Friday, October 31, 2008

First Amendment protects Palin from media criticism

So dumb it hurts, as Glenn Greenwald explains here. Next thing you know, she'll want to use her Second Amendment rights to protect herself against these attacks on her First Amendment rights...

Heads up to mainstream media outlets: stock up on body armor!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dole & Hagan put atheism on trial in North Carolina

Yes, it is desperate and ridiculous. But I'm not embarrassed for my state, my nation, or our mainstream political parties. I'm embarrassed by them! But not surprised.

I mean Obama hasn't sued anyone for slander yet, but he hasn't been very vocal in defending Muslims either. And now Hagan is "outraged" by this "personal slander" (libel actually) - a false statement that harms your reputation or standing in the community.

How sad. We are apparently so intolerant in this country that suggesting you are an atheist or Muslim is considered slander or libel. Are Jews and Catholics acceptable yet? What about Buddhists or Hindus?

To paraphrase Colin Powell: What if she is? Is there something wrong with being an atheist in this country?" The answer's "No, that's not America." Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old atheist American kid* believing that he or she could be President? This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

*Like Dawkins, I flinch when someone says "Muslim child" or "Christian child" so I'd certainly never refer to a seven-year-old as an "atheist kid" but that's a separate discussion....

UPDATE I. See here for some more opinions on this.

UPDATE II. Hagan's defamation and libel complaint is that this "maligns her character and reputation," "subjects her to contempt," and "injures her good name and reputation in the community." Despicable! Archie Bunker would be proud of them both!

UPDATE III. More discussion on this at Pharyngula's pox on them all.

UPDATE IV. Hagan staff responds privately to the Friendly Atheist.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bombshell: John the Redistributor video uncovered

Dear John: if you keep talking, you can't stop making a fool out of yourself!

"That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor: It means taking your money and giving it to someone else."

- John McCain (today)

- John McCain (2000)

How STUPID do you think we are?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Andy, Opie & The Fonz for Obama...North Carolina too?

Will NC be Obamalina this year?

Will Ron Howard's call to action make a difference in the state?

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Video hat tip: PZ.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cynicism...about limited political choices in the US

This post is a response to Almost Diamonds, who takes issue with my "cynicism" in the comments to Greg Laden's giddy post about the endorsement of Obama by Colin Powell. Apparently I'm brainless for not seeing that there are "big differences between Obama and McCain--of policy, of personality, of integrity."

In response, I would humbly suggest that one must have a fairly narrow perspective on the issues in order to see "big differences" between the two "mainstream" candidates. Don't get me wrong. There are certainly differences, and those differences can have a real impact on people's lives over time. However, the differences are small and fall within a narrow right-wing, authoritarian political spectrum.

Case in point: Almost asks how it is "evil" to suggest that people should have access to affordable health care (emphasis mine). Note that the question cynically presupposes that health care is a commodity to be bought and sold instead of a basic human right that should be available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay for it. This is the same narrow political discussion that Obama and McCain have engaged in during this campaign. Talk about cynicism. Isn't it time to expand our political discourse?

Swat that...Almost.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Agent of change endorsed by Neocon's most effective weapon of mass deception

Sometimes life imitates satire. Today is one of those days. Obama is "beyond honored and deeply humbled" to receive the endorsement of Colin Powell - a man who knowingly deceived the world about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This speaks volumes about how limited and cynical the differences are between Republicans and Democrats. War without justification? Yes we can!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Memo to McCain Nuts - change the subject to ACORN

Attention desperate John McCain supporters: Ayers didn't stick, so change the subject to ACORN. Don't talk about the economy, don't talk about Timmons...

John McCain: We need to know the full extent of your relationship with Saddam Hussein

Dear John,

As you said in your last debate with Obama, we need to know the full extent of any questionable relationships between the candidates and washed up terrorists (or those who support them). Therefore, will you please explain the full extent of your campaign's official ongoing relationship with a lobbyist for Saddam Hussien. No more non-denial denials please!

Regards,
An undecided voter

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dear God, your reputation is at stake!

You're followers are making you look, well, judge for yourself...

From the invocation at a McCain rally in Davenport, Iowa yesterday:

"I would also add Lord, that  your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it's Hindu, Buddha, Allah—that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons.  And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens.  So I pray that you would step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day."

- Arnold Conrad, former pastor of Grace Evangelical Free Church in Davenport, Iowa

The McCain campaign responds:

"While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama's judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief.”

- McCain campaign spokesperson Wendy Riemann (CNN).

But talk about poor judgement and questionable associations, McCain's campaign rallies appear to be full of it lately! "Energizing the base" I suppose?

I'm Barack Obama, and I approved these mixed messages

"Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."

- Barack Obama campaign ad to be released next week

"We need a steady hand in the White House. We need a president you can trust in times of crisis," instead of someone who is "lurching all over the place" and prone to "erratic behavior."

- Barack Obama on the stump this week

"I believe John McCain is a good man and a genuine American hero. And we honor his half-century of service to this nation."

-Barack Obama on the stump in February

Obama may ask McCain to spearhead a bipartisan overhaul of veteran's affairs.

- A Democratic strategist who talks regularly with Obama's senior advisors (The Telegraph - this week)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm John McCain, and I approved these mixed messages

"Barack Obama: Too risky for America."

- John McCain campaign ad released this week

"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

- Sarah Palin on the stump this week 

"I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States...I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments."

- John McCain on the stump this week

Will the real John McCain please stand up?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Defrost pizzas in 30 nanoseconds or the end of the world as we know it?

There's a lot of buzz going around right now about the startup of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), including some sensational headlines about the end of the world...or perhaps just the end of the world as we know it.

The alleged safety of the LHC aside, anything that can defrost a pizza in 30 nanoseconds is pretty darn scary! So...as a public service, several new Web sites promise to provide with us real-time monitoring of this threat:

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Drill here, drill now - not much better than nothing at all

In her RNC speech, Sarah Palin said "the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all." Of course no one is arguing that we do nothing, but more domestic drilling is pretty close to it. As Kurt Zenz House explains in an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

What we're watching is the thread of a decent argument--that when oil prices are very high, the United States should expand oil exploration and extraction--get oversold by liars and fools who cannot perform basic arithmetic...the NPC estimates that if the moratoria were completely lifted, by 2025, the United States would be extracting an incremental 1 million barrels of oil per day--or about 5 percent of current demand. The Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. oil demand will increase by about 10 percent by 2025. Likewise, conventional crude extraction from areas not under a drilling moratorium is projected to more or less stay flat for the next 15 years. Therefore, even with a complete repeal of the drilling moratoria, U.S. oil imports will have to grow in both relative and absolute terms to meet business-as-usual demand.

So if more domestic drilling will not even allow us to keep up with demand over the next 15 years, then why were all those RNC attendees chanting and holding up "Drill Here, Drill Now" signs? Why are there several hundred "Drill Here, Drill Now" groups on Facebook, with thousands of members? Why is a "grassroots" group (chaired by former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey!), advocating more exploration and production as the solution?

Perhaps the "Drill Here, Drill Now" crowd has been doing too much drilling with ice picks in their prefrontal cortex?

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Bridge to Nowhere, from the Spinmeister's Mouth

Sarah Palin, in her own words...

"We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge, and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative...The window is now, while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist"

- August 2006


"It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island...Much of the public's attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened."

- September 2007


"I told Congress, 'Thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere'"

- September 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pledge Nazis

From the Star Tribune in Minneapolis: 3 suspended for not standing for Pledge of Allegiance. We can do better than this...

I pledge allegiance to my brain.
And the right to think for myself.
One mind, under assault.
But you can't control my thought.
To demonstrate, I don't stand!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Political posturing and rants not grounded in truth

I am not surprised by the spectacle that we saw yesterday.

First, His Holiness the Dali Obama expects us to believe that he was unaware of the views of his pastor for twenty years -- the man who married him, baptized his children, and prayed with him when he announced his candidacy.

Second, His Holiness the Dali Obama expects us to believe that his distancing himself from this man is not political posturing on his part.

Third, His Holiness the Dali Obama thinks it is ridiculous to suggest that the U.S. government might be involved in creating the AIDS virus. Certainly this particular claim is not grounded in any truth, but it is not completely out of character for our government to do stuff like thisAnd having spouted some ridiculous propositions of his own, the outrage here is ironic to say the least.

Fourth, His Holiness the Dali Obama thinks it is ridiculous to equate the United States wartime efforts with terrorism. As I discussed in my last post, this is just special pleading.

There are no excuses for this political posturing and rants not grounded in truth.

("War" is "Terrorism") is "Evil"

To follow up on my last post regarding the empirical truism of roosting  and headless chickens, Jimmy Carter offers this moral truism:
I think anytime any powerhouse takes military action when it’s a high danger or almost an inevitability that women and children are going to be killed, I think that can be considered an act of terrorism.
Carter is talking about Israeli military actions against Palestinians, but it must also be applied to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
-- in fact, any war -- if we are to take this moral principle seriously. Exemptions, without valid justification, are just cases of special pleading. Or, as Chomsky explains:
If we propose some principle that is to be applied to antagonists, then we must agree -- in fact, strenuously insist -- that the principle apply to us as well. Those who do not rise even to this minimal level of integrity plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of right and wrong, good and evil...It is fair enough to denounce international terrorism as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself." The commitment to "drive the evil from the world" can even be taken seriously, if it satisfies moral truisms -- not, it would seem, an entirely unreasonable thought.
Chomsky therefore offers one simple solution to reduce the level of terror in the world: "stop participating in it." Integrity and logic seem to require no less...we should at least test it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chickens...Often Roosting, Sometimes Headless

Jeremiah Wright spoke at the National Press Club today. He quoted Paul who, in his letter to the Galatians, noted what is so often a truism: "whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Equally true is the frenzied reaction some people have to being reminded of this fact (Ward Churchill also knows something about this).

Concerning the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States the "9/11 Commission" put it more subtlety. In their final report the commission simply noted that "America's policy choices have consequences." They viewed this problem primarily as a public relations issue however, recommending that "we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously." These ideals ostensibly include a democratically elected government and personal freedoms, which others have claimed are precisely why the terrorists hate us (Bush, September 20, 2001). Catch 22?

Perhaps an anecdote will help to illustrate the problem with both of these claims, as well as the psychology that makes Paul's warning a frequent truism:

When the hijackers of the TWA airliner in 1985 reportedly shouted the words "New Jersey" in the aisles of the plane, most Americans, if they heard it at all, would scarcely have been aware that the reference was to the battleship New Jersey. After the bombing of the Marine Barracks, the battleship had turned its 16-inch guns upon Shiite Moslem villages in Lebanon, hurtling 1,000 pound shells into the homes of those who could not possibly have been responsible for the bombing. One of the hijackers, it was reported, lost his wife and daughter in that shelling.

- Robert Holmes, "Terrorism and Violence: A Moral Perspective" (in Issues in War and Peace: Philosophical Inquiries).

This is in no way meant to imply that all terrorists have suffered personally from U.S. policies or actions, or that terrorist acts are justified, or that the victims of terrorism deserve it. But our policies and our actions do have consequences. And satellite television and library programs are unlikely to mitigate them. But more importantly, as Paul warned, bombing and torture are very often paid back in kind. Frenzied denials notwithstanding.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

To keep and bear arms

Rational argument...
Appeals to emotion...
Name calling...
Your upper limb...
Sticks and stones...
Pepper spray, mace, and tasers...
Knives, boxcutters, and polearms...
Handguns, assault rifles, and explosives...
Planes, trains, and automobiles...
Tanks and aircraft carriers...
Chemical and nuclear weapons...
Ray guns and shields...
Rational argument...
Appeals to emotion...
Name calling...
Your upper limb...
Sticks and stones...
To paraphrase Camus;
He who stops is a fool, he who keeps going is a coward.
And the coward has a thousand times the chances of success.
But...at what price?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Repelled: No talking out loud!



Ben (Will) Whine
del.icio.us Tags:


The theory of gravity is still taught
Like the only valid idea that ought
Be allowed in our schools today
An attraction between bodies they say

A growing number of scientists are quite dismayed
At the very real prospect of being waylaid

If they dare to question “Big Science’s” orthodoxy
They must use a "pen name" as their proxy

This suppression of real scientific debate
Has its roots in Secular Humanist hate

Gay marriage, labor unions, and the UN results
Saddam Hussein is no longer available for consults

They use their privileged position to support Osama
And then tell us all to vote for Barack Hussein Obama

A rational challenge to this magnum dopus is overdue
A force that repels bodies must now ensue

Learn about the controversy if you dare
But beware of the consequences if you share

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Menacing speedboats and "Filipino Monkeys!" Oh my!

Menacing speedboats and "Filipino Monkeys!" Oh my!
Attack now, or we're all going to die?

With the POTUS once again playing in the sand.
Is another nervy, and slightly-unhinged move at hand?

"Unnecessarily provocative" was sounded from the Gates!
"Quite troubling actually and a matter of real concern" for our fates?

Gee, I guess the best intel can be wrong...as we all now know?
But still, shouldn't we be more careful what we sow?