Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Slow week, so God Particle and Katie Holmes

I decided I'd go with two news stories I don't fully understand. I get the Higgs Boson is a huge deal, but as I am not a particle physicist, I'm not even going to guess how this will change science as we know it. I just know that it's huge, and I wish CERN, ATLAS, and all other scientists keep up the good work. Once again, science has proven a natural cause for something the religious would have you believe is supernatural.

The thing I don't understand about Katie Holmes is why she married Tom Cruise. I get this was before the release of his video that launched over 9,000 protests. Still, long before then, the fact he is completely batshit insane was pretty clear to anyone who was paying attention. I'm very glad she has finally left his malign influence. On various news shows, I've heard the rumor repeated that Katie may have feared Suri would be taken to some sort of reeducation camp. While that link is to a story by the respected Aussie news show, Today Tonight, the same and worse is alleged to have happened here in the United States. Based on the extensive research I have done, those fears, if she has them, are not only warranted, but highly reasonable. I would like to express my respect for the paparazzi who brought the creepy private investigators to her attention, especially given their history of "fair game".

Thankfully, in observance of the Independence Day holiday, the Supreme Court has not eroded our civil rights today. I'm sure they'll resume their work of destroying the freedoms we hold dear this fall. I'm a liberal, and I don't hate America. I could never hate America. Instead, I mourn her passing, every single day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Healthcare Reform passed constitutional muster.

Alternate title for this post: Because, GOP, fuck off. That's why.

If, by some strange chance, some conservatives come by here, I'll rise above your level and say "Neener neener neener. Told you so. Ppppttttthbbbbbbbbtttttttt." It was constitutional when Mitt Romney signed it into law as governor of Massachusetts, a state that has already seen significant savings and improvements to the quality of life, it's constitutional today, and it will be constitutional tomorrow. That said, I agree with Senator Patrick Leahy of, and do I really have to name a party, Vermont. This isn't the end of the fight to save the lives of our poor. This is a good first step. It's considerably less than what I wanted, and President Obama wasted a great deal of time and effort trying to appeal to the nonexistent better angels of today's extremist GOP. He added multiple provisions at their behest in an attempt to get bipartisan support, and after they agreed they would sign, they put more roadblocks. Hearing Tom Price, former orthopedic surgeon and current lying jackass, have the temerity to claim President Obama never really wanted a bipartisan plan and instead just pushed something through is just utter bullshit. He should know better. He's poorly served Georgia's 6th Congressional District since 2005. He was there. I have a lot of criticisms of President Obama, and most of them stem from one aspect of his character: he mistakenly believes he's dealing with a principled opposition, possibly because he wants to believe better of them than the evidence warrants. Hell, he's running on the GOP platform of 1990. He's doing exactly what the GOP has been saying was good for decades, and now that he's done it, they want to piss and moan like the little bitches they are and cry "socialism". President Obama is not a socialist. Hell, he's not even a liberal by reasonable standards. He's center-right, and the only reason he seems liberal is because his opposition belongs in their local chapter of the John Birch Society, Klansmen's hoods, a mental hospital, or some combination of the three. I apologize if anyone is offended by my inclusion of Eric Cantor in those three categories. I never should have hinted he belongs in a mental hospital.

Finally, if I haven't mentioned that the GOP can all go fuck themselves until they can pay a surgeon to remove their heads from their asses, I apologize. I hope this suffices.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Mormon Question: Mitt Romney edition

Looking back on my days as a Mormon, and this was something I knew even back then, there are some things that are just strange about that faith. That said, the underlying premise, that a Jewish rabbi was nailed to a tree, died, woke up three days later, then partied with his followers, and was all-knowing but got basic geography and physics wrong, is pretty fucking weird. That's where Mormons agree with their fellow Christians. If you really think of it, though, all religion is weird. The Trinitarian Christians, who form the solid majority, believe that God talked about His Son, but His Son was actually Him, and then the Holy Spirit was still just God all along. They also believe that the God who preached love but had an anger management problem in the New Testament was all about smiting enemies and committing genocide in the Old Testament. Oh, and they think he'll rise up from the dead again, even though his last spurious sighting was just shy of two millennia ago. Let's not even get into the Zoroastrian influences on early Christianity and Islam. I won't get into what Muslims believe because, frankly, my knowledge is sorely lacking. Still, I'm pretty sure that it's as weird as Christianity. Buddhists believe you keep being reincarnated as various animals until you reach enlightenment, and if you suffer in this life, it's payback for something that happened in your previous life, so fuck sympathy. Jews believe some Neolithic fiction writers are the be-all and end-all of wisdom, as interpreted over the millennia by those poor souls tasked with making sense out of laws that were written when the first civilizations were being formed.

All of this still makes more sense than Scientology, who believe the souls of aliens were dumped from space ships resembling DC-8s into volcanoes that didn't even exist 75 million years ago, and those souls are the source of all human suffering, examples of which are every Tom Cruise movie since Rain Man. They also think human trafficking and enslavement, torture (Lisa McPherson), and child labor law violations (Daniel Montalvo lawsuit) are just a-okay. At least with Catholicism, critics are not subjected to torment from their intelligence department as Scientology did in Operation Snow White, which remains the largest infiltration of the United States government in our nation's history.

This post was initially about Mitt Romney, and I will bring it back to him. There are those here in Alabama who will not vote for him because he's a Mormon, no matter if they agree with whatever he's being paid to believe this week. They hate his religion, and that's wrong. They should hate him for being a job-destroying douchebag and moderately functioning sociopath who likes to fire people and strap dogs to the roofs of cars. He's also the de facto head of a party who believes the proper punishment for being poor is death through preventable and easily treated illnesses and injuries. That's why I would hate him, if I cared enough about him to do so.

Finally, I leave you with this, just for teh lulz.

In the name of Raptor Jesus, rAmen.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mars One, a plan for the colonization of Mars

Mars One, a Dutch group, has launched a daring attempt at the colonization of Mars, with the goal of a founding population of 40 individuals. That got me thinking: What type of skills will they need, and what will their government resemble? The first is pretty obvious. They need at least one doctor, engineers, biologists (who can be doctors at first), geologists who would become the first areologists to directly examine large swaths of the planet, and other related fields. Just as important as the physical needs, though, are their legal needs. What will their constitution look like? I am unfamiliar with the Dutch legal system or the mistakes they have made over the centuries that they would like to address. However, I am quite aware of America's constitution and its failings. With that in mind, I have a few humble suggestions.

1) All sentient beings (hereafter referenced as "people") are created equal and are endowed with the rights of free speech, free assembly, and the freedom to have or not have any religious beliefs they so choose, as long as those beliefs actively harm none.

2) The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and their modern equivalents, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

3) Cruel and unusual punishment, including, but not limited to, torture and capital punishment, is expressly forbidden. If committing an act during war would be considered a war crime, that is torture as defined by this paragraph. Also, excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed.

4) No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

5) When the population gets to a point this is a realistic possibility, acts of war, except in response to a direct attack, are forbidden.

6) All have the right to health care at no cost, as it is part and parcel of Article 7 listed below.

7) Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution is accepted in full, except where it is not relevant to Mars and/or directly contradicts any of the other paragraphs in this section.

8) The privileges of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, and no Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

9) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

10) When new exculpatory evidence becomes available, those already incarcerated have the right to an impartial review of their case.

11) All persons have the right to consume any substance they choose, as long as they harm none in the process. Addicts should be treated with compassion and with the goal of treatment and rehabilitation.

12) All persons have the right to a living wage, paid with a negative income tax if necessary.

What suggestions do you have?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Bill Riales and Devon Walsh, go fuck yourselves.

I was watching WKRG 5 this morning when Bill Riales and the lovely Devon Walsh were discussing this story from Al Jazeera about the torture of prisoners at Guantanimo Bay. They laughed as though amused when they talked about the Elmo Song, among others, being used to torture prisoners. I agree. It's hilarious that the government, in our name, did the very things we have bombed cities and toppled governments over. It's deeply amusing that we have grossly violated Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, time and again. I can't stop laughing because our government, most notoriously under George W. Bush, violated Article VI (b) of the Nuremberg principles. I am shitting myself laughing because our nation, in this error-plagued "War on Terror", has systematically violated Articles 5 through 11, inclusive, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I mention all of these because these are our legal documents or international laws we have voted to support. It's the funniest fucking thing I've ever heard in my entire goddamned life!

During and after World War II, we treated our German and Japanese prisoners humanely, no matter what atrocities they may have ordered or supported, and ultimately got a lot of good intelligence from them. We didn't torture them. We interrogated them while holding true to our deepest, most precious principles, and this was before all of the international agreements listed above ever came into existence, though not before the Eighth Amendment, which itself was based on the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Part of that reason was principle, but part of that reason was the inaccuracy and utter worthlessness of "intel" based on torture. When one is tortured enough, eventually, he or she will say anything to make it stop. I disagree fundamentally with most of what Senator John McCain has said and done in his lengthy, undistinguished career. However, he has been a consistent moral voice against torture, based on his own experiences as a POW in Vietnam. We used to be a better nation than we now are. There was a time not too long ago that we would not have stood for this behavior, that we would have been horrified by that which has been done in our name, and when we would have risen up and demanded that those responsible be held accountable in a court of law. These are laws and principles that have been part of the governance of the United States and its predecessor colonies for over three centuries, and we have tossed them away so people could feel more "safe", without regard to the effectiveness of torture or the permanent stain this will leave on this nation's soul. If, as the Christians believe, this is "one nation under God," I ask them what type of god would support endless torture and indefinite detentions without hope of access to justice. I ask them what god would support the use of loud music for days on end, or waterboarding, or electric shocks, or the export of torture to those regimes who are even better at it than we are. I'm sorry. That last bit is euphemistically called "extraordinary rendition," except that's a lie just like "enhanced interrogation." They're both more properly called "exporting torture" and "torture." I ask them what type of god wept at the torture of His Son, yet smiles when thinking about the torture of His children, who in their world view, all humans are. To all who would support the use of torture in the name of a god, I say your god is none other than Satan, the irony being that LaVeyan Satanism is deeply influenced by the works of Nietzsche and Ayn Rand, the current darlings of the "Christian" Right. To all who would support the use of torture, I say your god is dead, and you killed Him through your hypocrisy and lies.

So, in closing, Bill Riales and Devon Walsh, go fuck yourselves. For the rest of us, we're already fucked.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

An amazing new artist, Arkasia

While I still like hard rock, metal, and related genres, lately, my tastes have run more towards trance and other forms of electronic music, mostly dubstep/Drum and Bass. This is an artist I just discovered about an hour ago. I've never heard of him before, but damn! That Frenchman is an artist! Enjoy.

Edit: The following quote is repeated in the above track, and it's worth reading. It was supposedly penned by President Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Colonel William Elkins, but the proof is thin. According to Snopes, this "quote" first appeared more than 20 years after his death, Regardless, it's an intriguing point, and regardless of its origin, it sounds an awful lot like what we've seen in the last two or three decades. Still, I think it was probably more an observation of what was happening in the 1880s-1890s than a prophecy of what was to come. This is food for thought, and I am very much nomming on it.

"The money power preys upon the nation in time of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causes me to tremble for the safety of our country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the republic is destroyed."

Friday, June 01, 2012

Thinking about green, not thinking Green.

It would be easy to think I switched everything to a green color scheme because of my change in political leanings. It would be easy, but wrong. Green's just been one of my favorite colors for as long as I can remember, along with blue. It could be that's just the way I'm wired, or maybe it's because of the beautiful, lush greenery everywhere I look on the Gulf Coast and the blue of the water here, even if I think Pensacola is prettier. Green is life. Cyanobacteria are blue-green, and they helped make life as we know it possible by liberating oxygen through photosynthesis. I think of the green of the golden watermelon I bought that was grown a county or two away in Mississippi, the green of the tomato plants and okra we had in our garden when I was a kid, and even the green of the kudzu that grows many places here. I think of the green the lawn we have to cut twice weekly in the summer, and the blue of the sky after a nasty thunderstorm. There is a lot wrong with Alabama, including my hometown, but nevertheless, I still love it for reasons I can't begin to understand, let alone express.

I know this is a dramatic shift from my previous posts, but this was just bubbling in my heart today. I had to express this, because this is who I am, and this is how I feel.

Click here for the Natalie Imbruglia video that last paragraph brought to mind. Looking back on it, 1997 was not that bad a year, compared to many that have followed. I miss the innocence this nation had somehow managed to retain even then.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tennessee Mosque Lawsuit: Chancellor Robert Corlew should be disbarred

This is a simple matter of religious freedom. Muslims have the same right to worship as they see fit as Baptists and other faiths. This building and this congregation, during its construction, has been the victim of arson and vandalism based on the same type of hatred that led to the 9/11 Attacks, and I find it particularly disgusting that those responsible either don't see that or simply don't care. Also, contractors have been threatened as a result of this, which is sickening.

Quote from ABC: "Imam Osama Bahloul, leader of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said early Wednesday morning. "We did exactly what other churches in the county did. We followed the same process that other churches did. Why did this happen? Some people feel like it is discrimination."

With all due respect, Imam Bahloul, some people feel like it's discrimination because it IS discrimination. I have no doubt you followed the normal procedures in Rutherford County and complied with the law. Given that, what else is there?

Chancellor Corlew threw out the plaintiffs' claim that Islam is not a real religion and not deserving of constitutional protections. Did that not tell him this was a spurious lawsuit based on hatred, not facts? Has Chancellor Corlew not heard of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which may, and in this case should, negate this ruling? Has he not heard about Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), of which this is a particularly blatant example? Would he have ruled the same way if members of the KKK sued to prevent the building of an AME Zion church or a Christian Methodist Episcopal Church? This congregation was targeted solely based on their religion. Our Founding Fathers thought that was so incredibly important that protection of the same was part of the very first amendment made to our constitution. Not second, not tenth, first. In a just world, Chancellor Corlew would have dismissed this lawsuit and awarded generous attorney's fees to the defendants, if the latter were within his power.

I heard one of the plaintiffs ranting either last night or this morning that allowing the construction of this mosque would be allowing "pure Sharia law." She may as well have worn a sheet with a cross burning in the background. Words cannot adequately express the level of my disgust.

My thoughts and hopes are with Imam Bahloul and his congregation. Islam is not our enemy. Religious extremism of all types is, and sadly, he and his congregation have been the victims of a lot of it. This building would be approximately 53,000 square feet, which, I'm sure, is smaller than some Christian churches in that area. This ruling and the treatment this congregation has suffered are disgusting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A detailed critique of the Green Party Platform, conclusion

The previous disclaimers apply, so I won't repeat them. I agree with III.F, so I'll start with the next thing that requires my commentary. Once more into the breach:

III.H.5: Since most toothpaste is now fluoridated, the goal of reducing periodontal disease no longer requires fluoridating our water supply. While I agree with their goal, it is for different reasons than those they stated.

III.I.6: I agree with this stance until they get to irradiation and genetic engineering. Irradiation of food to kill harmful viruses and bacteria, as long as it stays within safe levels, is not inherently bad. In fact, it can lead to increased food safety and a reduction of suffering. Also, I hate harping on GMOs, but it's about intent and responsibility. Billions of people worldwide, mainly in the developing world, do not consume enough vitamin A, and golden rice, a GMO, could easily address that problem. Roundup Ready GMOs, however, are a cause for concern. That said, we should follow where the science leads us instead of allowing blind ideology to get in the way of feeding the poor and hungry, and I'm glad they finally expressed a similar sentiment in III.I.14.

 III.J.10: I support this only insofar as it does not prevent the development of organ cloning for those who need replacement organs. We have a shortage of organs and donors, and the effect of antirejection drugs is a risk to the lives of these very sick people. Corporations are not inherently evil. When they engage in good science, such as this, lives are saved. Instead, I would focus on protections against price gouging, though with the universal healthcare the Green Party and I support, this would at least not be a burden to the patients.

III.K.1: While animal testing of drugs in development is not preferred, sometimes, it is inescapable. The first organ transplants, for example, were performed on animals, and how many lives have been saved since? Animal experimentation should be limited only to those cases where there are no viable non-animal alternatives and the treatment involves saving or significantly improving the quality of life for people.

III.K.2: By dissecting dead animals, students learn things they may not in any other way. The focus should be on the humane sacrifice of animals and the respectful treatment of the same.

I agree with pretty much all of Chapter IV, with the repeated caveat that real science should be the metric for technological advancement, not ideological alarmism.

Final notes: I don't agree with every one of their stances on the issues, as evidenced by these posts. As I've read their platform, I've even seen places where earlier concerns and ideas were echoed in later chapters. However, I think they have a lot of good, rational ideas and some real solutions for what ails us as a nation and as a planet.

A detailed critique of the Green Party Platform, part 2

In the last installment, I stopped with Article II, Section D. In keeping with the precedent set earlier today, the sections I reference will be listed thusly (Article).(Section).(Subsection).(Paragraph).(etc.), so Article II, Section D, Subsection 1 would be listed as II.D.1. Any portion of this platform that is not listed has my full agreement. Now, on with the show:

II.F.preamble: While I agree with the spirit of this preamble, I would restrict health care expenditures to those treatments that are proven to work. There should be some rational, scientific basis for whatever is being done to treat the patient. For example, a dietitian would qualify if such is needed for the patient, while a naturopath would not, as their activities are often based on pseudoscience. Chiropractic therapy and acupuncture would be acceptable if recommended by a Medical Doctor.

II.F.2: While I also hope for a cure for AIDS/HIV, the only successful means for controlling viruses, from the beginning of our understanding, has been vaccination. While I think a "cure" is unlikely, it is reasonable and good to hope for a day when it becomes a chronic condition not unlike diabetes.

III.A.14: I would add the caveat that we have been genetically modifying food for millennia with no harm. Golden rice and other foods designed to deal with serious nutritional deficiencies among the poorest should be celebrated, not opposed with anti-scientific ranting. However, GMO's designed to make foods more tolerant to pesticides and others that may have a deleterious effect on the environment should be opposed. In short, add rational thought to the process. The question should not be "GMOs or organic". It should be "responsible GMOs AND organic." Until that day, the focus should be on harm reduction. Pesticides aren't necessarily evil, but they should be used sparingly, much like antibiotics.

III.B.3.f: I would add that algae sources of biofuels should be aggressively pursued. Once commercially viable, these would, at the very least, be carbon neutral without endangering the food supply.

Well, that gets me through page 48 of this 71 page document. I will continue with more as time permits, starting with III.F if I have any commentary on that section.

A detailed critique of the Green Party platform of 2010, Part I

I'm going with that one because it's the only one they have posted. For clarity, I'll list them in the following manner: (Article).(section).(subsection).(clause).(etc.). So, without preamble, here it is:

I.E.6: I disagree fundamentally with the Green Party stance on Puerto Rico. Frankly, it smacks of the same arrogance shown when they were annexed in 1898. If the Puerto Rican people want independence, fine. However, if they want to maintain the status quo or be granted full statehood, let them. Our actions on the mainland should strictly be in support of whatever decision the Puerto Rican people make. That said, I support the environmental cleanup of Vieques and Culebra, as not only it is just, it is simply the right thing to do.

I.F.1: It's next to impossible to fake a crime scene as large as the World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and the field in Pennsylvania. Also, frankly, such talk presupposes a far greater level of competence than we ever saw from the Bush II Administration. Such efforts would be better spent on investigating the profiteering that has occurred in the years since 9/11.

I.G.2: Instead of reducing human-staffed space exploration, I want to see a greatly increased human staffing of space exploration, but I want it to be true exploration. I want to see manned teams on Mars and elsewhere in the Solar System to look for evidence of current or former life. Mars is a great first step on the way to Europa and other places of interest.

II.A.1.b: A list system would probably be the best way to accomplish that, similar to The Netherlands and other Western democracies.
II.A.1.n: Any actions that address the concerns of domestic violence should also acknowledge and address male victims of domestic violence, and they should include robust protections for the rights of the accused in full accordance with the Bill of Rights.

II.A.2.d.ii: Point of order, really. Those have already been repealed by virtue of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

II.A.4: The Hawaiian people have long since decided to join the United States. While I support the preservation of Hawaiian culture, by and large, they're already there.

II.C: To accomplish that goal, I see no harm in taking the wage limit off of collection of Social Security premiums, and frankly, a needs test would also be just. Someone with a net worth of $10 million or more wouldn't notice the addition of the Social Security check. This should be for those who need the help, much like automobile insurance only pays out to those who get in a wreck.

I agree with Article II, Section D, except I would use the means listed above instead of a negative income tax. That's it for now. I'll say more as time permits.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A change in party affiliation

Perhaps I should have put the words "Spoiler Alert" up there, but I've done some soul searching recently. My beliefs no longer mesh with the Democratic Party in its current incarnation as a center-right party. So, I took one of those online quiz things, and it had a rational basis for saying my views mostly agreed with the Greens. Not trusting a quiz for much more than entertainment purposes, I then went to the Green Party website and took a long, hard look at their platform, and found I agree with pretty much all of it, with only a smattering of minor disagreements. I also looked up Dr. Jill Stein's campaign page, and while it was far thinner than I would have liked, I did catch a CNN interview she did. She and they make a lot of sense. For the Ron Paul fanatics, these guys really are what they mistakenly think he is. They have some serious ideas and real solutions for what ails this country.

I will still vote for Democrats when they have a realistic chance against a GOP candidate, or when the only other option is voting for a GOP candidate, because center-right is still far better than voting for fascists. However, if there is a Green Party alternative and the Democratic Party candidate stands less than a snowball's chance in Hell, which is not uncommon in Alabama, I'll vote for that candidate. Of course, if a Green Party candidate has a legitimate chance at winning a race, that would be ideal, and I will give that candidate my full support. Before this, I had been under the mistaken impression that the nearest political party that met my needs was in Canada, the New Democratic Party. I'm quite pleased to find that is not the case, though I wish the Greens had more support.

I hope you are all doing well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Year four for Obama: Time for the report card.

If you're the type to wash the balls of those in power, you'll probably be offended. If you want an honest critique, you've come to the right place.

Civil Rights: A. Between his tireless efforts to work with Congress to repeal DADT and his refusal to defend DOMA, citing states rights grounds as one of his many justifications (chortle), I don't see how he can possibly get less than an A on this one. Also, we can't forget his efforts to push the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Civil Liberties: D-. I'm being generous on this one simply because he's slightly better than Dubya. His expansion of the powers of the TSA/Homeland Security in ways that run deeply afoul of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution demand nothing less than this score. Largely, he has continued our descent into a police state that began under Bush. The sole mitigating factor is that he has done so less than those on his right would have. Topper Harley, you're the best of what's left.

Immigration: D-. Again, I have to compare him to the alternative to get this score. He has proven every bit as aggressive as Dubya when dealing with immigrants, without whom our nation's population would have decreased in the last decade, a state that would have caused all sorts of problems. Still, he's far less rabid than the alternative.

Drug policy: C-. He has not been as aggressive with the medical marijuana dispensaries as he could have been. That said, he's been fairly aggressive.

Economy, including those who are the poorest: A. Given the Tea Taliban faction of the GOP blocking everything he proposes, what he has managed to accomplish is remarkable. It's not enough, but I don't think many could have done more as long as the filibuster still exists. Of particular note are his work to extend unemployment insurance for those who need it and his work to save people's mortgages.

Environment: B, and Women's Rights: B. See above.

Foreign policy: B-. He's at least started to pull us out of our unnecessary wars, which is more than any GOP candidate would have done. Also, he is willing to use diplomacy as a tool, instead of first going to the military. That said, his use of drone strikes, especially against American citizens, sets a questionable and dangerous precedent.

Health care reform: A. In light of the challenges he has faced and continues to face, the fact he was able to pass anything is remarkable. Also, I like most portions of the PPACA. That said, I still hope for single-payer one day.

Since the areas I weight highest are also his biggest weaknesses, I give him an overall score of C+. He's a former professor of constitutional law, for Christ's sake. When I voted for him, I had hopes he would respect it more than he has. That said, he's far better than Mittens.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Luke 12:48, bane to "Christian" conservatives

I know this is bizarre for an avowed, if closeted, atheist, but it's sometimes necessary to look at what one's opponents really believe.

"For unto whomever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." The first half of this has to do with punishing servants, yet aren't these "Christian" conservatives claiming to be servants of God? Also, they believe in Hell, and some believe in Purgatory. Also, they believe in Leviticus when it suits them, hence their insane stance against gay marriage and often abject hatred of the entire LGBT community. How about Leviticus 19:18, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." This was reiterated in Matthew 22:39 and elsewhere should they then say "oh, it's the OLD Testament. Most of it doesn't apply these days."

I think about Mitt Romney and his time as a vulture capitalist. I think about the people he was "good at firing" and his net worth in the low 9 figures, and I wonder how many children could be fed for 1/4 that, or how many people could have affordable health care if he were taxed as heavily as the working class. I say working class because there is no middle class worth mentioning any more. Unto whom much is given, of him shall much be required, yet he and his allies have done everything they could, by lobbying and by working to get friendly legislators elected to avoid just that.

I close with a quote by Gandhi: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Having been raised in the same faith as Romney, Luke 12:48 is one of those lessons that has stuck with me. It was something I remember being discussed often through my childhood and teen years. Looking at Romney, Santorum, and what a colossal dick he is (Sorry Charles P. Pierce, but it's a great line), and their fellow fringe-dwellers, I like their Christ, and I don't like those Christians, because they are so unlike their Christ.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Musings of a closeted atheist

I've given a lot of thought to matters of faith lately. I still love the people I grew up with in my church and other people of faith I have known. Many were great examples of how to be a decent human being. I remember countless Sundays spent singing in the pew, and I still have my favorite hymns. This is who I am, and even if I could deny these influences, I wouldn't want to.

All of this makes it that much harder to tell my family that I no longer believe in a higher power. I think I started to lose my faith over 20 years ago for reasons I won't address here. I still believe in the basic decency of most people, and I think people form communities based on common interests and goals. I also think this basic decency is often perverted by others in the name of their "god". If I find anything holy, it is humanity, and more specifically, humanity when it is at its most noble and intelligent. That which I find evil is humanity at its most venal, hate-filled, and delusional. In this sense, Christopher Hitchens was a holier person than Mother Theresa, and Albert Einstein more holy than Pat Robertson. The remnants of my last trip to Taco Bell are more holy and pure than Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, and the rest of the lunatic GOP field, including Huntsman.

To keep the peace, I don't share this with my family. It feels like I lie to them a little every day, even though matters of faith never come up in conversation. Still, there's this part of me that feels like telling people what this atheist with socialist tendencies really believes. I believe the rich should pay more taxes since they get more benefit from society. I believe the poor and working class should have a realistic chance at an affordable (or better yet, free) education and free health care. I believe the infrastructure that is in such a horrible state of disrepair should be a top priority, and that nation building should occur here. I hate war, and feel it should be the absolutely last option. I think our police forces should be demilitarized, and the TSA should be disbanded. I think government should assume adults are smart enough to know which substances they want to put in their bodies. That said, I think government should play an active role in the safety of food and drugs. Finally, I think what we are not doing for our veterans is perhaps our greatest national shame.

I just had to get all of this off my chest.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I'm sorry for the very long absence.

The last two and a half years have been... interesting, and they promise to stay that way for the foreseeable future. I still think about you, my blogging friends.

I've looked at America, and I truly don't recognize it anymore. I love the America I grew up in, where you didn't have to fear the Blackwater-ized cops, where you didn't get irradiated, sexually assaulted, or strip-searched as part and parcel of getting on an airplane, and where corporations didn't transparently own the electoral process. I miss the America that had a respect for the basic rights of people to peaceably assemble, say unpopular but nonviolent things without fearing that knock on the door, and where corporations who send jobs overseas didn't get rewarded with a $0 income tax bill. I miss the middle class. When America had one, it was great, and we experienced unmatched levels of prosperity. I miss having a world-class education system, which was largely responsible for the creation of the aforementioned middle class. In short, I see America, and I see very few signs worthy of optimism.

I'm very glad DADT got repealed, and that the PPACA was passed. As you know, that's Obamacare, but I can never remember the long version of the name. Still, I call it Obamacare with gratitude and pride. These are very good things, and yet, the main reason Obama will get my vote in November is because the GOP is too damned crazy. I know the President has wanted to do more, yet he has been stopped at every turn by a grossly obstructionist GOP House and a truly activist Supreme Court that overturned decades of precedent in the Citizens United case and others for the benefit of their corporate buddies. Even now, the GOP and right-wing media spread lies about Obamacare and what it means for seniors, and when you confront someone who is already inclined to believe the worst of Obama with the facts, it means nothing. Obamacare is not rationing, it isn't taking away the rights of seniors to choose their medical options, and it's not death panels. Obamacare has already saved lives as the provisions extending medical coverage of people until the age of 26 under their parents' insurance, and it will continue to do so as more provisions become active, such as basic medical exams and other important and routine things will be covered without a deductible in accordance with this law. I only hope the Supreme Court rules the whole thing is constitutional in accordance with decades of precedent, though the Roberts court has shown it feels far from beholden to the most noble parts of our past jurisprudence.

These small glimmers of hope notwithstanding, I open this year with a moment of silence in memory of America. I'm in my 30s, and now, I just hope I live long enough to see her return, because I think fixing this in 45 years might be an optimistic goal. I don't have children, but I constantly worry about what kind of nation we're leaving for the generations to come. What few answers I have, I don't like, and as I look to our north, I see Canada going down our same self-destructive path. William Butler Yeats said it best in "The Second Coming."

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?