Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dad of Slain Soldier Refuses to Pay Court Costs

If you’re not familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, allow me to fill you in on people who might well be on the bottom rung of the human ladder.

The church consists of Pastor Fred Phelps and his extended family. There can’t be more than 25 members in total. They are violently anti-homosexual. Phelps teaches that American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

This upstanding Christian group pickets the funerals of American servicemen carrying signs that say things like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Kill all Fags.”

In 2006 they picketed the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq. The father of the Marine sued them for emotional distress and won a $5 million judgment. Unfortunately the verdict was overturned on appeal when the district court decided that, no matter how despicable or contrary to good taste their protests might be, they were still protected speech under the 1st Amendment.

To add insult to injury, the court also ordered the Marine’s father to pay for the church’s $16,000 in legal fees. He’s refused to do so until the Supreme Court reviews the case which it has said it would do in the fall.

There are so many things wrong with this situation I’m not really sure where to begin.

Granted, one must be willing to defend the right of people to express opinions that you do not agree with. Phelps can cry and scream about homosexuality all he wants. As much as I believe what he’s saying is wrong I recognize his right to say it.

What I challenge is WHERE he is saying it. Free Speech is not unrestricted. I’ll even concede his “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” atrocity might be protected speech but not within the vicinity of a young soldier’s funeral where his grieving family has to deal with it.

Protest all you want but not within the line of sight or hearing of a soldier’s funeral. Therefore I believe the appellate court was wrong and the Supreme Court should reverse. I contend that this is a matter of restricting content and not restricting viewpoint.

No political protest, whether it be Anti-War, Tea Party or Phelps’s lunacy should be allowed with sight or hearing of a funeral, any funeral. Would that one satisfy you?

A press release from the church states “Military funerals have become pagan orgies of idolatrous blasphemy, where they pray to the dunghill gods of Sodom and play taps to a fallen fool.”

At the bottom of the press release it says “Thank God for IEDs.”

In my youth we could have solved the problem of the Westboro Baptist Church with fifteen minutes of reasoning with them behind the gym. Now we’ve become too effeminate to tolerate beating the living daylights out of someone who desperately needs it beaten out of them.

Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are another good reason for rejecting Christianity. Any philosophy that can give rise to this sort of crap has to be a lie. What ever happened to "hate the sin but love the sinner?"

A Little More Republican Cowardice

In the previous post I took the position that the senior staff at the Republican National Committee (RNC) acted in a cowardly manner by disavowing all responsibility for a strip club junket while firing a junior staffer.

Now we hear the Republicans are backing down from calling for a repeal of the Health Care Reform law in the general election.

Let’s get this one straight shall we? You have been saying all along that the Health Care Reform bill was a really bad idea. You’ve called it socialism; you’ve claimed its going to introduce death panels; you’ve claimed its going to send the country into an economic tailspin; you’ve claimed its going to allow illegal immigrants to receive health care; you’ve claimed its going to require the government to pay for elective abortions; you’ve claimed it was going to cause rationed health care; you’ve even claimed it was going to somehow mandate an abortion in some cases.

So why aren’t you clamoring for its repeal? Why aren’t you pledging your lives, your fortunes and your sacred honor to its repeal?

If you really believe the law is that bad, then stand up for what you believe you spineless sons of bitches.

This is typical Conservative crap. Use misinformation and flat out lying to stir up the under 80 IQ trailer park set but then retreat when it starts to become clear that what you’ve been saying is utter nonsense.

The next thing you’ll be telling us is how Conservatives and the Republican Party were instrumental in getting Health Care Reform passed you miserable lying bastards.

I’d storm the gates of hell itself if it would prevent the current spineless breed of Republican from getting elected. You’re disgracing the memory of men like Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. Hell, you’re even disgracing the memory of Richard Nixon.

The Republican National Committee and a Strip Club

Let’s hear it for the party of “Family Values.”

Apparently the RNC shelled out $1,946 in February for a junket to a sexually themed Hollywood night spot call Voyeur. While there is some debate over who knew what, I find this utterly fascinating.

It wasn’t a party junket but rather something set up by a staffer for a group of potential donors. Yo, Evangelical Christians, are you following this? The Republicans are entertaining potential fat cat donors with trips to strip clubs and, apparently, a bondage themed club at that.

My, aren’t we kinky? Talk about a pit of hypocritical vipers.

But come on, it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that politicians are hypocrites. The real issue to my mind is they fired a junior staffer while all the senior staff disavowed any knowledge of the event.

I call that cowardice.

Is there anyone willing to step up and take responsibility for anything in that sad excuse for a political party? All I ever hear from them is a litany of its all someone else’s fault.

Allow me to suggest that either senior staff knew about it, in which case they should be canned, or they didn’t know about it, which means they don’t have proper managerial control of their staff, in which case they should be canned. Either way, the party faithful should take a broom to the RNC senior staff.

It’s either poor judgment or poor control, take your choice. By the way, did I mention the $17,000 in chartered plane fees and the $12,000 in luxury limousines also spent in the single month of February? The hypocrisy of stirring up the rubes with nonsense issues and rhetoric while simultaneously laughing at them while sipping cognac in the back of luxury limousines on the way to a steamy strip club, and using their money to pay for it, strikes me as precisely the problem with the Republican Party.

Well, at least it wasn’t a gay strip club.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Police arrest Christian Militia

Oh just freaking wonderful. According to the AP, the police in the Midwest have arrested nine members of a Christian Militia organization called Hutaree and charged them with planning to kill police officers. Their plans even included throwing bombs at a police officer’s funeral.

If you ask me, I would have let them go forward with their “plans” and blown the bastards away when they showed up.

Apparently these assholes think that Jesus wants them to be able to defend themselves from the Anti-Christ when he shows up. They consider federal, state and local law enforcement officials as a “brotherhood” and an enemy.

According to their website, “Hutaree” means “Christian Warrior” in a secret language that only a few are privileged to know.

They were going to make war on the U.S. government but upon their arrest opted for a Public Defender.

Where else but in the Western Democracies would they get legal counsel after planning murder and insurrection rather than a bullet at close range? Yet these are the very Democracies people like this would gleefully overthrow and replace with a Theocracy capable of sentencing people to death for practicing “sorcery.”

Granted it’s innocent until proven guilty, but in this case I’m willing to bet they’re as guilty as sin. Here’s hoping these yo-yos get to have many long painful discussions with Bubba and his friends while spending the next 30 or 40 years behind bars.

The Great Derangement – Final

I finished Matt Taibbi’s book. Despite spending a lot of pages describing the lunacy of the 9/11 Truthers (which Taibbi seems to think is a phenomenon of the left) and Fundamentalist Christians, apparently Matt’s primary message is that Washington D.C. politicians want to keep us focused on an “Us vs. Them” mentality so we don’t notice they’ve got their fingers in the till.

While I don’t doubt that politicians love distracting us with imaginary bogey men so we don’t notice what’s really going on, I don’t buy his assertion that the two parties are effectively the same.

There was a time when I would have agreed with that statement but no more. If there was an honest political party I would support that one. But such an animal doesn’t exist so I’m stuck with the Democrats.

What makes the Democrats different? Well, first of all they’re not nearly as greedy as the Republicans and they tend to keep their larceny within acceptable limits. Second, they may be stealing money, but they’re not trying to control what I think and how I live.

I divide politics into three categories, Foreign Policy, Economics and Social Issues.

On Foreign Policy I’m a great believer in diplomacy and avoiding unilateral action. I’m also basically a peacenik. I require a tremendous justification to start a war. I believe the war in Afghanistan was justified. I believe the war in Iraq was not. Generally speaking, the Democrats strike me as more in line with my way of thinking.

On Economics I would like to see a balanced budget and an ongoing reduction of the national debt. In other words I want to be where Bill Clinton left us. I view Supply Side Economics as so much wishful thinking. George H.W. Bush was right when he called it voo-doo economics. I’m also convinced we’re overdue for a serious redistribution of wealth. The current concentration brought about by the financial policies of the Reagan and Bush years is unhealthy and dangerous.

I don’t think either party has what I would consider an acceptable financial policy. The Democrats can’t seem to get it through their thick skulls that you can’t spend money you don’t have while the Republicans continue to fleece the middle and working classes for the benefit of the well to do.

On Social Issues it’s not even close. The attitude toward Social Issues of the Republican Party makes me want to throw up.

So, I’m sorry Matt, while they both may have their fingers in the till, they are different.

Now let’s talk about the 9/11 Truthers. I guess I was surprised that Taibbi labeled them an aberration of the left. I mean, just because they distrusted George Bush doesn’t make them a left wing phenomenon. I also don’t believe his numbers about the size of the movement. As far as I can tell it’s a very small splinter group of people that just have to have a conspiracy.

There are always people that can’t believe that governments, corporations and people just aren’t as smart as we would like them to be.

The Japanese couldn’t have snuck up on Pearl Harbor so Roosevelt must have let them so he could fight Hitler.

One lone nut couldn’t have killed JFK so there must have been multiple gunmen and a conspiracy reaching from Havana to the halls of the CIA to Jack Ruby’s strip club.

The Coca-Cola Corporation couldn’t have been that stupid so New Coke must have been a clever ploy to revitalize Coke sales.

A bunch of Islamic fanatics couldn’t have planned and pulled off 9/11 so the Bush Administration must have set it up so we could declare war on Iraq and steal their oil.

A good rule to remember is never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple human stupidity. The fact of the matter is Bush and his cronies just weren’t smart enough to pull this off and besides, Bush may have been an idiot but he wasn’t evil. Cheney could never have talked him into something like 9/11.

Anyway, Matt’s book is worth the read but I think he’s allowed himself to become a little too cynical. I guess that’s an easy thing to do when one sees the crap that goes on in D.C. up close and personal but I think he needs to step back and look at the broader picture.

Either that or I need to stop being fooled by the politicians.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Convicted of Sorcery?

Ali Hussain Sibat used to host a call-in show on Beirut television. On that show he would "predict" the future an d give people advice. In May of 2008 he made a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. While there he was arrested by the religious police and charged with sorcery.

He was convicted by a court in Medina and, are you ready for this, sentenced to death. Yes, you heard me right. The man was sentenced to death for an impossible crime.

The Mecca appeals court sent the case back for "reconsideration," but the Medina court confirmed their decision. According to CNN the judges in Medina issued a statement to the effect that "Sibat deserved to be executed for having continually practiced black magic on his show, adding that this sentence would deter others from practicing sorcery."

These are judges? These are supposed to be educated people? Black magic? Sorcery? Give me a god damned break.

Here's an example of the ignorance and absurdity you can expect when religion has power. Go ahead, vote Republican if this is the kind of crap you want to see here as well.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Republican Attitudes toward Obama

A Daily Beast story reports that a new Harris Poll provides some insight into Republican attitudes about Obama.

66% think he’s a Socialist

Of course the fact that they don’t have the slightest idea what a socialist is doesn’t matter in the least.

57% think he’s a Muslim

I doubt it. But I don’t think he’s a Christian either other than perhaps in name only for political expediency. I suspect he’s at least a skeptic and quite possibly an atheist. Imagine if the wingnuts got hold of that idea?

45% think he was not born in the United States and therefore is not eligible to be President

That’s despite the State of Hawaii, the Federal Courts, their own political party and even most of their right wing commentators telling them they're wrong. Facts and reality mean nothing to the Republican faithful.

38% say he is doing many of the things that Hitler did

What? Clearly they don’t have any idea what Fascism is or what Hitler did.

24% think he may be the Anti-Christ

The Anti-Christ? The goddamned Anti-Christ? WTF is wrong with these people?

Well, according to the Daily Beast reporter, they’re not well educated. “The poll…also clearly shows that education is a barrier to extremism. Respondents without a college education are vastly more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped.”

The key word here is “duped.” And who are they being duped by? By the talking heads and talk radio show hosts who use inflammatory claims to boost ratings while ignoring the damage they might be doing. These people care nothing about truth. They only care about their own fame and prestige. If you believe these assholes, then your daddy raised a fool and that fool is you.

Supposedly full details about the poll will be available tomorrow. I can’t wait to see the whole thing. Man we are screwed. It’s getting really dark out there.

Comments on the Ave Maria Case

I was reading through a series of comments related to the Supreme Court declining to hear a case brought by a High School student in Washington State against a local school board because it wouldn’t let her play Ave Maria at graduation.The student claimed the decision violated her rights of free speech and expression. The school board justified the decision by saying that many people would see the music as being religious in nature.

A fairly large percentage of the comments disagreed with the court and the school board. I would say the arguments fell into one of two broad categories.

Category #1 – Ave Maria is religious in nature but it’s ok to play religious music at a public school graduation.

Err, no, it is clearly NOT ok. Why is it not ok? Because the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has determined that the 1st Amendment says it’s not ok. People who say things like “show me where it says in the Constitution that church and state must be separate” overlook the case law that exists interpreting what the Constitution MEANS.

The separation of church and a state is a legal principle derived from the 1st Amendment Establishment Clause. The phrase comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802. The SCOTUS has repeatedly validated the principle but has sometimes disagreed on what the principle means.

The problems usually center on conflicts between the Establishment Clause and Free Speech which is precisely where this case draws the battle lines.

Under what circumstances can the state, in the person of a school board or a school, censor a student’s right of free expression?

Many people quote “the Constitution guarantees Freedom OF Religion not Freedom FROM Religion.” I have no idea who first said this as it’s been attributed to lots of people but its flat out wrong.

In Lemon v. Kurtzman in 1971 the SCOTUS established a three pronged test to determine whether or not a government action violated the Establishment Clause.

1) The government action must have a secular purpose; 2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion; 3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Take special notice of number 1. This is what guarantees Freedom FROM Religion at least as far as any government action is concerned.

This is not a matter of opinion. This is a matter of fact. If a government action fails ANY of the three prongs, it’s illegal. The teaching of Creationism fails the first prong. Posting the 10 Commandments, unless part of a broader context, fails the second prong and supporting parochial schools financially generally fails the third prong.

However, in this particular case the shoe is sort of on the other foot because part of the claim by the student was that, in prohibiting the playing of Ave Maria, the school board was being HOSTILE to religion.

The court found that it was not because the board’s action, prohibiting the playing of Ave Maria, passed all three prongs of the Lemon Test.

Note that the court NEVER addressed the question of whether allowing Ave Maria to be played at the graduation would have been a violation of the Establishment Clause.

Category #2 – Ave Maria may have a religious theme but as classical music it has an artistic value beyond its religious significance therefore its ok to play it at a public school graduation.

While I don’t doubt the artistic value of Schubert’s music, I have to point out that truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Could a reasonable man have interpreted the playing of Ave Maria at a public school graduation as an endorsement of religion?

The school board clearly thought this was a possibility and they decided to exclude it because they had established that graduation ceremonies were to be entirely secular in nature. Here is the e-mail from the district administrator to school principals.

“I am requesting that music selections for graduation be entirely secular in nature. My rationale is based on the nature of the event. It is a commencement program in celebration of senior students earning their high school diploma. It is not a music concert. Musical selections should add to the celebration and should not be a separate event. Invited guests of graduates are a captive audience. I understand that attendance maybe [sic] voluntary, but I believe that few students (and their invited guests) would want to miss the culminating event of their academic career. And lastly there is insufficient time at graduation to balance comparable artistic

In light of the decision to exclude all items of a religious nature from the graduation ceremony as a whole, and not just for this music selection, the restriction was what is known as “Content Restriction,” which is normally permissible, rather than “Viewpoint Restriction” which is normally not.

In other words, if you decide you want to talk about the NFL playoffs at a government sponsored seminar on nuclear power it’s OK for them to tell you to go to hell. That is NOT a violation of your right of free speech.

Therefore the court ruled that excluding Ave Maria under these circumstances was not a violation of the student’s right to free speech.

So in the final analysis the question wasn’t whether Ave Maria was appropriate, it was whether the school board was within its rights to decide it wasn’t, so the whole question of the artistic value of Schubert’s piece, as opposed to the religious value, is sort of meaningless.

In summary, the issue WAS NOT whether playing Ave Maria at the graduation violated the Separation of Church and state, it was whether the school board's decision that it might, and it's subsequent denial of permission, violated the student's constitutional rights. The court decided that it had not.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Student can’t Sue over Ave Maria

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by a High School student in Washington State against a local school board because it wouldn’t let her play Ave Maria at graduation.

The student claimed the decision violated her rights of free speech and expression. The school board justified the decision by saying that many people would see the music as being religious in nature.

Samuel Alito disagreed with the courts decision saying that the case raised broad issues of censorship at schools that should be reviewed by the court.

Now interestingly enough what most of us would recognize as Ave Maria is actually Schubert’s opus “Ellen’s Third Song” using words from Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake” in which Ellen is praying to the Virgin Mary.

Just like no one thinks of William Tell rather than the Lone Ranger when the “William Tell Overture” is played, only true classical music aficionados would think of Ellen from “The Lady of the Lake” rather than Mary, mother of Jesus, when Schubert’s tune is played. Schubert himself, when writing about it said "My new songs from Scott's Lady of the Lake especially had much success. They also wondered greatly at my piety, which I expressed in a hymn to the Holy Virgin and which, it appears, grips every soul and turns it to devotion."

In other words, it was always intended as a hymn to Mary. It just happens to be a hymn recited by a character in Scott’s poem. The board of education was right to prohibit its playing at a public school graduation and the court was right to deny hearing the case.

Health Care

It looks like we’re going to get a Health Care Reform bill after all.

The Republicans are still jumping up and down over the tax increases and spending despite estimates that the bill will actually REDUCE the deficit by $138 billion over ten years.

However, let me quote Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition, “You do have to assume that a lot of things will go right even for these numbers to work, but it's important to keep in mind that, even if they do work, we're still on an unsustainable path.”

And if the truth must be told, I doubt the savings are going to meet expectations and we’ll be lucky if the new taxes survive to be implemented. The Republicans will probably prevent the tax on high end Health Plans from ever being implemented as soon as they get the chance.

Isn’t it amazing that the Republicans don’t care about the 32 million uninsured Americans but they do care about the corporate executives with the Cadillac policies? No, the unions aren’t going to get hit by the tax. The delay in the start of the tax is intended to allow them to work things out.

So is this good or bad? I’m not sure. Certainly the objective is correct, but the execution may be lacking. The overall impact of the bill is hard to gauge. There are just too many factors and it’s a complex area.

The strategy is apparently to get the Health Bill in place and then, once the details are known, sell it. I think this is a major mistake and the delay simply magnifies the mistake. The bill, or at least the desperate need for a bill, should have been sold all along.

By allowing its opponents to frame the debate, public support for the bill has dwindled to a weak minority and it’s not going to be easy to resurrect it.

So what about the Republican’s concerns?

I’d have to ask, which set of concerns? The story has changed almost daily. You know you’re being lied to when the arguments you’re hearing change without notice.

First it was Death Panels, then it was illegal immigrants would be covered, then it was elective abortion would be covered and now, in the latest correspondence I’ve gotten from my Republican Congressman, Scott Garrett, it’s unconstitutional.

Garrett sent me an e-mail in November with a list of specific areas he wanted to “bring to my attention.” Last week I got a transcript of his official statement on the bill from the House floor.

Interestingly, NONE of the items in the November e-mail were mentioned in the March statement and NONE of the issues in the March statement were in the November e-mail.

Now, there may be a perfectly logical explanation for this but, off hand, I can’t think of one.

In January, in his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Bob McDonnell said “Most Americans do not want to turn over the best medical care system in the world to the federal government."

In his floor statement on Health Care Garrett said “For the most part, Republicans and Democrats agree on the problems our health care system faces.”

Really? Did anyone clue in McDonnell and all the other yahoos that have been declaring it the best in the world? It’s the best in the world only IF you can afford it.

Granted there has been a consistent mantra from the Republicans related to cost but that appears to have been addressed in the bill. There are plans being put in place to bring medical costs under control. The questions are will they work, will they be enough and will Congress have the political will to leave them in place when the pinch starts getting felt and the howls of indignation can be heard.

I’m guessing the answers are Maybe, No and No.

The other semi-consistent mantra has been it will undo the economic recovery achieved by the stimulus package and send us back into an economic recession. Oh, but wait, they also claim the stimulus didn’t work. So which is it?

As for the Health Care bill causing an economic downturn, that’s based upon the voodoo economics of the Supply Side which is total nonsense. The fact is that it will effectively redistribute wealth from the rich to the working poor. This is a good thing because the propensity to consume of those folks is much higher. This will expand demand which will in turn spur investment.

If people could be made to understand the benefits in the bill, except for the most partisan Right Wing Evangelical Christian types, people would breathe a sigh of relief and wonder what all the fuss was about.

How is it going to affect me? I expect to get hammered with higher premiums. Someone has to pay for all those new benefits.

But this is a teeny, tiny step in the direction of resolving the budget crisis. In fact, we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t end up making things worse due to the lack of political will I see on the horizon. Attention now needs to be focused on eliminating the budget deficit and starting to reduce the current national debt.

May I suggest we start by getting the hell out of Iraq?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Editing History

The Texas School Board, dominated by a clique of ultra conservatives, has decided that it’s time to rewrite history and make it more to their liking.

This is not unusual for the Right Wing. Recently Ann Coulter has decided that Joe McCarthy was a great American undone by a liberal conspiracy and Pat Buchanan has argued that Adolf Hitler was really a peace loving guy and the blame for World War II should go to Winston Churchill.

What makes what Texas does important to the rest of the country is that Texas purchases text books centrally rather than allowing local school boards to decide as New York does. Therefore Texas has enormous influence upon what appears in text books as the text book manufacturers fall over each other to line up with the Texas School Board guidelines.

Some of the curriculum directives approved by the Texas School Board include:

Replacing Thomas Jefferson with John Calvin

Texas is removing the reference to Jefferson’s Enlightenment based ideas from a standard related to the influence of political philosophers upon revolutions and replacing him with John Calvin.

The Religious Right doesn’t care for Jefferson who was a secular Deist who tended to distrust Christianity so they’ve decided to simply ignore possibly the greatest American political philosopher who ever lived.

No Separation of Church and State

The curriculum will address the Judeo-Christian influences of the founding fathers but not address the philosophy behind the separation of church and state. One Texas School Board official said flat out “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state.”

You might want to take that one up with the Supreme Court. Let me explain it slowly so even a dimwit like you might understand. The phrase “Separation of Church and State” is a pointed explanation of what the 1st Amendment means when it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Call the U.S. a Republic rather than a Democracy

All references to “Democratic” institutions and practices are to be replaced by “Republican” institutions and practices.

Well, actually, they’re correct. This is a Republic and not a Democracy but they probably don’t know that. They just don’t want these things associated with the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party.

Hip-hop has not been included as a culturally significant movement

The conservatives rejected the inclusion of Hip-hop as culturally significant.

Well of course not. Nothing that isn’t white Christian could possibly be of any importance. Hip-hop is probably second only to Rock n’ Roll in musical cultural significance and to ignore it is simply hiding from reality. I don’t like it so I’ll shut my eyes real tight and maybe it will go away.

All Religions are not equal under the Constitution

The board refused to require that students be taught that the Constitution forbids the government from promoting one religion over another.

Now I wonder what religion they think the government should promote?

McCarthy wasn’t such a bad guy after all

The board required that when addressing McCarthy it be taught that the release of the Verona papers confirmed the Communist infiltration of the U.S. government.

I don’t think anyone ever doubted that there were real infiltration issues. The problem was the methods McCarthy relied upon. The lies, the innuendos and the general climate of fear and mistrust he fostered could have been taken right out of the Gestapo playbook.

The end does not justify the means. As soon as we accept that it does, we’ve already lost the war against totalitarianism.

Conservative Resurgence

The curriculum will cover the Conservative movements of the 1980s and 1990s including the Heritage Foundation and the National Rifle Association but not anything about liberal groups or minority rights groups.

Yup, heaven forbid one might confuse the young ones by teaching them about different ideas and the struggles for equality. Struggles supported by liberals and fought against tooth and nail by conservatives. Better to just brainwash them with only one slant. Besides, them there minority rights folks and liberals freed the slaves and forced us to treat blacks like real people and us white Christians, the only REAL Americans, ain’t gonna stand for it no more.

No teaching about the difference between sex and gender

Apparently one conservative board member worried that a discussion on that issue would lead students into the world of transsexuals and transvestites.

Well, isn’t that a world that educated people ought to at least know exists?

It’s not Capitalism, it’s Free Enterprise

The world Capitalism will be removed in favor of the term Free Enterprise.

Words carry with them impressions and “Free Enterprise” is so much more of a virtue word than “Capitalism” don’t you think? We wouldn’t want to give the kiddies even the slightest impression that anything supported by the Right Wing might have any kind of downside and leave them vulnerable to something like Socialism (even though we don’t understand what that is) now would we?

No Ted Kennedy or Sotomayor but lots of Reagan

The curriculum can ignore Senator Ted Kennedy and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor but Ronald Reagan has been elevated in the amount of coverage he’s to receive.

There are heroes and there are villains. Let’s teach the kids to admire those conservative heroes and ignore those liberal villains.

No Tejanos at the Alamo

The conservatives rejected an effort to specifically mention that Tejanos were among the fallen at the Alamo.

I guess we should also ignore the fact that blacks fought in the American Revolution as well?

Like I said, all of this is a group of conservative Christian assholes attempting to rewrite history to make it match what they would like it to be or at least insure that their kids aren’t taught anything that might make them realize that conservative Christians have their heads up their asses.

This is pathetic but typical. What’s scary is that they will most likely get away with it as most Americans can’t be bothered to worry about stuff like this. The lack of vigilance and the attitude that it’s just a small collection of nuts is allowing the darkness to expand almost unimpeded in many areas of the country.

This isn’t education. This is political indoctrination. What’s next? Firing teachers that don’t pitch the party line? This is Nazi Germany all over again but with a cross as the symbol rather than a swastika.

To paraphrase and expand upon Upton Sinclair, when fascism comes to the United States it will be wrapped in a flag, carrying a bible and illuminated by the burning books in the background.

It won’t come all at once. It will come in small steps such as converting education into political indoctrination.

Monday, March 15, 2010

No Power

The power in my home went out Saturday night around 9 PM. It’s now 1:30 PM Monday and the power is still out. I’m being told that it may be out until Thursday.

Trees are down, roads are closed and in general Northern New Jersey has debris scattered all over the place. I have a piece of someone’s siding in my back yard; the cell phone service is spotty at best and as of this AM, I had no regular phone service.

Basically this sucks.

The road closings were the biggest headache. My daughter’s car broke down in the city of all places. For a price ($275 to be exact) we got her towed to a repair place not too far from home. I went to meet her and found out all the roads I usually take leading in that direction were closed. The first two I tried I could see the blockages. On the third one I decided to go around the barricade and almost met a very large tree up close and personal.

The tree was blocking both sides of the road, which sort of explained the closure and the barricade, but there was just enough room to get under it with branches scrapping the top of my car. Once I retrieved my daughter, and paid for her tow, I had to swing all the way north in order to get back home since I wasn’t going to play with that tree again.

We also haven’t been able to reach the repair place so even if they’re open, they have no idea what that white Liberty is doing there.

The early stages of the Hackensack River winds around the houses two blocks from where I live and it overflowed flooding the houses along the river up to the front yard. It’s the worst I’ve seen since the county installed a retaining wall to prevent that. The river went right up over the wall. What an absolute mess.

Not everywhere is out. Some folks have had power through the whole deal; others have already had it restored. I’m not all that thrilled that it’s going to take four days to restore mine but there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it either.

I still have gas service so at least I have hot water but that could fail as well. Drinking water, on the other hand, is a tad iffy and folks are being told to boil it just in case, something I didn’t know this morning when I took my pills so I’ll probably come down with bubonic plague or something.

During little aberrations like this you realize how much you depend upon the conveniences of modern life. I often wonder how well we would all fare if things really went to hell.

Imagine no power, no phone service, no natural gas or heating oil, no gasoline for your car, no clean water and no food being delivered to local supermarkets. Add to that a collapse of basic services such as fire and police. What would we do?

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Destruction of Knowledge and the Rise of Stupidity

The greatest crime perpetrated by Christianity wasn’t the Crusades, it wasn’t the witch hunts and it wasn’t the inquisition; it was the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria.

I’m aware that some Christian scholars have challenged the classical version of the story including the rape and murder of Hypatia. I’ve read the challenges and I’m not impressed. They’re the sort one would expect from the lawyer of a guilty man. They’re more in the realm of “your evidence I did it isn’t strong enough” rather than “here’s evidence that I didn’t do it.”

I especially love the argument that “all” the Christian mobs did was remove a smaller number of books and scrolls from pagan temples and destroy them as if it mattered where the knowledge was kept. There is more than enough evidence to lead me to conclude that books and scrolls were stored in a library building attached to the Serapeum Temple and both were destroyed by Christian mobs attempting to eradicate anything that disagreed with Christian dogma.

As I read posts and opinions by Christian fundamentalists disparaging science in particular, and knowledge in general, it becomes increasingly obvious that, given the opportunity, Christianity would gleefully engage in a second major burning of books and destruction of knowledge.

Knowledge and education are dangerous to religion. The more people know, the more educated they become, the more likely it is that they will see the reality that religion is utter nonsense.

The amount of pure stupid out there is mind boggling. There is no attempt to understand the facts. It seems perfectly ok to just make stuff up. The problem is the average American is such an idiot that he accepts that made up nonsense as truth without bothering to check.

I am absolutely flabbergasted at the complete crap, crap that is demonstrably false, coming from pulpits and right wing politicians and pundits that is accepted by the under 80 IQ Trailer Park set with nary a hesitation.

More and more my reaction is please tell me you’re not that stupid? Working class white America has been manipulated into supporting policies that run counter to their interests and Black America has somehow been convinced by Christianity to support the very philosophy that would like nothing better than to reinstitute Jim Crow and midnight lynchings.

Continue to deny homosexuals equal rights and eventually you will find your rights denied as well.

What I should do is laugh all the way to the bank but I know that eventually that stupidity is going to lead to trouble.

The Tea Party movement has some damn good points. It also has a significant lunatic fringe aspect. In the old days those good points would eventually have been absorbed into the political mainstream while the lunatic fringe aspects were discarded.

In today’s climate my concern is that the opposite may turn out to be the case. I see the lunatic fringe, fanned by political talking heads that only care about their ratings, growing while the valid points get lost in the misplaced enthusiasm.

Religion and science are not compatible. Science is continually searching for the truth. This of course assumes that the truth is not already fully known and will probably never be fully known. Religion on the other hand claims to already possess the truth and claims there is no need to search any further. New discoveries can only undermine the so-called “truth” that religion claims to already possess.

Not only are science and religion not compatible, the reality of the situation is that they are in a death struggle. Either science will destroy religion or religion will destroy science. There is no other possible outcome.

The Right Wing Conservative movement is mired in religion therefore by definition it is suspect. I’m actually a supporter of fiscal responsibility. I believe the federal budget should be balanced except in emergency situations. I would probably be a Republican if the party wasn’t courting the religious lunatic fringe. As long as that is the case I’m going to continue to try and get some fiscal reality into the Democratic agenda. Unfortunately I haven’t had any luck so far.

Now let’s talk about the Tea Party types.

The working class Tea Party supporters are the sorriest sons of bitches I’ve ever seen. They are being manipulated by the corporate fat cats to allow the continued fleecing of the American middle class. While the Halliburton, Exxon and Insurance company executives buy a ninth or tenth vacation home you sorry sons of bitches will be lucky if you can afford the health care you’ve been convinced to oppose reforming.

Here’s reality. The only solution to the budget crises is to cut services and increase taxes. Even the Republicans are eventually going to have to own up to that reality. The big questions are what spending gets cut and whose taxes go up?

If you continue to let yourself get manipulated then the “big government spending” that will go away is spending that benefits yourselves and the majority of Americans and, at the same time, any greater tax burden is going to land squarely on your shoulders.

If you’re making $40,000 a year, you NEED health care subsidies and the public option and you DON’T NEED to protect the Bush tax cuts. So why the hell are you supporting just the opposite?

It wasn’t big government that outsourced all those manufacturing jobs to China. It was the same people that are currently leading you around by the nose.

The reality is that the fat cats are manipulating you using fear and you dummies are falling for it. Socialism is not your enemy; environmentalists are not your enemy; gay marriage should be a big “don’t care;” someone’s decision about whether or not to have an abortion is none of your business and you should be clamoring for Health Care Reform.

Like I said, you are the sorriest sons of bitches I’ve ever seen.

Democracy ceases to function when the electorate cannot be relied upon to vote in their own best interest. Democracy in the United States is failing. If you want someone to blame for that, look in the goddamned mirror.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Prom in Itawamba

The Itawamba county school board in northern Mississippi decided to cancel the prom at the Itawamba County Agricultural High School rather than face the issue of a lesbian student that wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring her girl friend.

Well that makes a whole lot of sense now doesn’t it?

The school board didn’t specify the lesbian date issue as the reason but used the phrase “distractions to the educational process caused by recent events.”

In other words they didn’t even have the courage to openly admit what the motivation was behind their action. In the statement canceling the event the school board “hoped” that “private citizens will organize an event for the juniors and seniors.”

Now that smacks of private citizens organizing a prom for whites only doesn’t it?

Prejudice is prejudice whether it’s based upon skin color, national origin, religion or sexual orientation. Why is it so hard to understand that?

You are not being asked to approve of homosexuals, simply to tolerate them. Let’s hear it for the good old southern Christians.

The combination of prejudice and cowardice is typical. Rather than say they’d rather cancel the prom than let a lesbian couple attend, they have to cover things in euphemisms. At least have the courage to admit you’re a bigoted son of a bitch.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Health Care and Abortion

I can’t believe these people. Now the big deal is whether the wording in one bill or the other might somehow increase the number of federally funded abortions.

WTF is wrong with these people?

Both bills bend over backwards to make it clear that federal subsidy dollars are not to pay for insurance which covers elective abortions. As far as I can see the Hyde Amendment restrictions remain in place.

The problem appears to be different language. The House bill says premiums for insurance covering abortions must be paid for separately and the Senate bill requires a different policy. This is what is now preventing Health Care Reform from becoming a reality.

Give me a God damned break. Jesus, Joseph and Mary but you have GOT to be kidding me. Can somebody please write a simple English sentence making it clear that the Hyde Amendment restrictions trump anything else that might be implied or open to interpretation in the bill?

There is clearly no intent to change federal abortion policy. Can’t we get that properly articulated?

This is what we get for electing God damned lawyers to run things. Talk about dumb. Does everyone become a complete idiot when they move to D.C.?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

And then there were Six

The first same sex couples were married today in Washington D.C., the sixth American jurisdiction to recognize same sex marriage.

The District of Columbia’s legalization of same sex marriage may seem a small victory after the losses in Maine, New York and New Jersey last fall, but it is a victory.

The retreat is over although the time is probably not ripe for a new offensive. Gay marriage will become a reality but the path it will follow to get to general acceptance is still unclear.

The Hoax of the Century

I read an article by Pat Buchanan entitled “Hoax of the Century.”

Buchanan starts out by describing Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man as the hoaxes of the last century.

Yes Piltdown man was a hoax but Nebraska Man was simply a mistake. A mistake I might point out corrected relatively quickly by normal scientific processes and peer review. Buchanan then has the audacity to quote Creationist Duane Gish about Nebraska Man and then refers to Eugene Windchy's book, “The End of Darwinism,” as the source for the stories. Well, two screw-ups amid thousands of pieces of evidence don’t mean much. One has to consider the total inventory of evidence not an aberration here or there.

The overall significance to the biological sciences of the Piltdown Man hoax and the Nebraska Man mistake is ZERO. When stacked against the total inventory of evidence for evolution they're utterly meaningless other than as interesting historical footnotes.

So Buchanan is already in a weak position when he begins to address his main topic which is Global Warming.

Remember I said the East Anglia “Climategate” fiasco was about to displace Nebraska Man as “evidence” that science can’t be trusted? While Buchanan managed to get both of them in the same article.

Along with the questionable processes at East Anglia Buchanan quotes a number of errors in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and a number of dire predictions that haven’t panned out. But his big money points are that, unlike the Arctic, Antarctic ice is actually increasing and the 2009 hurricane season was quite mild and the winter quite harsh, precisely the opposite of the recent mild winters and harsh hurricane seasons which were touted as evidence for Global Warming.

He also makes the point that temperatures have not risen since the late 1990s and that there was a similar period of global warmth between 900 CE and 1300 CE which, not only wasn’t catastrophic, but was of some benefit to the population of the time.

Buchanan then concludes, based upon these points, that Global Warming is the Hoax of the 21st Century.

Certainly these are valid questions but are they adequate to reach such a definitive conclusion?

Well, not really, and here’s why.

Let’s start with the IPCC errors and East Anglia. Do such things weaken the Global Warming argument? Absolutely, but like the evolution aberrations they have to be considered in the context of the totality of the evidence.

As for temperatures not rising since the late 1990s, a little more accurate would be to say since the warmest year on record in 1998 they have not risen. Once 1998 falls off the rolling average things appear to flatten out, however that has happened in the past over the short term.

As a matter of fact between 1940 and 1950 the average global temperature steadily decreased for 10 straight years before reversing and beginning to rise again.

You cannot use short term data for long term analysis. While the trend is encouraging, more data is required. The decade from 2001 – 2009 was warmer than 1991 – 2000 so the jury is still out until the data for 2010 is in.

Buchanan makes it sound like the expanding Antarctic ice was a big secret but it isn’t. The ice shelf is expanding in east Antarctica even as it’s contracting in west Antarctica but overall, the continent is gaining more ice than its losing.

Again, in a vacuum this is a strong argument against Global Warming but it can’t be viewed in a vacuum. The ice in the Arctic is definitely contracting so why the difference? Well, Antarctica is a totally different environment than the Arctic, more surrounded by water which reacts differently than land to rising temperatures and it’s also home to the hole in the ozone layer.

The ozone layer hole appears to be repairing itself and affecting the weather patterns in the Antarctic. Some scientists believe that this is why things are different in the Antarctic for the moment. However the prediction is that this is a temporary respite. Again, I’d wait here until all the evidence is in.

By the way, remember when the Right Wing was telling us what a hoax the ozone layer hole was or how we couldn’t do anything about it? Sound familiar?

The mild winters and severe hurricane seasons of the recent years have been touted as evidence of Global Warming, so why isn’t the harsh winter and mild hurricane season of 2009 evidence against Global Warming? Well, I guess it is, but it’s rather weak evidence.

The mild hurricane season of 2009 is due to the presence of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which was in effect in the Pacific. The earth’s weather isn’t composed of isolated segments, it’s all interconnected. The ENSO occurs quasi-periodically on a 3 to 7 year schedule and one of its general effects is the breaking up of storms in the Atlantic before they can get too strong.

As for the harsher winter, well, no one ever promised consistency in the weather. I wouldn’t read too much into one season especially against the backdrop of the overall trend.

Now let’s talk about the warm period between 900 CE and 1300 CE. Since there weren’t any meteorological stations measuring global temperatures back then I would say that this is anecdotal evidence. Even so, I don’t see any reason to doubt, based upon historical evidence such as the colonization of Greenland, that it occurred. I’m just not all that sure what this means other than warming cycles are natural and we could just be in the middle of another one so it’s no big deal. Perhaps this is the case, but then again, perhaps it isn’t.

Notice that Buchanan is inconsistent. On the one hand he is arguing that Global Warming isn’t occurring, and on the other hand he’s arguing that it’s occurring, but its natural and no big deal.

This is the Christian Apologists trick. He throws out multiple, often contradictory, possibilities and then claims his case is made. You can’t have it both ways Pat. Which is it? It isn’t happening or its happening but it’s no big deal?

I’m not discarding this evidence, and Buchanan’s questions and observations are clearly evidence, I’m simply saying that when placed in context it’s not nearly as strong as Buchanan implies in his article and it doesn’t strike me as anywhere near strong enough to warrant his conclusion.

I’m on the fence about Global Warming. Clearly something is happening but what it is and what, if anything, we can or should do about it is unclear to me. That being said, I don’t see any harm with playing it safe especially if playing it safe can lead to a healthier environment and economic prosperity through the emergence and development of new technology.

Of course new technology always presents something of a problem for those making money with the old technology doesn’t it?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Creationists are Dishonest

First allow me to define what I mean by a “Creationist.” By that term I mean someone that rejects the Theory of Evolution in favor of a literal interpretation of Genesis and a six day creation.

It does not include people that accept evolution but believe either that God directed the process or had to first create the universe and the first living cell before evolution, directed or undirected, could occur.

That I had to include the first two paragraphs is the first evidence of the dishonesty I claim. The dishonesty occurs when Creationists attempt to muddy the water as to the meaning of the term. I hope I have defined it crisply enough.

So why do I say they are dishonest? There are lots of reasons but I’d like to focus on two examples of just one of them. I’d like to discuss two examples of what is known as Quote Mining.

Quote Mining is the art of taking a quote out of context and then using it as “evidence” of something often totally different from what the quote actually meant.

Two of the most popular Creationist examples, which you can find plastered all over the internet as “proof” either that evolution is false, or that scientists are abandoning it, are quotes by Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge.

The quote from Gould is a statement to the effect that he declared neo-Darwinism “effectively dead.” The quote from Eldredge is usually given more completely as "We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change], all the while knowing it does not."

Now, if you know who Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge are, an immediate warning flag should go up. Eldredge is, and Gould was, an evolutionary biologist and paleontologist who rank among the MOST OUTSPOKEN PROPONENTS of evolution that ever existed.

So WHY would they be contradicting what they have so often, and so strongly, defended? Did they suddenly see the light? Could they no longer hold up the rotting fa├žade of evolution and finally have to admit the truth?

NO and NO!

Concept, science abhors an unexplained observation. If one exists, scientists will attempt to explain it. This is called a Hypothesis. Fact, the fossil record is incomplete. It has holes. Sometimes, it has very big holes. This is a simple observation. The question is then why do these holes exist?

One would think if evolution is a gradual steady process then, even given the rarity of fossilization, some of these holes should have been filled in by now. The conventional wisdom was, and to a large extent still is, that the holes are simply the result of missing documentation. Either Evolution was occurring but not fossilization or the fossils simply haven't been located yet.

Gould and Eldredge raised the possibility that perhaps those holes existed because there wasn't anything to find. That evolution, rather than a slow steady process, actually occurred in short, relatively rapid bursts. Since the timeframes would be compressed, the probability of anything approaching a complete record would be about zero.

Of course “relatively rapid” is still over millions of years, just a lot less millions of years.

They called this hypothesis “Punctuated Equilibrium” and believed that it explained the fossil record better than “Phyletic Gradualism” which is the term used to describe the steady, gradual approach.

In other words it’s an argument about HOW and not an argument about IF.

As I’ve said before, there are lots of arguments concerning evolution about how, when, why and where but none about if.

I’m not the first one to explain this. It’s been explained probably thousands of times that the quotes don’t mean what Creationists imply they mean. Yet Creationists continue to quote Gould and Eldredge and claim they are admitting that evolution is false.

This is dishonest. It is dishonest either because the Creationist knows the quotes don’t mean what is being implied they mean or, at the very least, the Creationist implies that he knows what the quotes mean when in fact he doesn’t.

As I’ve said before, any philosophy that feels the needs to engage in misleading or dishonest conduct in order to promote itself or its beliefs is by definition a false philosophy unworthy of respect or adherence.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

No Flyover for God & Country Rally

The God & Country Festival has been held in Nampa Idaho since 1967. Part of the festival honors past and current members of the armed forces and last year, like every year, they requested a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. However for 2009 the request was denied.

The question is why the change?

The e-mails flying around the Internet are blaming Obama (next I expect to see him blamed for killing cock robin and burning Rome) but the president doesn’t get involved in such minutia.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a policy which prohibits the military’s support of events that “provide a selective benefit to any individual, group or organization, including any religious or sectarian organization.”

This policy has been in place since 2001 so why the refusal for the first time in 2009?

According to the Pentagon the nature of the event has changed. Where previously it focused more upon patriotism it now focuses more upon the religious aspects.

When organizers were asked about the nature of the event they said “Our mission is primarily about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ” and the festival is “unashamedly a Christian event.”

So that clearly puts the festival under the DoD prohibition. Simply having one part of an openly religious function honor military veterans doesn’t change the nature of the function.

A flyover here would be roughly equivalent to a flyover of the Pope celebrating mass in Yankee Stadium.

Is it possible the Air Force group responsible for approving flyovers is less likely to approve an event with religious overtones given the secular outlook of the current administration than it was under a supposedly more religious administration like Bush’s?

It’s more than possible it’s damn well likely but that doesn’t change the situation. Objectively even the organizers of the event declare it religious in nature and therefore, based upon the DoD policy, no military participation is allowed. Under the principal of the Separation of Church and State, this is also the correct policy.

Christian organizations in this country are so used to getting special treatment they think they’re actually entitled to it which they aren’t. I’m surprised the Air Force isn’t being accused of persecuting them.

Religious Right Sues over Hate Crimes Law

Here are excerpts from the article by CNS News with commentary.

“A conservative civil liberties group is challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.”

A hate crime is defined as a violent act directed against an individual or group purely because of some characteristic of that individual or group. Race, color, religion, ethnicity and country of origin were already covered by previous legislation; the 2009 bill extends the definition to sexual orientation and sexual identity.

“The new law, attached to a defense authorization bill that President Obama signed on October 28, 2009, makes it a federal crime to attack someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Well, sort of. What it actually does is authorize the Justice Department to extend help to jurisdictions investigating potential hate crimes, if the jurisdiction requests such help, and allows the Justice Department to pursue prosecution at the discretion of the Attorney General under certain circumstances after consultation with state authorities.

(a) The state either doesn’t have jurisdiction or chooses not to exercise jurisdiction
(b) The state requests the Federal Government to assume jurisdiction
(c) The state does not object to the Federal Government assuming jurisdiction
(d) The verdict or sentence obtained left “demonstrably unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias motivated bias.”

I don’t have a problem with (a) and (b); I’m not so sure about (c) but I don’t like (d) at all. I understand the need for it though. I remember the 1950s and 1960s where getting a white man convicted in the South of a crime against a black man was virtually impossible. I guess one could argue that it’s a necessary evil but I feel uncomfortable with it.

Something else that bothers me is what the hell is this doing attached to a defense authorization bill?

“The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center says it elevates people engaged in deviant sexual behaviors to a special, protected class of persons under federal law.”

It is deviant sexual behaviors according to whom? That’s your opinion. While I’m willing to admit that the jury is still out on exactly why some small percentage of the population has its sexual wires crossed, the general indication appears to be that’s it’s about as much a choice as being left handed.

“The lawsuit naming U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of three pastors and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan.”

So the case was filed on behalf of three bigots and a loon, got it.

“All of the plaintiffs ‘take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching,’ the Law Center said in a news release.”

Actually, to be a little more accurate, it’s contrary to THEIR INTERPRETATION of “Biblical teaching.” Not everyone agrees. The last time I looked, they were entitled to their opinion but, in a secular society, what the Bible says, even if there was universal agreement on what it says, is irrelevant.

“’This is part of the list of political payoffs to homosexual advocacy groups for support of Barack Obama in the last presidential election,’ Thompson continued.”

That’s not very likely. As a matter of fact the gay faction is not at all happy with Barack and his decision to put gay issues on the back burner.

“The sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

This is flat out not true. Section 8 of the bill specifically exempts “expressive conduct” and “activities protected by the constitution” and, the last time I looked, speech and the press were still protected. A situation that people like The Thomas More Law Center would like to amend so that everyone has to agree with what Christians say.

"It elevates those persons who engage in deviant sexual behaviors, including pedophiles, to a special protected class of persons as a matter of federal law and policy.”

This is total crap. The law does not cover “sexual behaviors” but “sexual identity” and “sexual orientation.” Pedophilia is a mental disorder and not an orientation or an identity therefore it most certainly would not be covered by the bill.

“According to the Law Center, of the 1.38 million violent crimes in the U.S. reported by the FBI in 2008, only 243 were considered to be motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.”

Of course without the hate crimes coverage there is no particular reason to keep track at the moment so I’d take this statistic with a sack of salt.

“The lawsuit alleges that the new law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.”

As previously pointed out, all of these things are explicitly protected in section 8 of the bill. The law addresses VIOLENT CRIMES and not speech. The detailed argument here that I’ve seen is if a pastor’s sermon condemning homosexuality incites a parishioner to commit a violent act then the pastor could be prosecuted.

Allow me to suggest that the pastor might want to reconsider what he’s saying. Whatever happened to “hate the sin but love the sinner?” I guess that’s another Christian lie.

Any pastor whose sermon incites parishioners to violence SHOULD be prosecuted. Free Speech is not unrestricted. You cannot yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater and you cannot advocate violent or criminal acts.

“The lawsuit also alleges that Congress lacked authority to enact the legislation under the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.”

I would hesitate to take the position that the Federal Government lacks the authority to protect its citizens from bodily harm because of some physical aspect over which they have no control.

So this is really the same old argument again. Is sexual orientation a genetic or hormonal imperative or is it a lifestyle choice?

The overwhelming majority of evidence indicates that it’s not a choice. As I said before, exactly why some people have their sexual wires crossed is unclear. Perhaps it’s nature’s way of implementing population control. I really don’t know.

I do know that there are a fairly large number of homosexuals that view the orientation as a curse and would gladly change their orientation to heterosexual if that were possible which, at least for the moment, it isn’t. The success rate of reparative therapy appears to be zero.

I wonder what would happen if someone were to figure out a way to change sexual orientation?

I suspect this law suit is going nowhere but I’ve been wrong before.