Monthly Archives: August 2008

Will the RNC accept Sarah Palin?

Whether John McCain is aware of it or not, he has painted himself and the RNC into a corner with his choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

On the face of it, the choice in and of itself makes no political sense beyond “get the women voters.” But Hillary Clinton supporters who may have swung McCain (other than those who were Republican to begin with) will likely find little in common between Clinton and Palin other than their gender. Obama will not be afraid to use Hillary to point that out.  Nor will they take much convincing, if this morning’s USA Today poll is anything to go by.

John McCain is 72 years old. This is a concern, and one that the RNC has worked hard to keep voters from focusing on too hard. Do Republicans really want the “one heart beat away” person to be a 44 year old beauty queen whose experience consists of two years of governing a low population state with next to no foreign policy experience? After making such a case about Obama’s lack of the same?

It smacks of pandering and gimmicky politics. The Republicans are trying to win this race on substance, saying that Obama is nothing more than flash. How can they possibly spin the Sarah Palin choice as anything but all style no substance?

It was  a rush choice to counteract Biden. Sen. McCain’s “vetting process” consisted of a phone call last Sunday afternoon and a two hour interview with Palin in person on Thursday, then announcing on Friday morning. He knows little more about her than we do. He obviously wasn’t aware of “Troopergate”, as it’s now being called (and for the love of all that’s holy….can we PLEASE drop the “gate” off every scandal that comes along? It originated because it was the second half of a hotel name, not a ‘gate’ to a scandal!), because if he did, I’m not sure he would’ve made the choice he did make. It seems as though it was a rush to get SOMEONE on the ticket before the RNC and to counteract the big noise made by Joe Biden.

If all of these points lead the RNC to reject Sarah Palin as a viable candidate for VP…McCain will be forced to recant his nom and choose someone more appropriate. This will hurt both the party and his electability. John McCain has taken a huge gamble on his VP pick.   

Feminism, Republican style

Say what you will about John McCain’s splashy VP choice; she’s not the “safe” pick. While pundits and insiders were whispering names like Romney, Huckabee and Ridge, no one expected the little known, still wet behind the ears governor of Alaska,  Sarah Palin.

There are those among the punditry who are saying that it’s an effort to reach disenfranchised Hillary supporters. They’re right. Where they’re wrong is assuming it will work. Here’s why:

While I respect John McCain’s willingness to go for the unknown quantity in his pick, I have to wonder at his reasoning. His campaign has been hammering at Obama’s “lack of experience” since day one. So his choice of running mate surprised me, to say the least. Considering he’s 72 years old as of today, Sarah Palin taking over as president because of McCain’s death is a very real possibility, should they get elected. Does experience only matter if you’re elected POTUS, as opposed to inheriting the job?

Although she shows a very strong ethical track record (and I DO applaud that), she has had precisely 2 years experience as governor of a remote state with a population of 670,000 (smaller than some US cities) whose chief economic concern is….you guessed it! OIL! Add to this the lowest conviction rate and highest per capita rate of rapes of any US state, no foreign policy dealings, the fact that Sarah is firmly anti-choice, and her own rather shady history (see article), I have to wonder…. Does John McCain really believe that Hillary’s base is so stupid? That they’ll be taken in that easily? That any strong woman with a loud voice will do? If so, then Sen. Obama was precisely right last night. John McCain just doesn’t get it.

Women who voted for Hillary did so not just because she’s a woman (although  I won’t lie; for a lot of women it did factor in). Women who voted for Hill did so because Hillary shares their values. John McCain seems to be under the impression that any pair of x chromosomes in high heels fits that bill. Frankly, I’m insulted. And I encouraged the League of Women voters in an email to express to Mr. McCain just how condescending and out of touch his attitude toward women really is. The days of dangling something shiny in front of a woman to get her favor are long past. Mr. McCain, I’m embarrassed on your behalf.

Hamlet 2; now with SEXY JESUS and protests at a theater near you.

I’m sure most of you consider this utterly predictable by now. Hamlet 2 has seen some protests.

This always mystifies me. Why, why, WHY would anyone protest a movie? And why on earth, if you want something to NOT be seen, would you show up and cause a media circus? Don’t you know you’re generating free publicity for the movie? The best way to discourage a film is to simply not go to it. Don’t hold a protest, don’t make a cassus belli on the internet, just IGNORE IT! Like your television and shows you don’t like….if people don’t watch, they don’t get revenue.

While you’re at explaining that, could you also explain why it’s not okay to make fun of religion in ONE STINKING SCENE, but movies that show graphic violence are perfectly okay? Let’s take Passion of the Christ. People, it was nothing short of a snuff film. That’s right. I said it. A snuff film. And “Christians” were taking children, some as young as 6 YEARS OLD! This is the vision they want their children to remember of their savior? Those kids are going to be traumatized for life. I can only imagine the nightmares. 20 freakin’ minutes of beating. These are the same people who wail and bemoan the fate of their children just because Janet Jackson showed a nipple on national tv for a tenth of a second. But watching a dramatization of a man being beaten to death is perfectly okay. So long as it’s in the right context.

One of the posts from the thread I just linked (okay, all of them) made my eyebrow raise some. The posters there are actually trying to liken a for profit movie shown on privately owned property to  first amendment discrimination, saying it’s equal to government employees being told not to lead others in prayer.

I’ve been having this same argument, over and over, for a couple weeks now. Some people simply do not get it. They really see no difference between the two. Moreover, I don’t think they WANT to get it. *sigh*…. is there anything that DOESN’T offend them?

Personally, I can’t wait to see Hamlet 2. Was giggling and snerking at the trailer (you can see them all here) in ways that caused the other theater goers (in Texas, mind you) to turn in their seats and scowl at me. My levity was not appreciated. Will report back, although thus far, I’m reading only lukewarm reviews.

Why California will not ban gay marriage

First, let me say I apologize for being away so long; I missed paying tribute to the wonderful trail blazer Del Martin, who died yesterday. She was a great lady and an inspiration to us all; out and an activist when activism was not just frowned on, but dangerous. My deepest sympathies go out to her partner Phyllis. Ms. Martin, you will be missed. We are where we are becase of your courage and your years of struggling. Thank you.

So then; back to work. As I’m sure you all know, November is only two short months away, and with it come both national and local elections. Prop 8 has reared its ugly head; the third piece of destructuve, dehumanizing legislation all bent on one thing: reducing gay people to things. To beings less than human. To stripping them of their rights as citizens of this country. Being born gay does not make any American citizen less American. It is time for this stupid, backward thinking to stop.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to go over this time. This time, the gap is closing. Is closed, in fact. The most recent polls show that California voters are neck and neck on the issue. And guess which voters are going to take the no vote over the top? That’s right. The younger generation, first time voters who, unlike their grandparents and parents, have grown up with the belief that people, regardless of gender or color or sexual orientation….are pretty much people. And we just need to get over it and let it happen and move on, already.

I know the fight is far from over. But it’s looking a hell of a lot closer to detante.

Frog on a cross! Or: The pope has no sense of humor

Pope Benedict XVI may not know art, but he knows what he likes. And he doesn’t like this frog. For obvious reasons.

A reasonable person might just look at it, chuckle and roll their eyes. A reasonable person might see the whimsy and the message the artist was trying to convey. No one has ever accused Pope Benedict XVI of being a reasonable person.

No, the holy father went straight to angry and offended and actually had the balls to DEMAND (in caps and italics, yet) that the Musieon in northern Italy remove the sculpture at once!! Didn’t work. The museum rather gleefully thumbed their nose at the Vatican and left the piece out for all to see. Good on them.

So, you ask, cringing a bit….what’d the pope do then? Well, the only thing he could do. He jumped up and down (careful like, so as not to break his hip), screamed, pouted, ranted, raved…and then issued an order that no Catholic is to enter the museum while the frog is on display.

Really? Really?!? I mean….it’s a frog! It’s holding a coffee cup and an egg, its green tongue is lolling out and it’s plastic, for cryinoutloud! It’s funny! And I’m sorry, but it isn’t as if Jesus Christ was the only person ever crucified. It’s not as if he had a corner on the market. He was just the most famous guy ever to get nailed to a crossbeam is all. The Romans were pretty hot for that particular method of making examples of their political enemies. The pope needs a little perspective.

So…my advice to you, if you happen to find yourself in the vacinity of the Museion, is this: go see the frog. Ignore the whiney, petulant overly histrionic noises coming from the guys in dresses and funny hats. Life is short. May as well enjoy it. 

On the DNC and religious pandering

The darling man and I have been glued to the television via the eyeballs the past few nights watching the DNC. We try to be responsible political junkies; we restrain ourselves to the privacy of our own home and comment to each other on the speechifying and punditry. Considering we live in Texas, it’s probably safest that way.

One of the most glaringly obvious tactics used this election cycle has been the attempt of the Dems to woo centrist religious voters. Listening on the way home from the office yesterday, then watching on MSNBC last night, we were both disheartened by the number of “moments of silence” and “God bless…” whatever they wanted blessed. The US, Barack Obama, the US citizenry, Joe Biden’s mom…. it seemed unending.

While I realize that, to a certain extent, it just plain makes sense to reach out to the nation’s religious voters, I have to express a certain amount of dismay and feeling of betrayal by my party. In recent decades, the Democratic party has embraced the role of champion of civil rights. That includes the right to NOT have religion forced down our throats; especially by those in political office. After the plundering of our Constitution and our rights over the last eight years, it seems one of the few that I’ve felt I could count on. But watching all those heads bow….at a governmental function… I was outraged. Not only over the breach of the First Amendment (although that was first and foremost in my mind), but over the response when someone had the fortitude to point it out.

Tiernan says he couldn’t stand it any more. “I stood up and said, ‘I’m a democrat but I’m not a person of faith.’ I said, ‘This looks like a church service to me and I never thought I would see the Democrats doing something like this.” At that point, the police came and escorted Tiernan from the hall. They told him he could leave or stay and see what the Democrats wanted to do with him, so he stayed but nobody did anything so he left.

“The thing is,” says Tiernan with a chuckle, “I’m not a career protester. I just don’t like religion mixed with politics. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous.”

And he’s right. But it seems the Dems aren’t really lstening. With so much at stake this election season, they have taken on an old Clinton tactic: win at any price. Even if it means pandering to a group they have very little chance of actually reaching.

“How,” you may be asking yourself (as was I) “does one group get so much pull politically? Especially since, politically, no religious group should be able to affect change to their advantage?” It’s easy. Become a majority, then whine about how your rights are being infringed. Regardless of whether they actually are or not. It isn’t about honesty; it’s about pushing the agenda, in politically correct terms. In more blunt terms: it’s about extortion. “We have a lot of votes. If you don’t do things exactly the way we want them, you don’t get any votes at all.” Never mind whoever else’s rights get trampled in the process. To the loudmouths go the spoils.  

StumbleUpon and the Magically Disappearing Blogs

Let’s discuss censorship.

A friend once told me my usage of the word was incorrect. That true censorship is the forced cessation of circulating ideas via media by a government. I think that, while his definition was likely true at one time, it needs to be refined. Today, it seems we give many corporations a vested say in government. Just look at Rupert Murdoch, fercryinoutloud. 

And now we have eBay, which seems bound and determined to drive SU into the cellar as fast as it can say “sold for $.50.” 

StumbleUpon  has recently added a “flag this user” button. The “flag this user” works in a very interesting way; you can give both positive and negative feedback. Those flags are labeled

In any other universe which did not contain humans, this would probably be a good thing. But as I have stated repeatedly; most people are bastards. Bastard covered bastards with bastard filling. Don’t like a person? Did they say something in the fora that offended you? Did they give you a negative review? Point out that you’re a spammer or have horrible grammar and can’t put two sentences together without a flashlight, map, and Tenzing Norgay (not that that unfavorably reviewed person even knows who Tenzing Norgay is, other than some dude with a funny name)? Did they offend you because of their political/religious beliefs or sexual content on their page? No problem! Just hit “flag this user,” and you have your revenge! The person’s account is suspended, and they are placed under review.

Here’s where the fun censorship bit comes in. Once an account is suspended for review, the suspended member is able to appeal. However; according to at least three Stumblers I have corresponded with via email, you can wait for months before that review actually happens. One has been waiting since March and still has not received a determination. There is no actual timeline given. Should any of those users open a new account under a different name, they are automatically in breach of the ToS, and both accounts will be banned from SU. ‘S brilliant, innit? The user doesn’t actually HAVE to do anything wrong, per se, the devs at SU just have to wait it out til the user gets bored and really wants to come back, then they can justifiably ban them. As I said; bastards.

Now, some say “after all, it’s SU’s site and we just use it; we should be happy it’s here and all obey the rules and be good little sheep and everything will be fine.” To which I naturally reply: “screw you.” We the users provide the content on SU; without those users, there would be no SU. Not to mention, many people pay for the “privilege” of stumbling. When did the concept of “the customer’s always right” disappear? I realize customer service is something of an anomaly these days, but the concept is still there. “Here, pay us, and you’ll get what we decide to give you!” Not the best of clever advertizing slogans, but it certainly seems to be what we’re reduced to of late.

StumbleUpon is much like television. If you don’t like what you’re seeing….CHANGE THE DAMN CHANNEL!! NO, you do not get to have it removed for you because you’re too damn lazy to think. NO, you do not get to dictate what other people consider interesting just so your 16 year old baby won’t see Janet Jackson’s nipple on the screen for 1/10th of a second during churc….er, the Super Bowl. NO, you do not get to take away my right to demand questionable content. Because that’s where the truly interesting information lies.

Obviously, something sparked my post this morning. Last night, one of my friends was put under review. I’ve actually known her for quite some time; we’ve corresponded and exchanged dog photos and laughed back and forth. What was her unspeakable crime? I’ll tell you. She made fun of another stumbler. “Say it ain’t so!” You gasp, in mock horror. “Someone on the internet made fun of someone else?!?!?!”  “Well, yes.” I reply, my brow furrowing some over your extraneous use of punctuation. “Unfortunately, the person she made fun of is a rather well-connected stumbler, one who has sucked up to the devs and befriended them and essentially can get people banned because she’s just that spiteful and can’t bear to be laughed at. As most people can’t.”

See, kids; this is the internet. Not a fifth grade playground. Although there are similarities. Someone saying “tee hee, you write funny poooooeetryyyy!” (and yes, that is what she said that got her suspended) is not harrassment. Or stalking. It’s a single comment that most adults with any amount of intestinal fortitude should be able to look at and say “you don’t like my poetry. Big fat hairy deal.” instead of running off to mommy to make the mean lady go away.

Am I frustrated? Obviously. Am I angry? Bet your ass. Because it isn’t just this one person, it’s happening all over SU, and usually because the person doing the reporting doesn’t have a good reason (okay, list of good reasons: child porn, spam, ACTUAL harrassment) other than they just don’t like that person. And it shouldn’t be that easy. KnowwhutImean,Vern? Unfortunately, unless people complain where it’s likely to be seen (read: somewhere OTHER than SU), it likely won’t get remedied. That’s where you and I come in. Hopefully, if the devs see that this is being discussed on sites other than theirs, they’ll get their act together and clean up their policy. So do me a favor; if you’re on SU and have a blog elsewhere, start talking about it.

Thanks.

Sweden Rocks the Religious World.

In a hugely controversial move, the Swedish government has moved to ban teaching religious doctrine in schools as if it were true.

Well butter my buns & call me a biscuit; here’s something I never did think I’d see. Sweden’s population is about 50% atheist, but this legislation is widely rumored to be aimed at religious fundamentalists, not the generally religious portion of the citizenry. According to the article:

There is little doubt that combating Islamic fundamentalism is the underlying aim, especially in conjunction with another new requirement that all independent schools declare all their funding sources. This would allow the inspectors – whose budget is being doubled – to concentrate their efforts on those schools most likely to be paid to break the rules.

In the background to these announcements comes the release of a frightening documentary film on Swedish jihadis, which follows young men over a period of two years on their slow conversion to homicidal lunacy.

The trailer for the documentary “Aching Heart”  is absolutely chilling. The young man wearing a ski mask and holding an automatic weapon makes it clear he views himself as a holy warrior. At some point, someone will have to explain to me with clear, credible reasoning why these religions that preach love and tolerance always end up killing people for the not-really-all-that-horrible sin of not believing the same thing they do. I don’t care what religion; you are not a “warrior for god.” Once you start killing people, you’re a homicidal maniac.

Is this, then, the only recourse? While I personally find Sweden’s decision grounded in reason and logic, there are plenty of people who will view it as a deep insult to their culture and history. Is there really no other way to remove fundamentalism? And will this move not result in the opposite effect; religious fundamentalists fighting harder than ever to take what they see as their rightful place? Knowing my countrymen as I do, I cannot see a time in my future in which this would be a viable option for my nation. Hell, people get angry when someone tells them “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and that’s just at the damn store. Tell them they can’t have their sky fairy taught in religious schools as fact? May as well go to the White House and press the button yourself.

I will be following this story with interest.

The persecution of Christianity.

So, I recently responded to a post in my blog (here) in which a Christian stated that they are being stripped of their rights because of a vocal minority, and that Christians have been a “silent” majority. I answered rather quickly and not especially thoughtfully. I think I’d like to take the time to respond a bit more in depth, because while I’m sure many atheists and people of other religions have heard more than enough on the subject, it seems most Christians don’t think we’ve gotten the message. We’ve gotten it. Really. But I’ll go ahead and address the concerns, since so many of you seem to feel an infringement upon your rights.

  But what about the atheists?…..is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We’re not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that’s asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Ah, well, it isn’t just atheists. And, sorry, but yes. It is asking too much. My favorite quote regarding rights is “yours end where mine begin.” The federal government shall not endorse one religion over another. Period. Even if the branch of the federal government we’re talking about is a high school. You’re welcome to your right to pray in public. Is there a reason you MUST have that prayer on the loudspeaker of a federal building during a sporting event? Are you afraid your god won’t hear you? Can’t you do it without someone else leading you? Pray! Go ahead! No one is stopping you. But don’t expect to be led by federal employees. That’s the law, and that’s MY right, too.

Saying you should have the right to have a federal employee say a prayer on government property is essentially saying “this is our religion and you HAVE to accept it and the government endorses it.” Well, we don’t, and it doesn’t. That’s why that amendment is there. Your right does not supersede the law, and it does not trump mine.  

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don’t think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world’s foundations.

No. One or two will remind the federal government that they cannot endorse a religion. NO ONE is telling you not to pray! Is the distinction really that difficult to understand? Why?

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek, while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, and to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now, a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

Actually? Christians have just as much right as any other adherent of any other religion. And while I’m sure you deride them non stop every chance you get, the ACLU fights just as hard for Christians as for any other group. As it should be. What you apparently want is more rights than adherents of any other religion. Tough. You can’t have it.  

The silent majority has been silent too long. It’s time we tell that one or two individuals who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn’t care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It’s time we tell them: ‘You don’t have to pray; you don’t have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we WILL WIN!’

I’m going to ask for a citation, here. What rights are being taken, exactly? You have the right to pray, you have the right to attend whatever house of worship tickles your little pink fancy, you have the right to even keep “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. And while you’re at it….gimme a citation for Christians being a silent majority; seems to me all we hear about every year is how Christians have rights and we’re going to recognize them. 

While you’re at it, look up “tyranny of the majority.” The majority wanted to keep women from voting. The majority wanted to keep black children from attending white schools. The majority wanted to refuse interracial marriage. The majority wanted to refuse to allow immigrants to serve in the military. Our civil rights are in place to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority.  Since when did we become a nation of sheep, that we HAVE to go along with the majority? Our country was founded on individualism.

In closing; Let me just say that none of what I’ve heard is about Christians keeping the rights they have nearly as much as it’s about forcing everyone else to live by their rules.  

Satisfy your lover! And other ridiculous internet myths Pt. II

I had done a bit of a screed about masturbation which I ended up removing because really….anyone who reads my blog pretty much already knows masturbation is a good and healthy thing, and those who are really in need of a good orgasm certainly aren’t people who’d be reading the blog of a heretical evil woman preaching sedition and sexual gratification for all. So let’s move right along, you vibrant, delicious masters of your own bodies, you.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard some of the weirdness that passes for peer-produced sexual education among teens. The only thing scarier than some of those myths is the number of young people who believe them.  Let’s dispel a few of those, shall we? And yes, believe it or not, I hear these questions from teens a LOT. So please. If you’re a parent; educate your kids. You don’t want them relying on what they hear from their friends. If you read on, you’ll understand why.

  • Douching with Coca Cola/Pepsi/Mt. Dew after sex will stop you from getting pregnant.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Not only will it NOT stop you from getting pregnant, it may cause you to get a raging infection. Then you’ll be itchy AND still pregnant. Please do not do this. There are already plenty of ways for a woman’s  pH to be tossed off balance without any help from the Coca Cola corporation, thank you very much.

  • If a man masturbates prior to having sex, he can’t get a woman pregnant.

Wanna know what we call guys who use this method of birth control? Right. Fathers. I imagine their girlfriends call them other things as well after getting pregnant, but you get the idea. This is so far from scientifically sound, it may as well have been come up with by the Pope. Unless you have had a vasectomy, you are producing sperm. Each and every time. Masturbation prior to sex can lower your sperm count (by about 20%), but it doesn’t make you sterile. And considering that sperm samples obtained after intercourse show up to 120% more sperm than masturbation…odds are good you’re about 9 months from becoming the adult you want everyone to treat you as. Do yourself a favor; invest in some condoms.

  • You can’t get a disease from oral.

 I can’t believe those words just sprang from your keyboard. Really? REALLY?!? Of course you can get a disease from oral. Know what bacteria like? Warm damp places where they can multiply. Any place you happen to have mucous membranes will do, and….HELLLOOO!!!!….your mouth is on that list, along with eyes, vagina and anus.

  • If the girl’s on top, the sperm won’t reach the egg.

Yeahhhh…..not so much. On top, bottom, hands and knees, standing…doesn’t matter. Sperm are designed for one thing; fertilizing an ovum. They’re swimming with a lot more force than the gravity against them.  

Teens pass each other a lot of information. Quite a bit of it (at least when it comes to sex) is bad. Want a fool proof way to not get pregnant? I’m not going to tell you abstinence, because…clearly… you’re not listening. Barring abstinence, there is no 100% safe way. But you can get close, and be reasonably cautious.

Find a local family planning clinic. Don’t be embarrassed; trust me, they’ve heard it all. Including some things you’ve probably never even THOUGHT of, but that’s a post for another day. Discuss your options for safe effective birth control. Above all, be honest and ask questions. You won’t be laughed at or talked down to; the educators WANT you to be healthy and responsible and aware of your body and how it works.