Health care fight? GOP hypocrisy

Posted by J.D. On Monday, December 28, 2009 1 comments
While the Republicans (a.k.a. the party of NO) fight against health care reform citing the possibility of enlarging the federal deficit.

Granted, the Congressional Budget Office says otherwise. The CBO claims it will actually save money. Specifically, $132 billion in the first 10 years.

But the Republicans didn't care so much about enlarging the deficit when they were in charge. Not at all.

Republican senators attacking the cost of a Democratic health care bill showed far different concerns six years ago, when they approved a major Medicare expansion that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

The inconsistency — or hypocrisy, as some call it — has irked Democrats, who claim that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.

By contrast, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

And what exactly is the excuse for being pro-enlarging the deficit when they were in charge and exceptionally anti-any new spending now that they aren't?

Six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question."


This is the party who continuously claim that the country would be better off with them completely in charge...but when they were, but Hatch's own admission, it was "standard practice to not pay for things"?

Amazing how losing an election and consequently desperately needing the votes of some angry tea baggers will suddenly change your perspective on needing to pay for things.

Bruce Bartlett was a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and was a treasury official under President George H.W. Bush. Bartlett disagrees with the Republican sentiment that the past is past and today is today.

"As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt," said Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He made his comments in a Forbes article titled "Republican Deficit Hypocrisy."

Bartlett said the 2003 Medicare expansion was "a pure giveaway" that cost more than this year's Senate or House health bills will cost. More important, he said, "the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers. One hundred percent of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit."

But then, Bartlett has been disenchanted with the current Republican party for a while now. Back in August, Bartlett had the following to say:

I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.”

That same month, he chastised tea baggers for aiming their ire at the wrong man.

Specifically, rather than falling for the GOP meme that Obama is the source of America's financial ills, it was in fact Bush who brought this all down on us.

Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit this year of $1.2 trillion before Obama took office, with no estimate for actions he might take. To a large extent, the CBO’s estimate simply represented the $482 billion deficit projected by the Bush administration in last summer’s budget review, plus the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which George W. Bush rammed through Congress in September over strenuous conservative objections. Thus the vast bulk of this year’s currently estimated $1.8 trillion deficit was determined by Bush’s policies, not Obama’s.

The current GOP doesn't care about making America better nor do they care about helping Americans. They care about scoring political points.

As Bartlett said, the GOP's entire policy these days is "what can we do to screw the Democrats today".

When they rail against the Democrats health care bill remember: they are hypocrites and they are only concerned with amassing power and/or punishing Democrats. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, December 27, 2009 0 comments
Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle. - Eric Zorn

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. - Hal Borland

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. - G.K. Chesterton

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: To rise above the little things. - John Burroughs

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. - Benjamin Franklin

New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time. - James Agate

Bunny from Kansas thinks Christmas is ruined

Posted by J.D. On Saturday, December 26, 2009 1 comments
As the Senate passed comprehensive health care reform legislation by a vote of 60-39, C-SPAN's call in show was taking opinions from people about the legislation.

Bunny from Parsons, Kansas, was so distraught about the health care vote that she took down her Christmas tree. But that's not all.

It wasn't just Bunny's tree that went. "I have taken my Christmas wreath off my house. I have taken all the lights down," she said. "This is supposed to be a nation under God, and it isn't. They absolutely have ruined Christmas."

I'm not very clear on how health care reform has "ruined Christmas". Christmas is a holiday because it celebrates the birth of Jesus. That didn't retroactively not happen because of a Senate vote.

As I've noted previously, the Bible does not speak against helping the sick. Not at all.

Jesus never said "screw the poor". Nor did he preach that one should be more concerned with the amount of taxes he or she personally pays more than one should be concerned with the health of others. Quite the opposite, actually.

Recall Matthew 22:15-22 (...Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.")

Henry Van Dyke, who chaired the committee that wrote the first Presbyterian printed liturgy, The Book of Common Worship of 1906, wrote the following poem.

I am thinking of you today because it is Christmas
and I wish you happiness.
And tomorrow, because it will be the day after Christmas,
I shall still wish you happiness.
My thoughts and my wishes will be with you always.
Whatever joy comes to you will make me glad.
All through the year
I wish you the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas is not about being hostile about health care reform because you believe the inane and self-centered ramblings of the tea baggers. Christmas is about wishing happiness and joy to others.

An organization called the Advent Conspiracy has the stated purpose of bringing back the true meaning of Christmas.

As they note on their website:

When Jesus loved, He loved in ways never imagined. Though rich, he became poor to love the poor, the forgotten, the overlooked and the sick.

Christmas isn't ruined by a Senate vote. And certainly not a vote which aims to help provide health care to millions who are without care.

Merry Christmas

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, December 24, 2009 0 comments
Merry Christmas!

Should you plan to go out wassailing (and more specifically should you choose to imbibe some adult beverages) please remember that many communities have free cab services through the holidays.

You can do a simple search on google and find out the number for your community.

Be safe and have a great holiday season.

Barry from D.C. calls a radio show

Posted by J.D. On 0 comments
On December 22nd, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was on WTOP's Ask the Governor radio program. President Barack Obama called in and initially gave his name as "Barry from D.C.".

Obama used the pseudonym so he would be patched through without Gov. Kaine knowing who was on the line so he could surprise him and then praise his work as governor. This, of course, has right wingers in a tizzy.

Here are a few select comments from a article about the radio show.

So it is arrogant for the President of the United States to call himself the President of the United States? What the hell else was he supposed to call himself?

But then again, clearly I am a liberal and therefore I obviously want to see Republicans die because of health care. Which is completely nonsensical as a health care plan ostensibly prevents untimely death.

Oh wait. This is probably to do with Sarah Palin's idiotic "death panel" claims.

Yes Felicity. That phone call cost every tax paying citizen $50. Seriously. I didn't make up that number at all. $50. Pay up.

Nice. Jen was able to both call Obama a "commie" as well as make an idiotic teleprompter joke.

Well played, madam. Well played, indeed.

Although, why in the hell Obama would need a device for televised speeches when he is on the phone is a little weird. But fuck it. Good insult, Jen!

Obviously only MUSLIMS would like Obama since he is secretly a Muslim (or is it MUSLIM?) right?

Um....what the fuck did any of those criticisms have to do with Barack Obama being black?

I'm not trying to be a dick RJ...but there is a slight possibility that you are a racist. And a much higher probability that you are an idiot.

This, of course, isn't the first time Conservatives have used any story as an excuse to attack the President. These examples aren't even the dumbest. Or the most hateful. Gotta love those tea baggers.

But like him or not, Barack Obama is the President of the United States.

Here is a lovely quote from 2006 wherein Sean Hannity took Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to task about Blumenaur supposedly undermining the president:

"...And what I find frankly repugnant about you and some of your fellow Democrats – you have undermined our president, you have undermined our troops, you have undermined our war effort from day one and you’re doing it for the sinister reason of political gain..."

Yeah! Now let's see what Sean Hannity has to say about people who leave comments like those listed above!

Go get 'em Sean!

Oh. Wait.

You only care when people criticize a Republican president for "political gain". You don't give a shit if people criticize a Democratic president.


Substitute teacher wants religious carols in school

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, December 23, 2009 0 comments
Merry Hyatt is a teacher in California. She taught fourth-grade for a year and a half in a public school and also taught at a Christian school for a year. Mostly she has been a substitute teacher.

And she thinks children need more Jesus in school.

It's sad and it's wrong to have a Christmas party and not mention Jesus," said Hyatt, who recently moved 600 miles north to Redding. "It's his birthday."

Actually, the early Christians didn't celebrate Christmas at all as they considered birthday celebrations to be pagan. Furthermore, Jesus wasn't born in December.

Clement of Alexandria wrote of an early Christian nativity celebration around 200 AD. The group he wrote of celebrated the nativity on Pachon 25 which corresponds to May 20.

The December 25th date was chosen to commandeer the winter solstice celebrations celebrated by non-Christians.

The substitute teacher in Redding, Calif., says she is tired of working in schools where students aren't allowed to sing Christmas songs that are religious in nature. So she's sponsoring a ballot initiative that would require all public schools in California to give children the opportunity to sing or listen to Christmas carols.

"For years and years, maybe one person has been able to ruin it for an entire school," Hyatt said. "It's not right. I think it's the majority's turn."

For years and years the majority had its turn. Basically, from the founding of America until the early 1960's when the Supreme Court ruled on Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963).

In 1971, the court further ruled in Lemon v. Kurtzman that any practice sponsored within state run schools must have a secular purpose.

Hyatt doesn't think it will be a problem for non-Christians though:

Although California is one of the most diverse states in the nation, Hyatt believes the number of children opting out would be relatively small. In all of her years of teaching, she says, "I haven't run into a Jewish child."

I'm not sure what is scarier: that Hyatt really believes the entire California school system is only filled with Christian children...or that she seems to think she can identify a Jewish child by sight.

Hyatt said she got the idea for the initiative "from above" one day while she was sitting on her couch. At first, she rejected the notion. "But then I thought about the blessing I might get and I thought, 'Yeah, that would be worth it,'" she said.


So she feels that she might receive a divine reward for pushing this initiative? A blessing? And that is what will make it worth it?

That kinda blows away the initial comment that the motivation was to celebrate Jesus's birthday. It turns out, Hyatt wants to use the California school district to try and win cool points with God.

I guess the "war on Christmas" doesn't just involve defeating health care reform but it also extends to forcing children to sing religious songs in school.

But only if Hyatt gets a blessing out of this whole thing. Otherwise, screw it.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, December 20, 2009 1 comments


Ohio Right to Life opposes "merit selection"

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, December 17, 2009 0 comments
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Moyer is the longest-serving current state chief justice in the United States. A Republican, Moyer has been Chief Justice since 1987. As a strong proponent of Stare decisis, he has worked well with both Conservatives and Liberals on the court through the years.

The last day of Moyer's current term is Dec. 31, 2010. Due to age restrictions within the Ohio Constitution, Moyer is unable to seek another term on the bench.

As his term comes to an end, Moyer is pushing for an overhaul of the system to which judges are elevated to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Moyer has long wanted to reduce the amount of fund raising and campaign donations needed for state Supreme Court elections. Over the last several years, he has pushed to set campaign finance regulations for the court.

This time he is seeking a structural change in which the governor and a review panel would select Supreme Court justices. Voters would decide a few years later whether to retain those justices.

His second choice, he said last week, would be a system of public financing of judicial election campaigns.

"The goal is to get the money out of the election process," he said.

This week, a "statewide, non-profit, non-sectarian educational organization" in Ohio has come out against Moyer's plan: Ohio Right to Life.

Ohio Right to Life on Monday, Dec. 14, came out strongly opposed to the idea of allowing the governor and a panel to pick justices for the Ohio Supreme Court, instead of allowing voters to elect them.

Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Mike Gonidakis and Legislative Counsel Mark Lally sent a two-page letter to Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Moyer outlining their opposition to “merit selection.”

Currently, there is not one Democrat among the seven judges on the Ohio Supreme Court. Ohio Right to Life regularly endorses candidates who toe their anti-abortion party line.

Should the power to influence votes on judges be removed from the hands of powerful and rich special interests like Ohio Right to Life, a Democrat or two might actually end up on the Supreme Court. And we can't have that, now can we?

The idea in the proposal is for "merit selection". A panel of experts would recommend judges for the high court. The Governor would have no veto power and instead have to choose from that list. Alaska has a similar system in place.

Ohio Right to Life, however, actually opposes "merit selection". Because people on the Supreme Court certainly shouldn't be there due to merit. They should be there based on votes garnered by advertisements flooding the airwaves paid for by special interest groups. Like Ohio Right to Life.

Gonidakis and Lally, however, criticize this set up, citing a 2007 study that found only 56 of 6,306 judicial retention elections between 1964 and 2006 led to the judges not being retained. Direct elections provide an important power check on the judiciary system, they argue.

Except their argument isn't valid. According to the current proposal, voters would have a chance to vote judges out of office in a retention election. That takes care of the whole power check argument.

Supreme Court justices should be sitting on the bench because they have earned that responsibility. Not because they toe the line to powerful special interests who help get them elected to the highest court in the state.

Christianity and health care

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, December 16, 2009 0 comments
Around this time every year, right-wing organizations go out of their way to pretend there is a "war on Christmas" and to remind us that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Last month, the American Family Association urged a boycott on Gap believing the company wasn't showing enough tradition and recognition of Christmas in their holiday advertisements.

To me it is a little odd that the AFA actually wants companies to use Christmas in their advertising. You would think Christians would be concerned with the commercialization of a religious holiday....

In any case, the message is clear: Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus.

Unless you are a teabagger.

At a small gathering this morning in Upper Senate Park, Tea Party activists sang The 12 Days of Christmas, refashioned with lyrics about the problems under President Obama. Later on at a larger gathering organized by AFP, both Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham invoked Christmas as a reason to defeat reform.

How is Christmas a reason to defeat reform? thing is...uh....

Here are some thoughts on health care and Christianity:

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10 5-8)

And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matthew 22:39)

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' (Matthew 25:31-36)

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."

The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"

When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. (Luke 13:10-17)

Earlier this year, Drew Smith wrote an article entitled "How Would Jesus Handle Health Care?" In the article, Smith notes the two stories of healing in Mark 5:21-43; the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler, and an unnamed female outcast.

...Yet, when we read the stories as one, we also come away with the idea that the two individuals that come to Jesus could not be more different. Jairus, whose name we know, is a male. The woman, who remains nameless, is a female. Jairus is a leader in the synagogue, a man of great religious and political stature and influence. The unnamed woman is an outcast, who has been shunned by her community because of her disease. Jairus can come to Jesus expecting to seek healing for his daughter. The woman is disregarded by the crowd as she approaches Jesus from behind....

...In a market-driven system of health care, the unnamed woman would have perhaps gone untreated, but Jairus would have had the health care he needed for his daughter. After all, Jairus is a man of means. But the woman has no money left. Jesus, however, saw things differently. Jesus valued all human life as sacred to God, and he extended healing and wholeness to both the woman and Jairus' daughter.

But in stopping to heal the unnamed woman instead of proceeding straightaway to Jairus' house uninterrupted, Jesus also rebuked a system that offered preferential treatment for those like Jairus who have power, status and money. He recognized the universality of pain and suffering, and thus he desired to heal both the woman and Jairus' daughter....

It amazes me that many Conservatives can claim the Christian faith as their motivation for actions that directly contradict the teachings of that faith.

Jesus never said "screw the poor". Nor did he preach that one should be more concerned with the amount of taxes he or she personally pays more than one should be concerned with the health of others. Quite the opposite, actually.

Recall Matthew 22:15-22 (...Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.")

There is no moral argument against helping those who are in need. None. And there certainly isn't a theological argument against helping the sick and the poor. The groups united against health care reform are motivated by greed. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

Lynne Torgerson believes Islam isn't a religion

Posted by J.D. On Tuesday, December 15, 2009 0 comments
In 2006, Keith Ellison won the open seat for Minnesota's 5th congressional district. In doing so, Ellison become the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota.

He is also the first Muslim elected to Congress.

After his election, Glenn Beck had him on his show and stated the following:

BECK: OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I`ve been to mosques. I really don`t believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it`s being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let`s cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

And I know you`re not. I`m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that`s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

I would hope that most people would see this baiting for the idiocy that it is. But Beck isn't alone in feeling that Muslims are the enemy.

In Minnesota, an independent candidate has thrown her hat into the ring to unseat Ellison. Her name is Lynne Torgerson.

Torgerson has a campaign website with a long list of issues. One of those issues is "Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion". Here is what she has to say:

What is freedom of religion? When one thinks about it, religion is primarily one's freedom to choose which god or gods to worship. Correct? Religion is really not primarily behavior. Rather, it is faith. And of course, certain behaviors attend certain religions. However, I think we can all agree that religion does not include criminal behavior. Correct? And also, it should therefore follow that the advocacy of criminal behavior is not religion. Correct?

And thus, we come to the teachings of Islam, or the Quran. The Quran actually teaches Muslims to kill people not of their faith, which are labeled infidels, which includes Christians and Jews, as well as people of other faiths. ("Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (Sura 9:5)). This is advocating criminal behavior. Thus, at a minimum, this portion of the religion of Islam cannot be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It portion is not "religion" recognizable under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The Quran also says that if a person leaves Islam, that that is an offence mandating death. Recently, a Harvard Muslim Chaplain, Taha Abdul-Basser, stated that apostates (those who leave Islam) should be killed, although he stated that they could only be killed by a legitimate Muslim governmental authority and cannot be performed by a non-state, private actors. Again, this is advocating criminal behavior. Again, this is not allowing all people the right to freedom of religion. Thus, the Quran conflicts with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and our criminal laws. Thus, the total "religion" of Islam is not fully protectable by our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Further, evidently, the goal of Islam is to Islamize the entire world, or, global Islam. I believe there is a term, "umrah" that reflects this goal. Well, this goal also conflicts with our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Islam also oppresses women. That conflicts with the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

And, what do I know of Islam? Well, I know of 911. Nineteen (19) men from Saudi Arabia, all Muslim, hi-jacked planes, and flew into the two (2) World Trade Towers murdering thousands of people, and tried to fly into our Pentagon, and some believe they also tried to fly an airplane into our White House. From this, what I perceive is Islam conducting an act of war against my country.

People say that we can't include the moderate, peace loving Muslims. Well, I agree. But, who are they? They need to stand up and identify themselves loudly and clearly say that they oppose Jihad and terrorism, etc. Who are these people? I cannot tell. It is not for me to go and try and find them. Rather, it is their duty to stand up and identify themselves, if there are any.

Torgerson believes in freedom of religion...she just doesn't count Islam as a religion and therefore Muslims shouldn't have freedom. Convenient, no?

Here lack of theological knowledge is stunning. She seriously writes: "And, what do I know of Islam? Well, I know of 911." And that is supposed to be a valid argument.

How about this? What do I know of Christianity? Well, I know of witch burnings, pograms, and crusades.

Recently, Joe Jervis pointed out how many Christians in positions of authority have committed, admitted to, or been convicted of crimes in the last week.

Should that been seen as indicative of Christianity as a whole?

Let's look at some of her other observations:

...The Quran actually teaches Muslims to kill people not of their faith...

So does the Bible. Luke 19:27, Deuteronomy 20, etc.

...The Quran also says that if a person leaves Islam, that that is an offence mandating death...

Deuteronomy 21:18 instructs parents to have their children stoned to death if they are rebellious and disobedient.

...Islam also oppresses women...

Ambrose, the bishop of Milan from 374 to 397 A.D. stated that "though the man was created outside Paradise, an inferior place, he is found to be superior, while woman, though created in a better place, inside Paradise, is found inferior."

Augustine also said of women: "I cannot think of any reason for woman's being made as man's helper, if we dismiss the reason of procreation."

But those are people. Let's look at the Bible.

Ephesians 5:23-32
"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

Colossians 3:18
"Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."

There are many other passages. Just read the book.

...the goal of Islam is to Islamize the entire world...

Need I remind you of Matthew 28:18-20?

Apparently, many of the criticisms Torgerson has toward Islam are also valid criticisms of Christianity. Of course, every single religion has scriptures that are open to interpretation so you can make them sound evil or enlightening, depending upon your motivation.

I am a Christian so obviously I don't feel that Christianity is evil. I am making a point that anyone can cherry pick and make something look bad. And that is exactly what Torgerson is doing with her criticisms attacks on Islam.

Christianity isn't evil, and neither is Islam.

Torgerson's views on Islam, however, are rather bigoted.

Athletics trump education

Posted by J.D. On Monday, December 14, 2009 0 comments
Almost a year ago, I wrote about Education and athletics and my belief that our society puts too high a premium on athletic achievement. A month later, I wrote about the effect of the economy on colleges and universities.

While the economy slowly begins to get better (according to various economists and television talking heads), unemployment remains high and colleges have raised tuition, cut classes, and downsized staff.

But only in education. College athletics, however, are doing just fine.

Recently, the University of Texas at Austin just decided to give their football coach a raise. A big raise.

We don’t need more reminders that college sports is a gigantic business, camouflaged with pompoms and the sound of cash registers drowned out by spiffy marching bands, but we continue to get them anyway. And today’s comes with the force of a frying pan.

Do pause and consider that Texas just gave its head football coach, Mack Brown, a raise to $5 million a year. The university carefully explains he is worth it because he is taking the Longhorns to the Bowl Championship series title game for the second time in five years, that the money will come out of athletic department revenues and is not crippling the budget of, say, the engineering school. But lost in that is the fact that under the pompoms is supposed to be a nonprofit educational institution, one that recently raised tuition and voted to freeze the pay of university presidents, but whose football coach is now envied by oil barons.

An editorial in the Austin-American Statesman outlines the defense for giving Brown that enormous raise.

The news that Mack Brown, head football coach at the University of Texas, will be paid $5 million this year and millions more if he chooses to stay is hot community conversation.

The juxtaposition of that stratospheric salary and layoffs of UT staff members fuels angst over the value placed on knowledge and skills.

Why should a football coach make more than a professor? Yeah, respond fans, would 40,000 people buy tickets to hear a lecture on the Medicis?

Pardon the expression, but the exercise is academic. In this world, football sells not only tickets but also an image that attracts donors. Face it — football generates dough.

Brown's seven-figure salary should be put in context of the many, many millions the UT football program makes as well as the recognition it brings the school.

See? The athletics bring in donor cash...which is funneled back to athletics and not so much to the downsized staff or to reverse the pay freezes and tuition raises. Besides...who wants to hear a lecture on the Medicis? Right?

OK. I guess that argument kinda sucks, actually.

But the University of Texas at Austin isn't the only guilty party. There are numerous universities that have put athletics far above education.

Pete Carroll, of Southern Cal, earns around $4.4 million and is one of three coaches with salaries that are worthy of the pregnancy ward.

And it’s students that take it on the chin.

USC has increased its tuition by 32 percent as well as cut classes, in addition to the $31-plus million in debt the athletic department simply looked away from in 2007 that has yet to be paid.

The University of California is paying Jeff Tedford $2.8 million in addition to another $430 million renovation project for its stadium, despite state appropriations and overall funding for education shrinking.

But Arizona is the worst of them all.

Arizona’s $378 million spending effort to upgrade sporting facilities in every major sport over the next 20 years is the most idiotic news I have heard from any state in this country to date—see what happens when education get’s cast aside?

This is from the same state who just recently claimed it was going broke.

Despite the announcement, and the exaggerated salary of Mike Stoops at $1.3 million, the state is one of 34 who have cut spending to public colleges and universities. Arizona State has cut almost 600 staff positions; can you guess where that touted $378 million is coming from now?

This past weekend, eight people were arrested for breaking windows and throwing burning torches at UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's campus residence. The hostility stemmed from rising fees coupled with budget cutbacks. It was estimated there were upwards of 75 people involved.

This followed the arrest of 66 people from a four-day protest last week at Wheeler Hall. Earlier this year, on November 20th, the same building was the site of a student occupation.

Earlier this year, UC Berkeley gave their football coach, Jeff Tedford, a contract extension. Even before the extension, Tedford was one of the highest-compensated employees of UC Berkeley. The extension is incentive laden and could grant Tedford more than $4 million a year.

According to the contract, which is through 2013, "The maximum total potential payout under this contract occurs in year five in the amount of $4.285 million. Payment of this amount is dependent upon Mr. Tedford achieving all goals, including all those in the 'Accomplishments.' " The accomplishments include winning national championships and receiving national coach-of-the-year recognitions while keeping the team's cumulative GPA at 2.8 or better...

...Tedford's base salary would jump 34.3 percent, from $167,500 to no less than $225,000, and his "talent fee"' would get a rise from $1,332,500 to $1.575 million...

...Tedford will receive a $1 million bonus if he is Cal's coach through the 2008 season, another $1.5 million if he finishes 2011 and yet another $1 million for completing the contract. He also gets a $1 million signing bonus.

All these years I have been operating under the mistaken impression that colleges and universities were places of education. Not so much farm teams for the NFL.

When the argument for cutting staff and raising tuition while concurrently giving your football coach a raise boils down to "wins bring donors", there is something wrong with the way universities are being operated. What happens to that donor money? Do any of these universities hire back the hundreds they downsized? Do they refund tuition money to students?

Hell no. They refurbish their stadiums and give the coaches even bigger raises.

I enjoy watching football as much as the next guy and I don't begrudge college athletes for using their physical gifts to get into colleges and universities they might not be able to afford to attend. I do have a huge problem with the fact that those universities are too expensive for so many to afford to attend. Rather than athletic about making education accessible to all?

How about making education the priority and not athletics?

All this focus on athletics over education is taking a toll.

The United States is now in a rare club. We are one of only two nations where people ain the 25-34 age bracket have less education than their parents.

While the U.S. ranks second among all nations in the proportion of its population aged 35–64 with a college degree, it ranks tenth in the percentage of its population aged 25–34 who have earned an associate or baccalaureate degree. Other nations are overtaking the U.S. in educating younger members of their populations to meet global challenges and remain vitally engaged in the competitive terrain of the twenty-first century....

...We note the declining performance of U.S. tenth-graders in math and problem-solving abilities relative to their peers of other nations. There is a diminished interest in science among undergraduates in the U.S., and the U.S. is losing ground to other nations in the proportion of young people earning a college degree. While U.S. universities and colleges have for many years been the destination of choice for promising international students to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, several nations are now heavily investing in their own higher education institutions and seeking to educate more of their own best and brightest at home. Finally, we note that the price of higher education continues to increase at rates that make a college degree financially challenging to many students across the United States.

When the cost of attaining a college degree is too financially challenging for American students, we will remain one of two countries where young people have less education than their parents. That is, of course, until the other country fixes the problem. Then it will just be us.

But by all means...let's continue to focus on how unfair the BSC system is as opposed to a playoff series. Hell, let's have government intervention! And as we focus on football, out future generations continue to become less and less able to compete in the global workforce due to lack of education.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, December 13, 2009 0 comments
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. - Albert Einstein

War means blind obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton destruction, and irresponsible murder. - Alexander Berkman

War is organized murder and torture against our brothers. - Alfred Adler

War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other. — Thomas Carlyle

Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others. The inhabitants of the other spots reason like manner, of course... - Emma Goldman

Booze + FratBoys = Whore?

Posted by Victoria On Saturday, December 12, 2009 4 comments
Amy Dickinson writes an advice column entitled "Ask Amy" which runs in the Chicago Tribune. She recently received a letter from someone who calls herself "Victim? in Virginia".

Dear Amy: I recently attended a frat party, got drunk and made some bad decisions.

I let a guy take me to "his" room because he promised that he wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with.

Many times, I clearly said I didn't want to have sex, and he promised to my face that he wouldn't.

Then he quickly proceeded to go against what he "promised." I was shocked, and maybe being intoxicated made my reaction time a bit slow in realizing what was happening.

We were soon kicked out of the room by the guy who lived there, who was pretty angry.

I guess my question is, if I wasn't kicking and fighting him off, is it still rape?

I feel like calling it that is a bit extreme, but I haven't felt the same since it happened.

Am I a victim?

-- Victim? in Virginia

Now that you have read the letter, here is a gem from the response:

Were you a victim? Yes.

First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Getting drunk at a frat house is a hazardous choice for anyone to make because of the risk (some might say a likelihood) that you will engage in unwise or unwanted sexual contact.

Here are a couple more:

You don't say whether the guy was also drunk. If so, his judgment was also impaired....

...Go to your college's health department to be tested for STDs and pregnancy. See a counselor to determine how you want to approach this. You must involve the guy in question in order to determine what happened and because he absolutely must take responsibility and face the consequences for his actions, just as you are prepared to do.

Yep. You should just go ahead and ring up your rapists and ask him how he feels about the situation. Get his perspective, you know?

Pissed yet? I know I am. So were these folks...

Well, Ms. Dickinson, we'd expect someone handing out advice in a national forum to be more educated, careful, respectful and circumspect. Especially when talking about rape.

Yeah equality! Young boys can get drunk at a party, they are either going to be told "Oh, they're just being boys", or "Way to go, Bro!" Women, apparently, shouldn't drink alcohol because it either turns them stupid, or brings out their inner Jezebel.

Quite frankly, Ms Dickinson, you really aren't supporting either gender in your response. Not all drunken fraternity brothers are rapists in the wings, and not all young women are morons just waiting to break through their cocoons by the power of the booze.

Yes, sometimes drunk people do things they may regret later, and yes sometimes, bad things happen to decent people when they have had too much to drink. But that is not a gender exclusive club. The only accurate point in your response was:

You don't say whether the guy was also drunk. If so, his judgment was also impaired.

That part is true.

However, impairment, if the guy was drunk, doesn't excuse rape. Rapists are going to rape if they are drunk, sober, or have a wicked case of the swine flu. It is a little heavy handed to infer that every young man on a college campus is going to get drunk and lure young women into their den's of evil, get them drunk, and rape them.

The thing in all of this that may have been forgotten is:

Victim? in Virginia

I sincerely hope this girl has gotten some help, both physical and psychological. Especially after reading how her cry for help was answered. In case no one else has said it, Victim, this was NOT YOUR FAULT!

Ms Dickinson, I don't know you. I don't know your history. For your sake, I'm hoping you've never been nor ever will be raped; I'm guessing from the tone of your letter that you have not. Sometimes, perhaps, you should get some advice from the experts before dolling out your own.

Ronald Hanyerere dislikes human rights

Posted by J.D. On 2 comments
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda.

Recently, ran an opinion piece by Ronald Hanyerere curiously entitled "Not Every Human Right is Right" which deals with this bill.

One Sunday morning, I was going to church when I met a lady who was so skimply dressed, one would think she was a sex worker. I initiated a conversation with her, only to find out, she was going to church.

I sarcastically told her she was smart and God would hear her prayers, but not those of the people who were going to sit near her. To my surprise, the lady responded with a verbal tirade: "It is my right to dress the way I want. Who made you judge over those whose prayers God answers?" she shouted.

This whole concept of human rights grates my nerves. It has made people un-african, mean and self-centered.

One can now shamelessly stand up and tell you: "I do as I please. You have no business in my affairs." A sodomist can now swear to you that what they do in the privacy of their bedroom does not concern the public.

No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptise him an enemy of the people.

Yep. Apparently the guy who is pushing an anti-homosexuality bill which would prohibit any form of sexual relations between persons of the same
is "brilliant".

But then again, the whole concept of human rights grates on Hanyerere's nerves so I guess I guy who pushes for a bill which violates human rights would be "brilliant" in Hanyerere's eyes.

Here are some highlights from the "brilliant" bill:

4, Attempt to commit homosexuality.
(1) A person who attempts to commit the offence of homosexuality commits a felony and is liable on conviction to imprisonment seven years.
(2) A person who attempts to commit the offence of aggravated homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

7. Aiding and abating homosexuality
A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

14. Failure to disclose the offence.
A person in authority, who being aware of the commission of any offence under this Act, omits to report the offence to the relevant authorities within twenty-four hours of having first had that knowledge, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years.

The bill would not only punish all homosexuals but also anyone who knows a homosexual and doesn't call the police on the homosexual person. Nice, eh?

But Hanyerere's article continues:

The so-called human rights activists have hijacked the driver's seat and are sending nations into the sea of permissiveness in which the Western world has already drowned.

Every evil that has penetrated our society comes disguised as a human right and is watered by a group of elites who have attained education in the West. These elites have come back to impose on us practices that our forefathers deemed abominable....

...These activists force their unsuspecting disciples into believing that everything the West does is right. That is why they always refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights...

...Not every human right is a right, and not every right is a human right. As Africans, we should defend our heritage even when human rights activists are misleading our society.

Well....except for the fact that the definition of "human right" is "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" so I guess every human right is a right.

And those damn activists constantly referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Human rights probably do grate on your nerves when you openly espouse bigotry towards all who are different than you.

Christians unite for affirmation

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, December 9, 2009 0 comments
In November, a group of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders released the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience which outlines their anti-abortion and anti-gay beliefs.

The Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial about the manifesto calling the rhetoric "irresponsible and dangerous".

...The impression left is that the legal environment in which churches must operate is reminiscent of the Roman Empire that threw Christians to the lions. Never mind that advocates of same-sex civil marriage and legal abortion have made significant concessions to believers or that religious groups have recourse to courts, which have aggressively protected the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exempting believers in some cases from having to comply with applicable laws.

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don't like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men -- even holy men.

The writers of the "declaration" encourage others to sign on in agreement. Even Mike Huckabee has been urging people to sign the document.

In response, pro-equality believers have crafted The Affirmation Declaration.

The Affirmation Declaration is a statement that expresses the convictions of Christians all over the world. It was written in response to the now famous Manhattan Declaration, to correct egregious errors contained in the document, errors that have been preached in the pulpits of many local churches for far too long.

With the growing notoriety and support for the Manhattan Declaration, our Affirmation Declaration reflects an urgent need to respond to the portion of the Manhattan Declaration dealing with issues related to sexual orientation—specifically, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We strongly disagree with the contention that same-sex attractions and the oft-resulting romantic activities are immoral.

Because of the large number of people affected by this serious issue one way or the other, we felt it expedient to respond formally, both by submitting our Declaration to the drafters of the Manhattan Declaration, as well as by releasing our Declaration to the public, allowing Christians to show their support for love and affirmation, just as so many have shown their support for the propagation of false doctrines of oppression and inequality against the GLBTI (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgered, and Intersex) community.

The day before The Affirmation Declaration was released, a group of Quakers in Minnesota declared their support for same-sex marriage and their solidarity with the LGBT community.

A group of Twin Cities Quakers has decided to stop signing marriage certificates for opposite-sex couples until the state legalizes gay marriage.

"We're simply trying to be consistent with the will of God as we perceive it," said Paul Landskroener, clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, in an interview with MPR's All Things Considered on Monday.

The congregation will continue to hold both opposite-sex and same-sex weddings at its meeting house, but will no longer sign the legal marriage certificate for opposite-sex couples. Instead, couples will need to have the certificate signed by a justice of the peace.

I have written often of my support of same-sex marriage and as such I have signed The Affirmation Declaration.

As the declaration notes:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. - John 13:35

I am happy to sign and support such a document. Furthermore, I am glad to see individual Christians and Christian groups come forward and support equality and compassion.

Too often, the loud and hateful rhetoric of right-wing Conservative Christians causes many to assume they speak for all Christians. Not at all. Christians aren't by definition a hate group. Jesus spoke of love and compassion for all of God's children and too often that is forgotten by many Christians.

Please think about reading and signing the declaration.

Another right-wing rally in New York

Posted by J.D. On Tuesday, December 8, 2009 0 comments
In a rally organized by the 9/11 Never Forget Coalition, a plethora of a few hundred people met in Foley Square in downtown Manhattan on Saturday to protest the move to try suspected terrorist in a civilian federal court in New York City.

As you can imagine, the really intelligent folks came out for this one.

I think my favorite is around the 1:17 mark when an chubby white guy in a NRA hat and holding a giant flag emblazoned with "Don't Tread On Me" says the following:

...Why would you put a terrorist on trial in a civilian court and give him Miranda rights, give him the rights under the US constitution - why are we doing that? It's precedent. It is basically to embarrass America which is what this administration is all about. Let's embarrass America. It's called multi-culturalism. Embarrass western civilization. Embarrass the white race. This is exactly what the administration does.

Yeah...the administration is out to embarrass western civilization and the white race.

Actually, the more people like this jackass speak in public the more embarrassing it is to America. it just me or do you increasingly see outspoken racists at all these Conservative rallies?

One of the speakers on the main stage was the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa. You might recall the Guardian Angels as the vigilante group founded in New York in 1979 and later came to national prominence through the early 1980s. Of course...some of that prominence stemmed from fraud.

The Guardian Angels' founder and leader, Curtis Sliwa, has admitted that six of his group's early crime-fighting exploits were actually faked and former and present associates contend that even more of the group's activities were publicity stunts.

Mr. Sliwa said in an article in The New York Post yesterday that he manufactured six stunts, including a report of the rescue of a mugging victim substantiated by a group member displaying bruises he had actually received falling down in the subway. In another, Mr. Sliwa said he was injured fighting several rapists at a Brooklyn subway station.

Mr. Sliwa said he was coming forward now because he felt "unworthy" of the outpouring of support after he was shot in an as-yet-unsolved attack earlier this year. He maintained that attack was genuine.

But a number of former and current members of the patrol group, including two of its co-founders, said Mr. Sliwa had yet to admit all. They spoke of their disillusionment and told of additional incidents.

Tony Mao, a co-founder of the group, said he drenched himself in gasoline some dozen years ago and claimed it had happened when he pounced on two men who were planning to attack a token-booth clerk. The incident, he said, was planned by Mr. Sliwa, who enlisted two other Angels to pose as the thwarted bad guys to capitalize on a similar real-life attack. His account was confirmed by Arnaldo Salinas, a co-founder who now serves as the group's coordinator.

Yeah...let's have that guy speak at the rally. He is so noble.

So we have racists and liars. Good rally. Awesome.

Baldwin and Polis working on equality

Posted by J.D. On Monday, December 7, 2009 0 comments
There are currently three openly gay members of the United States Congress: Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

This past weekend, two of those members (Baldwin and Polis) spoke about the future of gay rights in Congress.

Speaking to an international conference of gay politicians in San Francisco, U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Jared Polis, D-Colo., said they expect a domestic partner benefits bill to come up for a vote by the end of the year and the employment bill to reach the floor early in 2010.

The lawmakers said they are also confident that the House will include in the annual military spending bill next year a provision to repeal the law that bans gays from serving in the U.S. military. All the measures face a harder time in the Senate following the death of longtime ally Sen. Edward Kennedy, but Baldwin and Polis said they remained optimistic.

"I'm hopeful we will see those three pieces of legislation make it all the way, or damn close," said Baldwin, who is sponsoring the federal worker domestic partner bill.

I have written before about the increasing support for repeal of the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy and it is nice to see some Representatives come forth and push for that repeal as well.

President Obama campaigned on repealing DADT, but has since done nothing to keep that promise. Hopefully Congress will pick up the ball that Obama dropped.

Earlier this year, deputy federal public defender Brad Levenson won same-sex benefits via the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It would be great if Congress could craft legislation to extend those benefits to all federal workers so they wouldn't be forced to go to court like Levenson.

Granted, it would be nice to repeal DOMA (which Obama claimed he would work towards doing) and extend same-sex benefits to all citizens not just federal employees...but any step in the right direction is a good step.

Ohio magazine touts...Michigan

Posted by J.D. On 0 comments
Like the rest of America right now, Ohio has a very depressed economy.

Ohio Business Development Coalition, funded by a grant from the state Department of Development, has decided to try to advertise some of the more enticing aspects of the state of Ohio.

But the economy and the corresponding unemployment is less than appealing. In October, unemployment rose for the first time in three months culminating in a 10.5% unemployment rate.

Ohio's unemployment rate has gone up for the first time in three months, to 10.5 percent in October from 10.1 percent in September...

...The number of workers unemployed in Ohio last month was 618,000, up from 594,000 in September.

The solution to this quandary? Talk about Michigan instead!

A slick new online magazine designed to promote Ohio features Grand Haven, Saugatuck, East Grand Rapids and other cities you won’t find on an Ohio map. The featured places are actually in the much-hated state up north.

The bi-weekly magazine is a product of the Ohio Business Development Coalition, which is funded by a grant from the state Department of Development.

Yep. The state Department of Development funded a Coalition which espouses the benefits of Ohio...using Michigan cities as examples.

The website for the Ohio Business Coalition states:

Ohio is faced with an unprecedented opportunity to unite and show our capacity for real change. Both in how we are seen by the world, and in how we see ourselves.

I guess we see ourselves in Michigan.

Thoughts for Sunday

Posted by J.D. On Sunday, December 6, 2009 0 comments
No war is inevitable until it breaks out. - A. J. P. Taylor

I like to believe that people, in the long run, are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

We're not made by God to mass kill one another ... and that's backed up by the Gospel. Lying and war are always associated. Listen closely when you hear a war-maker try to defend his current war: If he moves his lips he's lying. - Philip Berrigan

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. - Omar Bradley

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. - Albert Camus

War itself is the enemy of the human race. - Howard Zinn

Wal-Mart settles another lawsuit

Posted by J.D. On Saturday, December 5, 2009 0 comments
Last December, Wal-Mart announced that it would pay at least $352 million to settle 63 lawsuits across the nation. In March, Wal-Mart was facing the largest sexual discrimination lawsuit in U.S. history.

Now Wal-Mart is settling yet another lawsuit about labor claims.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) has agreed to pay $40 million to settle a lawsuit filed in Massachusetts that alleged the big-box retailer cheated 87,500 current and former employees in the state out of pay and failed to obey work rules. The class-action suit, filed in 2001, accused Wal-Mart of altering time cards, refusing to pay overtime, and denying workers rest and meal breaks...

...The settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind in the state of Massachusetts and comes less than three months after Wal-Mart reached a deal with state officials to pay $3 million to settle complaints that the retailer failed to provide proper meal breaks, The Associated Press reported...

The plaintiffs have won a settlement that affect people who were employed at Wal-Mart between August 1995 and this year. Each person stands to receive payments between $400 and $2,500, depending upon years of service for each individual. The settlement further guarantees that all $40 million will be paid out to workers and no leftover funds will revert back to Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has settled numerous lawsuits like this one. While customers enjoy Wal-Mart's low prices, those low prices come at a cost. And that cost is usually paid by the employees being screwed by the company.

There are other options if one wants low prices. In the midwest, for instance, there is Meijer. Unlike Wal-Mart which shut down their entire in-store butcher department, company wide, because ten workers in Texas joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, Meijer is unionized.

There are many other regional chains which compete with Wal-Mart that may be a better place for you to spend you holiday cash.


Some thoughts on same-sex marriage

Posted by J.D. On Friday, December 4, 2009 0 comments
While Obama dicks around on the DADT issue, we have watched Maine step backward, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri veto equality, and most recently, the New York senate vote no on same-sex marriage.

But things will change.

Every new generation is more progressive than the previous generation. It took until the 18th century for the abolitionist movement to grow in strength. Today, you would be hard pressed to find someone that doesn't agree that slavery is inhumane and morally wrong.

It took until 1920 for the United States to pass the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allowing all women to vote. It is mind-boggling to most people today that it would take that long to grant a right that shouldn't have even required debate.

I have written before how miscegenation laws were still on the books as recently as the late 1960's.

In 1967, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving got married.

They went home to Virginia, there to be rousted out of their bed one night by police and charged with a felony. The felony was that Mildred was black and Richard was white and they were therefore guilty of miscegenation, which is a $10 word for bigotry. Virginia, like a number of other states, considered cross-racial matrimony a crime at the time.

It turned out that it wasn't just the state that hated the idea of black people marrying white people. God was onboard, too, according to the trial judge, who wrote, "The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

Eventually, the Supreme Court heard the case and decided:

"Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man," the unanimous opinion striking down the couple's conviction said, "fundamental to our very existence and survival."

Most people (unfortunately, not all people) these days would find miscegenation to be completely abhorrent. And yet those laws were in force from the late seventeenth century until the Supreme Court ruling in 1967.

Contrary to what anti-gay activists claim, the fight for same-sex marriage isn't about "special rights". It is about equal rights. Every American should have the right to marry whomever he or she chooses. Love knows no rules or regulations.

America will one day be enlightened enough to extend rights to all of its citizens. There will be legalized same-sex marriage. And one day same-sex couples can stroll around in public showing their affection for each other and most people won't bat an eye.

But why sit on our asses and patiently await the inevitable? Why not fight for it now? While I remain convinced that within twenty years, there will be legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states...I fail to see why we should wait twenty years.

Why not now?

As the New York senate prepared to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, one senator had this to say:

Openly gay NY state Senator Tom Duane: "The time is never right for civil rights. The economy, wars. The troubles we've had here in the senate. It's never ever the right time. But the paradox is, it's always the time to be on the right side of history."

And Senator Duane is correct. It is always the time to be on the right side of history.


The Family Research Council warns about EDNA

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, December 3, 2009 1 comments
Recently, the Family Research Council has sent out a letter concerning a new government bill that they oppose.

But what is that right at the head of the letter?

Holy shit!

The President plans to impose homosexuality and silence Christianity in workplaces!

That's right. If that foreign-born Socialist, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, has his way, all of us God-fearing heterosexual men will all be having butt sex by sundown!

We gotta stop this!

What the Federal government deceptively calls the "Employment Non-Descrimination Act" (or EDNA), the Family Research Council more patriotically calls the "Descrimination Against Christians in the Workplace Act" (or DACWA, I suppose). That title better feeds into my homophobic fears.

The FRC further tells me:

Try imagining the federal government as a full partner in the homosexual rights movement. Imagine...

*The government prosecuting a small business owner - perhaps a Christian bookstore - for declining to hire an open homosexual or cross-dresser.

*Your employer telling you to remove the Bible from your desk because it is offensive to the homosexual or cross-dresser he was forced to hire.

*Your church being forced to decide between hiring a man who dresses as a woman to work in the Mother's Day Out or preschool program or face federal investigation.

*Your teen coming home from his faith-based summer camp and telling you his counselor was an openly practicing homosexual.

Unimaginable, you say? The government can't force churches to do that, can it?

It can - if EDNA becomes law.

Now granted, The Human Right Campaign has outlined what the bill states and notes:

The bill explicitly prohibits preferential treatment and quotas and does not permit disparate impact suits. In addition, it exempts small businesses, religious organizations and the military, and does not require that domestic partner benefits be provided to the same-sex partners of employees.

But the Family Research Council claims that the church exemptions are meaningless! And they offer nothing more than the opinion of a Republican congressman to back up that claim! I am fucking terrified here!

All of us red-blooded heterosexual God-fearing American men need to contact our representatives...or the butt sex will commence at sundown!

Huckabee gets Hortoned

Posted by J.D. On Wednesday, December 2, 2009 2 comments
In 1998, Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis was hit hard by his opponent George H.W. Bush for the weekend furlough program Dukakis supported as Governor of Massachusetts. One of the people furloughed in that program was a man named Willie Horton.

On June 6, 1986, Horton was released for a weekend furlough. He didn't return to prison. Instead, he showed up in Oxon Hill, Maryland on April 3, 1987. On that day, Horton twice raped a woman after assaulting and gagging her fiancé.

Bush first mentioned Horton's name in a speech in June 1988. After that, Conservatives attacked Michael Dukakis mercilessly and forever blamed him for the actions of Willie Horton.

Pat Buchanan even credited the Willie Horton ads in bringing Conservatives to George H.W. Bush.

...he [George H.W. Bush] had a lot of support from conservatives. He beat Dukakis by running -- remember those ads, the flag thing, Willie Horton and all that? He hit all these themes that hit these people when he won....

...Willie Horton was, in fact, a big Massachusetts liberal, turning murderers loose on weekend passes. He`s nuts. If it would have been Charlie Manson, they would have said the same thing.

Last Sunday, a man named Maurice Clemmons allegedly killed four police officers Sunday near Tacoma, Washington. Clemmons was serving a 108-year sentence for several felonies in Arkansas back in 2000. That was the year then-Governor Mike Huckabee commuted his sentence down to 47 years. That reduction allowed Clemmons to seek parole.

This isn't the first time Huckabees actions have gotten him in hot water.

When he ran in 2008, Huckabee received much attention for having publicly supported and privately urged the release of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond. Dumond won parole in 1999, three years after Huckabee became governor and discussed the case at a private meeting with the parole board. Dumond then moved to Missouri, was charged with rape and murder, and died in prison before trial.

This is something Huckabee did quite often.

Bill Clinton, who served as governor of the state between 1979 and 1992, issued a total of 426 pardons and commutations, the Arkansas Leader pointed out in the middle of Huckabee’s tenure in 2004.

Republican Frank White and Democrat Jim Guy Tucker issued 39 and 42, respectively. By the end of his 10-and-a-half years as governor, Huckabee had issued 1,033.

As of 2004, Huckabee had issued more pardons than the leaders of six neighboring states combined -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Missouri -- in the preceding eight years.

It's not just the numbers that are interesting. It is the motivations.

Max Brantley, editor of the liberal alternative weekly Arkansas Times believes there was some politics in play.

Politics and connections figured in some cases, Brantley said. He said Huckabee went easy on people whose relatives or supporters had helped him politically, or because his actions would be seen as a repudiation of Democrat Bill Clinton, his predecessor. That was the case with Dumond, whose victim was a distant Clinton relative and whose cause was taken up by Clinton haters.

As does Joe Carter, a former Director of Research and Director of Rapid Response for Huckabee's presidential campaign.

After reviewing hundreds of cases and interviewing numerous people involved in the process, I concluded to my own satisfaction that the governor’s actions and judgment were generally defensible. Yet there remained about a half-dozen situations in which even after reviewing all of the information I was unpersuaded that justice had been served. Although I was sympathetic with some of the justifications offered for making the decisions, I found them inadequate for a number of reasons.

For example, in a number of the cases—and almost always in the most controversial requests for commutation—there was sense that the petitioners were attempting to redress injustices committed by the “Clinton machine.” The disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates that peaked among conservatives in the early 1990s remains palpable among Republicans in Arkansas. Many of the petitioners and supporters of the commutations and pardons were truly convinced that they were simply rectifying injustices committed by the former Democratic governor and his cronies. (This was especially true in the infamous Wayne DuMond case where the victim was a second cousin of Bill Clinton.)

If you believe that the Clintons possess near mystical powers to control an entire state, then you might find this way of thinking persuasive. I do not. Yet I’m convinced that had it not been for abject hatred of the Clintons many of these cases would never have been considered worthy of the governor’s attention.

Never let it be said that Republicans don't hate Clintons.

Huckabee has apologized....sort of.

Initially, not at all.

On his radio show, Huckabee noted that there must have been a serious of failures which allowed this man to be free. He notably omitted his own part.

“Should he be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington state,”

Later, Huckabee went on Bill O'Reilly's program and came a little bit cleaner.

"If I could have known nine years ago this guy was capable of something of this magnitude, obviously I would never have granted a commutation," he told Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly on Monday night. "It's sickening."...

..."That was the commutation," Huckabee told O'Reilly. "I'm responsible for that. And it's not something I'm happy about at this particular moment."

O'Reilly made it clear to Huckabee that it was not his fault:

Well, it's not your fault, Governor. I mean, look, you've got 1,200 of these cases a year. You gotta look at them. I'm not saying it's your fault. I don't think anyone watching thinks it's your fault.

I don't expect Huckabee to have incredible foresight and somehow know who would or wouldn't continue a heinous crime spree after an early release.

I do, however, wonder this: if it was not Huckabee's fault that Clemmons allegedly went on to kill four police officers after an early release...where is the line to start apologizing to Michael Dukakis?

Or will there be no apologies and instead we continue with the idiotic belief that only Liberals are "soft on crime" whereas Conservatives merely "make mistakes"?

Time will tell whether or not the mainstream GOP goes after Huckabee and uses this against him as they used Horton against Dukakis. But the first signs are already beginning to show.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who some have named as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, has come forward and compared his record to Huckabee's.

Pawlenty said that he would not have granted clemency to Maurice Clemmons, who was suspected of fatally shooting four police officers in Washington state on Sunday before being shot and killed by police in Seattle Tuesday morning.

Asked by conservative radio host Laura Ingraham if he would have granted clemency under the same circumstances, Pawlenty replied, "No. On those facts, no, Laura, I would not."

He continued, "In Minnesota, I don't think I've ever voted for clemency. We've given out pardons for things after everybody has served out their term, but again, usually for more minor offenses. But clemency, certainly not. Commutation of sentence, certainly not."

Huckabee has recently hinted that he isn't sure whether or not he desires another run at the presidency. Should he decide to run, he should be prepared for the GOP to unleash the attack dogs and treat him as they did Dukakis. Even with excuses from Bill O'Reilly on his behalf, Huckabee won't be able to stand up to that kind of attacks from within his own party.

Bachmann feels a "completely different standard"

Posted by J.D. On Tuesday, December 1, 2009 0 comments
Earlier I wrote of John McCain's belief that criticism of Sarah Palin has been the most vicious and personal he has seen in all his years of politics.

Now others are jumping onto the "it's not fair" bandwagon to explain away criticisms of themselves.

In a Q&A sesssion with The Stillwater Republican, Rep. Michele Bachmann answered a question about some of the bad press she has received from saying incredibly stupid things.

Q: A lot has been made of some of your statements — the “gangster government” comment, the “anti-American” comment. Is there anything you’ve said that you regret?

A: Oh, gosh, absolutely. Of course, I wish I could be more artful in the way that I say things. But the other thing I’ve noticed that is kind of interesting is it seems like there’s also a double standard and bias in the mainstream media.

Polls today say that the American people more than ever think the mainstream media is biased in favor of the liberal position. And so conservatives, especially conservative women, are held to a completely different standard than liberals.

Let's look at this "completely different standard" Malkin speaks of, shall we?

I have written of the vicious attacks against the Obama family from racist taunts to all out calls for treason...but I don't see anyone taking a stand against this behavior in the Conservative media (a.k.a. FOX News).

Remember when Sean Hannity took Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon to task about Blumenaur supposedly undermining the president?

"...And what I find frankly repugnant about you and some of your fellow Democrats – you have undermined our president, you have undermined our troops, you have undermined our war effort from day one and you’re doing it for the sinister reason of political gain..."

Hannity later refused to condemn Ted Nugent for saying such sparkling things as:

"Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun," Nugent said in front of a screaming crowd as he brandishes what appear to be two large assault rifles.

After Nugent's outburst, Hannity called him "friend and frequent guest on the program".

Here is another quote:

"..Every American, including media people, should evaluate the president and form conclusions. That is our duty as citizens. But this hate stuff, this rooting for the administration to fail in Iraq and other areas is un-American, unbecoming, and unacceptable. Like him or not, Mr. Bush is the elected leader of this country and he deserves a fair hearing..."

Do you know who said that one? Bill O'Reilly. Back in 2007.

I recall Michelle Malkin, Rick Santorum, Tom Delay, and Rush Limbaugh proclaiming their desire for Obama to fail....yet when similar pronouncement were made toward Bush, that was considered un-American. When spoken against Obama, however, the charges of un-Americanism simply disappear.

I don't recall O'Reilly taking any of them to task and calling them un-American for "rooting for the administration to fail" as he did in 2007 when people weren't supporting Bush.

That is pretty much the definition of a "completely different standard".

Of course, Bachmann the one who declared that the health-care reform rally she spearheaded (the one where protesters compared health-care reform to the holocaust) was in fact not another case of Republican astro-turfing but was instead "organic".

When her hypocrisy is pointed out, I would wager that, too, is part of a devious "different standard" than that of liberals.

Bachmann is participating in the Reach Out and Read program, a national effort to train doctors and nurses to advise parents on the importance of reading to their children.

The program gives books to health providers to give to parents at well-child checkups from six months of age to five years old.

It receives federal funding through the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education Appropriations bill (Word .doc), which Bachmann voted against twice in 2007.

Not good enough to vote for funding...but good enough for a photo op?

Maybe because my examples of hypocrisy were mostly men (O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) the Bachmann believes the real "different standard" is against women.

How about how the right attacked the Dixie Chicks for airing their political opinions? How was what they said any worse than praying for Obama to fail? For speaking of treason?

Conservative women aren't held to a different standard than liberals or anyone else. Hypocrites are called out for their hypocrisy. So are people who make moronic statements. This might be what is chafing Bachmann being that she is guilt of both.