Thursday, June 30, 2005

Chicken Fried Frist

I popped over to Republic of T and lo' and behold I saw semi-good news from the state of Tennessee will be reviewing complaints lodged against House Majority Dictator, renowned cat killer & Cardio-Thoracic Surgeon for his diagnosis of Terri Schiavo via videotape last March. Dr. Frist who was spot on dead wrong in his assessment of the late Mrs. Schiavo's clinical condition, started announcing that he did not diagnose that woman as soon as the autopsy results revealed that she was in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery. I don't expect anything to come of the investigation, but the fact they have to investigate the claim and a lot of folks will laugh about it makes it all worthwhile.

In other news, the Schiavo autopsy results supported the hypothesis that evaluating a differential and making a diagnosis through direct examination of a patient is significantly more accurate than making professionaly clinical assessments by watching edited videotape.

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

I am a Big Five Neurotic Anger Management Candidate

Richard Chapelle is doing some research on bloggers, personality (as measured by the IPIP-NEO inventory), and political orientation (as measured by the Political Compass quiz).

Richard plans to compile these data and make them available to social scientists and statisticians under an open-source license. This is a really neat project and I encourage all my fellow bloggers to participate.

The 5-factor model is a fascinating subject in its own right. It's one of the most scientifically rigorous approaches to the study of personality that psychology has to offer. I'm working on a post about the history and theory of the big five. I hope to post it in the next day or two.

Here are my results. Richard's instructions for taking the test and spreading the meme appear below the fold.

Age: 38
Gender: Female
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Religion: Jewish
Occupation: Pseudo-Scientist - Clinical Drug Development
Began blogging (dd/mm/yy): 08/11/04

Political Compass Results
Economic Left/Right: -4.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.49

[NB: These numbers are percentile rankings comparing my scores to those of other adult women. When you take the test, your scores will be calculated relative to the responses of other people of the same age and gender.]

EXTRAVERSION: 35 (Average)
Friendliness: 8
Gregariousness: 27
Assertiveness: 44
Activity Level: 56
Excitement-Seeking: 47
Cheerfulness: 71

Trust: 20
Morality: 76
Altruism: 70
Co-operation: 4
Modesty: 75
Sympathy: 75

Self-Efficacy: 44
Orderliness: 29
Dutifulness: 72
Achievement-Striving: 59
Self-Discipline: 60
Cautiousness: 43

Anxiety: 84
Anger: 89
Depression: 88
Self-Consciousness: 54
Immoderation: 96
Vulnerability: 67

Imagination: 71
Artistic Interests: 14
Emotionality: 47
Adventurousness: 39
Intellect: 66
Liberalism: 53

Track List:
1. Philosophy, et cetera - - pixnaps97a2
2. Majikthise - 6ea37d10-e9b9-11d9-8cd6-0800200c9a66
3. The Disenchanted Forest - - 112017623194120347


OK, I cop to the major league neurotic thing and the fact I am very emotional and obstinant/tempermental, but man is it amazing how being miserably disappointed in my company (for which I had such high hopes) has shown up in this survey!

Overview: This post is a community experiment with two broad purposes. The first is to create publicly accessible data about bloggers' personalities, which may have sociological value in addition to being just plain fun. The second is to track the propagation of this meme through blogspace. Full details and explanation can be found on the original posting:

Instructions (to join in the experiment):

1) Take the IPIP-NEO personality test and the Political Compass quiz, if you have not done so already.

2) Copy to the clipboard that section of this post that is between the double lines, and paste it into your blog editor. (Blogger users may wish to use 'compose' mode to preserve formatting and hyperlinks. Otherwise, be sure to add hyperlinks as necessary.)

3) Replace the answers in the "survey" section below with your own.

4) Add your blog information to the "track list", in the form: "Linked title - URL - optional GUID".

5) Any additional comments should go outside of the double lines, including the (optional) nomination of bloggers you wish to pass this experimental meme on to.

6) Post it to your blog!

Sphere: Related Content

So will Georgie use the Iran hostage crisis as the reason to declare war on Iran?

I remember November 1979 and the crisis that occurred when a bunch of Iranian University students took hostages at the US embassy. I remember the bird-flipping Mickey Mouse "Hey Ayatollah" posters (that we did not have to hide at school). I, obviously, don't have the image and memories of what it was like to held hostage and have no idea if those five former hostages who have announced they are sure Iran's new President-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was among their captors are right or mistaken. What I do know is that there has been discussion of whether the Bush Administration is planning to invade Iran next and that the Republican Party that keeps up the 9/11 mantra as the reason we had to invade Iraq (despite the evidence) will certainly use this news for some nefarious purpose even if it's not warranted - especially considering the excellent training terrorists are now getting in Iraq.

Tags: ; ; ;; ;

Sphere: Related Content

another sad (bs gender bias) song

17-year old Mikhael Rawls is a singer classified as a countertenor that can comfortably sing in the soprano range. As a matter of fact, he's won first place as a soprano in a University interscholastic league competetition two years in a row. None of this matters to the Texas Music Educators Association because 2 years ago they enacted rules that limit auditions for vocal programs/choirs by gender. Mikhael can't even audition because he has a penis. In Texas, only girls are allowed to sing as sopranos and altos; tenor and bass is for the boys. Rawls requested the association to change the rules make them gender neutral (or include contratenor) but the request was declined:
Association spokeswoman Amy Lear said the group enacted the rule two years ago because of concerns that girls auditioning for tenor parts were hurting their voices by singing too low.

"If you make a rule one way it has to work both ways," Lear said, adding that the association does not hold auditions specifically for countertenors because the part is rarely included in the group's music.
According to Rawls, he prefers singing at the upper end of his vocal range because singing at the lower range makes his throat hurt (which, btw, could possibly be a sign of strain to reach those lower notes and lead to problems with his voice). I'm guessing the girls who auditioned as tenors were probably contraltos who, like Rawls, end up stuck singing in a range they are not comfortable in due to this rule. Well at least they're hurting both boys and girls equally, but that doesn't make it any less assinine.

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Time to keep Miller & Cooper from doing time

In order to spare Judith Miller & Matt Cooper from being jailed on the grounds of contempt, Time magazine has confirmed it will comply with the court order to turn over notes that may reveal who leaked the identity of CIA office Valerie Plame.

Miller, who did some reporting never published a story on it. Plame's identity was, however, revealed by name in a column written by Robert Novak and then subsequently used in a story by Matt Cooper. Cooper and Miller were both subjected to court orders to reveal their source, Novak was not and has not commented on his involvement in the grand jury investigation of the leak. He will "reveal all" in the future.

Did I mention Novak was the one who revealed Plame's identity publicly? Seems odd that the person who didn't and the one who published the information after it was already in the common domain had no cross to bear in the matter? I wonder why that could be.

Edit 10:40 PM - I've been corrected; apparently despite having Cooper's notes from Time, Judith Miller (a NYT reporter) will still be jailed for contempt unless she turns over her source for a story she did not publish. Pity Mark wasn't capable of understanding the rest of the post by lumping me in as someone who doesn't understand why reporters could be jailed in this situation (here's a hint: focus on the references to Novak).

Update 1 July 11:57 - Liberal Oasis (& dKos) have an interesting theory as to why Bob Novak's not under the gun for Plame-gate like Miller & Cooper: the investigation isn't focused on the intentional leaking of Plame's identity
What started as a potential case of intentionally leaking the identity of an agent has now become about perjury and obstruction of justice in an attempt to conceal White House involvement in fixing the intelligence that led to war.

Tags:; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Marriage is the SACRED union of a man and a woman?

You don't hear about this stuff in gay marriages. . .oh wait, we don't let 'mos marry because gay marriage would devalue the very institution of marriage itself.

Rachel Dunham and Rodney Tomsha got married last Thursday - don't worry if you forgot to send a gift, you might want to hold off even longer because the groom was arrested after the reception for violating a restraining order that was issued last year after investigation of 2 reports of domestic violence against him by Dunham.
The blushing bride, for her part, was arrested 6 days prior to the wedding for investigation of domestic violence against Tomsha.

Umm, Mazel Tov?

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Proselytizing=Pyramid Scheme

Blondesense Liz points out the inherent danger to the United States if we endorse religious law:
". . .if America really adopted the "You shall not covet" commandment, our economy would collapse."
The comments were no less clever, especially badgerpup's take on the pressure to sell more product recruit more souls
"Sometimes I wonder if this need to convert isn't kind of a spiritual pyramid scheme. The more 'unbelievers' you drag kicking and screaming into the fold, the more brownie points you get with the Big Beard In The Sky."

Tags: ; ; ;; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Ethics Inquiry UnDelayed?

Raw Story is reporting that Ethics Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) plans to discontinue his bid to have his personal chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, serve as co-Director of the committee. The thought is that now the stalemate has been broken, a chief counsel can be elected and the committee can organize and move forward on ethics investigations of House members including DeLay. My guess is that it may take some time to elect a mutually acceptable Chief Counsel due to partisanship. . .any one have odds on it?

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

American's pass on Presidential re-run, miss fauxplause

He was on almost every channel and still couldn't get decent ratings. Last night's redundant "we invaded Iraq because of 9/11" speech was watched by an average of 19.3 M viewers across 4 (that'd be ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox) networks. I guess some Americans have wised up and decided they have beeter things to do on a Summer night than watch another bad re-run (which it was, for all intents and purposes) with fauxplause.

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Sexual abuse, Religion & Political Conservatism

The renewed interest in RDick Santorum's assertion that Boston may have been affected more significantly by the scandal because they have an extremely large Catholic population in comparison to other locales instead of the fact they have many well respected academic centers (terrible bastions of liberalism) and all those other heathen liberals.

As of January 2000, the United States had the largest Christian population in the world with over 224 Million self-identified adherents to a Christian religion (that was 85% of the popultaion). Catholics make up the largest single denomination of Christians in the United States; the state of Massachusetts has the seventh highest number of Catholics with second highest proportion of them (a little over 49%). Despite this, the Catholic church sex scandal affected all but 4 states (Alaska, Arkansas, Tennessee & Utah).

Like Santorum, many conservatives like to think of the scandal in the church as being a "liberal" problem or a "
Catholic invasion by homosexuals" problem. The facts, again, do not support these claims as the scandal has affected conservative states and countries outside the US. This type of behavior is not limited to the Catholic church, as other religious institutions have also had to deal with its effects, including those in nice, wholesome, "red" states like Tennessse, Louisiana (I believe final count was 9 arrested for child & animal rape; don't buy the convenient reference to devil worship), & Florida. It's not limited to liberals. Oh yeah, and it's not limited to same gender sex. On the bright side, they do occasionally get punished.

This is old hat I know, but I keep hoping that if we keep reminding people of some facts, maybe some of that shit ignorant bigots continuously toss around might not stick so well.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Maybe they'll accept the science if we provided definitions

I've said it before, but maybe if a guy who specializes in contraceptive research at the one of the country's foremost reproductive health institutes says it, people will finally understand. Med Students interested in OB/GYN & Reproductive Endocrinology don't consider moving to Norfolk for the Seafood, they go because they want to train at the Jones Institute.
"The pervasive myth out there is that emergency contraception is an abortifacient," said Dr. David Archer, director of clinical research at the Contraceptive Research and Development Program of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

"But there's no evidence scientifically that that's true."

For one thing, Archer points out, emergency contraception generally doesn't work if taken after a woman has ovulated.

The medical establishment--including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists--holds that emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy. Abortifacients such as RU-486 terminate pregnancies.
Archer's focus of research is mechanisms & control of endometrial bleeding, so I'm guessing he'd know about things that induce sloughing of an endometrial lining hence inducing abortion where implantation has occured as well as when conception has occured by implantation has not.

Get it abortifacients cause abortion which is defined as:

    • Termination of pregnancy and expulsion of an embryo or of a fetus that is incapable of survival.
    • Any of various procedures that result in such termination and expulsion. Also called induced abortion.
  1. The premature expulsion of a nonviable fetus from the uterus; a miscarriage.
  2. Cessation of normal growth, especially of an organ or other body part, prior to full development or maturation.
  3. An aborted organism.
  4. Something malformed or incompletely developed; a monstrosity.
Contraceptives prevent conception or impregnation through the use of various devices, agents, drugs, sexual practices, or surgical procedures.


Tags: ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

TN ends investigation of LIA/Refuge

The state of Tennessee has closed its investigation of LIA/Refuge due to lack of evidence to support child abuse. I would take this to mean that either Zach was there and, upon examination, was found not to be found under overt duress or that he was not there at all; psychological abuse is extremely difficult to prove and Zach (if he's there) is there with his parents expressed consent and support.
John Smid, executive director of Love In Action, said the allegations were never described to him but he assumed they involved a complaint of psychological abuse.

The program, Smid said, "is to help kids to grow in their relationship with Christ."
Whether the facility will have to obtain a license for operating as a de facto mental health facility (logically one would think a program that deems itself a rehab center for addictions should have to be licensed) was not addressed in the new report. Regardless, they will be able to practice their ministry as they see fit.
"It is our spiritual conviction that sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage is considered wrong in the sight of God," said John Smid, the program's director, who describes himself as "ex-gay," according to a transcript of the news conference available on the Love In Action Web site.

"This program is operated on the will of the guardian or parent. We will work with the minor children as long as they are not overtly distracting to their own program or the program of others," Smid added. "If it is shown that the client is overtly treatment resistant, we will work with the parent towards alternative options for their care and overall relational health."
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Zach blogs when he concludes his tenure at LIA. He is beholden to his family and, as he indicated in his blog, he was extremely upset at being such a disappointment to his parents. Whatever happened at LIA, it is my sincere hope that Zach will be able to discover and accept who he is as he evolves into an adult and that his family follow suit and support him. The most important wish any parent should have for their child is that (s)he grow up into a happy, healthy, productive member of society. There are a lot of parents who don't get that opportunity and I'm sure anyone who knows the pain of the death of a child they love would prefer that child being able to grow up healthy and lead that life regardless of sexual orientation. Any parent who says otherwise must not know what love is.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Who wouldn't want the right to tresspass & get violent in the name of protest?

Well this should be interesting (and is more reason to hope rational thought prevail). SCOTUS has announce that it will reconsider the case of using federal racketeering and extortion laws against abortion protesters in front of clinics.
As part of the 1998 ban, anti-abortion demonstrators were barred from trespassing, setting up blockades or behaving violently at abortion clinics
In the last case 2 years ago, SCOTUS lifted that ban on demonstrations
Rehnquist conceded in 2003 that abortion protesters interfered with clinic operations and in some cases committed crimes. But he said because they did not extort money or valuables from the clinics, a lower court had wrongly imposed a ban on protests.
7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago (the next circuit court I expect the Fristians to overhaul) renewed the case based on the threats of violence and violents acts may be considered for qualification under RICO.

The focus on extortion in this case undermines the fact that RICO, which was set up for use against mob activities, and that part of the system used by "organized crime" to compel compliance (and silence) in extortion schemes includes threats (even implied threats) and/or overt acts of violence, as well as intimidation and interference with a business such to the point that the business felt they had to comply.
Section 1961 - Definitions
(1) ''racketeering activity'' means (A) any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act), which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code:. . .section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion). . .
Additionally, some localities may apply a broader statutory definition of extortion/blackmail that is broader than receipt of funds or items of financial value
NIBRS Group and Definition - Group A Extortion/Blackmail: To unlawfully obtain money, property, or any other thing of value, either tangible or intangible, through the use or threat of force, misuse of authority, threat of criminal prosecution, threat of destruction of reputation or social standing, or through other coercive means (FBI, 1992, p. 15).
While Jay Sekulow, et al may believe that application of RICO to demonstrations must be limited to cases in which protesters agree to leave for some sort of financial settlement, it appears as though RICO may well have wider implications than a routine shakedown. Whether SCOTUS agrees on legal terms (rather than ideological ones) is a story to be written some time next year.

Tags: ; ; ; ;
; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

This is just plain unexplainable

For the life of me, I cannot understand how this could be
Forty-five percent of the 1,009 people questioned Friday through Sunday said they did not believe the United States ever would establish a stable government in Iraq, and 53 percent said they believe the war was a mistake.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll also found that only 37 percent of those responding believe President Bush has a clear plan for the 2-year-old war there.

"It is a critical moment in Iraq," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "The terrorists are seeking to shake our will and weaken our resolve. They know that they cannot win unless we abandon the mission before it is complete."
Those looking for higher level education and advanced training in terrorism will be heartened to know some Americans appreciate what BushCo is doing to assist career development in Iraq.
The lone bright spot for the president in the poll was his handling of terrorism, which scored a 55 percent approval rating, compared to just 41 percent who disapproved.

Tags: ; ; ;; ; ; ; ;; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, June 27, 2005

BushCo: a strong committment to Vo-Tech training

The CIA indicates that the insurgency in Iraq (you know the one that may last another 12 years or so) may actually end up providing higher quality training for Islamic terrorists than the Afghanistan war (where Osama bin Laden was voted most likely to succeed).
A classified report from the US spy agency says Iraqi and foreign fighters are developing a broad range of deadly skills, from car bombings and assassinations to tightly coordinated conventional attacks on police and military targets, the official said.

Once the insurgency ends, Islamic militants are likely to disperse as highly organised battle-hardened combatants capable of operating throughout the Arab-speaking world and in other regions including Europe.


"You have people coming to the action with anti-US sentiment ... And since they're Iraqi or foreign Arabs or to some degree Kurds, they have more communities they can blend into outside Iraq," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the report's classified status.
In a brilliant student recruitment move, BushCo may have implied that he chose to invade Iraq to make it a magnet for terrorists & insurgents. I, for one, now feel bad for ever doubting this administration's commitment to education.

Tags: ; ; ;; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

This kid is a sick fuck

I'm guessing Rick Santorum & Karen Brauer didn't see this coming.

A 17-year old Campobello, SC boy raped 3 neighbors:
  • a 3-year old
  • a 13-year old
  • a dog (the dog has subsequently died, possibly from internal injuries caused by the rape)
all 3 victims were female.

Yeah, it's homosexuality & liberalism that leads to depraved behavior.

Sphere: Related Content

Santorum Shoots (his mouth) but doesn't quite score

According to Rick Santorum the main stream media lies about him and his record whenever they report on a story about his involvement in an issue and don't take his opinion as gospel truth. As he told John Baer in last Friday's Philly Daily News:
"The mainstream media has fundamentally ignored my record and chronically does so. If you don't tell what goes on, that's not telling the truth."
In other words, as Baer points out, Santorum thinks that by reporting he used an inappropriate allusion to Nazis in comparing filibustering Democrats to Hitler's occupation of Paris (especially if you point out he ripped Robert Byrd's Nazi reference), don't report that Terri Schiavo was a woman "executed" for being disabled, or imply that any Gitmo detainee has been mistreated, you're not telling the truth as Rick Santorum knowsdecides it which means you're lying.

Capitol Buzz latched on to the article about the Senator from PVA which is drawing attention because it trotted out this oldie but goodie. In the Catholic Online article, Santorum blamed the media and academia for the sexual molestation scandal that rocked the Catholic Church:
"It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm
Santorum may want to check which dioscese across the world have been rocked by this scandal, he may find pretty substantial claims in some pretty conservative places and that some of this abuse has been going on for decades (if not centuries) and it's not due of: liberalism, lack of "real" religion, a gay problem (them damn mos trying to hide in the church are getting the church in trouble), or any other asinine thing he may want to fart out of his mouth (but keep going Ricky, I love having a good laugh at your expense).

Tags: ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

This week on This Way Out - blogswarm for Zach

As I mentioned the other day, Jerry Trowbridge produced a piece about the blogswarm around Zach at the inappropriately named Refuge/Love in Action that will air on this week's This Way Out hosted by Greg Gordon which I think airs on NPR. Jerry's piece includes commentary by EJ Friedman, Terence Heath, Peterson Toscano, Ben Garrett and yours truly (sounding even more neurotic and nasal than usual). The program will be available online at Planet Out to listening to at your leisure by Wednesday night.

Since I'm ho'ing it up, the rest of the program features stories on the following:

a Warhol superstar moves from "Housedress" to history in print and on screen (with clips from the Lily Tomlin-narrated documentary, our Steve Pride talks with multi-media creator Craig B. Highberger about his "Superstar in a Housedress: The Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis")

"NewsWrap" (reported this week by Cindy Friedman & Rick Watts), reservations abound around Slovenia's new partner law, Czech lawmakers give initial approval to their registration bill, and partner rights are expanded in Germany, while the Spanish Senate's disapproval won't derail marriage equality legislation, nor does it seem that Tory opposition can block a similar bill in Canada. Those stories - and more this week - when you tune in to "This Way Out: the international lesbian and gay radio magazine", the world's audio oasis for GLBT news and culture.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

SCOTUS rules against G-d; heads will probably roll

In a stunning decision announced today, the Supreme Court of the US ruled that Ten Commandment displays such at the ones at Kentucky court houses do promote a religious message and are a violation of the first amendment. The court is expected to rule on a similar case, in which granite monuments were erected in Texas, today as well.
“The touchstone for our analysis is the principle that the First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” Justice David Souter wrote for the majority.

“When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates tha central Establishment clause value of official religious neutrality,” he said.
The vote was split as predicted, with Sandra Day O'Connor expected to be the target of the Repubevangelical ire (and probably the next proposal for a constitutional amendment or proposal to repeal the current first amendment).

Presumptive future Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, who is the biggest supporter of these displays, voted to rule that the displays due not violate the first amendment despite asserting that they do, indeed, promote a religious message
Even though Scalia was supportive, he chided Abbott at one point for downplaying the religious meaning of the Ten Commandments. It would be a “pyrrhic victory,” Scalia said, if Ten Commandment displays were allowed on the theory that they were secular. “Our laws come from God. If you don’t believe it sends that message, you’re kidding yourself.
Despite the deeply religious message that he agrees is undeniably promoted, Scalia is on record as having said that the fist amendment only affords protection from establishing one denomination of a religion as an official state religion but that a particular religion (Christianity) can be declared (and is) as such. US Solicitor Paul Clement who presented the cases in favor of the displays, stated the commandments are undeniably religious but that they have "secular significance" and there is no state endorsement of the text.

This is not the first time this year a court has ruled in a manner that directly contradicted the expressed wishes of the President, Republican Party and fundagelical movement. In the not too distant past, Republican Leadership has used fiery rhetoric and threats against sitting judges. I'm sure the political fall-out from this will be spectacular, despite today's weasley "take these situations on a case by case basis" ruling by SCOTUS.

UPDATE 27Jun05 12:30: and, as expected, heir presumptive, Justice Antonin Scalia released a hissy of a dissent to the earlier, Kentucky, ruling
"What distinguishes the rule of law from the dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority is the absolutely indispensable requirement that judicial opinions be grounded in consistently applied principle."
but must be heartened by
Sandra Day O'Connor Stephen Breyer swinging in support of allowing the granite monuments at Texas courthouses to stay, since this put her squarely on his side of the debate. The most disconcerting part to the dissenters in the Kentucky case and the majority in the Texas case is the fact that those in support of the religious displays admit that the displays are inherently religious but that the promotion of a message consistent with religious doctrine using inherently religious symbolism/text does not constitute a violation of the first amendment.
“Of course, the Ten Commandments are religious — they were so viewed at their inception and so remain. The monument therefore has religious significance,” Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority in the case involving the display outside the state capitol of Texas.

“Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment clause,” he said.
This is in direct contrast with opinions of previous courts in which the promotion of a religious message was the point at which the line was crossed and was considered state endorsement of religion. Apparently, the first amendment allows you choose your own religion and follow it to the best of your abilities but it no longer prevents the state from stepping in ensure you know they endorse and support Christianity and a belief in G-d over the loser beliefs of non-Christians. This will only further establish the fundagelical movement's ability to use the government to ensure you have no right to avoid proselytizing (or prevent your children being proselytized to without your consent or knowledge) except in private homes/establishments (until the government exerts its power of eminent domain, that is).

Tags: ; ; ;; ;

Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 26, 2005

USAFA Evangelicals doing military heathens a favor

Lt Col. James Kelso (USAF-ret) thinks that the brouhaha over the charges of religious intolerance at the US Air Force Academy is a direct breach of the Evangelical cadets constitutional rights because the First Amendment was
"written to ensure that the federal government would not require everyone to be a member of the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church and to guarantee that every U.S. citizen would be able to freely express his or her religious beliefs without fear of being sent to prison or executed."
In Kelso's view, cadets should embrace Jesus. While he does concede that the academy should ensure that no one is subjected to unwanted badgering, he implies the actions of the evangelical cadets and staff in ensuring non-adherents were aware of consequences of not becoming "Christian" is nothing other than a good a discussion "as stimulating and enriching as an exchange about the pros and cons of using nuclear weapons." In short, the proselytizing and coercion used against non-adherents to orthodox Christian denominations was in their best interests as it's how the cadets may have no other experiences/exposure to being held accountable for their actions.
"During my four years at the academy, some cadets shared their beliefs openly with others. They had Bible studies in their rooms and no one ever felt put upon. We just accepted these evangelicals as the "good guys." Perhaps if more cadets had listened to them during my four years there, or if the football coach had put up a Christian banner in the locker room as today's coach has done, we would not have lost scores of football players in two separate honor scandals. Christianity attempts to hold people accountable and teaches that there are consequences for bad actions."
According to Kelso, who dares to remind us of the sexual abuse scandal that triggered the invitation to the Yale Divinity group that uncovered the rampant religious intolerance and abuse of authority, a stronger Christian belief system at the Academy might actually prevent sexual assault. He takes offense that WaPo columnist Richard Cohen had the audacity to say "They know how to fly but maybe they don't know what they are flying for." To this, he says:
"He better believe we know what we're flying for, and why many of our friends and fellow servicemen have died fighting for this country. We do it so that he can have the freedom to spout his demeaning rhetoric and so that I and every other citizen in this great nation can exercise our religious beliefs without fear of persecution."
That is, provided they can do it while persecuting others.

Tags: ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

The Spirit of 1776 eyes 2006

I don't generally contribute financially to a political campaign. . .to be perfectly honest, I don't think I've ever contributed money to a political campaign. I donate to medical research, community health programs, human/civil rights, food banks, all the organizations you see listed to your right under Tzedakah and a bunch more, but an election campaign - nope, can't say I've ever done that before. Something about contributing financially to an election campaign always seemed so, well, sleazy to me. I've worked on campaigns when I was in junior high and high school (Pete Kostmayer, Craig Lewis, John Anderson; two winners out of three isn't so bad) but became less involved with politicians and more interested in the specific issues in college and thereafter (I also became more interested in boys and my career as well, since I'm being honest). Most importantly, unlike some of the embarrassing high profile Rock the Vote and Vote or Die publicity hounds (Madonna, Lenny Kravitz & Paris Hilton), I make the ultimate contribution to the political process: I vote.

I prefer to vote
for someone, but in the (gulp) 20 years that I've been eligible to vote, I have been in the unfortunate position of having to vote against a candidate or vote for which candidate I considered the lesser of two evils. Needless to say, I prefer the former. Contrary to the behavior of the powers that be in the Democratic Party and the lack of coverage in the main stream media, Bob Casey, Jr is not unopposed in his bid to unseat Senator Rick Santorum from his seat in the US Senate. Casey will be running against Chuck Pennacchio in next May's Democratic Primary. Casey was pushed to the fore-front because he, like Santorum, is a strict Catholic who votes in line with the doctrine of his religion when it comes to medical issues and, is expected to split the "Pro-Life" vote in the state. Now I admit, I'm a sucker for an underdog (it's a throw-back of my early "bleeding heart liberal" days) and I am adamantly Pro-choice, but I am no single issue voter. Unlike Casey's web-site, Pennacchio's actually contains detailed information on his platform - his stand on issues. Issues that, in addition to reproductive rights and privacy (medical and personal), are near and dear to me like: health care (he dings my own industry); equal protection under and application of law regardless of race, color, creed, gender or sexual orientation; and Iraq. Pennachio is a staunch proponent of the separation of church and state which, in our current political environment, I fear is is trending toward a fundamentalist christo-theocratic oligarchy that shows no regard for the rights of non-adherents. The FEC fundraising deadline is Thursday, June 30th. I made my first financial contribution to an election campaign today.

Contribution amount:

    Tags:; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Her murder was inexcusable, but it was probably her fault

    "I don't know what this young woman did"
    Bogdan Teleanu, spokesman for Orthodox patriarchate in Bucharest, on his refusal to condemn the murder of a nun by a 29-year old Romanian Orthodox priest. In the days leading to up to her death by crucifixion, 23-year old Maricica Irina Cornici, was held captive with her hands and feet bound and did not receive food or water.

    Speaking last week-end after performing a mass of burial (I assume for someone other than his victim), Father Daniel defended the murder as "entirely justified" because, according to the priest and the 4 nuns who assisted him, she was possessed by the Devil and in need of exorcism. During the interview the priest conceded he'd probably be ex-communicated and noted he was in search of a "good lawyer."

    Update: MSNBC has additional details of the story. It appears as though the young nun may have shown initial signs & symptoms of schizophrenia (including auditory hallucinations; religious themes are common in delusions/hallucinations observed in schizophrenic patients). She had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital in April of this year, given medication for treatment and released to the care of the Holy Trinity Convent with instructions to follow up for continued treatment 10 days post discharge. Apparently, without continued treatment and appropriate medical care she decompensated so the priest and nuns decided that instead of ensuring she received much needed medical attention that she needed, their religion provided a better answer: exorcism. The young nun was bound to a cross, gagged with a towel and left to die of suffocation and dehydration.

    I initially posted this story out of disgust that, even in the case of an inexcusable event like this, a spokesman for the
    patriarchate refused to condemn the act with the implication the victim was somehow at least partially culpable. It smacks of the same sort of misogyny in which female rape and murder victims are blamed for enticing or instigating men to harm them (when these men wouldn't otherwise think of it). However, the additional information provided by MSNBC plays into another timely debate à la Herr Professor Tom Cruise. Someone with a diagnosed mental illness has been hurt due to ignorance, arrogance and an ill conceived decision to substitute a personal view that religious intervention can and should be utilized in lieu of appropriate clinical treatment in the face of an organic disease.

    Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Frothy white Christian goodness in a Jr size cup

    Lauren pointed me to the mole and, I have to say, I'm glad I didn't see the post at Feministe last night or I would have stayed home glued to my computer. This description of the widely applauded speech by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, is juicy stuff [emphasis added]
    He went on to explain that most blacks have "stopped thinking for themselves" and the reason they suffer is "because of a lack of moral character." He believes it is the plan of the left to keep blacks angry so their judgement is clouded which is why they vote for people like Bill Clinton. And this anger "is what's wrong with black people." Furthermore, white people (of which I believe almost the entire audience was) "owe it to black people to be honest [about black's lack of thinking], and if they don't like it, you can always run." This little bit of advice is also how he ended his moral pitch about the problems of his race. But he didn't stop at just black people... the one where I had to truely constrain myself was when he announced it's not only black people, but "we now have Muslim folks moving in and they don't like us... they want to kill us."
    It takes a strong black man like the good Reverend to stand up and point out how far off the mark Howard Dean was for referring to the Republican party as "pretty much a white Christian party". No word on whether the Christian Coalition, the "incidentally Jewish" Ken Mehlman, or Senator Joe Lieberman have called on CRNC or Rev. Peterson to apologize for racist remarks disparaging blacks and Muslims.

    Tags: ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Reps claim confusion by Dem ire then CRANK it up a notch

    White House communications Director, Dan Bartlett, is puzzled why Democrats are "throwing up such a huff" when Karl Rove was very specific in his speech last week that stated the liberal response to the the 9/11 attacks was "to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
    "It's somewhat puzzling why all these Democrats ... who responded forcefully after 9-11, who voted to support President Bush's pursuit of the war on terror, are now rallying to the defense of, this liberal organization who put out a petition in the days after 9-11 and said that we ought not use military force in responding to 9-11," Bartlett said on NBC on Friday. "That is who Karl Rove cited in that speech ... There is no need to apologize."
    The official WH and Republican party stance is that there is no partisanship or slander in Rove's statement (or in any other criticism of liberals by the party and administration) but that he was simply pointing out that there is a philosphical difference of opinions between the President who wanted to take "the fight to the enemy" [by planning an invasion of Iraq despite the lack of evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attack] and Democrats "who questioned that approach".

    Meanwhile, at the College Republican National Convention (CRNC aka the "crank") in DC this week-end, was kicked off by Tom DeLay worthy of an elder statesman educating political neophytes in avoiding bitter partishanship and political gridlock:
    "The trend isn't just about liberal rhetoric, it's about a disturbing liberal psychology," DeLay said. "A bizarre, knee-jerk reflex to assume the world's worst problems are America's fault."

    DeLay also defended White House adviser Karl Rove, who came under fire for a New York speech he made Wednesday in which he accused "liberals" of wanting to "offer therapy and understanding for our attackers" after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes.

    DeLay said: "That is not slander, that is the truth."
    The Crank, which is seen as the source for the next generation of Republican leaders has gotten a head-start in learning about ethics and fundraising; early reports indicate that a portion of the money raised was "received from elderly donors who were pursued with misleading appeals."

    Tags: ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    More appearance of impropriety in Bush-Blair relations

    British PM Tony Blair's son Euan will be starting a 3-month (unpaid) internship on the Rules Committee in the US House of Representatives. British diplomats had been involved in the process of securing the internship. The news has raised eyebrows across the pond only weeks after Blair's wife, Cherie, was criticized for a paid speech about her life at Downing Street concurrently with a "spur of the moment" meeting about the G8 Summit between the PM and President Bush.
    An aide to congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the leading Democrat on the committee, described it as "one of the most partisan" in Congress.

    Eric Burns told the newspaper: "It is extremely surprising that the son of a Labour prime minister would intern with the Republican majority staff on the committee."
    According to a Downing Street spokesman the 21-year old Blair, who is completing his degree in Ancient History, will be mentored by California Republican David Drier during the period and that he was hoping he could intern with the Democrats in the future.

    In a political environment where appearances seem to be everything, this move gives one very bad one of international dynasty building between leaders already under suspision of collusion and sedition.

    Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    More holier than thou, less holy

    This, as Amanda points out, is a prime example of the new "virgin"-oriented "counter-culture" make sex a tool of power, control, manipulation. When couched in the theme of Christianity, it is nothing but extremely public displays of false piety - the moral equivalent to the macho culture of bragging about how many chicks you banged. It is, despite the self-denial crowd assertion, the height of consumerism.
    "Abstinence," says Dunbar, "is countercultural," a kind of rebellion, he says, against materialism, consumerism and "the idea that anything can be bought and sold." It is a spiritual war against the world, against "sensuality," according to one virginity manual popular with men like Dunbar.
    They see themselves as ascetics, denying themselves (sort of) in the name of Jesus
    It had been one thing to go down on his girlfriend when he wasn't sure what he believed. It was another to let a girlfriend go down on him after he'd committed himself to God. But then, he says, that's how it works all too often when a man looks like he's devoted to Jesus. "It becomes more about giving than receiving" -- an implicit recognition of the sexism he knows permeates the best intentions. Even among Christians, the girls, he says, "will go down on you, but you don't have to go down on them."
    Theirs is a culture more obsessed with sex than the religious right claims the heathen Hollywood-driven American society is; one that turns it into an easily devalued commodity rather than an investment. It's all for show, there's no privacy about sexuality since it's a means to achieve a very public status. There's nothing legitimately spiritual about it since the Christian orthodoxy's denial of privacy of sexuality is a means to provide one deliciously voyeristic glimpse into the bedrooms of others to confirm their moral superiority.

    One more time with feeling: "I am Christian, hear me roar" - oh and don't forget to check out the jewelry.

    Tags:; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    LIA: Zach's readers used blog to "stir up a bunch of stuff"

    I got home not too long ago to an email that contained an advanced copy of a bit to air on the next This Way Out (Hat Tip to atypical Joe for hooking me up on this). The story is a short chronical of how EJ Friedman's interactions with and posts about Zach and how Terence Heath started the blogswarm that, apparently, got big enough (through folks like Amanda Marcotte & Pam Spaulding - the latter of whom is read by family therapist Paul Chirumbolo who filed a Child Abuse report to Tennessee authorities on Friday morning, June 10, reporting suspected willful cruelty, child endangerment, and "suicidal ideation" of a minor) that Mike Ditto reports the LIA folks blame the investigation on the internet.
    "The Internet accusations on holding kids without their permission ... and the other crazy allegations are ridiculous," said John Smid, the group's executive director.
    But Smid says it is connected.


    He said the accusation was probably filed by someone who read the blog [Zach's blog] and used it "as a foundation to stir up a bunch of stuff."
    Hopefully between the AP picking the story up and Peterson Toscano's speeches on the ex-gay movement and his performances, the general public will become aware of the damage that's done when people (especially children) are told they must reject themselves because their very nature is an abomination in the eyes of G-d.

    Speaking of Peterson Toscano,
    he'll be in Memphis tomorrow and in the Philly area on Wednesday & Thursday (followed by a drive to Blacksburg, VA I can still do in my sleep).

    Tags: ; ; ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    One pissed-off kitty

    Remy reacts to Rove.

    I didn't wash his potty mouth out with soap because I happen to agree with him.


    Sphere: Related Content

    Geese & Guttersnipes: some apologies just aren't worth it

    Remember when you were a kid and some other kid said or did something less than nice to you (which was bad enough) and then his mom or dad made matters worse by dragging the kid over to apologize to you? Remember how you pretty much knew the kid was lying on both counts when (s)he said "I'm Sorry, it won't happen again"? Amanda, Norbiz & The other Jew must remember these experiences as well, because they think asking for an apology from Karl Rove for, well, being Karl Rove is a bad idea. The more I think about it, the more I agree with them.

    The conservatives (Rep leadership, conservapundits and the "I love my neighbors so I can point my finger and stand in judgement of them (because I'm allowed to choose which scripture is accurate and holy) Christianacists" absolutely love to watch the liberals foam and demand apologies in a bad imitation of themselves. Their adoration of this exercise is based on one well known fact: What is good for the Republican Goose is not good for the Democrat Gander. Try as they might, Democrats just cannot get away with that behavior or demands for retractions/apologies for Republican partisan guttersniping no matter how incendiary and dangerous the statment was. The more the Democrats try to get away with decidedly Republican behavior, the more they resemble a Dave Grohl imitation of Britney Spears (which might bring a smile to some of our faces) or, worse yet, a Madonna attempt at acting.

    We see it time & time again: someone from the "Religious Right", Republican Leadership and/or one of those talking heads incapable of a statement emanating from anywhere but the right side of their mouth (or a southern orifice) says something that is at best inane, at worst dangerous and always incendiary followed by liberals heightening their orgasm by responding and/or demanding an apology. The only thing the right wing might enjoy as much is the the foam they whip up when a liberal makes a statement of dissent/criticism (even a credible one) especially since they can occasionally achieve a multiple by pointing out they own G-d and that liberals are a bunch of pansy-lovin' pagans who must capitulate to the rules of those bound for Heaven despite the pre-determined destination of all liberals to Hell.

    The media, of course, plays into the cat-fights because they helped create this environment when they dumbed down what used to be considered NEWS coverage and journalism into ratings-grabbing middle-brow Infotainment (middle-brow because the male anchors still do the shirt and tie thing and the women don't show bare midrifs or belly rings). These all too frequent to be even marginally entertaining distractions also help main stream media types avoid focusing on headier issues like those raised by DSM and supplementary documents; why are troops are further endangered by [still] being ill-equipped; the fact that the US has finally admitted to torturing prisoners at US detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Gitmo; and some important domestic issues as well. I always thought the folks doing the fluff pieces were jealous of the news guys, I guess I was wrong, maybe they really just want to write for the next Aaron Spelling jiggle-a-thon. . .

    In any regard, insincere apologies/retractions are a waste of time and effort. Anyone who faces the "gaper delay" while trying to get somewhere knows its sole utility is to prevent a driver from getting to his/her destination and this country desparately needs to start focusing on the road instead of inhaling the exhaust. In order to do so, I suggest that in the face of the next stupid yet incendiary Repug statement (and mark my words, there will be another one), Democratic leadership respond with a curt comment along the lines of the following:

    "The statement was inappropriate, inaccurate and something we'd expect from an adolescencent trying control his junior high classmates. At this point, we're tired of these sophomoric shenanigans and think it best if government officials focused on running the country and the media focused on legitimate news. Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

    Edit 25Jun04 11:14 - Count Ron Jr. among those who agree with the lack of utility of political apologies and credit him for the sheer beauty of stating the obvious.
    "This Administration’s dishonesty is matched only but its incompetence. Memo to the Democrats: Pointing that out doesn’t require an apology."

    Tags: ; ; ;; ; ; ; ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    I wonder if he'd mess with a Scientologist

    A Greer, SC couple claims a volunteer police officer pulled them over because their car sports bumper stickers that revealed they weren't exactly Christian. The officer issued a citation for driving with a suspended license, not having proper license plates or proof of insurance, and then asked them about their bumper stickers. A few days later, the couple received a card in the mail from the officer that read
    "God is calling you to listen to words from the Baptists. This is clear! If you deny this, then you are pushing away the hand of God and that would not be wise."
    Needless to say the officer is on leave until an investigation is complete. I wonder. . . WWTCD*

    *what would Tom Cruise Do

    Tags: ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content

    Oh what a tangled war-web we weave

    I think, like many people, I was so fixated on the Chimperator's obvious bait & switch routine innacurately blaming Iraq for 9/11 that I missed the implication that he may have actively decided to try to kill two birds with a lot of dead American soldiers. The point that the Bush Administration may have be hoping to make Iraq a Mecca for terrorists to further justify his actions and establish himself as a great leader was not lost on David Marks and the readers of JABBS.
    BUSH: We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. ... The terrorists know they cannot defeat our troops, so they seek to weaken our nation's resolve. They know there is no room for them in a free and democratic Middle East, so the terrorists and insurgents are trying to get us to retreat.
    Marks goes on to explain
    It's a classic Bush text from the Karl Rove/Frank Luntz school of imagemaking. Bush doesn't want to spell out that we were attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists, nearly all of whom were Saudi, headed by Osama bin Laden, who is still at large, and apparently financed in part by Iran.

    Bushspeak allows for bait-and-switch. Al Qaeda becomes morphed into the Iraqi insurgency. Why are we at war with Iraq? Because "the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror." It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it's red meat for Bush's conservative following. Why should we support the Bush plan in Iraq? Not because Bush has a sound exit strategy, but because the terrorists "seek to weaken our nation's resolve."
    The latter point is the crux of the conservative argument that anyone who disagrees with the Administration, especially if that person voices their dissent, is undermining the war effort and endangering not only the troops but our entire nation.

    Tags: ; ; ;; ; ; ; ; ;

    Sphere: Related Content