Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fair and Balanced, or something like that

Here's a video showing what we can expect from Fox News during this upcoming election cycle. They had claimed that Barack Obama had attended a madrassa as a child. Well, it turns out it wasn't a madrassa, it was a regular public school. But even if it was a madrassa, he was a child at the time who obliviously didn't have control over the school he was sent to, just as the Pope can't help the fact that he was a member of the Hitler Youth.

In another ridiculous item, Fox News presents the that Obama's middle name is Hussein. What is this non-news item supposed to mean? I dunno, but apparently we are not supposed to like it and are not supposed to want him as president because of it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Newt Gingrich at Liberty University

On the flipside of Bill Clinton at Michigan is Newt Gingrich at Liberty University. One school is progressive and well-respected, the other is conservative and non-accredited. One commencement speaker is a still-popular former president, the other is a forgettable and vindicative former Speaker of the House. One speech is realistic and inspiring, the other speech scares the hell outta me that there are people who think like this and are in positions of power and responsibility.

Clinton's speech addresses the unfortunate real problems in our world while giving us hints as to how we can best deal with them. Newt, on the other hand, plays to the crowd what they want to hear, that in a country where over ninety percent of its citizens believe in God, that religion is being successfully attacked from what appears to be a radical secularist agenda.

“We are told that our public schools can no longer invoke the creator, nor proclaim the natural law nor profess the God-given quality of human rights."

A public school can "invoke" (whatever that means) the creator because there is no proof of a creator nor is there proof that such a creator is the one that Grigrich wants public school to invoke. And the natural law? Is this the same natural law that claims there was no such thing as dinosaurs? Is this the natural law that refuses to recognize, through observations of nature, that species have not and do not evolve? As for the origin of human rights, if you want to believe God gave us human rights, then that's fine to believe that, but that is not a fact that should be taught in schools. (For one thing, no where in the Bible are human rights established, in fact, the God seems to violate human rights all the time).

"This anti-religious bias must end"

The anti-religious bias that Gingrich presents is a boogeyman. Secularism is not anti-religion, but it does not favor one religion over others. This is the problem that Gingrich and the Liberty University grads have. They want their religion favored over other beliefs, and they want the government to take a larger part in doing that. I am not anti-religion (though I do have biases), but I am fervently anti-religious fundamentalism, because that is the belief the only your religion and belief system matters, and that the religion that coming underattack by all leveheaded people. When Gingrich attacks anti-religious bias, he sure as hell isn't trying to defend Judaism or Islam.

Like anyone who speaks at Liberty University's commencements (re:McCain), Gingrich is a hack who is pandering to an interest group that has too much power in this country. He's not challenging the minds of the graduates with anything he said, he's only telling them what they want to hear, which I would imagine is what an "education" at Liberty University must be like.

Bill Clinton at Michigan

Here is a link to the commencement address that President Bill Clinton gave to the University of Michigan this year. It's a very casual but inspiring speech, one that makes you see the idealist in Clinton that I think is usually (and probably rightfully) overshadowed by his reputation as a centrist. I particlularly like his refrain that our word is unequal, unstable, and unsustainable and the three characteristics that all successful communities have: shared opportunities to participate, a shared sense of responsibility for the success of the outcome, and a genuine sense of belonging. Great and meaningful speechwriting.

"I will follow him to the gates of hell"


What action movie did this guy fall out of?

White men in suits standing at podiums sound ridiculous saying shit like this. And just when I thought I couldn't loose any more respect for McCain.

On a serious note, this type of thing is perpetuating the "24" version of the War on Terror that is dominating our military. The dean of West Point has actually had to go to the producers of "24" to ask them to change their depiction of torture because so many cadets don't think they need to follow the law. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/02/19/070219fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=3) Apparently people don't join the military anymore to serve their country or to better the world around them, but to play a part in a real life action movie.

Furthermore, this article (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18496711/) shows the disturbing mentality that pervades our current military is being manifested in the attitudes and actions of our soldiers. If we as a country are going to have an effective military that we are proud of, we need a military with quality people among its ranks, people who want to serve a higher calling and want to represent the best that this country stands for, not just wannabe action stars that eventually become cannon-fodder; such people need not apply. Soldiers with the attitudes present in the Newsweek article bring shame to the liberal democratic ideals that we are supposed to be promoting and to human decency.

However, that shame should be extended to the White House, Congress and the American people because of the awful ways in which our current military is treated, specifically the ridiculously long deployments. Have no doubt, our military is being stretched past it breaking point, and to try and fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a larger global war on terror is to treat our troops and the military like disposable toys. Obviously the Bush Administration is to blame, but I think Congress and the American people have not done enough to work against these abuses.

Here's an idea: instead of sending Bush a war funding bill with time tables for withdrawal or attempts to withhold funding, how about a spending bill that limits the tours of duty of soldiers serving in Iraq and limits the redeployment of them? Furthermore, how about limiting what the President can do with reservists and National Guard troops? This type of bill would not "deprive the military of crucial funding" as has been claimed about the spending bill that Bush vetoed, but would instead limit what the president could do with the military while actually treating our soldiers like human beings and forcing Bush to be selective about what can be done with our troops, in essence limiting what would be considered success in Iraq. Just a thought.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Death of Jerry Falwell

I consider myself a secular humanist. Secular because I am not a religious person, and a humanist because I care about the well-beings of other people. So, as a secular humanist, I feel reluctant to say this, but thank God Jerry Falwell is dead.

Now I really don’t wish death on anyone, but as Clarence Darrow has said “I never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with a lot of pleasure.” I would want Jerry Falwell killed, but since people have to die anyways, then sometimes the world becomes better off when someone dies. Such is the case with the death of Jerry Falwell.

In recent years Falwell had been relegated to appearing on crappy Crossfire-type cable news shows, where one could occasionally rely on him to say something stupid that the media could then write a story about in a “Can you believe he said that?”-manner. Well, yes, we can believe he said that because he’s been saying shit like that for years. In this role, Falwell was often deemed harmless, and in many cases a respected figure in American politics. Besides, words are just words, right?

But it was this role as spokesperson and leader of the Christian Right that helped foster an atmosphere of bigotry in this country. There are a number of examples I am sure in which Falwell was detrimental to the liberal causes and to the country at large, but the one that I would like to highlight is Falwell’s hatred of homosexuals.

I don’t think Falwell ever ordered any of his follows to kill homosexuals, but his anti-gay remarks gave approval to the idea that gays and lesbians where not to be given the dignity that other human beings have. It was okay that they died of AIDS, or that they had to be ashamed of themselves, or excommunicated from their families. It was okay that they we’re ridiculed in high schools across the country and occasionally beaten. Maybe it wasn’t good when a gay man was lynched, but like a rape victim who wore a skimpy dress, he was probably asking for it. This was the mentality that dominated this country in the 1980s and 1990s and for probably longer and it continuing still. And all in part because of the approval of Falwell and others like him, who may not have personally harmed anyone, but yet still empowered those looking for a reason to kick in the face of the faggot down the street from them. And, of course, all in the name of God.

Did Jerry ever queer-bait any one or participate in the beating of a gay person? I dunno, probably not. But there is no doubt that he helped facilitate countless instance of anit-gay violence, not to mention abortion-clinic bombings, wife-beatings, and anti-Semitism.

He’s gone now, thirty years after he started his ministry. Who knows, maybe Jerry’s actually in Heaven right now. Just thank God he’s not on earth anymore.