Tag Archives: Politics

How do I Get a Bailout?

How do I Get a Bailout?

Come on, I’m looking at the credit card statements, the current value of our house, the gas prices and the utility bills, and I’m thinking that if Mr. Bush wants us to contribute to the rescue efforts for Insurance and Banking, he should be sending a little our way, too. After all, we didn’t get into this situation by making ass-backwards investment decisions, and we don’t have well-padded portfolios and personal assets to fall back on, so don’t we deserve it even more? Oh, wait – maybe that’s what you need to have to qualify.

The way I see it, though, we’ve already paid enough to the “decision-makers”, and giving them more of our money instead of making them pay the consequences is so incredibly. . .gawd, there is no way to simply express the absolute depth of the asininity of this. This is like giving your kid a brand new Maserati to replace the Ferrari he trashed when he got drunk, drove it into a house, set it and the house on fire to cover it up, and said it had been stolen when he was found the next day passed out on the front lawn next to the smoking wreckage.

Make the company owners pony up for their own bailouts. Take it out of the pockets of the folks who stole it in the first place. Either that, or let’s be fair and use that money to bail out the people who were hurt by these companies in the first place. That’s not the real world, I know. In this world, we have an in-group that sneaks provisions into things like the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that make corporate bailouts an unprotestable, no-voting-needed automatic gimme. If McCain gets elected, with Phil Gramm in a position to get even more of this kind of one hand washes the other legislation put through, there’ll be more of the same.

These are the folks who are trying to convince us that the other guys are “elitist”. This little club that gets to take things away from other people, and keep all the good stuff for themselves. Well, at least they’re not the undesireable kind of elitist, whatever that’s supposed to be. Oh, wait – that would be the rest of us, complaining about footing the bill for their selfish, stupid, wasteful investment schemes. Those of us who will be paying the bailout billions, not receiving them.

Drinking the Sarah Palin Kool-Aid

Drinking the Sarah Palin Kool-Aid

I haven’t been astonished at the reactions I’ve been seeing among certain people to the nomination of Sarah Palin. Honestly, there are still people out there who think that Saddam Hussein engineered the 9/11 attacks, that we need to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here, and that George W. Bush is one of our greatest presidents EVAR. They write lots of letters to the editor, and they leave poorly-thought-out comments on blogs. Without exception, they sound like they have gone to the Fox News website and copy-pasted directly into their brains. Yesterday, though, I was shocked to see a Palin endorsement on the blog of someone I once considered a critical thinker. Yowza.

What did I see? Well, the complaint about the press coverage of daughter Bristol’s pregnancy. The argument that it’s a private matter is generally put forth by people who are unaware or unconcerned that Ms. Palin wants every child in the US to benefit from the same kind of sex education that got her daughter that way in the first place. Admiration that she can field dress a moose (a very important thing for the leader of our country to know.) A casual disregard for the fact that Ms. Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine was – only one detail of what she does and does not know, as seen in her interview with Charles Gibson:

For me, this shows that during the time that she was secreted away, protected from the press, she was learning not about issues, or filling holes in her knowledge, but how to use approved Republican sound bites to dance around the issue without actually answering any questions.

What blows my mind is that the only issue mentioned where there is a difference of opinion between Palin and this person is abortion. I cannot fathom why there is no concern about the fact that Palin believes the world is only 6,000 years old, that man walked with dinosaurs, that she wants the Bible to be used as a history and science text in public schools, and that we’re living in the “end times.” I was surprised that nothing had been mentioned about her attitude towards Israel, since that is pretty much the top subject of the blog, but I wonder. . .most of the rapture-ready are very pro Israel only because they’re certain that the return of all the Jews to Zion will get the Revelation ball rolling. If I were concerned about electing a candidate who supported Israel, I wouldn’t want one who wanted to ship all the country’s Jews over there so the end of the world would come faster. In fact, regardless of that, I wouldn’t want a president or vice president who wanted to hasten the end of the world in any way whatsoever.

Why is there no concern about the Wasilla librarian fired by Palin because she wouldn’t take “objectionable” books off the shelves? Doesn’t it rankle that she lied about her support for the “bridge to nowhere” and earmarks in general? Is it unimportant that her geographical closeness to Russia is represented as “foreign policy experience”? That when she (or McCain) are caught distorting the truth, they manufacture outrages rather than issue corrections or apologies? (Lipstick on a pig is now a sexual slur, but it wasn’t when McCain said it a few years ago? Cut me a break. It’s a sexual slur the way “pot calling the kettle black” is a racial one. Which is to say, not.)

Nope. It looks like there is one overarching qualification Palin has that subverts any of her other shortcomings. She has a vagina.Around 3:19. . .Samantha Bee is parodying this attitude, but to see it in real life is disturbing. No matter how you expand it into an argument in favor of putting more women in positions of authority, when it comes down to that, it doesn’t count as a rational position. To see it coming from someone who purports to be a rational thinker is truly unpleasant. The thought that people all over the country will be so easily hoodwinked into the idea that voting this woman into office will in any way represent progress for women makes me fear for my daughters’ future.

The Power of Prayer. . .

The Power of Prayer. . .

Not too long ago, I passed on a story about a young girl who died because her parents were treating her diabetes with prayer. A different church attempted the same thing with young Ava Worthington, with equal success, and now Ava’s cousin has had the same results.

Fortunately, Oregon, unlike Wisconsin, has laws that hold parents responsible for withholding medical treatment from children in favor of faith healing. (In the articles from kgw, it looks like this particular church was a driving force in this law.)

Colorado had just changed their law granting exemption from prosecution for faith-healing parents when this happened:

March, 2001
Grand Junction — Charges have been filed against the parents of a 13-year-old girl who died from a common infection that turned into gangrene after her parents opted to treat her with prayer but not medicine.

Randy and Colleen Bates, members of the General Assembly Church of the First Born, were issued summonses Friday on charges of criminally negligent homicide, reckless manslaughter, reckless child abuse resulting in death, and criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death.

Church of the First Born members believe there is a biblical injunction against medical treatment. They treat illnesses and injuries with prayer.

Amanda Bates, one of the Bateses’ 11 children, died Feb. 6. Someone at her home called 911 early that morning to report an unattended death. Paramedics were able to revive the skeletal youngster, and she was kept alive until evening on machines at St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. An autopsy showed she died from complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of infections. Amanda’s infection began with an easily treated vaginitis, which eventually spread and turned to gangrene.

Even a group called Religious Tolerance lists faith-healing sects, including their incidences of unnecessary deaths. Our tolerance, as well, should be exclusive of beliefs that cause this kind of suffering. Perhaps we must allow people to hold their beliefs, no matter how ridiculous, but they have to be held responsible for the actions they take because of their beliefs. People whose beliefs include animal sacrifice or grave robbing for human remains to be used in ceremony find themselves charged with crimes if they’re caught sacrificing animals or robbing graves. There is no reason that people who withhold medical treatment from children until they are clearly ill, even until they die, should not be charged with a crime. The evidence of faith healing’s failure as a treatment is abundant – evidence of its success is wishful thinking.

And yet. . .our tax dollars just paid for Ken Ham to speak at the every-Wednesday Pentagon Prayer Breakfast.

Despite the fact that Ken Ham is delusional, as any look at Answers in Genesis or a brief tour through his ludicrous Creation Museum shows. But our military leadership wants to hear what he has to say.

Despite the fact that the prayers of devout believers directed at specific individuals has failed to save their lives, our government supports prayer to save entire troops (who were sent into danger by the very same folks soliciting the prayers) both ideologically and financially.

Despite the fact that parents avoid simple, proven medical treatments in favor of wishing really hard end up killing their children, many states exempt them from prosecution.

Am I wrong to object to my government endorsing religion in this way? Does it not seem like letting people die is OK as long as you really wish hard that they don’t? Is doing nothing, in the form of waiting for your invisible friend to grant your wishes, a get out of jail free card?

As long as prayer is held up as a viable course of action, practiced loudly and publicly by influential people, and allowed as an excuse for people to act in otherwise inexcusable ways, it is indeed an establishment of religion. It is a violation of the Constitution, and a violation of common sense.

Holiday Display Controversies

Holiday Display Controversies

In Racine, Vernon, CT, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, atheist groups have put up their own displays alongside Christmas themed ones, and it has raised at least as much ire as the legal insistence of menorahs and kwanzaa decorations on public property.

For the most part, Christians are quite willing to share the secular part of Christmas with everyone, not bothered in the least at decorated trees, lights, santas and snowmen showing up in the most non-religious of places. Plenty of people understand that retailers are profit-motivated rather than religiously motivated when they have “holiday sales” and wish people a generic “Happy Holidays”, and don’t mind seeing some gifts, decorations, and wrapping paraphernalia that isn’t exclusively Christmas-oriented. And when courts decided that displays on public property had to be either completely secular or inclusive of all celebrations, most people understood and accepted that. The idea was that if everyone was paying the taxes on the land, the purchase price of decorations, the electricity costs, labor by public employees to erect, dismantle, maintain, and store the stuff, that it shouldn’t be exclusionary. No big deal. Nativity scenes without anything unrelated aren’t forbidden on private property or church property, after all, any more than menorahs, or Buddha statues, or pentagrams, so religion is hardly being suppressed. Really, most people are OK with it. Read the rest of this entry

Plus Some Regular Trackbacks

Plus Some Regular Trackbacks

Turns out E. J. Dionne isn’t the only wingnut writing for the Washington Post. I don’t need to write a post about this, just check the article commentary and reader comments on William Kristol’s Bush-Worship Can you say “sycophant”, kids?

Plus, we get some news today on Vitter, as well. Seems he had a little personal chat with God, and God forgave him. Must be nice to have connections. Especially ones that tell you that it’s OK to recant and say you didn’t do any of the things you already admitted to, and that even the phone records are lying. Again, head over to Crooks and Liars for the story, video, and comments on Vitter which covers it better than I could.

Yep. We really should stop picking on Republicans. How can we, though, when they make it so easy? It’s just impossible to resist! O’Reilly should switch camps and try it – at least he’d get caught in fewer lies.

Why Defend Vitter?

Why Defend Vitter?

I was a bit stunned by E. J. Dionne’s defense of David Vitter. In his syndicated Washington Post column, he said:

My defense of Vitter is qualified because I believe that married guys have a moral obligation not to seek the pleasures of “escort services.”

Nor do I like hypocrisy. During the battle over the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Vitter wrote in the New Orleans Times-Picayune that if no “meaningful action” were taken against the president, “his leadership will only further drain any sense of values left to our political culture.” Vitter, then a state representative, suggested that Clinton was “morally unfit to govern.”

But a big part of me is rooting for Vitter to survive because I so want to return to a time when we — that “we” includes the media — chose to pay little attention to the extracurricular sexual activities of our politicians. The magnitude of our public problems does not afford us the luxury of indulging in crusades about politicians’ private lives, even those involving a high degree of hypocrisy.

So essentially, he’s advocating that we turn a blind eye to hypocrisy, even when it involves someone who is actively trying to promote discrimination against an entire group of people and push for a fundamentalist christian theocracy. What else should we forgive, Mr. Dionne? Pedophiles who are otherwise gosh-darn good legislators? How about the fellows who line their pockets by promising favors – as long as they’re not taking tax dollars like Sharpe James, does that count as part of their personal lives that shouldn’t be subject to scrutiny?

He continues later:

But if we are to get out of this habit of destroying the distinctions between public and private lives, liberals need to give the conservative hypocrites a break.

We should acknowledge that the outing process is erratic and leaves many falls from grace safely shielded from public view. We should also admit that we are tougher on the moral flaws of politicians who belong to a party other than our own.

I see. So since some of them get away with it, we should stop outing everyone entirely. And you know what, I think there are two reasons the focus is on “a party other than our own.” First, that party is making the most noise about infringing on certain people’s rights because they belong to a group other than THEIR own. If you think it’s OK that adulterers and serial monogamists and clients of prostitutes can make laws prohibiting long-term, legal monogamy to a specific group of people because it’s a threat to the “sanctity” of marriage (something with no legal basis or impact), or try to override the Constitution by promoting an official religion in the form of official prayers, display of religious items like the ten commandments or a portrait of Jesus on taxpayer-owned property, and teaching of religious lessons in science and health classes in public schools, then you are just as guilty of wanting partisan accountability. Second, if we completely stop any oversight, then it means that we are essentially allowing politicians completely free rein – unsupervised, carte blanche permission to screw over the American people up, down, and sideways. Hey, while we’re at it – we don’t catch everyone who robs convenience stores or rapes women, so how about we ease up on that, too? That’s an awfully boneheaded argument, IMO.

At the end, he winds up:

Typically, we make fun of public figures who seek our sympathy by admitting to “sin.” But maybe a politician who admits to sin gains a certain degree of humility in the process. Let’s grant Vitter our collective absolution and move on.

Mr. Dionne, we’re not all just making fun of him. The people whose rights he actively seeks to deny are not laughing, they’re outraged. He’s not being humble, he’s being sorry for getting caught. If he could, he’d be like Dennis Hastert or our illustrious VP and try to put a better spin on it, but he doesn’t have that luxury, so he HAD to ‘fess up.

Here’s some Vitter statements and “accomplishments”

From Vitter’s press releases:

July 18, 2006 –
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter issued the following statement after today’s U.S. Senate vote on H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act:

“At a time when many Americans believe that killing human embryos is immoral, I do not believe that the federal government should use taxpayer money to fund research that would do so. That is why I am so disappointed in today’s action by the U.S. Senate. I believe that we must be careful not to compromise our values and we must fight to protect the sanctity of all human life. It is my hope that President Bush will follow through with his threat and veto this bad bill.”

Sanctity again. We should not be legislating based on “sanctity”. If the life of these embryos should be subject to legislation based on “sanctity”, then I want to see some bills prohibiting their creation or enforcing implantation or each and every one. Because there’s no “sanctity” in them getting tossed in the garbage, either.

January 22, 2007 –
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today introduced a resolution supporting the right to open school board meetings with a prayer. Last year courts banned prayers during the opening of the Tangipahoa Parish School Board meetings as unconstitutional.

“A small but active group of radical judges are trying to chip away at right to free religious expression,” said Vitter. “Our constitutional fathers didn’t intend to prohibit all mention of God or expression of religion. The First Amendment protects the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Vitter’s resolution reaffirms that voluntary prayer by an elected body should be protected under law and that the Supreme Court was right when it said that courts cannot single out and punish religious speech simply because it’s religion.

“The U.S. Senate opens every day with a prayer, as does the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures across the country. School boards should not be treated any differently,” Vitter said.

And we’ve already seen what happens when that prayer doesn’t issue from one religion in particular, haven’t we? If prayer doesn’t include every single person at a meeting, and there’s no way it can, it’s not protected speech, it’s promotion of religion.

April 18, 2007 –
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter today made the following statement applauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a federal ban on partial birth abortion:

“This is a landmark decision that builds a legal consensus for protecting and cherishing life. I supported the federal ban on this gruesome practice when I was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and today’s decision reaffirms the constitutionality of that ban,” said Vitter.

The Supreme Court ruled 5 – 4 in favor of upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Act.

This is an absolutist, uninformed, religious point of view that will condemn women to death, and take decisions out of the hands of the educated and informed doctors who should be making them. It’s not an elective procedure like a boob job.

June 25, 2007 –
(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter last week authored a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee expressing support for reauthorization of the Title V Abstinence Education Program of the Social Security Act. Twelve senators joined Vitter in writing in support of the program.

“This a valuable program with proven results, but it is nearing its expiration. We must reauthorize this program so we can continue the incredible strides we have made in teaching teens about both risk avoidance and protecting themselves from potential abuse,” Vitter said.

The proven results are that teen pregnancy rates are higher in school districts with abstinence education. There are numbers on this somewhere, but all I could find was the general results on the Planned Parenthood site and a few of the studies they cited. ugh. I know they’re out there somewhere, I’ll post them when I find them.

OK, fine – maybe Vitter did some good things. Mostly he tried to get money for his state, and stood behind a religious Republican agenda. You know what, if he’s using his “moral values” to initiate or support, he should be upholding those values in his personal life. We have the right to criticize a person of great wealth who takes money from the poor and middle class and pontificates about how they should be pulling themselves up from their bootstraps. We have the right to criticize a person who benefits from comprehensive insurance and medical care who favors more expensive and restrictive medical care for everyone else. And when someone wants to deny an entire group of people the right to pursue happiness because it is “immoral”, promotes prayer of his particular flavor at public meetings because it’s “moral”, and delcares medical procedures and research that save lives “immoral”, then his own practice of “morality” should be scrutinized. Indeed, it’s essential. We do not need our rights being decided and denied by people who live by the tenet “do as I say, not as I do.”

Mr. Dionne, the women who will die because of politicians who don’t approve of a procedure that will save them, the people whose diseases will not be cured by stem cells that end up in a dumpster, the people who are taxpaying citizens who are excluded by christian prayer at government meetings, and the devoted couples who will be denied the rights that accompany marriage because a married man who frequents prostitutes declares that their union threatens the sanctity of his have every right to criticize Mr. Vitter. We have every right not to forgive and forget. We have every right to know about the private life of a hypocrite, Mr. Dionne, when he condemns the morality of others in order to deny them their rights while giving lip service to morality when it benefits him.

Paul Hill

Paul Hill

OK, this is an appalling thing, but it’s been suggested that a blogswarm will bring attention to it. As tiny as this blog is, it’ll be a contribution. July 27-29th this year, a group of sick individuals will be holding Paul Hill Days in Milwaukee. In case you don’t recall, Paul Hill is the man who brazenly shot Dr. John Britton and James Barrett, his bodyguard, because he was “avenging” aborted fetuses.

Regardless of whether you are against legal abortion or not, it should be abhorrent to you to commit such an act – a normal-thinking person would never murder in such a cold-blooded, premeditated way. As a society, we even have laws that punish such an act with much more serious consequences than accidental homicides or crimes of passion. However, Mr. Hill proudly proclaimed his guilt, held himself up to the world as a messenger of god, and blatantly entreated others to follow in his footsteps, which is why he was executed by lethal injection.

The people who are planning this “celebration”, though, are clearly not normal-thinking people. To exemplify the degree of their irrationality, and for those who elect not to visit the site, I present the fact that they plan to culminate their celebration of Paul Hill with a re-enactment of the shooting of Britton and Barrett. This is sick and repellant. Their co-conspirators, Children Need Heroes and , Street Preach, with the support of the reprehensible Army of God (Warning: Graphic Images) represent some of the worst in Christian extremism. While much of their venom is aimed at abortion, they do give some time to other people they’d like to kill – and if they can’t find it in their loving, Christ-like hearts to do it themselves, they sure as heck hope someone out there will read their sites and take up the task themselves. The people who’ve killed doctors, nurses, “ho-mo-sekshuls” and innocent bystanders are given high praise – and for those who are still alive and serving time, addresses where you can write and support them and donate money to get them out. Presumably so they can continue killing for Christ.

When people ask why atheists can’t “just shut up”, these people are one of the reasons. When people argue that bringing God into government, schools, and all possible aspects of American life would be a good thing, these people are the counterargument. And when Christians who see only the love and goodness their church preaches wonder why their religion is getting a bad rap, these people are why. Any decent human being, regardless of his or her faith, or lack thereof, should be adamant and vocal about their opposition to these terrorists. Just because they’re not in another country, or practitioners of Islam, does not make them anything else but that. The killing of people who oppose their hateful agenda is an act of terror, because it puts all other people in fear for themselves and their loved ones. The people who will be at the Paul Hill “celebration” should be recognized for what they are, and treated the same way as any other terrorist or potential terrorist. If this event finishes up without the FBI rounding some people up, it will be a sad statement about the true level of safety we’re given by the Department of Homeland Security.

Sam Brownback, Off Course to the White House

Sam Brownback, Off Course to the White House

There’s a lively discussion over at Crooks and Liars about Senator Brownback’s latest moral declaration. All I can say (besides what I said on the comments thread) is that I’m glad he’s making so many theocratic statements now, so we don’t have to worry about him becoming president and surprising us. I wish they’d all be so open (keep it coming, Huckabee! You’re falling behind Brownback!) so we’d have a crystal clear picture of who’s going to respect the Constitution if he’s elected. It’s bad enough that they’re already elected officials somewhere, we don’t need any more presidents who don’t see the line between fantasy and reality.

It Must be Stupid Rays from Outer Space.

It Must be Stupid Rays from Outer Space.

I’m blown away.  Bush’s approval rating is down the toilet because of Iraq.  The Iraq Study Group (paid for by us, ladies and gents) says we should get out.  Our professional military leaders, seeing it firsthand, say we can’t “win”.  The death toll is climbing, hatred against the US is growing, and that is causing new terror cells to form.  Bush’s solution?  Send more troops.  If I see one more letter to the editor in the Ocean County Observer praising our wonderful president (we seem to get one or two a week) I swear I’ll blow my stack.  I can’t even write a fully-informed blog here because I couldn’t bear to read the whole article.  Maybe I’ll just wait until Keith Olbermann comments and link that.  He’s much better than I am at seeing straight and remaining coherent when furious.