August 31, 2005

This bothers me more than I can say

It has been a long week (and it is only Wednesday). I feel bad today. I feel angry and frustrated. I feel a sense that the world is falling apart on me. And then I read this where TPM discusses how the Bushies have cut FEMA to the bone. After all, it isn't about terrorism, so we have to cut it out. Of course, nothing stops the tax cut gravy train. All the voters who sold their soul for that $300 would be pissed, now, wouldn't they? What is a natural disaster or the rising death toll?

I am beginning to think that the GOP and Bush and all the Republicans who assure me that Bush is such a Godly man, really read the Bible to say: "Get yours--that's all that matters."

This is a repeat as well, but I have lost so much respect for people. I could understand their hatred of Clinton. Their love of Bush, however, is perplexing, and doesn't wear well. Face it people, if he is Christian, then you don't really stand for anything. Anything good, that is. And I don't actually believe that. I just think you have been had.

Hell, we all have.

August 30, 2005

Disney Church

Great post from a blog I had never read before. Greg linked to them, and I laughed when I read their account of attending a Mega Church in Dallas.

My favorite line (except the one about the women showing off their boobies--that one is hilarious) is this taken from Ed Young Jr.'s sermon:

* God's Authority is like an umbrella. Men/Husbands should hold it and everyone else in the family should huddle around him.

* A family should tithe 10% (fine), save 10% (cool), and the other 80% is "your money to go shop for the glory of God." I. SHIT. YOU. NOT.

Shop for the glory of God. WWJD? Shop his ass off, evidently.

A note on church

Educat has an interesting discussion with a woman who is homeschooling and attends a SBC church complete with Starbucks. It is a thoughtful exchange and should be celebrated.

Kristen and Brandon and Greg have all written about church a lot lately. (Sorry for not linking, I am annoyed with my computer right now. Actually, annoyed with my classes and my guest-lecturer who bailed, and my online application that works badly, and my own lack of sleep.....)

But trust me, Bad Christian, the Parish and McCarty Musings are all having discussions (ongoing, really) about church. And they are good discussions.

But they raise something that I don't know how to admit. I am not interested in church. I kind of want to be, but when I hear my friends talking about going to church and maybe even doing church right, I realize that I am still not interested. I read about the SBC church with the Starbucks, and read that it is a place that welcomes the prostitutes and drug users, and I am glad for that. But when I think about going to church, I just feel, disinterested. SOF and I are looking for places to help others, and we continue to do that. But going to church leaves me cold.

Why is that? Anyone? I have no clue.

August 29, 2005

Oh, this is funny

Bruce alerted me to story from CBS News where Hugo Chavez is suggesting that they might seek extradition since calling for the assassination of a foreign leader is a terrorist act. I doubt very much anything will happen, but it is funny.

But that wasn't the funny part. Chavez evidently has a sense of humor and has obviously read some of Robertson's other insane comments before. "We could offer him free psychiatric treatment ... but he could be a lost case" Chavez said sarcastically of Robertson and controversial statements the conservative commentator has made in the past. "

Exactly. Robertson is beyond treatment. This wasn't some slip or aberation. This was exactly in line with what he has been doing and saying for the last 30 years. Time for Christians to repudiate him and his so-called "ministry."

August 28, 2005

Hard to muster the sympathy

While making dinner, I flipped to CNN. They had a story about how gas prices were effecting this particular woman's life. She talked about how after putting in $63 into her SUV tank, she had to cut back for her twin boys. She had to be more economical.

I felt a twinge of concern for her. After all, many people are certain to have hand-me-down and used vehicles that are not as efficient and they have fewer options. But the story ended showing her brand new, 2005 Denali. That's right, after the war and hint of gas prices going up, this dumbass bought a very expensive SUV. No sympathy. none. Your twins have bigger problems than you cutting back their toys. They probably have to fight off your stupid genes too.

Oh, and naturally, on the side of the Denali was a yellow ribbon.

One more plug for Anderson's book

You can preorder the book here.

And check out the cover!

I can hear the wails from Texas already.

Damn spammers

Ok, one more change. Added the word verification to the comments. Had about 5 spams just this morning. Sorry.

tinkering with the template--I usually regret that!

Saw this cool hack over at Kevin's blog and want to try it. If you look down the right column under the recent posts, you will see that I am attempting to display the recent comments. I am not sure it is working, but will give it a bit.

More on Stewart

As Anglican noted, Jon made some really good points. Here is a rough transcript (I found it over at kos):

The people who say that we shouldn't fight in Iraq aren't saying it's our fault... [edit] There is reasonable dissent in this country about the way this war has been conducted that has nothing to do with people believing we should cut and run from the terrorists or we should show weakness in the face of terrorism or that we believe that we have in some way brought this upon ourselves. They believe that this war is being conducted without transparency, without credibility, and without competence.

[The president] refuses to answer questions from adults as though we were adults and falls back upon platitudes and phrases and talking points that does a disservice to the goals that he himself shares with the very people he needs to convince.

August 27, 2005

Daily Show and Chris Hitchens

Hey, just wondering what everyone thought of Jon's interview with Hitch. I missed it Thursday night, so just watched it. I thought Jon was as animated and critical as I have seen him. In fact, dare I say it, I don't think I have ever seen anyone argue with Hitchens nearly as effectively.

Anyone else?

August 26, 2005

With apologies to my Wisconsin friend, a plug

Greg has an article in the Oklahoma Gazette (nice job Greg) but there is another article in here that I am interested in tonight.

If you click on the main story and read Greg's story, you will find another one right below (or just go pick up the free copy if you are here in the metro area). The very provacative title (which I really don't like) hightlights what promises to be an important book on American history. Gary Anderson's The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, promises to blow the lid off Texas worship. As someone who finds the Texas idolatry annoying, I am very intrigued. Anderson argues that Texas Rangers, far from being the "citizen soldiers" or romantic fighters, made a habit of attacking Indian villages for spoils and killing men, women and children in the process. In fact, reading the blurbs I have read reminds me of the California Indian story--where out of work miners turned to killing Indians to make money in the off season.

But the point of this post, besides the plug, was to call attention to the early response from the director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, who said that "Anderson is jumping to conclusions." But here is my favorite part:

“A quick review of publications attributed to Mr. Anderson shows titles related to Native American history suggesting a predetermined point of view,” Johnson said to the Gazette. “History is rarely ‘us versus them’ but a complex tapestry of shades of gray. Our position is to examine both the considerable contributions of the Texas Rangers in Texas history, but also the lessons learned from their missteps.

There is so much wrong with this, but just a few points. A) Does anyone else find it ironic that the Texas Rangers museum is calling for a "complex tapestry of shades of gray?" Texas Rangers fans tend to be--other than angry when the pitching fails in the heat of August--dedicated to a mythic portrayal of Texas heroes. The Alamo is a sacred place to them. Second, I love how this learned critic can take so much from the titles of Anderson's publications to prove how biased he is. Don't get me wrong, I don't need to read Ann Coulter's book on "how to talk to a liberal (if you have to)" to know that it is biased. But I am not sure you can look at this book and simply assume that Anderson doesn't have the facts to back it up.

Kind of relates to our conversations on "ways of knowing." The Texas Ranger guy "knows" that, while the Rangers did some bad things, but they "learned from their missteps." He just knows that. So, there is no reason to accept that there might be a "theory" that explains it differently. But I have seen some of the pro-Texan books and their documentation. You would be amazed how many times assertions are made like "Commanche raped every woman they captured" or "during the Civil War, nearly 400 settlers were killed by Commanche in the vacuum left by the war"--all without a shred of documentation. Nothing. But we have documentation of Texas Rangers killing kids on raids. We have proof that California miners took body parts to redeem for bounty.

And yet Indians are the savages?

What if Jesus spoke at a Republican fundraiser?

I really need to be doing other work, but this is just too good. From Caleb and Carlos, this satire that is better than my own President Jesus stuff.

Imagine Jesus speaking to a crowd of AmeriChristians?

Ken Mehlman asked me to come down here today to meet with you good people and clear up a few things you've been wondering about. I told him I'd be glad to eat a little crow for a good cause. You'll forgive me if I read a brief prepared statement, but Ken and my Dad want me to get this just right. (LAUGHTER) Here goes.

"In My youth, I made certain ill-advised statements that I now regret. If I offended anyone, I apologize. I want to clarify that it is easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)

"I'd like to apologize specifically to the money-changers. It is My sincere hope that you will come back into the Temple free of charge as My guests." (WILD APPLAUSE, CHANT OF "U.S.A! U.S.A!")

It would be funnier if I didn't think that many in the GOP really believe this!

August 25, 2005

Pat, my Powerbook, and other thoughts

Ted Olsen from Christianity Today (or a commenter saying he was Olsen--that isn't a shot, just a recognition that it is hard to tell) pointed out that CT has been pretty critical of Robertson in the past. I concede that and hope they continue to address his problematic theology.

I will let this one go, even though Robertson's recent non-apology is frustrating enough (I am sorry, but I meant it and I was right to say it). Pat Robertson is an idiot and a whore. He sells Jesus Shakes and crap like that. He is a shill for the Bush administration and gets his jollies off attention. I understand that.

But he also reveals some underlying problems for AmeriChristians--and most of them probably haven't thought about it. Robertson is beyond help, but many evangelicals are not. When Robertson talks about Chavez and his threat to the US, he talks much about the oil and how cutting off that oil to the US could hurt us badly. As SOF pointed out so very clearly the other day, that is an American issue, not a Christian issue. An issue of policy, not of faith. But, as SOF pointed out, Robertson cannot tell the difference. And that is the problem for the rest of conservative Christianity. If you can't tell the difference between the interests of the faith and the interests of America, then you need to do some thinking.


As I blogged last week, my powerbook died a clanking and noisy death. Here is a plug for Apple, however. I called in the problem on Thursday evening. They overnighted a mailer box for the laptop, but it didn't arrive until Monday (DHL doesn't deliver on the weekends or I would have had it on Saturday). I packed up the box Monday afternoon and dropped it off at my neighborhood DHL center. That was Monday evening. When I returned from class Wednesday afternoon, there was a box at my door. Not too shabby.


One more Robertson story, but this one a funny memory. I led backpacking tours in California one summer, long, long ago. It was for a Southern Baptist summer camp, and obviously, was back when I called myself a Southern Baptist. Anyway, my partner was a seminary student at Golden Gate and a hell of a nice guy. He had a great sense of humor and, despite his inability to read a damn map, was a great partner.

His wife, on the other hand, was a little more interesting. I liked her (can't even remember her name now) but she was on her own wave length. Hell, they both were. I remember them telling me that they did no planning for their family and wouldn't use birth control because God would decide how many kids they would have. They already had three, I think, and she was expecting before the summer was up. I remember thinking that seemed a, well, silly theological statement to make. But hey, they were happy.

Anyway, we were sitting in one of the interminable chapel meetings one time and I was sitting next to my partner's wife. She opened the flap of her Bible and showed me a sticker that read "Pat Robertson for President." I laughed and laughed. "That's a good one."

She wasn't kidding. She didn't think it was funny. I did and still do.



As my anonymous friend William Walker (the Filibusterer) said about Robertson and Falwell: "it would be cheaper to take them out rather than go thru so much long term political organizing and refraiming of their dumbass arguments."

August 24, 2005

Creation, Evolution and a realization

Kind of a confession. I have been battling over this creation v. evolution debate for a while. I realized something today. I reacted at first because I took it personal. I am not an evolutionary biologist (though my neighbors are, fwiw), but I am a historian. I think my reaction was sympathetic personal attack syndrome.

I get annoyed when people reject my historical interpretation. Not that I am always right, but I wonder when people reject it without any basis. They haven't read widely on the subject--have not studied history in depth, etc., but can so easily dismiss the interpretation of someone with a doctorate in the subject. So when I read people dismissing evolution, but then restating evolution in a way that makes it clear that they don't have a clue what evolution is--that bugs me. It bugs me when people demonstrate that they really don't understand what a scientific theory is.

But I realized I don't have to take it personally. I have a habit of taking things personally that aren't intended that way. It isn't good for me, and I know that. But in this case, it is really irrelevant.

As I have written lately, the issue is not about what I think or the nature of my expertise--or the expertise of my neighbors. It is about how knowledge is gained and evaluated. The problem with the Christian nation crowd is not mine, it is with people who know next to nothing about history but have heard an explanation that they "like," or that they "feel is right," or that they "believe," or they "buy."

But who cares what any of us "feel" about knowledge? Facts are facts--evidence is evidence. Feeling is not the issue. And neither is my "feeling" of being disrespected. Not relevant.

I hope that proponents of creationism and the Christian Nation idea learn a little more about how knowledge is understood and evaluated. Especially when they make decisions in voting booths about how both are taught to the next generations of kids. But I won't hold my breath. The power of "knowledge" that is self-affirming is too addictive.

But it isn't about me.

More Pat

As a commenter noted over at Carlos's blog, Christianity Today has as it's lead story the fact that a Christian singer I have never heard of is getting divorced. I couldn't find Pat Robertson's hit anywhere on the page.

Bruce and Bootleg Blogger weighed in on my last post on this blowhard (have I mentioned that Pat Robertson's head is really, really big?). They are pessimistic that anything will happen. I agree. Even lower ratings will just mean, as BB put it, that he is being persecuted. Conservative Christians love fake persecution, and so will probably rally to his side no matter what ridiculous things he says. Remember, this isn't the first. He has said that feminism wants women to kill their babies and become lesbians. He has taken credit for moving hurricanes around! He has said that gays and lesbians and liberals were responsible for 9-11. He has prayed for vacancies on the Supreme Court!

Why is anyone surprised and why haven't people turned on this asshole before?

Christian ethics indeed

Wasp Jerky and Jesus Politics point us to this column. In short, the Christian Right is promoting an agenda that is counter to Christian beliefs. Some highlights:

Organized religion in America plays a peculiar role in relation to politics. Instead of being a prophetic voice on behalf of the poor, the powerless and the marginalized, it has become more often an apologist for the corporate rich.


The secular ruling ideology is convinced that Jesus Christ was wrong when he said you can't serve both God and money. With the support of most Christians, it practices the secular economic values of the Russian-born atheist Ayn Rand-the gospel of greed.


We now have the most corrupt, dishonest, and mean-spirited government in our history. Its performance in people programs is the worst in the industrial world. The world's richest country is at or near the bottom in things like: minimum wage, vacation time, paternity leave, poverty rate, illiteracy rate, crime rate, prison rate, access to healthcare, access to legal services, access to decent housing, access to public transportation, and access to higher education.


The secular ruling ideology would collapse without the support of its religious base. Since it reflects Nihilistic and relativistic values that are the antithesis of Christian values, why do Christians support it?

The Christian values tell us to love our enemies, love our neighbors as ourselves, and do unto others as we would have them do unto us. The secular ruling ideology, on the other hand, cultivates hate, fear, violence, greed and exploitation.


The church has done a poor job of teaching Christian social values over the last 30 years.

The polls now show that, the more often people go to church, the more they support the anti-Christian goals and values of the secular ruling ideology.

Who would have dreamed that Christians would support military invasions to build a secular corporate empire-an empire to rule the world by force? We are now reaping the results of that ideology: large scale death, destruction and division at home and around the world.


Exactly. I really wonder how they have done it, but the Bush administration has succeeded in turning the world upside down. Christians now defend torture, greed, war, and wealth. The conservative Church has a lot to answer for.

August 23, 2005

More on Pat

As Black Sheepsaid in my comments, "Maybe people will now see him for what he really is - or in this case, is not - he ain't no Christian."

Robertson is unbelievable, but maybe people will speak out on this. SOF just told me (I was in class for 3 hours) that Robertson's assinine outburst is getting a lot of play. About damn time. As one reportedly told CNN's Aaron Brown, this adversely affects American travelers in South America. My cousin goes there a lot.

This guy is so offensive. I keep waiting for people to speak, but until now, they are reticent. As one blog I read noticed, if an American muslim said anything close to this, he would be in Gitmo.

I have said this about Bush--and the same applies. Either takes pride in alienating liberals like me. Time for the conservative Christians (who know that advocating murder is not even close to Christian) to speak out. If you do, Robertson will be marginalized as he should be. If not, then his outbursts continue and millions of American sheep will listen and nod.

Up to you.

Jesus not going to like this

I am still waiting for AmeriChristians to wake up. Thanks to Bruce over at Mainstream Baptist for the alert. Pat Robertson has now suggested that we assassinate the Venezuelan President.

You can see the video here: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. "

WWJD? "Thou shall kill those you don't like." Or, "it is better to assassinate one and take over their government than to spend 200 billion dollars on a failed war."

If American Evangelicals were serious, they would be rising up in anger that their faith is being represented by such an immoral and un Christian man.

August 22, 2005

Hell? Yes! --a Southern Baptist plays with a swear word!

On my way home today, I flipped over to Richard Land. He really bugs me, even though at times he shows a humanity. But then it is gone.

Today, he had on the author of this book on truth, and I found myself agreeing with parts, but disagreeing with the whole. The author was calling for a return to intolerance--and by reading the blurbs on the book, that means no more apologies for hating homosexuality or thinking that evolution is a myth.

But there was a point where we agreed. Land (in his usual annoying self) was very hard on the relativists. I keep waiting to actually meet a relativist, but think that the closest I will get is a Southern Baptist. His argument is the straw man personified: people who think that there is no truth, nothing is wrong or right, blah blah blah. It is pure and total bullshit. Everyone I know thinks abuse and murder are wrong. Everyone I know thinks that it was wrong for some ancient cultures to sacrifice virgins. Hell, it is the right that makes excuses for slavery, right? And I am not talking about the neo-confederate nonsense that we have discussed recently. I am talking about those who say that historians are far too hard on the FF's (Founding Fathers) for their pro-slavery beliefs and not recognizing enough of their pro-Jesus beliefs. But the fact remains that Christians supported slavery and segregation in huge numbers. Hell, some of them still do.

Off point, I know, but this mantra of liberals out there saying that anything goes really bugs me. Especially when it is conservatives who have ignored every fact that goes against the Bush administration. Especially since it is conservatives who now posit that there is a valid response to any criticism of conservative thought. The same people who supported Bush's WMD claim, now say they always supported Iraqi freedom. The same people who said they believe in moral values have no problem with the Prez lying--as long as he never has oral sex in his life!

Enough. I am tired of the ridiculous mental gymnastics that my conservative friends put me through. Literal creation, Intelligent Design, the Christian Bush Presidency--all of them are proof that Christians reject facts and evidence when it suits them. Almost as if they are relativists....

August 18, 2005

dead laptop and more

Yeah, the Mac is done. Well, to be fair, it is just the hard drive and that will be taken care of next week. Apple is pretty good at servicing their stuff. But in the meantime, I will be less available....

A few things from this week. A professor friend died last weekend. We weren't close. In fact, when my buddy called with the news, it was not an issue. I hadn't seen him in years. Never worked with him, but I had been to his house for dinner. Gave him a ride home from the hospital when he had a stroke. He had a dog named Dave. Great dog. Dog who would bark when he heard that "republicans were in the yard." Dave thought cats were Repubs.

So I went to the memorial service. And I am glad I did. He was a great teacher and a fine man. I am sorry he is gone. I didn't realize that I will miss him, but I will. Rest easy.


I have been a bit of a bear lately. I have three classes to teach next week and am not sure I am ready. I am sure my Texas friend would agree. I have been pretty hard on him regarding creation and evolution. I don't think he knows why it bugs me so much that he would want to teach creation in science class. But it does. It bugs me.

And here is why. Again, I was listening to Christian radio on the way back from my guitar lesson. What? You want me to listen to ZZ Top or Bad Company? Anyway, this woman--I think her name is June Hunt--was on. She seems like a nice lady, and I have heard her say things that I admired. But she has this annoying habit of becoming breathy whenever she makes what she thinks is a spiritual point. You know, when she says, "God believes" whatever, her voice turns breathy and airy, as if the tone will make the point spiritual. It doesn't.

She spoke on forgiveness tonight. I am all for it. I have no idea what it means, but I am all for it. I believe that forgiving others is not only something Christ taught, it is good for us. But the way Christians talk about it bugs me. She said it. We are understandably angry about being hurt, but we have to "turn that over to God." Really? Because I don't have the faintest idea what that means. It sounds like some netherworld in between holding on to our anger and repressing it. There are other options. One is to address the anger, and come to a point where you can forgive the other person that debt they owe you. You do it for you, not for them. They have to forgive themselves for what they did to you. But you can release them.

But it isn't magic. Theology for so many Christians is so much magic. And the Christians on the air waves don't help. Everywhere you turn is someone blathering something. And that something is a pretty complex theological thought. But they present it as if it is simple. Then you hear some person call in with their question. Clearly, they have no clue. But they don't know they don't have a clue. They haven't been encouraged to think broadly. They have been told to follow that inner heart relationship. That is the good news. The bad news is that they don't realize that that inner voice is sometimes themselves.

How does this all relate to evolution? I am convinced that the evolution/creation question is one of epistemology. It is about "how we know what we know." Why am I surprised that so many people espouse creation? Especially when they don't know the first thing about evolution. Or science. But they can say that evolution is "unproven."

Sounds to me like a layperson looking at an xray and disagreeing with the radiologist. How the fuck would they know?

Christianity has turned into something mindless. Something that abounds with ridiculous cliches that mean nothing. "Living in the word," or "turning something over to God." I am sure there is a theological thought somewhere, but I will be damned if I can figure it out. It sounds like a cliche to me. Something that people throw around. Because they like it and it means something to them. They believe it.

And belief is a fine thing. Faith is a fine thing. But it isn’t the same thing as knowledge. Not better or worse. Different. Don’t confuse the two. Saying that you don’t “buy evolution” isn’t a refutation. Your “opinion” is really meaningless here—as is mine.

What do I fear here? I fear that conservatives have turned knowledge and truth on its ear. It is so personally based that each individual can just look to God (sometimes just the inner self) and say, “do I believe that?”

That isn’t how we try to understand our world. It isn’t how history is produced, nor how scientists practice their craft. Presenting creation as if it is the same “way of knowing” as evolution is a distortion. It is wrong. It is needless. It is misleading.


I think my professor friend would have agreed. He wanted people to think deeply and question their assumptions. I don't think he was a man of faith. But he understood the difference between faith and science. And he thought we should too.


August 17, 2005

More humor

Thanks to Bad Catholic for this humorous jab at Intelligent design.

Sports "don't" list

Thanks to Cold In Laramie (now warmer) for this. I edited this rather lengthy list. You can read the article and tell me which ones should have remained.

Now presenting, 99 Imperfect Things in Sportsdom:

95) Six-minute renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner.''

94) All-Star Game voting. The Cubs' Nomar Garciaparra plays only 14 games in the first half (0 homers, 4 RBI) ... and finishes third in the NL balloting for shortstops (1,307,973 votes?).

90) Athletes who speak in the third person.

79) The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears play outdoors, but not the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

75) NBA refs who swallow their whistles when they see traveling.

73) The Pro Bowl. The halftime bands play harder.

69) Heisman Trophy voting.

57) The prevent defense.

54) Sports talk radio.

49) Any rule that allows someone to call a timeout while falling out of bounds.

46) Augusta National's membership: 10,000 azaleas, not one woman member.

45) Rafael Palmeiro's wagging finger.

42) Drew Rosenhaus. Responsible for more BS than Bevo.

34) Interleague play. Hey, everybody, it's the Royals vs. the Rockies!

24) The Washington Redskins. Has Daniel Snyder ever spoken to an actual American Indian about that nickname?

20) NFL quarterback ratings. How can 158.3 be the best rating in anything?

10) Tyrone Willingham gets fired, but Gary Barnett and his Teflon whistle don't?

5) The ESPN bottom-of-the-TV screen scoreboard. It gives way to a commercial a nanosecond before the score you've been waiting on is supposed to appear.

3) A corporate sports world moving dangerously close to Viagra Stadium of Soldier Field.

August 13, 2005

They hate motherhood, dogs and old people

PGA championship is on tv today. Thinking about golf, we watched "Tin Cup" last weekend. Not a great movie, but fun (also re-watched Bull Durham--same director and much better movie). The antagonist in the film is a likeable pro-golfer who has the girl at the beginning. Our hero warns her that in reality, when the cameras are off, the antagonist hates children, old people, and dogs. And of course, it is true.

Republicans have tried to capitalize on their moral and traditional side. They claim to support "family values" like motherhood and patriotic service. But I think we are seeing the truth of the matter. Cindy Sheehan's one-woman protest against the President's foreign policy has brought out the ugly in the right. As Arianna puts it:

How much longer can the Bushies get away with mauling the very values they profess to stand for before their supporters start getting wise to the fact that the only value they really value is power?

Think about it, they've shown absolutely no compunction about turning the sleaze machine on an undercover agent who'd spent her career working to protect us from weapons of mass destruction, a Silver Star/Purple Heart veteran who volunteered to fight in a war the administration chickenhawks gamed the system to avoid, and now the mother of a dead soldier.

That's right. Cindy is not, according to the right, even entitled to her grief, or if she is, it is to be channeled into some flag-waving parade. Of course, I think she represents America at its best. I don't agree with her request to withdraw from Iraq, but she is protesting peacefully and exercising her right to dissent. That is America, last I checked. Not the O'Reilly's and Limbaugh's of the country.

But more to the point, for all their bluster about morality and tradition, they don't even respect the very foundation of our culture. They don't respect dissent. They don't actually care about the fighting men and women--and have undermined their actions countless times and tried to cut benefits for those who serve.

And here is a mother--one who has a right to be angry. And the best the right can do is call her a traitor? This is unseemly, even for them. Karl Rove, according to them, is a hero, while Cindy Sheehan is a traitor. Shame on them.

And shame on you if you continue to support these people based on what they say they stand for rather than what they do.

August 12, 2005

Pat Robertson, come on!

I missed this. Thanks to the Daily Show, I hear that Pat Robertson is at it again. Remember when he prayed for a vacancy on the court? Well, he got it and is evidently happy with Roberts as O'Conner's replacement, but he wants more. He is back at it--giant head on tv, with eyes closed fervently invoking the divine to get his political way.

I know that Robert's giant head is his own problem. And I know there are a lot of people out there that see prayer the same goofy way. But it sure bothers me that he would use God and prayer as his own little bully stick. Here, God, go smite those people over there because I don't like them. God, please make me a lot of money. God, please elect the people I like because I want my way. And this one: God, please kill those who I don't like.

To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, good Christians in America should be lining up to punch Pat in his giant head. He has, for the second time in two years, pulled an Osama and invoked his divine wrath on those he doesn't like. But I don't hear a peep. Sure, in private some of my Christian friends dismiss Robertson, but the guy has his own television network where he sells his crap and gives out his stock tips, and yes, prays for the death of liberal supreme court justices.

That isn't Christian. God isn't some Mafia hit man that selfish (and very big-headed people) just order around. Christianity has become so consumer based, however, that I think most AmeriChristians really can't discern that. God is just like ordering from Amazon or downloading tunes. You just ask for what you want. And since, the same AmeriChristians have bought the Christian Nation crap, they are listening to the wrong damn people. If Bush or Pat Robertson are your spiritual guides, then I am not sure you really understand the message of the NT.

Did I say that his head is huge? They aren't zooming in on that face.

August 11, 2005

Oh, bush, bush

Sometimes I wonder if I am a sick person. I think I could advise our President and do a better job than his advisors. Not the Karl Rove kind of stuff. I remember when he was asked--before the election--to name mistakes. All the Bush people kept telling me that it was too much to ask of the President. Excuse me? Mr Pres Jesus can't acknowlege some failings?

I told a relative that Bush should have said that he had failed to adequately convince his European allies and American critics of the necessity of the war. He could have apologized to those who opposed the war for not showing them why the war was the moral thing to do. See? He admits he didn't do everything right, but still keeps his precious invasion.

But our President is so arrogant, he can't even acknowledge that much. Nothing is ever his fault.

So, today I read this where Bush rejects Cindy Sheehan's plea to remove troops from Iraq.

What a moron. Don't get me wrong. I think that withdrawing at this point is a bad idea. It was a bad way to get into the war, but we are there now. But Bush is a jerk. This woman is sitting on the road outside his 5 week vacation house. And all he can do is send out some vapid "you have a right" in America to do this. This woman lost her son in Bush's search for WMD (something we seem to have forgotten). She has a right to be angry. She is being savaged by the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin.

She deserves better. If I were advising a humane and Christian President, I would suggest that he reach out to this woman and acknowledge her pain. That he acknowledge that the war was a difficult decision for America and that he recognized that reasonable and good Americans can disagree about this war.

I remember watching Clinton on the campaign trail one time. He stepped away from his entourage to talk to people very animated about aids. People will say I am buying his act, but he exuded compassion for people. That joke about him "feeling our pain" was based in the fact that he really did communicate compassion. I remember watching that exchange on tv and thinking it was real. Was it? I don't know. But it looked hard to fake. None of that takes away from Clinton's many failings, but compassion is a good thing.

Bush seems to have none of that. Not only is he so arrogant that he can't even acknowledge mistakes, but he seems to have no concern for the people who are dying and losing loved ones in his war. Even if he is right, he should goddamn well care.

He doesn't. He doesn't care.

Blog or seethe?

Mckormick asked me a question in the comments: "but help me. what do you do with the rage that boils in your body? how/where do you release it? does blogging get it out or make it hotter? I'm running out of words and treading dangerously close to hatred."

I completely understand. Some who read my blog fear for my health, but I think it has been a real release for me. I can vent and rant and swear and opine and it goes somewhere. It may not change anything, but it does, very often, make me feel better. I get my thoughts out. I make my argument. I speak my mind.

Hatred is a tough one, my friend. Tough, because it usually eats you, not the hate-ee (so to speak). I completely understand. SOF and I have had this discussion many times. When Clinton was Prez, we really wondered why so many friends and relatives could be so upset. The difference, at least it seems, is that we never really liked Bill as much as they hated him. Now it seems that my dislike is matched by their adoration. I don't get that one.

But I am also reminded--as I watch Karl Rove squirm--that "what comes around, goes around" and "those who sow the wind, reap the whirlwind." Some of this will come out in the wash. We will know how bad this Prez is. And we might learn that he wasn't as bad as we feared. I hope.

Keep the faith. Venting is good--at least for me. Music helps. I am working on an Alejandro Escovedo song on the guitar. Good food and good company help too.


Bush, evolution and truth

Christian Alliance for Progress Blog: What does the Christian Right think of Cindy Sheehan?: "A mother of a slain soldier is sitting in a ditch outside the ranch of George W. Bush. Where is our moral president? Where is the president of family values? This is the persona that has been packaged and sold to Christians across this country and they bought it. Where is the Christianity of George W. Bush? It is one thing to say that Jesus Christ is your favorite philosopher during a photo op, but quite another thing to actually adhere to the philosophy of Christ on a daily basis.

Would Jesus Christ leave the mother of a murdered soldier sitting in a ditch in the summer heat of Texas, while he vacationed? I would think not. There is a stark difference between someone claiming to be Christian, and someone walking with Christ."

Believe it or not, I see a connection between this post and the debate over evolution.

As this blogger said, Bush's christianity has been packaged and sold. Americhristians have bought this in big numbers. Best seller, really. No proof beyond his lip service, but everyone says he is a great Christian man. Has he ever acted like a Christian? Irrelevant.

The connection? How we know what we know. Conservatives used to complain about us liberals. Said we had watered down the truth and said that truth and knowledge were both relative. Hard to know what to believe.

Now it is the conservatives who are doing it, but it is simply in how we know what we know. conservatives are the ones who just ignore the facts. Bush lies. Conservatives claim to be against that, but no one says anything. Bush says he is Christian. no proof. None.

Conservatives are simply selecting out truth they don't like. Evolution is out because they don't like it. Death penalty does not reduce crime, but conservatives don't care. No WMD? Who cares, we needed to attack Iraq anyway. Huge amount of the country still believes the hijackers were Iraqi. Conservatives correcting that? Nope. Abstinence only programs actually endanger kids, but who really cares? The truth is irrelevent. Facts don't matter.

And it is in that kind of setting that people can assert that faith (a truly legitimate thing) is the same thing as science. They aren't. Tehy have never claimed to be the same thing. They are asking completely different questions. But conservatives now know they don't have to listen to the facts. Global warming is inconvenient, so that is unfounded. Evolution is the same way. tons and tons of evidence is stacked against what? the creation story? And in the story, the Garden of Eden is destroyed, so conveniently destroying any evidence.

I am fine with believing in faith. I don't understand simply ignoring evidence and facts.

our President, the great Christian

Thanks to Carlos for the link:

Sitting with the Dead: In Solidarity with Cindy Sheehan: "My daughters are not old enough to be called into the armed services, so, for now, my loved ones are safe. But that fact is irrelevant, because I am a piece of the main. These soldiers' deaths diminish me. They diminish all of us. I want to believe that George W. Bush knows that they diminish him, but as each day passes, and he doesn't convey even the simplest expression of sorrow for what these deaths entail, I fear that we are led by a man who loves his God, but cares not for the rest of us. Who has lost touch with his own humanity in pursuit of a make-believe role as leader of the free world."

August 10, 2005

How do you solve a problem like slavery?

Over at Jesus Politics, one of the commenters supports slavery. that's right, he says that Leviticus justifies slavery, ergo, God supported slavery, ergo, slavery is fine. Oh, he says it has to be in certain situations, but slavery is ok. Souther slavery? Fine.

If you read the comments, you will see that I am pretty hard on him. All things considered, I think that is justified. Slavery isn't justifiable. Period. He really thinks that. He reads the bible and is unable to think that OT slavery might have been perpetrated by humans who justified it. Or even if he thinks God endorsed it for his precious Israelites, that the model of Jesus completely goes against slavery.

But, in a way, I think this guy exemplifies the problem with biblical literalism. If you say the bible is literally true, then it is literally true. Slavery is in play. To get beyond that we needed humans. Human wisdom. Human experience. Human enlightenment. We had to make leaps and say that even though the bible never explicitly bans slavery, that the odious act of owning other human beings was incompatible with believing in Jesus the Shepherd. Jesus the savior doesn't enslave people.

But we had to step outside biblical authority, or the mindless following of scripture. Most people, even those who say they are inerrentists, already do that. Few argue for women in veils or the stoning of married women who weren't virgins on their wedding day. I think it takes a real literalist to point out how problematic that logic is.

Humans are far from perfect. But belief in a literal, inerrent bible is just magicalism, and ultimately untenable. If we can't step outside the world of ancient Israel and incorporate the world since then, we are lost.

August 9, 2005

tuesday afternoon

things have been busy around here. I am getting ready to teach several classes this fall and that tends to eat up the time. Kind of fun, actually, but also stressful. time is drawing close.


cool thing this afternoon. I play guitar (kind of) and when I completed my Ph.D., SOF bought me a new guitar. Nothing like playing a solid-top guitar. Well, today I took it to a cool guitar shop in OKC to get a little adjustment to the action. Hanging around that store is just fun. He has all sorts of guitars in there, from the brand new to the vintage. there is a 1940s era Gibson that looks like shit. It is beat up and gouged. but that thing plays like a dream. You can't believe the sound that comes out of that wood. $4500 dollars for that guitar, and I believe it is probably a good deal.

I like the message. We can get better with age. And guitars only get better when you play them. I don't understand they physics, but my guitar sounds better than it did 4 years ago. As this luthier said, nothing really makes up for 40 years of playing. He said he once had a 1920s era Martin D-18 that had really never been played. Great guitar and great wood, but who ever bought it hadn't played it. He said it sounded like a good new guitar, but nothing like some of the vintage ones out there. Age alone doesn't do it.

reminds me of the townes van zandt line from "Snowin on Raton:"

Bid the years good-bye you cannot still them
you cannot turn the circles of the sun
you cannot count the miles until you feel them

August 7, 2005

ok, one more

found this on pandagon and couldn't pass it up. Evidently, Fred Phelps (God hates Fags, remember) is cheering whenever American soldiers are killed. Evidently, God is now really pissed at America for allowing gay people to breathe. (Can you imagine believing in his God?)

Anyway, dick face is protesting a soldier's funeral. Some people came up with a nice response. They are raising money to give to the family. People can pledge for every minute the hatemonger is outside.

So, please don't tell me that we liberals don't support our troops. As this blogger put it:

somebody needs to support the troops. Not in the bizarre schizophrenic you have to die for no reason but in return we'll be real understanding if you feel as if you need to torture somebody way that the neoconservative right has been wielding like a banner since this whole useless business started. Thousands of kids who died for less than they could have been making at WalMart deserve more in return for their lives than a free ride for a few slackjawed sadists who are getting their rocks off at the cost of growing the insurgency that's killing thousands of kids who died for less than they could have been making at WalMart.

They're surer'n hell not going to get it from the keyboard warriors of the neoconservative right. Even if they were so inclined, they're too busy keying cars with anti-war bumper stickers and getting elderly pacifist nuns on nofly lists. For, you know, freedom. And besides, they're not so inclined.

Pass this on, OK? This family and all the families like them need to know someone hasn't forgotten them.


Random Sunday musings

I miss seeing Michael Kinsley on tv. He was always smarter than the Bob Novaks of the world. Here, he points out that Republicans have ideas alright, but they are terrible ideas that won't work. "IT'S TRUE THAT the Republicans are the party of ideas and the Democrats are the party of reaction. Republicans set the agenda, and Democrats try to talk the country out of it. But the Republican Party is hardly the Institute for Advanced Studies. The GOP uses ideas like seasonal sports equipment -- taking them out when needed, then scraping the mud off and stuffing them back into the garage until they are needed again. "


I have become a Microsoft hater. Anglican can testify to me defending them back in the day. Now I use a Mac and am really starting to loathe Microsoft. Like this. I started the backup utility today and when you get to the place where you choose the backup location, it buzzes the floppy drive! That's right, you are going to backup something to a meg.5 cheap-ass floppy drive. Stupid.

This may be getting me in trouble. We have a pc running XP Pro, and the rest of our machines are Mac laptops. So, the pc is connected to an Airport Extreme. Now once the pc loses connection (not an IP address mind you) it loses it. You can come back into the room after using the web and find that you can't access Pat Robertson's web site at all!

Ok, I like that last part, but would be able to check in on my fantasy team. Damn microsoft.


Cooking kind of keeps me sane lately. That and music. Alton Brown is my guru. Better than most regular television shows, and certainly better than other cooking show. Take this little hint. He cooks rice in the oven. Sautes a little onion and garlic, then actually browns the rice (I use jasmine, and the half-recipe is 1 cup), then adds hot stock or broth (I use 2 cups with chicken), covers with a good tight top, puts in a 350 degree oven for 17 minutes. And that is that. Maybe the best rice I have ever had. And that easy.


Ok, that is enough for tonight. later.

August 6, 2005

More on Rove

Kevin left this comment on my Rove and Bush post: "A very interesting (and not widely known) footnote to the Rove mess is that the first president Bush fired him, for leaking information about a political enemy. I guess nothing really changes."

This is interesting for a couple of reasons, but especially this relationship between GWB and his father. I, and others, have speculated that Bush has a rather Freudian relationship with his father, and this kind of speaks to that. Consider a normal relationship between fathers and sons. They are in the same business, and the son is following in the father's footsteps. But the father has disagreements with some people--principled disagreements. In many such relationships, the son would respect those disagreements.

But not here. Bush Sr. fired Rove. He had some very strong disagreements with both Cheney and Rumsfeld. Who are front and center to Son's administration? What can we conclude from this?

I don't know and am not really that kind of doctor. But my speculation is that GWB has always lived in the shadow of his smarter and more successful father. I think he has always resented his own "silver spoon" upbringing and knows full well that he really didn't deserve to attend Yale or to get out of going to VN. He knows that he isn't as smart as his father, nor does he have the credentials. And he resents it. It shows up when he champions someone like Condi Rice or Al Gonzales--as if he really likes to see himself as an "up-from-the-bootstraps" kind of guy. Instead of the rich spoiled brat who had everything handed to him.

So he responds by doing many subtle things that his father would have never done. His father, hardly a great president, would have never entrusted his entire foreign policy to the neo-cons. His father would have never invaded Iraq--and had the opportunity to do so. His father would have reached out to N. Korea. His father's foreign policy was remarkably similar to Bill Clintons.

But W knows better. And, you can dismiss this all you want, but I think he hates his father and part of his drive for reelection last time was to one-up his father yet again.

In my book, history will regard his father as a mediocre president, but one who worked within the system. The son, however, has been one of the worst in our history--and history will treat him very badly.

"Intelligent" Design

Bruce posted part of this essay the other day. Here are a few more great quotes:

"Muslims had a beautiful civilization, they said. They cherished art, women's rights and science and mathematics. Then they got religion and the whole thing fell apart.

We're rather better off than that, but, the president this week let us know which direction we're headed.

Responding to questions, he said that Intelligent Design - warmed-over creationism - should be taught in science classes alongside evolution.

His reasoning, if you know nothing about the issue, might sound reasonable: Give kids a chance to weigh both options and let them make up their minds. As if science classes are the right place for popularity contests."

August 5, 2005

Bush, Novak and Rove

Yahoo reports that Bush's Approval Rating on Iraq Dropped again, down to 38%. But still a majority of the country sees Bush as "strong and likable." I don't get that at all, but this quote always troubles me:

"He's a man of character,' said Cheryl Cheyney, a school bus driver from Cumming, Ga., and a Republican. 'He's very honest in the things he says. I agree with his belief system, the way he believes in God and is not afraid to show it. That's very important to me.'"

Let me suggest to Cheryl that if Bush represents that to her, her sense of what it means to be a Christian is essentially meaningless. Bush has mouthed it, I will admit, but I am still waiting for any proof of his true faith. Not only that, but he isn't honest, and he hires people who are expressly dishonest. I guess that doesn't matter to Cheryl.


Novak walked off the set of CNN yesterday swearing and ripping off his microphone. It was quite a sight. Especially since his oppenent had not said anything odd. They both dig at each other, but Novak flipped. Perhaps the weight of the water he is carrying for the White House is starting to weigh heavier than he expected. Maybe his previous journalism "ethics" are starting to weigh as well, and he realizes that he acted as a stooge for one of the more vicious political operatives in the biz.

As for Rove, here is what I think happened. He has practiced a pretty "scorched-earth" type of political action for most of his career. He learned at the feet of Lee Atwater, but unlike his mentor, didn't learn that perhaps treating people that badly was not a good thing. Rove has spread rumors of lesbianism about Ann Richards; suggested that a respected judge was a pedophile; and spread the rumor that McCain fathered a black baby out of wedlock in South Carolina. Rove and Cheney both seem to operate with a sense of absolutism--that they are right and the others are wrong. People are not political opponents, but enemies.

Back in 2002 and 03, Bush was riding high. No one questioned his approach to the war and when Wilson reported problems with their uranium claim, it angered them. Who was he to question the broader goal of democratizing the Middle East? And here is where arrogance got them in trouble. They didn't have to do what they did to address Wilson's concerns. They could have simply savaged him (as they have John Dilullio, Paul O'Neill, or Richard Clarke), or they could have simply said that they stood behind the evidence that Saddam was pushing for nuclear (sorry, nukular) material.

But they didn't. They responded with the arrogance and petulance of people used to getting their way. Rove decided that Wilson needed more than being ignored or dismissed. He decided to out Wilson's wife to show who was in control. So, he did it. And really assumed with John Ashcroft in the AG's office, that nothing would ever happen.


One more note on what is wrong with our society today. Bill O'Reilly is a cancer on our society. The fact that so many people listen to this asshole is truly frightening. Here is a good example.

O'REILLY: The ACLU is also demanding that more pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib be released. The Defense Department is fighting that. Everybody knows those pictures incite violence against Americans. So why should more of them be fed to the press? We already know what happened at Abu Ghraib, and people are going to prison because of it. Clearly, more pictures of Abu Ghraib help the terrorists, as do Geneva Convention protections and civilian lawyers. So there is no question the ACLU and the judges who side with them are terror allies.

Why do people like this never say that those who actually performed the torture are terror allies? Why are those of us who desire a transparent system and accountability in our government the allies?

As McCain said, it isn't about who they are, it is about who we are. And if O'Reilly is any indication, we are not very good.

August 3, 2005

Oh, my, our President

In case anyone is wondering, I managed to avoid talking politics during my family get-together. I have finally learned (at age 40) that such discussions rarely offer anything positive, and often leave people bruised and battered.

Plus, it is just damn frustrating to find out what some people close to you believe. One almost got side-tracked into the Rove controversy when he was badmouthing CU for continuing to employ Ward Churchill. I think his point was that it was unbelievable that Churchill could say what he did and remain employed, all the while other "people" (I think he meant liberals like me) were calling Karl Rove a traitor. (Of course, he is a traitor--what do you call someone who exposes a CIA operative for petty political payback?). I changed the subject by suggesting if he was really mad at CU, he should focus on their football program. Genius! From traitors to hookers and strip clubs!

Now I am back, and reading through the papers. Couple of stories caught my eye. Of course, there is the appointment of John "I hate the UN" Bolton to be the, well, you know, UN Ambassador. Bush will probably next try to appoint David Duke as Ambassador to Israel, or Nigeria. Personally, I think this will ultimately backfire on Bush. He took the reins away from the democrats and actually kind of removes the "obstructionist" label from Reid and others--and makes himself look more and more like a stubborn ass. Annie Lamott puts it this way: "Bush acts more and more like Bam-Bam Rubble, from the Flintstones: 4 years old, out of control--Bam! Bam! Bam!"


In other news, the Religious Right mullahs are not happy with Bill Frist. Evidently, he has switched sides in the stem cell research debate and now Dobson is saying that Frist has stabbed him in the back. Everytime Dobson speaks, I am reminded that the most dangerous people in the world are those who are absolutely convinced of their own rightness. Dobson certainly qualifies. What an asshole.


But never fear, Religious Righters! Your resistance to science and knowledge is well understood by the President, who said that Intelligent Design should be taught next to evolution in schools. I think that is called "pandering to your base." Believe that God created the universe if you want, but the problem with ID is not the introduction of God--it is that people are equating faith with the scientific method. You can't test ID, so it isn't science. Pretty simple.


Speaking of that, how can anyone look at Bush and not believe in Evolution? If anyone reminds us of our close relation to primates, it is our esteemed Prez! :)


And finally, from Bush's home state. A group has created a "biblical literacy" course and offers it to school districts around the country. No problem, right? After all, no problem with learning about the Bible. Of course, that isn't what this is.

"Chancey's review found that the course characterizes the Bible as inspired by God, that discussions of science are based on the biblical account of creation, that Jesus is referred to as fulfilling Old Testament prophecy, and that archaeological findings are erroneously used to support claims of the Bible's historical accuracy.

He said the course also suggests the Bible, instead of the Constitution, be considered the nation's founding document."

Talk about your trojan horse. Teaching the Bible as inspired is bad enough. That may be true, but it isn't really germane to public schools, and frankly, I resent Christians pushing this crap. Clearly, they get to tell their own kids that the earth is 6,000 years old, or that the Bible is literally the word of God. They don't get to foist such subjective ideas on everyone and pass if off as truth. The last statement, needless to say, I found the most stupid. Perhaps the stupidest thing these people have been pushing. Jefferson would have a fucking heart attack.

It is about who we are

I have said this before, but it is nice to see a Republican or two actually speaking up. I really hate it when I hear people justifying torture or an invasion based on what terrorists do. I really hate that I have to remind people that America is not about torture. I hate it.

Well, here are some sane voices:

Who We Are - New York Times: "There was a dramatic encounter during the floor debate last week when Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, spoke out against the legislation, saying there was no need for it because, as he put it, the detainees are not prisoners of war, 'they are terrorists.'

Senator McCain, of Arizona, argued that the debate 'is not about who they are. It's about who we are.' Americans, said Mr. McCain, 'hold ourselves' to a higher standard."


Back, and tired. Glad to be back. Driving across the country can get tiring.

It was a good trip. Sad during parts, and tough during others--but good.

Family is complicated. Sometimes I wonder how families relate at all. But we do.