Saturday, March 25, 2006

High-speed is back in my house

I got DSL! YAY!!!!! Now I can be productive again. YAY!!!!

Dying for Christianity?

I think this Rahman case in Afghanistan is one of those things that transcends politics, because from Daily Kos to Malkin, everyone is pissed about this guy facing execution for converting from Islam to Christianity. A belief in God is a belief in God. The Koran has David and Saul in it, just like the Torah and the Bible. They all speak of Solomon, Abraham, Joseph, etc. Allah=Yahweh=God. Period, end of discussion.

We were supposed to have liberated Afghanistan. We were supposed to have liberated Iraq. If that's the case, then why are Taliban-style cases being brought before courts? Why does this seem like the Who in "Won't Get Fooled Again," when Roger Daltrey sings, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,"?

It's just discouraging to read these things, y'know? I hope to God Karzai stands up to the extremists and finds a way to save this guy from being whacked. It would be incredibly disturbing and hurtful to our TRUE battlefield in the war on terror, let alone our effort to keep Afghanistan from failing. We need this mission to be successful, and actions such as this seem to tell Americans that our efforts don't matter, they don't want democracy like we do. I'm not saying that's true, because I think people do want democracy, but religion (as we keep proving here) trumps secular shared beliefs, and in this story, we find the lesson for everything that's wrong with today's GOP majority.

Too quick on the trigger?

Ed Schultz first brought this to my attention on his show the other day, and now that I've heard the audio, I feel bad for Dave Lenihan. The guy was talking fast about SecState Condi Rice, said the word "coon" (and it's likely, as fast as he was going, that he meant to say some other word), and immediately, in milliseconds, apologized for it. Yet, twenty minutes later, the CEO of the station got on the air, apologized, and announced Lenihan's firing.

You know, I'm not a big fan of conservative talk radio (and some liberal talk radio is guilty of some of the same things conservatives do), but this guy shouldn't have lost his job. It was a bad slip of the tongue, corrected and apologized for immediately, and compared to Bill Bennett's monologue on aborting black babies and reducing the crime rate, it was nothing.

I might take some heat for it, but I gotta say, this guy should be reinstated. I don't think he could've acted any better than not having said the word at all, and now he's jobless for talking too fast, in essence. It's just a shame. Maybe Condi could step in and ask the CEO to rehire him. This was just overreacting, instead of the underreaction to Bennett's twisted thoughts.

Update (3/26/06)- Lenihan told the Miami Herald that he meant to say "coup" and not "coon," a perfectly logical, reasonable explaination, which Rice accepted without hesitation, forgiving Lenihan. Now, is this station going to admit it was way too quick to fire him and apologize and reinstate him? The poor guy made a fricking mistake. Let him have his livelihood back.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Damn, that was fast

Red Ben is gone. The serial plagarist lasted all of THREE DAYS before it caught up with him, and he "resigned" from the Post and they are launching an investigation. So much for bloggers being crazy people who need to be separated from the media. In this case, we all did a better job THAN the media.

Here's the statement from's editor, Jim Brady:

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.

Good riddance, I say. Now, next time they make a blogger hire, they need to hire one of each side, and vet them first. My vote is for Atrios, James Wolcott or Glenn Greenwald versus anyone from NRO or Emily.

Red Ben, noted plagarist

The Washington Post, destined to sink to the depths being discovered by the New York Times, hired Redstate's cofounder Ben Domenech this week to be their new "Red America" blogger. Of course, logic would dictate a "Blue America" blogger being hired, right? Wrong.

Of course, the fact they hired Domenech shows a complete lack of disregard for their own cherished principles. In 1981, when Janet Cooke was discovered to have both plagarized and made crap up, the Post did its own investigation, fired her, and published a mea culpa. They did so with enormous speed.

This week, the Post decided plagarism wasn't such a big deal anymore. Even when the guy they hired once plagarized from a front-page Post story, along with a P.J. O'Rourke book,, the Dallas Morning News, IMDB (the internet movie database), and from Cox News Service during his time with NRO. And it only took people a day to find that. What will come up in a week's time?

Of course, stealing and cheating is a way of life for today's Republicans, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Simply, a must read

Robert Fisk of Britain's Independent, writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the dependence of the press upon government officials.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When is enough enough?

Christianity is the majority religion in this nation. Washington, D.C. is full of politicians and bureaucrats who are all Christians. So why is it Republican politicians still claim the need to bring Christ to D.C.? Why is it that they claim that we don't have enough God in our lives?

You know, the last time I checked, government was here to make the trains run on time, keep us safe from our enemies, and provide for the common welfare. Nowhere in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or the Federalist Papers did I read that it was the duty of government to bring Christ to us. I believe, in fact, that is the job of our religious leaders.

We constantly are having this wasteful debate over what the limits of the separation of church and state are. There are so many things that are necessary to our common welfare. And the argument that Emily posed in response to my sex toys post, that if the people want it, then that's what the legislators should focus on, well, the majority of people aren't clamoring for more talk of Christ in D.C. They want to see us find a way to get Iraq policy right. They want their health care system fixed. They want the roads in better shape. They want the jobs situation improved. Those are the things they want.

It is the legislators, especially those on the Republican side, so devoid of new ideas because all the ones they've had in the past six years of dominance have, by and large, been mediocre in their success, who create the religion issue as a distraction to keep people from thinking about the real problems. The religious right is upset because a ban on gay marraige hasn't been Constitutionalized, but is that REALLY the most pressing problem we have going on? Is putting the Ten Commandments back in schools REALLY a major issue? Shouldn't creationism, which is a religious belief and not a scientific one, be kept in philosophy class and out of biology class?

This is no longer 1950. We have substantial populations of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. We can't pretend we are still a Christian-only nation, where the presence of the Ten Commandments in a public school wouldn't upset anyone. It simply doesn't work anymore. Our forefathers came to this continent in search of religious freedom, to practice as they wished, and now we have politicians whose stated goal is to force Christian beliefs back into the public sphere.

This sort of behavior is detrimental to our national soul. The funny thing is that Great Britain, for instance, has a state church and yet has less issues over religion than we do. Their scientific and theological leaders believe we are hindering our progress as a nation by fighting these issues over and over again.

I am religious. I am still practicing Lent, for instance, despite the fact I am a "dissident Catholic." I believe in God, and I believe religion is an important force in our personal lives. There is a point, however, where religion must be separated from public policy, because public policy has to be formulated for all people. We cannot make our policy decisions based on who lives where. It puts us in a political Tower of Babel situation, where everyone starts speaking differently and no one can understand each other.

We are pulling apart at the seams over the fervor of government officials who put religion first. Putting religion up front is fine in one's personal life, and even in their public life, but it is only acceptable until the point where they are in charge of representing everyone, and not everyone is Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist, etc. That is the point where the line has to be drawn, so that we aren't breaking the First, Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, sex, or religion. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." The Fifteenth Amendment reads, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Nineteenth Amendment reads, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Since then, the Supreme Court and lower courts have frequently upheld that the voting clause extended to other aspects of life as well. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 further codified those decisions into law. Yet the conservatives rage on about the need to put Christianity into our public institutions.

We should all keep in mind that as wonderful as religion is, wars over religion are the fiercest and most violent. The English and the Irish, the Crusades, Muslims and the Jews, etc. When wars are fought over religion, the outcomes are very bloody. Religion is such a powerful tool, with the ability to work wonders in the world. But any tool with that power has the capacity for great evil, too. Witness al Qaeda, the Taliban, Saudi Arabia. They show us how that capacity can go very wrong.

This continued battle needs to be brought to an end. The only purposes this fight between those who wish religion to stop outside the halls of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court and those who wish their particular religion to have more public dominance serves are those of our sworn terrorist enemies. Because, while I hate to play this card, let's face it. A nation divided, with leaders trying to force Christianity as our guiding principle, only helps a group like al Qaeda draw more to their cause. It becomes not a fight of freedom vs. theocratic dictatorship, or a fight between peace and terror, but instead a fight of Christianity vs. Islam, the fight that is on our enemies' terms. Because while we, as Americans, do not talk much of the Crusades or think much of them, since we didn't exist in the 13th century, it is to this day a major issue in the Mideast. We can call that living in the past, but facts are facts, and we are playing the game on someone else's terms when we have these fights with each other.

This is why elections matter. This is why paying attention matters. This is why being engaged matters. Religious issues are at the forefront of politics because the religious right has been the only group truly engaged in government, while so many have tuned out. When only one group is talking, it creates a vacuum, and that vacuum is proving quite dangerous for the future survival of our nation.

So, the question I posed at the top, "When is enough enough?", well, it is enough when we've reached this point, where religious issues are taking up the majority of our time as a nation, and our infrastructure, security and common welfare have taken a backseat to debates that are best argued on a local level, in our churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, city councils, and town halls. It is now enough.

Update 9:41 AM, 3/20/06:
Right there, proving my point, is Fred Barnes, who writes that the Republican agenda when they return from vacation today will be to push a constitutional amendment banning gay marraige, a bill banning human-animal cloning, a bill to make federal the parental notification law about abortion, a bill allowing more public expression of religion, legislation to bar the courts from deciding constitutional issues (a decidedly unconservative and unconstitutional bill), and finally this gem: a bill that would require doctors to "consider fetal pain" before performing an abortion.

The Republican Party: doing its best to inspire religious extremism at home and "freedom" abroad.