The 9/11 Cross Issue

Well, as you may have heard, an atheist group is filing a lawsuit to stop the display of a cross at the 9/11 Memorial. The cross itself was a piece of the World Trade Center that happened to form a cross shape and land in a cross-like position. It’s utter coincidence and I’m sure there were many of these, but, well, you know Christians.

Here’s my thoughts on this, and they’re pretty simple: If it’s on private property, the atheist group needs to knock it off. You can display whatever you want on private property. If, on the other hand, it’s on public property, that’s a different matter. Under previous court rulings, you can indeed display religious icons and such on public property, but if you do, you have to allow all religions.

Now I actually think that would be an ok compromise for a memorial. You can have a Christian cross, a Jewish star, a Muslim crescent, a Hindu wheel, a…oh, wait. A Muslim crescent?

Yes, let’s imagine the hue and cry that would errupt from that. You think it was bad during “Ground Zero” “Mosque” “Debate”? Just imagine if you had a Muslim symbol at the 9/11 memorial! Never mind that a lot of Muslims worked in the towers and died along with everyone else. I think Fox News would collectively explode.

So bottom line: if this is on private land, the lawsuit needs to stop. If it’s on public land, the cross needs to go away or you have to allow all religions, including Muslims, to display their religious imagery. I’m comfortable either way.

And Now New York

It is done. New York has become the sixth state to allow gay marriage. DC also allows it, meaning that if you live there, you don’t have real Congressional representation, but you can at least get married to a gay. So, yeah.

Anyhow, it’s hard to overstate how important this is. With one swift move, the number of same sex couples who are free to marry in this country has doubled. And it did so with a Republican lead state legislative body, and a couple Republicans breaking ranks to vote yes. That alone is amazingly important. While the Republican Party as a whole is continuing to spiral downward into a “we hate gays!” situation, some brave members of the party are willing to stand up and do what’s right.

It’s also worth noting there were some very stupid religious concerns that were addressed here. These protections allow churches to refuse to marry same-sex couples, but big deal. The Catholic Church already refuses to marry formerly divorced people, so clearly there’s no problem on the chuchy level.

So it is done. 44 states and six territories remain. Let’s hope they fall soon, too.

Murphy Can Indeed Has Congress

I find the American version of the Green Party to be laughably silly. I’m not quite sure why. I can agree with most of their platform, but I think there’s just a bit too much granola going on, if you get my meaning. I know also that part of the problem with them is that, well, America likely won’t ever have a viable third party. I think the Greens efforts, energy and money would be better spent moving the Democrats back to the left where they belong.

That said, if there’s anything that could motivate me to go Green, it’s this video.

Good luck!

Carl Paladino, Professional Moron

As I wrote the other day, it’s not easy being gay. If Carl Paladino, bestiality-porn enthusiast and Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York, has his way, it’ll be even more difficult. Here’s some lovely things he said recently about the gays.

I just think my children and your children would be much better off and more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.

Charming. He was addressing an Orthodox Jewish group when he said this. Gee, who thought you could gain traction by slamming on gays to a bunch of religious nutjobs?

Of course he was called-out on these stupid comments and blamed the media for it rather than ‘fessing up and taking it like a man.

“When I talk about issues such as this, I talk from my heart,” he told NBC, “and I expect that the press will properly interpret my remarks. If they don’t interpret my remarks correctly … that’s wrong.”

OK, so it’s the media’s fault? How many ways can we interpret the line “And I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.”? You said it, jerk-face. Man up and say that, yes, that is what you meant or no, it’s not what you meant. Don’t blame the media for playing your exact quote on the news.

This of course highlights a larger problem within the Republican party and that’s the fact that the party is still very anti-gay. Yes, they’ve gotten better in the last few months, but that doesn’t make up for the damage they’ve done in the past. While it’s true that the Democrats are not as enthusiastic in their support of gay rights as I’d like them to be, I have never heard of any Democratic candidate dumping on gays as a way of getting votes. I’ve certainly never heard them cite their opponent’s participation in a gay rights parade as being a valid reason to not vote for said opponent.

Paladino is a jerk on many levels. I’m unclear as to why anyone supports him. I take some comfort in the fact that he’s behind in the polls and likely won’t get elected. I take significant discomfort in the fact that he’s the party’s nominee.

No Soda For You!

New York City is putting forth an effort to stop people from buying soda with food stamps. The idea here is that only uneducated, unhealthy, poor people would want to drink soda, and that drive is so strong that the government must stop them from doing so if they are using food stamps.

This is a bullshit argument. I’ll be the first to agree that drinking soda constantly is not healthy and not something you should do. But I don’t think the government should tell people what food and drinks they can and can’t buy with food stamps (beyond alcohol, which is already prohibited). I’ve been on food stamps in the past. I bought soda when I had them, but it wasn’t a huge part of my expenditure. I spent far more money on pre-prepared frozen dinners and the like.

Even now when I buy my own food and drinks, I seldom buy all that much soda, except…

Well, except that I like my caffeine. Every day on my way into work I get a Diet Coke refill of my giant 54oz mug. I almost never actually drink more than half of it, but it’s good to have and helps keep me going. I don’t like coffee and I don’t like tea, but I do sometimes want the jolt of caffeine, and soda is the way I get it.

Now I note with great interest that no one seems to be suggesting we ban coffee or tea from being bought with food stamps. But those don’t carry the same stigma as buying soda with food stamps, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t. They aren’t necessary beverages, after all, and I think most people who drink coffee do it for the buzz.

As far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to ban things because they aren’t as healthy as they might be, let’s ban soda, coffee, any cereals where sugar is the first or second ingredient, any snacks, including chips and cookies, sugar itself and basically anything other than fruits, meats and vegetables. Well, except that there’s people who think meat is bad and unhealthy, so let’s ban that, too.

Ultimately food stamps are a very good thing and while I think there’s legitimacy to banning people from buying alcohol with it, anything else that’s food or drink should be left alone. People, even the poor, will generally make decent food choices if they know what those choices are, have access to them and know how to make them. Perhaps a better idea would be to mandate a course on smart-shopping and basic cooking before getting food stamps. That’d be a hell of a lot more productive.

A Mosque in New York

So in a ruling that came as no surprise to those of us who know something about the Constitution, NYC has ruled that a building intended to be turned into a Muslim community center will not be granted landmark status and as a result, the project can go forward. This is a good ruling and it’s one that upholds the freedom our country stands for.

Of course I say that, but I’m not someone like Sarah Palin or Newt Gingerich. I’m not someone who is running as a Tea Party Republican. I’m not the kind of person who claims this building is at Ground Zero (it’s not), or that blames all Muslims for the acts of a few insane ones. I’m instead a person who values religious freedoms and who understands that we can’t say “We’re not at war with Islam”, and then try to pull shit like this.

The bile spewed out over this issue has been particularly unpleasant. I’d like to say I expected better of our people, but I don’t, not really. We’re a nation of reactionaries who demand that our politicians be the most reactionary of all. They’ll follow any trend that’s even remotely likely to result in them getting votes.

But I have a compromise. If we are to not allow Muslims to build near Ground Zero then, by logic, we should prevent other religious groups from building near the grounds were their terrorist acts occurred. So let’s ban any Christian buildings within, say, a two block radius of Centennial Park in Atlanta, where a Christian terrorist planted a bomb. That’s just off the top of my head, of course. I’m sure there’s many other Christian terrorist sites around the country.

Of course that won’t happen because we all “know” Christianity is a religion of peace (despite what recent and long-term history tells us), and we all “know” that Islam is a religion of violence. Neither of these things are true, but that’s what the narrative is, and against narrative reality fights in vain.

Video Blog – Number 1

This is a test of my new webcam, a test of my ability to upload to YouTube and, as we can see, a test of my ability to cut off the start of a video. :( At the beginning all I’m saying is that I got a new webcam so you can now see and hear me. Then it goes from there. Enjoy!

NEWS FLASH – Catholic Clergy Member Dislikes Atheism

I’m not exactly ahead of the curve on this story, since it was published on November 8th, but it still bears commenting upon.

Last week the New York Daily News published an editorial written by a Dominican friar who thinks atheism is a Bad Thing. Big surprise someone in his position would think this.

The editorial is basically nothing but an attack on atheists. It’s distasteful and unpleasant and, here’s the good part, is basically meaningless. The man trots out no real good arguments for his position and just trots out old, bad arguments, even going so far as to cause me to invoke Godwin’s Law on him.

History has shown that a radically rationalist culture becomes radically irrational if it is detached from God. The atheistic ideologies of Nazism and Communism did not produce earthly paradises, but only tragic regimes of terror that trampled human dignity and freedom.

To reiterate what’s been said before, Hitler was Catholic, the SS (“Gott mitt uns!” was their motto), was a faith-based organization, and the Communists were more interested in elevating Stalin and the State to the level of the church than they were in promoting any sort of rational ideals.

What a putz this guy is. For another good refutation of this nonsense, check this article here.

A Bit of Good, a Bit of Bad

So the great 2009 election chaos is over. Yes, for those who hadn’t noticed there were five important elections last night. These were governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, Question One in Maine, a Congressional race in NY 23, and Referendum 71 in Washington State.

Now the two governor’s races and the Congressional race were about local issues so it was, of course, all about Obama. Well, at least according to the MSM and the GOP. I noticed the GOP crowing long and loud last night about their crowning achievement in unseating two incumbent governors who just happened to be Democrats. This is, to them, proof that the GOP is back and on the rise and about to destroy the hated, unpopular Obama, etc.

Oddly I notice that they’re ignoring NY 23 where, at least in part due to the GOP turning on its own, the conservative candidate lost. Clearly that was a referendum on the GOP’s policies and, obviously, it means that the GOP is on the decline and the Democrats are about to destroy them, etc.

The lesson here is that all three of those elections were local elections about local issues and have no real national significance.

Meantime, a little bit of bad and a little bit of good for gay rights issues. The voters in Maine choose to outlaw gay marriage after their legislature and government passed it and this despite my personal plea for them not to be a state of dicks. I am very disappointed in you, Maine! I expected better than for you to prove that direct democracy is a bad idea.

Over in Washington state we see how wonderful direct democracy is as a gay rights bill there pass, showing public support for civil unions. Knowing what I know about Washington and how the courts have ruled, I’m guessing that within two years we’ll have a court ruling there saying that giving all the rights of marriage but calling it a “civil union” is discrimination illegal.

So five races. Two went the way I wanted. Three didn’t. I don’t view any of these as having any real national significance beyond, say, next week. By this time in 2010 we’ll have all forgotten about them.

Mass-Media Nonsense! – Flight 1549

Eventually you'll see Christian glurge talking about how people in this pic are walking on water and were saved by God. It's a wing, you fuckers!

Eventually you'll see Christian glurge talking about how people in this pic are walking on water and were saved by God. It's a wing, you fuckers!

This may be the shortest turn-around time ever for me on something involving the media acting like a pack of morons. Yes, I’m going to be talking today about Flight 1549, which ditched into the Hudson River the other day.

First off, let me state that the pilot of the aircraft deserves every bit of kudos and praise he’s getting, as does the rest of the flight crew. Water landings are, at best, dodgy and being able to pull off one where no one is even seriously injured is damn impressive!

So impressed am I by that that I find myself pissed when the media refers to it as “The Miracle on the Hudson” or variations thereof. There’s a couple problems I have with this and the first is, why do we need to brand every story? Why not just tell us about the damn thing without giving it a title?

Second, what miracle? It was incredibly good training and no small amount of luck. If you want to talk about miracles, look at the fact that not one, but both engines of the plane were apparently nailed by birds. The odds against that are pretty good, but no one calls that a miracle. As the recently knighted Terry Pratchett once put it, “Just because it’s not nice doesn’t mean it’s not a miracle.”

Third, of course, we have the wall-to-wall coverage of the story for a full twenty-four hours. Look, CNN and the rest, just tell us what happened, call in a couple aviation experts and then spend some time talking about other things. Unless there’s nothing else more important going on anywhere else in the world, you should not spend this much time covering a story like this. It’s soft news at its most annoying, especially given how many other more vital things are happening.

But I know better than to expect anything to change. I can dream, though. I can dream.


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