Ohio Lawmakers are Special People

As usual, I have been neglecting you, readers. But expect my neglect to continue. I have been frying bigger fish. For example, I have just been made a section editor at my school newspaper that comes with a handsome scholarship. And my Daddy said people didn’t want to read what I write!

I am appropriately heading the opinion section of the Newspaper. If you are wondering what newspaper I’m going to be an editor at, you can check it out here.  In fact, help a sister out and please do check it out. We’re trying to increase readership and plan on doing some revamping, so feedback is always helpful.

But something alarming has recently (five minutes ago) come to my attention. The ‘Hearrtbeat’ Bill has just passed the House in Ohio.

COLUMBUS, Ohio— The Ohio House has approved three abortion-related bills, including a measure that would impose the strictest abortion limit in the nation.

The Republican-led House on Tuesday voted 54-43 on the measure to ban abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The House also approved 64-32 a measure to prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus could survive outside the womb. It voted 62-35 to approve a bill that would prevent certain health insurers from covering abortions.

That means Ohio Right to Life has been put in an awkward position after they opposed the bill and created the stiffest anti-abortion restrictions in the country.

Planned Parenthood said that they’ll file a lawsuit the minute Kasich puts his signature on it.

DAMN STRAIGHT! This is not only unconstitutional, but disgusting. I always joke about being an Ohioan. And normally I would say I’m almost always ashamed of being an Ohioan, but I’m not. Ohioans are good, resilient people. The weather sucks and the economy sucks. That often results in depression, and Ohioans are seldom unmedicated, but our glazed smiles when you say hi to us will tell you that we do what it takes to pull through. And if that means running pill factories near the Ohio river, well by God, we’ll do it!

Ohioans get a bad rap from things like this. We’re a swing state because most of the state is rural, but we have liberal and moderate pockets here and there like Northeast Ohio and Columbus- which was recently referred to by a gay couple on an episode of True Life: I’m Getting Married! as “The San Francisco of the Midwest.”

As a resident of Northeast Ohio I run into all sorts- both wildly liberal and freakishly reactionary, and most of the people I know are one fry short of a happy meal. This may be because I am a magnet for mental illness- even my cat is on prozac. Or it is more likely because Ohio is filled with characters. But we are good people, and the women of Ohio- who all ready struggle with a sluggish economy, do not deserve this shit.

Ohioans are special people, but Ohio Lawmakers should be committed. And if Kasich signs the Heartbeat Bill, he should go to Hell.

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: NY sends forth a Tiny Ripple of Hope

Click to view larger; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 2011. (State Dept./ Public Domain)

Morning, news junkies. I’m under the weather, so forgive me if this is scatterbrained.

Marriage equality has arrived in NY. Last night, the New York senate legalized same-sex marriage in a 33-29 vote, and Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law, making NY the largest state where lesbian and gay couples can tie the knot. What an epic moment of pride and history, especially during Pride month, and as Queer Talk blogger Joyce Arnold notes, this is the first GOP-controlled state legislature to pass gay marriage. (Also, remember what Huntsman said about the law earlier this week when asked about it.)

At times like these, Bobby Kennedy’s words at Capetown in June ’66 always come to mind for me.

As dismal as the last decade of political leadership in DC has been, ultimately it could not stop the million different centers of energy and daring that came together on Friday to sweep down the barrier to marriage equality–in the state that sparked the modern LGBT movement to begin with, no less. That’s hope in action, years of activism coming to fruition, putting the idea of change you can “believe in” to shame. What has happened in NY is change that the constituents of that state can now experience–and change that the rest of the country can see (and follow in the footsteps of!)

I only have one quick note on Madame Secretary this time. On Monday, June 27th, Hillary will be hosting an LGBT Pride event at the State Department called “The Human Rights of LGBT People and U.S. Foreign Policy.” Go Hillary! If only someone would hold a WH event called “The Human Rights of LGBT People and U.S. Domestic Policy.” (Obama’s half-assed speech on Thursday to LGBT donors does not count.)

My Nifty graph pick for the week: If Congress Does Nothing, The Deficit Will Disappear (via TPM).

New Deal 2.0’s Bryce Colvert has posted an excellent interview with Roosevelt Institute’s Senior Fellow Ellen Chesler on Wal-Mart v. Dukes: “The Simple Answer is an Equal Rights Amendment.”

Amanda Marcotte on Using the War on Contraception as an Opportunity:

It’s true that anti-choicers are linking contraception to abortion in order to attack contraception, but we can turn that strategy on its head. If they’re going to link contraception and abortion, then pro-choicers should embrace that. And we should use the fact that contraception is widely accepted and even popular to help change the framing of abortion.

If you missed Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas’ piece “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” earlier this week, go read it now!

Mark Kelly and Gabby Gifford are going to be writing a memoir.

Indian American paper honors Nikki Haley as Person of the Year.

Via Huffpo, Women In Power: Annemarie Goedmakers, The Woman Who Brings Light To The Darkest Corners Of Africa. Goedmakers’ advice for young women:

“You cannot do everything on your own. You need people that like you, or like your ideas. It might be your boss, a friend, or a group of women that pushes you for a certain post. It’s essential to have these kinds of sponsors around you. They give just the push at moments where on your own, you wouldn’t be a success.”

That’s what the Sisterhood is for.

Speaking of which, did you hear that Gillibrand and other female legislators beat the Washington press corps in a game of softball on Thursday night and dedicated their win to Gabby Giffords? It’s a nice story… definitely check it out if you need a pick-me-up.

I’ll leave you with a fun and intriguing item before I wrap up with today’s historical trivia.

Earlier this week I saw CNN’s Ali Velshi interview two investigators from the Wellman Center for Photomedicine (at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital). Velshi basically introduced the segment by saying that humans might get to have a glowing pointer finger like ET. I’ve been around as long as ET, so in my lifetime we’ve gone from a sci fi special effect to something that may have practical applications in cancer treatment:

Maybe most promising, however: the Harvard physicists say that the technology could be used to help destroy cancer. While lasers are already used in certain treatments to battle malignant tumors, the ability to aggressively and precisely target cancerous cells from deep within the affected body tissue — using bio-lasers — would represent a major breakthrough in oncology.

Here’s more from SciAm’s writeup last week: Green Fluorescent Protein Makes for Living Lasers.

Today in Women’s History (June 25)

In 1881, Crystal Eastman was born. Teaser, via National Women’s Hall of Fame:

Crystal Eastman, co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, struggled throughout her life for equal rights and civil liberties for all. Acquiring her law degree from New York University in 1907, Eastman was one of only a few hundred women lawyers in the early twentieth century.

Well, that’s it for me. What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Strictly Hillary

h/t Still4Hill

Morning, news junkies. My link dump this weekend is almost all Hillary. Enjoy.

I’ll start you off with this op-ed Hillary penned in the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday–it’s called “There Is No Going Back in Syria”:

The Syrian people will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear. They deserve a government that respects its people, works to build a more stable and prosperous country, and doesn’t have to rely on repression at home and antagonism abroad to maintain its grip on power. They deserve a nation that is unified, democratic and a force for stability and progress. That would be good for Syria, good for the region and good for the world.

Also from Reuters… Clinton and Lavrov discuss Syria U.N. resolution.

What Did Hillary Whisper? (Insert your caption here!)

Next up, a nice and frothy link… “What Hillary Whispered — this is a fun Hillary-themed tumblr that’s been making the rounds (see The Atlantic, NY Mag, and Glittarazzi….Team Glittarazzi calls What Hillary Whispered their new favorite work distraction.)

Now for a series of more weighty links… if you missed it this past Sunday, here’s NPR’s take on Hillary’s trip to Africa: “Clinton’s Africa Tour Underscores The Power Of Women.” For more info, see:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks to Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner, Political Affairs, African Union Commission, at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Hillary also made a speech at the African Union where she talked about empowering the women of Africa:

And finally, when it comes to economic opportunity and development, we must empower the continent’s women. The women of Africa are the hardest working women in the world. And so often – (applause) – so often what they do is not included in the formal economy, it is not measured in the GDP. And yet, if all the women in Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, decided they would stop working for a week, the economies of Africa would collapse. (Applause.)

So let’s include half the population. Let’s treat them with dignity. Let’s give them the right and responsibility to make a contribution to the 21st century of African growth and progress. And the United States will be your partner, because we have seen what a difference it makes when women are educated, when they have access to health care, when they can start businesses, when they can get credit, when they can help support their families. So let us make sure that that remains front and center in the work we do together.

My $0.02: Unfortuntately, the US model is coming undone since women’s access to health care (and economic security) are under attack. See:

An op-ed, unsurprisingly published in the NY Post, criticized Hillary for not visiting the Congo and not delivering on a special envoy yet. Hillary did bring up the Congo in her remarks to the African Union though:

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we remain concerned about the continued violence against women and girls and the activities of armed groups in the eastern region of the country. Every effort by the AU and UN will be necessary to help the DRC respond to these continuing security crises.

My $0.02: True, it’s words and not actions per se, but to act as if Hillary has forgotten the Congo just because she visited other areas this time is a stretch. I’m sure she’ll never forget the Congolese survivors she has met after all the outreach she has done. Not to mention the fact that Hillary’s Africa trip was cut short by all that volcanic ash this time anyway, so it’s not like she even got to say and do all that she was planning on anyway.

At least the cover art looks like Hillary.

Getting back to the power of women, but in more political terms… The UK Telegraph: “Hillary Clinton must be on the rise – she’s got her own comic.”

My $0.02: Tim Martin’s art blogging at the link isn’t really about Hillary per se, though it does give some interesting background on the maker of the Hillary comic and about socio-political cartoons in general. Nice to see Martin mention the graphic novel Persepolis. I have to say, from the glimpses I’ve gotten of Bluewater’s Hillary comic book so far, I’m not terribly impressed. Still, I take Martin’s point that “if the grinning, policy-spouting simulacra in Female Force and Political Power point even one reader in the direction of these inspiring and adventurous pieces of contemporary writing, their efforts won’t have been in vain.”

Another one about the comic — ABC News reports that the book portrays Hillary and O as friends before the primaries:

The unauthorized, full-color comic book, released last week, describes how in 2003, then-New York Sen. Clinton sat on a tarmac in a private plane, waiting impatiently for a thunderstorm to pass before taking off for Chicago, where she hoped to attend a fundraiser for Illinois state senator and Senate-hopeful Obama. After eventually making it to Chicago, she was blown away by the young politician, according to the book.

“He’s young, brainy, African-American and a terrific speaker,” the book shows Clinton telling an aide. “Just the kind of candidate that we need more of, that Bill and I have spent our lives promoting. There’s a superstar in Chicago.”

“At one point,” Maida writes, “Obama gave her a gift: a photograph of him, Michelle, and their two young daughters, Sasha and Malia. From then until she left the Senate in 2009 … even during their rivalry amid the contentious 2008 campaign … Hillary displayed it prominently in her office.”

My $0.02: Funny how that kind of material made the cut and the three pages where the Bill Clinton caricature got to express his point of view on South Carolina, etc. did not.

On a similar note… Did anyone else catch Mr. Fish lumping Hillary together with every Tom and Dick in DC?

My $0.02: It’s one thing to argue as Taylor Marsh has, that women leaders have not proven to be less hawkish than men, which is a conversation worth having, but it takes a real dick–figurative, literal, whatever–to make the Weiner scandal about Hillary needing to be afraid of people running her out of power, as Mr. Fish’s comic does.

The Clintons in Bermuda, summer of 2009. I'd say this is as good a glimpse as we've gotten of "Hillary's future."

On the neverending DC parlor game called “Hillary’s future”…. More Hillary-should-replace-Biden noise, this time on Huffpo. That is one persistent internet urban legend, Lol. And, over at wowowow, Liz Smith asks this question about Hillary: “Would she do the ‘unthinkable’ and challenge her own party’s sitting president, the man who elevated her to the position of Secretary of State?”

My $0.02: As I asked of Jonathan Alter’s profile on Hillary in the June issue of Vanity Fair, what part of Beaches and Speeches do people not understand? 1600 PA Avenue just isn’t big enough for Hillary anymore.

Incidentally, Stacy at SecyClintonBlog recently spotlighted a Guardian piece from the beginning of this year that I guess popped up again last weekend–it’s called “Clinton is proving that a feminist foreign policy is possible – and works.”

My $0.02: Hillary’s feminist foreign policy is precisely why she’s transcended the White House and has much bigger horizons ahead of her. (Be sure to click over to Stacy’s post–she chose two great photos to go along with the piece.)

Excerpt from the Guardian link:

Back in the heady days of 1970s feminism there was an argument that once women achieved political power, there would be no more war. Margaret Thatcher and her Falklands war exploded that myth, and along with it any residual notion that women might do foreign policy differently from men. Indeed, it became a credibility requirement for any women with a senior foreign or defence brief to give a wide berth to anything with a whiff of being a woman’s issue. Women had to work extra hard to look tough on the world stage. Meanwhile, women’s issues were parked in the softer brief of international development.

It is these unspoken rules that Hillary Clinton has been dismantling since becoming US secretary of state two years ago. She is the most powerful politician to advance an explicitly feminist agenda. Even in that most delicate and crucial relationship with China – on which the world’s attention will be fixed this week for the Chinese president’s visit to the US – Clinton has gone out of her way to press feminist issues. In China’s case, she has highlighted the country’s growing gender imbalance caused by the high abortion rate of female foetuses.

My extra $0.02: I’m glad the author of the article drew attention to this. Even though I was born and raised in the US, I grew up acutely aware of the Indian practice of sex selective abortions–it has always been just as important an angle of the abortion debate to me as a woman’s right to choose. That’s one of the reasons why Hillary earned my support. Her pro-choice view is grounded in a complex understanding of gender politics and iniquity around the world.

In other human rights developments on the global stage…

Yes she did...and she keeps on!

Ever the Fierce Advocate her current boss will never be, yesterday Madam Secretary put out a statement on “the first ever UN resolution on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.” From the link:

This resolution will commission the first ever UN report on the challenges that LGBT persons face around the globe and will open a broader international discussion on how to best promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.

All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing. Today’s landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The United States will continue to stand up for human rights wherever there is inequality and we will seek more commitments from countries to join this important resolution.

My $0.02: It would help if America’s domestic leaders would stand up for the human rights of people here at home, too. Just sayin’.

Also from the fact sheet the State Department put out on “U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council’s 17th Session,” (the session concluded Friday):

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

The United States continues to join UN members to call attention to violence against women and girls around the world and improve international efforts to eliminate and prevent that violence. The United States strongly supported a Canadian-led resolution addressing Violence Against Women, took part in annual day discussion on addressing sexual violence against women in conflict, and responded to the report of Violence Against Women Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo on the United States.

My $0.02: The fact sheet also has bullet points on the LGBT resolution, internet freedom, business and human rights, and country-specific resolutions. As usual Saudi Arabia is absent from the list.

We’re about halfway-through, so if you’re not bored yet, click to read the rest: Continue reading

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Remembering Griswold and Anne Royall

1920's Japanese advert for tea suitable for pregnant and nursing women. Apparently it was also good for colds!

Morning news junkies… here are my picks from the week to go with your Saturday morning cuppa. Enjoy.

(the Anne Royall stuff is at the end!)

Women’s Rights

I loved this headline from RH Reality Check’s Andrea Grimes, so I’ll start off with it — “The Pill Kills” Protesters Unwittingly Help Hundreds of North Texans Get Contraception. Last Saturday, about a 100 American Life League (ALL) activists gathered outside a Dallas Planned Parenthood to protest birth control pills for “killing” marriage, babies, and women, using all kinds of lame canards, including feigning concern for women’s health of all things (see the link for details, it’s just too laughable to repeat.) In turn, Planned Parenthood of North Texas asked supporters to donate money for every control freak that showed up to ALL’s protest. More than 600 women will get free pills thanks to the anti-choicers going right off the cliff with their neverending campaign against women, which I’m convinced is the oligarchy’s “gateway drug” to controlling the rest of the 99 percenters. What a way to honor the anniversary of Griswold, too.

Via the American Prospect… Reading between the Rights:

Nearly 50 years after Griswold v. Connecticut, conservatives think the Constitution protects your privacy.

This week marks the 46th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court reproductive-rights case Griswold v. Connecticut […] Despite the permanent entrenchment of the right to privacy in American constitutionalism, the reproductive rights that Griswold helped to expand are now under siege. Protecting the reproductive rights of American women, in particular, will require determined action in all branches of federal and state government. Progressives should begin by defending the rights announced in Griswold unapologetically. The Court was right 45 years ago, and the rights it articulated in that case are worth preserving.

Taylor Marsh has a great piece up on this as well that she crossposted over at The Moderate Voice under the title “Thank the Gods for Griswold v. Connecticut“:

That Speaker Pelosi, the first female speaker in U.S. history, and Pres. Obama helped Democrats like Rep. Stupak marginalize women’s freedoms in the health care bill was breaking faith with women who helped elect these officials. When Obama doubled down to take funding away from the women of Washington, D.C. he made matters worse.

To teach Democrats a lesson, putting a Republican in the White House would simply hurt more women. However, the economics of the times, which hits women very hard, has taken our eyes off reproductive health care to the economy. The sad truth is we’re not getting equal attention from either big party who’ll be hawking their policies for 2012 and promising the moon.

Don’t believe Obama or the Republican nominee.

Precisely. I know I won’t.

Stem Cell & Heart Research

Next up… Encouraging news, via Reuters… Scientists show heart can repair itself, with help. The BBC has some good coverage as well:

You can read James Gallagher’s report on the breakthrough here, but the research raises the astonishing prospect that we might, one day, teach the human heart to repair itself. A new golden age of regenerative medicine now seems tantalisingly close.

From the British Heart Foundation, which is responsible for the research:

Our Associate Medical Director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, said:

“To repair a damaged heart is one of the holy grails of heart research. This groundbreaking study shows that adult hearts contain cells that, given the right stimulus, can mobilise and turn into new heart cells that might repair a damaged heart. The team have identified the crucial signals needed to make this happen.”

Also in related stem cell heart research news: Cytori Reports Sustained Benefits at 18 Months in Cardiac Cell Therapy Heart Attack Trial (press release, via Reuters).

2012/Politics Reads

I found this next one interesting, even if it has no impact on anything… LA Times: Democrat Michael Dukakis, who didn’t get to be president, wishes the same for GOP’s Mitt Romney. Here’s what Dukakis said on CNN when Eliot Spitzer asked him if there was anyone amongst the GOP slate he could respect:

DUKAKIS: Yes, John Huntsman. I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t want him to be the president, I want the current president to be re-elected, but I have a lot of respect for Huntsman.

I’m really not sure why he wants a “Democratic” president who won’t fight for jobs to be re-elected, other than it’s the politically correct thing for a Democratic partisan to say of course, but speaking of Huntsman… According to a Politico report on his “no-names strategy,” Huntsman and Obama have an agreement not to attack each other personally by name, at least for now.

If Huntsman were to end up putting his hat in for 2012, I wonder how long he could actually last the GOP primary cycle without referring overtly to the incumbent President. Especially in the debates.

In other 2012 developments: The bad news about Newt’s campaign falling apart is that it’s giving the “Rick Perry for president” peanut gallery more to yap about. All I can say is if Goodhair runs in 2012… eesh, that’s too scary to even contemplate. If you’re looking for a short horror story to read this morning, look no further than the Wapo’s piece on Perry weighing a candidacy this go-around, which came out before the Perry people abandoned the sinking Gingrich ship:

Perry has been a virtual crusader against what he calls an increasingly intrusive federal government and a defender of the states to run their own affairs.

The legislative priorities in Texas as of late have been forced sonograms, guns on campus, tax breaks for yachts, etc. The Austin Chronicle has called what just transpired in our legislature the Worst. Session. Ever. Not a state government record to be bragging about, and far from fighting governmental intrusion considering Perry’s declaration of an “emergency” priority for anti-abortion legislation. Keep in mind, too, that Perry is the guy trying to pray the national debt and natural disasters away and elevating hate groups to carry out such nonsense…

Perry‘s Day of Fundie Bullshit

From the UT Austin schoolpaper — Perry’s proclamation draws national attention, incites criticism from non-Christians:

Gov. Rick Perry is attracting national attention after organizing “The Response: A Day of Prayer and Fasting” to deal with a nation “in crisis.”

The daylong “non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting” scheduled for Aug. 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston is modeled after a ritual in the biblical Book of Joel, according to a press release. The American Family Association will cover the costs of the event, a move that has raised alarm from the Secular Coalition of America.

Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition of America, said the civil rights firm Southern Poverty Law Center designated the American Family Association as a hate group in 2010.

“It is sad to see a governor pandering to the most extreme and hateful fundamentalist groups,” Faircloth said.

Earlier this week, Joyce Arnold did an excellent news diary about Perry’s prayer lunacy, as well.

Normally I try to ignore stupid religionist pet tricks of this nature, because there’s always that fine line to walk in terms of making them more important than they are by paying them any attention, but I’ve really had it with this endless Christian Nation crap and their perpetual state of hate this time. It’s too much, and Perry’s involvement in all of this just stinks to high heaven. He should run for President of the American Taliban already, but then maybe that’s what running for POTUS is these days… Anyhow, the long and short of this being, I’m almost tempted to attend the August 6th protest and bring others with me if I can work it out:

Anybody that values the separation of Church and State is welcome to join — non-theists, non-Christian, secular Christians. Please be aware that we are NOT trying to convert or mock anybody’s religion,” the event’s page said.

Happy Pride

All LGBT voters and supporters, and all liberal constituencies of the Democratic party really, need to read Joyce’s post from last Saturday, “A Measure of Pride,” in honor of Pride month:

A photo on the “Winning the Future” LGBT website was taken on June 17, 2009, when Obama signed an executive order increasing benefits for Federal employees with same-gender partners. When I saved it for possible use, I noticed how it was tagged on the website: “lgbt hero image.” That, apparently, is how the O campaign is measuring their pride in accomplishments for Queerdom, at “hero” heights.

I tend to measure accomplishments, and pride in accomplishments, by way of employment non-discrimination protection; housing protection; marriage equality; the end of DADT discharges while the repeal process plays out; prosecution of hate crimes; LGBT kids free to go to proms, protected from bullying … things like that. And more often than not, those I most admire and appreciate are the people – usually at the non-Insider level – who spend years and decades working to make such things happen. These people are the real heroes, the real standard for the measure of pride in being and living as who they are.

Don’t forget Joyce’s Queer Talk later today. I never miss it, and neither should you! (That link should update with her latest post up top whenever it goes up.)

How Did America Get Here

Over at foreignpolicy.com, Steve Walt has food for thought up on what’s ailing our political system and how we got here, which FP is previewing on its frontpage as “Fiddling with Weiners While Washington Burns”:

If we were facing an imminent threat of invasion, we’d be looking for our Lincolns, Marshalls, Roosevelts, and Eisenhowers, and we wouldn’t be wasting our time with the Palin circus, which is nothing more than a “reality TV” version of real politics. Back when another Great Depression was looming in 2009, you actually saw the political system work, precisely because even head-in-the-sand politicos dimly understood that we were in Big Trouble and needed to do something. But once that immediate crisis was over, it was back to gridlock and grandstanding as usual.

That’s because the crisis wasn’t over. The head “politico” himself just bailed out the big banks and told the American people to “sacrifice.”

It’s too bad Walt tags his post only with “Bush’s legacy.” Obama has been given enough time to “change Washington,” and one of the reasons the Palin reality show circus continues is precisely because Obama is not a Lincoln or a Roosevelt. Most of America was looking for a leader to come in and fix the mess Bush made. When there isn’t any meaningful alternative to the corporate welfare agenda facilitated by both the D and R parties, that’s all the more oxygen in the room left for Palin and her tribe, as well as Bachmann and hers, to suck up.

Don’t get me wrong. Palin and Bachmann would make horrible presidents. But, it’s weird to mention one of them in a post about where it all went wrong that says absolutely *nothing* directly about the sitting president of the United States or his personal contribution to this mess.

Well enough about the guys and gals who are failing us on the domestic stage. Yup, that’s a cue up for my reads on you-know-who.

Hillaryland

Hillary and Huma: June 9, 2011, Abu Dhabi

John Kerry ’04 blogger Pamela Leavy over at the Democratic Daily had this to say on the rumor that Hillary is in talks to take over World Bank and subsequent pushback from Foggy Bottom and the White House:

There has never been a woman in charge of the World Bank. Maybe it’s time and who better than Hillary Clinton. Of course, it’s a story that wasn’t, so the speculation is just that. Speculation.

Leavey also noted this on the Kerry-to-succeed-Hillary angle:

Kerry of course would make a phenomenal Secretary of State, but his staff has always squelched those rumors as well.

I don’t know whether Hillary is angling for the World Bank spot or not, but Kerry’s been angling for that SecState spot for what seems like forever now.

Via Jezebel, on Merkel’s photo to Hillary:

Presumably Merkel is trying to own the fact that a large daily in her country thought it was so interesting that two middle-aged women in public life might dress alike, or be shaped alike, or whatever.

But two can play this game. Look, it’s Obama and David Cameron! Except for that pesky American flag, they’re twins. Uncanny.

Heh.

Alright, I’ve got some more links.

Here’s Hillary…

…laughing her heart out with Merkel at the luncheon where Merkel gifted Hillary the photo.

…attending the wedding of Andrea Catsimatidis And Christopher Nixon Cox last weekend.

…in more pictures of her looking elegant in Abu Dhabi. Click to see Still4Hill’s slideshow. (Reuters has more pics just of Huma Abedin smiling at the airport. Huma is an incredible woman.)

…wheeling down in Zambia yesterday. Stacy’s got some great photos up at the link.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looks over products made by members of the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday, June 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

…speaking informally to the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program:

Business is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end, to be able to educate children, to be able to have a better home, to be able to provide healthcare, to build economies and create more opportunities. And you are living examples of that.

…the action hero, via CNN political ticker…

(CNN) – Powerful. Popular. Able to leap between campaign battles and diplomatic landmines in a single pantsuit.

The latest modern day comic book hero is none other than Hillary Clinton, who is being profiled in a new political comic, “Political Power: Hillary Clinton.”

FULL STORY

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wraps herself with chitenge material after she was presented with it by members of the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday, June 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from Ethiopia, By Eskinder Nega. I love these open letters to Madame Secretary from around the world (last week it was from women in Saudia Arabia)–it seems like a whole new avenue for political expression has been opened up! There’s just something “extra” in letters to Hillary that I can’t remember seeing in letters to other US officials in recent history–a sense of dialogue with someone these activists and journalists actually respect. Read the two I’ve linked to and see for yourself. A tiny snippet from Nega’s letter:

The story of Hilary Rodham Clinton is stirring, to say the least. I would be hard pressed to class it amongst conventional rags to riches narratives. While not classically rich, your father, Hugh Rodham, was neither a pauper in any sense of the word. I think the chronicle of your phenomenal rise to fame and prominence rather stands for the ideal absent in far too many countries, but not in the US: the early recognition of merit, its cultivation, and ultimate reward.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton claps as she is sung to by members of the African Women's Entrepreneurship Program at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday, June 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool)

That blurb may make you think it’s all a love letter to Hillary, and there is a huge serving of that in there, so all you Hillaristas out there need to click over if you haven’t already. The crux of Nega’s argument though is about imploring Secretary Clinton and the US not to make the same policy slip-up in Ethiopia that was made in Egypt:

The word on the street, unfairly I believe, is that Hilary favors old, violent autocrats over young, peaceful democrats. This would have had dire consequences for America’s already precarious reputation if not for the personal popularity of President Obama.

What’s funny is if you read through, the entire thing reads like Hillary’s the one who can change anything and Obama’s the one who’s just there to smile and look nice.

Today in Women’s History (June 11)

Anne Royall

1769: Anne Royall, Godmother of Muckraking, was born. From the link, which was published on Alternet right after the 2010 midterms (and was a reworking of an earlier post on Royall’s birthday in 2008):

She would have skewered the rising Tea Party phenomenon with her take-no-prisoners wit.

She would have lectured President Obama and his floundering Democrats for their electoral train wreck.

More importantly: Just as she did on the heels of the 1836 elections, with another speculative banking and economy crisis readying to explode and lead to our country to its first bonafide great depression, Anne Royall would have admonished our nation’s journalists and bloggers to expose the corruptive influence of money in politics.

In many respects, Anne Royall was our nation’s first blogger–the godmother of muckrakers whose wicked and insightful newspaper in the 1830s in Washington, DC serves as a compelling story of her pioneering role for contemporary women journalists, commentators and writers like Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow, Amy Goodman. Molly Ivins, Laura Flanders, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Maureen Dowd.

Somehow I’m having a hard time imagining Anne Royall writing the “Your Tweetin’ Heartcolumn that Maureen Dowd just wrote.

Well that’s it for me… what’s on your blogger’s plate this morning?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Rihanna, MAC, and Hillary (Fighting Sexual Violence)

Vintage cafe postcard, circa 1920

Note: I got the postcard above from here, which
seems to have originated from a site that’s now defunct,
but there’s another (slightly grainier) scan on flickr.

Morning, news junkies. You know the drill. Grab a cuppa something (like the French Flappers are doing to the right) and read on…

(Oh and if you were one of the 18 million who voted for Hillary, don’t miss today’s historical trivia at the end!)

Rihanna’s “Man Down”: What Do You Think?

Here’s a link to the youtube if you haven’t seen the video yet, and also be sure to check out Rihanna firing back at her critics.

I’ll say upfront as a general disclaimer that I’m a firm believer in nonviolence (cases of self-defense being the obvious exception). Nonetheless, I find it disturbing that comparatively speaking Rihanna has caught more flack, judgment, and reproach— for depicting a character whose constant lyrical refrains pointedly ask how could she take the life of somebody’s son, even though that “somebody’s son” has just sexually assaulted her– as opposed to Eminem, who rose to fame largely on the popularity of songs where he fantasizes about brutally killing his wife for infidelity. Of course Eminem’s songs always draw controversy too, but that has only ever seemed to fuel his star power. In Rihanna’s case, a female enterainment reporter has written a post on Huffpo declaring Rihanna the falling star of the week. At any rate, I don’t think Rihanna’s video or lyrics are even saying that violence is the answer (which is what her critics are charging), but I’ll let you judge for yourself and have at it in the comments. The other angle to this I’d like to put out there for discussion is that Rihanna’s character in the video embraces the sensual human being she is rather than covering it up in a burka (as the Crunk Feminist Collective discusses at the link.)

Hillaryland

Click to Go Viva Glam!

Continuing on the theme of confronting the problem of violence against women… On Thursday, Madame Secretary announced A New Public-Private Partnership With the MAC AIDS Fund to Combat Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. Here is a link to the Mac Aids Fund website.

Ahead of the live stream of Hillary’s remarks on the state.gov site, MTV Act’s Caroline Walker previewed Hillary’s announcement — Hillary Clinton Goes Viva Glam, Teams Up With M•A•C AIDS Fund:

Since 1994, the M•A•C AIDS Fund has been raising money to combat AIDS and its large scale effects, both domestically and abroad. Let’s think for a moment where the world’s sociocultural temperature fell around perceptions of the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS in the early ’90s: not so informed, not so solution-focused. M•A•C truly did and continues to trailblaze by crushing stigma and engaging consumers.

Celebrities–including inaugural ambassador RuPaul–have been lining up for 26 years to endorse Viva Glam lipsticks, products that have raised $200+ million by putting 100 of sale proceeds toward the foundation. Lady Gaga’s shade is the latest installment, officially described as “light, warm beige,” best visualized as matching her condom-inspired flesh-toned Latex power suit of ’10. Safe sex is all the rage.

But back to Hillary. In a fierce effort to connect the public and private sector in global solutions to combating AIDS, the U.S. government is joining forces with the M•A•C AIDS Fund to provide much needed money and support to victims of rape, sexual violence and infection in South Africa. In addition to the expected health care and educational services, the partnership will empower these women to stand strong by providing psychological counseling and legal services as recourse for assault.

Walker ends her post on a lighthearted note: “If Hill shows up in the original ‘intense brownish-blue red (matte)’ Viva Glam I, she’s getting my vote for any and all future endeavors.”

I’m not sure what shade of lipstick Hillary was wearing, but for what it’s worth, she WAS wearing an intensely brown jacket that is reminiscent of the design she and Amy Poehler wore on SNL. Not exactly the same jacket though as far as I can tell.

You can see the video of Hill’s announcement for yourself–lipstick, foreign policy, pantsuit and all–at Dipnote. From the transcript:

The partnership we are announcing today is part of that wide-ranging approach, because when a woman is raped or if she cannot negotiate with her partner for safe sex, she risks being exposed to HIV. We cannot stop the epidemic of HIV unless we also address the epidemic of violence against women.

I’m going to tie in a couple items specifically about AIDS awareness in a moment, but a few more Hillary links first:

(Slideshow via Cooliris, h/t Still4Hill.)

(This is the kind of response we need to the war on women on the domestic stage here in the US.)

AIDS Anniversary

Sunday marks 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported. Since then, H.I.V. science has been translated into prevention and treatment breakthroughs, one of the greatest being the antiretroviral treatment that has ensured that millions of H.I.V.-positive people can lead healthy lives.

[…]

A cure will require funding commitments, strong community engagement, rigorous and innovative scientific endeavor and, above all, further collaborative multidisciplinary science with a better connection between basic and clinical research — in short, all the same ingredients that got us where we are today with the global antiretroviral treatment.

Thirty years is a long time and yes, we still do not have a cure. But if we do not seriously start looking for one, now that the science is telling us that perhaps we should be, do we want to be here in another 30 years regretting that we did not try?

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and president-elect of the International AIDS Society. With Luc Montagnier, she was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of H.I.V.

HIV Infections Dropped 25 Percent in Last Decade…But the health gains are unevenly distributed and fall short of international targets.

Wapo’s Monica Hesse: Listen up, fellas: Naked man-parts? Not so sexy.

Not the best segue way from discussing AIDS awareness and research, but I just had to include this. It’s in reference to all the crotch shots that have been in the news in recent years. Teaser:

We polled some women. Really, they would like to see . . .

“I would like a photo of a made bed,” says Kathryn Roberts, who works at a law firm in Washington. “I would take rose petals, but I want them on top of a made bed.” And not that fake kind of made, either, where the comforter is smooth but the sheets are a jumbled mess.

“Or laundry,” adds her friend Andrea Neurohr.

“Folded laundry,” elaborates Roberts. “Maybe in a wicker basket.”

Preferably laundry not folded by the maid he had a love child with.

That “wicker basket” add-on is a hoot.

Incidentally, on the topic of what men can do to seduce women, I saw a classic King of Queens rerun the other day–the episode where Kevin James shows Leah Remini how to pole dance. I’m embedding it here for anyone who could use the extra laugh today.

The Identity Politics of This Season’s Top Chef Masters

If Bravo bores the daylights out of you, then just skip this… but what did I tell you the other week? They’ve totally made it obvious that their season 3 gimmick/hook is whether or not a woman will finally win. So after a crazy science fair episode where the chefs were cooking with beakers and bunsen burners and serving their food in petri dishes, we’re down to the last four: Traci, Naomi, and Mary Sue–three strong female contestants who have all racked up wins in the quickfire and elimination rounds–and Floyd, who god love him ’cause he’s Indian and he can pull off serving Buffalo burger with paneer. But, he hasn’t won any quickfire yet–and the only elimination round he’s won is the buffalo and paneer. Then again last season’s winner didn’t start racking up wins until the penultimate episode either… so who knows. Either way, whether it’s a girl chef or a Desi chef who wins, Bravo managed to cover both my demographics this time, Lol. I’m really pulling for all the girls, though, especially Traci.

Alice Paul sewing the suffrage flag.

June 4-7 in History

“I always feel … the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”

Alice Stokes Paul, suffragist; U.S. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919 (ratified on August 18, 1920).

Shirley Chisholm, 1972

“I am a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I make that statement proudly, in the full knowledge that, as a black person and as a female person, I do not have a chance of actually gaining that office in this election year. I make that statement seriously, knowing that my candidacy itself can change the face and future of American politics — that it will be important to the needs and hopes of every one of you — even though, in the conventional sense, I will not win.”

— Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, June 4, 1972.

Hillary wins New Hampshire

“You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the President of the United States. And that is truly remarkable.”

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, June 7, 2008

The real deal ran in 2008, but the Democrats passed up on her, so if it’s a tea partier who happens to put her one little stone in this time, the thanks for that can be laid just as much at the DNC’s doorstep as it can be at the RNC’s.

Besides, the Ds and/or Rs will have to put a woman at the top of one of their tickets before I’ll believe they’re capable.

And if you’re already tired of the Palin bus-to-nowhere, here’s a contrast from the other side: Roseanne Barr’s double campaign for President of the United States/Prime Minister of Israel. Her “Green Tea Party” platform is a wild, albeit hyperbolic, glimpse into what a populist left corollary to the tea party would like if there was a national figure who they could rally around right now. Then again, if it’s going to be an equal and opposite reaction to the lunatic right, it needs to be hyperbolic. Obligatory disclaimer: Roseanne runs her mouth with no filter on her as usual, so you know…filter out the stuff that works as brilliant social satire and/or commentary, and for the parts that don’t…just use brain bleach as needed! I skipped most of the “re-education camp” paragraphs, but I did smile at her “people-ism” hybrid of socialism and capitalism and the “Change the demographics of government” section. Those two were keepers.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about this Saturday?

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve blogged about…

  • What do you think of that Rihanna video? Hit or Miss?
  • Will we ever find a cure to AIDS?
  • Will a woman run in 2012?
  • What’s the “folded laundry in a wicker basket” scenario that you’d rather see?
  • And, most importantly of course, who is going to win Top Chef Masters?

P.S. Just saw on yahoo that Pink gave birth to a baby girl! Isn’t that sweet? Pink is one female pop artist of my generation who just ROCKS, plain and simple. Raising my glass to Pink and little Willow Sage Hart.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

Religiousity- Part 2… Little Isis’s Mom

Initially, when I decided to interview a believer so that I would get both sides of the story, I was going to interview John Smart. Partly out of laziness, and partly out of consideration, I decided to interview my mom instead. She is a salt of the Earth, Pentecostal, Flag waving Holy Roller. After concluding the interview, I feel that some of my brain cells have evaporated. Nonetheless, a peak into the mind of a true holy roller reveals no surprises.

Scientifically and logically, there is no evidence of God, and no historical evidence of many events of the Bible- including possibly the existence of Jesus Christ. So what makes you a believer?

Faith.

But is faith alone enough? And why?

Yes, because God is our creator.

But what evidence do you have that God is our creator, particularly the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible?

The sunrise, the thunderstorms, the human body. Miracles.

But how does all that tie unto a male, authoritarian God, especially since the story of Genesis would make the Earth about 5,ooo years old, when that is obviously not so?

Um, God’s time is not the same as our time.

How do you know that?

Cuz it says so in the Bible.

So you believe the Bible to be the 100% truth.

Yes.

What about passages where it says to murder disobedient children? That women can’t go to church on their periods? Or, what about the passage that says you cannot suffer me, your most precious and favored child, to live because I’m a witch?

*Sigh. For the period and being unclean, that was the law of the old testament. The New Testament doesn’t use all the laws and regulations the old testament did.

What about not suffering me to live?

Well, you’re my daughter and you will live.

Lucky me. So what you’re saying is you can pick and choose what passages in the Bible you follow and what ones you don’t have to?

Well in the case of there being a scripture that says to kill witches… I’ll talk to my Pastor about it.

Oh, to be such a blessed daughter as me. But getting back to my original question… if you believe the Bible to be completely true, why do you get to ignore some passages and beat non-believers over the head with others?

Well… Christ…. came to free us from the power of the law.

But Christ never said anything about homosexuality and abortion, and you and your friends treat those as big issues.

Abortion is murder.

Thats debatable mom, but what did Jesus say about abortion? And homosexuality?

I think the homosexuality is in the old testament.

But you say its wrong to be homosexual, even though Christ apparently freed us from the law.

Well, its in the old testament… I have to look up the verses.

I can see that I’m getting nowhere with this. You do realize you’re contradicting yourself?

Uh huh.

And thats fine with you?

Um… out of scripture, one person might get one thing and one person might get another, led by the Holy Spirit.

Describe the Holy Spirit to me. How do you know it exists?

Uh, the Holy Spririt is the third part of the trinity. The father, the son, the Holy Spirit, they are one.

Yes, we know. But how do you know it exists?

Because its written in the Bible.

But going back to my original question. There is no way to prove the Bible’s accuracy, since its been translated and retranslated, over forty books are missing and many events contradict themselves. How can you use the Bible as an absolute truth when there are these issues?

Well, the Bible is the word made flesh. Jesus Christ is the word.

*Sigh. Okay, lets change topics. You believe in the rapture, right mommy?

Mmmm hmmm.

What about the guy who said it would happen on the 21st? When do you think it will happen?

There will be wars and rumors of wars… there’s no way of knowing. Only God knows.

What about athiests? Do you dislike them?

No.

Do you believe its possible to be moral without being a Christian?

Yes.

Do you think that some faithful believers who act like hypocrites ruin it for the rest of you?

No.

Why not?

Because thats just one man’s opinion.

*Blink Blink. Yeah, so anyway. My final thoughts: obviously, blind faith is contradictory and will lead to your eventual madness. I hear tell that many Christians find their faith strengthened after doubt. But does Tamerlane make a point? Are moderate Christians hypocrites?

My mother, a “true” believer who looks to the Bible as the 100% truth, freely admitted her beliefs are illogical and contradictory, and literally did not bat an eyelash. She clings to her lack of logic and rationality, and in this way makes her somewhat immune to the criticism that Tamerlane accuses our fellow bloggers of.

But for a moderate believer, what to do? The jury is out on that one, and its really none of my business. I regard the Bible as more of a literary text and am bothered by its misogyny, racism, homophobia, and genocide, as I’m sure many Christians are. Since I’m not a Christian, I’m not in it, to be frank.

But I will leave with this thought. A few days ago, someone very important to me went into the hospital and this is someone in my life who has battled chronic illness and has all ready been through Hell. I could feel this person giving up hope… and so I sat cross legged- I do not fall to my knees, because the Gods I believe in do not demand my servitude and groveling- and I prayed for my loved one. This person is fine now, and so the point I am trying to make, I suppose, is that love is irrational, as irrational as belief in the most bizzare Gods.

Actually, I’m not really sure what point I’m making. You see, all of this is very irrational.

But getting back to my point before I made that final point, faith is not rational. And so, decisions involving rational things like government policy and finances, as that poor slob on John Smart’s show who got rid of all of his assets in preparation for the rapture now undoubtedly knows, should not be made on faith or even perhaps in some cases even love- just ask Anakin Skywalker, who swore himself to the dark side and dissolved the Republic in an effort to save Padme Amidala, his beloved wife.

Darth Vader- Shoulda Been More Rational

Or ask you’re average 21 year old girl from the projects with a seven year old son. Sure, she was probably in love with her baby daddy during those ten minutes in the back seat of his cigarette stained Ford Focus, but that isn’t making him pay her child support.

But to make my final point which is my real final point and finalizes the final point I made earlier- my suggestion to Moderate Christians who struggle with doubt is this: Follow your heart, and then keep it to yourself.

Religiousity – Part 1

Here at Liberal Rapture, we take pride in being controversial to the point of obnoxiousness. Things are just so much more exciting that way, and its not just at LR that I take this banner and run with it. At my school newspaper, I also make a point of being obnoxiously contrary in my section of the publication. But I digress.

We all (unfortunately) know about the holy roller who predicted the end of the world on May 21st… and was predictably wrong. John Smart
interviewed one of Camping’s followers for his radio show and instantly regretted it- who wouldn’t? After listening to clowns like Camping one has to go out and play with puppies and kittens and look at rainbows, and then slowly remove their mind condom after the mind raping they have just endured.

What was most interesting was the aftermath- my PIC Tamerlane made a comment that caused an uproar on the thread after the show. He pointed out to several believers on John’s thread that they worshiped the same Zombie God Camping does, and thus by default must also believe in the eventual rapture of the faithful up into heaven.

All of you know that as a Wiccan I take personal pride in being one of the Judeo-Christian God’s unwanted, bastard children. So I feel that I am, for the most part, able to play Devil’s Advocate for both Athiest and Believer alike. We Pagans are easygoing folk when it comes to the beliefs of others, so long as they’re not shoved down our throats. Some of my fellow Pagan friends have noted that Athiests can occasionally be as obnoxious as Evangelical Christians who threaten us with Hellfire and Brimstone as they pass flyers to us on the street, but I’ve not seen any evidence of this in Tamerlane.

So I decided to interview him and get his side of the story, admittedly two weeks after the blow up on John’s show, but this isn’t an issue that is going to go away, and besides, I’ve been in and out of the hospital since. I have been having gastro intestinal problems and had to get colonoscopies and so on, but I digress.

Q: So recently you got in a tiff with some commenters at John Smart’s website over a remark you made about Christians worshiping a Zombie God. Here at Liberal Rapture we enjoy making people angry by frequently delving into controversial topics. What made you post that?

A: I wanted to call out hypocrisy. People were cracking rapture jokes and labeling the rapture guy’s views “bizarre”, “crazy”, “a death cult”. Yet most christians take great umbrage when their own beliefs are questioned. So I intentionally and impishly chose a reference that generaly uspets christians– “zombie jesus”. And not surprisingly, a lot of christians got their hackles up.

And they were quick to distance their particular beliefs from the radio guest’s.

But, from where I’m standing, /all/ christianity is bizarre.

I mean at face value, christianity sounds like a Wes Craven flic. This demigod uses his magical powers to raise corpses from the dead who are already very stinky. Then he’s tortured to death. A few days later, he crawls out of his own grave to visit his friends. (In one version, all the dead corpses come out of their tombs and wander into town.) He still has the nail holes in his hands, and invites one of his friends to stick his hand into the gash in his side. He hides out in secret for a month with his friends, performing tricks like making flames dance on their heads, before flying up to heaven on a cloud.

His followers honor his memory by wearing a miniature of the torture device he died on, and once a week they practice ritual cannibalism by pretending to eat his body and drink his blood. The largest sect even believes they’re eating his actual flesh. They all await the day when he’ll come back and raise their rotting corpses from the ground, too.

Q: So as an atheist, would you say that Religious Faith by nature causes suffering? If you point out the inquisition to some believers they’ll fire back with Stalin, who was supposedly an Atheist. What do you say to that?

A: Stalin and the Inquistion don’t cancel each other out. Both believers and non-believers do both good things and bad things. The difference is, believers usually do bad things because of their religious beliefs. Stalin didn’t do things in the name of atheism, he did them because he was a sick fuck.

As for suffering, I do feel that the net happiness of the world would be raised if everyone were atheist. Sure, faith can afford some comfort, but it’s a dead end. Plus there’s so much guilt and fear — and, ironically, doubt. I know someone who’s a devout christian and is going through a painful divorce. They prayed a lot, asking God what to do, but got no answer. This person is also very angry at God — ‘I’ve always been a good christian, so why are you punishing me like this?’

The best answer christians have to that is their supposedly omnipotent, omni-benevolent deity has to hurt us in the short run to do us good. The simplest answer, of course, is that there is no God doing those things; it’s just random. There are other outlooks on life that add more meaning without the suffering.

Q: A lot of Christians don’t take the Bible at face value and say that it’s okay to believe in Jesus without believing that Adam and Eve rode Dinosaurs and that women aren’t allowed to have sex until they’re married, and I think it was those types of believers you got in trouble with on John’s thread. What would your response be to those believers?

A: Where do you draw the line? Without Adam & Eve, there’s no need for Jesus to absolve Original Sin. If you reject some admonitions in the bible, why obey others, and on what grounds? These are highly intelligent people, who are rational except when it comes to this one subject. Why is it forbidden for me to call them out on that?

Many practising christians sound more deist than theist. Yet they cling (yes) to formal theistic religions & rituals out of habit, tradition, or because those rituals and the community are comforting. At least the Universalist-Unitarians are honest about it — ‘we’re kinda uncertain about god’ they admit, ‘but we really enjoy all the ceremonies!’

How many catholics taking communion understand the transubstantiation of the host? It seems to me unwise for people to conduct their lives based on this guy, Jesus, who they have not properly vetted. The more scrutiny you apply to the Jesus narrative — not just the miracles — the more you realize he cannot have been an historical figure. At best, Jesus is a composite of several figures.

Q: Have you ever read any Richard Dawkins? I’m not an atheist but I quite enjoyed The God Delusion.

A: Dawkins is one of my favorite science authors. His descriptions of how random genetic mutations selected by environment accrete to produce evolution are accessible to lay readers, and prove that no “Intelligent Design” is required. Because of his writings, the idea of the gene as the unit of selection (as opposed to individuals or species) is now standard.

The God Delusion tackled religious beliefs, but I still found it more pro-science than anti-religion. I honestly don’t know what about Dawkins upsets believers so, other than: 1) he argues that Science makes religious belief unnecessary; 2) he dares call faith irrational, and; 3) he encourages atheists to stop hiding their views.

For believers who are willing to listen to a less-controversial (& actually Deist) case for Science over faith, E.O. Wilson’s Consilience is a must-read.

Q: But getting back on topic. I got a “B” in Human Genetics, Reproduction and Development this semester. Science by nature is different than faith because the point of it is to prove a hypothesis. But don’t we, as humans, take a lot of things on faith? For example, in Pet Cemetery the Protagonist explains to his young daughter that we have no evidence that the chair in our living room won’t be stolen while we’re sleeping. We take it on faith that it will be there when we wake up even though we have no evidence that it will be. Don’t we, as people, need faith?

A: That conflates “faith” with “confidence.” Faith is defined as belief in something despite lack of evidence, or even in the face of contrary evidence. Not only is faith encouraged & rewarded by religion, it’s required. That leads to bad judgement, wishful thinking, all around. Just look — half of Americans believe in angels, but less than half believe that global warming is man-made.

Confidence in science is based on science’s proven ability to accurately predict and explain things. Not only do we have evidence for the chair not disappearing (no chairs have ever disappeared), we also have a very detailed model — physics — explaining why chairs don’t disappear. And if we’re contemplating a theft of the chair, then we can have confidence in our alarm system, be confident in the low probability of getting robbed tonight, and confident that a burglar would steal our jewelry and not our chair. Unless we’re in the movie The Twelve Chairs. LOL.

Q: What about bad science? Like Eugenics?

A: Eugenics is bad ethics. We selectively breed plants & animals all the time using good science — genetics. We make an ethical choice not to breed humans that way.

The US medical industry is another example of bad ethics, but also sloppy science. Most social sciences (sic), economics especially, are just folk truisms cloaked in the trappings of scientific nomenclature.

People like to point out how often scientists get things wrong. But they’re never completely wrong; they’re always in the ballpark, and always gradually hone in on the precise truth. That’s because Science is self-correcting, and encourages questioning. In just 400 years, the modern scientific method has figured out just about everything. Religion tries to explain everything, too. But it’s gotten every single thing terribly wrong, and has no way of correcting itself.

 Q: Do you believe that we should always question everything?

A: I’m not so sure about that. LOL.

Yes, of course, but approaching things with skepticism is not the same as always denying or rejecting. In science, ideas go through stages — from Postulate, to Hypothesis, to Theory, to Law. Each stage has a distinct level of confidence, from tentative to near certain, based on the evidence accumulated, the completeness of the explanation, how it dovetails with other things we know, and on its predictive power. Evolution is so robust now it should be called a Law.

When people want to believe in something irrational they resist inquiry. Like deities. Or chiropracty for my GF. When I try to point out how it’s pseudoscience, she says, ‘I know, I know. But I don’t want to know, OK?’

 Q: You said that Fundamentalist Christians at least have some consistency on their argument, since they base their beliefs on the Bible being the 100% truth, and that if you believe in the concept of original sin and Jesus dying on the cross for those sins then you must believe in the rapture. What about what FembotsforObama said? That “Yes, Christians theoretically all believe in the Bible and hence it can be deduced logically believe in the Rapture. But, the way that belief is applied varies greatly. More sane Christians look at the New Testament and see the Old Testament as more historical.”

A: Does that makes Jews “insane” for believing in the OT?

The NT is filled with some outrageous & bizarre shit, too. Just one example: Jesus teleports 1000 demons out of this dude into a herd of pigs, and those demon pigs run headlong down a hill into the sea and drown.

Now, a “sane” christian may toss out some of these miracles. Jefferson tossed them all out and was left with an inspiring, secular story about a wise man! But even a “sane” christian still wants Jesus to be divine, so they must retain at least a couple of miracles. But they have no solid rule whatsoever for drawing the line between believable and ridiculous.

The only logical line is either to accept all the miracles, or reject all. Thus is the fundamentalists’ position entirely logical. The assumptions are false, but the logic itself is pristine. I find any middle positions arbitrary and dishonest.

As Hume put it, “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.”

Indeed. Of course, I can’t say much against Christians who believe that Jesus transferred 100 demons into pigs (The poor pigs! ANIMAL ABUSE! CALL THE ASPCA ON JESUS!) seeing as how I believe in fairies. However, Pagans pride themselves on the fact that our beliefs are basically compatible with science. String theory, quantum physics and Gaia theory all correlate nicely with our views of everything being connected and magick coming from natural energies that we use for positive change. Tamerlane poo-pooed to me about the Gaia hypothesis being the imaginations of LSD induced hippies (HEY! What’s wrong with LSD? Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it!) and said that my babblings about string theory and quantum physics were too generalized, but that is just because he’s jealous of my witchiness and of my availability of skyclad (nekkid) covens.

Part 2 will contain an interview with a believer, and not just any believer- a believer of the same lunatic ilk of Harold Campings, a believer who just recently put her hand on my burning, aching stomach and screamed “by the stripes of Christ, you are healed!” A believer who anointed my black cat with holy oil. And that believer… is my mom.