Monday, April 30, 2007

Atheists and Polls

Atheists and Polls

"The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."

Gallup recently conducted a poll asking voters whether or not certain characteristics would keep them from voting for a potential candidate. Here are the results. The format is a little screwy, but it should be clear.

Yes, would
vote for

No, would not
vote for












A woman









Married for the third time



72 years of age



A homosexual



An atheist



What blows me away is that 53% of voters, according to this poll, would not vote for an atheist. Why are people so afraid of us? It's absurd! Atheists don't believe in the immortality of the human soul, which means that this life is all we get, which means in general we want to make this life as good as possible.

57% of people would vote for someone 72 years old. Doctors at Duke University conducted a study researching the link between a certain set of genes and the age at which Alzheimer's develops. In this study, the average age of patients who developed Alzheimer's was 72.8. I'm not trying to claim that John McCain or any other specific candidate has or will be diagnosed with this terrible disease, I'm just saying that 72 is old. Your body can start to shut down, especially if you're genetically predisposed to certain diseases, and especially if you have the most stressful job in the world.

But we can't vote for an atheist. Godforbid. They might start a War or something.

You know what the best reason to have an atheist in the Oval Office is? We don't have to worry that they're going to think they're talking to god. If they start hearing voices and crafting policy around them, we'll know that he or she has lost his or her mind, and we can remove him or her from office.

The first quote in this post is from Thomas Jefferson. The second is from Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Compare and Contrast

In my last post I wrote about John Derbyshires's repulsive statements regarding the students at Virginia Tech.

ThinkProgress notes today that Iraqi students hung a banner in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the VT shooting. The banner read:

"We, the students of Technology University, denounce the attack at Virginia Tech. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims who faced a situation as bad as Iraq’s universities do. The sanctity of campuses must be protected around the world."

The reaction of students whose world is flooded by violence, is a call for restraint and peace. The reaction of a war monger is a call for more aggression, more violence, and more delusions of greatness on the battlefield, whether that battlefield is domestic or international, real or imagined. This tells us all we need to know about those who continue to support the war, and support American Imperialism in the world.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

John Derbyshire: Hero

This has been making it's way around the lefty blogosphere, but here it is anyway. From The National Review Online

Spirit of Self-Defense [John Derbyshire]

"As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.
Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy. "

For a little more context, Derbyshire has also said the following.
"I am a homophobe, though a mild and tolerant one, and a racist, though an even more mild and tolerant one." The original article is here. The quote is about 3/4s of the way down. His explaination is here. My favorite part is this: "A lot of the people who howl "Homophobe!" at me whenever I write anything about this topic are people who have to swallow a bucket of pills eight times a day just to stay alive. Is it any wonder I have trouble taking them seriously?"

This man still has a job. Don Imus doesn't. In an earlier post I compared Imus to Limbaugh and Glen Beck, and argued that their language was more deliberately offensive. Whether calling victims of a massacre cowards qualifies as hate-speech or not, in the court of public opinion it seems that Derbyshire should be held as the pinnacle of dishonest egotism and hateful self-promotion.

Also, as DailyKos notes, he's wrong.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Mirror

From ThinkProgress

As ThinkProgress has reported, there is good reason to believe fired U.S. attorney Carol Lam was targeting the White House’s connections to MZM contractor Mitchell Wade, who pled guilty to paying more than $1 million in bribes to former Rep. Duke Cunningham. Despite no record of having ever received a federal contract, Wade’s firm received a $140,000 contract in 2002 to provide a system to screen the President’s mail.

Here is picture of Wade.

And here is a picture of Oliver Platt, who played Warren Beatty's assistant in Bullworth.

Of the two, I prefer Platt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus' Kindred Spirits

Everyone is up in arms about Don Imus' inflamatory remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, made last week. CNN is reporting that Imus is losing sponsers, and he's already been suspended from his show for 2 weeks. There is talk that he'll lose his show altogether. I'm not that familar with his work, but he does have a history of making racially insensitive remarks, and if he does get taken off the air for this, it may show that there are material consequences for shooting your mouth off like this. Much like Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN after ridiculously claiming Donavon McNab didn't deserve all the media attention he was recieving, it may be time for Imus to step down.

I think the outrage surrounding Imus right now is appropriate, but he doesn't have the political clout that many other talking heads do, many of whom have said equally or more offensive things in the recent past. Here are some examples.

On his Feb 12th 2007 radio show, Glenn Beck (who also has a regular show on CNN) said that Obama, "is colorless...he might as well be white." The transcript is chock full of ignorance and is so violently anti-historical it is truely astounding. It's as though Beck is oblivious to America's complicated racial past. He talks about how "whites" don't see Obama as "black," and therefore, in Beck's eyes, Obama is "colorless." Seriously? And Beck repeatedly asks "can I even say that?" as though he knows someone will take offense, but he has no idea why.

Another Beck gem.

An elected official being asked to prove he's not working with our enemies. This story didn't get the attention it deserved. And it's on CNN. It's a major show.

And of course, "comedian" Rush Limbaugh again.

Good ol' Rush mocking Michael J. Fox and his advocating stem cell research. This story got a little bit of play, but no where near as much as the Imus stuff. Also, yes, Rush resigned from ESPN, because he said something stupid that got a lot of attention. But he also says a lot of stupid stuff that doesn't get a lot of attention, but should, because like it or not, he exists more or less in mainstream society.

These are three recent examples of amazing insensitivity and ignorance regarding Black and racially Mixed people, Muslims, and the disabled. It's a good thing that Imus' remarks stirred the kind of controversy that they did, but Limbaugh and Beck speak, either officially or unofficially, for an entire movement. They pull mainstream discourse to the right, and are far more damaging and relevant than Don Imus. If we saw the concentrated anger directed at Imus now directed at the bigotry of the right-wing machine, then we might be able to truely reshape the national discourse. Until that happens, we'll see things like this for some time in the future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

2 devastating videos

Here's a video that sums up the evangelical mindset pretty well.

And here's a video that sums up the tragedy of the Iraq war pretty well. I could do without the reedit at the end, but this was the best version I could find.

Why the juxtaposition? Well, besides the obvious connection between the Bush's admissions of speaking directly with God and our country's adventurism in the Middle East, I think there are a few other points to be made.

When viewing the first video, if I am alone, is to my first instict is to rub my temples and sigh quietly. If I am with friends, my instict is to mock loudly and attack the speaker with rationality. Either way, though, I am, and I think a lot of people are also, ultimately dismissive. As with the Left Behind series and James Dobson speeches, I often try to see these viewpoints as the marginal and extreme voices that they are.

When I saw the second video I was stunned. You can see what this occupation is doing to members of American families who return home in the best of possible circumstances. Finally, more than four years into this disaster, we are seeing this kind of footage in Mainsteam Media outlets.

I think history will show that Bush and Co took us into Iraq primarily for Economic and Strategic Military reasons, not because of any imminent threat and certainly not with the decievingly benevolent goal of "spreading democracy." Yet the support he recieves from Evangelicals and Born-Agains, such as those shown in the first video, who believe in a Manichean concept of Good vs. Evil, allow Bush to employ the rhetoric he does. That extreme, by many accounts insane, position gives Bush a constant base from which to work, and from which to pull American discourse further to the "right." That's why watching these videos of crazies spewing anti-rational nonsense must be taken seriously.