Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pastor dead, theocratic fantasies still alive and kicking

Just in case you hadn't heard, Rev. George M. Docherty, the pastor whose sermon lead to the blasphemous addition of the words "under G-d" to the Pledge of Allegiance, died on Thanksgiving at the age of 97. Unfortunately, the religious zealotry reborn from McCarthyism still refuses to go into that good night . . .


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Being Bobby Jindal

Despite the resounding defeat of the Christian Nationalist platform in the last Presidential election, the GOP continues to focus on the fundamentalist smell test as they rebuild the party. Media darling Sarah Palin, while still a fundie fav, must be making the party nervous as she seems more focused on learning more from the Madonna school of marketing than getting back to business governing her state and learning some basic civics. As such, the Republicans are looking towards the youth vote in an effort to find an Obama-Theocrat hybrid who goes by the name of Bobby Jindal. Jindal, currently Governor of Louisiana, is almost ideal as he's young (37), he's brown while still being caucasion and, as an adult convert to Catholicism, he has a proven track record showing his dedication to all things socially conservative but, as Steven Reynolds at All Spin Zone notes, the election of Obama doesn't necessarily mean the US is really in a post-racial state of mind:
This isn’t about colorblindness. Color in our society has some pretty shameful connotations, certainly, but we can also celebrate color. I need not reflect on chains and on fire hoses when I think of black, but can also think of Odunde, of beauty. It isn’t our job to ignore racial difference, but to value it. “Post-racial,” then, is a bit of a bunch of crap if one thinks of it as “beyond” racial distinction. And that appears to me to be how Bobby Jindall has packaged himself, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Jindal is no longer Piyush, for instance, but Bobby. He is no longer a worshiper of those strange Hindu Gods, but is a very conservative Catholic in the Rick Santorum mold. He talks in a folksy bayou lilt, and never seems to refer to his racial background or ethnicity. I’m thinking that’s not what won people over for Obama, and it isn’t any kind of reflection of what we’ve got going on in this country today as far as race relations are concerned. there were many, many people on the right for whom race played a vital role in their not voting for Barack Obama. At least some of those Republicans are going to see through the Jindal disquise and see him as Piyush, the dark-skinned man who has a very white wife.

I can't agree with Reynolds more. The past election cycle found that many in the GOP base has a problem with "funny names" and not being the right kind of "Christian". Jindal does get past the first hurdle by using the nickname Bobby but there are still many fundamentalists who follow Al Mohler's lead in claiming that Catholics aren't Christian. As we saw with Mitt Romney's run and McCain's need to bring Palin on to rally the base, these so-called values voters don't want anyone to usurp the "real" Christian's authority even when that "other" guy has committed to leading the country in a manner consistent with fundamentalist Christian principles.

If Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin or another white fundamentalist-friendly politician runs in 2012, Jindal's devotion to his beloved Catholic church which the fundamentalist base views as idolatrous blasphemy may hurt him by serving as a reminder of his "otherness" (I fully expect them to harp that he has simply converted from one polytheistic religion to another). While conservative commentators Jonah Goldberg and Kathleen Parker disagree about characterizations of the Christian Nationalists, even they agree that the unholy conflation of religion and politics has not only hurt the GOP severely in elections, it has caused a schism within the party. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the GOP consider moving away from
candidates who will ensure [religious] divisiveness, after all the election of Barack Obama pretty much made it clear that the majority in the US, including many people of faith, have grown quite tired of the Republican holy war and prefer to avoid the unhealthy comingling of religion and politics.

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A true sign of the Apocalypse: being good for goodness' sake

I'm sitting here this dank day, drinking my yummy home-brewed WAWA coffee and pondering why a bunch of bus signs in DC have people in such a tizzy. Is it that striking a Christmas theme and quoting Santa Claus is Coming to Town makes it part of the Faux News War on Christmas or is it that the reminder that people can (and should) be good because it is inherently the right thing to do as opposed to because G-d (or Santa, for that matter) says so strikes a note of fear in every fundamentalist/orthodox religious wingnut needs to force you to accept? My guess is that it's the latter since Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association informs us that there is absolutely no way to determine what is right or wrong unless G-d, in the form of any bible endorsed by the AFA and like-minded authorities, specifically tells us what is and is not right and wrong.
"It's a stupid ad," he said. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world." FoxNews
Ergo anyone who rejects G-d is by default immoral regardless of the goodness of their thoughts and deeds. The only thing worse than rejecting G-d is rejecting Christmas. The religious warriors from the AFA, Daddy Dobson's Focus on the Family and that bastion of legal self-righteousness, the Liberty Counsel are on the patrol to make sure that Christ is the focus during Christmas. To this effect, you are either a friend who supports Christmas as a holiday focused on shopping and presents or a foe who believes that Christmas is a religous holiday that shouldn't be sullied directly by the crass consumerism that marks holiday sales. Any retailer who falls into the latter category best beware, the AFA and the Catholic League (otherwise known as Bill Donahue) will mark their materialism by shopping elsewhere.
"It's the ultimate grinch to say there is no God at a time when millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Christ," said Mathew Staver, the group's chairman and dean of the Liberty University School of Law. "Certainly, they have the right to believe what they want but this is insulting." FoxNews
I think it's amazing that people get their knickers in a twist because an atheist group put up a billboard questioning G-d's existence. We don't have the same reaction to the plethora of signs, etc. declaring a need to believe in & follow not only G-d, but also in Jesus, which just shows that any protests are nothing more than the rantings of those who are actually so insecure in their faith that they can't bear the fact that anyone has the audacity to disagree with them (in public, no less). The moral of our story is that while "good Christians" will tolerate the fact you have wrong-headed beliefs about G-d and religion, you better keep your effin' mouth shut about it in public; this country will let you live here and practice your heathenism in private but you will be required to support any and all facets of real "Christianity" (this, BTW, does not include Mormonism or Catholicism - except when those churches are needed to join in a political crusade) and adhere to church doctrine so you can be forced to act morally even though your rejection of Jesus will send you directly to Hell.


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday indeed

They're cleaning up the carnage in Mumbai, a city that seems to get attacked with the frequency of an Israeli border town. For those of you wishing to send condolences, will be forwarding those sent to; you can also contribute to relief efforts in Mumbai through

Meanwhile, protests in Bangkok have grown exponentially since the occupation of the Thai PM's residence began in August. Protesters have thwarted police at every turn and taken over 2 airports and now, in what may or may not be yet another coup, taken over Parliament
They surrounded the Parliament building and cut off its electricity, marched on the police headquarters and massed in front of the besieged government’s temporary offices at the city’s secondary airport. By the end of the day, they were reveling in their success. Officials canceled an important session of Parliament and fled from the airport complex, where the prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, and his cabinet have been meeting in recent months to shield themselves from the protests. NYT
Over to Africa, the death-toll in the second day of rioting in Nigeria keeps rising from sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims.

The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region's two main political parties following the first local election in Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausas and members of Christian ethnic groups doing battle.

Angry mobs gathered Thursday in Jos after electoral workers failed to publicly post results in ballot collection centers, prompting many onlookers to assume the vote was the latest in a long line of fraudulent Nigerian elections.

Riots flared Friday morning and at least 15 people were killed. Local ethnic and religious leaders made radio appeals for calm on Saturday, and streets were mostly empty by early afternoon. Troops were given orders to shoot rioters on sight. CNN

The fighting in Nigeria comes from battles over souls and economic growth as Muslims and Christians fight to be the religion that controls fertile land, oil reserves and people, primarily in the Middle Belt.

While Mumbai is the mess getting the most press, we are getting some information about what's going on in Thailand and Nigeria, what is not getting covered here in the US is another religious mess in Egypt where a thousand Coptic Christians are holed up in a Cairo church after 20,000 Muslims attacked them with stones and butane cylinders. (h/t)

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If G-d supported equal rights, the 14th amendment would be in the bible

Rasmussen Reports have published results of a poll regarding Americans' beliefs of whether this country as noted in the Pledge of Allegiance actually lives up to the promise of "liberty & Justice for All". According to the
A new poll from Rasmussen Reports indicates that although Americans strongly support the saying of the Pledge of Allegience, less than half of them believe that "the United States is truly the land of liberty and justice for all."

Among those polled, just 46% said they would agree with that statement, while 42% disagreed. Even among white voters, less than half, just 49%, agreed that there is justice for all in America. RawStory
While the poll breaks down the responses by race and political affiliation, the poll did not ask a critical question that would provide some very interesting insight into the real beliefs of "patriotic" Americans. I'm sure I can't be the only one who wonders how many of the people who support reciting the pledge also indicated they don't believe the US is "truly the land of liberty and justice for all." Based on the current political climate in this country, I'm pretty sure many in this category find nothing wrong with the inconsistency.

The Christian Nationalists (otherwise known as the GOP's base) are huge proponents of the pledge and have made it abundantly clear that they do not want and will not tolerate those who do not live in accordance with their religious doctrine being treated as equals to them. Those people refuse to acknowledge any contradiction in reciting the Pledge, preferably in it's current [modified] form, while supporting legislation that goes out of its way to disregard the equal protection clause despite the fact it was written to prevent states from ignoring the Bill of Rights.


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The reason terrorists don't waste their time with Kentucky

The good people of Kentucky elect idiots who feel no need to abide by things most cognitively enabled American's hold sacred and are, obviously, incapable of understanding that which gives them their freedoms
Among the requirements of the 2006 anti-terror law is that a plaque be placed in the department's Emergency Operations Center. Part of the statement on the plaque reads: "The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God."
Of course these are the people who voted George Bush to be President most likely because, even as Governor of Texas, he made it abundantly clear that he had no intentions of respecting the US Constitution or the rights of anyone who does.


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Even more English colonialism hitting the fan (again)

For those of you hiding under a rock, Mumbai is a mess with dead and wounded from attacks on two swanky hotels and a Chabad center. The initial root of this mess, just like the root of "The Troubles" & the Israel-Palestine conflict, is English imperialism and the colonialism that went with it. The split that make one hunk of land into two or more "easier to manage" countries is the hallmark of the continuing conflicts between Israel and her Arab neighbors (for those of you who think Israel alone is the problem, please finally learn some history: the Palestinians did have their own land which was promptly annexed other Arab Nations courtesy of the Arab Leaugue) as well as that tinder box in South Asia (aka, Pakistan and India).

Just as the conflict in the Middle East is between different religious groups (Muslims & Jews), the conflict between India and Pakistan is between religious groups as well (Muslims & Hindus). Those religious tensions are kept simmering and are easily brought to a full boil by anyone who wants to expolit them for power and/or financial gain. Time has a nice description of the start of the conflict:
On the afternoon of March 29, 1857, Mangal Pandey, a handsome, mustachioed soldier in the East India Company's native regiment, attacked his British lieutenant. His hanging a week later sparked a subcontinental revolt known to Indians as the first war of independence and to the British as the Sepoy Mutiny. Retribution was swift, and though Pandey was a Hindu, it was the subcontinent's Muslims, whose Mughal King nominally held power in Delhi, who bore the brunt of British rage. The remnants of the Mughal Empire were dismantled, and five hundred years of Muslim supremacy on the subcontinent was brought to a halt.

Muslim society in India collapsed. The British imposed English as the official language. The impact was cataclysmic. Muslims went from near 100% literacy to 20% within a half-century. The country's educated Muslim élite was effectively blocked from administrative jobs in the government. Between 1858 and 1878, only 57 out of 3,100 graduates of Calcutta University — then the center of South Asian education — were Muslim. While discrimination by both Hindus and the British played a role, it was as if the whole of Muslim society had retreated to lick its collective wounds.

Sixty-one years ago, the country now known as Pakistan was birthed from part of India. The country is a haven to Muslims but has never quite managed to become the enlightened Islamic democracy her forefather's envisioned. Pakistan's provinces are diverse and with a common denominator of the religion of Islam. As we all know, not all denominations and streams of thought of a religion have the same goal and, in that, Islam is no different than the other two Abrahamic religions (Judaism & Christianity) - especially when it comes to religious fundamentalists. When it comes to Muslim [radical] fundamentalism, the religion is not Islam but Jihadism and those forms of Islamofascism have spilled all over the Middle East into Pakistan maintaining an easily exploitable instability that is playing out in India today.

Over the past few years, India has seen many in her lower castes converting to other religions, some to Buddhism, some to Christianity, and most to Islam. Those who have converted to Islam bring with them the memory of discrimination at the hands of higher caste Hindus that fits in well with Muslim resentment of the continued discrimination. India has millions of Muslims but they are still a minority in an over-populated country that, despite considerable economic and technological growth, still bears a resemblance to a third world country (regardless of their objections at being referred to as such). This bodes well for the Jihadists who can and do use continued Indo-Pak tensions to their advantage.

So here we are 151 years later and Mumbai is burning. The attacks took place at India's financial center - at hotels known to be used by Westerners as the terrorists were specifically gunning for Americans & Brits. Since they were already at it, the figured they'd follow the Islamofascist tradition of nailing a bunch of Jews too - that way they can tie the attacks to the Israel-Palistinian conflict and get at least some European sympathy since European's en masse pretty much blame Israel for much of what ails the world (and in saying this, I am not saying that Israel hasn't made some huge blunders but that I can't help but notice she is held to a much higher standard than any other country in the world and that a lot of "blame Israel" still smacks of institutionalized anti-semitism that seems to be a core belief of conservatives and liberals alike). This, folks, is religious fundamentalism at it's worst.

While the group that has laid claim to the attacks is relatively new and unknown, it's unlikely they are not affiliated with a better known organization and it's very likely they received training and other assistance through Jihadist madrassahs and known terrorist organizations in the region. It looks like the Obama administration's will have no choice to follow up on the campaign trail's tough talk about Pakistan with action sooner rather than later.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkeys & boycotts

Not to defame turkeys any more than they've been hurt by being associated with tools of the useless variety but this morning I was reminiscing about the poorly executed media boycott of Paris Hilton and started wondering how MTV manage to foist even more annoying bags of a water and vinegar mix on the world.

Please G-d, make it stop and give the media the good sense not to further publicize the ne're-do-wells that live solely for that coverage. If there are two things I've learned in my life it's that you don't feed gremlins after midnight and you don't feed publicity whores at all.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day Without Gays

I don't know if you're familiar with the movie "A Day Without A Mexican" but the basic premise that that you don't really understand what you have until it's gone and when that something you lose is a whole class of people it can create havoc. In this vein, some great guy named David Craig decided to put together his own real life version of this scenario and put together "A Day Without Gays" The event is set up as a cause on Facebook:
We are calling for a nationwide strike and economic boycott by all members of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community AND OUR STRAIGHT ALLIES on December 10th, 2008, International Human Rights Day.


Because LGBT workers, business owners, consumers and taxpayers contribute over $700 billion to the U.S. economy each year and should not be treated as second class citizens. See

Because general strikes and economic boycotts are a powerful weapon in the history of non-violent protests. See For many of those protesters, their actions came at a cost, but they understood that we must be willing to make sacrifices to fight for equal rights, including the right to marry.

Because Civil Unions are only legal in the state that offers them. Civil Unions don't include the 1100 marriage rights and benefits provided by the Federal Government. Separate but not equal is discrimination.

Because every couple in America has to get a marriage certificate from their state, whereas religious ceremonies are optional. No church or religious institution has or ever will be forced to marry anyone.

Because marriage should be a Right for all Americans, regardless of gender, race OR religion.

Because until ALL are equal, NONE are equal.


Strike: call in gay, shut down your business, take the day off.

Boycott: don't buy anything or spend money.

Participate: visit for a list of volunteer and/or protest opportunities.

Communicate: we need everyone's support!

Our co-sponsors include:
GAYS ON STRIKE (on Facebook)

WHY THE NAME "A DAY WITHOUT GAYS"? The name was inspired by the film A DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN and the nationwide strike in 2006 called A DAY WITHOUT IMMIGRANTS, protesting proposed immigration laws.

Anyone interested it the facts regarding Proposition 8 should go to:

Those who oppose SSM for their own personal or religious reasons (which should, in truth, hold no more sway in civil law than my desire to outlaw cheesecake because it skeeves me), need to understand that this is a human rights issue and it is unethical, immoral and, dare I say it, downright unChristian (and anti-Jew to boot) to cloak bigotry under the guise of pretending to protect a social institution.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The 800 lb gorilla in the pulpit

This, Jonah Goldberg, is why Kathleen Parker is absolutely correct in referring to the American Taliban as the "oogedy-boogedy branch" of the GOP.
For the record, I have no problem with arguments about how the GOP has become too religious. I ended my book with pretty much that argument. I opposed Mike Huckabee vociferously because he seemed the quintessential rightwing progressive imbued with a rightwing social gospel. These are all good arguments to make and they have good responses to them. But please drop the nonsense about how the G-O-D people or the Palin people are low brows and beasts. There are low brows and beasts everywhere, on every side of the ideological spectrum. Jonah Goldberg
The Palinistas (aka the people who refuse to accept that the G-d of all 3 Abrahamic religions is the same one) are rather proud of their rejection of anything "intellectual" and show their low browness by attacking those who, unlike Gov. Palin herself, take the time to research and understand issues (and then have the audacity to disagree with the Chritian Orthodoxy) as "elitist". As for being beastly, the fact that hate crimes have increased and children are now discouraged to not only disrespect the President, but also disprespect the Presidency since Obama's win shows an exta degree of borishness from your average partisanship.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apocalypse Now (financial edition)

This week's must read on all things financial apocalypse is Michael Lewis' "The End" on Even those of us who are exceedingly jaded had to scratch our heads at Lewis' description of how accurate the average person's opinion of Wall Street guys as a bunch of swindling liars is and how much worse the reality was considering, it seems, they weren't just money-grubbing a-holes, they were actually idiots as well. I've included a smattering to wet your whistle but you should really read the whole thing yourself.

What we always knew:
Harboring suspicions about ­people’s morals and telling investors that companies don’t deserve their capital wasn’t, in the 1990s or at any other time, the fast track to success on Wall Street.
What we suspected, but didn't think was quite as common as it turned out to be:
Lots of firms were lending money to people who shouldn’t have been borrowing it.


But the scarcity of truly crappy subprime-mortgage bonds no longer mattered. The big Wall Street firms had just made it possible to short even the tiniest and most obscure subprime-mortgage-backed bond by creating, in effect, a market of side bets. Instead of shorting the actual BBB bond, you could now enter into an agreement for a credit-default swap with Deutsche Bank or Goldman Sachs. It cost money to make this side bet, but nothing like what it cost to short the stocks, and the upside was far greater.

What left portfolio manager Steve Eisman scratching his head:
But he couldn’t figure out exactly how the rating agencies justified turning BBB loans into AAA-rated bonds. “I didn’t understand how they were turning all this garbage into gold,” he says. He brought some of the bond people from Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and UBS over for a visit. “We always asked the same question,” says Eisman. “Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.” He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S&P couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. “They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,” Eisman says.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

PepsiCo's all that AND a bag of [frito-lay] chips

Another day, another frantic message from Don Wildmon. This time he's all aghast that PepsiCo, proud purveyor of Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Quacker Oats, Tropicana & Gatorade products, has donated $500,000 to Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

November 14, 2008

Dear Friend,

Pepsi has given Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) a half-million dollars to help push the homosexual agenda in the workplace. PFLAG is a political advocacy group that promotes radical homosexual political causes like same-sex marriage, hate-crime laws, and gay adoption.

Pepsi has a long tradition of financial support for homosexual groups. According to Jacqueline Millan, director of PepsiCo Corporate Contributions, "We are delighted to continue our partnership with PFLAG...(in) promoting the necessary message of inclusion to untapped groups...and that is a crucial step toward building a healthy working environment."

Despite the fact that 30 states have passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Pepsi continues to support the efforts by same-sex groups pushing for homosexual marriage.

AFA wrote Pepsi on October 14 and again on October 29 asking the company to remain neutral in the culture war. Pepsi didn't care enough to respond to the AFA letters. Pepsi's lack of response indicates the company plans to continue support for the homosexual agenda.
Good Christians (and Catholics who "real Christians" think are about as Christian as Mormons) are to boycott Pepsi products because the donation will be used to support the Straight for Equality program aka "The Gay Agenda". As we all know, supporting anything that the Christian Nationalist Coalition and their minions think is wrong will send you straight to Hell. .. where I will meet you with a huge bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red and a bag of Cheetos.

Please join me in thanking PepsiCo for their efforts on behalf of civil rights and common courtesy for all.

Ms. Indra K. Nooyi, Chairman
Pepsico, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Rd.
Purchase, NY 10577-1444
Phone: 1-800-433-2652
or: (914) 253-2000

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's good for the religious goose is good for another religion's gander

SCOTUS, which has ruled that Ten Commandments displays on government ground do promote a religious message, will be hearing Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, to determine if the presence of the aforementioned commandments on the Utah city's public space means that members of other religions have the right to display their codes on the same ground. "Christians" are not pleased with the prospects of displays from other religions sullying up their commandments and are fighting the possibility of sharing space based on some half-assed argument that allowing other religions equal time under the first amendment would require the country to allow every crackpot to put up a display that expresses the opposite view of any legitimate display:
Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver told OneNewsNow that Summum was a "cult that has some kind of Egyptian religion associated with it." Staver contended that al-Qaeda would be allowed to erect a companion monument to the donated 9/11 memorial, or a "statue of tyranny" to stand alongside the Statue of Liberty. "It would require, for example, if someone donates to the Vietnam Memorial, which in fact has been made by private funds, that someone else could come and donate something that is contrary to the theme of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC." RawStory
The Seven aphorisms, according to Summum are:
and are meant as a companion to the Ten Commandments. In fact, according to the religion:
Moses in the Old Testament was given both a "lower" and "higher" knowledge from a divine being. The lower knowledge was embodied in the more widely known Ten Commandments, while the higher was expressed in what Summum refers to as the "Seven Aphorisms." According to Summum, when Moses first descended from Mount Sinai, he had with him the higher law inscribed on stone tablets. However, the undeveloped condition of the Israelites prevented them from understanding. Moses returned to Mount Sinai and returned with another set of tablets containing the lower law that was much easier for the people to comprehend. Wikipedia
G-d forgive me, but I know I am not the only one who read about this and immediately remembered there were originally 15 commandments

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When Sarah Palin met Monty Python

Thanks to Sarah Palin (and Tina Fey quoting her almost verbatim in a funny SNL skit) this Clarke & Dawe skit is almost believable.


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Sunday, November 09, 2008

If my eyes don't deceive me there's something going wrong

It seems it's not just insecure women who endure chronically bruised self-esteem when faced by the endless barrage of images of hot, perfect, sexy models, the average schlub does too. Of course, the self-loathing comes about for different reasons, women beat themselves up for not being able to live up to the ideal to attract any man; the schlubs get upset because the feel they'll have to settle for a normal woman

The researchers say that by looking at idealized, sexualized women, guys feel less-than because they start thinking they need to measure up on the attractiveness scale to snag such a mate.

"Men make the inference that in order to be sexual and romantic with women of the similar caliber they see in Maxim magazine, they also need to be attractive," said lead researcher Jennifer Aubrey of the Department of Communications at the University of Missouri, Columbia. [LiveScience]

In a similar study, the male ego was not deflated when exposed to perfect nubile hotties posed with average looking boyfriend models. Hmmm, in the movies, the schlub ends up with the hot girl and the "average" girl? Well she either transforms like a butterfly or pretty much remains the best friend. There is no converse to the Joe Jackson song.


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Wasting precious healthcare resources to increase the duration of an act of death

Fundamentalist Christians and Über devout Catholics aren't the only ones who challenge death by prolonging the act of dying, Hasidic Jews do the same and, sometimes, they do so for even less logical reasons than the so-called "pro-lifers" do. The latter often have an unrealistic expectation of divine intervention to bring their loved one back to life or a belief that that G-d wants their loved one to live otherwise he'd let them die of naturally. The latter, illogical, belief is similar to a current case in which the family of a 12-year old, brain-dead, cancer patient is fighting a hospital to prevent a hospital from withdrawing the invasive means of life support that keeps the boy "alive".

Though Motl Brody was declared dead earlier this week, his family is fighting discontinuation of mechanical ventilation and other medical treatment because, according to the strictest interpretation of Jewish law, death does not occur until the heart stops beating and the lungs stop breathing. It is clear the boy is clinically dead with no signs of even the most rudimentary of reflexes in response to noxious stimuli, no electrical activity in his brain and brain necrosis has started. Brody's family understands the boy will never come back to them and that his heart and lungs will cease to function but feel it is their religious obligation to use medical intervention to continue activity of these organs. According to a filing by the family's attorney, Motl
"is alive, and his family has a religious obligation to secure all necessary and appropriate medical treatment to keep him alive," MSNBC
Here's where, without being a Talmudic scholar, I can point out the Hasidic family's attempt to follow halacha is misguided at best. In this I am not questioning their understanding of halacha, I'm pointing out that they very clearly do not understand the medical intervention that continues on their dying son and how it pertains to halacha. In a nutshell, Motl's lungs have already failed and he is not breathing on his own; if there is any brainstem function to produce even minimal respiratory functioning (and that's a big if), the family should allow that brainstem function to support whatever degree of spontaneous respiration it can as well as whatever cardiac function is ongoing. As the brainstem function continues to deteriorate and/or the heart and lung cease to function without artificial means to perform the actions the organs themselves are supposed to do, the boy will die of natural causes. In refusing to withdraw the support of mechanical ventilation, the family is not helping the lungs to function, the family is using the ventilator to force air in and out of the lungs. Based on their current argument the family could, theoretically, mandate mechanical ventilation to continue even after the heart stops beating as well - the machine will continue to cause the lungs to rise and fall with inspiration and expiration until there is sufficient barotrauma that the lungs just don't move. One could use the same argument to demand hospital staff perform a sternotomy to perform manual cardiac compressions when the heart muscle is no longer able to beat on its own.

The ultra-Orthodox movements do not believe in withdrawal of life support for any reason (even a DNR is, technically, verboten). As such, if they are not willing to cease artificial life support when it is functioning to replace the organs instead of supporting the organs funtioning, they should not be permitted to use it (if man can not hasten death by any means as it is imposing his will on G-d's, I don't understand why that man would impose his will on G-d's by using artificial means to prolong life?). In this case, there is an extreme response that isn't just mandating wasteful and invasive measures to attempt to prolong life, it's mandating use of these measures to prolong the appearance of life. The idea is ridiculous as it is based on the belief that one must intervene to artificially perform the functions of the heart and/or lungs keep to mimic life because those organs are not functioning on their own. Not only is this activity inconsistent with life, it is not action consistent with halacha. It takes a willful and fearful misunderstanding of religious doctrine to mandate the battery of a patient under the auspices of keeping him alive. The family and their attorneys aren't preventing Motl's death, they're not even prolonging the time until the organs cease to function on their own - they allowing a machine create an illusion of life and calling it medical intervention to avoid letting the boy's heart come to a natural rest of its own volition.

UPDATE: As expected, Motl Brody died prior to the hearing on his case.

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More Bullying From the Roman Catholic Church

When most people hear the word Catholic, they think of the monolithic Roman Catholic church and that's how the Holy See likes it. Unfortunately for the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant movement wasn't the only stream of Christianity to break away from what they saw as malpractice within the Roman Catholic Church - a few groups that remain, steadfastly, Catholic also broke away while maintaining the continuity of Apostolic Succession and adhering to the Nicene Creed. Among those Catholic denominations are the Eastern Orthodox and the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch. Like many religions, orthodox/fundamentalist in particular, the hierarchy of the big churches are filled with bullies and the Catholic Church has proven themselves to be among the biggest bullies over the ages. Far from following Jesus' example of turning the other cheek and taking responsibilities for their actions, they feel more comfortable dominating and hiding any dissent they can't easily quash (this is not to say that Catholics, in general, are insensitive, hypocritcal bullies - just that the church itself, like many major corporations, tends to act in its own self interest and doesn't always play well with others)

Case in point: Ten priests from East Falls, Manayunk & Roxborough PA took unction to a listing of an 8-month old church's listing as a Catholic church in a local paper's church directory that they sent a letter, cc'd to the Phila Archdiocese, the regional bishop and the paper itself requesting the priest of the offending church to list his house of worship under a more suitable heading

"Dear Reverend St. George," the brief note begins. "We, the Roman Catholic priests of the East Falls, Manayunk and Roxborough areas, respectfully request that your listing in The Review be placed under an appropriate heading. Some people might be mislead [sic] into thinking that St. Miriam is a Roman Catholic institution. You and we certainly don't wish to misrepresent ourselves to the public." Philadelphia Daily News

Needless to say, Rev. Jim St. George, the priest at the not Catholic enough for Roman Catholic Churches, was patently offended. Rev St George's church is an Antioch Catholic church and the Roman Catholic hierarchy really hates the fact that Antioch churches don't abide by their papal doctrine and could easily take Catholic market share away if more liberal parishioners knew there was a way to remain Catholic and do so in good conscience. You see, the Antioch stream of Catholicism ordains priests regardless of gender or sexual orientation and doesn't prevent clergy from marriage, let alone mandate celibacy. As for parishioners, Antioch churches allow them to make personal choices about contraception and aren't hypocrites about divorce.

The 10 priests went public with their request to Rev St. George so he responded in kind with a response, taking out a full page ad not in the local paper that published the directory (they declined the ad as too controversial) but in another local paper.
"You see," Rev. Jim wrote in the Oct. 9 ad, "Saint Miriam accepts all those whom you reject: the gay and lesbian, those of differing opinions or denominations, those in mixed-religious marriages, those who are divorced or did not receive or seek annulment, those who are otherwise and somehow 'just not right' - everyone."
The response, in general, to the ad was quick. . .and positive, except that of the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Joseph McGeown, the only one of the 10 priests with the testicular fortitude to sign the initial missive, is aghast at the idea that Rev St. George would air the dispute in public - I don't wonder why.


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Friday, November 07, 2008

A cranky response to the reaction to the anti-prop 8 protests

The other day, there were multiple protests in California in response to passage of Proposition 8. Prop 8, unlike similar and equally bigoted referendums in Florida and Arizona, didn't just ban SSM - it actually amended California's constitution to overtly strip gay people of the right to marry their partner. In short, it was a referendum with an extra dose of theocratic assholiness. CNN iReporters have posted video of some of the protests, including the one in front of LA's Mormon Church

For those of you who don't know, the Mormon Church was instrumental in raising funds to spread misinformation and get out the vote to ensure the passage of Prop h8, actions that some Mormons found as morally reprehensible as the other fundamentalists supporting the initiative find Mormonism.

The truth is, the purpose of Prop 8 serves not to protect, support or otherwise assist the institution of marriage or American families, it serves a much different purpose and that is to ensure some sort of "Christian" fundamentalist religious control over the rights of adherents and non-adherents alike. Anyone who doubts that need only look towards the other major funder of Prop h8, the unfortunately named "" and why that organization was considered so spiteful and bigoted (and, overtly Christian Nationalist) that non-practicing gay man David Benkof felt compelled to publicly discontinue his activities supporting Prop 8.

The comments to the iReport above, like comments on the referendum itself, pretty much run the gamut. Many support the notion that, because the bible (and/or G-d and/or Jesus) only seem to support marriage between men and women (there's lots of polygamy and even some incest int he bible) we should limit the right of marriage and the rights that come with marriage in a similar fashion. This is additional evidence that there is some unhealthy and unconstitutional comingling of civil rights accorded to US citizens and religion. As such, to avoid any unconstitutional conflation of religious rule and civil law, neither state nor federal governments should be involved in the licensing or any type of recognition of any marriage. The result of the passage of proposition 8 (as well as the propositions in AZ & FL) should be for individual states and the US to amend their constitutions to indicate that, since this country considers marriage to be a sacred religious institution, marriages will no longer be licensed, validated or otherwise recognized by state or federal governments (these institutions will also be required to discontinue any & all sort of benefits to employees, citizens and/or residents based on marital status).

Some argue that gays can still enter into legal partnership contracts that would afford them the rights of a marriage without "hijacking" the term marriage:
No state in the Union would deny a contract between parties which includes cohabitation, sharing of finances and guarantees of exclusive personal intimacy. A standardized contract might be called something like a "Personal Union" contract.
What they are blatantly ignoring is the fact the the federal government, individual states and employers grant certain rights (e.g., health benefits & tax breaks) to those who have a valid state marriage license that can not be delegated via a domestic partnership agreement between individuals. This is inherently unjust and an example of why precluding gay couples from marrying is in direct defiance of the equal protection clause of the US constitution.

Those who support the argument that gays made a lifestyle choice and would be able to obtain the right of marriage [to someone of the opposite sex, of course] if they would work to change their lifestyle choice need to check their own particular lifestyle choices. As I noted at Pam's yesterday, religious and ideological beliefs, unlike race, are not biologically hardwired and must also be considered lifestyle choices:
. . . while race/ethnicity can not be changed there are many other things related to "lifestyle choices" that, based on their arguments against teh gay. Let's point out that, if we can discriminate against gays and require them to live a heterosexual lifestyle in order to obtain full rights in this country, we should be able to do the same to others who make lifestyle choices that are different than the "average" American. Religion is a choice and, since the majority of Americans are so form of "Christian", we should not allow marriages by two parties, neither of which is "Christian". Like gays who would have to marry someone unlike themselves to be able to enjoy the right of marriage; Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists, etc. who wish to get married should have to marry a Christian. Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Atheists, etc. should not be allowed to adopt children as a couple or on their own because they have chosen a lifestyle that is different from most Americans.

Contrary to your initial reaction, this does not undermine their constitutional right to freedom of religion - they can still live their abnormal lifestyle practice their religion, we just should not have to legally recognize their marriages, acknowledge their existence or otherwise condone their choices by granting them special rights. I wish to G-d that someone had the balls to get that sort of Amendment to a state constitution on a ballot (especially in a place where it could actually pass or have a close vote).

Hate, bigotry and discrimination come in all forms and, as the wise among us have noted, nobody is free until we all are free. If churches and individuals don't want to accept gay marriages they are free to do so (just as my rabbi would not approve, let alone perform, a marriage between a Jew and a Gentile) but they have no right to stand in the way of the marriages or right to benefits afforded married couples when they do not condone or otherwise accept that marriage as a marriage.


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Thursday, November 06, 2008

I officially heart our new President

I've always said that I'd really like it if our politicians dropped the bull and spoke out honestly (the way they must talk among their buddies). Regardless of whether I agree with them, I'd at least feel like a got a better understanding of who they are and where they come from. Case in point, President-elect Barack Obama from Newsweek via red green and blue
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that's green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.” Newsweek
Now if only we could hear the real uncensored thoughts of politicians about DOMA. . .


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Advice to the new President how to best fulfill one particular campaign promise

Like many kids, the Obama children are just dying for a dog. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm an animal lover who currently has two monster pets of my own and understand how critical it is to make sure you've made the right choice when adding a pet to your family. President-elect Obama, or daddy as Sasha & Malia call him, made a very important announcement about one campaign promise he made:
"Sasha and Malia," Obama said in his victory speech at Chicago's Grant Park, "I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."
This is probably the only campaign promise I feel fully qualified to give Obama advice about and so I will, unhumbly, do so here. Mr President-elect, when going to find the puppy that will move into the White House with your family, please adopt a shelter/rescue animal. As minor a decision as this is in your role as POTUS, it is a decision that will set a tone and have an impact across the country, possibly leading others to consider rescuing an animal in dire need of a loving home instead of buying a pure-bred through a breeder.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Just freakin' wow.

Obama won because there was a mandate for change with an expectation that the change will be literal, not rhetorical; a change that would be one that positively affect those who truly want a better life, a better country and a better world; a change in which it is no longer acceptable to use the government and legislation as a weapon to debase others or to use their mere "otherness" to deny them rights. The hate that's been spewed over the past 8 years has increased exponentially during this election and most of the country has been sickened by it to the point that they finally stood together en masse to make sure their calls for it to end were heard. History has been made in more than one way and it's time to move on to healing our country.

While we have much to look forward to in the Obama-Biden administration, tonight also represented some terrible losses in the crusade for equality and justice for all. Right now the heinous discriminatory Propositions banning gay marriage have passed in Florida and Arizona, and could still pass in California - these remove the rights of regular upstanding Americans and codify bigotry into state constitutions to ensure that the right of equal protection under the law afforded by the US constitution is blatantly ignored. Basic human rights are not a matter for individual states to decide nor should they be; it is up to the federal government to protect American citizens and ensure they do not lose precious rights by crossing state borders. For this country to be whole, all of us should have the same rights as we all have the same responsibilities, so there is still much to be done.


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting along racial lines

So, I voted earlier today. Most of the people who work for me asked for permission to come in late or leave early so they could vote. The younger ones, knowing I get in to the office before the polls opened, started pushing me to leave and vote around 2:45. I thought it was funny - as if I wouldn't vote if I didn't leave the office by 3. I live in a dinky township really close to my office, I left at 3:30 and was home by 4:00 and, yes, I voted in between.

Only a few of my direct reports have made comments that let me know what their political viewpoints are. From that I'm absolutely sure that the one who idolizes Chuck Norris will be voting McCain, the other one that I know is a Republican is likely to vote McCain as well (though I think she'll do so pretending Palin will not have any impact on the country). I have one employee who was undecided - I asked her how the heck that could be? She admitted she comes from a mixed family (mom's a Rep, dad's a Dem) and just hadn't sat down to really compare and contrast the two candidates for herself. I think she spent some time today finally doing some research. The ones who were pushing me out the door to vote included the undecided voter and a bunch of folks I'm pretty sure voted for Obama. A couple of them said something along the lines like "go and vote right" or something like that. . . there was something else muttered between them that I didn't quite hear but I swear it was something like "she's voting Obama" and it was said with a hint of pride. That is how I voted and while much of my staff has noticed that, since starting at my job, I have gone out of my way to bring racial/ethnic diversity to the group, the two who made the comment are brand new (1 just started on Monday and the other started 2 weeks ago). Something about that exchange tickled me - I feel like the cool Aunt or something.

In all honesty, I have my concerns about Obama's ability to hunker down and do what needs to be done (that's why I voted for Clinton in the primary) but his first decision, to pick Joe Biden as his running mate, was a good one that made me feel more comfortable with the ticket. I voted for Obama-Biden because I think it is a superior ticket than the competitor. Obama's race and his (bizarrely contested) religion had no impact on my vote.

Since casting my ballot, I've been home listening/reading to the news. I'm hearing a lot of the same stuff we've been hearing for the past two years which includes a lot of Republicans snarking about black people voting for Obama only because he's black. There are probably as many people voting for him solely because he's black as there are voting against him solely because he's black. I'm sure for black people, especially those who lived through the civil rights movement, there's a major "wow" factor in being able to vote for Barack Obama with a legitimate belief that he may really become our next President. I know that, even for a white woman like myself, there was a bit of a "wow" factor to casting my ballot for Obama.

So, as I think about this, I am reminded of the Republican base and how they push for the election of "Christians" and I wonder how it is somehow bad for a black person to vote along racial lines in this election but perfectly acceptable for the Republican base to vote along religious lines?


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Sunday, November 02, 2008

If McCain doesn't win it's because of those irrational Jewish voters

The pandering continues and right-winger David Horowitz is cheering the McCain campaign's pandering to the Jewish vote and encouraging McCain to keep banging away at those scare tactics likening Obama to Hitler, Pol Pot and the boogeyman.
"It would help it if he would jump on Jesse Jackson's statement that Obama made, that the Zionist policies of the United States would cease if Obama becomes president. In other words, we're going to sell out the only democracy in the Middle East to the terrorists," he contends. "If they would put that on television in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and similar places, the suburbs of Pennsylvania, maybe we could pull this out, maybe it would knock enough sense in the heads of Jewish voters at least that they would stop their support for Obama."

Horowitz finds it irrational that so many American Jews are liberal and would support someone like Barack Obama. OneNewsNow
Rational Jews find it irrational Horowtiz would support a McCain-Palin Christian Nationalist administration. The more McCain panders and uses scare tactics, the more he sounds like those crazed fundamentalists who is incapable of clear-minded, objective, rational thought and just wants everyone to believe the sky is falling.


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Rick Davis tells Chris Wallace that McCain WILL be POTUS

via RawStory. McCain campaign manager made an appearance on Fox News and basically told Chris Wallace that come hell or high water, John McCain will be our next President whether we elect him or not
Alluding to past election fraud, Wallace asked Davis if allegations of Republicans suppressing voters could create a "blizzard of lawsuits" that would prevent a decisive tally for weeks after Tuesday.

"I think on Wednesday morning you'll wake up and John McCain will be president elect," Davis said.
So if traditional Republican voter suppression tactics, flyers/radio shows telling people in VA and CA that democrats vote November 5th, or other tactics to confuse or intimidate voters don't give the McCain camp the power they want, they're going to sue in the hopes they can repeat the biggest theft and worst voter disenfranchisement since 2000. Country first my ass.


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The Truth About California's Prop 8

'nuff said

Tags: ; ; ; ;

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Former County Commissioner lives up to County Name

via RawStory. In a country where states are increasingly asked to enforce dress codes at the polling place (ostensibly to prevent any inappropriate electioneering) a polling place in Craven County North Carolina allowed one of it's former County Commissioners to set up a coffin with a picture of Barack Obama outside one of its early voting stations. The display was set up by Bill Harper who was permitted to do so by law provided he stayed behind the line meant for politcal signs and supporters.
Harper said he displayed the coffin because it "symbolizes his belief that democrats will tax Americans to death if they are elected" and that he first displayed it in 1992 when Bill Clinton ran against George H. W. Bush.
The casket started out with a display that said "O No" & Joe the Plumber taxed to death but anti-Obama stickers were added to the coffin later in the week. Even local Republican Party Spokesman Brent Woodcox was so offended he noted that citizens should be outraged by the display which was eventually removed by the sheriff's department at the end of the week.

Of course well all know the irony of this casket alluding to JTP being taxed to death. If JTP actually and consistently paid his taxes, he would notice he'd receive a tax cut under an Obama plan and may also have access to more affordable (and untaxed) health insurance if he stays in his current occupation. For his part, Joe isn't worried about being taxed as the regular guy he plays himself out to be, he's worried about an extra 3 cents to the dollar being cut from the millions he'll make as a country star Congressman (and if he thinks taxes will hurt his bottom line, wait until he sees the cut his manager, agent and publicist will take).

Voters Must Not Dress to Impress on Election Day


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

The WIcked WItch of the Mid-West

Well actually, the only thing you have to do is switch out the W with a B and you have Shirley Nagel, who turned her Gross Pointe Farms home into a Halloween House of Horror that the kiddiwinks (and their parents) are sure to remember for years to come. There was no blood (real or fake) and the only howling that was heard was from the kids who, along with their, parents were grilled on their political views. Nagel, a McCain supporter in the cranky tradition of, well, John McCain, decided that she would only dole out treats to trick-or-treaters with the same political leanings as she has. No joke people, this lady made sure these kids knew they were put on notice as she told them:
"No handouts for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters."

What's a good McCain (and we all know good = Christian) supporter doing corrupting the minds of children by celebrating Halloween any way?


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Those damned Jews are just making this campaign harder

Yiddishkeit beware, like the Christians who will surely go to Hell if they vote for that Obamination instead of that good Christian John McCain and his running mate Saint Sarah, Jews planning to vote for Barack Obama are dancing with the devil as well. So says the McCain campaign which is pandering to get the Jewish vote so badly during the final days leading up to the election that it is falling all over itself to make an Obama-Biden Administration seem to toll the death-knell for Israel and Judaism.

McCain's surrogates, of course, have taken this ball and run with it. First we had SamJoe the unlicensed Plumber and Foreign Affairs expert blathering about it at as an official surrogate at a McCain rally and now we have Cincinnati radio show host Bill Cunningham's "Interview with a Jew"

Seriously, it must really tick the religious right off to the umpteenth degree that they need to convince unrepentant heathens to vote for the Christian Nationalist candidate. Instead they're having to stoop to pandering to lowly Jews when they really should be able to win this election by merely pointing out that Obama's not "Christian" & only goes to church for political purposes. . . and if you don't believe that, just get a load of this:
The couple, writes Newsweek, attended "fairly often—two or three times a month." That changed, becoming less frequent, with the birth of their first child. Normally, the arrival of children is the blessed event that drags young couples to church—the Bushes, the Clintons. For the Obamas, however, the hassle of getting the baby out of the house for a packed service was an obstacle. "So," explained Barack, "that would cut back our involvement."

The Obama girls have never attended Sunday school—a definite contrast with most White House children. Even wayward president's kids like Ron Reagan, a proud atheist, was taken to church every Sunday. Obama explains of his daughters' religious education: "I'm a big believer in a faith that is not imposed but taps into what's already there, their curiosity of spirit." WrongNewsNow
Fortunately, like that empty wig Liddy Dole, the McCain campaign is blowing a defective dog-whistle, one whose sound we can all hear above the din of the bleating by those drunk from the kool-aid. This is one of the many reasons why so many prominent Republicans have gone public with their support for Barack Obama and yet another reason to fear a McCain-Palin administration as a steroid enhanced BushCo with a vengeance.


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