Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you, Barack Obama!

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers." - Barack Obama, inaugural speech, January 20, 2009

The inclusion of "nonbelievers" in Obama's inaugural speech this morning truly is a momentous occasion. I don't believe the tens of millions of us here in the U.S. have ever been acknowledged by a president in such a high profile manner. I'm grateful for this; it's a step in the right direction and exactly what I've come to expect from Obama. I'm optimistic about this administration.

I did cringe several times while watching the live broadcast of gay-basher Pastor Rick Warren's narrowly focused invocation, but then Rev. Joseph Lowery gave a benediction that was more inclusive, with more peace and love and less Jesus.

I watched the inauguration in an auditorium full of students and faculty at my university, and the crowd stood up whenever the crowd in D.C. was asked to stand. There weren't even any 9/11 Truthers yelling nonsense at the screen or harassing people outside the building. It was like the Libertarians hadn't rolled out of bed yet.

I was moved by Obama's speech in that he addressed the nation's weaknesses and didn't candy-coat anything:

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet."

Here's another highlight (reminds me of Benjamin Franklin's "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"):

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

And some more highlights:

"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint." (some not so veiled jabs at Bush?)

You can find a full transcript of the speech here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Beer Goggles Come Off

I wonder how Republicans are feeling right now about that super-hot earmarks reformer they fell in love with at the convention on Wednesday, now that the beer goggles have come off. As they nurse their hangovers, are they looking at her record of requesting more earmarks per person than any other state in the union, and feeling like they need a long shower and a trip to the clinic for some VD tests?

Of course, one could say something similar about my support of John Edwards in the primaries, but Edwards' main appeal did not involve making speeches about ending the practice of adultery in America.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Are bears really the #1 threat to America?

Sorry, Stephen T. Colbert. I think the real threat in the photograph below is the one in the skirt.

Sarah Palin, John McCain's so-called "hockey mom" pick for running mate, makes Hillary Clinton look like an altruistic saint. Nicknamed "The Killa from Wasilla" by environmental groups for her ties to big oil and her philosophy of "cut, kill, dig and drill," she is also an enormous threat to the separation of church and state and the integrity of science. She is a return to the intellectual Dark Age of the farthest right, which is exactly where McCain is steering himself in this campaign. Whatever "maverick" spirit he had left in him is dead. Here are a few things that anyone who calls this country home should be aware of (and unlike Palin's barbs slung at Obama on Wednesday, I am not pulling these out of my ass -- links have been provided so that you can check these out for yourself):

Sarah Palin has stated in a speech to her Pentecostal church that the Iraq War is "a task from God." She stated in the same speech that it is "God's will" to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the wilderness of Alaska.

Sarah Palin believes in stunting the intellectual development of American children by teaching Creationism (the belief that god created the Earth in 6 days, less than 10,000 years ago) in schools. This is a teaching that is completely antithetical to everything we know about the world today. The U.S. is already woefully behind when it comes to preparing students to enter careers in the sciences. This will put an enormous roadblock in the way of rational scientific inquiry.

Sarah Palin does not believe in stem cell research or a woman's right to choose an abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. She backs abstinence-only education, which has been shown to be a completely failed approach to reducing teen pregnancies (it is so hard to refrain from mentioning a certain pregnant teenage member of Palin's family here - it's just the irony...). Palin is also against "explicit sex-ed programs."

Palin attempted to fire the city librarian when she became mayor of Wasilla, because the librarian said she would not remove "objectionable books" from the library if asked to do so by Palin. The reason given for firing the librarian was that she "did not fully support" Palin. Fahrenheit 451, anyone?

Palin is presently under investigation in Alaska for another abuse of power. Just what we need more of after W and Cheney get the boot...

Sarah Palin is a member of the now small fringe of people who deny climate change (aka global warming). Why should she believe thousands of credible scientists and peer-reviewed research studies? She has God personally telling her to build pipelines in the wilderness. Kassie Siegel, of the Centre for Biological Diversity, had this to say about Palin's views: “Even the Bush Administration cannot deny the reality of global warming. The Governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this. She is either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming. ”

Palin supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would be environmentally disastrous for the area.

Sarah Palin supports aerial shooting of bears and wolves from helicopters, and used $400,000 of state money to fund a media campaign in support of it, EVEN THOUGH ALASKANS VOTED TWICE TO BAN THE PRACTICE. (Shooting bears and wolves from helicopters is inhumane, grievously injuring them more often than it kills them, and subjecting them to needless suffering. They are shot in large numbers and left to die). The reasons given for this practice are to protect caribou herds for human hunters, but it has been proven that wolves and bears make very little impact on caribou numbers, surviving mostly on smaller prey. Yet another example of unsound science. Palin also tried to get the state to give a $150 bounty to hunters for each wolf killed.

Hell, I would rather have a grizzly bear in office than Sarah Palin a breath away from it. The grizzly would probably demonstrate a much better aptitude for rational thinking and common sense. And Palin would make for a better rug.

Friday, February 01, 2008

2008 Presidential Endorsement REDUX!

Yes, my choice of Presidents for the atheist vote has "suspended" his campaign. What to do, what to do... After a brief period of WHAT THE @#%!, with a little bit of WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY thrown in for good measure, I decided to make my decision rationally. And no, it is not Ron "the separation of church and state is a myth" Paul.

My next endorsement may come as a surprise to some.

But at this stage, the most important thing, thinking rationally, is this: we can not have a President who will trample all over our civil liberties, get us into another endless war, and increase anti-American sentiment to the point that one of the rogue states we've sold nuclear secrets to drops the bomb on us. This translates to: the Republican candidate, be he Romney, Fuckabee, or McCain, MUST BE DEFEATED.

So I'm casting my vote for the lesser of all of the evils, who also happens to be the most electable Democrat after John Edwards, at this point, having actually inspired hordes of young voters and Independents to quit feeling disenfranchised and get out to the primaries. Perhaps this inadvertently had something to do with the writer's strike and the fact that the Democratic debates are the most exciting thing on television right now, but people are watching the debates in record numbers, and new voters are overwhelmingly casting their vote for one person.

Here are some quotes on the subject of religion, to introduce my second choice candidate:

"I was not raised in a religious household. For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness. However, in her mind, a working knowledge of the world's great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well."

"My faith is complicated by the fact that I didn't grow up in a particular religious tradition. When you come at it as an adult, your brain mediates a lot, and you ask a lot of questions."

"I went to a Catholic school in a Muslim country, so I was studying the Bible and catechisms by day, and, at night, you'd hear the [Muslim] prayer call. My mother was a deeply spiritual person. Her view always was that underlying these religions was a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself, but also for the greater good. I am a follower, as well, of our civic religion. I'm a big believer in the separation of church and state. I am a big believer in our constitutional structure. I'm a law professor at the University of Chicago teaching constitutional law."

Okay, if you haven't figured it out already, these are all quotes by Barack Obama. Who is not a Muslim, as some would have you believe.

Obama has consistently voted in favor of the separation of church and state, he is pro-choice, he supports stem cell research, and unlike Hillary Clinton, he has taken Edwards's challenge not to accept money from special interest lobbyists (very important, this). He has also opposed the war in Iraq from the start. Hillary Clinton has never apologized for her vote to use force in Iraq, unlike my first presidential choice John Edwards.

It is with a heavy heart that I turn away from the more populist Edwards, but rationally, I have no choice but to "Barack the Vote."

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Stop revisionist "Christian Nation" House Resolution 888!

From an important action alert by Secular Coalition for America:

Those who would have the United States be governed as a Christian theocracy are pushing H.Res. 888, another resolution which promotes a false and distorted Christian nation reinterpretation of our history. Teaching an unbiased account of our nation's founding and its governance will be curtailed; in its place supporters of this resolution clearly call for a revised history of the United States as a Christian nation.

Additionally, the resolution rejects constitutional requirements that government not establish religion. It calls on "our Nation's public buildings and educational resources" to be permitted to spread its specific revisionist history. We have seen the religious right attack science education in order to impose their theological beliefs on public school science curriculum. This is the first official attempt to encourage theological beliefs to interfere with accurate education about our nation's history.

The proposed resolution "recognizes that the religious foundations of faith on which America was built are critical underpinnings of our Nation's most valuable institutions and form the inseparable foundation for America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures"

The belief that "religious foundations of faith" are necessary for civil government was rejected by the founders when they produced a Constitution free of the mention of any god or gods. In the First Amendment to the Constitution, these founders further protected Americans from government establishment of religion and government interference with their private free exercise of religion and beliefs of conscience.

When those who don't hold religious foundations of faith serve on juries, provide witness testimonies in court, or are sworn into elected offices, our U.S. Constitution protects their rights by prohibiting religious tests. Our nation has recognized that those of us without "religious foundations of faith" are capable of supporting America's representative processes, legal systems, and societal structures -- based not on a god-belief, but on reason.

If you don't believe that history books should be revised to exclude the contributions of non-theists and other non-Christians, and that it is important to distinguish the vast difference between the freethinking Deism of the nation's Founders with the Christianity of today, please go here, fill in your name & location, and hit submit (it's as easy as that!):

Vote No on H.Res 888

To receive action alerts from The Secular Coalition for America, sign up here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


On incredibly short notice, it was announced Tuesday that Bill Clinton would visit my rural, Nascar-loving Northern California town the next day. Now, it must be mentioned that no sitting or ex-President has visited Humboldt County since 1969, when Lyndon B. Johnson came to dedicate a redwood grove in his wife's name. So there was sure to be some serious swarms of aspiring Monica Lewinksys flashing their tits, as well as the inevitable Ron Paul zombies peeing their pants at the thought of asking Bill about this week's fashionable conspiracy theories.

In a shortsighted move, Bill Clinton's campaign appearance was booked in a venue that seats only 400 people. The event was scheduled to begin at 6:30 PM, with the local media suggesting that people show up at 5:30. I decided to go at 4:00, at which point thousands of people had already lined up. So I gave up and decided to listen live on local radio. (I later found out that people had started showing up at 11 AM -- it was like the opening of a Star Wars film...)

Clinton spoke for about an hour without notes, after which it was advertised that there would be a Question & Answer session. The Q & A was what I was really interested in, but the speech proved to be more entertaining than I had hoped.

At one point, the usually suave Ex-President made a bizarre Freudian slip in which he referred to the current President George W. Bush as "Bill Cinton." It was in reference to us borrowing money from other countries that do not have our best interests at heart. One of the statements he made was "Every day, we borrow money to cover Bill Clinton's tax cut!" I did not hear this wrong. The two other people listening in the room with me confirmed this "what the @%#&!?" moment (which you will not hear on the radio station's podcast, by the way, as it conveniently cuts the speech off before anything strange begins to happen).

At another point I took a bathroom break and returned to hear Bill making some sort of convoluted analogy about a "donut hole," saying "In college we used to use 'donut hole' as a euphemism." I listened for uncomfortable giggles in the live audience, but they seemed to be holding back more effectively than I was. It turned out that, rather than anything dirty, he was talking about health care and people slipping through the cracks - the "donut hole," if you will. Why he chose this particular analogy is beyond me. It eventually began to dawn on me that perhaps Bill had been partaking of some of the most profitable local export...

When the speech was over, the radio commentators began a play-by-play of Bill Clinton making his way into the crowd to pose for pictures, wondering when the advertised Q & A session would begin. One of the two radio commentators admitted that he had not been listening to the speech, and that he was "working on his own project" while Clinton spoke. The other commented on the fact that there was "a lot less security than expected, but it must have been enough, because nothing happened." At which point the second DJ said, "Nothing has happened yet." This was followed by an awkward, anticipatory silence that made me wonder exactly what sort of "project" this DJ had been busy working on during the speech, and whether it involved enriched uranium.

The Question and Answer session I had tuned in for never did materialize. No one was given the opportunity to publicly ask Bill Clinton what his favorite 4/20 activities include, whether he knew about the government's complicity in 9/11, what his wife will do about the Reptilian race that lives inside the Earth's crust, or whether he prefers Petrolia Headstash or Californian Skunk (which would have been our equivalent to the girl who asked Hillary "diamonds or pearls" at a recent debate).

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I've Been Converted!

I know that just a couple posts ago, I implied that the "Nielsen Families" who decide which television shows the American public is "watching" do not really exist. And that if they do, they must either be evil androids or evil clones. I mean, who knows a Nielsen family? And look at the drivel these "people" are watching...

Well, I have to be an adult and admit that I was wrong.

I just received a postcard in the mail from Nielsen Media Research that reads:

"It is our pleasure to tell you that your household has been chosen to be a 'Nielsen Family'...for a one week TV survey!"...And it goes on to tell me that they will telephone me soon, which they did (but my roommate told them truthfully that we do not watch television). I was a little irked at him for ruining my chances of skewing their survey.

So...I must grudgingly admit that I now believe in Nielsen families.

...But does anyone else think their timing is a little suspicious? I mean, I accuse them of being a shady organization that manipulates what we continue to see on TV, and suddenly I get a postcard from them, inviting me to be part of a survey... Hmmmmm....

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