Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on the Freshwater Case

The Freshwater Hearing was back in session today and the injured boy, Zachery Dennis and his mother, Jenifer Dennis took the stand today to give testimony about Zach’s injury that was inflicted by John Freshwater and about Christianity taught in the classroom. Richard B. Hoppe, a visiting professor at Kenyon College has been following the case and posting info at http://pandasthumb.org/.
Freshwater’s lawyer insisted that the injured boy’s identity be made public the first day of the hearing, and I was worried that he might be harassed or hurt by passionate supporters of Freshwater, but, thank goodness, that appears not to have happened. Jenifer Dennis gave her first interview to the Columbus Dispatch to comment on the case and to promote her efforts to get state laws changed to protect the identity of young people in similar cases. She has set up a website: www.protectingstudents.org to help with the effort.
The Dispatch story can be found at: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/10/28/Freshconference.ART_ART_10-28-08_B1_R9BNMD3.html?sid=101
If you want all the background and the latest news go to: http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/freshwater/

Monday, October 27, 2008

Republicans Learn from Creationists

It is obvious that most fundamentalist xians are republicans. Some guy found a public radio show on which Barack Obama was featured as part of a panel discussing the history of civil rights. You can listen to it here: http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=29792 . So what he did was take parts out of context (like the way fundies argue against evolution), then he put his cut and paste recording on YouTube. You can hear it here: http://features.csmonitor.com/politics/2008/10/27/mccain-says-unscripted-obama-wants-to-redistribute-wealth/ . The upshot of it is that it makes it sound like Obama was advocating socialism, instead of talking about history. Now, if you hear someone on the radio talking about the Obama and redistribution of wealth, treat it the same way you would a quote that purports to prove that Darwin believed in Noah’s Ark.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Domestic Terrorism

Just in the last few days I have learned that since McCain started talking about ACORN in his town hall meetings, the ACORN offices have been receiving a large number of threatening phone calls and death threats. Several of the offices have also received boxes covered with threats that contained an unidentified white powder.
Here in Ohio, Republicans filed a lawsuit that demanded that the Secretary of State’s Office investigate voter registrations that the Republicans felt were suspicious. The suit went through the courts all the way to the US Supreme Court who sided with the Secretary of State and struck down the law suit. Since that occurred, the Ohio State department’s website has been hacked into, the office has received many threatening phone calls including death threats and they have received a box covered with threats that contained an unidentified white powder. What a coincidence.
The Republican politicians have been the most vocal supporters of the War on Terrorism; actively promoting unconstitutional and unethical activities to be sure we keep America safe and get the bad guys. What occurred at ACORN and the Ohio SoS Off. were nothing less than terrorism and I think the investigative methods promoted by the GOP should be used to zealously investigate these crimes and then whoever is caught should be denied a trial and sent to Guantanamo for a few years of CIA hospitality.

How to Be a Real American

We all found out over the last few days that there are two Americas; real America and un-America or something like that. Sarah Palin, McCain senior advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann all have made statements on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign in which they refer to real Americans and the others, who are either implied or openly suggested to be un-American or even anti-American, apparently because they don’t want to vote for McCain (those evil, evil, un-Americans).
So, what does it take to be a real American?
1. You need to live in a small town, or maybe a city, as long as you live in a real American part of that city. But under no circumstances should you live in an anti-American city like New York City (or really any place on the East Coast north of Delaware and south of Maine, even as far inland as Washington DC) or Los Angeles (and people in San Francisco should just pack up and move to Godless-Homo-Commieland before election day).
2. You need to be a conservative evangelical Xian, because if you don’t believe literally some parts of the bible and ignore the parts that suggest you’re wrong or just sound too inconvenient, then you can’t be a real American. Also, although it’s not in the bible, you can’t kill any zygotes, but it’s ok because you’re allowed to kill most of them when they grow up.
3. Two out of three real Americans agree that you should try to ban all innocuous children’s fantasy movies because imaginary creatures remind real Americans of Satan, and we can’t have any of that! You should also advocate banning any books that you might disagree with, especially if they help someone deal with a disgusting, immoral, sickening, unspeakable, aberrant behavior (you know who you are).
4. You should be a hard working, blue collar, bring home the bacon kind of person who makes at least $250,000 a year because you need to like Bush’s tax cuts and hate Obama’s proposed tax cuts. Real Americans believe that rich people should pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes so that they can use it for more important things like trickling down and giving huge donations to the Republican Party. Besides, people making 10% of that would waste any extra money they received on frivolous food and shelter anyway and giving them the tax breaks that G.W. Bush promised but never gave is the exact same thing as painting the country red, changing its name to Americommie, and calling everyone comrade.
5. Real Americans know that anti-Americans are trying to destroy this country, so you need to learn to distinguish between the two. Try some subtle questions like, “Which is better, the 10 commandments or the constitution?”, or “How old is the earth?”, or “Do you believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry, or should they have stakes driven through their hearts, be doused with gas, set on fire and be shipped off to Anti-American Homoland?”, for example.
So there you have it. If you don’t fit the above categories you’re not a real American and you should probably just leave or commit suicide or turn yourself in to the authorities for prosecution and deportation. Or you could vote against these hate-mongering bigots and make sure their names never appear on a ballot again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Editorial for Fredricksburg

I just sent an editorial to the Fredericksburg, VA newspaper in response to an editorial entitled, “No Christian should support pro-abortion candidate Obama”(If you read the title you don’t really need to read the article). I tried not to show my personal beliefs (or lack thereof) but I think it’s time for conservative evangelicals to wake up and smell the hypocrisy. There’s more to life than pro-life and they need to vote that way. The link to the original editorial is below.
Lisa Haythorn, please consider this.
In response to Lisa Haythorn’s editorial, “No Christian should support pro-abortion candidate Obama”, I think her view needs reconsideration. For the last two election cycles pro-life supporters have advocated voting Republican to protect the lives of the unborn. Pastors have even preached from the pulpit that their congregation would go to hell if they didn’t vote Republican. But, quite frankly, nothing came of it.
For the first six years of the G. W. Bush administration there was a pro-life GOP majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, there was a pro-life President and a pro-life majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, but no effort was made to overturn Roe v. Wade. I believe that the Christians are being manipulated by the Republicans.
The period of pro-life majority government was a rare opportunity that is unlikely to recur for a long time, but only lip service was ever paid to overturning Roe v. Wade. The Republicans have learned that as long as they dangle a pro-life carrot in front of Christians they have guaranteed votes. If they overturn abortion rights, they lose that guarantee. I’m not suggesting that people should vote for Obama, or anyone else for that matter, I’m just saying that Christians need to vocally support other issues rather than loudly announcing that candidates need only to put a pro-life plank in their platform to receive your vote. That way, candidates know that the voters are on to their ruse and that they need to do what they promise or get voted out of office.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mark Twain and the Good Old Days

I was listening to an audio book of Mark Twain’s "Life on the Mississippi" . As he was telling about a trip from New York to the Mississippi River, he observed that the further one traveled from New York, the more plain people seemed to be. Although the clothing plain people wore may have come from the same New York manufacturers as those worn by the most sylish New Yorker, the choice of attire became more conservative in style and color as distance from the Big Apple increased.
So, what the hell does that have to do my blog? Well, Mark Twain went on to say that those people who were most plain and conservative were so out of touch that they actually believed the literal biblical timeline. That observation was made about a trip in the 1880’s. Imagine that. When Mark Twain wrote those words he knew that suggesting that people were young earth creationists would be viewed by his readers as the height of ignorance. And in the 21st cen. such an admission can get you elected president.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fundies Cheat

My nephew loaned me a copy of The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel so I decided I would write down all the inaccuracies, quotes out of context, and intentional misrepresentations. After one chapter I almost died of terminal writer’s cramp. For many who argue against evolution, I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. I think the average creationist just regurgitates what he has read in books recommended by his church, although I do wish one of these fundies would actually check the footnotes.
Lee Strobel and xian apologists like him are different. Strobel obviously looked for at least part of his own source material, so he knows where he’s taken things out of context or intentionally misrepresented things. The whole book is based on interviews with “open minded scientists”, but nowhere does he mention that everyone he interviewed worked for the Discovery Institute, a group whose whole purpose is to force intelligent design into the public school curriculum. So I think it’s safe to say that Lee Strobel is a big fat liar liar pants on fire.
This is a pattern I see again and again; if evangelical xians cannot accomplish their goals honestly, they never hesitate to lie, misrepresent facts, and engage in attacks on their opponents. Don’t they realize that “the ends justify the means” is from Machiavelli not Mathew? Their books are not the only place they resort to these questionable tactics. When the school board of Dover, PA was sued for trying to inject religion into the curriculum, the board members put their hands on the bible and swore to tell the truth, then promptly lied their asses off. When Judge Roy Moore dumped a rock carved with the ten commandments in his courthouse, he insisted along with his backers (all evangelical xians) that the rock was a secular symbol and to prove it, the xians formed a prayer circle around the rock to pray for the protection of their secular symbol. If they had bothered to read the ten commandments they’d have known that they are forbidden to lie or create and worship graven images.
When proponents of evolution argue against the fundamentalists, they have to dot every I and cross every T to insure that their arguments leave no flaws that the fundies can blow out of proportion. But the xians can lie, make things up, and attribute false statements to anyone they want. Then they follow up their web of lies by insisting that atheist have no morality.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Columbus Day

Today we honor the man who didn’t discover America. The Native Americans obviously discovered it first. Then Vikings, Chinese, and maybe others arrived. Columbus never even found the North or South American continents; he only landed on some Caribbean Islands. What he did do is begin the invasion of the Americas by European Christians. These were soldiers accompanied by priests. That way, when they were done torturing, enslaving, infecting, and killing the indigenous people, they could force the survivors to adopt Christianity.
Ferdinand and Isabella, the rulers of Spain, having driven off or killed all the Jewish, Islamic and other non-Catholic people, needed someplace new to spread Christian love and charity. Thus began centuries of religious bigotry, holy wars, destruction of native cultures, and ethnic cleansing, as soldier and inquisitor marched arm in arm across the land. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fossils from the Flood

Lately, I’ve been stumbling on many articles and videos wherein young world creationists try to explain the source of fossils. This is what I call willful ignorance. They can sum up the source in one sentence; these are all the things that died in Noah’s flood.
The articles assure us that the flood is the most logical explanation for fossils. We all have seen dead animals on the side of the road, or on the sacrificial alter, or from an aircraft as we gun them down in Alaska. Those animals don’t become fossils; they just rot away. But if they were underwater with sediment settling atop them, like might happen in a really big flood, then fossils would be formed all over the world. So there.
All the layers of sedimentary rock were laid down during the flood. As proof that this could occur they point out that in events, like the Mount Saint Helen eruption for example, sediments settle in alternating light and dark layers. The creationist writers don’t seem concerned that real sedimentary layers have sandstone below limestone below shale and so on and so forth. Furthermore, they don’t seem to notice that geologist don’t have any trouble distinguishing between a single volcanic event and several layers of rock.
The writers demonstrate an equal lack of concern about the fact that specific species can only be found in certain layers. In fact they assure us that although marker fossils are found in the layer they are used to identify, they may also be found in other layers. So don’t be surprised if you find a trilobite lodged in the throat of an Australopithecine. Actually the creationists never seem to notice that life forms are not spread evenly though all strata or that the layers higher up always contain the more advanced species. Were mammals more buoyant than amphibians?
I know creationists have no respect for those imprecise wishy-washy scientific theories. But shouldn’t the law of superposition receive more respect? I suppose, if someone pointed out that older strata underlie younger, they would merely say that Cambrian fossils sank on the first day and Pleistocene fossils settled to the bottom near the end. Maybe more advanced animals could climb up the mountains and hang on the longest. Whatever their motivation, I think what will always amaze me is that people will invest so much mental energy to invent a spurious explanation for what would be obvious if they stopped working so hard.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Just Don’t Get It

I read an article today that said more moderate Xians are moving to Obama’s camp. To clarify, they point out those who attend church once or twice months are more likely to vote Democrat than last presidential election. Voters who attend church every Sunday are still solidly behind McCain. Why can’t Evangelical voters look past their religion to actually consider everything in the President’s job?
The evangelical right voted unwaveringly for W. the last two elections and what did they get? They got lied to: about the war, about tax cuts, about the budget, about the environment, and about Medicare, just to name a few examples. But the lie that should have had the evangelicals screaming for impeachment was the promise to overturn Roe v. Wade. There was a pro-life president, a pro-life GOP majority in both houses of congress, and a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. They are unlikely to have the deck so stacked in their favor ever again, but the Republicans didn’t even try. And the Evangelicals didn’t even notice.
I think I know why the GOP hasn’t tried to overturn Roe v. Wade. As long as they campaign on a pro-life platform, the Xian right will vote for them. If the amendment actually got overturned, Xians would look for a different cause to fight for. That could steer them toward the Dems or worse yet, they may look at the rest of the GOP platform and realize they’re getting screwed every 4 years. So why don’t these voters wake up to the fact that it’s never going to happen and start thinking about something other than zygote souls? Maybe it’s because, as things are now, it’s a win-win; the GOP gets guaranteed votes and the Xian right never have to think before voting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin, the Good Christian

Gov. Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail telling the crowd that Obama pals around with terrorists and doesn’t see America the way she and her audience do. It’s true that many years ago Barack Obama was on some community boards with William Ayres, who had been a member of the Weather Underground when Obama was eight years old, and that Ayres hosted a fund raiser for Obama early in the senator’s career, but that doesn’t make them pals and it doesn’t mean that he even knows more than one (ex) terrorist. So, since Barack Obama has denounced the actions of the Weather Underground and has not associated with Ayres at all for many years, could Palin’s assertion be described as a truthful statement?
She also says Barack Obama is different than them. Of course he’s different. He’s a Democrat and she’s speaking to Republicans. She goes on to explain that he thinks America is imperfect. Well it’s true that he thinks the current administration is less than perfect, but if no one in Palin’s audience can see any room for improvement in the Bush administration, she must be talking to cardboard cutouts. Wait a minute, haven’t she and McCain beeen saying that they are mavericks who will change everything in Washington? So, could there be some other way that Obama is different? Hey, isn’t he a different color than they are? Surely she wouldn’t be implying anything like that.
Sarah Palin is another of those politicians we see every election cycle who dress up in the trappings of Christianity and tell lies, breed intolerance and stimulate visceral hatred for anyone whose views differ from theirs. The target audience of these hate-mongers is the group of people who describe themselves as loving, giving, tolerant, and, above all, the most moral people in America; the evangelical christians. And yet these good xians (actually I think they consider themselves the best xians) never seem to notice that what’s being said is at odds with a couple of those gosh darn 10 commandments they want to post in all public buildings. Apparently as long as politicians say they believe the world is 7 thousand years old and that zygotes are more important than post-partum people then none of the other rules count.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Alaska Christian Heritage Week

When I heard that Gov. Palin signed a bill for an Alaska Christian Heritage Week, I had to take a look. Six quotes from our founding fathers were cited to demonstrate their Christian heritage. The quotes were from Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry and George Mason. The first four were not Christians. Sarah would have liked Patrick Henry; he wanted to make Anglican the official religion of Virginia. Lastly, I don’t know what George Mason’s religious beliefs were, but I know that the quote comes from the part of the VA constitution that guarantees freedom of religion.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Freshwater Update

The start of John Freshwater's hearing, originally scheduled for yesterday was postponed until today. Only opening arguments will be heard today. I went by the building where the hearing is being held and it was pretty quiet. The hearing room only seats 35 people, so I couldn't go in, but Columbus' channel 4 (http://www.nbc4i.com/) and channel 28 (http://www.wtte28.com/) were there, so they should have the latest updates.
The results of todays hearing was that the school board said Freshwater was basicly running his own little Christian school inside the public school, that he injured children and that he refused to remove his bible from his desk. Freshwater's defence is that he denies doing anything that he's been accused of and, besides, when he did them he had the approval of the board. It will probadly be a month before a final decision is reached.