Category Archives: Ethics

It’s Official. Rod Blagojevich Is Delusional.

Are you watching? Are you? It’s like watching a trainwreck. I can’t look away. He waits til the very last second of his impeachment trial and then actually expects to give a speech about getting a cup of coffee for the prior governor and what a great guy he is and how they HAVE to let him bring in witnesses…and expects it to WORK?

The man thinks he’s in a movie.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, from the sound of it. “I’m here to appeal to your sense of responsibility.” Um, Governor? Their sense of responsibility is WHY you are being impeached. “How can you ask a Governor to resign just for trying to help senior citizens?” Do you really believe that’s why you’re here? “I did that in my FIRST term! If it was impeachable, how come you didn’t impeach me then?” Yes, but you see, governor, it isn’t like a mulligan in a golf game. This isn’t a do-over, and your prior mess ups don’t get erased.

I’m transfixed. Truly, the amount of bullshit being slung is impressive. He isn’t even really addressing the charges of abuses of power. In fact, he’s refusing to move on from the  second article of impeachment, the charge regarding obtaining prescription drugs from Canada. He’s dropped every big political name in the Democratic party from Ted Kennedy to Bill Richardson to Rahm Emannuel. Not that it’s working. Many of the state legislators (when the camera cuts to them) actually look embarrassed on his behalf. I have to keep closing my mouth; it drops open on its own.

If he’s going to go article by article, it’s going to be a very long day. I’m not going to do the Blago impeachment drinking game. Alcohol poisoning kills.

Dick Armey Is A Sexist Ass

This evening on Chris Matthews’ show Hard Ball, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey sunk to online ad hominem tactics by telling salon.com’s Editor in Chief Joan Walsh:

“Oh, Joan, give it a rest…”


At 5 min. 45 sec. into this video, and

“I’m so glad you could never be my wife, because I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that prattle coming out of your mouth every day. (laughs) You’re talking like a political hack, here…”

at 9min. 45sec.

Mr. Armey, I am truly relieved you are no longer a representative of my state or a member of the United States government. Your performance tonight was absolutely shameful. Your sexist remarks aside (and that’s a BIG aside), your attitude was hardly one of a professional politician willing to discuss policy, but more one of a threatened frat boy who could only respond with a “so’s your mother” joke because he simply couldn’t find an intelligent answer to your opponent’s charges.

It is this blogger’s considered opinion that Dick Armey should be uninvited from Hard Ball and other political round table discussions until such time as he is able to interact with others with the same amount of gravitas and respect due our current political situation as any other elected official. Mr. Armey was dismissive of relevant issues, waved away serious intelligent questions, and generally acted like a pompous self important ass whose word was above reproach and didn’t require actual facts.

Mr. Armey, you owe Joan Walsh an immediate, public apology. Your behavior was reprehensible, and you insulted 51% of the voting public by insinuating that any woman’s opinion that differs with yours is, by gender definition, inferior. You, sir, are a gas bag unworthy of the camera time you garnered.

Ted Haggard’s Closet Gets a Little Fuller

Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted. What are we going to do with you?

Yes, it’s true. Ted Haggard, public homophobe and pastor of the Denver New Life Mega-Church, is once again the center of a gay sex scandal. I know. I’m as shocked as you. Who would’ve thought that just two short years after having meth fueled sex with a male hooker (which I understand isn’t nearly as pleasurable or fulfilling as the straight laced hetero man on top get it over with quick with the lights out kind), yet ANOTHER story about Ted Haggard having gay sex with a member of his own church would find its way to the surface? Other than me and, probably, you.

The article states:

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.”

Ohhh, good. Because of all the things wrong with the head of a mega church that influences public policy by snuggling up to the President of the United States and getting him to pass harmful legislation against gays and women being found to have gay sex with a young member of his church, the one I’m MOST worried about is whether the young man was underage or not. Mr. Boyd, are we on the same planet? I think something a bit more worrisome was the fact that Mr. Haggard paid the kid off.

In a letter e-mailed Friday to New Life Church members, Boyd said of the settlement and agreement not to talk: “This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him.”

Okay. I think we’re stretching the suspension of disbelief a little far, even for Christians. If part of the agreement was explicitly that neither party discuss the affair? It was hush money.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can’t be put into “stereotypical boxes.”

*sigh*…. Ted? Ted, you’re gay, and you’re closeted. That’s about as boxed in as you can get. Look. I’m going to try to help you. I know you’re scared and  I know you’re worried, but at this point…how much worse can it really get? You lost your church, you lost your reputation, you’re a national joke, and the woman you’re married to doesn’t trust you now and (thanks to this new thing) probably never will again. You’ve shamed your children. Was it worth it? Ted…stop making their and your life miserable. There IS a way. Two simple words, and then … believe it or not… life will get easier. Ready? Repeat after me. “I’m gay.” Now own it. It will be okay. I promise. Your wife will be able to move on with her life. You may even be able to mend fences with her. Your kids will need lots of attention and understanding, but you could really be a model dad, one who shows just what grace and acceptance really mean, not all that fire and brimstone crap you’ve been spewing for years. And YOU, Ted, will be happy. At least, happier than you are now. Believe it.

And later, we’ll work on that whole god fixation thing.

Closing Gitmo: A Return to Ethics in the U.S.

As many of you are probably aware, one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises was to close the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Apparently, that promise is about to come to fruition. According to one of the president-elect’s advisors, he may issue the order as soon as he takes office. The biggest stumbling block remains what to do with the detainees.

This is one of the most hopeful statements I’ve seen in quite some time.  Of the many things I grew up believing about our country, one in which I always took pride was “The United States does not torture. The United States  abides by the Geneva Convention.” I took that belief with me into the military, and what happened at Guantanamo made me feel that the uniform I wore was disgraced because of it. Hopefully that disgrace is coming to an end.

The last eight years have been, if not enjoyable, very instructive. I’ve seen a side to my countrymen that I would have previously denied. While I believed that we were a little tarnished, I never thought we would stand by and not only watch, but cheer, while our government perpetrated horrible offenses against our Constitution.  As with most problems, it’s going to take far longer to correct it than it took to let it go wrong. We have so many problems we don’t even know where to start. Our economy is in ruins, civil rights have been slashed, our health care is a joke, and we are seen as arrogant bullies with big mouths on the world stage. I can only take comfort in the fact that with President-elect Obama’s inauguration, the world finally sees that we DO want to change for the better.

Guantanamo Bay detainment camp is a dark spot on our country’s history. Let us not forget how far we can go down the road of fascism. At the same time, let us celebrate the beginning of our walk back toward reason and ethics. Let us once again become the beacon of democracy and protectors of the weak that we believe ourselves to be.

Yet More Repression of Christians

The Christian News Wire (tag lined “The most used, recognized, respected religion newswire,” which made me smirk a bit) did a top ten list entitled “Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008.”  Aside from the eye-rolling banality of yet another top-ten list (is there a single place in the blogosphere that DIDN’T put one out?), the list itself comes off as whiny, petulant and paranoid, filled with appeals to emotion, distortions and logical fallacies. Not to mention a distinct lack of citations for the assertions it makes.  A couple examples? I thought you’d never ask.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus’ name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus’ name will continue to be banned.

Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? If only it were true. In fact, the chaplains resigned in a snit because they were asked by the state to NOT reference Jesus Christ in prayers at public events and to keep the prayers non-denominational after a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yes, I have a citation. The new policy does not apply to private functions like funerals, just public state functions. Naturally, the reaction has been…well…over-reactionary:

In a statement Wednesday, Grayson County Delegate Bill Carrico called on the Superintendent to abandon, “this attack on Christianity.”

Delegate Morgan Griffith says, to “require those troopers to disregard their own faith while serving violates their First Amendment rights and prevents them from serving effectively as chaplains. These men had little choice but to resign.”

Aren’t we being just a little over the top? Nobody’s being asked to “disregard their own faith.” They’re being asked to actually obey the constitution and NOT attempt to force the state to recognize one religion over others. Y’know, if you’re going to invoke the first amendment, you’d better read the whole damn thing.

Next:

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, “Prop 8 The Musical,” an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

Um…Okay. First, Jack Black didn’t “defame” Christ, he portrayed Christ. Nor did he “distort” the teachings of the bible at all. Every single thing he said was true and a tenet of scripture. That Christians are not able to defend those tenets does not make it “defamation.” It just points out certain hypocrisy.

It’s difficult to take these people seriously. Really, I laughed when I read this list. Christians get everything they want by stamping their feet; they even manage to get programs removed from broadcast television and politicians discredited just by saying that person isn’t a Christian. But they’re being repressed? Yuh, right. No group in the history of our country has enjoyed such a protected position as Christians. The difference is that now, that position is being challenged because they’re not the only game in town, and they’re losing their power base. They now have to respect “freedom of religion” in practice as well as in theory. Which is something they’re just going to have to get over, because it isn’t going back to the old way any time soon.

First: Do No Harm. Unless You Disagree With Their Morals.

On December 19th, the Bush administration very quietly approved provisions to put the final nail in the coffin of American healthcare. Effective Jan 19th (one day, you will note, before President-elect Obama takes office), all entities tied to healthcare…including insurance companies…will be able to deny care or coverage for any service they feel disagrees with their moral code.

As a woman, I am furious. How dare you, Mr. Bush, tell any insurance company or doctor that I may not obtain reproductive health without risking my life? As a bisexual woman, I am seething. How dare you open the door to anyone to question me on my sexuality and deny me care because they don’t approve? As a nurse, I am so livid I am nearly speechless. We do not question the morality of our patients. It is not for us to judge. If someone comes to me because they are injured, in pain, or just have questions, I am here to do my best to help them. Their personal life is not for ME to judge. How dare ANYONE decide such a thing?

So now I can deny care based on my moral outrage? Fine. How would it be, then, if I, as an atheist, were to refuse care to fundamentalist Christians because I morally disagree with their warped perceptions of reality? How would it be if I were to refuse care to some redneck idiot who had broken his neck on his motorcycle because I’m morally opposed to treating morons who refuse to wear a helmet? How would it be were I to refuse to assist in delivering a baby because I think the world is overpopulated enough and it’s against my ethics?

Mr. Bush, you do not know the damage you have done. You think you are merely putting down rights for gays and women. I assure you, sir, you have no idea the death blow you have dealt my profession. I am saddened. But more, I am enraged that anyone would dare do such a thing as risk the lives of the people of this country all so that a few backward, self righteous, judgmental overbearing jerks can look down their noses and deny care to people they consider inferior to themselves.

I am sickened by the very thought of what this will do to a profession of which I have always been proud to be a part. There are simply no words for how disgusted I am by this ruling.

What I Want For Christmas: A Very Palin Wish

If I were suddenly confronted with the ghost of Christmas Present (always loved the implicit pun) and granted three wishes….wait, is that just for genies?… as soon as I convinced myself that I was not hallucinating, I’d tell him that I have only one wish: MAKE SARAH PALIN GO AWAY!!!

The only thing more distressing than putting up with Caribou Barbie is putting up with her frothing racist homophobe fundie fans. The Huff has a story up today about the new website erected in her honor. It isn’t just worrisome, it’s downright disgusting. This is the new face of conservativism? Some choice quotes from posters include:

When a blogger named James asks if anybody has bought the new Obama coins, SavantNoir responds: “[Y]es James, and i melted it down to see the look of agnoy on his face, made it a BB pellet and shot it into a pile of shit.”On one blog Heather describes Election Day as the “most terrible” in history and asks “how long until obama is shot??????” Josie responds: “There are plenty of people that would like to see Obama end that way.”

And about our new first lady?

Ava M: I have never actually HATED anyone in politics before now….She is stupid, mean, power hungry, manipulative, corrupt, essentially ignorant–a poster girl for Institutionalized Black Racism and Agression, a take-no-prisoners warrior for Political Correctnes aka Socialist Realism and a racially driven Communist fellow traveller. Let her go run an African country. She doesn’t fit in here with the American People.

I’m speechless. These are Christians, then? Christian sentiments? Michelle Obama IS American. She was born and raised here. She worked hard to get where she is. What is WRONG with you people? If anything, Michelle Obama has exhibited every trait Republicans insist Americans SHOULD exhibit: Hard work, dedication to her family and support of her husband. But because there’s a D after that husband’s name, she must be a “racially driven Communist”?

Conservatives, moderates, Fiscal Republicans, I have said it before, and I will say it again: It is time you took your party back. The nation needs the conservative party like a car needs a good set of brakes, to rein in the excesses of Dems. If you do not do this and do it soon, your party is doomed to be no longer the Grand Old Party, but God’s Own Party, fueled by hate and ignorance and directed by extremists like Sarah Palin. For the sake of all you hold dear… drop her and drop her now.

Madonna: What to Get the Woman Who Has Everything?

Why not a child from a third world country?  Latest dish is that Madonna and her man of the month Alex Rodriguez will be flying to Malawi to adopt a 4 year old girl whose mother died after giving birth.

I’m torn. On the one hand, this child will likely receive advantages to which she never would have had access in Malawi…and that’s very good, indeed. Hopefully she’ll grow to be as much of a philanthropist as her future mum. On the other hand…it chills me no end that this woman treats children like fashion accessories. New man? Need a new kid… Angelina Jolie adopted another one? Better snag a cuter one fast. World tour? Round it off with an adoption and a photo op. And how much time does she spend with each of these kids? Does she actually do any, you know, MOTHERING? Or are they shuffled off to nannies while she jets around the world?

Am I angry? Well…maybe. I take my role as mom very seriously. I spend time going to band practices, recitals, helping with projects and homework, taking the kids to movies and museums…and of course dinner every night…all because I know damn well that this is temporary, this motherhood thing..that they’re going to leave soon enough and each second I get with them is important. So, yes. To see someone like Madonna so flippantly adopting here and there as if it’s nothing more than a trip to the mall gets on my mom nerve. It’s great that she wants to make a difference in the life of a child, and for that I applaud her. But I still question just how altruistic her motives really are, and who will really be raising that little girl.

There’s “Reaching Across,” and Then There’s Pandering.

Alright, I realize I’m late getting here and we’ve likely blogged it to death, but I was hoping to discuss this rationally now that we’ve had a couple days to catch our breath and look at this objectively. By this, I am of course referring to Barack Obama’s recent decision to invite Rick Warren to perform the invocation at his inauguration. Let’s take a gander and see what we can see.

First off, as an atheist, I see no need for an invocation of god’s blessing at a state function. To me, it’s another glaring case of just how religion has imposed itself on our political system. But that’s just me personally. Objectively I can see that it’s part of the ceremony and expected, blah blah blah. Fine. I’m willing to make that concession for the time being. On to the meat.

Rick Warren. Mr. Obama is attempting to be reasonable in the face of the lashback but quite honestly, I think he’s over reaching on this one. He could have played it so much differently. He’s made it clear from his cabinet positions that he intends to listen to those who are best equipped to help the nation, regardless of the letter after their name. It was totally unnecessary to extend that invitation to Rick Warren. Forget for a moment what he stands for (because we WILL be coming back to it), and let us remember all those who supported Mr. O when he needed us. That, effectively, is the most glaring and obvious mistake in this whole issue. Not who he has chosen to include… but in so doing, who he has forgotten. The GLBT community is currently undergoing, collectively, its toughest challenge in the history of our country. It is the civil rights issue of our generation. This was an opportunity…a HUGE opportunity…to reach out and say “thank you” and “I recognize you.” Neither of which happened. For Rahm Emanuel, whom I admire, to come out and say “We’re going to have someone else friendly to the GLBT community do the benediction” felt like a placating gesture. A pat on the head. And in favor of what?

Rick Warren (I told you I’d get back to him). The man who has compared being gay to being a pedophile. Who has compared gay sex to bestiality. Called it a sickness. Campaigned and campaigned hard against women’s rights. This man has no place giving a “blessing.” I don’t care if he invited Obama to the christening of his first child. There is simply no excuse for him giving the invocation when there were so many other GLBT-friendly pastors who could have done as good a job.

Yuh, so this has turned out to be less than the rational, reasoned post I had hoped it to be. And yes, I thoroughly understand the choice. I just disagree with it. Because civil rights are not earned by being reasonable. Civil rights are not earned by rational discussion. Sadly, history shows us that the only way civil rights are earned in this country is by taking them and refusing to let go.

Joe Scarborough’s Domestic Terrorist Glass House

 

Joe Scarborough, for those of you who do not know, is the anchor of MSNBC’s morning television show “Morning Joe.” He is a former US Congressman, having represented the 1st district of the state of Florida in the House of Representatives, a fact he makes sure to insert into his program at least once a day (usually along the lines of “well, y’know, ‘Mika [MSNBC’s answer to Alan Colmes], when I was in office back in 1998, here’s how we did it…”).

Mr. Scarborough has gone a long way to furthering the concept that not only are Barack Obama and William Ayers any more than casual acquaintances who served together on a committee, but that William Ayers is STILL a terrorist (even though he performed one act, has paid his debt to society, and now tries to right that wrong by serving his community) and that Obama’s campaign “started in his living room.” And implying that Barack Obama, by that association, must be okay with terrorists. Mr. Scarborough, of all people, should know precisely why such misrepresentations are damaging to a career, and why members of the press should be called on those misrepresentations.

Just for fun, let’s use actual events from Mr. Scarborough’s life using the same spin he placed on the relationship between Sen. Obama and William Ayers.  Unlike Joe, I’ll actually follow up the sensationalism with facts and try to show why objectivity is necessary in reporting. Ready? Here we go:

I’ve recently received information that Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” has ties to domestic terrorists and religious extremists. Apparently, Mr. Scarborough helped Michael Griffin, a man who shot and killed a doctor at his clinic in full view of many innocent patients, to obtain an expensive attorney, then shielded Mr. Griffin’s family and downplayed the issue to the press. Of course, we don’t have all the details, so we probably shouldn’t be discussing this in depth, but doesn’t it speak to Mr. Scarborough’s character that he’s willing to protect a homicidal maniac who believes God told him to shoot doctors? Mr. Griffin is unrepentant about his crime.

While we’re on the subject of Mr. Scarborough’s character; what does it say that he left office just a few short months after being elected? That he essentially abandoned his constituency, pursued a divorce, divested himself of all the responsible positions he held, and then, amidst rumors of infidelity, one of his interns was found dead in his office?

28 year old Lori Klausutis, an intern in the congressman’s Florida office was found dead of a massive blow to the head by visitors to the congressman’s deserted office. Apparently, she’d been dead for some time, and Mr. Scarborough himself was in Washington at the time she was found.

Isn’t that salacious? Are you sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for the next juicy detail? Let’s compare that tell-all, celeb gossip style story to the actual facts.

Mr. Scarborough was a young civil law attorney when he was approached by Mr. Griffin’s family. He was unable to represent Michael Griffin, who was charged with (and eventually convicted of) shooting and killing a physician who performed abortions. The story can be found here (scroll down for story). Mr. Scarborough had a reputation for pro-life causes, and helped the family find an attorney for Michael and spoke with the press on their behalf pro bono (Most lawyers are required to do a certain number of pro bono hours).

Mr. Scarborough was elected to four terms in the House of Representatives. However, some months after his third re-election, he divorced his wife and retired from his seat, saying he wanted to spend more time with his children. The timing was considered dubious, as a clerk in his Florida Office, Lori Klausutis, 28, was found dead, and there had been rumors of infidelity. The matter was not considered sufficiently resolved by many, as there were questions about the head trauma Lori suffered which was (according to the coroner) caused by a coronary event, ending in her accidental death. Mr. Scarborough’s attitude toward the incident when speaking of it on Don Imus’ radio program sparked further internet furor.

There you have it. Two stories. The first (were it about any Democrat you’d care to name) would have Mr. Scarborough and any Republican howling for blood. The second was at least an attempt at objective reporting; something far too many at Fox News and Mr. Scarborough himself scoff off as “liberal media.”

Here’s what Mr. Scarborough, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and their slavish followers just don’t get: a story reported without bias (or with as little as possible) is necessary in journalism. The entire premise is to report the FACTS and allow people to make up their own minds. But for some reason, people want to be led. Joe Scarborough and reporters like him with their constant stream of innuendo and misinformation have killed journalistic integrity. Journalism is not about opinion. It’s about reporting the facts of the day’s events. And if Mr. Scarborough expects to consistently report his biased views as facts, perhaps he should be reminded of just what the press can do with a little skewed information.