'"

Of course, this brings up a whole new issue. Do government employees have the right to refuse to do their job if it is against their religion? Now I cannot imagine that it is written anywhere in Christian documentation that "thou shalt not steer a bus bearing ads of the fool who hath said in his heart or out-loud or in print that there is no God." So, it is difficult to see how this would be against her religion. It may sting her religious "sensibilities" a tad, but how can doing her job, in this instance, be against her religion?

According to the report, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Ben Stone, said, "'As a government agency operating a public forum, DART and all of its employees, including its drivers, are required to follow the First Amendment. Since DART managers cannot claim a religious reason to censor bus ads, neither can drivers.'" He went on to say, "'When you work for the government, part of your job is to respect the rights of your fellow citizens, and you cannot use your religious beliefs to evade that responsibility.'"

Shiel's husband reportedly said that his wife should have the right to refuse to drive a bus with the atheist ad on the side. He said that making her drive one of those buses is like telling her to be "'two-faced for the fact that she wants an income.'"

A Des Moines civil rights lawyer, Roxanne Conlin, has gotten in on the controversy saying that Shiel has the right to refuse to drive the bus and that making her drive it may violate her rights. She said that DART should accommodate Shiel in respect of her religious beliefs if they can reasonably do so. "For example", the report said, "DART might have been able to transfer her to a different bus or let her do desk work."

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. It seems, though, no matter what, when it comes to running these ads, DART is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't... at least for now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Damn Good Question

Jason Rosenhouse of EvolutionBlog poses the (damn good) question "Why Isn't Barney Frank Speaker of the House?"

I echo Rosenhouse's question. Frank would make a fantastic, common sense bull to head the Democratic party in the House of Representatives. His handling of a Hitlerizer was absolutely the correct way of handling a lunatic. And he has on other occassions called bullshit when bullshit was flying, remained rational as Bill O'Reilly spewed stupidity, and actually walked out of interviews rather than suffer fools. Not a bad approach at all IMHO.

Barney Frank would be a better leader than Nancy Pelosi.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dissent or Stupidity

The right wing talking points about the jackasses disrupting town hall meetings are that (1) this is just Americans dissenting and speaking out like our forefathers did and (2) that the Democrats are calling this unpatriotic.

Both assertions are absurd. Dissent is welcome. Compare what is happening in town hall meetings to the previous administration who interviewed people and kept dissenters out of W's events. Seems to me that the Democrats are inviting discussion. What they are not inviting is the insipid, putrid, obnoxious behavior of many of these "dissenters." Since when is yelling "Heil Hitler" at a Jew patriotic dissent? And who actually thinks it is a good idea to allow weapons to be allowed into a meeting where emotions will undoubtedly run high? Republicans!

Then we get to the stupid claim that Democrats, and even President Obama, are calling dissent unpatriotic. This is a lie. Republicans seem to believe that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. Unfortunately, they seem to be correct about that. Truth is, no Democrat has called voicing dissent or displeasure at town hall meetings (or anywhere else for that matter) unpatriotic. Oh, some have called screaming and shouting and lying and Hitlerizing (this is what I call non-Internet examples of Godwin's Law) unpatriotic... and they're right... err, I mean, correct!

By the way, it is quite likely that the Hitlerizing was adopted as a popular right wing tactic after that blowhard pig-boy Rush Limbaugh did it (although there are examples of it occuring before Rush, it kinda blew up after he oinked it out on the radio).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Enjoyable Rapture Post

Just a very quick post today to share this link to The Rapture is not an exit strategy from the Deep Thoughts blog.

Nice job, Mojoey!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh Blackwater, (Don't) Keep on Rolling, Mississippi Moon Won't You Keep on Shining on Me

The following story comes courtesy of American Atheists:

The controversial private security army once known as "Blackwater" is at the center of new allegations involving everything from murder to illegal arms dealing.

A former employee of the firm -- now known as XE -- and an ex-Marine who served as a security operative under contract in Iraq -- gave depositions which were filed this past week in federal court. Identified as "John Doe One" and "John Doe Two," the pair made explosive allegations against Blackwater founder Erik Prince. According to a story in The Nation magazine, Prince "may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company."

One portion of the affidavit claimed that Mr. Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe."

Indeed, Mr. Prince is an unabashed Christian evangelical with a family pedigree of support for religious extremism. He is the son of the late Edgar Prince, a wealthy Michigan industrialist and vocal born-again Christian who bankrolled a number of organizations including James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers, and Donald Wildmon's American Family Association. He also provided the seed money for Gary Bauer's Washington, DC-based Family Research Council. Wife Elsa was active in the semi-secret Council for National Policy, (Board of CNP Governors, 1996 and 1998) a meeting venue for conservatives and religious right leaders.

The elder Prince also funded Christian evangelical ministries like Gospel Communications International, a Michigan-based outreach which produces proselytizing films. Today, that ministry has expanded to include a number of internet-based projects including The Navigators, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Children's Bible Hour International.

Erik Prince's sister, Betsy, married Richard DeVos, President of the multi-level marketing giant Amway. DeVos's involvement in religious right politics dates back to the 1970s when he helped found the so-called "Third Century Movement" which grew out of a series of secret meetings in Washington, DC. According to author and historian Sarah Diamond ("Spiritual Warfare, The Politics of the Christian Right"), this was the genesis of the modern religious right. Also "present at the creation" were Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ); insurance magnate Arthur De Moss; and then-Congressman John Conlan. DeVos also bank funded the FRC's glitzy Washington, DC office building. Wife Betsy was prominent in the "school choice" movement, and at one time served as Chair of the Michigan Republican Party.

Erik Prince was born in 1969, gained entrance to the U.S. Naval Academy, but transferred to Hillsdale College in Michigan and graduated in 1992. He served as an intern for George H.W. Bush in 1990, and two years later joined the Navy SEALS. From there, he inherited an estimated $1.3 billion from the sale of his father's company, Prince Automotive, and in 1997 established the Blackwater firm. From there, Prince operated under a Byzantine array of names including Blackwater Security Consulting (2002), and quickly won crucial government contracts. In 2007, Erik Prince testified before Congress during a probe of allegations that Blackwater operatives engaged in misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prince resigned as Blackwater CEO; meanwhile, the company morphed into XE. Prince has retained his title as Chairman, though, and according to published reports claims little involvement in day-to-day operations.

The depositions filed in federal court portray Erik Prince as a driven, ruthless paramilitary boss with a Christian supremacist vision of global affairs. "John Doe #2" stated in his deposition:

""Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar (sic), the warriors who fought the Crusades."

The deposition continues:

"Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to 'lay Hajiis out on cardboard.' Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's openly and consistently used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as 'ragheads' or 'hajiis'."

Despite growing problems over the Blackwater-XE operations, Prince has continued the family legacy of serving as philanthropist for religious right interests. He serves as Vice President of the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, which according to Salon.com provided $630,000 in funding over a three-year period to the Family Research Council, and over $500 to the Focus on the Family. Erik Prince is on the board of the group Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit mission to assist "Christens who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ."

He has also contributed money to the Alliance Defense Fund, a religious advocacy and legal group that defends school prayer, posting of the Ten Commandments on public property and other practices.

Along with the federal investigation into Blackwater and XE, there is a civil suit filed on behalf of Iraqis by the Center for Constitutional Rights. All of this may shed more light on the secretive, "private army" which, say some critics, is the modern day equivalent of the crusaders.

Health Care Facts

Do ridiculous right-wing talking points about death panels and forced abortions have you confused about health care reform? Are you looking for some sane, reason-based discussion about health care reform?

If so, check out the new White House web site, Health Insurance Reform Reality Check.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Religion in a Nutshell




Watch the shiny watch.

You're getting very, very stupid.

All is well.

Follow the swinging watch.

Stupid...



Thursday, August 6, 2009

If I Were King

Here are some things I'd do if I were king:

(1) Decree that the highest salary paid in any company doing business in the USA could not be any more than 25x the lowest salary. So if the lowest paid employee earns $20,000, then the highest paid employee could not earn more than $500,000 in salary. I'd impose similar rules on stock options and perks.

(2) Decree that basic health care should be treated as a right, and not something that can be withheld from the poor and needy. And then institute the infrastructure to make it so.

(3) Decree that the USA is not now, nor has it ever been, a christian nation.

(4) Decree that the USA is out of the world policeman business and redirect our obscene military spending toward programs to reduce poverty and ween the nation of the oil-spewing teet to which we are clinging like a starving infant.

(5) Decree that filibusters must actually be filibusters... that is, if you want to filibuster, then you have to get up there and talk. And when you have to go to the bathroom or leave the podium, filibuster over.

(6) Then I'd abdicate and call for elections.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Birthers on the Hill

The Republicans, they be bat-shit crazy!

Isn't That Convenient?

I've noticed a propensity for the "believers" to discount the huge number of philandering christian leaders, priests, and ministers saying something like "Oh, they weren't really christian, then." Well, then, I guess there are no christians, at all.

How do I make that leap? Start off by taking the mindset of the "christian" apologist. S/he thinks that a "pervert" is not a christian because christianity teaches that one should not do that. Well, christianity also teaches that one should not lie, steal, cheat, etc. These are called sins. And it also teaches that everyone is a sinner and needs to repent.

So, if the sinner (pervert) is not a christian, then the others sinners (liars, cheaters, everyone) are not christians. Simple as that. I am so relieved that there are no christians!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Few Things Worth Looking At...

Today's post will offer several links to things I've found interesting and would like to pass along for your entertainment and education:

First up, we have The Thinking Atheist who blogged about some of the utter nonsense in the bible. My favorite is how he summed it up: "It’s perfect. It’s infallible. It’s divine. It’s irrefutable. And there are unicorns in it." Nice job...

Another story I just recently stumbled upon comes from the USA Today. The story talks about how some atheists are choosing to undergo a ceremonial de-baptism. Evidently they use a hair dryer to blow the baptismal waters away. LOL.

ABC News also recently reported about the rise in the number of non-believers. Some of the numbers bandied about include: Some 15 percent of Americans claim no religious affiliation, up from 8.2 percent in 1990, according to Trinity College's American Religious Identification Survey, released in March. Also, the American Humanist Association claims 20,000 financial supporters. That marks a doubling from five years ago, says spokeswoman Karen Frantz.

And finally, it looks like ghosts are now putting a beatdown on the living! But not to worry, they've called in a priest to fix things... that ghost better scurry on back to the great beyond before that priest figures out how to bugger a boogieman!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jesus Shows Up In Remarkable Places


If you get close enough, you can almost smell him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Do You Believe This Shit?

ABC News: Virgin Mary Seen in Bird Poop

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sotomayor's Temperment?

SCOTUS nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor was asked if she had a temperment problem by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

I wonder, would the same question have been asked of a man? Like Scalia?

Blasphemy!!!

The following entry comes from American Atheist News:

Blasphemy is once again in the news.

No, we're not talking about Durban II, the international conference held earlier this year that saw a coalition of Islamic groups and governments hoping to codify "blasphemy" as a crime that "insults" Muslims. One does not have to travel half-way around our planet to find powerful interest groups that, in the name of their religion, seek to ban any criticism, questioning, "hateful" remarks or other comments hostile (in any way) to their particular faith, or faith in general. Just when we have "tamed" Christian denominations in the western world that once supported and imposed such restrictions, international relations are now burdened with similar impulses from Islamists.

In Ireland, the parliament has passed a law that will impose a 25,000 Euro fine for the crime of blasphemy. There are conflicting accounts of the final vote centering on the absence of two lawmakers; but the government had been backing the measure, while the Atheists, Freethinkers and secularists there waged a vigorous campaign to defeat the intrusive measure. Ironically, there are blasphemy statues already on the books and ensconced in the Irish Constitution; the new legislation actually reduces the punishment for this "crime."

Justice Minister Dermot Ahearn defended the statute and insisted that it would be enforced only in cases where actual damage to a substantial segment of the population had occurred. He added that the measure exempted works that a "reasonable person" would consider to exemplify "legitimate" works of artistic, political or academic value. Michael Nugent, a spokesperson for the Ireland Atheists groups, however, pointed out that the law seems to protect only the sensibilities of religious people. "Why should religious beliefs be protected by law in a way that scientific or political or other secular beliefs are not?" he quipped.

That same question may be raised about a situation in South Florida where the Florida Atheist and Secular Humanist Society (FLASH) has erected a billboard bearing what some find to be a controversial and even blasphemous message -- "Being a good person doesn't require God. Don't believe in God? You're not alone -- www.FeeThoughtFlorida.com."

According to FLASH President Ken Loukinen, the purpose is to let Atheists, Freethinkers and other non-believers know that "there is a group for them, and to raise public awareness" about the myths and lies often told about Atheists.

The notorious "A-Word," Atheist, does not appear on the advertisement, nor is there an appeal to the religious that they change their views. Indeed, the message is more about changing attitudes than weighty, abstract ideas, and makes a plea for tolerance and acceptance rather than conversion. This is apparently too much, however, for some local churches and religious believers who are described as "up in arms over Atheist billboard" according to one news report.

The billboard is located at Sunset Boulevard and NW 27th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, just east of Interstate 95. It also happens to be next to a private business owned by an African-American preacher,

Residents are becoming vocal in their protests over the billboard. The Christian Examiner web site reported: "Neighboring businesses are trying to get the billboard removed. Some businesses in the area are complaining that it is affecting their business. 'When you have something like this here, people don't want to come and patronize us anymore,' Theodore Hamilton, an employee at a local business, told WSVN news ' We don't agree with this. We don't like this here in our community, and this is a spiritual-based community.' "

Another news account identified Hamilton as a "nearby business owner," who stated: "Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Christian, whoever you are, we all believe in a spiritual higher power. When you have something like (this billboard) here, people don't want to come and patronize us."

Other reports reflect that the objections to the billboard are eerily similar to other pleas on behalf of censorship and, more specifically, blasphemy. The message is purportedly "offensive" or "insults" the sensibilities and faith of believers.

Presumably, these same believers appear so anemic and insecure in their faith-based prejudices that they are easily offended, or perhaps nudged ever so gently in the direction of outright theological skepticism. Or, the harmony and tranquility of an entire neighborhood is being disrupted. People should, it is suggested, be made "free from insult" or possible "hurtful" remarks, or -- on a more significant level -- from evidence that might undermine religious beliefs.

Ironically, history demonstrates that it is rarely the Atheist or Freethinker that is the only target of blasphemy. Religious sects and individual believers have squabbled throughout history, and usually resorted to government-enforced blasphemy laws to silence their theological critics. British statutes prohibited remarks that insulted the divinity of Jesus Christ or the Church of England.

When Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" was condemned in a fatwa by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, Muslims in the UK not only rioted in the streets but demanded that Islam, too, be included in the protections of the blasphemy statutes. Christian sects spoke out against the publication of the book as well, suggesting that, yes, their co-religionists should not be "insulted" by the mere existence of such a tome.

The Florida case invites a "Gedankenexperiment" or "thought experiment" to make an important point concerning civil liberties, pluralism, and intellectual tolerance. Imagine that a religious billboard -- soliciting people to a church, mosque or temple service, or extolling the virtuosity of a particular deity -- was erected near the residence of an Atheist. Maybe this billboard was strategically placed near a location where nonbelievers gather for meetings or social interaction. Now, imagine these same Atheists taking offense at the religious billboard, and insisting that it should be removed.

"People of faith" and religious advocacy groups would be, well, up in arms. How dare these nonbelievers speak out against "god" and the right of the faithful to speak in the public square! Media, pulpits and political podiums would all erupt in waves of condemnation.
The Atheists would be portrayed as intolerant bullies, intellectual misfits, Nazis, Communists, dupes for Satan and threats to liberty.

Indeed, IF Atheists were to do such a foolish things, they would be threats to human freedom, and guilty of much more. Yet in remarkably similar circumstances, like the outcry over the Florida billboard, the religious seems to receive a less harsh judgment, or perhaps even a free pass.

Atheists are subject to "hurtful" remarks, insults and socio-political marginalization on a daily basis. Polls suggest that the majority of Americans would not vote for an Atheist candidate seeking an office of public trust. Public figures like Star Jones can opine that she may not trust her children in the care of a person who did not believe in a god. Atheists are still banned from some fraternal groups, or considered dishonest (presumably since we lack the specter of hell to prevent wrong-doing), unwholesome, and a menace to the community. Yet, no major (or even minor) organization representing Atheists, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists that this writer is aware of has advocated censorship of religious expression.

We HAVE supported efforts to end government endorsement and promotion of religion; but we are firmly in the civil libertarian camp on this issue of freedom of expression.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Proposed Burqa Ban in France

A call by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to prohibit women from wearing the notorious Muslim body garb, the burqa, has led to heated debate and the creation of a government commission to investigate the proposed policy.

On June 22, Sarkozy -- who in the past has opposed restricting the public proselytizing and display of religious symbols in the public square -- described the burqa as "a problem of liberty and women's dignity" that was "not welcome in France." He added that the full-body covering was less a religious symbol than "a sign of subservience and debasement of females" that resulted in "women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity."

While many secularists may agree, Sarkozy's proposal puts the government in the position of essentially creating a "dress code" for French citizens. It also raises serious questions about the strategies and limits in upholding the French cultural and political tradition of LAICITE, a term that refers to a robust separation of government and religion. As a political policy ensconced in French law, Laicite grew out of the effort in the 19th century to reverse the power exercised by the Roman Catholic Church over the country's educational and cultural institutions.

The Jules Ferry laws established free, secular education in 1881.

Separation was re-enforced in 1905 with new legislation, including the French Law on the Separation of the Church and the State.

This measure stressed the separation of government and religion, freedom of and from religious exercise, and restrictions on the public power of religious groups.

Today, LAICITE is supported by a wide range of civic and even religious groups, including anti-clerical movements, civil libertarians, freethought and Atheist/Humanist societies, and the Grand Orient of France, the nation's largest Masonic body. There are disagreements, though, on how far LAICITE should go; indeed, the dispute over the burqa highlights the conflict of individual freedom and "inappropriate" proselytizing in the public sphere.

Intelligence sources report that an "affiliate" of al Qaeda has
already threatened violence if the burqa ban becomes law. On the
other side of the political spectrum, Human Rights Watch warns that
such a law would be counterproductive. Islamic religious groups
say that the proposal stereotypes Muslims and is "insulting."

Ronald Sokol, international attorney and author of "Justice After Darwin," examined the proposed burqa prohibition in a recent op/ed piece in the New York Times ("MY Burqa Is None of Your Business, July 3, 2009). Sokol points out that the public display of burqas is not a widespread phenomenon in France, and may be, in fact, a guarantee of privacy and anonymity in public. "A state that proclaims democratic values cannot justify telling its residents what to wear or not to wear any more than it can justify telling them what to think or what to say or to which god to pray when no harm comes from the behavior, save the shock felt by those whose views and customs differ," warns Sokol.

There are other problems as well. Banning the burqa may fuel the ambitions and stature of a small coterie of Islamic fundamentalists who already criticize their brethren for being lax in religious practices. Muslims would see secularism, laicite, as a policy that must be enforced by government force rather than reason. And the policy could fuel the arguments of strident fundamentalists that "Islam is at war" with modern society.

A commission has been appointed by lawmakers to examine public policy is respect to the body garb. A report is expected in the next two weeks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Joke-lahoma

A Resolution in the Oklahoma State Legislature blames the recent economic meltdown and related fiscal problems on lack of Christian morality, rampant secularism and general "debauchery."

The measure, introduced by Rep. Sally Kern (R) enjoys the support of many Oklahoma Republicans, and singles out President Obama's decision to celebrate this past month on behalf of gay rights. It has been dubbed the "Oklahoma Citizen's Proclamation for Morality."

Kern is perhaps best known for asserting that homosexuality is a greater threat than terrorism.

Are there any sane Republicans left?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Your Site on the Web for Hokum

John Edwards (the bullshit psychic, not the bullshit politician) has started a psychic web site called Infinite Quest!

Since it is psychic, I'm sure the site already knows how much I loathe it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Who's a Clown?

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) called the newly-certified senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, a "clown" on Wednesday...

What does that make the Republican "god" Ronald Reagan then? An ape boy?

Reagan was just a pathetic B-movie actor who had to work with apes to earn a living.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How Many of These Gods Do You Believe In?

The Common Sense Atheism blog recently posted a fantastic entry titled Gods You Don't Believe In.

The posting lists a handy comparison chart of the gods christians deny and the gods atheists deny. And the conclusion is that we’re not so different, after all!

Check out Gods You Don't Believe In and see if you don't agree.

More Needless Spending Encourage by Christian Republican

Before the August recess, a resolution will be voted on by the House of Representatives that will require the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the words "In God We Trust" and the post-1954 Pledge of Allegiance onto the walls of the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). References to religion and faith are already included in several of the permanent exhibits, and the words "In God We Trust" are even present in one such exhibit. But that's not enough for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) who is pushing for a larger, bolder display. Let your Representative know that you oppose his efforts.

Click here to take action now.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this additional engraving could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Tell your Representative that it is inappropriate for taxpayer money to be spent promoting a distorted image of America that undermines The First Amendment, and alienates the millions of nontheistic Americans who neither "trust in God" nor pledge "under God." This legislation will most likely pass the House with a large majority vote; however, members of Congress must be educated about why appeasing the Religious Right is offensive to millions of Americans who value our nation's secular heritage.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hypocritical Republican Question of the Day

Who said this about Bill Clinton?

"...if you undermine trust in our system, you undermine everything."

Hint: It is a two-faced, hypocrite, Republican, asshole.

(I know, that is not much of a hint... there are so many of them.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One Big Reason I Support President Barack Obama

Is America a Christian nation, as many conservatives claim it is? One American doesn't think so. In his press conference on April 6 in Turkey, President Obama explained: "One of the great strengths of the United States is … we have a very large Christian population -- we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

President Obama has not been everything I had hoped he would be. This does not surprise me at all. I am not a fan of continuing or heightening the war in Afghanistan. I am not a fan of not going after torturers and exposing the wicked things they did. But, all in all, President Obama is doing a fine job, at least in the opinion of this liberal atheist. And the above quote/link is just one example of that... I mean, could you even imagine GWB or any one his cronies saying, or supporting, such a statement?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Those Slap Happy Scientologists

As reported by Raw Story:

The leader of the Church of Scientology beat staffers, forced a group of key executives to play musical chairs for their careers and allegedly encouraged purchase of “must have items” to prop up church coffers, according to an article Sunday that’s received little followup treatment by other news outlets.

In addition, the article says that one of the leader’s key lieutenants deliberately helped cover up the circumstances of a follower’s death in 1995.

David Miscavige, the Church’s “tanned,” “chiseled” leader, is portrayed in the report as an intense, pugilistic chief executive of a Church that’s run with the efficiency of a large multinational corporation. Four major former Scientology figures give a detailed account of the inside workings of the Church — which the French government has labeled as a “sect.”

Two former leading figures in the Church described an incident in which Miscavige forced top-ranking Church officials to play musical chairs for their careers. “Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else — losers, all of you — will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world,” the St. Petersburg Times Joe Childs and Thomas Tobin wrote. “If families are split up, too bad.”

He then purportedly had the church members play musical chairs to the sound of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The following day, they said, he slapped a church manager, threw him on the ground, and “delivered more blows.”

Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are quoted in the piece as speaking out for the first time. Also quoted is Amy Scobee, a prominent ex-church figure who helped created Scientology’s “celebrity network,” which “caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.”

In a followup article Monday, Rathbun admitted that he had a hand in covering up details related to a follower’s death. Rathbun said he reviewed entries in a daily log kept by the woman’s caretakers and found several troubling areas that might indicate neglect.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Consumer Financial Protection Agency

US President Barack Obama urged stronger consumer protection in financial markets Saturday, vowing to defend the interests of those “who play by the rules.”

“We are going to promote markets that work for those who play by the rules,” the president said in his weekly radio address. “We’re going to stand up for a system in which fair dealing and honest competition are the only way to win.”

On Wednesday, Obama proposed what he said was the most sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system since reforms implemented after the 1930s Great Depression.

The plan included the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency to shield Americans from the extremes of credit, savings and mortgage markets.

In his radio address, the president said the new agency will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want and understand.

He complained that today, consumers signing up for a mortgage, student loan, or credit card have to deal with voluminous and incomprehensible contracts that often contain important terms hidden in fine print.

“Those ridiculous contracts - pages of fine print that no one can figure out - will be a thing of the past,” Obama promised. “You’ll be able to compare products - with descriptions in plain language - to see what is best for you. The most unfair practices will be banned. The rules will be enforced.”

He acknowledged that special interest groups supporting big business were already mobilizing against change, but he vowed not to back down.

“The most important thing we can do to put this era of irresponsibility in the past is to take responsibility now,” the president noted. “That is why my administration will accept no less than real and lasting change to the way business is done - on Wall Street and in Washington.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Another Hypocritical Christian Republican

He is a key religious right operative on Capitol Hill, a lawmaker with possible presidential ambitions, and a deceitful hypocrite.

Meet Sen. John Ensign, a Republican senator from Nevada, and a sanctimonious blowhard with a staunch "family values" voting record who opposes abortion rights, wants to re-instate teacher-led prayer in public schools, and steps up to the nearest podium to denounce other public officials who engage in private sexual misconduct.

He is also active in the Promise Keepers movement (chuckle), and according to one news report, "resists temptaation" by not being alone in a room with a woman other than his wife. Now, the spotlight is on Ensign who admitted Tuesday that he engaged in an extra-marital affair with a woman who had served on his campaign. staff. According to a spokesperson, Ensign and the unidentified staffer carried on their tryst between December 2007 and August 2008. Her husband worked in Ensign's Capitol Hill office at the time.

"Last year I had an affair," declared Sen. Ensign in a statement to news media. "I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life I could take back, this would be it."

Ensign's wife, Darlene, dutifully released her own spin-control statement, saying that she and her husband had "come to a reconciliation." The couple have three children.

It is not clear why the Senator, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential race, admitted to the wrong-doing, although there are unconfirmed reports of a blackmail threat. What makes this latest revelation of misconduct by a leading public official noteworthy, though, is Ensign's staunch social conservatism and penchants for denouncing others who have committed similar peccadilloes. In the midst of the imbroglio over Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, for instance, the Nevada Republican loudly denounced the president's actions and describe the affair as "an embarrassing moment for the country," adding "I think we have to feel very sad for the American people and Hillary and Chelsea."

Ensign demanded that Mr. Clinton resign from office and said "I came to that conclusion recently and frankly it's because of what he put the whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through..."

At the time, Ensign was in a hotly-contested race with incumbent Harry Reid. The brash challenger said that the Clinton affair "could have a dramatic effect on Democrats like (President Nixon's resignation following the Watergate break-in) had on Republicans in 1974." During the campaign, Ensign hammered away at the Clinton scandal, and accused Mr. Reid of weakness when it came to denouncing libertine politicians and sexual hanky-panky.

Despite losing to Reid, Ensign later won a seat in the U.S. Senate where he quickly established credentials as a water-bearer for religious right groups. The Christian Coalition "voter guide"
gave him a 100% favorable rating; and at the congressional well, Ensign was quick to denounce any hint of sexual misconduct, even when it involved fellow Republicans. He towed the line on hot-button political issues, voting against abortion rights for women, opposing same-sex domestic partnership benefits, and coming out strongly in defense of teacher-led unison prayer in public schools.

Sen. Ensign also emerged as a supporter of Sam Alito and John Roberts for confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

When it came to legislation having to do with the Establishment Clause separation of government and religion, Ensign earned a zero percent rating from the state-church watchdog group Americans United.

John Ensign is also a key member of a shadowy, Washington, DC religious cult that over the years has operated under a battery of names and disguises. They include, according to a March 2003 expose by Harper's Magazine reporter Jeffrey Sharlett, National Committee for Christian Leadership, the International Foundation, the Fellowship Foundation, and Fellowship House. To members and informed outsiders, the group is simply "the Family," and maintains a sprawling house/retreat in a quiet Arlington, Virginia neighborhood. There is much praying, and much talk about what amounts to theocratic government. The group's $10 million annual budget comes from a handful of wealthy donors, and its only public activity is the National Prayer Breakfast. The group also conducts "prayer warrior" meetings in the Pentagon. The Harper's expose lives at http://www.harpers.org/archive/2003/03/0079525.

This certainly is not the first time that a leading politician --especially one with impeccable religious-right credentials -- has engaged in hypocritical conduct that speaks less to their public religious sensibilities that it does to the slogan, "Do as I say, not as I do." Mr. Ensign joins the ranks of Rep. Mark Foley; "Larry "wide stance" Craig; "Crusader Eliot Spitzer, the former New York Governor who made his political career as a foe of corruption in high place; and, of course, a retinue of philandering preachers including Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Rev. Tim Haggard along with an undisclosed number of pedophile clergy.

No doubt Sen. Ensign, who loudly demanded the resignation of Bill Clinton, will now engage in a media rain-dance that we have come to expect whenever public figures -- celebrities, politicians, super-star athletes -- stumble in their careers. He will "seek counseling," give lip service to apologies, engage the assistance of a "spiritual advisor" and then once again step up to the pulpit or podium talking about "the healing process." Indeed, the American people are a forgiving folk. We insist on this ritual of self-humiliation, asking for that very forgiveness, and then smile when the former wrong-doer basks in the bright light of redemption.

The only problem is that no one mentions the hypocrisy. Sen. Ensign is full of prescriptions, prohibitions and rules that others must follow lest they slip into the clutches of sin. In his case, though, this is just another example of being a hypocrite, and living by a credo that declares: "Do as I say, not as I do."