Tuesday, August 27, 2013


I have a great idea. Just let them kill each other. Pooh-pooh the situation all you want but stay out of it.

No military intervention; no missile strikes; no drone strikes; no air strikes. Nothing, nada, zippo. Get it?

How about we focus on resolving our own problems. I'm not an isolationist but enough is enough. I'm tired of footing the bill for getting involved in every two bit fight.

The hell with it. It's an internal matter. If they want to fight, let them fight.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lesbian Couple Files Discrimination Charges Against Bakery

A lesbian couple filed discrimination charges against a bakery in Gresham Oregon for refusing to provide a wedding cake for their marriage.

The couple cited their Christian beliefs as a reason for refusing.

The filing claims the bakery violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, which protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The law exempts religious and religiously affiliated organizations but not individual business owners.

I'd like to say that if it were me I'd just shrug and take my business elsewhere but I understand how something like this can rankle someone enough that they can't let it lie.

So is this an issue of Religious Freedom as some folks claim?

I think that once you make an exception for one type of belief, how can you defend not making it for other types of beliefs? You'd have to come up with all sorts of rationalizations as to why those other cases, which you don't make an exception for, are different.

Still, it's hard to justify saying they have to do something which their Iron Age fairy tale says is wrong.

Personally, I say let them discriminate if, and only if, they post a big sign, where everyone can see it, that they don't serve gays. This shouldn't be a problem if they really believe what they're doing is right.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

GOP Says no Debates for NBC and CNN

The GOP is pissed off that NBC and CNN are planning programs about Hillary Clinton claiming it's an attempt to influence the 2016 election. Given the lunatics that will probably take part in the Republican primaries, this might just be an excuse to limit the audience.

The GOP is caught between a rock and a hard place. The conventional wisdom is that no one can win the GOP nomination without sounding like a bat-shit crazy lunatic. That almost guarantees the loss of the Northeast and the West.

The GOP would love it if no one but registered Republicans watch the primaries. Then they wouldn't have to air their dirty laundry before the rest of the country.

The reality of the situation has always been national elections are won by moderates and, despite all the whining about Obama, he's a slightly left of center moderate who beat two slightly right of center moderates that were forced to pretend to be more conservative than they actually were in order to keep the so-called Republican base happy..

That pretending might well have cost them the election because (1) it scared away a lot of Independents and (2) a lot of people can sense insincerity.

Here's hoping the Republicans manage to shoot themselves in the foot again.

New Jersey Outlaws Conversion Therapy for Minors

New Jersey has followed California and outlawed conversion therapy, which attempts to turn gay teens straight, for minors. Incredibly Chris Christie, the Republican governor, signed it.

Of course the Religious Right is going absolutely bonkers. Pastor Larry Tomczak, writing in Charisma Magazine, wrote an open letter to Christie protesting his action. In the letter Tomczak made three major points which we've all heard before. My response is below.

1. People are not born homosexual

Saying that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is part of a person's biological constitution is just flat out not true. There is no definitive answer as to why someone is homosexual but the evidence points toward a combination of genetic, hormonal and perhaps environmental factors that appear to determine a person's sexual orientation as early as age five. Don't take my word for it, information on this is readily available at reputable sites on the internet.

2. Practicing Homosexuality is a sin

In YOUR opinion and don't give me any guff about God because the idea that the Bible is God's word is YOUR opinion as well. I've studied the Bible and the one thing I'm am absolutely certain about is that is was written by men, and fairly ignorant men at that.

3. The health risks of encouraging people to stay in a homosexual lifestyle far outweigh the risks of helping them to change.

Not according to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. The biggest health risk associated with homosexual activity appears to be the extremely high incidence of STDs including HIV and syphilis. But while that is a statistical fact, as reported by the CDC, why that is the case hasn't been fully investigated. Much, if not all, of the increased risk may be traceable to the fact that homosexuals are still a despised minority in this country (and people like YOU writing articles like this aren't helping any) so even your only valid argument has a huge caveat associated with it.

I live in New Jersey and I'm no fan of Chris Christie but in this particular case he is going with the prevailing medical opinion that conversion therapy is counter productive. If you have EVIDENCE to the contrary rather than opinion and YOUR interpretation of the iron age ramblings of a bunch of unwashed nomads, feel free to present it.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gay Marriage in New Jersey

The assault to legalize Gay Marriage in New Jersey is proceeding along two fronts.

First, New Jersey United for Marriage (NJUM) is working out of Montclair New Jersey to put pressure on state legislators they think are "moveable" in order to override Governor Christie's veto.

Unfortunately they need three senators and 12 assemblymen to pull that off.I think it's a long shot.

More promising is the Lambda Legal court case which claims that the Civil Unions currently available in New Jersey don't satisfy the 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court decision requiring something equivalent to marriage.

The argument that "different is inherently unequal" has been bolstered by the striking down of DOMA because federal regulations do not extend marriage benefits to Civil Unions.

The Christie administration has countered that the issue is with the federal government which should extend the same rights to Civil Unions. That strikes me as a pretty weak defense.

The judge has allowed time for more case law citations because she says that has been insufficient so far. One has to wonder that the hell else she needs beyond the 2006 New Jersey Supreme ruling and the SCOTUS DOMA case.

I guess a federal court case that rules Civil Unions aren't entitled to federal marriage benefits would help but DOMA hasn't been out of the picture long enoigh for that to occur.

A ruling is expected sometime in September.

In the meantime a Rutgers poll shows 67% of New Jersey residents want marriage equality on the ballot and 59% support legalizing it. Gay marriage supporters in New Jersey have consistently said that a minority's fundamental rights, such as marriage, should not be decided by popular vote.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How Gay Marriage hurts Heterosexual Marriage

For years I've been challenging people to identify ways in which gay marriage hurts heterosexual marriage. Finally, former chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, as reported by Right Wing Watch, in an e-mail to members of his "Pray in Jesus Name Project," has supplied an answer. 

Here are Klingenschmitt's 7 ways what he calls the homosexualization of "marriage" has de-valued the traditional marriages of all Christian families, with commentary:

1. It has made our traditional marriage less valuable in the eyes of the state.

How so? The benefits for what you call traditional marriage don't change. This strikes me as a simple piece of paranoia.

2. It has forced Christian couples to pay more taxes to make up for the homosexual "bonus pay" now issued by as tax-benefits given to gay "married" couples.

Single folks could say the same thing about traditional marriage. Aside from the fact that the amounts involved are trivial, there is no tax increase that goes along with gay marriage so this isn't even correct for the minuscule amounts.

3. It has de-valued by inflation our dollars in our family's bank accounts by increasing the national debt to pay for more government benefits for gay "married" couples, for which the Fed must print new dollars to pay such debt.

Again, single folks could make the same claim and the amount is so minuscule that I doubt it can be measured.

4. It has taken away the rights of Christian couples and Catholic charities to foster or adopt children in states like Massachusetts.

Oh no it hasn't. Catholic Charities had always allowed gay couples to adopt but was forced by the Catholic hierarchy to end the practice. The Catholic Church then VOLUNTARILY ceased adoption services over the objections of the Catholic Charities board of directors.

As for "Christian couples," the rule is adopting couples must agree to accept whatever develops in the child they are adopting. If the child is gay, then they must accept that he or she is gay. If the child is transgender, then they must accept that. This is an obvious common sense rule in the best interests of the children being adopted.

5. It has hurt our national security and therefore our family's safety by de-funding benefits given to straight couples or weapon systems and re-distributing those Pentagon dollars to gay "married" couples.

First of all this contradicts #3. Both can't be right and this one is total nonsense. No loss of funding for benefits to straight couples or weapons systems are tied to gay marriage benefits.

6. It has hurt our ability to worship Almighty God in a Christian chapel building whose altar has been desecrated by homosexual "weddings" depriving us of a sacred worship space.

That's only your opinion. Others would say that it's been sanctified and your type are the ones doing the desecration and others probably don't care one way or the other. As for me, I think all religion is horseshit anyway so it doesn't matter.

7. It has threatened our family's religious freedom in countless ways...

There is a link to a video here where Klingenschmitt talks about what he calls the five step homosexual agenda, (1) hate crimes (accomplished), (2) repeal of don't ask don't tell (accomplished), (3) repeal of DOMA (accomplished), (4) passage of Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and (5) what he calls the gay classrooms act but which is actually the Student Non-Discrimination Act.

This is the typical Christian whine that not allowing them to discriminate against gays (or Wiccans or Atheists or Muslims) somehow violates their freedom of religion. This is of course a crock of total garbage.

People like Klingenschmitt are delusional. They're incapable of differentiating between their flights of paranoid imagination and practical reality. The problem is too many of the people listening to this crap have the same problem.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Congress Exempting itself from Obamacare?

No, not quite. Here's the actual story.

During the original wrangling over the health care law Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa came up with what he thought was a great idea to embarrass Democrats. He proposed an amendment that would obligate all members of the House and Senate, along with their staffs, to purchase their own health care policies on the exchanges just as they were going to obligate other Americans to do.

Grassley reasoned that there was no way in hell the Democrats would accept this amendment and then the Republicans could claim they were unwilling to accept the same insurance they were offering to everyone else.

To Grassley surprise the Democrats thought this was a neat idea and accepted the amendment. Thus the following was added to the health care law.

The only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are — (I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or (II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).

With me so far?

Now, you will notice this says nothing about whether the Federal Government can pay for the majority portion of the insurance as most large companies do. Companies with more than 100 employees aren't eligible to purchase insurance from the exchanges until 2017.

Right now the Federal Government pays about 75% of the insurance cost for Congress and staff. So the question became can it still pay that cost after the health care law goes into effect?

The question went to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) which concluded that it was not the original intent of the law to strip congressional staff of its health benefits and ruled that the government can still pay 75% of the cost but lawmakers and their staff must purchase the actual insurance plans on the exchanges.

So it wasn't a question of different coverage, but a question of who pays for it.

This is symptomatic of the major problem with the Affordable Health Care law. There wasn't enough time and analysis put into it. At least two to three years should have been spent by a non-partisan panel of health care experts studying the issue and producing recommendations.

Instead we got a camel put together by a gaggle of politicians that's going to need a lot of patching and jury-rigging before it becomes effective. It was the right idea, but the wrong approach.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Omnibus/YouGov Poll on Evolution

A poll held July 8-9, 2013 on Evolution among 1,000 people shows SOME encouraging news but not a hell of a lot.

The options were Naturalistic Evolution, humans evolved with no direction from God, Theistic Evolution, humans evolved but evolution was directed by God, Creationism, humans were created by God in their present form in the last 10,000 years and Not Sure.

Overall 21% chose Naturalistic Evolution and 25% Theistic Evolution for a total of 46%. Only 37% chose Creationism and 17% said they weren't sure.

Among males, 26% chose Naturalistic Evolution and 30% Theistic Evolution for a total of 56%. 31% chose Creationism and 13% said they weren't sure.

Among females, only 17% chose Naturalistic Evolution and 20% Theistic Evolution for a total of 37%. A plurality of 43% of females chose Creationism and 21% said they weren't sure.

That's a huge difference between males and females. One has to wonder why that is? Evolution almost certainly occurred, yet some 64% of females don't seem to be aware of that.

Acceptance of Evolution was highest among those aged 18-29 (60%) and lowest among those 65 or older (43%).

53% of Democrats accept some form of Evolution along with 47% of Independents but only 35% of Republicans. Only 5% of Republicans chose Naturalistic Evolution while 28% of Democrats and 26% of Independents did.

In terms of education, 60% of respondents with a college degree, and 70% with a post graduate degree, accepted some form of Evolution.

In the West, 63% accepted some form of Evolution and in the Northeast it was 54%. In both the Midwest and the South it was only 37%.

The racial breakdown was something of a surprise. While 48% of whites accepted some form of Evolution only 24% of blacks did. Only 6% of blacks accepted Naturalistic Evolution compared to 25% of whites.

Again education appears to be the critical factor followed closely by the region of the country where you happen to live. I was a bit surprised by the disparities by sex and race but this isn't a very large sample size so by sex has a margin of error in the 4% range and the poll among blacks a margin of error in the 10% range.

Still, the results are interesting. It would be even more interesting to see a correlation between sex, race, education and region of the country but that information wasn't available in the report I read.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Still Arguing About Evolution

I find it incredible that in the 21st Century there are still people in a supposedly educated country that are fighting the teaching of modern science. It wouldn't be too bad if it were a small minority but the number is actually staggeringly high. In the developed world, only in Turkey do a smaller percentage of people accept the Theory of Evolution.

In Kentucky the forces of light are trying desperately to update the state's science standards. Of course this brings out the lunatics in force.

The Courier-Journal reports on the howling at the moon by the unwashed about both Evolution and Climate Change.

"One parent, Valerie O’Rear, said the standards promote an 'atheistic world view' and a political agenda that pushes government control."

No, scientific conclusions, if they're honest and I think it's safe to say these are, are neutral with respect to God and politics. If reality demonstrates that your religion is a crock, you'll have to live with it.

"Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister in Louisville who runs an Internet talk-radio program, called teachings on evolution a lie that has led to drug abuse, suicide and other social afflictions."

It's only a lie if the people saying it know it's untrue. Even if it has led to those things, and of course it hasn't, it says nothing about it being right or wrong.

“'Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,'” Singleton said. 'Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.'"

Outsiders? You mean like people that actually understand science?

The "rich man's elitist religion of evolution?" Well, first, evolution is not a religion and neither is gravity, cosmology, geology, relativity or quantum mechanics. As for "rich man's elitist," I suppose that gives you an idea about what this putz thinks about education.

"At one point, opponent Dena Stewart-Gore of Louisville also suggested that the standards will marginalize students with religious beliefs, leading to ridicule and physiological harm in the classroom, and create difficulties for students with learning disabilities."

"Create difficulties for students with learning disabilities?" WTF? Lady, just because you're too stupid to understand science doesn't mean they'll have any trouble.

“'The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,' she (Dena Stewart-Gore) said, adding that 'we are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.'”

Clearly this lady knows as little about economic systems as she does about science. Genocide and murder? You see any of that happening in the civilized northern and western states that have real science curriculums?

It's embarrassing that there are morons like this living in this country. Seriously, people should have to pass an intelligence and basic knowledge test before they're allowed to vote. There's no sense in even trying to teach these people anything. Better to simply hope that some day they qualify for a Darwin Award.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Queen's WWIII Speech

As a part of an exercise in 1983 a speech was drafted for Elizabeth II just in case WWIII broke out. The full text is below.

"When I spoke to you less than three months ago we were all enjoying the warmth and fellowship of a family Christmas.

Our thoughts were concentrated on the strong links that bind each generation to the ones that came before and those that will follow.

The horrors of war could not have seemed more remote as my family and I shared our Christmas joy with the growing family of the Commonwealth.

Now this madness of war is once more spreading through the world and our brave country must again prepare itself to survive against great odds.

I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father's inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939.

Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.

We all know that the dangers facing us today are greater by far than at any time in our long history.

The enemy is not the soldier with his rifle nor even the airman prowling the skies above our cities and towns but the deadly power of abused technology.

But whatever terrors lie in wait for us all the qualities that have helped to keep our freedom intact twice already during this sad century will once more be our strength.

My husband and I share with families up and down the land the fear we feel for sons and daughters, husbands and brothers who have left our side to serve their country.

My beloved son Andrew is at this moment in action with his unit and we pray continually for his safety and for the safety of all servicemen and women at home and overseas.

It is this close bond of family life that must be our greatest defense against the unknown.

If families remain united and resolute, giving shelter to those living alone and unprotected, our country's will to survive cannot be broken.

My message to you therefore is simple. Help those who cannot help themselves, give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it.

As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be.

God bless you all."

The speech is very general and vague since, luckily, things never got that bad and the devil is always in the details. However, given the situation, I guess it hits the right balance given that London would either already be a pile of ashes or have the potential of being one in the not too distant future.

Ronald Reagan was the US President at the time and he had a speech prepared as well.

"What do you mean there aren't any red jelly beans left?"

Ronnie was always up on current events.