Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hoot Smalley & Michele Bachmann

It turns out that Stuart Smalley's grandfather, Hoot, with his notorious Hoot Smalley Tariff Act, was solely responsible for the Great Depression, which wasn't nearly as bad as the recession that Silent Cal Coolidge had to deal with in the 1920s, and that commie bastard FDR made the US suffer for ten more years because of his socialist ideas...

Don't believe me? Here's noted expert on American History Michele Bachmann speaking to that very issue:

This would actually be a lot funnier if it weren't so sad and scary. Poor Michele is doing the best she can to parrot the talking points of the Idiot Wing of the Rethug Party (but I repeat myself...), but she just can't get it down. And neither can the American public, most of whom might have been paying attention in HS history class and know that the tariff was Smoot-Hawley (named for its sponsors, both of whom were -- surprise -- Republicans), it was signed by Herbert Hoover (another Republican), that the recession of the early 1920s was mild in comparison to the Great Depression, and that it was FDR who got us out of that depression. But as I've always said, facts are inconvenient things to the Rethugs. In fact, they must think of them as something akin to rattlesnakes, since they take great pains to avoid them at every turn.

How'd you like to be a resident of Bachmann's district (Minnesota 6th, which stretches north and west from Minneapolis-St. Paul) and have a national political clown be the face of your home town?

But it's great for the rest of us. As long as wackos like Michele and nasties like Rusty Limpdick are the public face of the Rethug party, the more strength the Democrats will gain between now and the next election.

[Thanx & HT to A World Quite Mad for the story tip]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rethug Survey - This is Fun!

When you're as active on the Internets as I am, you get signed up with all kinds of entities.

Like the Republican Party.

Which is why I got an invitation to fill our their "State of the Party" survey online. Some of the questions are hilarious, kind of the "have you stopped beating your wife" variety:

· A recent national poll reported that nearly 25% of Americans want the government to pass more socialism. Do you agree or disagree?
· Do you oppose so-called "card-check" legislation, which eliminates secret ballot elections during unionization drives and puts workers at risk of intimidation by labor bosses?
· Should Republicans unite in opposition to judicial nominees who bring a personal, left-wing agenda on social issues to their jobs as judges?
· Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?
· Should bureaucrats in Washington, DC be in charge of making your health care choices instead of you and your doctor?
I have no idea where those suspiciously-regular "25%" numbers come from or what poll they are talking about, since it isn't identified, but that doesn't really matter to the Rethugs. After all, they are proudly not a part of the Reality-Based Community.

Go check out the survey for yourself and answer the questions.

Feel free to skew their results -- they'd do it to us if they had the chance. They ask for a name and an email address, but that's no problem for those of us who have "anonymous" accounts with GMail or Yahoo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bybee's a Moron Mormon? -- The Chile Connection

Okay, it might seem like I'm blowing a one-note trumpet here, but as you all know, I've been thinking some about the Church of the Latter Day H8te lately.

So, given all that I know about the One True Church, it doesn't surprise me that one of the chief architects of the BFEE Jack-Bauer-Is-God torture doctrine -- better known by its official milktoasty namby-pamby inoffensive bureaucratic name of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" -- was one Jay Bybee, a proud graduate of Bring'em Young University and who, coincidentally (or not), was on a Mormon mission in, of all places, Chile during the overthrow of Salvador Allende and the installation of the murderous Augusto Pinochet regime.

And the chief hallmark of the Pinochet regime, for those who have been living under a rock since 1973, was ... torture!

I'm just saying.

But think about it: He was young, he was impressionable (to say the least) and he was a whole-hearted adherent to that rigid authoritarianism that is the hallmark of the patriarchal One True Church. And the US government, as well as all of its lockstep goose-stepping propaganda arms (which even back then included the Moron Mormon Church), was on record both overtly and covertly as opposing the "Marxist" regime of Allende, and supporting the repressive dictatorship of Pinochet.

So there was poor Jay Bybee, in the middle of it all. No wonder that he grew up to think that torture was kindness, that down was up, that left was right, and that, in the words engraved on every Wehrmacht belt buckle from the start of the German Empire through World War II, "Gott mit uns"...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Waterboarding Slanthead Hannity for Charity!

There's now a website where you can pledge to give money to charity for every second or ten seconds or whatever -- the possibilities are numerous -- that Mister Rethuglican undergoes waterboarding.

I'm willing to kick in a double sawbuck -- not that I'm ever going to have to pony up, because Hannity is such a douchebag that he'll be squealing like a stuck pig before the water ever hits that cloth over his breathing holes.

Drop on by the website and pledge some cash. If he actually does go through with it, it'll go to a good cause, and if he doesn't -- the pussified wimp -- he'll be humiliated in front of millions.

Not that Rethugs are actually capable of feeling shame... But it'll be fun for the rest of us to watch. Hell, I'd even cough up some cash for pay-per-view to see that.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hometown Paper Blues

Many of you know something of my history -- I was raised on a diary farm in rural (and liberal!) Oklahoma in the 1950s, and then moved to the small milltown of Longview Washington where I graduated high school.

So naturally I always read what I consider my "hometown" newspaper, the Longview Daily News to keep up on local happenings, watch the arrests of my former classmates, etc.

They also have, as do so many other online newspapers, the ability to comment on various news stories.

Which leads me to today's post. The Washington State Legislature (filled as it is for the first time in umpteen years with a clear Democratic majority) passed a law allowing same-sex domestic partners for the first time to have all of the legal rights that a married couple has.

So what do the knuckledraggers in Longview do? Naturally they come unglued, with the same old tired arguments that we've heard a million times before:

·"Liberal" social engineering
·"Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"
·"Special" rights for homosexuals
·"Sex with animals"
·"Child molesting"
· etc etc etc ad infinitum ad nauseum.
You know, all the usual weak and stupid and crazy and bigoted illogical arguments.
See the full discussion, and look for Farnsworth's commentary down towards the end, where he asks a very simple question:
Interesting discussion by the usual gang of small-minded provincial louts.
No one has yet answered the question, though: 'What effect will legalized gay marriage have on YOUR marriage, YOUR lifestyle choices, YOUR family?' I'm not talking about some abstract society-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket handwringing sob story crap -- you know, the same s*&t that was used when cross-racial intermarriage was legalized, or when black children were integrated into white schools, or when the slaves were freed. How will it affect YOUR life?
No answers yet, but the day is young...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Amnesty for Torturers

Sign the petition today at and send a message to Atty General Eric Holder that we don't agree with that Obama Administration decision to not pursue charges against the assholes at the top of the BFEE who designed, instigated and carried the US policy of torture over the last eight years.

If this country stands for anything, it ought to stand for this. I don't give a shit how many times the assholes at the top of the heap have watched Jack Bauer do his magic, it's just a fucking television show! Get a grip! Torture doesn't work -- everyone knows that. Even Grampa McCain, back when he had some balls and wasn't sucking up to the right wing, knew that and wasn't shy about speaking out about it. And there's a guy who knows a little bit about torture.

So Mr. Attorney General, hear the voice of the people: No amnesty for torturers. We didn't give amnesty to torturers after WWII and the world was better off for it for a long time.

If you have to waterboard someone 183 times in one month, you gotta figure that just maybe your strategy isn't working. Time to move on to something else that might work. Such as the interrogation techniques in the bible of such stuff, the Army Interrogation Field Manual (the old version, before Donnie-the-Dick Rumsfeld had his way with it...).

This has been my single biggest disappointment in the Obama Adminstration.

While I doubt that it will be, I sincerely hope that it is the last.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mormons Baptize . . . Adolf Hitler???!!!

During my research on what exactly it would take to get me on that "Mormon Blacklist", I rediscovered what was already pretty commonly known, that the Mormons (who believe in "baptism for the dead", as bizarre as that seems is) were baptizing wholesale as many Jewish victims of the Holocaust as they could get their genealogical hands on, and apparently that insulting and creepy practice continued even after an official injunction prohibited them from doing it.

But I was completely -- totally -- blown away by the news that the Church of Latter Day H8te had actually -- really, truly, factually -- performed one of their baptism-for-the-dead rites for none other than ... Adolf Hitler!!!!!

I know, I know, it sounds like a skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus, or a Mel Brooks "Springtime for Hitler" shtick, but apparently it is true.

So what this means, evidently, is that in the eyes of the Moron Mormon god, even fucking Adolf Hitler was not so evil as to be kept out of the so-called Celestial Kingdom (after the requisite "proxy baptism", of course) but all of those poor fucked up ex-mormons who managed to get themselves excommunicated from the Kingdom of the Saints because they were gay are NOT fucking good enough to get in????

Is that really what the fucking message here is?????

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More on a Mormon Upbringing

In case you didn't follow that link to the Steve Benson 2002 article, Diversity Not Perversity: My Prison Break from the Homophobia of Mormonism, here's another chance.

In it Steve -- who himself is a member of the "Mormon Royalty" -- basically rips a new one, not only for his addled and senile grandfather but also the so-called "general authorities" of The One True Church.


My grandfather [Ezra Taft Benson, 'prophet, seer and revelator'] was raised on a farm in southern Idaho, where he milked cows. Being a dairy farmer, he insisted we drink only heterosexual milk. None of that homo-genized stuff.
Seriously, to understand the influences of my childhood, it is necessary to put my early attitudes and beliefs within the context of Benson family home life. Essentially, my home provided basic training for war against the forces of evil. As a youth, I was commanded by my grandfather to follow the "marching orders" of the "living prophet." Those commands meant a frontal assault (but no frontal nudity) against such insidious influences as:
--Martin Luther King, who, I was taught by my grandfather, was a notorious liar, civil rights agitator and communist-inspired sympathizer;
--African-Americans in general who, I was told by my parents, were cursed and "different;"
--liberals (especially Democrats) who, I was indoctrinated to believe, were misguided political drifters serving as the devil’s designated thorns in the sides of God’s Republican servants;
--scientists and intellectuals who, I was warned, were the stiff-necked followers of the anti-Christ;
--the Beatles, who according to John Birch material scattered around our house within easy reach of the children, were trained by Soviet musicians as part of a plot to corrupt America’s youth.
--John F. Kennedy who, I was told on the day of his assassination by my well-meaning but deluded John Bircher mother, got what he deserved;
--and last but not least, working mothers and homosexuals who, I was instructed, were perversions of the natural order.
No one can fault Steve for his exposé -- okay, I take it back: The Moron Mormon Church faults him, and faults him Big Time. I'm sure he's on The List.

As an aside, it was none other than Ezra Taft Benson, when he was secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, by instituting some draconian measures against the small farmers in the milk industry (primarily eliminating federal price supports because they were "socialistic"), that drove not only my family but all of our small diary farmer neighbors into poverty and forced us off of our Oklahoma dairy farms and into a new Grapes of Wrath-type of desperate migration to the West Coast.

It was especially galling since Benson was, or had been, a diary farmer himself and theoretically should have known better. But no, he had to fight those goddamn commies wherever he found them, and if you could find one underground in an Oklahoma diary farm sleeper cell, then they are obviously everywhere!

Mormon "Family Values"

Yeah, the Church of the Latter Day Hate "Saints" is all about "family values".

Just ask them.

But not so fast there, Brother Brigham. They're all about family values except when those family values come smack up against Mormon doctrinal brick walls. Such as polygamy and racism and homophobia (this is an important essay, written by Steve Benson, excommunicated Mormon, and the very grandson of "prophet seer and revelator" Ezra Taft Benson).

Here's a chilling tale, from way back in 2002, of what happened to one Mormon family when their son -- oh the horror -- "came out" to his parents.

No one can argue that the Hardy family was not the textbook Mormon family: They were both descendants of Mormon "royalty", the father was a Mormon bishop, the mother was a typically-Mormon stay-at-home wife, they had six children and they lived in "Zion" (aka Utah).

So what the fuck went wrong?

The answer is easy: The Hardys, the bastards, the apostate motherfuckers, had the effrontery, the audacity, the gall, the fucking nerve to allow one of their children turn out to be a ... dare I say it? ... homosessual!!!!!!!

And, as we all know, that is something that just doesn't fucking happen in happy well-adjusted Mormon families.

But it did.

Read the full story of what happened to the Hardys, and then do what you can to welcome those who have moved on past Mormonism into the fold of the civilized community.

And, lest we forget, one of the torturer-murderers convicted in the Matthew Shepherd atrocity was totally-Mormon totally-brainwashed full-time-homophobic-asshole Russell Henderson...

A terrific website for ex-mormons is Post Mormon, which offers help and support for the newly-excommunicated newly ex-mormon new member of the Reality-Based Community. They welcome as well those who left the church in the past but who are still coming to grips with the disruption to their pschic well-being.

Remember, as in any cult, once someone makes the break with it, they are shunned and rejected, and many times this is from the only social organization that they ever felt a part of.

Those who are making the break from the cult need all the help we can give them. If you personally know any struggling ex-Mormons, please reach out to them and let them know that there is life after excommunication, that there are people on the outside who will welcome them and care for them and help them with their struggles.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coming Soon Near You! A Teabagging Party

This has had me laughing for weeks, ever since I first heard about the "teabagging parties" being organized by the bitter foes of Big Spending -- you know, the same ones who were SOOOO vocal about their guy Baby Doc running up the national deficit to previously unimaginable heights.

Here's a bootleg copy of one of the organizers talking about the upcoming teabag parties:

Obviously no one over there in wingnutteryland did the slightest amount of homework on this topic. If they had, they might have gone with another concept for their "tax protest"...

Or maybe not. After all, they are a bunch of rightwing sexual deviants...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The "Mormon Blacklist"

Apparently there's a Mormon Blacklist, which you get put on if you are critical of The One True Church.

I don't know for sure that I am on it, but if I am not, it's not for lack of trying.

And I really don't know what the downside is of being on The List. Maybe when Jesus comes back, it's one of those "Jesus is coming! Look busy! Oops, sucks to be you, Farnsworth" things. I just don't know.

But if I am, in fact, on that blacklist, then all I can say is "Thank you!"

If the Mormon Cult is correct in its weird theology, then the worst that can happen is that I will be bound for the "Outer Darkness", where there will be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth...

But, in the words of musical genius Billy Joel, "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints; the sinners have much more fun"...

'Nuff said.

Blog Against Theocracy Sunday Funnies

I love Sundays because that's when I get to drop by my good friend BAC's Yikes! blog and see her weekly Sunday funnies.

Today, in honor of Blog Against Theocracy Weekend, she's got some really great on-topic ones, including this oldie from Herblock:

It's obviously from the Reagan era, which ought to give us pause to realize that we have to be in this fight for the long haul.

A "Post-Christian" Nation?

A statistic from the 2009 American Religious Identification Survey holds that the number of people in this country who are unchurched -- who claim no religious affiliation -- has very nearly doubled since 1990, from 8 percent to 15 percent. Newsweek carried a lengthy and provocative commentary entitled The End of Christian America by John Meacham:

According to the American Religious Identification Survey ... the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent. The Jewish population is 1.2 percent; the Muslim, 0.6 percent. A separate Pew Forum poll echoed the ARIS finding, reporting that the percentage of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith has doubled in recent years, to 16 percent; in terms of voting, this group grew from 5 percent in 1988 to 12 percent in 2008—roughly the same percentage of the electorate as African-Americans.
There's a lot more to Meacham's commentary -- and there are also any number of Fundo-Xian sites that are critical of his reading of the stats.

So, while it's kind of fun to consider an end to Christian dominance over the culture -- and the government -- we are in a fool's paradise if we think that the Fundos are going to just roll over on this. No, they will be even more virulent, even more demanding, even more protective of what they can see slipping away from them. The Culture Wars used to be just a handy metaphor. As the Fundos get weirder and crazier about their precious values being stripped away (in their view), that Culture War may be less of a metaphor and more of a reality. Since November the rightwing wackos have been buying up weapons in mind-staggering quantities, Crazy Lady Congressperson Michelle Bachmann is encouraging her followers to be "armed and dangerous", and that nutjob in Pittsburgh who killed three cops over a pissing dog was a former rightwing hate-radio host who stockpiled food and weapons in anticipation of impending Armageddon.

I'm afraid it's going to get worse before it gets better. The Fundo-Xians won't rest until they have turned this nation into an Xian theocracy and instituted a Christianized Sharia Law. And god help the rest of us if that happens.

The Biggest Threat

Ask the average member of the Moron-American voting bloc what the biggest threat facing the United States is and he'll probably mouth some Faux News/BFEE-induced nonsense about "Islamofascism" and the like.

He would be wrong. Very wrong.

The biggest threat facing our nation is not external. It is found in the bedrock christofascism found in so many Fundo Xian niches across the country. These people are serious -- and openly honest -- about their desire to turn this free country over to an Americanized version of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

A case in point -- and a very scary one it is -- is the almost-unknown infiltration by these Radical Christianists into the US military.

It all started fairly innocuously. The US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs had a showing of the Mel Gibson Christianist propaganda film, The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre (a/k/a The Passion of the Christ). But, not content just to show this execrable movie as part of their regular movie night experience, the Fundo Xians in charge of this shit browbeat each and every cadet into going to see it.

Naturally afterward, those already Fundo cadets were found to be calling their fellow cadets who were Jewish "Christ Killers", "fucking Jews", and worse. The brass at the academy did nothing to put a stop to this. In fact, the Xian cadets were aided and abetted in this Nazi-like behavior by their higher ups.

Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. It has spread throughout the military, with such formal organizations as the Officers' Christian Fellowship and the Christian Military Fellowship. Promotions and perks are often based on an individual's participation in these organizations.

Thank the gods for the timely appearance of Michael "Mikey" Weinstein. He's the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and there's a lengthy and enlightening interview with him on the Philadelphia Jewish Voice website that is well worth the time it takes to read it (that's where I stole the "Jesus Chainsaw Massacre" title above).


. . . we are at war with a small subset of evangelical Christianity – about 12.6% of the American public, about 38 million Americans – the Premillenial, Dispensational, Reconstructionist Dominionist, Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians who believe they have an unlimited right to push their particular biblical worldview (the gospel of Jesus Christ) irrespective of time, place and manner, regulation by our Constitution of any other type of law. That is to say, if we were not talking about the freedom of religion, but we were talking about the freedom of speech, they would believe they had the right to scream “fire” in a crowded theater.
. . .
Now, I remind you, Hitler never had more than eight percent of the German citizenry in the Nazi party; I don’t think Stalin ever had more than 2.9 percent of his closest association. So, this is plenty, particularly when you are talking about a command and control structure like the U.S. military. The frightening prospect that our conventional and nuclear forces--technologically the most lethal organization ever created by humankind—was falling into the hands of a Christian Taliban.
. . .
My eldest son, Casey, graduated from the Air Force Academy in the class of 2004, as did his wife, Amanda, a Christian. They both experienced this, both of them did. My daughter-in-law was “asked” by the commanding general, the commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy, to go out an essentially harvest non-Christian cadets and bring them to the New Life Church, where they had those shootings a couple weeks ago. Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, headed that organization until it came out that he had a homosexual liaison in Denver.
. . .
Whenever a virulent form of any religious faith --- in this case Christianity --- has engaged the machinery of the state --- and those are not my words, they are the words of our U.S. Supreme Court . . . where all the sticks and stones are that break our bones, the armed forces -- whenever that has happened, we have seen that train leave the station before over the last 2,000 years. It goes to a one-town Slaughterville, because we do not end up with little creeks, rivers creeks, ponds and lakes. We end up with oceans and oceans of blood, usually beginning with Jewish blood.
Now I can look on the calendar, I can see that it’s January 2008 and I can make a strong case that it is January 1937. It is happening over again. We are about a Tiger Woods’ two-inch putt away from a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in this country. It is starting with the completely controlling U.S. military.
Now that is some scary shit. Especially when these fuckers are working hand-in-hand with their identical-twin Fundo Xians in Blackwater.

So if you have a few bucks to donate to the most worthy of causes, go to Mikey's website and drop some cash on him. He has a big battle in front of him and he needs all the help we can provide.

[Originally published Wednesday, January 23, 2008]

Is This a "Christian Nation"?

Grandpa McCain said so a while back -- "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation", but immediately had to backpedal a bit to say we are "a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles".

And that's a corner that you can back a lot of Fundo Xians into when they start spouting that "Christian Nation" bullshit, but they tend to stop there, dig in their heels and insist that the United States was founded on "Christian principles" (ironically, as we shall see, they tend not to give the Jews a lot of credit in these things).

Usually when the subject comes up, it's within the Fundo-Xian snake-handling bible-thumping tradition that, for example, excoriates those liberal-atheistic-commie-pinko activist judges in the Federal courts for telling Judge Roy Moore that he couldn't display on public property that giant carved rock containing the Ten Commandments, or some such similar nonsense. And note that it's almost always some kind of rabid frothing at the mouth over the "suppression" of the Ten Commandments -- other bibilical topics get pretty short shrift with these people.

Okay, so maybe they have a point: Maybe the United States was founded on the Ten Commandments. I think an examination of the appropriate part of the so-called Holy Bible is in order. So here, complete and unexpurgated, is the section of Exodus wherein can be found the Big Ten:

Exodus 20
1 And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
And there you go. Now let's take a look at the US Constitution and see how many of these holy-writ directions from god ended up there.

Go ahead, read it. I'll still be here when you get back.

Okay, done? Now, what is your answer?

What??? None of them, you say??? But how can that be, if the Founding Fathers, the authors of the Constitution, founded this nation on Christian principles?

Okay, maybe the Fundos don't really mean the Constitution when they say that. Maybe they mean just those general laws passed to govern behavior in society. You know, state criminal codes and stuff like that.

I will concede that it appears that a handful of the commandments managed to make it into the laws: Murder, perjury, theft (and, in some jurisdictions, adultery). But those laws about murder and theft, etc., are not particularly biblical -- pretty much every civilized society in the history of the world has had similar laws, for obvious reasons: Without them a civilized society would deteriorate rapidly into anarchy or dictatorship. You don't need a supernatural revelation from The Flying Spaghetti Monster to figure that one out...

But back to the Big Ten. You really have to wonder why ALL of them didn't get into our laws. After all, if we were founded on these principles, why would only some of them make the cut? And why were the two "biggies" -- no other gods, no graven images -- kept out?

Oh, but that's the OLD Testament, you say, and the "true" Christian Principles are really found in the New Testament. (Even though we all know that's it's really the Old Testament that the vast majority of these Fundos are referring to when they talk about this -- they don't want to be bothered with the New Testament and all that "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" crap. I think maybe it sounds too much like namby-pamby wimpy-assed nancy-boy socialism to them.).

Okay, so go grab yourself one of those nifty "red letter" editions of the New Testament and look up the words of Jesus. They're printed in red so they are easy to find. Then pop on back and tell me which of THOSE principles are incorporated into the Constitution.

Never mind, don't go to the extra trouble. You won't find 'em there, either.

So, regardless of the particular religion or the spiritual/supernatural beliefs (or lack thereof) of those Founding Fathers, not a single one of them insisted that those "Christian Principles" be enshrined in the most important secular document the world has ever seen.

Jeez, this isn't rocket surgery, but you'd more easily convince Rush Limbaugh to suck Hillary Clinton's toes than you would trying to make one of those Fundo-Xian knuckledraggers understand this stuff.

[Originally published on Sunday, February 18, 2008]

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rewriting American History

Leave it to the Fundos. Not content to overtly attempt to turn this nation into a Fundo Xian Theocracy through the ballot box, they've set out to do a fundamental rewrite of American history, apparently on the infamous Jesuit theory of "give me a child until he's seven and I will give you the man".

It's an easy two-step process: (1) Change beliefs about the origin of the US Democracy, and then (2) Institute theocracy.

Bruce Wilson over at Talk to Action has a damning piece entitled How Fake American History Feeds Christian Nationalism on the current activities of the Fundo Xian wingnuttery on just this topic:

... a 2007 poll from the First Amendment Center showed that 65% of Americans believe the founders intended the US to be a Christian nation and 55% from that poll thought the US Constitution establishes the US as a Christian nation ... Democratic Party politicians are terrified of being tarred as "anti-Christian" and they lack the political advisers who can tell them how to effectively deflect such attacks. Thus, they tend to vote as, at least, "soft" Christian nationalists regardless of their personal religious views.
Read the rest of and then gird yourself for the coming battle. I have a feeling that, since these people aren't grounded in the reality-based community, it will take a lot of blood, toil, sweat and tears to stop them.

As Farnsworth always says, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

[Originally published on Monday Jan 7, 2008]

Religion and Politics

You wouldn't know it from listening to the Fundo Xian talking heads, mouth breathers and other assorted moronic fairy-tale believers on the right wing, but the United States Constitution mentions religion exactly twice:

Article. VI. - Debts, Supremacy, Oaths
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. [Emphasis added]
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And that's it. Christian nation, my ass.

So why is it that the major Dems are falling all over themselves to prove who's the better Xian?
"I'm more religious than you are!"
"No, you're not. I'm more religious!"
"Are not!"
"Am too!"
What is this, the fifth grade playground?

Well, the answer is that this article and amendment, like most of the Constitution under the present regime, have been rendered "quaint". That and that 28% or so of people who identify themselves as Evangelical have an untoward influence on the political scene that is completely out of proportion to their actual numbers.

Just once I'd like to hear a candidate for president say, in answer to some dickhead media asshole asking about his/her religion, "I believe that one's religion is a deeply personal matter, and the constitution states that there shall be no religious test for holding office, so I respectfully decline to answer, but thank you for your question."

Yeah, like that's ever gonna happen.

Oh and that part about "oath or affirmation"? It means this: If you do not believe in god, you do not have to swear an oath. Instead you make an affirmation that what you are saying is true.

When I was an investigator for the state, I had to testify on numerous occasions. In the early days I was asked to hold up my right hand and swear that what I was about to say was the truth, blah blah blah, so help me god. Inevitably, since I thought that it would be hypocritical to swear to a god I didn't believe in, I'd have to interrupt the proceedings and inform the court or the administrative law judge that I would not swear an oath, but rather would affirm to the truthfulness of my testimony, under penalty of perjury.

So after several years of this nonsense, they finally "got it" and in the later years they streamlined it to "I do solemnly swear or affirm" etc., and left off the god part at the end.

A welcome change, if you ask me. And I often wondered how many people in my position just went along with it, swearing an oath to a god they didn't believe in, just because they didn't want to "make waves". Probably a lot.

[Originally published Tuesday, October 16, 2007]

If Atheists Ruled the World...

Here's an absolutely hilarious deadpan presentation by a group of young actors speaking lines taken directly from an Internet Fundo forum:

I don't know how many takes they had to do, but all props to this group of young actors for keeping a straight face through the whole thing.

[HT to Tengrain over at Mock, Paper, Scissors]

Baptist Minister Says America Not a Christian Nation

That ought to be big news, since the Baptists in general have come a long ways since the days when they were all concerned supporters of Separation of Church and State. Now that their particular style of Fundo-Xian bullshit has become mainstream on the Religious Right, they naturally have a completely different view of things.

So why isn't it big news? Because I gave you only half of the story. That headline reads in full "America not a Christian nation based on its current state" (emphasis added).

Here's the complete story from the Springfield MO News-Leader. It's actually a "think-piece" commentary written by Baptist minister (and apparent skinhead -- check out the photo that accompanies the story) Brian Baker of tiny Everton, MO (pop 322). It's not clear how tiny Everton, nestled away in the Ozarks of SE Missouri, has the clout to get its favorite Fundo a seat at the table, but there he is.

So Baker rails on and on about the usual suspects and the same old crap using the same old logical fallacies:

If we were a Christian nation, abortion would not be the law of the land. If we were truly Christian, Roe v. Wade would either have been overturned or more importantly, would never have became law. Because of Roe v. Wade, the curse of God has come upon America. In roughly 40 years, we went from the world's largest creditor nation to the world's largest debtor nation. Deuteronomy 28:12 describes this as when a nation is under the curse of God. If abortion isn't struck down soon as the law of the land, then this nation will experience the judgment of God.
Were we at one point in the past a Christian nation? Not officially, but we were a nation that was overwhelmingly Christian. Over time though, we changed and have become hedonistic, greedy, and arrogant. If America will repent, we can experience the blessings of God once again. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (King James Version)
I just love that false dichotomy between being "Christian" or being "hedonistic, greedy, and arrogant". These guys are pretty funny.

Baker apparently picked up his tone at the "poor poor pitiful me" section of Whineymart, and be sure to check out some of the comments that readers have left. So many of them are buying into the whole "Xians are being persecuted" meme that the wingnuttery loves so much (you know, the "War" on Xmas, a return to the Fairness Doctrine will force religious stations to give equal time to Satan, etc etc).

And that meme is especially dangerous. The more of their blind followers these Fundo Xian churches can get to swallow that Christianity-Under-Attack bullshit, the more likely it will be that the less mentally balanced among them will feel threatened to the point of "fighting back". Never mind that whole namby-pamby long-haired-hippie-type Jesus telling you to turn the other cheek. They don't believe in that crap. No, they will be perfectly willing to martyr themselves for the greater good of the Xian religion -- and these are of course the first people who decry "Islamofascist homicide bombers" (that's a term that a lot of the rightwing tried to get ginned up in place of "suicide bombers" but naturally, since that phrase doesn't even make sense in context, not even Faux News could give that one any traction) when their persecution-complex co-religionists over on "the other side" do it.

What was that supposedly old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times"? I think we're there...

Today's Quote

Guess who said this:

The national government ... will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality.
Today Christians ... stand at the head of [our country]. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press — in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... few years.
Sounds like something out of the Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell et al. playbook, doesn't it? A LOT like it, in fact.

So who did say it?

Give up?

Adolph Hitler!!! (From The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1, Michael Hakeem, Ph.D. (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pp. 871-872.)

[Originally published on Monday, January 07, 2008]

Think a Conjoined Church and State is a Good Idea?

Really? Well, this is one of those "be careful what you ask for because you just might get it" questions. Let's take a look at the last time this happened in the traditions of "Western Civilization".

Although a bunch of wingnut Koolaid drinkers have gone to some length to try to deny it, you don't have to look any farther than Nazi Germany for proof that the melding of church and state is never a good idea.

Take a look at the photographs on this page for a stark visual reminder of what can happen when the church and the state get into bed together.

Not convinced by a bunch of photographs? How about taking a look at the scholarly study, Theologians Under Hitler by Robert P. Ericksen PhD, or, for those with a short attention span, check out the DVD of the same title. The premise of the book and the film is that even the most reputable and "normal" theologians can readily accommodate themselves to the banality of evil and see the attractiveness of a church-state combination.

The right wing can try to weasel out of this all they want, but facts are facts and their denials are Just. Fucking. Wrong!

Okay, I hear you saying, but that was Germany, and they are among the "others". So you want an example in an English-speaking context? How about Oliver Cromwell and his attempts to establish a Protestant theocracy in England after his Roundheads overthrew -- and chopped the head off of -- the English king, Charles I. His genocidal activities against the Irish Catholics are still highly resented in the Irish Republic and among Irish descendants world wide.

Our best and last hope to prevent this in the US lies in organizations such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. I am proud to be a member of AU. Please consider joining us, so you can help us make our collective voices heard.

Remember: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

[Originally published on Sunday, January 27, 2008]

Friday, April 10, 2009

D.U.N.G. Let This Happen to You -- Be Afraid!

Watch this simple but terrific animated video parody of that incredibly stupid National Organization for Marriage "Gathering Storm" Be-Afraid-Be-Very-Afraid television ad:

As AdLibFRT, the creator of this video says, "'The Gay' is spreading fear and concern throughout America. The time to fight for prejudice is now! Watch this tv spot for D.U.N.G., it may save your marriage!"

Oh, and be sure to see this video response to that same NOM ad: Response to the Lies.... Watch for Bill Murray in Ghostbusters utter that deathless line about the end of civilization as we know it -- "Dogs and cats, living together!"

[HT to my good friend BAC over at Yikes!]

Mormons, Blood Atonement and the Separation of Church and State

In this country we are fortunate enough to have a miniature laboratory experiment in what can happen when the church and the state are commingled.

The state is Utah and the church is Mormon. No one can doubt the immense religious, social and political power that the Mormon Church wields over its members. Their actions in the recent Prop Hate debacle in California was enough to prove that ten times over.

Now the church -- along with its poor benighted sock-puppets-of-god members -- is quick to disagree with that, preferring to give lip service to that whole "render unto Caesar..." thing in the New Testament, but an examination of their history and especially their "official" doctrine gives the lie to that position.

No less an authority than Mormon "apostle" (you don't get very much higher in the church hierarchy than being one of the Twelve Apostles) Bruce McConkie, in his monumental work Mormon Doctrine, says, in connection with a discussion on the Mormon doctrine of "blood atonement" (an antithetical-to-Christianity concept that there are some sins that the blood of Christ did not wash away and therefore the blood of the sinner must be shed -- which is why Utah remains the only state to administer its death penalty by firing squad), that the "...doctrine can only be practiced in its fullness in a day when the civil and ecclesiastical laws are administered in the same hands".

Got that? can only be practiced in its fullness in a day when the civil and ecclesiastical laws are administered in the same hands. No separation of church and state for those people, no sirree.

Utah's bizarrely arcane liquor laws were the laughingstock of the nation for years, but the Mormons were never big on banning booze outright. In fact, it was surprisingly the Utah legislature that cast the deciding vote to pass the 21st Amendment, thereby repealing Prohibition. The Mormons consider it a sin to drink alcohol, but that doesn't prohibit them from selling it to "gentiles" (i.e., any non-Mormon).

It's an open secret in the state of Utah that the church is actually a "shadow government", and since upwards of 90% of the legislature consists of "worthy members of the church", how difficult is it really to pass -- or defeat -- legislation solely on the dictates of the inerrant "Prophet, Seer and Revelator" at the pinnacle of the church hierarchy?

And the Mormons see absolutely nothing wrong with that. They are the true believers who belong to the "one true church" (in Mormon doctrine, all other churches/religions -- even including all Christian churches -- are "apostate" and therefore without the blessings of god), and their church is of course set up in a facsimile Old Testament patriarchy, avoiding all that messy stuff that happens when people think for themselves. You know, like democracy and freedom and liberty...

In Utah we have a microcosm -- a living laboratory if you will -- of what can happen if we don't maintain that wall of separation. The only thing that's kept Utah from becoming an out-and-out theocracy is that pesky little Establishment Clause in the US Constitution and a Supreme Court that, for the most part, has ruled in support of it.

The Faith-Based Pentagon

Note: This being the big Blog Against Theocracy weekend, I've decided to dust off and give some new face time to a few of my earlier posts on the topic. Watch for these recycled commentaries to pop up periodically over the next two and a half days.

It's a trend that's been building for a while, what with the fundo-evangelicals at the Air Force Academy and the disgusting antics of General Jerry Boykin, but now a group of general officers is being called to task by the Inspector General for appearing, in uniform and on duty, in a video filmed by something called Christian Embassy (which is affiliated with the notorious fundo organization, Campus Crusade for Christ). has the whole story, along with a streaming video copy of the actual video. It's appalling to see what I consider to be a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and it's especially disturbing to have it come from the Pentagon.

I guess the next step will be "faith based" combat, where you pray that god will smite your enemies.

It kind of reminds me of a joke from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness: A guy is in the middle of the ocean without a boat, he's treading water, and another guy in a boat comes by and asks him if he needs help. "No, thanks," the water-treader says. "God will save me." A few hours later another boat comes by and the same thing, "god will save me." So finally the guy drowns and when he gets to heaven he askes god why he didn't save him.

The answer: "You freakin' moron, I sent you two boats!"

So I encourage everyone to join with me in supporting Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It's the premiere watchdog group that is instrumental in preventing this nation from becoming a fundo-Xian theocracy under the repressive iron heel of the American Taliban.

[Originally published Monday, August 06, 2007]

US Not a Christian Nation??? Oh, the Shame!

It didn't take long for the Faux News windbags to get into high dudgeon over President Obama's statement -- historical fact that it was -- that the US is not a Christian Nation.

Jeez, the way their panties got into a bunch, you'd think that Slanthead and Karl Asshole Rove and the rest of the dittohead morons over there, including Newt Gingrich, had just discovered that Osama Bin Laden was in their underwear drawer.

Media Matters has a choice story on the feeding frenzy:

Several Fox News media figures, including Fox News contributor Karl Rove, Hannity host Sean Hannity, America's Newsroom co-host Megan Kelly, and Fox News analyst Newt Gingrich, have paraphrased or replayed President Obama's remarks during an April 6 press availability with the president of Turkey, during which he made factual comments about religion in America, saying, in part: "[W]e do not consider ourselves a Christian nation," and used those comments to criticize Obama and generate outrage. For example, Gingrich asserted Obama "was fundamentally misleading about the nature of America"; Hannity stated that he was "offended" and that Obama is "out of touch with the principles that have made this country great"; Rove suggested that Obama denied the reality that "we have historically had, you know, a robust presence of faith in our public square"; and Kelly asked if Obama had "step[ped] on a political landmine" and suggested that Obama was "obviously just pandering" when he suggested "[w]e're not a Christian country."
There's a lot more. Go over and read some of the stupid crap that the whole Faux "News" crew and guests had to say. If it weren't so scary that these people actually think this way -- actually believe this way -- it would be a lot funnier.

Oh, and welcome to the first day of Blog Against Theocracy.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blog Against Theocracy Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow starts the three-day swarm of Blog Against Theocracy, and my friend Blue Gal has an interesting comment on the question Must You Do It Easter Weekend?:

Blog Against Theocracy has always been held Easter Weekend. That is not a slam on Jesus or a silly way to put down religion or Christians. As many of you know, I am a believing Christian myself, although a great many participants to the blogswarm are not. Belief or not has nothing to do with supporting separation of church and state.
There are two good reasons to time the blogswarm during the Easter holiday. One, I admit, is the selfish motive that Easter Weekend is one of the two times a year when the media actually cover religious issues in the United States with a broad stroke.
The other reason, speaking as a believer, is that Easter is a time when what is divinely good triumphs over human will. If you look at Pilate as a purely secular leader (a stretch) and the Pharisees who demanded Pilate kill Jesus as the self-preserving conservative church of Jesus' day (not a stretch, not at all), it is possible to see the Easter story as a perfect allegory of a power-seeking Church and a pandering State's conspiracy failing utterly to destroy Truth and Reason.
And that's as succinct and clear explanation for the "reason for the season" there is. So everyone, check with me and my fellow bloggers against theocracy for the next three days. I sometimes feel that we stalwart few are all that is standing between democracy and theocracy.

Limbaugh "Brainwashed Nazi" -- Gotta-See-It Video

As Olberman puts it, the Dittoheads are revolting. Here's a gotta-see-it video from YouTube which shows "Boss" Limpick being handed his lunch by a Republican former Marine:

What's amazing is that 4-F Pimpleass Limpdick just fucking sits there for so long taking it before he finally starts to fight back, finally calling out weakly that this former Marine is "stupid"... a childish playground taunt.

I think he's on drugs again. What else can account for the Fatboy being so slow on the draw?

Oh, and a telling item towards the end of the video: Pimpleass sneers at the guy for being exactly the kind of Republican who went flocking towards "our last presidential candidate" -- he wouldn't even mention McCain by name -- and implied that this was why they lost the election. And all this time I thought that the wingnuttery antipathy towards McCain was a show, a lie, to try to paint him as being more "mainstream Republican"...

Oh well, if you go back over my posts for the last three years, you'll note that my skills as a political prognosticator are about par with those of a retarded wombat.

How Did I Miss This One?

Sometime during the last presidential campaign, the wingnuttery latched onto this story: "Barack Obama had an underage gay affair with a pedophile" -- when he was ten years old! ...

I have no idea whether this piece of crap tale is "true" or not, nor does it matter. While it never seemed to grow the legs to make it into the mainstream (despite the claim that the National Enquirer "discovered" it), it appears to have been bouncing around inside the rightwing echo chamber for a while. Which is probably why I didn't know about it.

Only in Rethugland can sex between an adult and a ten-year-old child be considered consensual sex, let alone an "affair" (see The Armchair Subversive).

In the rest of the civilized world it's called what it is: "Child Molesting" (are you listening, Rush Limpick?) and we do not blame the victim.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Speaking of Sexual Abuse of Children...

... there's a case working its way onto the SCOTUS docket concerning an warrantless -- and unwarranted -- strip search of a 13-year-old female honor student who was fingered (no, not that way -- get your minds out of the gutter!) by a "friend" who was on the spot for holding drugs.

The drug? Prescription-strength ibuprofen!

So what do the school authorities do when faced with this heinous crime? They march the 13-year-old down to the school nurse where she is forced to strip to her skivvies and then wiggle her bra and panties to make sure she doesn't have the offending substance hidden. And then ... okay, I don't know what happened after that, but a body-cavity search would be the next item in the atrocity menu...

This is yet another case of prosecutorial zeal (the prosecutor in this case being the school principal) run amok. While I'm glad, in a way, that it's going to the Supremes, the Fourth Amendment is on shaky ground when it comes to many of those fuckers -- need I remind everyone of "Stripsearch Sammy" Alito, who apparently has a "thing" for the strip searching of prepubescent females?

Anyway, here's hoping that Savana Redding, the 13-year-old subject of this humiliation, will prevail, and SCOTUS will uphold the Ninth Circuit ruling that this search violated her Fourth Amendment rights.

You go, girl!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Legalizing Drugs

Leonard Pitts Jr., a columnist that I always read, calls to task our national policy on drugs in his newest column, Let's begin the discussion about legalizing drugs:

Maybe we should legalize drugs.
I come neither eagerly nor easily to that maybe. Rather, I come by way of spiraling drug violence in Mexico that recently forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the role America's insatiable appetite for narcotics plays in the carnage. I come by way of watching Olympian Michael Phelps do the usual public-relations song and dance after being outed smoking weed, and knowing the whole thing was a ritualized farce.
. . .
The War on Drugs came into being under President Nixon, whose chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, once quoted the president as saying, "You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to." Small wonder blacks account for 13 percent of the nation's regular drug users, but more than 70 percent of all those jailed for drug use.
. . .
In 1914, when the first federal drug law was enacted, the government estimated 1.3 percent of us were addicted to illegal drugs. In 1970, when the War on Drugs began, the government estimated 1.3 percent of us were addicted to illegal drugs. Thirty-nine million arrests later ... the government says 1.3 percent of us are addicted to illegal drugs. [Emphasis added]
There are a couple of very telling statistics in there:

(1) Over 70% of individuals jailed for drug use are black. And that's in large part due to the fact that the draconian penalties for crack cocaine (primarily used by blacks) have been in stark opposition to the slap-on-the-wrist penalties for rock cocaine (primarily used by upper middle class lawyers, congressmen, etc., of the white race).

(2) In nearly 30 years of arresting and locking away drug users, the addiction rate is the same as it was in 1970, when all this crap started -- and the same as it was in 1914, when drugs were first made illegal. What's that old line about insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Well, this is it.

So yes, I agree with Pitts. When it comes to so-called "illegal drugs", legalize them, control them and tax them. It would have a positive dual effect on the economy: Increased revenue from the taxation, and decreased outlay for all of those prisons needed to lock up non-violent drug offenders.

This is Huuuge!

With the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision followed closely by the Vermont legislature's override of the governor's veto, two states have now made same-sex marriage legal.

And while you can argue that little Vermont up there in its quiet corner is nothing but a bunch of left wing commies (I mean they have democratic socialist Bernie Sanders as their senator, for crissakes) intent on ripping the social fabric, etc., no one can say that Iowa is not heartland America. Can you even get more Middle America than Iowa?

And now that Iowa is standing up for civil rights and making same-sex marriage legal, how long can it be until 48 other states will follow along? I really can't see Utah doing it -- and okay, realistically the Rethug South won't go along either.

Which is why we eventually will have a national law. Once we have had enough experience with the fact of same-sex marriage and the sky has not fallen in, earthquakes have not swallowed up the entire state of Iowa, and the man-on-dog sex predicted by Rick Santorum, everyone with even a toehold in the Reality Based Community will see that gay marriage threatens no one and nothing except a bunch of knuckledragging mouthbreathers and their Neanderthal ideas about society.

- - -
Update: The Washington DC Council has just voted to recognize same-sex marriages conducted by other states. Can this be the start of the toppling of the dominoes?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pornography and the New Witch Trials

Two years ago I commented on the shocking case of Connecticut teacher Julie Amero who was charged with corrupting her students by allowing them to view pornography on a school computer. Initially convicted of several counts of abusing minors and facing 40 years in the slammer, she and her lawyers managed to get the conviction set aside and finally, in November of last year, she pleaded guilty to a charge of ... disorderly conduct. I suspect that she did that just so she could finally bring an end to the whole thing and get on with her life.

Now there's an even more egregious case of prosecutorial misconduct involving another professional educator, this time in Loudon County, Virginia:

It was an incident that began innocently enough, but nearly ruined the life and three-decade career of a veteran high school teacher and administrator.
Rumors had been flying at Freedom High School in South Riding, Virginia that students were distributing nude pictures of each other on their cell phones. It's a phenomenon, known as "sexting," that's become increasingly worrisome to educators across the country, and Ting-Yi Oei, a 60-year-old assistant principal at the school, was tasked with checking it out.
The investigation was inconclusive, but led to a stunning aftermath: Oei himself was charged with possession of child pornography and related crimes -- charges that threatened to brand him a sex offender and land him in prison for up to seven years. Transferred from his school and isolated from colleagues, Oei spent $150,000 and a year of his life defending himself in a Kafkaesque legal nightmare triggered by a determined county prosecutor and nurtured by a growing hysteria over technology-enabled child porn at America's schools.
"The heaviest burden is the [label] of 'child pornographer'," Oei says. "It just hangs so heavy around me. How you ever recover from that I don't know. "
Even the police investigating the case stated that the image in question -- one single image -- the torso of an apparently underage girl (it was later established that she was 17) wearing only underpants and covering her breasts with her arms did not rise to -- or fall to -- the level of "child pornography".

But that didn't stop local prosecutor James Plowman (one of those tough-on-crime guys) from filing child pornography charges against Oei and pretty much ruining the guy's life not only for the term of this Kafka-esque persecution for also for all time.

Once you have been assigned a label -- especially such an inflammatory one as "child pornographer", it stays with you forever, even though the whole case has now been thrown out by one of those sane "activist judges" that the wingnuttery loves to castigate. Oei has been spread over such blogs as Bad Bad Teacher and Faces of Child Porn, marking him forever as a danger to children.

Okay, people, it's time for everyone to step back and take a deep breath. Child pornography, I think everyone agrees (even the pornographers themselves, deep down), is a contemptible exploitation of the weakest members of society, but there has to be some tempering amount of reason surrounding the prosecution of it.

There's more than a difference in degree, even in substance, between a cell-phone photo of a semi-nude 17 year old and actual child pornography featuring unspeakable acts forced onto, say, nine year olds.

But don't look for this new hysteria to abate anytime soon. Not when you've got stalwart guardians of public morals like prosecutor Plowman on the job.

Given his moralistic zeal, I would have guessed that he was a graduate of the notorious Regent University School of Law, but I would have been wrong -- he actually went to Georgetown.

He is a Republican, however (surprise-surprise), which in conservative and old-time-religion-bent semi-rural Virginia automatically makes him part of the Religious Right. But only as a provisional member -- it appears that he is a Catholic, and you know that the Fundo-Xians are willing to tolerate the slaves of the Great Whore of Babylon as long as they agree with them, but don't really welcome them with open arms. So poor old Plowman is going to be left behind with the rest of us rabble when the Rupture Rapture happens. Too bad.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fixing the Economy

Down in Florida, the Tampa Bay newspaper asked its readers for their ideas to fix the economy, and they got back a slew of responses, but the best one is this:

Patriotic retirement:
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force … pay them $1 million apiece severance with stipulations:
They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings — unemployment fixed.
They buy new American cars. Forty million cars ordered — auto industry fixed.
They either buy a house or pay off their mortgage — housing crisis fixed.
--David Otterson, Largo
Brilliant! My only problem with it is that I apparently retired too early to get the bribe incentive. Damn, it's always my luck...