Archive for October, 2009

How the Bible allegedly trumps the law

October 31, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
How the Bible allegedly trumps the law

In this 2007 video, an unrelenting reporter from the BBC exposes the entitled mindset of an illegal Israeli settler:

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What Jesus looks like; what God is like.

October 30, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More
What Jesus looks like; what God is like.

I somehow got onto a emailing list that sends me lots of information on God and heaven. The latest email included a provocative photograph of Jesus. He looks like a wealthy young man from Los Angeles, hanging out at the beach. These sorts of “photos” of Jesus were extremely popular when I was growing up. These sorts of images still appear in the Christian literature handed to me on the streets and at my front door.

It makes me wonder, though, whether Jesus would be nearly as popular if he was represented as he might have looked in reality (if he existed at all): He would have had much darker skin and hair; he’d likely be much shorter than most modern men; he would not have been so well groomed, his complexion wouldn’t be that of a pampered movie star, his clothing would not have been well-washed and he would not have spoken nor understood English. If he visited our modern world, he would hang around prostitutes, criminals, other types of sinners, and the poor and down-and-out. He would likely assume the role of “terrorist,” attempting to detonate the corporate temples of the big Wall Street money-changers/Mammon idolaters. He would, if he visited us, encourage his followers to give up their suburban lifestyles, and to empty out their 401K’s and give all of that money to the poor, which would mean that they would be asked to hand their hard-earned retirement money to needy strangers. If he visited us, he would also ask his followers to conjure up the images of the people (gays, atheists, Democrats, Iranians) that they most despise, and to affirmatively take real life steps to demonstrate that they love them. If he visited in person, those who love the beach-boy Jesus, would become dismayed that Jesus is actually a prickly, even accusatory fellow (as he often was in the new testament stories), challenging people to dramatically change the way they lived their lives. He would not be the kind of fellow most Christians would repeatedly invite to their cocktail parties: “This is my best friend, Jesus, who will follow you around tonight insisting that you give away all your property to poor strangers and criminals.”

I know that many folks would say that they would follow Jesus no matter what he was like, but is that so? How many American Christians have any friends who fluently speak only a language used in the Middle East, and whose skin is darker then their own? Who spend lots of time giving comfort to street people and criminals? If the answer is “none,” then it is unlikely they would have paid any attention to Jesus.

The Christians who bond over images like the “Jesus” shown above need to at least have the courage to get the picture more accurate before deciding how much they love him.For more on what Jesus “looked like,” see this earlier post.

In that same email, I was sent a cartoon summing up that God loves me so incredibly much that he will send me to hell for eternal torture if I don’t love him back. Hell is usually described in such terms that it would clearly be unconstitutional. Of course, it’s always presented as “my choice.” I’ve heard that such warped and sadistic people like this exist on Earth–love me on my terms or I will get violent. I avoid those people like the plague–as all rational people should do. This little cartoon vividly illustrates the principle that the “God” is “good” even though he allegedly loves us like an abusive parent would “love” us, at least for some Christians. And BTW, it was the kind and gentle beach hippie Jesus of the New Testament who invented hell.

heaven-or-hell

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Bernie Sanders discusses the power of big money and the need for publicly funded elections

October 30, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Bernie Sanders discusses the power of big money and the need for publicly funded elections

How does it happen that a year after the economic crisis, Congress has enacted no real economic reform? Is it because financial corporations have spent five billion dollars on campaign contributions? Why do Americans pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? Why do we have an enormous military despite the end of the cold war? Independent Senator Bernie Sanders points to the common source of the problem:

On and on it goes. The reality of Washington, to a very significant degree, is that those people who have the money are able to influence public policy. Big money controls the agenda. If you don’t have the money, you get to the end of the line.

That’s the reality today. It could get worse. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a case that could be used to open the coffers of all the big corporations to directly fund campaign ads in this country. So you would not just be dealing with political action committees and lobbyists, you would have to deal with the treasuries of large corporations.

This is a huge issue. The antidote, in my view, is public funding of elections so that everybody has the opportunity to run for office without having to be beholden to powerful special interests.

Here’s another issue where money is corrupting the debate: net neutrality. I agree with Sanders. In fact, I’m ready to concede that we are unable to deal with any important issue in the United States because the conversation has been thoroughly corrupted by money in the form of private campaign contributions. We desperately need publicly funded campaigns to have a chance to honestly deliberate important issues.

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Falling water drops as you’ve never before seen them.

October 29, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Falling water drops as you’ve never before seen them.

If you think you know what happens when a drop of water falls into a pool of water, take a look at these beautiful slow motion videos.

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Number of swine flu deaths versus other kinds of deaths

October 29, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Number of swine flu deaths versus other kinds of deaths

How many Americans have died from swine flu compared to deaths from other major causes of deaths. This chart will surprise a lot of people. I checked out some of the stats with reputable sources and they seem legit.

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Guerilla Politics With Style

October 29, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More
Guerilla Politics With Style

Over on his blog, Whatever, John Scalzi does an interesting analysis of just what Obama is doing with FOX News. I’m heartened by the idea that he’s playing the GOP in their own game of unfitness-by-association-with-a-label and winning, especially when it doesn’t actually appear that that’s what he’s doing.

You would think that the bloviations of such methane-rich mineral deposits like Rush Limbaugh would long since have caused people who might have basked in the eerie swamp-glow of Republican ascendancy to hide themselves from public view, but instead they are forming ranks. If Scalzi’s take is correct, they are simply moving into their own corner, isolating themselves, and making it easy to identify them. Those with any brains have begun to distance themselves, and the more FOX bleats about Obama This and Obama That the less sane they all look.

Still, the hard core of the GOP is still driven by ideologues who have a hard time understanding that not only are there other viewpoints but that some of them might make sense. Since that ideology is but a short space away from a belief that whether any other viewpoint makes sense or not it doesn’t matter because Jesus is coming back “real soon now,” they are utterly hamstrung. For years some of them have surely known that they needed to get rid of that wing of the party, but they couldn’t do it without sacrificing seats in Congress. Now they’ll be forced to not only rid themselves of that, but also disavow their cheerleading section. It will be a long road to recovery, but once they admit they are no longer in control of their own lives, that a higher power must be appealed to, that they have to turn this around one step at a time, we should then stop picking on them.

In the meantime, may I suggest no quarter. But let us not get ugly about it. Let’s take a page from our president and gut them with style.

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Fundamentalism, Fox, and … Scientology?

October 28, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Fundamentalism, Fox, and … Scientology?

I was recently chatting with a friend who has been a Scientologist for several decades. He was attacking the White House for its conspiracy with other networks to censor and muzzle Fox News. He later sent me this screed on the Campaign for Liberty blog under the Subject “Fox News is Right”. The CfL is one of the political arms of Scientology. Check out their mission and board if you want. The introduction to the post is (in part, go read it yourself):

Why is America under such a vicious and prolonged [internal] attack against its basic beliefs? Why are some Americans attacking the hand that feeds them? Why tear down a working system? None of the attacks make sense. It is as though we are living in a looking glass world. I am looking backwards and it seems left is right and wrong is right and right is wrong. Politically correct speak replaced plain speak and the silent Christian majority are called domestic terrorists.

Okay, I paused at this point and replied (in part):

Lost me at “silent Christian majority”. An iconic building in every neighborhood, billboards every mile, ads every hour on radio and TV channels not already owned outright by Christian networks, and their creed printed on money and embedded in children’s daily oath to the flag does not fit my definition of “silent”.

I didn’t mention the wholesome Christian activities of blockading health clinics, continuous protests with gory signs on streets and campuses, bombing clinics and shooting doctors.

But the actual point of the article is that the KGB is alive and well and still trying to take over America via a conspiracy with the Psychiatric Industrial Complex. They have (the article claims) powerful mind control methods that are being used on the public.

If so, I asked in reply, how did we ever manage to get rid of CheneyBush?

Today, my friend sent me (among other Scientology political pieces) a YouTube video attacking Obama’s plan to sign the latest international emissions control treaty. It took a while of watching to figure this out, among the doomsayer speech of One World Government, global warming denialism, and the demise of America and such. Many of the positive comments to the video seem to be from garden variety End Days Christians, but the platform is quite visibly Scientology.

The point of all this is, Why are the Scientologists aligning with Fox and Christian Fundamentalists? For recruitment? For political palatability? To hijack a powerful propaganda machine?

Read and listen to what they actually say, and get back to me.

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Iraq journalism applied to Iran

October 28, 2009 | By | Reply More
Iraq journalism applied to Iran

According to Glenn Greenwald, if you want to see what Iraq journalism looked like, read the the hyped up news on Iran. Take, for example a recent Washington Times piece by Toby Warrick, which is:

purely one-sided, unquestioning and entirely anonymous series of dubious, unverified, fear-mongering assertions that can have no purpose other than to create the most sinister picture of the “Iranian threat” possible.

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Bond raters hiding behind First Amendment

October 28, 2009 | By | 13 Replies More
Bond raters hiding behind First Amendment

This is insanity: The bond raters, those three big Wall Street companies that rated crappy mortgages to be great investments, thereby plunging the country into economic chaos, are hiding behind the First Amendment. They are claiming that they can’t be sued for the financial equivalent of calling a mouse an elephant, because their work product is just an “opinion.” We charge millions of dollars for giving you a rating, and you can’t hold us accountable because it’s an “opinion.”

I’ll tell you this: I work as a lawyer. If a screw up someone’s case because I give him bad advice (in return for charging her a fee), she could (rightfully) sue me for malpractice. If I raised the defense that I can’t be sued for terrible advice because it was merely “an opinion,” I’d be laughed out of court with an adverse judgment tattooed onto my forehead. That the courts aren’t letting these ratings firms get hammered makes you wonder whether the unspoken defense is “too big to fail.” If they didn’t have this ridiculous “First Amendment” defense, the smug and irresponsible raters would be ripped apart by millions of justifiably irate plaintiffs.

And, of course, Congress is in no hurry to beat back the ratings firms’ lobbyists and hold these jokers accountable for all of the 401K’s they’ve trashed.

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