Thursday, January 14, 2010

Miscellany, January, 2010

To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, "There are four kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics and Fox News."

The people who are most violently opposed to abortion are those whose parents could have gotten the greatest benefit from the procedure.

Similarly, I completely agree with Barney Frank who observed a couple of decades ago, "Republicans believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth."

Religious fundamentalists and rabid sports fans are living proof that evolution doesn't hold true...in all cases.

Orly Taitz was not born in the United States. Her hair color and grasp of the law are equally honest.

The louder, more often and more emphatically you say you're a "CHRISTIAN" the less likely you are to be one.

If the people who believe in "The Rapture" are the people who will be populating Heaven, being left behind is going to be a picnic. Besides, I'll have my choice of cars.

If the neo-fascist ultra-right thinks Sarah Palin is a leader why haven't we just won by default?

I just adore protesters opposed to single-payer, universal health care who chant, "Hands off my Medicare!"

Shouldn't we ask the police officers murdered from October, 2009 in Washington State whether they think that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to own firearms? Oops! My bad. They were shot so we can't ask them.

I have ancestors who served in the American Revolutionary Army including at Lexington and Concord. The current groups calling themselves "Minutemen" are an affront to all those who fought for American independence though they fit right into the traditions of Italian Black and German Brown Shirts.

Ditto for the Teaparty Movement.

The essence of Libertarianism is, "Do unto others, grab as much as you can for yourself and get out of there before you're caught."

Nobody needs to undermine the authority the Roman Catholic Church while so many its priests, bishops and cardinals are doing such yeoman service in undermining it themselves.

Nobody does enough work or works hard enough to justify salaries, let alone bonuses of more than $1,000,000.00 per year.

Stupid us! We give sports, movie and rock stars multiple millions of dollars while they are still in their teens and twenties and then we are shocked (SHOCKED!!!!) when we find they're using drugs, alcohol and screwing everything that passes within reach. Exceptional talent doesn't mean that the person is any brighter than the guy mumbling to himself while dumpster diving.

Not everyone can be President of the United States nor should be. We just spent eight years under the administration of criminals and fools, hopefully putting that idea to rest.

The Bush family is living proof that the British Royal Family isn't the only one suffering from in-breeding.

That Newt Gingrich still speaks about "traditional family values" is irrefutable proof that the right-wing hasn't a single shred of integrity or honesty.

As a cynic and lover of irony, I am delighted that the party of Mark Foley, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford and David Vitter is the party of "family values".

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Facing Satan

If we atheists didn't already have Pat Robertson we would have to invent him.

Actually, fundamentalism is the best thing that ever happened to atheism. It's far harder to rip apart a Prince of Peace or a god whose embodiment is love than it is to piss all over blinkered idiots whose god spouts war on unbelievers and hate generally. As I've written before here, fundamentalism is not religion; it's religiosity. That doesn't keep some of the people who are foolish or stupid enough to adhere to it from being pleasant generally and even decent under narrow circumstances. But narrow is the active word here.

I don't believe in either a Big-Imaginary-Friend-In-The-Sky or Satan. I believe that what good there is in the world comes primarily from people being kind and decent to one another in living this life as if it were the only one they will ever have (because I think it is). I also believe that the bulk of evil in this world - and there certainly is evil even without a satan - comes from people being hateful and selfish and narrow minded toward others while living this life as if it were a rehearsal gone wrong as they wait for some reward in another life that will never come.

But let's, for a moment, postulate  universe in which both that Big-Imaginary-Friend-In-The-Sky and Satan exist. If I were satan and wanted to drag as many fools to hell as possible, I can think of no better Pied Piper for the task than a neo-fascist hatemonger disguised as an avuncular fellow who professes himself to be a CHRISTIAN. You want proof? The 700 Club's name derives from the number of the Beast, 666, and Pat Robertson's official age in 1964, the year Barry Goldwater was defeated for the presidency and the year that Lyndon Johnson decided to make sure that Pat's father was defeated in his next senatorial campaign. That's right, folks, Robertson's own program identifies him as an agent of satan.

Want more proof? It's a "club", right? And what color are clubs in a pack of cards? Right! Clubs are black! And satan is the prince of darkness and darkness is black. It's right there in the name.

Ridiculous?

According to Pat Robertson today, January 13, 2009, "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,' . Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."

How would Pat know it's a "true story"? He couldn't...unless he was there! He has admitted it. In 1804 Pat Robertson himself was in the meeting between the rebellious black slaves of Haiti and satan. Now, we know that Pat certainly is not black...of African descent, I mean. So if he's not a former Haitian slave that only leaves one other presence in the meeting...satan. There you are, boys and girls, proof positive or certainly good enough for Pat Robertson and Glenn Beck, that Robertson is, himself, satan and no other.

You want more proof?

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and not because its people lack industriousness or invention. It is poor for a variety of reasons that range across the natural, personal and political spectrum over two centuries. Someone who controls such things must hate Haiti, right? But Jesus loved the poor. Jesus comforted the poor and afflicted so whoever is harming Haiti must be working counter to Jesus. And who is the adversary of everything CHRISTIAN and religiose?

Whoever said, "Richard Dawkins" should just close this blog now. You don't get it.

No, silly, it's satan again. Satan has visited on Haiti this massive earthquake. It killed the Archbishop of Port au Prince, didn't it? Or would Robertson say that's simply because he was a Catholic? I'm not sure on that one. Still, obviously this is satan's handiwork and satan himself, Pat Robertson, is trying to throw everyone off the track.

Or, perhaps we could look at things a little differently.

Isn't it possible that the Haitian slaves of the 18th and 19th Centuries felt that slavery was an injustice counter to every decent Christian religious principle? Isn't it possible that they were inspired by the revolutions in America and France to seek their freedom and independence? But then again, isn't that another proof that Pat Robertson is satan? After all, who but satan would ascribe to satan a yearning for freedom and independence? Or is it, perhaps, that Pat Robertson is really saying that in 1775 a group of delegates from colonies met in Philadelphia and made a pact with the devil. John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the rest said to satan, "We will serve you if you will free us from the English." and the devil said, "It's a deal." Perhaps that is what Robertson is saying, after all, he was there. He would know.

Monday, January 11, 2010

E-Klan Robes

The argument is utterly absurd on its face.

Here in my home state of Washington and now in Federal Court in California right-wing bigots are claiming the right to wear virtual hoods over their heads. The ironic and absurd contention is that if these terrorists are identified in public they may be subjected to ridicule and intimidation. On its face their argument is that we bigots have an inalienable right to intimidate others but no one else should dare to assert a phony right to intimidate us.

The issue here is not race hatred but rather hatred of gays, lesbians and transgendered individuals who are seeking equal rights with their heterosexual peers.

Back in May of 2009 the Washington Legislature finally gathered the courage to pass what we refer to as the "Everything But Marriage Act" allowing domestic partners of either sex the full benefits of marriage but without legalizing same-sex marriage per se. This act skirted an issue in Washington created by the bigots themselves. In 1998 a voter initiative passed creating a Washington State "Defense of Marriage Act". Marriage, which has had a sad and checkered history throughout time, has been an institution used briefly and, sometimes often, for a half century in America but the threat from which the red-neck bigots and fundamentalist loonies found it needed defending was the possibility that couples of the same sex might marry. Their hysterical rant claimed that heterosexual marriages were somehow threatened by homosexual marriages. How and to what effect they never could coherently specify. The best argument they could muster was that their Big-Imaginary-Friend-In-The-Sky said it was a no-no. This, of course, came from people whose direct antecedents claimed that Afro-Americans were an "inferior" race based on the advice of that same Big-Imaginary-Friend-In-The-Sky. With the Washington "Defense of Marriage Act" on the books, legislators had to tread a bit lightly. Thus they did not do the obvious and correct thing in having the "Defense of Marriage Act" declared unconstitutional followed by passage of a bill extending full marital rights to same-sex couples.

Light tread or not, the bigots marshaled their night-riders and set out to terrorize the state. On September 1, 2009 the Republican Washington Secretary of State certified initiative petitions containing enough signatures to put Referendum 71 on last November's ballot. The bigots are not without lawyers. After all Kenneth Starr and Antonin Scalia are, sadly, still breathing. They managed to couch the petition in language sufficiently obtuse that a Yes vote retained the "Everything But Marriage Act" while a No vote would have repealed it. Thanks, in part, to the bigots' efforts to confuse voters about their purpose and their success in doing so, Referendum 71 was defeated in the 2009 state elections. But what is relevant here is the history between September 1 and November 5, 2009.

Initiative petitions are public documents. That is and has been settled law in Washington State and throughout the United States. But when a pro-gay rights group in Washington announced plans to create a public, on-line database of the signers of the Referendum 71 petitions, all hell broke loose amongst those awaiting The Rapture. Good heavens! They were simply trying to deny equal rights to others and now they might face discriminatory treatment themselves! Horrible! That is, after all, why Klansmen wore hoods!

The courts, up to the U. S. Supreme Court in the person of "Justice" Anthony Kennedy, decided to punt on the issue. If I am being charitable, and, being a dyed-in-the-wool Lefty, I must be even when it grates, I suspect that the punt was meant to split the difference between the settled law that the petition signers' names are public records and the worry that they would be targeted for some unspecified violence (burning rainbows on their front lawns?). In any case, election day, 2009 came and went. The odious Referendum 71 went down to well deserved defeat and the case became moot.

Now we have a trial in Federal Court in San Francisco, California raising the issue of the even more odious Proposition 8 which actually amended the California Constitution to outlaw same sex marriages. Judge Vaughn R. Walker presiding over the case, a Libertarian-leaning appointee of Poppy Bush, wanted to televise the proceedings. Once again the right-wing night-riders objected to having their hoods removed for a broad public claiming that they might be subject to witness intimidation. A compromise went for nothing and now the Supreme Court, once again in the person of Anthony Kennedy, has punted but this time with a level of unabashed absurdity that exponentially exceeds the Washington case.

Indeed, the bigots won't appear in inglorious color on YouTube but there is nothing to prevent any person attending the court proceedings from reporting their names and other identifying information in any public forum available. In short, the Supreme Court injunction will do nothing but turn a video record into verbal reportage.

Yet the very real issue is one of darkness and light. Light, whether sunlight or scrutiny, disinfects. Lots of noisome things grow in the dark. The bigots who promote gay bashing, whether in individual, physical attacks or in public legislative attacks on our gay brothers and sisters, need to be brought out into the light to disinfect our society. The real issue is that these bigots are ashamed of their vile bigotry just as the Klansmen that they resemble needed hoods to hide their identities from the larger public. When we turned over the racist rocks under which Byron dela Beckwith, Cecil Price, Lawrence Rainey, Sam Bowers, Robert Chambliss and Thomas Blanton cowered, the killings and bombings stopped and Afro-Americans could go about their business in Mississippi and Alabama with far less fear than when the hate of those monsters festered in the darkness. It's now time to expose the current crop of night-riding bigots to the light so that their public shame and native cowardice ends this odious chapter of American bigotry.

We had to wait thirty years for the play and subsequent movie Inherit the Wind publicly showing the vacuousness of the fundamentalists in the Scopes Monkey Trial. I doubt that we will have to wait so long for the public display and discrediting of this new subset of bigots. It won't do away with the bigotry in itself just as we are still battling over evolution eighty-five years after William Jennings Bryan discredited himself and fundamentalism in Dayton, Tennessee. However, dragging the bigots into the light will quiet them and purge the public forum of their hateful viciousness.

We need this publicity not only for ourselves but for our world as well. The fundamentalist bigots are now financing and promoting gay bashing legislation in Uganda that is only slightly different from that in Hitler's Germany. Their churches and the overflowing, tax-free offerings on which their ministries of hate depend operate in darkness. They preach that they "hate the sin but love the sinner" while sponsoring the death penalty for the sinner. Public exposure of their bigotry will necessarily cut into the offerings in the plates passed on Sunday mornings as people unwilling to be publicly associated with such odious policies opt for other, less extreme places of worship.

So I am cheerfully awaiting the first reports of the names, addresses and even cell phone pictures of the bigots who want to deny that most American belief that "all men are created equal" and the fulfillment of that in the assertion that we all have equal rights regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or who we love.