Thursday, February 25, 2010

With a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for "pew"

So, I'm wandering through in internet, like I do, and came across a news story. It seems that a man in Southhaven, Mississippi was going to court to plead "not guilty" to a disorderly conduct charge, and he noticed that the court pews were formerly from a church, with big ol' crosses carved in them. And, being an agnostic, he felt that this was a violation of the separation of church and state.

Now, reading through the story, I actually felt that the man, Carrol Roberson, was overreacting a little. Then I reached the end of the story.

So I did a quick google search, and discovered that the city of Southaven has a "contact us" page, and I thought I'd give it a try.

They say that the'll respond within 24 hours. We'll see how that works out.

(Update, 36 hours later: They lied.)
__________

Dear Mayor Davis,

I happened to read about your current fight with Carrol Roberson, and felt that I should point something out. He's the guy who filed a brief stating that the religious decorations on the former church pews was a violation of the separation between church and state.

Now, I'll admit, I can see your side. Reading the story, I see that the pews came from a closed-down church that the city purchased to convert to a community center. You had the pews, the courtroom needed them; it all seems reasonable so far.

In fact, as you said yourself, "We moved them to the courthouse when we were renovating as a cost-saving measure. We've had them for more than seven years and this is the first complaint we've had about them."

Well, the thing is, now you do have a complaint. And, really, as the city administrator, you are actually supposed to address these complaints, right?

At first reading, Mr Roberson's statement might be a bit over the top. "I didn't want to be judged in a courtroom representing a specific religion. I felt they may be biased against me because I'm not part of the group. I don't want to be found guilty in a prejudiced courtroom."

But then again, Mississippi is known to be in what we sometimes refer to as the Bible Belt, isn't it? So maybe he's felt a certain amount of pressure on him for not fitting in. Let's grant him that, shall we?

The community, for the most part, hasn't really noticed the crosses, judging by the comments. Which is fine. And as you pointed out, "I don't think we're sitting up here saying you have to be Baptist,or you have to be Methodist. Or Episcopalian. Or Catholic. Or Jewish."

True enough. Of course, it would be polite, I guess, to ignore the fact that what you just said was essentially "We're not trying to convert people to Judaism by showing them a cross." Kind of goes without saying, doesn't it?

OK, so, to recap. Pews in the courtroom. Didn't cost the city a cent (at least, nothing that they hadn't already paid). Nobody's complained, until now.

See, you were in the right, up to that point. You had a position you could justify: in a recession, this guy wants us to spend money we can't afford. But then you had to go and open your mouth one more time.

You said, "I welcome the challenge. Maybe it's time the religious right stands up to the liberal left and says enough is enough. Where do you stop? Where's the common sense? I'm not taking them out."

Now, do you see where, by saying that, you just gave weight to Mr Roberson's argument? What he was saying boiled down to "My values don't match the community norm, and I feel like I'm going to be discriminated against."

And then you had to go and say "We're keeping the religious symbols in the courtroom," and you turned it into a fight between the Religious Right and the Scourge of Liberalism. You came down firmly on the side of the Right, and changed the focus of the problem. You justified his complaint.

You may be trying to be fiscally responsible, but you were politically irresponsible.

Now, if I were you, if I wanted to be (like I said) fiscally responsible, it might be best to get Maintenance down there with a power sander, and either sand them out or fill them in. Or cut them out and round off the corners - I'm really not sure how the pews are carved. But even if you hire out the work to a local handyman, it will cost the city less than the lawsuit that you've just won for Mr Roberson.

At least, that's the way I see it. Is there some detail I'm missing here?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Your Daily Dose of Heresy

There’s a series of questions which I’ve always found useful. It’s fascinating how often people don’t think about those little things that they believe.

“First of all, do you believe in Hell? Do you believe in an actual place where sinners are tormented for eternity?”

If that answer is “yes,” we can then move on to “Do you believe that God is an all-powerful, all-knowing being who created the universe and everything in it? Who sees the smallest sparrow fall, and knows everything – what has happened and what will happen?”

At that point, you need to point out that God is a sadist, who keeps a torture chamber in his basement just for kicks.

See, if this God person knows what will happen, then, first of all, “free will” is an illusion. He’s stacked the deck, because He knows exactly how you’re going to choose.

That being said, He chose to make you (since God, we have established, made us all) as a sinner, destined to go to Hell. He, in fact, made you that way. Brought you into existence in order that you would be tormented for all eternity.

So apparently God likes torture. In fact, He makes people for the sole purpose of being tortured.

And you want to pray to this Guy?

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm gay? Shouldn't I have more fashion sense?

So I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday. Only he apparently doesn't exist, so maybe it was the voices in my head... OK, let me just start again.

Kim June and I ride the same bus to work (although I get off first). His parents are from Korea, immigrated here when he was a baby. Nice enough guy, for a figment of my imagination (damned solid figment, now that I think about it...), but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I usually read on the bus, but I keep a notebook in my bag, and I've been known to write various random things in it - I'll compose parts of blog entries, for example. This one, in fact, I started on the ride to work.

Kim asked what I was writing a few weeks ago, and that was when he started reading my blog. (OK, admittedly, not right then - he waited until he was at a computer...) Which is probably where he learned about my fascinating relationship with Eric Graff.

Earlier this week, he told me that I needed to go to the accurately-titled Pathetically Incorrect, because they were talking about me again. I suggested that they did that a lot there, because Eric, after all, has that stalkerish man-crush on me. But, like a fool, I glanced over there, to find Eric and his boyfriend Slammy practically drooling as they described, for some reason, their joint fantasy of my wife using a strap-on on me.

(By the way, that's called pegging - you should never imagine that there's a kink that doesn't have a web-page devoted to it...)

They went into great detail about this scenario - really, very specific detail, making me wonder which of them (or both) was typing one-handed.

According to Eric, you see, because I don't believe in discriminating based on gender preference, I must therefore be homosexual. Or, as he put it, "If you say gay is ok, then you are gay. You support the lifestyle, the sin, the debauchery and the act. You're gay."

So there it is. Apparently, I'm gay. Who knew? But Eric says so, and he can't be wrong, can he?

He also says Kim doesn't exist: "I checked his profile at the time and he had 3 hits and had just been made." (It would be petty of me to point out that Kim made his own profile after I asked him to stop posting anonymously on Eric's perverse little stomping ground, In fact, you could say that it would be especially petty, since Kim doesn't see any downside to not existing.)

(I've got a downside for you, Kim. Not only has Eric proclaimed you an Imaginary-American, but you're apparently my sockpuppet. Don't feel too bad, though. It wasn't so long ago that he would accuse anybody he didn't recognize of being another guy named Diogenes. It's the way his paranoid little mind works.)

But apparently, in Eric's sad, poisonous little world, trying not to discriminate against people is a mortal sin. Or as he put it,
If I spoke like you did, my wife would be gone in an instant.
Wow. Really? Your wife doesn't love you? She wouldn't stand by you "in sickness and in health, all the days of (her) life, until death do you part"? How sad is that?

At least I've got that going for me. I may be an unrepentant sinner, but my wife loves me.
I just tried to read his diatribe on Ann Coulter. He calls her insane, bulimic, anorexic, and that’s all I could stand.
Weird. You couldn't make it through the whole thing? But I didn't call her "anorexic" until the end. I mean, yeah, I went for bulimia in the first few paragraphs, but... you know, Eric, I don't think you're really as honest about these things as you'd like to claim...
You can’t “wrap your head around” my ideas Bill because it’s stuck behind you.
What are you trying to say here, Eric? No, no, stay here in front of me, where I can keep an eye on you. I don't know what you're planning on doing back there, but you're the one fantasizing about guys getting pegged...
We all are astonished at... your penchant for calling God a liar
Tsk, tsk, Eric. Now you're just making things up. See, for me to call "God" a liar, I'd have to admit the possibility that this "God" person exists. But here's the funny part, Eric. I've always said, openly and honestly, that I'm agnostic. I don't know what the truth is, and I'm a big enough man to admit that.

But your stupid crap here makes me wonder; because if you are the shining example of Christianity, how wrong is the whole religion?

Or, to put it another way, because of your input, I'm pretty sure that, even if there was such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, any religion that manages to attract this many small-minded, ignorant people can't have been based on His works - you know, that whole "love thy neighbor" thing.

In fact, I can safely say that people like you, Eric, are exactly the types I wouldn't want to spend eternity with. You know, the shallow, small-minded, unthinking types, who can't even spell "ridiculous." Meaning, you know, that it's a little ridiculous for you to use it in a sentence, isn't it? Like here:
Then you make up this “Kim” thing which is just so transparent its ridicules... You no longer are relivant
Whoa. Homeschool helped you, didn't it? Here's the best part, though.
Did anyone here happen to read my words stating these were "MY OPINION" and not judging him?
OK, Eric, I'll go over this slowly for you.

opinion: (n) a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty

See, Eric, an "opinion" may be (and, in this case, is) blind, idiotic and completely, arrogantly ignorant, but it's still you, forming a judgment. I mean, I understand that since your native language is Pigfucker, English is a struggle for you, but you don't get to change the meanings of words on a whim like that.

But let's just take a look at your non-judgemental comments.
I can’t get through one paragraph of his stuff without wondering why I came in the first place...

...Such narcissistic twaddle is without equal in the blogesphere.

...This from a guy a rhino wouldn’t gore for fear of hitting an already used orifice. I just thank God he’s not contagious...

...We all are astonished at your feckless posts, lousy language and your penchant for calling God a liar...
Weird. You keep saying that. Where, Eric? Where (other than this sentence right here) have I ever said "God is a liar"? People lie. Bad translators lie (at least by default). But God?

I swear I've covered this already... But enough of my speculation. Back to you not being judgemental.
...you choose a lifestyle that puts a stench in God’s nostrils, not to mention the nausea in my gut...

...Your pathetic little blog where decent is forbidden... you make up this “Kim” thing which is just so transparent its ridicules
(Yeah, I used that one already. But you know they've got dictionaries for less than the price of a Happy Meal, right?)
..you’re an elitist...
Now, now, Eric. I'm not an elitist. I'm just smarter than you. And there's no way I could get a swelled head over that - I mean, I realize just how low that bar is set.

See the difference? "Elitist" vs. "smart enough to tie my shoes." It's a subtle difference. Think about it for a while - maybe you'll figure it out. (Doubtful, but still...)
...You have no tolerance for truth when you’re wrong, and ...when you are never wrong, you can never be right...

...You no longer are relivant because you’re arguments are too weak...
(No, really. A dictionary, an English class... something! Dude, you're killing me...)
...Your words disgust me...

...I know what God has in store for your variety...

...you’re not the pedigree God would choose to have in heaven...

...you are stench in God’s nostrils and, according to His Word, he wants no part of that nature or ilk in His Kingdom...
You're absolutely right. There's no judging going on here. Not from you. God knows you can't be wrong...

Oh, yeah, by the way.
I need a Bill-break. Can’t go there too often, my face melts.
Huh, weird. I don't recall inviting you. You know, you could... oh, I don't know... not visit the site!

It's weird. I don't recall inviting you. I don't allow your responses (mostly because I don't feel like feeding your obsession). You aren't the target audience. You don't have to come here, Eric. But you do.

Apparently, like I said, you're fixated on me. You're obsessed. Maybe I should take it as a compliment, but, to be honest, it's a little creepy.

See, Eric, if I'm as gay as you've decided that I am, and you keep coming to see me, then I have to suspect that, somewhere deep in those dark parts of your soul, you want to suck my cock.

Sorry, dude. Not gonna happen. Go away, Eric. Even if I were gay, I wouldn't have sex with you.

You're a small-minded, evil, unpleasant person, and I don't see why your wife stays with you. I guarantee that, thanks to the twisted tutelage you're giving him, your son is going to grow up, do drugs, and find a man who really loves him. (He might even call him "Daddy," just out of spite.)

Move on, Eric. Find somebody so completely clueless (or so easily led) that they actually want your counsel. I would suggest a cocker spaniel. Or perhaps Sarah Palin.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update: Ann Coulter is still insane

So, if you happen to go wandering through Townhall.com (and if you do, I strongly suggest taking a shower immediately), you'll note that Ann Coulter is continuing to regurgitate the rantings of the voices only she can hear. (Technically, this could be considered an offshoot of her continuing problem with bulimia, but that is a completely different subject, and one that we'll deal with another time.)

Ahmadinejad: 'Yep, I'm Nuclear!'

The only man causing President Obama more headaches than Joe Biden these days is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, coincidentally, was right after Biden on Obama's short-list for V.P.).
See? That's funny because it reminds you of the easily-disproven GOP canard that Obama is a Muslim!
Despite Obama's personal magnetism, the Iranian president persists in moving like gangbusters to build nuclear weapons, leading to Ahmadinejad's announcement last week that Iran is now a "nuclear state."
Interesting how somebody with no personal magnetism at all seems jealous of somebody who is remarkably charismatic (despite having ears the make him look like a taxi backing down the road with its doors open). Let's be honest. Conservatives listen to her because she fits their divisive profile, and because she makes sarcastic jokes. Oh, and because they think she's pretty, despite her Adam's Apple and ridiculous man-hands.

Fascinating how our anti-gay contingent is attracted to somebody who could easily be a pre-operative transsexual.
Gee, that's weird -- because I remember being told in December 2007 that all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded that Iran had ceased nuclear weapons development as of 2003.
OK, so let's see how she works around the fact that this was during the Bush administration. I'll just bet she has some clever way of tying it to liberals. What do you think?
At the time of that leak, many of us recalled that the U.S. has the worst intelligence-gathering operations in the world. The Czechs, the French, the Italians -- even the Iraqis (who were trained by the Soviets) -- all have better intelligence.
Now, our girl Annie has this on-again-off-again relationship with the CIA. She loves them part of the time, and then comes up with some lame 9/11 crack and hates them again.
Burkina Faso has better intelligence -- and their director of intelligence is a witch doctor.
Get it? Burkina Faso is in Africa, so they have witch doctors! Funny stuff! And not racist as all!
The marketing division of Wal-Mart has more reliable intel than the U.S. government does.
OK, she's got a point there. But then again, the US government doesn't often really care about the price of knock-off dress shirts produced in Pacific island sweatshops.
After Watergate, the off-the-charts left-wing Congress gleefully set about dismantling this nation's intelligence operations on the theory that Watergate never would have happened if only there had been no CIA.
See? I told you she could do it.
Ron Dellums, a typical Democrat of the time, who -- amazingly -- was a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, famously declared in 1975: "We should totally dismantle every intelligence agency in this country piece by piece, brick by brick, nail by nail."

And so they did.
Yup. Took them completely apart. And it's amazing how, in 2005, the tattered remnants of the CIA alone still consumed a budget of $44 billion. Imagine how much money they'd eat up if they hadn't been dismantled!
So now, our "spies" are prohibited from spying. The only job of a CIA officer these days is to read foreign newspapers and leak classified information to The New York Times. It's like a secret society of newspaper readers. The reason no one at the CIA saw 9/11 coming was that there wasn't anything about it in the Islamabad Post.
Huh. Look at that. August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing, entitled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." You're right, Annie. They had no clue. Of course they didn't.
(On the plus side, at least we haven't had another break-in at the Watergate.)
But, to be honest, the Watergate Complex is a relatively low-crime area, unless you count all the politicians in the neighborhood.
CIA agents can't spy because that might require them to break laws in foreign countries.
Wow. You're serious? So the 23 agents who can never go back to Italy, or any country with an extradition treaty with Italy, were acting on their own when they kidnapped a man off the streets of Milan? Do you ever listen to this crap you spew? Iran/Contra? Downing a missionary plane thinking it was carrying a drug shipment? For that matter, smuggling their own drugs?
They are perfectly willing to break U.S. laws to leak to The New York Times, but not in order to acquire valuable intelligence.
Aw, Annie. Be honest. That isn't the only reason, is it? Do you really believe that? Why do you hate America?
So it was curious that after months of warnings from the Bush administration in 2007 that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was leaked, concluding that Iran had ceased its nuclear weapons program years earlier.
OK, Annie. While I realize that you are a habitual liar, it's vaguely possible that you don't have any idea about how thist stuff works. I mean, you could easily learn about it with only a few minutes of research, but I understand that a lot of your time is spent sacrificing chickens to the altar of Ronald Reagan. Let me help you out.

Iran is now a "nuclear state," in that they have functioning nuclear reactors. The thing is, nuclear reactors can use low-enriched uranium as fuel. In order to create nuclear weapons, the Iranians would have to produce a much more highly enriched fuel.

Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a signatory state has the right to enrich uranium to be used as fuel for nuclear power. They just have to allow inspection by the IAEA. Iran is allowing that inspection.

But I guess these little details are a little too technical for you, huh?
Republicans outside of the administration went ballistic over the suspicious timing and content of the Iran-Is-Peachy report.
Although, to be honest, the basic GOP strategy now is to go ballistic over everything, up to and including stubbing their toe on the curb.
Even The New York Times, of all places, ran a column by two outside experts on Iran's nuclear programs that ridiculed the NIE's conclusion.
Yeah, about that - Annie, I know that you, along with most of the GOP, have been saying that the mainstream media is liberal. But just because no self-respecting newspaper carries your column any more, that really doesn't make them "liberal." It just means that they want to carry columns that tell the truth, say, one time in ten.
Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control and Valerie Lincy of Iranwatch.org cited Iran's operation of 3,000 gas centrifuges at its plant at Natanz, as well as a heavy-water reactor being built at Arak, neither of which had any peaceful energy purpose. (If only there were something plentiful in Iran that could be used for energy!)
Now, Gary Milhollin used to publish Iraqwatch, which was dedicated to "tracking weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." How'd that work out for him?

And you know what Gary is doing now? He's publishing IranWatch (an "online clearinghouse for articles about Iran"). So you're quoting him, and Valerie Lincy, the editor of IranWatch. Are you noticing a pattern here?

You're quoting the same pubication twice. As if it's two separate groups. You see where that might be a problem?

Oh, sorry. I forgot that you're a lying blond troll.
Weirdly, our intelligence agencies missed those nuclear operations. They were too busy reading an article in the Tehran Tattler, "Iran Now Loves Israel."
Ooh! Zing! Funny stuff. Now, I'll admit that somebody should monitor Iran's use of nuclear materials. There could be some concern there. But you know what? Somebody is. And it will relieve you to know that the "somebody" who's monitoring them is the United Nations. Which is made up of all those other countries with better intel than we have.

Oh, and by the way, I know you're aware, but Iran has offered several times to not just comply with the UN's nuclear inspectors, but they've offered to implement restriction even stricter than what the UN requires.

See, when you take something that might just be a minor concern, and start getting all red-faced and shouty about it, you begin to look like a bit of a cock. (And after all, you're trying to get that bit of a cock removed, aren't you?)

I mean, what, exactly, is your point here? Are you trying to suggest that we should invade Iran? When we can't even afford the two wars that your favorite president got us into?

Now, you'll excuse me if I skip a little bit here, because you just get all red-faced and spittle-covered trying to smear the "liberal media" in your usual hyperbolic way.
Feb. 11, 2010: Ahmadinejad announces that Iran is now a nuclear power.
Yeah, he also said that the use of nuclear weapons is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Now, I wonder why you're ignoring that part of his remarks?

You have to pick a side, Annie. Either he's a liar, or you're wrong. And since we know that you'll never admit to being wrong, then you'll probably have to admit that Amadinajad is known to lie most of the time. You know, kind of like you.
Thanks, liberals!
Well, Annie, on behalf of liberals everywhere, let me just say, you're welcome. Oh, and fuck you, you anorexic transexual lying skidmark on the underwear of journalism. Feel free to throw yourself under a bus; that's about the only way you could possibly make the world a better place.

Oh, yes. And don't forget to take your meds. You're starting to lose it again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bible doesn't condemn gays. Live with it.

So, I seem to be arguing with professors now. This ought to be exciting.

See, I joined Facebook some time back, because I have children, and that's one of the ways they communicate. (Sorry, Nicole, I'm still not going to follow you on Twitter.)

Now, I mostly use this as a kind of gaming platform. To be honest, I've all but given up on everything but Treasure Madness, which has a bunch of puzzles I enjoy. Once every few days, I might check back on my accounts in some of the other games, but a lot of them are starting to seem like adventures in accounting, so I'm mostly letting them taper off.

But Facebook is, at its black little heart, a social networking site - a hub where people who never leave their apartments can pretend to be interacting with other people. And it has any number of Fan Pages, Causes, Events and other little sites centered around everything from "Gun Control" to "I bet I can find 1,000,000 who HATE Miley Cyrus by 10/10/10."

(Yes, it's there, and as of this writing, it has 583,320 fans. There's also "Don't Worry, If We All Die In 2012, Miley Cyrus Goes With Us," which has 416,709 fans. Which seems like a lot of negative energy to spend on some random pop tart, but go figure.)

I get a lot of page invitations and the like, and I mostly ignore them. But the other night, I got an invitation to join 1 Million Strong For Same-Sex Marriage Throughout The Entire United States. And it was late, I was tired, I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, and, you know, solidarity, brother. So I went there.

I quickly noticed that, although there were a lot of supportive messages under "Reviews," there were also things like some genetic defective named Vince Aguilar writing "DIE GAYS DIE" (punctuation - fail; capitalization - fail; general attitude - fail. Interestingly, he also gave the site a 5-star review. Mixed messages, Vince? Repression is an ugly thing...)

And, as always, somebody mentioning that the bible condemns homosexuality. So, just because it seemed like the right thing to do, I added the following comment: "Sorry, folks, but the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality. People who mistranslate the Bible condemn homosexuality." I added this link. And I went on my merry way, unaware of the horrors to come.

About an hour or so later, as I'm thinking that maybe it was time for bed, I get that little red pop-up that tells me I've got a message. So, being a fool, I opened it up. It's from some guy I never heard of, saying:
Read Romans 1, I Cor 6:9, Jude, Leviticus and any number of other passages- note: even when Jesus referred to "adultry" Matt. 19, the Gk. translation for that word is "pornea" which means sexual/any sexual offense outside marriage and, given his reference to the Law/Moses, it was also clear, per his mention of Man and Wife, that marriage was contextualized as sacred between only a man and woman. There are plenty of passages, as pointed out, that mitigate against and even condemn homosexuality and none that ever validate homosexual union or activity either civil or religious or in any context within. Yet, there are plenty that offer consequenes for such behavior. Unfortunately, there are many people who would like to excercise a revisionist view of scripture and force their values into a set of texts that hold no place or context for them. You may not like it. I may not like it. But, that's beside the point. You don't have to live by biblical principles or accept what it says as applying to you - you are welcome to run a stop sign, too! But a stop sign in any language still translates STOP - what you decide to do with does not change what it says. Having said that, I concur with Billy Graham who said "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge, and my job to love."
Big-assed blocky paragraph, just dripping with moral superiority. So I responded.
Let's look at "homosexuality as sin." The primary sources for this belief are the two mistranslated verses from Leviticus, 18:22 ("Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.") and 20:13 (same as before, plus "we should kill them").

If you go back to the source material, in Ancient Hebrew, you'll find that the verb used for "mankind" is shakab, and the one used for "womankind" is mishkab. And shakab, in its sexual sense, is used when you are talking about forcible sex (such as, say, rape), or any sex against the will of the victim.

For example, shakab is also the word used in Genesis 34:2, when Shechem defiles Hamor the Hivite; and in 2 Samuel 13:14 - "...but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her." And in Isaiah 13:16 - "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." It's even used in Exodus 22:19, "Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death."

There are references to consensual sex in the Bible, but none of them, if you look at the source material (before the translation errors crept in) use the word shakab. So the correct translation of the passages from Leviticus is an exhortation against homosexual rape: "Thou shalt not force sexual congress on a man, as (or instead of) with a woman."

Personally, I prefer the Word of God over the Mistranslation of God. Simply because you happen to disapprove of homosexuality, you shouldn't push your own prejudices as the teachings of the Lord.

"But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9).
(That might look vaguely familiar to my two long-time readers - hey, it's not like I haven't had this argument before.) But he wrote me back.

(A warning: you thought that last one was a big-assed, blocky paragraph? This one is ridiculous. And he's trying his hardest to bludgeon me to death with the weight of his verbiage. I recommend scanning until you reach the next paragraph break - you'll be fine, and you won't waste that ten-to-fifteen minutes of your life - depending on your reading speed, of course - trying to puzzle out what he's saying. Here's the short form - "I'm a very smart man. I don't agree with you. The way I was taught the Bible is the only way that it can be. Anything else is heresy. Oh, and I used to be gay, until I fell in love with Jesus.")
Dear Bill,
Let’s look at the reality of authentic bibliology and historicity. I am not certain of where you received your theological training in either Hebrew or hermeneutics, but your statements are in error due to your faulty translations and applications of the texts, since the gender forms you cite are in reference to gender case with regard to nouns/pronouns, not verbs, and only in address and delivery, not as qualification for non-violent sexual impropriety, otherwise we could posit the notion that unforced sex with our siblings (of any gender) is acceptable to God (and, in fact, could treat Abram and Sarai as an argument in favor of such a notion). But the gender case of nouns is evident in even many modern languages as well the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, Latin Vulgate, Koine Gk., and the most ancient Codexs of the scriptures, and this is done, as it is here, in order to denote gender specific references, not to militate against violence but against sin or transgression. The "source material," about which you seem (unintentionally, I hope) to double speak, can be found in both the Septuagint and even the more generous modern renderings of the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible and to concur with the fidelity of the most ancient, available renderings in the reproduced codexs of the Hebrew. The more recent liberal, deconstructionist and revisionist renderings are attempts at imposing synthetic contrivances in translation upon centuries old sets of texts, indeed, upon the entirety of faithful biblical textual renderings and, also, an attempt to bypass the full consensus of valid, blood-bought confidence of many centuries of both Eastern and Western scholarship which have produced legitimate translations of the Bible. The only errors in to have crept into more recent biblical interpretation, are those manufactured by modernistic retranslations of scripture, such as that which you present here, and which are very laughable attempts at an agenda-based corruption of the fidelity of texts which have stood the test of time, translation and interpretation, without yielding to cultural mandates or special interests. Even the most rudimentary study of bibliogy would give you the translations, actual timelines, availability of extant text materials (and just as important, the lack of original texts), and show you how the Bible was rendered in a multiplicity of languages dating from 3500 years ago in oral tradition, right up to the present day through written history and scholarly consensus. I invite you to take the time to study further. Again, because I came out of a lifestyle which included same sex relationships into my early adult years, I've a great deal of empathy for what it means to need to experience intimacy and to want to give and receive, love. But, I cannot change the facts and context of
history and biblical literature in a selfish endeavor to achieve what I desire at the cost of real truth. "Shakab" and "Mishkab" made that mistake in the Garden by attempting to force their will on God, too, and so we have suffered the marring of even our ability to be appropriately intimate with God or one another, apart from the reorientation of our will and nature by Jesus Christ. I, too, made the mistake of embracing and exercising faulty notions and emotions about what loving relationships were, and made some of the same mistakes in my later relationships with women as well, which is why I believe, again, that it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, the Father's job to judge, and my job to love. I pray you will find the love and intimacy that God truly desires for you as you strive to work out your salvation in Him.

Best Regards,
Jeff Avants, MA, English (Summa Cum Laude), Northern Arizona University; MA Theology, Fuller Theologcial Seminary; MA, Ministry, Simpson University; BA, Liberal Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
Which sounded like a challenge to me. So, I waded in; the following is my response. Let's see how he does.
___________________

Hi, Jeff.

I have to say at the outset that, although I find your arguments syllabically-rich (if a bit short on paragraph breaks), I don't find them particularly compelling. But, you know, I appreciate you including your CV; in my studies, I've had some experience in any number of languages. For example, there's a Latin phrase I've run across once or twice: "argumentum ad verecundiam." Are you familiar with it?

Editors note: that means "arguing from respect" - it's a logical fallacy, that just because he's got a few degrees behind his name, he must be correct. It's also called ipse dixit (Latin for "He Himself said it")

Now, we'll get back to what you refer to as "gender forms" in just a moment, since that is the weakest part of your argument. So pardon me if I skip around a bit (no double entendre intended, incidentally).

"not as qualification for non-violent sexual impropriety, otherwise we could posit the notion that unforced sex with our siblings (of any gender) is acceptable to God "

Well, that depends on whether you're taking one verse out of context, or applying it to the Bible as a whole. Since you brought it up, though, let's talk about incest for a moment.

The "Holiness Code" of Leviticus (chapter 18) elaborates in detail the relationships which it regards as incestuous, and two chapters later specifies punishments for specific incestuous unions. Oddly, the second list is much shorter than the first; some scholars regard these two lists as having originally been independent documents, which were bound together at a later point.

Deuteronomy gives an even simpler list of forbidden relationships - just your parent's daughter (including your sister), your father's wife (which, obviously, includes Mom) and your mother-in-law. These lists only mention relationships with female relatives, so unless you wish to extend this to lesbianism, this implies that the list is addressed to men.

One of the most glaring omissions of these lists is sex between a man and his own daughter. The Talmud argues that this is because the prohibition was obvious, especially given the proscription against a relationship with a granddaughter. However, wouldn't that qualify as "deconstructionist and revisionist renderings... attempts at imposing synthetic contrivances in translation upon centuries old sets of texts," which you seem opposed to?

I suppose it would only be polite at this point to ignore Abraham marrying his half-sister Sara (Genesis 20); or, buried in amongst the generations of the Chosen People in Genesis 11, we find that Nachor married Melcha, his niece; Lot laying with his daughters (or technically, his daughters laying with him) to preserve the family line; or Moses being the son of Amram and his aunt Jochabed; they were all very holy men, blessed by God. But not only would it be rude, but completely off the subject. So let's move on.

I note in your picture that you have two children. I assume that if one of them mouths off to you, you'll have them put to death? (Leviticus 20:9 - "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.") It's only fair to apply that equally to both your son and daughter, of course. Gender equality and all. (Or am I being deconstructionist and revisionist again?)

That also looks like a cotton-polyesther blend shirt you're wearing there. You need to avoid mixing your threads; better check out Leviticus 19:19. It's good that you have a beard, but it's trimmed, and your hair is just a little too short to be considered uncut (you'll find that in Leviticus 19:27).

I mean, after all, you're the one who doesn't want to impose "synthetic contrivances in translation." We've got to follow all the rules, not just the ones we like, right?

But let's get back to that pesky Hebrew issue of yours.

Only, just to make things interesting, let’s take two different words from another language, and replace them. What that means is, Leviticus 18:22 now reads, "Thou shalt not eat apples, as thou do oranges: it is abomination."

See, the ancient Hebrew word shakab doesn’t translate directly. And neither does mishkab, if you want to be totally honest about it. They are (let’s be real) two totally different words.

Now, there are three distinct versions of Hebrew in the Bible, usually called "Archaic Biblical Hebrew" (10th to 6th century - Exodus 15 through Judges 5), Biblical Hebrew (most of the Old Testament), and "Late Biblical Hebrew" (Ezra, Nehemiah - mostly the same as Biblical Hebrew, with a few adapted words from other cultures). There’s other forms - Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew (from about 300 BC through about 100 AD) and Mishnaic Hebrew (from about 100 AD through 300 or 400 AD) come to mind, but we’ll ignore them.

Each of these versions of ancient Hebrew only had a few thousand words. In comparison, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (pub. 1989) contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. This doesn’t count 10,000 sub-entries (derivative words), or medical and scientific terms, Latin words used in law and religion, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words used by martial artists and anime fans, or any slang or computer terms (like, say, iPod or email).

With that difference in the depth of the language, why would the Biblical writers use two different words for one thing? Why would you not eat apples, as you do oranges? Unless we were talking about two different acts.

If the Hebrew word shakab is used in the Old Testament to refer to the act of sex 53 times, and in 52 of those times, we’re talking a forcible act, what does that say? (And, to be honest, since the woman in ancient times was a piece of property, the single other instance could be a forcible sex act as well.)

If you'd like, I'll be happy to begin listing the specific uses of "shakab," all of which show it to be "rape" as opposed to "sex" (at least one of these examples involves animals, which breaks down your claim that "the gender forms you cite are in reference to gender case with regard to nouns/pronouns, not verbs, and only in address and delivery").

Perhaps you should worship the Word of God, not the Mistranslation of God.

Best regards,
Bill
________________________

Update - 2/21: Well, I gave him a week, and no answer. Oh, well.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Ballad of Reading Fail

The writer of World o'Crap turned his back for a minute, and I walked off with this...
You may remember RenewAmerica mainstay Bryan Fischer, who's been ranting about sodomites and Musselmen for far longer than this blog has been in business. But in today’s wingnut world, quality, craftsmanship, and experience don’t mean much, not when a hungry young up-and-coming crank like Tom Tancredo can publicly demand a return to literacy tests and the poll tax, forcing an established tradesman like Bryan to match the rhetorical mark-up by calling for the mass imprisonment of gay men and lesbians.

Or as Bill S. put it in a message, "Shorter Bryan Fischer: We could eliminate a whole bunch of pesky civil rights laws by simply putting the people they’re supposed to protect in prison."

Fortunately, this isn’t some wild eliminationist scheme pulled out of the pasty white, but pure and Adamic ass of some preacher in an Aryan Nations or Christian Identity compound in Idaho. No, according to his official bio:
Bryan Fischer is the director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at American Family Association, where he provides expertise on a range of public policy topics.
By "public policy topics" he means teh gayz! and by "expertise" he means "a willingness to fantasize on the internet about reviving Martin Sherman’s play Bent, but this time as a reality series."
Bryan has been married to his bride, Debbie, for 32 years
And as you can imagine, she’s dying to get out of that wedding dress.
...and they have lived in Idaho since 1980.
And how nice for Bryan that he got in on the ground floor of that whole "relocate to Idaho" movement that was so popular with certain white Christians in the 80s and 90s, since I imagine the fortified compounds were still reasonable.

I guess the only other biographical items we should note before going on is that Bryan is the host of an American Family Association-sponsored talk radio program for various down-market and low wattage AM stations, and he bears an eerie resemblance to Peter Graves in Airplane!

"Have you ever seen a grown man naked?"
Laws proscribing homosexual conduct can be found in the Middle Assyrian Law Codes dating back to 1075 BC. To my knowledge, the Middle Assyrians have never been part of the vast, right-wing conspiracy, which gives the lie to the myth that only blue-nosed prudes who believe in the Judeo-Christian tradition have ever found fault with sodomy.
Yes, the Assyrians of 3000 years ago were known for their leftist politics, and their surviving steles and tablets are littered with feminist boilerplate like “a man may strike his wife, pull her hair, her ear he may bruise or pierce. He commits no misdeed thereby.” Still, I’m a little confused; usually folks like Bryan insist that the Ten Commandments are the only body of laws we ought to heed, since they’re the basis for all Western jurisprudence; unfortunately, they don’t have anything to say about homosexuality, so the American Family Association is forced to bring in a ringer from the pagan league.

"Justice Pazuzu issues a well-argued dissent from the Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, and condemns you all to be devoured by locusts!"
Every state in the Union at the time of the Founding had laws which made homosexual behavior illegal. In fact, that noted icon of the left, Thomas Jefferson, wrote a law for the state of Virginia that mandated castration as punishment for two men apprehended for male-to-male friskiness.
By a strange coincidence, that’s the same punishment the Assyrian penal code called for in the 10th century B.C. We’ve come a long way, Baby.
Sodomy was a felony offense in all 50 states as recently as 1962, and was still a felony in the other 49 states ten years later.
Meanwhile, miscegenation was still outlawed in only 22 states, meaning that while blacks could marry white people in over half the country, they couldn't legally ass fuck them.
Still today, 12 states have sodomy statutes on the books, although our meek acquiescence to judicially activist rulings from the Supreme Court have rendered those unenforceable.
Sixteen states had anti-miscegenation laws on the books which were rendered unenforceable by Loving v. Virginia and your meek acquiescence. Just when are you going to get around to lynching the corpse of Earl Warren, anyway? People are beginning to talk.
By the way, it’s silly to criticize a law just because it’s old and antiquated. The First Amendment has been around for 219 years, and I don’t hear anybody saying we’ve got to get rid of it because it’s so out of date. The issue is not how old a law is but how right it is.
Very true, which is why we should seek guidance from the ancient Assyrians about modern abortion policy, too. Under the old law, if a man punched a married woman and caused her to lose her fetus, he was forced to pay "two talents of lead," but if a woman merely experienced a miscarriage, she was crucified and her corpse left out to picked at by vultures. And since, as we will shortly see, Bryan believes that any law that was once a law is still a law, there’s no reason we can’t immediately adopt the same common sense approach to social issues as practiced by our polytheistic, Bronze Age forefathers.
The fact remains, however, that in nearly 25% of the states in the Union, sodomy is still in the criminal code as illegal behavior.
And puppet shows and oral sex are illegal in Indiana, especially when you combine them. What’s your point?
This raises the question, then, as to whether sodomy laws should be, or legitimately have been, repealed just because they are rarely enforced.

The answer to this is a clear and unequivocal "No."
Hopefully Doghouse Riley can flush those marionettes before the cops break down his door.
Think for a moment of the current social controversies that could potentially be avoided if homosexual conduct was still against the law.
Exactly! Global climate change — well, no. But health care reform…Hm. What about the budget deficit? Financial sector bonuses? Clean energy? Mountaintop mining regulations? How about "shovel-ready stimulus?" C’mon, that sounds a little gay...
Gays in the military: problem solved. We shouldn't make a place for habitual felons in the armed forces.
Well, it’s a bit late, since 12% of new Army recruits in 2007 had criminal records (presumably for sodomy, since most young people have had oral sex, or gone parachuting with an unmarried woman on a Sunday). But while I’m not actually surprised that military life is so attractive to homosexuals — it certainly worked for the Macedonians and the Janissaries — I am wondering where, with so many gay men in the Army, the next generation of Catholic priests is going to come from.
End of discussion, end of controversy.
Except not everyone would agree with your assertion that simply because an overturned law remains on the books, it remains a law. Perhaps you could lead by example, and hunt down a few fugitive slaves.
If someone objects, ask them which other felonies the military ought to overlook in screening recruits.
Nowadays? Not many.
Gay marriage: problem solved. We should never legalize unions between any two people when the union is forged specifically to engage in felony behavior.
Dude, even before Lawrence, gay sex was only a misdemeanor. In Texas.

"Do you like movies about gladiators?"
Would we sanction, for instance, the formation of a corporation whose stated purpose was to import illegal drugs?
No, I’m pretty sure the CIA would object to the competition.
Gay indoctrination in the schools: problem solved. We don't want to raise a generation of schoolchildren to believe that felony behavior is perfectly appropriate. That’s why we spend so much money warning students about the danger of drugs.
But what do we do about those people who claim they were born drug users?

Q: When did you first suspect you were a heroin addict, Bobby?

A: Oh, I’ve known since I was five. I remember, whenever my mother would leave the house, I’d dress up in tie-dye and sing Janis Joplin songs into a hairbrush in front of the mirror.
Hate crimes laws: problem solved.
We just legalize hate!
We wouldn’t throw a pastor in jail for saying that illegal behavior is not only illegal but also immoral.
Although throwing him into a prison shower room full of gay men is not only fair but also funny.
For instance, he’s free to say that murder is not only contrary to man’s law but also to God’s law. End of the threat to freedom of religion and speech.
If we can just get him to shut up about the Negroes...
Special rights for homosexuals in the workplace: problem solved. No employer should be forced to hire admitted felons to work for him. End of the threat to freedom of religion and freedom of association in the marketplace.
I used to work for a English woman who was married to a Jamaican, but under your innovative theory of jurisprudence she wasn’t technically my boss, so I made all those photocopies for nothing!
This list could actually be extended...
I’m looking at you, Brown v. Board of Education...
The promos for the old movie "American Graffiti" asked the question, "Where were you in '62?"
I’m guessing your answer is, "under a conical hood."
If the same question were asked about the United States, we’d have to answer: in a much better, saner and healthier place when it comes to criminal sexual conduct.
"Joey... Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?"

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Jesus Christ, they're idiots!

There is something about religion that makes people stupid. I don't know why, either; I mean, it's the perfectly rational belief that there's a giant sky-fairy who knows everything, sees everything, and can do anything, and He created the universe and everything in it. But for some reason, He gets cranky and petty if you don't spend every waking hour telling Him what an awesome Guy He is. (Hey, nobody said that "omnipotent" and "mature" were synonyms, did they?)

And this "God" person lives in this wonderful place called Heaven, which we used to believe was above the clouds, but airplanes ruined that for us, so we aren't actually clear where Heaven is anymore.

You take this logical line of reasoning, and you make sure that people internalize it when they're young and not smart enough to spot any flaws (not that I'm saying that there are any, by the way). But for some reason, the people who believe all this have a tendency to completely lose their fucking minds. I just don't understand it.

Somebody recently aggregated a lot of information, and came up with a chart that shows that the more religious areas also have higher crime rates, poverty rates and murder rates. And stupider people. So I think I'll stay cheerfully non-religious, thank you very much.

That same chart also shows that if you're from a church-goin' community, you're also more likely to be conservative, unhappy and divorced - weird how all that stuff correlates, isn't it?

So, what do you think it does to them when religion is allowed to twist their tiny little minds for too long? Let's see.

You might have heard that they had a little shake-up in Haiti, right? Well, some Scientologists felt that, instead of food and water, what the Haitians needed the most was... well, Scientologists, who could diagnose their problems using e-meters, and then heal them with their magic touch. (In the words of one doctor, "I didn't know touching could heal gangrene.") Here's a firsthand report of their general quackery and ineptitude.

It's not just Scientologists, of course. Other people felt that, more than food or medical supplies, what they needed was solar powered talking Bibles.

And last week, we discovered that ten Baptists felt that God had told them to kidnap 33 Haitian children and take them out of the country. Now, this is a fine example of Christians thinking that they don't have to follow the "laws of man," which is just not a healthy attitude. They claim, of course, that they were just trying to give the children a better life, but we don't have a lot of evidence to support that. First of all, many of the children weren't orphans. And how do we know that our Baptist friends weren't just pedophiles or cult members? (OK, the "cult member" definition really fits pretty well, but that's neither here nor there.)
The Americans insist they were acting in good faith to try to rescue orphans from the chaos of Haiti and claim they had not realised they needed to official permission to remove the children, aged from two months to 12 years.
Oh, bullshit. "What? We aren't allowed to go into foreign countries and kidnap children? I mean, they're poor. And they're black. Doesn't that mean it's open season?"

These people are just too stupid to be allowed to breed. (Sadly, they do. And in huge numbers.)

But those aren't the only ignorant things getting done in the name of Jesus. For example, if you happen to be Russian Orthodox, you're much more likely than other faiths to believe things like "Jesus wants me to drink stagnant water."
The Holy Spirit, coming down upon the water, changes its natural properties. It becomes incorrupt, that is, it doe s not spoil, remains transparent and fresh for many years, receives the grace to heal illnesses, to drive away demons and every evil power, to preserve people and their dwellings from every danger, to sanctify various objects whether for church or home use.
Of course, the result of that particular belief is that, this year, 117 people in Irkutsk got sick after drinking holy water.

And our religious friends aren't likely to get any smarter, either, considering the number of books they try to ban. The Menifee Union School District in California, for instance, just recently banned the Merriam Webster dictionary because it contained the term "oral sex."

As one parent put it, "Pretty soon the only dictionary in the school library will be the Bert and Ernie dictionary." Until they find out that Bert and Ernie are two guys living together, that is...

Now, while the Christian Right seems to believe that you can pray the gay away through homosexuality aversion programs (you remember Ted Haggard, right?), they don't seem to be all that impressed by other types of counselling programs.

For example, the theocrats have come out in force against two bills that would put underaged prostitutes into diversion programs instead of sticking them in jail. They're making overblown claims like "Who will benefit from the passage of (these bills?) - the very profitable and growing pedophile industry!" and "Never in the United States... has juvenile prostitution been legalized!"

So jail is completely effective in turning criminals into honest citizens. Who knew? On the other hand, despite their high-falutin' words, they're opposing an effort which could get kids out of the sex trade. I think it's fascinating that the Religious Right seems to be in favor of continued child prostitution. Kind of puts a dirty little twist on Matthew 19:14, doesn't it? ("Suffer the little children, and let them come unto me...")

On that same subject, we have Bryan Fischer from the ever-entertaining Focus on the Family, who said:
It might be worth noting that what I actually suggested is that we impose the same sanctions on those who engage in homosexual behavior as we do on those who engage in intravenous drug abuse, since both pose the same kind of risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. I'd be curious to know what you think should be done with IV drug abusers, because whatever it is, I think the same response should be made to those who engage in homosexual behavior.
Because apparently, at least in Bryan Fischer's world, there's no difference between doing something that some self-righteous hypocrite disapproves of, and actually breaking the law.

Of course, if we were going to start arresting homosexuals, we'd have to start with Bryan Fischer, because he's kind of a stupid cocksucker himself.

By now, everybody's heard of Trijicon, the military contractor who has reportedly always inscribed references to bible verses on their gunsights. Because they apparently have no sense of irony.

Let's be real here for just a second. If you read the bible (and, admittedly, many so-called "christians" never do), one thing stands out about this Jesus person. He was not a big fan of violence. He abhorred it, even in self-defense.
Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. (Matthew 5:38-40)
Even the two swords mentioned in Luke 22:36-38 must be viewed as symbolic, since Jesus specifically commanded his apostles not to use them later in that same chapter (Luke 22:49-51).

So it's easy to see that anyone who counsels violence in the name of Christ (you know, like shooting a gun at another person) is either deluded, ignorant, or profoundly hypocritical.

But there are signs of hope out there. For example, Fred Phelps and the shrieking cranial-rectal inverts of the Westboro Baptist Church recently decided to picket the San Francisco offices of Twitter, because apparently God hates social networking. (Oh, and hockey, too.) But they were met with counter-protesters, who got more attention than they did. And for good reason.


(Click the pictures for larger, or see the originals here and here.)



Remember, children. When you're faced with this particular type of self-inflicted lunacy, the best response is "point and laugh." Keep that in mind.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Du hast



Spongebob does Rammstein. Life doesn't get much better.

The lyrics, in case you're curious, are:
Du
du hast
du hast mich
du hast mich gefragt
du hast mich gefragt, und ich hab nichts gesagt

Willst du bis der Tod euch scheidet
treu ihr sein für alle Tage

Nein

Willst du bis zum Tod, der scheide
sie lieben auch in schlechten Tagen

Nein
Which translates, in case your German isn't as good as it could be, to:
You
you have
you have me
you have asked me
you have asked me and I have said nothing

Do you want, until death separates you,
to be faithful to her for all days

No

Do you want, until death, which would separate,
to love her, even in bad days

No
There is some internet controversy, because the lyric Du hast ("you have") sounds as if he might be saying Du hasst ("you hate"). This is called a "double entendre," and even though that's a French phrase, the Germans have them too.

There's another double entendre here, too. If the line is read as Tod der Scheide it would be "until the death of the vagina" and not "until death, which would separate" (Tod, der scheide).

The whole song is a play on German wedding vows (Wollen Sie einander lieben und achten und die Treue halten bis dass der Tod euch scheidet? - "Do you want to love and respect each other and to remain faithful, until death seperates you?"). Instead of answering with Ja ("I do"), Till says Nein" (finally answering the question he said nothing to in the beginning).

(You've got to love the internet for this kind of trivia.)

This was the second single from their second album (Sehnsucht), and probably their best known, outside of Germany - it was featured in both The Matrix and Guitar Hero 5. It's one of very few German-language songs to be a hit in America (99 Luftballoons also came with an English translation and a really hot singer, and let's not even talk about Danke Schön).

Rammstein, interestingly, was formed in Berlin in 1994. (Well, I think it's interesting - Ramstein being an entirely different city in Germany.) They just released their new album, Liebe ist für Alle da, in October.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Teabagger Convention 2010

In an effort to pretend that the Teabaggers are a valid political force and not a wildly disparate gang of angry and aggressively ignorant pigfuckers and racists, somebody decided that they needed a convention (apparently, gathering in parks isn’t good enough for them any more). And a Tennessee lawyer named Judson Phillips, who specializes in getting reduced sentences for drunk drivers, took that idea and ran with it.

And so, tomorrow through Saturday (February 4 through 6), Nashville will once again be invaded by swarms of screaming sub-literates.

Now, this is nothing new for Nashville, which already suffers from an incurable infestation of country music fans. The difference is, these are rich sub-literates – they have to be, because tickets to the National Tea Party Convention (apparently now sold out) were $549; if you just wanted to eat a rubber-chicken meal while you listened to Sarah Palin give a rambling collection of talking points pretending to be a speech, that would only cost you $349 (plus room and board, of course).

Now, there was some question if Judson Phillips was the best choice as a convention organizer: but after all, he’s only gone bankrupt once, and the IRS apparently only plants liens on him every few years (three times so far). But despite his checkered history, the teabaggers trusted him enough to set up this convention as a "for-profit" event. Because they're fiscal conservatives.

(Know how you can spot the "fiscal conservative" in a crowd? They're the ones who think that spending between $350 and $600 dollars to hear an incoherent half-term governor and failed veep-candidate give a speech.)

Interestingly, there have only been a limited number of media passes given out, and only to those small outlets that have been deemed acceptable to the teabagger agenda. Oh, and to Fox "News". (Weird how that works, isn't it?)

Hey, let's be real. Transparency is overrated, isn't it?

There’s been plenty of controversy around this little shindig: former associates have backed out and told horror stories about Mr. Phillips, and popular wingnut blogger Erick Erickson of redstate.com said the whole thing sounded "scammy."
Let me be blunt: charging people $500.00 plus the costs of travel and lodging to go to a "National Tea Party Convention" run by a for profit group no one has ever heard of sounds as credible as an email from Nigeria promising me a million bucks if I fork over my bank account number.
Things sounded so bad that both Congresscritters who were slated to speak, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and the ever-entertaining Michelle Bachmann (R-Alpha Centauri) backed out, citing ethics concerns.

Now, first of all, this is the first clue that I’ve seen that Michelle Bachmann has any ethics whatsoever. She just claimed two days ago that if America gets healthcare reform, the government will deny healthcare to people who protest against it. And if a woman who is willing to say something like that (among many other completely batshit insane statements) doesn’t believe that the teabagger convention is completely ethical, that should raise a couple of warning flags.

(And, for the sake of clarity: if either one of these Congressional salivators really wanted to speak there, there would have been no problem if they'd simply refused the fee, would there?)

On the other hand, Sarah Palin is still going to talk. In fact, since she's technically the only major name still in the running, she's been named "keynote speaker."

A more cynical person than I might look at the $100,000 speaker's fee they paid her, and suggest that the Prada in those stores isn't going to buy itself. When in reality...

Well, honestly, there is no other reality, is there? How's that old joke go? "We already established that you're a whore. Now we're just negotiating about the price."

I guess it's to be expected when your "base" is a bunch of angry, paranoid losers, but Palin is already in trouble with the nutball crowd for her apparent "RINOization."

How do we know that the Quitta From Wasilla's fresh-faced shine has dulled slightly? Well, actually, I hinted at it up above. Tickets to the convention have sold out. Tickets to eat with the Teabagger Hive Queen? Still plenty available.

So this, along with the fact that she seems to have been the biggest purchaser of her own memoir, seems to be hurrying her along the "Where Is She Now?" path.

We can only hope, anyway.