John Ashcroft on Torture

28 11 2007

John Ashcroft gave a speach at the University of Colorado.  This comes from

Ashcroft also responded to questions from the audience. The first question came from a woman who asked if Ashcroft would be willing to be subjected to waterboarding.

“The things that I can survive, if it were necessary to do them to me, I would do,” he said.

I’m not really sure what he means by that – does he mean that if it doesn’t kill him, it’s not torture?  Does he mean that he’ll try anything that doesn’t kill him?  Does it mean I can torture him?  I’d like that.


The Dilemma of the Religious Moderate

26 11 2007

Religious moderation is nothing more than a bastardization of religion.  It is religion that accepts that it is not infallible (which creates quite the paradox).  It is religious zeal that has been beaten down by secular advancements.  Every time science learns something new about the function of the universe, the religious have one less thing to call their own – with every move toward social progressiveness, those so called religious moderates concede more and more to the secular forces.  This is why few Christians stone adulterers, rape strangers, or keep slaves (as their Bible instructs them to do).  It is not because their Bible stories have changed, but because the secular social movement has made them see how awful these things actually are.  As social morals develop it is interesting how more and more stories from the bible are shoved out of the realm of reality and to the realm of metaphor.  (Is the metaphor of stoning adulterers any better than the act?)

And so what do we do with these so called ‘religious moderates’?  People who by their very beliefs demonstrate the fallibility of their doctrine.  These are the people that make it just that much harder to speak out against the amorality of faith.  We can’t blame religion for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict because there are both ‘good’ Jews and ‘good’ Muslims in the world – and we don’t want to upset them.  We can’t admonish the evangelical Christian movement in this country for teaching abstinence only (who knows how many have died from sexually transmitted diseases simply because their church taught them that condoms were evil?), because there are ‘good’ Christians that we don’t want to offend. 

It is hard not to offend when the basis of the liberal Protestant’s faith comes from the exact same place as the orthodox Catholic’s, Jew’s, or Pat Robertson’s.  At best, faith of the religious moderate is simply unnecessary.  At worst, it is paving the way for more violence done in the name of religion. 

The plummet this country has taken into the depths of Christian evangelicalism has had devastating consequences.  These people are walking proof that if you’re willing to believe that a man two thousand years ago was born of a virgin, than you’re capable of believing anything.  Precious resources, namely time and money, are wasted by school districts in order that their science teachers can continue to teach science.  Critical research for many chronic and life threatening diseases has stagnated because some people are worried about the ‘soul’ of a ball of ten cells.

So where did this madness originate?  You guessed it – the Bible.  The same book that millions of so called ‘religious moderates’ look to for answers.  It seems to me the very definition of a slippery slope. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Parables and Paradox – The Stories of Jesus

26 11 2007

Matthew 14:44

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Matthew 20:1-16 

The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, `You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, `Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, `You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, `Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. `These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, `and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, `Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last”

Matthew 13:31-32

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.  Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.

For those of you not paying attention, the mustard seed grows into a fairly modest plant, not a tree.  These are only some of the examples of how Jesus makes little to no sense.  When it comes to instructing people on how to live their lives, I usually find that ambiguousness is not the best way to go – but hey, I’m not Jesus.  But the good news is that Jesus says that if you don’t understand – you’re screwed.  Jesus’ words are laden with paradox and contradiction – making it impossible to simply ‘live by the bible’.  In order to follow one commandment you must ignore several others.  Therefore there is no definitive understanding of the bible, everything is interpretation. 

Therefore to say that Jesus was a great moral teacher means that the words of Jesus you’ve cherry-picked out of the new testament make him a good moral teacher.  Which, ultimately, says more about you than about Jesus – If you pay attention to only the things which you think are good than the goodness is coming from you, not from him.  The only reason any goodness has come out of that evil book is because people have picked their passages to conform to their own world view – proving once again that morality does not spring from religion.

Trent Lott to Step Down

26 11 2007

Trent Lott is leaving the Senate at the end of the year!  He’s going to have a news conference later today, and if there is any new information I’ll update this post.  Here is the link to the NYT story.  For those of you who don’t remember, Lott may or may not be a horrible racist – but he probably is.

Scott McClellan Lied – Who Knew?

21 11 2007

From the Huffington Post:

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were “not involved” in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

“There was one problem. It was not true,” McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff and the president himself.”

It is never too early to build up buzz about your book, even though it isn’t due out until April.

This is kind of like the Santa Claus at Macy’s standing up, taking off his fake beard, and announcing that he isn’t actually santa clause.  We know that.  But he puts on a little show and we suspend our disbelief. 

No one has ever confused Scott McClellan with someone who was telling them the truth.  I mean honestly.  The only revelation here is that McClellan is making some un-confirmable accusations to boost book sales.

Hillary Clinton is a Fear Monger

16 11 2007

From the democratic debate in Las Vegas (transcript):

BLITZER: You say national security is more important than human rights. Senator Clinton, what do you say?

CLINTON: I agree with that completely. The first obligation of the president of the United States is to protect and defend the United States of America.

Wow.  It is that kind of thinking that lead to the patriot act.  It is that kind of thinking that lead to the dystopic vision Orwell put forth in 1984.  What is worth defending if not our human rights?  Without human rights we have nothing.  Clinton’s answer (she’s not the only one, Dodd answered the same) exposes a serious flaw in her way of thinking.  That’s an easy question – and she got it wrong.  It is also a very serious question.  AND SHE GOT IT WRONG.  Because of that answer, we should be very afraid of another Clinton in the white house.

STDs on the Rise

14 11 2007

The CDC is reporting that this year the number of cases of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis in the United States all went up.  From the Huffington Post:

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they think better and more intensive screening accounts for much of the increase, but added that chlamydia was not the only sexually transmitted disease on the rise.

Gonorrhea rates are jumping again after hitting a record low, and an increasing number of cases are caused by a “superbug” version resistant to common antibiotics.

Syphilis is rising, too. The rate of congenital syphilis _ which can deform or kill babies _ rose for the first time in 15 years.

And yet Catholics still think that condoms are evil.  I’m sure that their god is more worried about a rubber than about human lives.

syphilis Syphilis