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March 30, 2006

Atheism

Washington Syndrome: Gaining Acceptance for Atheism

Andrew Sullivan has had some interesting discussion recently of the rampant anti-atheist sentiment in America. Here he notes Eugene Volokh's new article discussing the continuing open discrimination in child custody proceedings against atheist fathers. Sullivan:

Of course, this is an outrageous attack on religious liberty. Imagine if Christian parents were denied custody because of their faith. O'Reilly would have weeks of programming. But atheists? Naah. When Christianists declare that they are fighting for religious freedom, bring this issue up. It will determine whether they are in good faith, so to speak, or not. . .

Personally, I have a great deal of hope that this is going to start to change in the near future. Indeed, this is one area where the blogosphere could actually prove quite powerful. Ten years ago, I'm not sure there was anywhere that your average Christian American was exposed to openly atheistic viewpoints. These days, I'm constantly amazed how many prominent bloggers profess their atheism on a daily basis. On the list, with the help of The Raving Atheist: Daily Kos, Washington Monthly, The Volokh Conspiracy (Jim Lindgren), Pharyngula, Daily Pundit, onegoodmove, Matthew Yglesias, Vodkapundit, and of course many others, including me.

Of course, the average American still may not tune in to these atheist blogs, but a lot of people do. A lot more than used to face proud, open, secularism a few years ago. And since most of the hostility toward atheists, in my view, is based in the fact that so few people feel they know any, this could well start to have a dramatic effect. The informal nature of blogs, revealing much of a blogger's character and personality, has the potential to be quite powerful in this regard.

(Via Pharnyngula.)

March 29, 2006

Immigration

I think Thom Hartmann has it right, what say the rest of you?

Today's Immigration Battle - Corporatists vs. Racists (and Labor is Left Behind)
by Thom Hartmann

The corporatist Republicans ("amnesty!") are fighting with the racist Republicans ("fence!"), and it provides an opportunity for progressives to step forward with a clear solution to the immigration problem facing America.

Both the corporatists and the racists are fond of the mantra, "There are some jobs Americans won't do." It's a lie.

Americans will do virtually any job if they're paid a decent wage. This isn't about immigration - it's about economics. Industry and agriculture won't collapse without illegal labor, but the middle class is being crushed by it.

The reason why thirty years ago United Farm Workers' Union (UFW) founder Caesar Chávez fought against illegal immigration, and the UFW turned in illegals during his tenure as president, was because Chávez, like progressives since the 1870s, understood the simple reality that labor rises and falls in price as a function of availability.

As Wikipedia notes: "In 1969, Chávez and members of the UFW marched through the Imperial and Coachella Valley to the border of Mexico to protest growers' use of illegal aliens as temporary replacement workers during a strike. Joining him on the march were both the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and U.S. Senator Walter Mondale. Chávez and the UFW would often report suspected illegal aliens who served as temporary replacement workers as well as who refused to unionize to the INS."

Working Americans have always known this simple equation: More workers, lower wages. Fewer workers, higher wages.

Progressives fought - and many lost their lives in the battle - to limit the pool of "labor hours" available to the Robber Barons from the 1870s through the 1930s and thus created the modern middle class. They limited labor-hours by pushing for the 50-hour week and the 10-hour day (and then later the 40-hour week and the 8-hour day). They limited labor-hours by pushing for laws against child labor (which competed with adult labor). They limited labor-hours by working for passage of the 1935 Wagner Act that provided for union shops.

And they limited labor-hours by supporting laws that would regulate immigration into the United States to a small enough flow that it wouldn't dilute the unionized labor pool. As Wikipedia notes: "The first laws creating a quota for immigrants were passed in the 1920s, in response to a sense that the country could no longer absorb large numbers of unskilled workers, despite pleas by big business that it wanted the new workers."

Do a little math. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 7.6 million unemployed Americans right now. Another 1.5 million Americans are no longer counted because they've become "long term" or "discouraged" unemployed workers. And although various groups have different ways of measuring it, most agree that at least another five to ten million Americans are either working part-time when they want to work full-time, or are "underemployed," doing jobs below their level of training, education, or experience. That's between eight and twenty million un- and under-employed Americans, many unable to find above-poverty-level work.

At the same time, there are between seven and fifteen million working illegal immigrants diluting our labor pool.

If illegal immigrants could no longer work, unions would flourish, the minimum wage would rise, and oligarchic nations to our south would have to confront and fix their corrupt ways.

Between the Reagan years - when there were only around 1 to 2 million illegal aliens in our workforce - and today, we've gone from about 25 percent of our private workforce being unionized to around seven percent. Much of this is the direct result - a Caesar Chávez predicted - of illegal immigrants competing directly with unionized and legal labor. Although it's most obvious in the construction trades over the past 30 years, it's hit all sectors of our economy.

Democratic Party strategist Ann Lewis just sent out a mass email on behalf of former Wal-Mart Board of Directors member and now US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. In it, Lewis noted that Clinton suggests we should have: "An earned path to citizenship for those already here working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar for becoming a citizen." Sounds nice. The same day, on his radio program, Rush Limbaugh told a woman whose husband is an illegal immigrant that she had nothing to worry about with regard to deportation of him or their children because all he'd have to do - under the new law under consideration - is pay a small fine and learn English.

The current Directors of Wal-Mart are smiling.

Meanwhile, the millions of American citizens who came to this nation as legal immigrants, who waited in line for years, who did the hard work to become citizens, are feeling insulted, humiliated, and conned.

Shouldn't we be compassionate? Of course.

But there is nothing compassionate about driving down the wages of any nation's middle class. It's the most cynical, self-serving, greedy, and sociopathic behavior you'll see from our "conservatives."

There is nothing compassionate about being the national enabler of a dysfunctional oligarchy like Mexico. An illegal workforce in the US sending an estimated $17 billion to Mexico every year - second only in national income to that country's oil revenues - supports an antidemocratic, anti-worker, hyperconservative administration there that gleefully ships out of that nation the "troublesome" Mexican citizens - those lowest on the economic food-chain and thus most likely to present "labor unrest" - to the USA. Mexico (and other "sending nations") need not deal with their own social and economic problems so long as we're willing to solve them for them - at the expense of our middle class. Democracy in Central and South America be damned - there are profits to be made for Wal-Mart!

Similarly, there is nothing compassionate about handing higher profits (through a larger and thus cheaper work force) to the CEOs of America's largest corporations and our now-experiencing-record-profits construction and agriculture industries.

What about caring for people in need? Isn't that the universal religious/ethical value? Of course.

A few years ago, when my family and I were visiting Europe, one of our children fell sick. A doctor came to the home of the people we were staying with, visited our child at 11 pm on a weeknight, left behind a course of antibiotics, and charged nothing. It was paid for by that nation's universal health care system. We should offer the same to any human being in need of medical care - a universal human right - in the United States.

But if I'd applied to that nation I was visiting for a monthly unemployment or retirement check, I would have been laughed out of the local government office. And if I'd been caught working there, I would have been deported within a week. Caring for people in crisis/need is very different from giving a job or a monthly welfare check to non-citizens. No nation - even those in Central and South America - will do that. And neither should the United States.

But if illegal immigrants won't pick our produce or bus our tables won't our prices go up? (The most recent mass-emailed conservative variation of this argument, targeting paranoid middle-class Americans says: "Do you want to pay an extra $10,000 for your next house?") The answer is simple: Yes.

But wages would also go up, and even faster than housing or food prices. And CEO salaries, and corporate profits, might moderate back to the levels they were during the "golden age of the American middle class" between the 1940s and Reagan's declaration of war on the middle class in the 1980s.

We saw exactly this scenario played out in the US fifty years ago, when unions helped regulate entry into the workforce, 35 percent of American workers had a union job, and 70 percent of Americans could raise a family on a single, 40-hour-week paycheck. All working Americans would gladly pay a bit more for their food if their paychecks were both significantly higher and more secure. (This would even allow for an increase in the minimum wage - as it did from the 1930s to the 1980s.)

But what about repressive régimes? Aren't we denying entrance to this generation's equivalent of the Jews fleeing Germany? This is the most tragic of all the arguments put forward by conservatives in the hopes compassionate progressives will bite. Our immigration policies already allow for refugees - and should be expanded. It's an issue that needs more national discussion and action. But giving a free pass to former Coca-Cola executive Vincente Fox to send workers to the US - and thus avoid having to deal with his own corrupt oligarchy - and to equate this to the Holocaust is an insult to the memory of those who died in Hitler's death camps - and to those suffering in places like Darfur under truly repressive regimes. There is no equivalence.

It's frankly astonishing to hear "progressives" reciting corporatist/racist/conservative talking points, recycled through "conservative Democratic" politicians trying to pander to the relatively small percentage of recently-legal (mostly through recent amnesties or birth) immigrants who are trying to get their relatives into this country by means of Bush's proposed guest worker program or the many variations thereof being proposed.

It's equally astonishing to hear the few unions going along with this (in the sad/desperate hope of picking up new members) turn their backs on Caesar Chávez and the traditions and history of America's Progressive and Union movements by embracing illegal immigration.

Every nation has an obligation to limit immigration to a number that will not dilute its workforce, but will maintain a stable middle class - if it wants to have a stable democracy. This has nothing to do with race, national origin, or language (visit Switzerland with it's ethnic- and language-dived areas!), and everything to do with economics.

Without a middle class, any democracy is doomed. And without labor having - through control of labor availability - power in relative balance to capital/management, no middle class can emerge. America's early labor leaders did not die to increase the labor pool for the Robber Barons or the Walton family - they died fighting to give control of it to the workers of their era and in the hopes that we would continue to hold it - and infect other nations with the same idea of democracy and a stable middle class.

The simple way to do this today is to require that all non-refugee immigrants go through the same process to become American citizens or legal workers in this country (no amnesties, no "guest workers," no "legalizations") regardless of how they got here; to confront employers who hire illegals with draconian financial and criminal penalties; and to affirm that while health care (and the right to provide humanitarian care to all humans) is an absolute right for all people within our boundaries regardless of status, a paycheck, education, or subsidy is not.

The Republican (and Democratic) corporatists who want a cheap labor force, and the Republican (and Democratic) racists who want to build a fence and punish humanitarian aid workers, are equally corrupt and anti-progressive. As long as employers are willing and able (without severe penalties) to hire illegal workers, people will risk life and limb to grab at the America Dream. When we stop hiring and paying them, most will leave of their own volition over a few years, and the remaining few who are committed to the US will obtain citizenship through normal channels.

This is, after all, the middle-class "American Dream." And how much better this hemisphere would be if Central and South Americans were motivated to stay in their own nations (because no employer in the US would dare hire them) and fight there for a Mexican Dream and a Salvadoran Dream and a Guatemalan Dream (and so on).

This is the historic Progressive vision for all of the Americas...

Free Speech

Freedom of Expression: No Ifs Ands or Buts

Some excerpts from an excellent speech at the free speech march in Trafalgar Square in London on March 25, 2006. All emphasis is mine. If you would like to join the discussion please read the entire speech.

Defining certain expressions and speech as sacred is merely a tool for the suppression of society; saying speech and expression offends is in fact an attempt to restrict it.

And of course what is held most sacred and deemed to offend the most especially in this New World Order is criticism and ridiculing of religion and its representatives of earth.

Why do it if it offends? Because it must be done.

Because ridiculing is a form of criticism, is a form of resistance, is a serious form of opposing reaction!

Whilst we may all be sometimes offended by some things, it is religion and the religious that are offended all of the time. They alone seem to have a monopoly on being offended, saying their beliefs are a no go area, and silencing all those who offend. . .

Offensive or not, sacred or not - religion and superstition – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Scientology and so on - must be open to all forms of criticism and ridicule.

It must be first and foremost because religion is not something from eras past but because it is as a political movement wreaking havoc across the world. Not a second passes without some atrocity being committed by it. It hangs people from cranes and lamp posts, it stones people to death – in the 21 century – with the law even specifying the size of the stone to be used, it amputates and decapitates.

It must be criticised and ridiculed because that is how throughout history reaction was pushed back.

That is how throughout history society has managed to advance and progress.

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday


In response to this Kevin Drum didn't think it was a big deal he's changed his mind. RELIGION UPDATE....Hey, remember that post last week where I suggested that we atheists "don't suffer much serious social ostracism"? Well, it turns out that was pretty stupid. Andrew Sullivan reports: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_03/008511.php

World Leaders Urge Condoleezza Rice To Take NFL Commissioner's Job
WASHINGTON, DC—With longtime NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue recently announcing that he will retire in July, political leaders across the globe have taken an uncharacteristic interest in the sport of football, urging one potential candidate—U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice—to accept the high-profile position.

"I have had the…singular…experience of working with Ms. Rice on more than one occasion, and believe she is perfectly suited for this position," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of many prominent political figures who held an impromptu press conference upon hearing that Rice, a longtime football fan, had expressed interest in eventually becoming commissioner. "
onegoodmove reader Beth has a blog. Go say hi.

Bill Napoli via Swedes For Obama

Rumsfeld's Top Ten Rules of the Road


March 27, 2006

Permanent Settlements Equal No Peace

After the election: What next for Israel?

It looks to me like more of the same. The U.S. has for years been asking Israel not to build settlements, not to expand settlements, and in spite of our unwavering support we've been ignored. A strange way of saying thanks, yes, the actions one would expect from an friend, no. How is it that Israel has been able to ignore our interests with impunity? A strong Israel lobby in this country that often places Israel's interests above our own.
Olmert sketched out the new government's policy last month. "Reality today obliges us to separate ourselves from the Palestinians and to remodel the borders of the state of Israel," said Olmert, "and this is what I will do after the elections. This will force us to evacuate [some] territories currently held by the state of Israel [in the West Bank, but] we will hold on to the major settlement blocks. We will keep Jerusalem united. It is impossible to abandon control of the eastern borders of Israel."

In other words, there will be no more peace negotiations: The Palestinians will just have to live within the 420 miles of tall fences that mark out Israel's new borders, in a pseudo-state surrounded and almost cut in half by Israeli settlements. The whole Jordan valley will stay in Israel's hands, cutting Palestinians off from the rest of the Arab world except for one Israeli-controlled border crossing into Jordan at the Allenby Bridge and one that crosses into Egypt from the Gaza Strip . . .

All the big settlement blocks in the West Bank - Ariel, Gush Etzion and Maale Admumim - will formally become part of Israel, sheltering behind the walls that divide them from the misery and desperation on the other side. . .

Israelis justify this unilateral and highly one-sided "solution" with the argument that there is nobody on the Palestinian side to negotiate with, and since the victory of the radical Hamas party in Palestinian elections two months ago, that argument sounds more plausible. But we arrived at this sorry situation because Israel was unwilling to negotiate fairly with any of the previous, more reasonable incarnations of the Palestinian leadership, either. The settlements always got in the way.

For 20 years, while one peace initiative after another died due to Israeli stalling and the patience of moderate Palestinians eroded, the settlements doubled and redoubled in population, taking up more and more Palestinian land. So now, since the Palestinians are too radical to talk to any more, the settlements must become part of Israel. Most Israeli voters are willing to accept this logic at the moment, but it does not serve Israel's long-term security.

March 26, 2006

George Bush Wants You

The White House is updating their employment application. Here is what they have so far, and they want your help in framing questions that will find more folks just like themselves. If you love your country, if you aren't anti-american, you'll leave your suggestions in the comments.

White House Employment Application
  1. List at least ten people you have bribed.
  2. List the ten largest bribes you've received.
  3. Explain how you contribute to global warming, daily, monthly, and yearly.
  4. List two ways to use more energy, be specific
  5. Suggest five possible tax breaks for the rich we don't have.
  6. Write a paragraph on why God loves republicans best.
  7. List all those friends, neighbors, and coworkers you've spied on.
  8. Write an essay on how to support the military while never serving
  9. List three powers the executive branch doesn't have that it should have.
  10. Submit at least seven samples of someone else's writing

Do Unto Others

A recent pew poll shows that the religious are more likely to favor torture than the secular. Bill Maher referring to guest Reza Aslan's No god but God, said he was surprised how liberal and tolerant the prophet Muhammad was. Reza explained that in all religions the prophets don't invent the religions, but that "they take the social, and cultural, economic and political milieu they live in and and reshape it they recast it. They don't talk about the future they talk about the present." It is the followers that come after that create the religion, and they often get much of it wrong.


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March 25, 2006

The E-Word

That there is a state anywhere in these United States that is so anti-science is abominable, that there are so many other states like this is a travesty. Here it is, one more example of dumb and dumber in America. Welcome to Arkansas. To the enlightened few, and it must be few to allow their schools to be hijacked by the idiots, send me your address and I'll send you a sympathy card.

The missing link (tip to Per and David )
Teachers at his facility are forbidden to use the “e-word” (evolution) with the kids. They are permitted to use the word “adaptation” but only to refer to a current characteristic of an organism, not as a product of evolutionary change via natural selection. They cannot even use the term “natural selection.” Bob feared that not being able to use evolutionary terms and ideas to answer his students’ questions would lead to reinforcement of their misconceptions.

But Bob’s personal issue was more specific, and the prohibition more insidious. In his words, “I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD ... but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old.”

March 24, 2006

Plagiarist Offers Iron-Clad Defense

WASHINGTON— Right-wing uber journalist Ben Domenech struck back today at those claiming he is guilty of plagiarism. "I've been accused of using others' words," said Ben, "words like villainous louts and goody-goody."ben.jpg"I want all my loyal readers to know that every word I use, in fact every word I've ever used can be found in the dictionary. To the left-wing nattering nabobs of negativity, I say, you can't plagiarize the dictionary, those words my 'friends' belong to everyone. So there!" Red State editorial writer Erick said, "Ben Domenech deserves our full advocacy and defense. He has done nothing wrong and does not deserve urban legends about his wrong doing solely because of the lies of those who are jealous of his success. Should the other side win, they will be emboldened. And should they win, one of our own who has done no wrong will be immeasurable hurt by the hate, lies, and jealousy of those who would just as easily do it to you or me."

[editors note: all the words in this article can be found in Ben's dictionary]
[update: The dictionary defense failed Ben Domenech Resigned

Sadamm is Gone

Richard Belzer gives Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen a piece of his mind. A clip from last week's Real Time with Bill Maher

The Death of Chef

The latest round in the Scientology, South Park dust-up. South Park 2 Scientology 0. That's right Scientology is nil, nothing, zero. If they're smart they'll do a Colonel Klink's Sergeant Hans Schultz. "I know nothing! Nothing!" and "I see nothing! Nothing!".


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Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Barbara Bush WPITW

Castro loses out to Barbara Bush as the "Worst Person In The World"



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Countdown with Keith Olbermann

March 23, 2006

Oh Ben

Ben Domenech, hired by the Washington Post to provide some right-wing balance is, it appears, totally fucked. What does it say about the Post? It seems that not only is Ben an asshole, he is also a major-league plagiarist. Read all about it here and here and finally a fairly comprehensive list of examples of plagiarism

Here is Ben's latest post at the Washington Post, check it out I have a feeling it will be gone in 24 hours, oh yes, it is where he explains why he called Corretta King a communist the day after her funeral.

Red America

Two Quick Notes Two clarifications for the many folks who have risen up in force to attack the existence of this blog (I appreciate the attention, by the way).

I wonder how much he appreciates the attention now? I can't even imagine. I almost feel sorry for him. I know he really has it coming, but his friends if he still has some, should keep on eye on him. He's going to need emotional support to get through this one.

Joe Conason at Salon weighs in A portrait of the blogger as a young plagiarist

As a college student Ben Domenech lifted arts criticism; as a GOP henchman, he was accused of fabricating a Tim Russert quote. What was the Washington Post thinking?

[update: Ben Domenech Resigns ]

Comments

I'm going to try something slightly different with the comments. I'll accept comments from anyone, but until I have time to flag you as trusted your comments will be subject to moderation. It will take me some time to flag all the regulars as trusted so don't panic if it says your comment is subject to moderation. Let me add that I will initially approve everyone to comment. The only way you'll lose that trust is repeated personal attacks, and obvious trolling. No one will be banned simply for expressing an opposing view.

Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

It would be easy to go on a little rant about many members of the religious community, but one word will suffice, hypocrites. We know, some of your best friends are atheists. "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."— George H W Bush August 27, 1987 Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study (tip to Ray)
From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
Dixie Chicks Not Ready To Make Nice via BLAH3.COM

Why Do We Support Israel

The Israel Lobby
Some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values. Unlike the US, where people are supposed to enjoy equal rights irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship.
[editors note: I removed some text from here that was getting in the way of the discussion why we support Israel, the point of the article. I'll leave a comment with the edited text so you can see what I've removed.

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

March 22, 2006

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday


Like 3QD Vote

BUSH BRINGS IN ‘NEW BLOOD, SAME AS THE OLD BLOOD’In response to the steady drumbeat of calls to bring in “fresh blood” to his “exhausted” Administration, President Bush has been holding auditions for a new “wise man” for his inner council. Following is a secret transcript of these interviews, which has apparently been leaked by Karl Rove, in an attempt to protect his turf:

Arrogance, having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities. The United States is arrogant and the result was the ill-advised war in Iraq. It's not the first time. Howard Zinn has some ideas on how we keep getting fooled and what it will take to not be fooled again?

via Frank and Cyndy

March 21, 2006

Heaven Would Be Hell

"Religious belief itself is an adaptation"

Listen to Interview here

The file is an mp2 and is huge 46.3MB you are better off downloading it, right click PC or control click Mac and save file as ...or to listen here, click below

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Sociobiology founder Edward O. Wilson explains why we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions, denies that "evolutionism" is a faith, and says that heaven, if it existed, would be hell.
It would seem that religion and science have two entirely different ways of understanding the world. Science is founded on reason and deduction and empirical study. Religion, on the other hand, is grounded in faith -- often a leap of faith, in mystery, in living with the non-rational part of your mind. Are those two utterly alien ways of looking at the world? Or is there any common ground?

The only common ground that I see is the one that was approached by Darwin himself. Religious belief itself is an adaptation that has evolved because we're hard-wired to form tribalistic religions. Religion is intensely tribalistic. A devout Christian or Muslim doesn't say one religion is as good as another. It gives them faith in the particular group to which they belong and that set of beliefs and moral views.

What about the sense of awe, of wonder? That's something you hear about all the time among religious people. And you also hear about it from some scientists as well.

Well, you do. You hear about it from me. Awe is hard to put into words. But it certainly involves a sense of the mightiness and splendor and almost indecipherable intricacy of something greater than ourselves. A lot of religious mysticism arises directly from it. But it's equally experienced by the secularist whose mind opens to the splendor and intricacy of the material universe.

Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

I have a new advertiser on the sidebar today Better Bad News check it out, they're currently featuring a pretty damn funny video mashup.

Afghan faces execution for becoming Christian
Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death, said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

''He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one,'' Wasi said. ''We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty.''
Mad Kane with some Russ Feingold Verse.

If this isn't funny. . .

Why Poor Countries Are Poor via 3QD

March 20, 2006

A Bizarre Kind of Double Talk

Straw-Man Arguments

President Bush Increasingly Uses Rhetorical Straw-Man Arguments to Combat Unnamed Critics

WASHINGTON (AP) -- "Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost and not worth another dime or another day," President Bush said recently.

Another time he said, "Some say that if you're Muslim you can't be free."

"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" - conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic.

Because the "some" often go unnamed, Bush can argue that his statements are true in an era of blogs and talk radio. Even so, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people," Fields said. "All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff." . . .

(Via Leiter Reports.)

Lou Dobbs with Bill Maher

Lou Dobbs and Bill Maher have it right. Corporations are the greatest threat to democracy there is. In my book they rank above terrorists in the damage they do.


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Real Time with Bill Maher

March 19, 2006

Links With Your Coffee Sunday

Latin America and Asia are at last breaking free of Washington's grip Noam Chomsky
The US-dominated world order is being challenged by a new spirit of independence in the global south
On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled
Not a shot was fired, or a leader nabbed, in a major offensive that failed to live up to its advance billing
al Sistani relaxing at home.

South Park Wars Andrew Sullivan has something to say.

Issac Hayes and South Park.

Trey and Matt on Issac (video)

March 18, 2006

Iraqi cleric wants gays killed

Who determines who represents a religion be it Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Certainly there are millions of muslims who believe killing someone who insults their prophet is supported by their religion. We now learn that the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, thinks gays should be put to death in a 'most severe way'. Does he not represent Islam. Who decides who represents Islam. Is there an official spokesman for Islam. Is it simply a numbers game, the majority opinion of muslims defines the correct interpretation of the Quran, or is a Grand Ayatollah an authoritative voice. There are some muslims who argue that this is not the real Islam. Where does their authority to speak for Islam come from and is it more legitimate than this Shiite Cleric. Muslims want respect for their religion, but there is a legitimate question as to exactly what that religion is. If I don't respect al Sistani's view is it not reasonable to say I don't respect Islam. Is it necessary to set apart some ever-changing idealized version of Islam that not even muslims agree on and respect that. When I criticize Islam I'm criticizing fundamentalist Islam, and I'm criticizing fundamentalist beliefs that are present in more enlightened muslims. Should I be willing to tolerate others rights to believe as they wish. I do, and I expect them to tolerate my right to believe as I do, but many of them don't. I think Islamic leaders who disagree with al-Sistani should denounce him in a public and forceful way, to do less lends justification to those who paint Islam with the broad brush of an intolerant and violent religion.

Iraqi cleric wants gays killed in 'most severe way' | News | Advocate.com

Iraqi cleric wants gays killed in "most severe way"

In the midst of sectarian violence that threatens to drag Iraq into civil war, the country's influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has issued a violent death order against gays and lesbians on his Web site, according to London-based LGBT human rights groups OutRage.

Written in Arabic, the fatwa comes from a press conference with the powerful religious cleric, where he was asked about the judgment on sodomy and lesbianism. “Forbidden,” Sistani answered, according to OutRage, “Punished, in fact, killed. The people involved should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.”

Considering Sistani's stature and influence within the Iraqi Shiite majority, OutRage member Ali Hili declared the cleric's statements extremely dangerous.

“Sistani's murderous homophobic incitement has given a green light to Shia Muslims to hunt and kill lesbians and gay men,” said Hili. “We hold Sistani personally responsible for the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis. He gives the killers theological sanction and encouragement.”

Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

What Noble Cause

Bush Increasingly Focused On How Revisionist History Will See Him

South Park 'battling' Scientology southpark.jpg
South Park's creators have renewed their "battle" with Scientology, after a US TV channel dropped a show which mocked its church and actor Tom Cruise. "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" Trey Parker and Matt Stone told trade paper Variety.
In the Dark video tip to Mad Kane

Only on Fox: Footage of World Trade Center wreckage aired during coverage of Operation Swarmer

The Return of the Regenerated: A New 'Doctor Who'

New Rules




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Real Time with Bill Maher

March 17, 2006

The French Army is Good

vinvin.jpg Bonjour America ! A Video Show by Vinvin

Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) and many american people say that the French Army is very bad. How can we explain that? Is it a legend? Let's see with a serious explanation of the WW2 rout. And in bonus (go 6'02''): a pacific song with some sex inside!
france.gif

Oath Of Office

Last week in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin , professor of law at American University, was requested to testify.He did so.

At the end of his testimony, a right-wing senator said: “Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?”

Raskin: “Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

The room erupted into applause.
via WayneBesen.com

March 16, 2006

Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


Justice Ginsburg Reveals Details of Threat
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have been the targets of death threats from the "irrational fringe" of society, people apparently spurred by Republican criticism of the high court.

Ginsburg revealed in a speech in South Africa last month that she and O'Connor were threatened a year ago by someone who called on the Internet for the immediate "patriotic" killing of the justices.

The 30th Skeptics Circle

Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles
MARADI, NIGER—More than 60,000 urgently needed Bibles arrived to allay suffering throughout the famine-stricken nation of Niger Friday, in one of the largest humanitarian-relief operations ever attempted by a Christian ministry.

Pharyngula: No respect for Christianity…so stop demanding it

So, no, the final word is that I will never give his religion a bit of respect. I will tolerate it. I will respect his right to practice his religion. But I will not hesitate to express my scorn every time one of my "allies" in this "coalition" thinks the way to better the country is to promote more belief in false fantasies. Ophelia links to an excellent summary of the materialist/naturalist/scientist position. That's where I stand, and that is my objective—respect that, Christians.

March 15, 2006

Al Franken / Dave Letterman

100% Crap


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A Reader Writes

The following is a short essay by onegoodmove reader Nina Taylor.

Perhaps it is because I am a woman and feel so strongly against anyone but myself deciding what to do with my body, but recently; I am thrilled to not be a resident of South Dakota.

Governor Mike Rounds signed a bill that makes nearly all abortions illegal. The only abortions allowed to be performed will be those in which the mother’s health is in serious risk. Even if the mother’s health is in jeopardy, she must explore all medical options before ultimately receiving an abortion.

NO abortions will be permitted if you are raped, a victim of incest, or just plain foolish at 15 and not ready to have a life altering experience by bringing an unplanned and unwanted child into this world.


Teen girls should beware, they need to either keep the nickel between their knees or be safe!(And even “safe” fails at times) If not, they will be forced to have a child, not go to college, and perhaps help increase the welfare rate. I know that this is not the case for everyone; there are strong young and inexperienced mothers who accomplished more than many others. Teen pregnancy if nothing else, does put the mother-to-be’s parent(s) in a psychological strain and financial bind.
As for the women who are raped and victims of incest, well according to South Dakota’s progressive Governor, "We must help each mother to see the value of the gift that is a child, and nurture the mother for her own sake and for the sake of her child." (CNN.com)

Women can realize that their traumatic experience is actually like a game show, and the unborn fetus as a parting gift. So apparently, being a victim of rape or incest in South Dakota is akin to being on Let’s Make a Deal, picking door number three and winning a goat. Thanks Governor! It is kind of you to point that out for the ladies.


I suppose the goals in South Dakota are that the woman either keeps the child, or give it up for adoption. In a perfect world that would be wonderful, however there are over 500,000 American children in foster homes and about 120,000 American children are adopted a year. (AACAP.Org)
The fact of the matter is that Abortions have been a controversy because our “Christian” (generally) government believes that abortion is the murder of a life; although we have no scientific proof of when “life” actually starts. I do not know about most of you, but I don’t remember being in my mother’s uterus. I was merely a speck without organs or a brain, at least for the first few months. Some of my earliest memories are the birth of my younger sister and seeing my first movie Ghostbusters in a movie theatre, about three to four years after my birth. Ahhh! The eighties.

Since this controversy seems to be a religious debate, I do not understand why it is the government’s business to decide who can and cannot have a medical procedure. Another memory of mine is being in elementary school and learning in history class that church and state is “separate.” It seems that this constitutional law is becoming more of a mere suggestion to the government.
Now when the Pope says abortion is bad, I understand that. That is why the Pope isn’t our president. Religion would rule the country- oh wait….too late.

So thank you South Dakota government! Thanks for being the first state to let religion influence the laws. While you’re at it, why don’t you enforce hunting for witches and burning the unclean! It is too bad that “We don’t care what happens to our women as long as they have their babies!” is too long for a license plate slogan.




-Nina Taylor

Protest

A little melodramatic perhaps, but well said. Taken from last nights Boston Legal (tip to Dan)


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Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday


A question for today:

Are there any right-wingers that believe that those that burn the flag should be punished, but that those who draw cartoons with the image of Muhammad should not?

A makeup miracle via yoism.org

WNYC's On the media parodies the O'Reilly Olbermann spat .(tip Stewf)


"One man's religion is another man's belly laugh"—Heinlin Hayes has lost faith in 'Park'

Climate change 'irreversible' as Arctic sea ice fails to re-form Hey George it looks like we may be fucked, thanks.

March 14, 2006

Modernity or Barbarism


For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats
Three weeks ago, Dr. Wafa Sultan was a largely unknown Syrian-American psychiatrist living outside Los Angeles, nursing a deep anger and despair about her fellow Muslims.

Today, thanks to an unusually blunt and provocative interview on Al Jazeera television on Feb. 21, she is an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.


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March 13, 2006

The Clash of Civilizations

Can that be right? About 60% of Catholic Charities is funded with government money? Well that kind of puts a kink in the religious folk are the big givers argument, unless what we're saying is that they are big givers of other peoples money.

Below the Fold: The Clash of Civilizations: Coming to a State Near You

Well, hallelujah back at ya: the Boston Catholic Archdiocese, seeking to deny gay couples adoption privileges in violation of Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws, decided to get out of the adoption business altogether. They are foregoing their $1 million in state funding for adoption services, and have fired their 15 adoption service workers.

The cause is religious freedom – yes, religious freedom. Because the Vatican in 2003 called gay adoptions “gravely immoral,” Massachusetts’ four Roman Catholic bishops decided on February 28, 2006, to seek regulatory relief from state anti-discrimination laws so that Catholic Charities can begin discriminating against potential gay adoptive parents. Though the agency had successfully placed 13 children with gay couples over the past 20 years with no reported ill effects, Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley announced that the Archdiocese would insist that Catholic Charities desist in order that the exercise of Church’s religious freedom be preserved. . .

(Via 3quarksdaily.)

Links With Your Coffee -Monday


Prime Minister of Australia John Howard's Reflections on Iraq and apology. This is the day's must read. Is it a hoax? (tip to Richard)
Judging from my email the consensus is the piece is a fake, which once again proves the adage, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. It is however a wonderful summary of the lie we call the war in Iraq. I just checked the IP address whois lists it as private registration Emeryville, CA USA.

Avery Ant How to cheat on your income taxes.

God: I've lost faith in Blair
All the signs are that the Almighty is unhappy about efforts to implicate Him in the attack on Iraq

A high-level leak has revealed that God is "furious" at Tony Blair's attempts to implicate him in the bombing of Iraq. Sources close to the archangel Gabriel report him as describing the Almighty as "hopping mad ... with sanctimonious yet unscrupulous politicians claiming He would condone their bestial activities when He has no way of going public Himself, owing to the MMW agreement" (a reference to the long-established Moving in Mysterious Ways concordat).
Monkey See Monkey Do

Belief in God incompatible with Science
What are religions based on? They are not based on evidence but on faith. On the other hand, a good scientist insists that, before one assents to a claim, there must be good evidence for that claim. If you live by this principle of science, I believe you will end up believing as I and most of the other members of the National Academy of Sciences believe: that there is no God.
Natilie Portman raps

It's March and you know what that means Liberal-Bias March Madness.

Darwin's Defender

Need Glasses

European commercials are just funnier.



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March 12, 2006

The Dignity of Atheism

Respect for other's beliefs as the highest value can mean only one of two things: either we treat the other in a patronizing way and avoid hurting him in order not to ruin his illusions, or we adopt the relativist stance of multiple "regimes of truth," disqualifying as violent imposition any clear insistence on truth.

Defenders of Faith: Why Europe's Muslims should be grateful for Europe's atheists. (tip to Ray)

FOR centuries, we have been told that without religion we are no more than egotistic animals fighting for our share, our only morality that of a pack of wolves; only religion, it is said, can elevate us to a higher spiritual level. Today, when religion is emerging as the wellspring of murderous violence around the world, assurances that Christian or Muslim or Hindu fundamentalists are only abusing and perverting the noble spiritual messages of their creeds ring increasingly hollow. What about restoring the dignity of atheism, one of Europe's greatest legacies and perhaps our only chance for peace?

More than a century ago, in "The Brothers Karamazov" and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn't exist, then everything is permitted. The French philosopher André Glucksmann even applied Dostoyevsky's critique of godless nihilism to 9/11, as the title of his book, "Dostoyevsky in Manhattan," suggests.

This argument couldn't have been more wrong: the lesson of today's terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted — at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations. In short, fundamentalists have become no different than the "godless" Stalinist Communists, to whom everything was permitted since they perceived themselves as direct instruments of their divinity, the Historical Necessity of Progress Toward Communism.

During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: "Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God." Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.

Fundamentalists do what they perceive as good deeds in order to fulfill God's will and to earn salvation; atheists do them simply because it is the right thing to do. Is this also not our most elementary experience of morality? When I do a good deed, I do so not with an eye toward gaining God's favor; I do it because if I did not, I could not look at myself in the mirror. A moral deed is by definition its own reward. David Hume, a believer, made this point in a very poignant way, when he wrote that the only way to show true respect for God is to act morally while ignoring God's existence.

Two years ago, Europeans were debating whether the preamble of the European Constitution should mention Christianity as a key component of the European legacy. As usual, a compromise was worked out, a reference in general terms to the "religious inheritance" of Europe. But where was modern Europe's most precious legacy, that of atheism? What makes modern Europe unique is that it is the first and only civilization in which atheism is a fully legitimate option, not an obstacle to any public post.

Atheism is a European legacy worth fighting for, not least because it creates a safe public space for believers. Consider the debate that raged in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, my home country, as the constitutional controversy simmered: should Muslims (mostly immigrant workers from the old Yugoslav republics) be allowed to build a mosque? While conservatives opposed the mosque for cultural, political and even architectural reasons, the liberal weekly journal Mladina was consistently outspoken in its support for the mosque, in keeping with its concern for the rights of those from other former Yugoslav republics.

Not surprisingly, given its liberal attitudes, Mladina was also one of the few Slovenian publications to reprint the infamous caricatures of Muhammad. And, conversely, those who displayed the greatest "understanding" for the violent Muslim protests those cartoons caused were also the ones who regularly expressed their concern for the fate of Christianity in Europe.

These weird alliances confront Europe's Muslims with a difficult choice: the only political force that does not reduce them to second-class citizens and allows them the space to express their religious identity are the "godless" atheist liberals, while those closest to their religious social practice, their Christian mirror-image, are their greatest political enemies. The paradox is that Muslims' only real allies are not those who first published the caricatures for shock value, but those who, in support of the ideal of freedom of expression, reprinted them.

While a true atheist has no need to boost his own stance by provoking believers with blasphemy, he also refuses to reduce the problem of the Muhammad caricatures to one of respect for other's beliefs. Respect for other's beliefs as the highest value can mean only one of two things: either we treat the other in a patronizing way and avoid hurting him in order not to ruin his illusions, or we adopt the relativist stance of multiple "regimes of truth," disqualifying as violent imposition any clear insistence on truth.

What, however, about submitting Islam — together with all other religions — to a respectful, but for that reason no less ruthless, critical analysis? This, and only this, is the way to show a true respect for Muslims: to treat them as serious adults responsible for their beliefs.

Slavoj Zizek, the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, is the author, most recently, of "The Parallax View."

March 11, 2006

Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

Leftbanker writes about Shria Law and other moral codes.
If you live in downtown Seattle like I do . . . encountering a conservative is about as likely as coming across a dead body. In both instances no one would blame you for poking them with a stick.
The New Adventures of Harry Slothe (tip to Jamie)

25 Books to Remember from 2005

"I'm not Bobby Fischer"

Don't call the 18-year-old boy king of chess -- defending his title this weekend -- a geek. He rules a new generation of champs raised on hip-hop and video games.

Dictatorship

O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts

South Dakota



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Real Time with Bill Maher

March 10, 2006

The New Math


New Conversion Table

1. Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi

2. 2000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won ton

3. 1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope

4. Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1
bananosecond

5. Weight an evangelist carries with God = 1 billigram

6. Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour =
Knotfurlong

7. 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling

8. Half of a large intestine = 1 semicolon

9. 1,000,000 aches = 1 megahertz

10. Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower

11. Shortest distance between two jokes = A straight line

12. 453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake

13. 1 million-million microphones = 1 megaphone

14. 1 million bicycles = 2 megacycles

15. 365.25 days = 1 unicycle

16. 2000 mockingbirds = 2 kilomockingbirds

17. 52 cards = 1 decacards

18. 1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 Fig Newton

19. 1000 milliliters of wet socks = 1 literhosen

20. 1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche

21. 1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin

22. 10 rations = 1 decoration

23. 100 rations = 1 C-ration

24. 2 monograms = 1 diagram

25. 4 nickels = 2 paradigms

26. 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Cornell
University Hospital = 1 IV League

27. 100 Senators = Not 1 decision

Subject: Investing in your retirement

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would
now be worth $49.00.

With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1,000.00.

With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank
all the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND,
you would have had $214.00.

Based on the above, current investment advice is to drink heavily and
recycle.

It's called the 401-Keg Plan

(via an email from my cousin Betty)

March 9, 2006

Keith Olbermann / Bill O'Reilly Continued

The story continues. Mike, Fox Security, Al Franken, Howard Stern and he whose name may not be spoken all have something to say about Big Bad Bill.



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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


Doonesbury

Iraq through the prism of Vietnam
The Vietnam War experience can’t tell us anything about the war in Iraq – or so it is said. If you believe that, trying looking through this lens, and you may change your mind.
The Vietnam War had three phases. The War in Iraq has already completed an analogous first phase, is approaching the end of the second phase, and shows signs of entering the third.

Majikthise provides an excellent review of Dennett's Breaking the Spell Lindsay writes, "it has been systematically misrepresented by its critics. Frankly, I think a lot of them are getting hung up on the title. Breaking the Spell is not an attempt to discredit religion by subjecting it to scientific scrutiny. The "spell" Dennett wants to break is the taboo against the scientific study of religion."


Dub asks God to join Homeland Security.

March 8, 2006

Hitman

A mom hires a hitman to kill her four children, ages six-months, two, three, and five years old. What should the penalty be for the hitman and what should the penalty be for the mom. Rewind, mom never had the children she had them aborted, what should be the penalty for the doctor who performed the abortion and what should be the penalty for the mom. Republicans who believe that Rove vs. Wade should be struck down by the Supreme Court, that abortion should be against the law, seem unwilling to suggest any penalty for the women who choose abortion. It's not that they haven't had sufficient time to analyze the issue it's been with us for years. Do we have anyone who thinks abortion should be against the law that would like to answer the question. What of the case where the mom bypasses the doctor and uses a hanger instead. What do you say, penalty, or no penalty? Check out the dialogue between Tweety and Senate hopeful Pat Toomey on Hardball via Atrios

MATTHEWS: And you‘ve said we ought to get rid of Roe v. Wade and you said that abortion should be banned in Pennsylvania, but you won‘t tell me what the penalty should be.

TOOMEY: That‘s right, Chris.

Look, we can take things one step at a time. I think that the constitutional decision was invalid. It‘s perfectly OK to believe that these justices made up a right that doesn‘t exist in the Constitution without deciding exactly what the penalty should be under all circumstances.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You want to make up a law without a penalty. It‘s a crime without a penalty. I‘ve never heard of such a thing.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Why declare something to be...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: I‘m serious. This is the problem and the confusion over abortion rights in this country.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: People on the far right side won‘t say what they‘ll do.

They simply say they don‘t like the way things are now. What would you do?

TOOMEY: Well, if we overturn Roe vs. wade, one of the things we could do is leave it to states to make some decisions about this.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And what would you support Pennsylvania doing? You are running for senator from Pennsylvania. What should Pennsylvania do to women who decide to have an abortion? What would you do to them?

TOOMEY: Chris, I‘ve told you, I haven‘t figured out what I think we

should be doing with

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, shouldn‘t you figure out a few of these things before you run for office?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Shouldn‘t you make those basic decisions?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOMEY: I think my voting record is pretty clear. I have got a very long voting record. I have made a lot of decisions.

And I think it‘s perfectly legitimate to say that one doesn‘t necessarily support this decision.

MATTHEWS: And what‘s Specter‘s position on abortion rights?

TOOMEY: Oh, is he a big advocate of abortion rights and taxpayer-funded abortion and all the rest, which is way outside the mainstream of the party.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Congressman Pat Toomey. Thanks for playing HARDBALL. You may well win this one.

TOOMEY: All right.

Controversy at the Oscars

The only controversy at the 78th Academy Awards occurred when Itzak Perlman played selections from the five nominees for original score. Watch carefully as he plays and then listen as Jon levels the charge.



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Links With Your Coffee Wednesday


I've just seen a face Jesus' face has miraculously made its way to a church in a tiny Prince Edward Island community. Oh Canada!

A whimsical piece on shaving and peacocks from Abbas at 3QD and no I didn't trade in my Mach 3 for a Fusion, and those five blades gliding across my face are imaginary. Speaking of 3QD, they have along with onegoodmove been nominated for a Koufax Award.The award is the Most Deserving of Wider Recognition and quite frankly onegoodmove is already known a little more widely than it needs to be. If you were going to vote for me I'd be pleased if you would instead vote for them. They really are more deserving.

The Lit List / Stories

The Lit List is a site where readers submit links to online fiction—including short stories, eBooks and podcasts—and vote for their favorites. The most popular links are automatically "published" to the front page. It's like a real-time literary journal edited by readers.

Muslims ask French to cancel 1741 play by Voltaire
A municipal cultural center here on France's border with Switzerland organized a reading of a 265-year-old play by Voltaire, whose writings helped lay the foundations of modern Europe's commitment to secularism. The play, ''Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet,'' uses the founder of Islam to lampoon all forms of religious frenzy and intolerance.
South Dakota has a new logo

March 7, 2006

Links With Your Coffee Tuesday


Dick Cheney is a PKer!

Three 6 Mafia at the academy awards. The file was a little larger than I like to post here, but since I had some requests I decided to make it available as a torrent.

Meta and Meta a blog featuring politics, philosophy, science, religion etc. If you like onegoodmove I think you'll enjoy the content here.

You remember Mike Stark the fellow who got threatened by O'Reilly for speaking the name that must not be spoken, Olbermann well he took Jane's question one guaranteed to drive a wingnut who believes life begins at conception crazy.

"If a fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you can only save a petri dish with five blastulae or a two-year old child, which do you save?" he called Wilkow's talk radio show and the results are a real treat. Listen to the audio at C & L

Pinker On Dawkins Selfish Gene
US television talk-show host Jay Leno, interviewing a passer-by: How do you think Mount Rushmore was formed? Passerby: Erosion? Leno: Well, how do you think the rain knew to not only pick four presidents — but four of our greatest presidents? How did the rain know to put the beard on Lincoln and not on Jefferson? Passerby: Oh, just luck, I guess.

I AM A COGNITIVE SCIENTIST, someone who studies the nature of intelligence and the workings of the mind. Yet one of my most profound scientific influences has been Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist. The influence runs deeper than the fact that the mind is a product of the brain and the brain a product of evolution; such an influence could apply to someone who studies any organ of any organism. The significance of Dawkins’s ideas, for me and many others, runs to his characterisation of the very nature of life and to a theme that runs throughout his writings: the possibility of deep commonalities between life and mind.

March 6, 2006

On Earth to Fart Around


Kurt Vonnegut's "Stardust Memory"
On a cold, cloudy night, the lines threaded all the way around the Ohio State campus. News that Kurt Vonnegut was speaking at the Ohio Union prompted these “apathetic” heartland college students to start lining up in the early afternoon...

"We are here on Earth to fart around," he explains, and then embarks on a soliloquy about the joys of going to the store to buy an envelope. One talks to the people there, comments on the "silly-looking dog," finds all sorts of adventures along the way.

"Live one day at a time. Say ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!"

Academy Awards / Jon Stewart

Jon did a solid job. Charming and funny, in short everything that makes him a favorite here at onegoodmove



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March 5, 2006

No We Didn't

My favorite new rule from the most recent Real Time with Bill Maher.



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Real Time with Bill Maher

March 4, 2006

Academy Awards Preview

Bill Maher hosts the Academy Awards



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Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

Chimpanzees show hints of higher human traits

A Tale of Two Soldiers Two Kansas City grunts who took bullets on the same day struggewith surviving the war. By Ben Paynter. via fp Ben is an excellent writer never getting in the way of the story. Give it a read. A paragraph or two and you'll be hooked.

Mad Kane on the consistencies of Dub's reign. Limericks that will delight you.

Science still under attack (tip to Hernán)

The Christian God fails to protect Missourian's right to express their religious beliefs State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion they just wanted you to know. (tip to Chris via Atrios

Excellent Rolling Stone article on Scientology Beam me up Scotty! (tip to David)

March 3, 2006

Big Bad Bill

Bill O'Reilly called out the Fox Militia to prevent callers to his talk Radio Show from mentioning any name that starts with "O" save his own. The caller who uttered the name that must not be spoken, Keith Olbermann, was threatened by O'Reilly on air. The caller claims the naughtiest word he used was Keith, followed by the next naughtiest, Olbermann, that was enough for the faux and unbalanced Bill to lose his mind, again.




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Keith Olbermann The voice of reason in a world of O'Reillys

Numb3rs

(Via 3quarksdaily.)

Reflections on Innumeracy

Abbas and I often complain of the all too common problem of innumeracy in our society. Jennifer Ouellette over at Cocktail Party Physics reflects on innumeracy, the TV show Numb3rs and the pedagogy of math.

For a science writer who specializes in physics topics, I'm still surprisingly phobic about math. Chalk it up to my English major roots, but the sight of even a simple algebraic equation still elicits an involuntary shudder of trepidation. This isn't necessarily due to a lack of aptitude. I might not be gifted in the subject, or have that mysteriously intuitive grasp of abstract numerical concepts that distinguish most talented mathematicians and physicists from the rest of the population, but I always did very well in my high school algebra classes. So why did I fear it so much?

Human beings tend to fear the unfamiliar and unknown. We might have been formally -- nay, forcibly -- introduced as part of the required US educational curriculum, but math and I, we were never close. Our relationship was doomed from the start. For one thing, we never learned how to communicate. Our conversations were strictly monologues, with no room for give and take. I might have gotten "As" in my algebra classes, but I was merely doing what I was told: memorizing the "rules", plugging in the parameters, and dutifully crunching out answers by rote, with no real grasp of the significance of what I was doing, or its usefulness in solving real-world problems. The lack of a contextual framework meant that no genuine dialogue could take place, and without that dialogue, there could be no real understanding.

March 2, 2006

Philosopher And Theologian


A mildly amusing exchange of letters between Daniel Dennett and Richard Swinburne on Daniel's Book "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon"
How should we study religion?

Oh My God


Quicktime Video 2.79MB 1'50
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Late Show with Dave Letterman

Links With Your Coffee Thursday


Memory

Hannidate where Ann Coulter can find a man. (tip to Rick)

There once was a fellow named Frist thanks Mad

Avery Ant The Freaky Wal-Mart Experience Writers issue cartoon row warning.
Salman Rushdie is among a dozen writers to have put their names to a statement in a French weekly paper warning against Islamic "totalitarianism".
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

Recent events, prompted by the publication of drawings of Muhammad in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values.

This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field.

It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism between West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration.

Preachers of hatred play on these feelings to build the forces with which they can impose a world where liberty is crushed and inequality reigns.

But we say this, loud and clear: nothing, not even despair, justifies choosing darkness, totalitarianism and hatred.

Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present.

Its victory can only lead to a world of injustice and domination: men over women, fundamentalists over others.

On the contrary, we must ensure access to universal rights for the oppressed or those discriminated against.

We reject the "cultural relativism" which implies an acceptance that men and women of Muslim culture are deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secularism in the name of the respect for certain cultures and traditions.

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", a wretched concept that confuses criticism of Islam as a religion and stigmatisation of those who believe in it.

We defend the universality of the freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit can exist in every continent, towards each and every maltreatment and dogma.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits in every country that our century may be one of light and not dark.

Blogads Survey

The BlogAds folks are doing their annual demographic survey, if you'd like to participate take a few minutes to fill out their questionnaire. Question #23 use onegoodmove.

Not Concerned Redux

In a major policy shift George Bush is Confident Bin Laden Will Be Captured it wasn't that long ago that he was "not that concerned." You didn't think we'd forgotten, did ya George, well did ya?



Quicktime Video 3.4 MB '42
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March 1, 2006

Dick Is A Killer

Lyrics from rx's great song " Dick is a Killer"
Download Song

Dick is a Killer

mr. speaker, the president of the united states...
mr. speaker...
mr. speaker, members of congress, mom and dad, last month a girl in lincoln, rhode island sent me a letter.
It began, "dear george w. bush, if there's anything you know, please send me a letter.
ps. kiss my ass."
dick dick dick dick dick is a killer.
it began at the end of june, in the casa blanca.
vice president cheney, you showed the way.
terrified and innocent, the desire growing stronger, submitting to the whim of one brutal man.
i feel free. i feel free. i feel free. i feel free. dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick is a killer.
i feel free.
last august 11, on the deck of a carrier in the pacific, i gave to you my complete commitment, and it is right.
i love you and i do not want to lose you.
my purposes are just, and true.
activity is increasing, and dick is on the rise.
by executive order we're on the manhunt, aboard the star ship enterprise.
the once all powerful ruler of iraq was found in a hole, and president clinton fucked it.
true.
president clinton fucked it.
ow! and farmers felt the sorrow.
yeah, farmers felt the sorrow.
i feel free.
farmers felt the sorrow, and one reason is clear...
dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick dick is a killer...
(...my ass)...fuck yourself, kiss my ass.
and i want you.
it's difficult to talk about.
and i want, 'cos you set me free.
and i want you, and i want you, and i want you, just as surely as dick is a killer...
(...my ass)....suck fuck my ass suck fuck my ass suck my dick fuck my ass
suck fuck my ass suck fuck my ass suck fuck my ass suck my dick fuck my ass suck my dick fuck my ass dick is a killer...
(...kiss my ass) fuck yourself kiss my ass.
i believe that god made me a woman.
i feel it in my heart, and this bitch's voice must be heard.
a sex change is the only certain way to preserve, the sanctity of marriage. we a living in historic times.
we are living in a time of great change.
our leadership and resolve can light the way for others.
and having come this far, and in the unfolding of the years, this country has a new friend called, shirley w. bush.
dick is a killer...(kiss my ass) ...dick is a killer...may god continue to bless america.
word.
i feel free. dick is a killer.
i feel free.

rx

George Bush Worst President Ever

Heckuva job George. You're a major league asshole and a pathological liar. Tape: Bush, Chertoff Warned Before Katrina (tip to Tiffany)




Quicktime Video 4.0MB 2'51
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Please

It's what friends do. I'm adding my voice to Frank's. Frank is distraught, Hugh MacLeod hasn't responded to his repeated requests to use a recent cartoon as a business card.  Hey Hugh?   How about you just take his money and let him use the image, okay?  P-p-p-p-lease?

Update: Break out the champagne, Frank tells me Hugh said yes. I know they'll both be very happy having tied the knot, or signed the agreement, or whatever it was they did to consummate the deal.

Larry King Interviews Jon Stewart II

This clip features Abramoff and K-Street, Democrats, Presidential Candidates, and humor. Larry King speaking of bad news querys Jon, you don't want it to be bad? Jon replies . . .



Quicktime Video 11.83MB 7'00
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No Quicktime 7. You really should upgrade but until then here is a YouTube version

The God Reflex

Think For Yourself! The God Reflex Tells Us How to Write Laws for 2006
With 2006 underway we find many important issues in public policy being addressed from the perspective of God's supposed opinion on the issue. The role of God in public policy is no sophomoric foil, as the many deaths over the Moslem cartoons remind us. There are so many such issues in the U.S. that turn on competing interpretations of God's will that we can list them alphabetically: abortion, birth control, cloning, death and dying decisions, euthanasia, farming conditions of animals, Golan Heights, homosexual unions…

This is a very serious issue underlying many policies that directly affect freedom, constitutional rights, and the type of world our children will live in, so it cannot be waived away as irreconcilable. We must look at why people refer to the will of gods or God. One likely explanation is the God Reflex.

The God Reflex is humanity's tendency to attribute anything not understood to God or gods. It is another example of the errors that result from our reluctance to simply say, "I don't know."

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