Monday, May 30, 2005

Wheezus for President

I have a solution to the recruitment crisis the armed forces is facing, an idea of what to do with all those closed down military bases, a long-term plan for the snowflake babies, and a quick fix for the energy crisis. Plus I’ll create more jobs in the process. I think you’ll find my plan to be ingenious. Please save your applause for the end, so that I don’t get distracted by your overwhelming support.

So over here, we have the Republicans who love the war, as long as somebody else’s kid is fighting it, right? Well, that worked for a while, but Flint is a ghost town now, and we’re running out of lower-class patriots to send over to Iraq to get killed (though one less mouth to feed has been a blessing in disguise, to be sure).

And over HERE, we have thousands or millions or who really knows how many of frozen embryos, like so many kittens in a box abandoned at the corner of State and Misery, waiting to be adopted. And they are hogging a ridiculous amount of power, having to be all frozen in umpteen bazillion electricity-guzzling freezers all the time.

And also, we have women who aren’t allowed to fight on the front lines anymore, because that’s a man’s job. I don’t know about you, but that totally takes all the fun out of going to Iraq.

So. The military women can do an even more rewarding job. My plan [/al gore] is that we take those precious embryos, implant 8 or 9 of them into each of our female troops, in high hopes of multiple births. We can then unplug all those damn freezers, change all our gas guzzling SUVs to electric-powered vehicles, and save the environment—oooh! I forgot to put that up there. Anyway, once the babies are born, we’ll immediately ship them off to the vacant military bases to be raised and programmed to kill (note: creating more jobs here). This will cut down on military costs of flying soldiers to their bases now, rather than after 18 years of inflation, eh?

Of course, we will reward these brave soldier surrogate moms. First of all, we won’t make them pay for the chance to carry these children…well, not much anyway. Like, half-price. I mean, we’ve got to pay for our million dollar babies somehow. Second, we’ll promote these soldiers to Captain at the first ultra-sound that shows two or more heartbeats. Four heartbeats earns an automatic Major. If they can carry six five embryos to fruition within nine months (you do the math), they will receive a Purple Heart. Multiple tours of duty result in even larger rewards.

In exactly 18 years and nine months, the U.S. Military is completely revitalized.

Huh? Huh? Whaddya think?


*Next time on 'Wheezus for President', that darn social security…fixed forever.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Half a storm

Well it sure did blow a lot last night--it came out of nowhere. Pret'ner lost the patio furniture, and saw a pretty light show off in the southern sky. Luckily my new yellow umbrella didn't fly away. It smelled like rain, it looked like it would rain, it sounded like rain was imminent, but no.

###


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."




What is humane treatment of detainees?

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

When Newsweek reported desecration of the Quran at Guantanamo two weeks ago, the White House forced them into submission.

"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his God," Spc. Jones said.

But the White House can't seem to stop the truth from being printed, thus shining the light again on the evilness that has overcome some of our troops. And if our Commander in Chief doesn't care, who will?

"Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."

Tim Golden of the New York Times reported May 20: It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

The report says it became a running joke and prison guards kicked Dilawar just to hear him scream "Allah".

On May 21, Tim Golden had more to report. Despite autopsy findings of homicide and statements by soldiers that two prisoners died after being struck by guards at an American military detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, Army investigators initially recommended closing the case without bringing any criminal charges, documents and interviews show.

"It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes," he said.

Whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a picture is emerging that the United States is not playing by the rules which it is often quick to suspect others of disregarding where its own citizens or interests are concerned. Barbados' Nation News.

The United States is gravely ill, if indifference is the response to this travesty. I feel sick, today, to be an American. And if you are not yet moved, I beg you to read this again:

Dilawar, a taxi driver, was detained in December 2002 as he drove past a US base that had earlier come under rocket attack. Passengers he had picked up were carrying suspicious items.

Spc Corey Jones, an interrogator, told investigators that Dilawar spat in his face. He responded with a couple of knee strikes.

"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his God," Spc Jones said. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny." The report says it became a running joke and prison guards kicked Dilawar just to hear him scream "Allah". "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes," he said.

During an interrogation, the severely injured Dilawar begged a translator to get him a doctor. The translator says he told the interrogators, but one replied: "He's OK. He's just trying to get out of his restraints."

An autopsy found that Dilawar died of heart failure caused by "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities". The coroner, Lieutenant-Colonel Elizabeth Rouse, told a pre-trial hearing that his legs "had basically been pulpified ... I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus."
The Independent

More than two years later, the investigation, once stalled, continues. May God forgive the people of this country.


"An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere." ~Samuel Johnson ~

Monday, May 23, 2005

Labor Pains

The new, improved, Christian Republican Lord of the Flies

Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James Dobson was incensed that any deal was being brokered which would evade filibuster reform—labeling it "a disaster."

"For Monopoly players, that is like offering to trade Park Place and Boardwalk for Baltic and Mediterranean," Dobson said. "If the Republicans consent to this disaster, they'll not only be abandoning the men and women who put them in office, they'll be demonstrating that they do not deserve the leadership entrusted to them.
[snip]
Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, is at a loss to explain the motivations for why Lott might try to broker a compromise.

"Who knows why Trent Lott is doing this? Maybe he's trying to be kingmaker," Minnery said. "But what he's creating is a disaster of the first order for the campaign to restore common sense to the federal judiciary. He's selling out conservatives who want to see common sense restored to the federal courts. He's playing into the hands of the leftists in the Senate, and he must be stopped."
Source



"James Dobson: Who does he think he is, questioning my conservative credentials?" Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an interview. Dobson, head of the conservative group Focus on the Family, criticized Lott for his efforts to forge a compromise in the fight over the judges. Lott is still angry. "Some of his language and conduct is quite un-Christian, and I don't appreciate it," the senator said. Source


And a little editorial I'm working on. Would love some critiques.

Democrats, your party is heavy with child. It is time to place the ‘welcome home’ streamers on the garage door. Please don’t blow it.

Whether you are Agnostic or Atheist, Jewish or Buddhist, Muslim or Hindu, a liberal Christian or anything else, the light bulb above your head is blinking brightly…if you’ll just look up and notice it.

Recent political events have created doubt in many Christian minds that were otherwise set firmly, and for years, upon the conservative agenda. First came Terri Schiavo. Next, the filibuster debate. Then the reports that President Bush’s approval rating on the economy and his penchant for war were released. His numbers continue to fall. Right-wing Christians are second-guessing the morals of the president. And they are asking questions and searching for answers which lie in the realm of reason and fact.

Democrats possess some of these answers. But to some, Christians are the enemy. Some political leftists lump all Christians into one group and stereotype them as extremists who believe the U.S. Constitution was based on the Bible. Christians in general are often considered ignorant, arrogant and delusional by the left.

The U.S. is pivoting. But many on the political left are frustrated and some feel like giving up—there is nothing else that can be done, nobody is listening, this country is doomed to be at war forever, and Americans are losing rights daily. Their heads are bowed.

Some Democrats, in this shocking yet pivotal time, can’t see beyond next week, or next month. Some don't hear the rumble of dissent within the Republican Party. And even if they do hear it, they aren’t realizing the opportunity this creates. They aren't noticing the tell-tale bulge of life in the making. Which is so uncharacteristic of progressive thinkers, isn’t it.

The politi-church events of the past few months—Justice Sunday, and Reverend Chandler’s excommunication of church members who don’t support Mr. Bush in North Carolina—are affecting people. Some 130 faculty and 800 alumni and students of the Christian, liberal-arts school called Calvin College surprisingly protested President Bush as commencement speaker this month in this dominantly Republican community of West Michigan. The nation, and the Christian religion, is in a time of high stress as it debates the separation of church and state, and Christians are forced to side politically with either the religious right or its alternative, which is still being defined (in their minds). The Democrats are poised to win the trust and support of non-extremist Republicans in the long-run, if they do this right.

Democrats across the nation, please put your religious stereotypes aside for the moment and, instead of generalizing and writing off Christians as hard-headed Republicans, realize that many Christians fall into a group that huddles in the valley between far right and extreme left. Realize that it is emotionally difficult to switch political parties. Acknowledge that one must leave the safety net of all one has known and believed for years, and step out, unsure of what to expect, and uncertain how one will be accepted.

But the hearts of Democrats are infinitely large—it’s in their nature to be so, as they cry out against social injustice. Don’t miss the chance to teach, to guide, to gently spell out the truth with facts. Christian Republicans are accustomed to half-truths, even (or especially, and unfortunately) from their Christian political leaders. Instead, show them what your party stand for. And compare that to something they know…or should know. Whether you believe Jesus was God’s son or not, most Americans would agree that his story is one that exemplifies love, compassion, and acceptance of all people. And Jesus was a prime example of someone who wanted to keep faith separate from government.

The future newborn Democrats may be closer to you than you think--maybe sitting in the next cubicle at work, or perhaps living in the duplex down the street. You might find them teaching your kids in school, or in your own family. Look for the quiet ones—the ones who don’t spout the latest jingoisms—because their quietness might be a sign that they are thinking. Please welcome them without criticism or fanfare. Chances are that once they begin to realize they’ve been duped by a man who thinks he’s a god, it will be difficult for them to admit just how long they’ve believed so many things that are contrary to their own religion—and unjustified war, the lack of respect for the environment, and the blatant and inexcusable disregard for the less fortunate.

It’s not too soon to think about 2006. And as we look for signs of Mr. Bush’s next war, look up. Check your light bulbs, set aside your stereotypes, and place that welcome mat on your front step, because the new baby Democrats are about to be delivered. There has not been a time in recent history so pregnant with opportunity for a religious, political upset, than this moment.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The first day was fun.

Well, it's pretty hot out.

One hundred degrees, I am happy to report, is tolerable. A few days ago, we hit 109. That was novel. I don't recall ever experiencing that kind of heat before. I ran a few errands in the heat of the day, and I survived, though I decided that as much as I dislike white vehicles, one day there will probably be a white vehicle in my driveway. With beige interior. Cloth, not leather. And automatic start. See, we can't leave our vehicles running in our own driveways with the keys in them, here. 'Cos they'll get stolen.

I also think we may have to buckle down and clean out the playroom garage, so we can keep the van out of the sun. The process of downsizing and losing a basement somewhere between Michigan and AZ left us a little crowded. And people here use their garages for all sorts of things other than a place for the car to live--after all, there's no snow and not much rain. So the garage has acted as a home for storage/playroom/loud instruments. Though I'm not sure where we'll put all that stuff. And now that I think about it, I don't even think the van will fit in the garage such that the garage door will close. Well, unless its nose is up against the doorway leading into the house. Which makes entering and exiting somewhat difficult.

Yes, after three days in the 110 degree range, the novelty is wearing off. I'm getting lots of advice from the folks who've lived here for years. Breathe with the heat, they say. Or embrace your inner thermometer. Bunch of wackos. The heat has gotten to them, I think.

So anyway, it's only May. We supposedly average 90 days of 100-degree-plus temps. Only 87 to go.

###

Friday, May 20, 2005

Calvin, Calvin, Sing We All to Thee.

Update: Did I mention Nick Wolterstorff, who was slated to be the commencement speaker until he was notified last month that Bush would be taking his place? It seems he was given a consolation prize--a special seat at commencement.
His response?

"I think it's best for me to work in my garden Saturday afternoon," he said.

He wouldn't comment directly on Calvin's change of plans.

"I shouldn't speak on whether or not it was a good move," he said, acknowledging that "some people might interpret my not attending" as disapproval.


*snicker*

Good on you, sir.


-----------------------------------



We don't need no thought control.

The most holy shite is hitting the fan of great boggletude over President Bush's commencement speech at my dear alma mater (never thought I'd call it that) and all I can do is giggle mirthfully. I mean, who knew Calvin folks realized they were sinners in the hand of an angry shrub?

*breaks into a 'Back in the late 80s when I was a student' story about there being no liberals within 60 miles of Calvin College*

So who's buzzing?

Washington Times, where I am chagrinned to discover they passed up Nicholas Wolterstorff as commencement speaker when Bush became available.

Daily Kos, where reportedly a religion prof who is required to attend graduation, will do so. But he is bringing a book. Yes, a little book called "My Pet Goat."

Michael Moore saw fit to post a Grand Rapids Press article.

some message board with Calvin grads or students, and an interesting mention of Fred's House of Pancakes which caught my eye.

The Detroit News quotes a professor or two. One third of Calvin's faculty has signed a letter of protest.

The Detroit Free Press mentions a few profs giving opposing views. Never did care for Randy Bytwerk. I always thought it was because his name sounds too computery. Or something.

And The Grand Rapids Press of course.


More to come, I'm pretty sure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Interviewed by Talia

The game:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog (if you have one) with the answers to the questions OR you answer them here in the comments if you don't have a blog.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


====================

1. What do you fear the most?

I can’t say I’ve ever thought about this deeply. It took me a long time to determine the difference between fear and dread, fear and sorrow, fear and horror. My first thoughts went to my children. Losing a child—what a horror, and what incredible sorrow that would bring. But I keep in mind that there is only so much a mom can do for a child, and though I feel some trepidation for the unknown and for things that are beyond my control, I don’t think I fear it.

I’m not afraid of dying. I’m not afraid of trampolines. I’m not claustrophobic. I’m not afraid of snakes, though spiders give me the willies. Sometimes I have irrational fears, like of scorpions being in my slippers. Someone knocking on my door late at night frightens me for a few moments. And the current administration is scary, definitely. So are people with big, googly, non-blinking zombie eyes.

But I guess the one fear that has resurfaced over and over since the time I was a little girl, is fire. Not bonfires, but a house fire, while I’m sleeping. Either that or being stalked.

I’m also a little bit afraid of loud noises and people who sneak up on me. And, I’m afraid of turning into my mother.

Okay, but on a daily basis, I fear stupidity and being a party to it.

2. You may trade places with anyone alive or dead (not fictional) for 24 hours -- no more and no less. You only get one chance. Who would it be?

These are hard questions, Talia. Assuming trading places means I get to actually ‘be’ the person and own his thoughts from birth up until that day, I’m torn between choosing a funny person/comedian and somebody in history whose life did something to expose or change the world…without the realization or specific intention that he/she would do that. I’d want to experience oppression that I as a white woman in the 21st century will probably never know. I guess I’d go with Rosa Parks.

Though if I chose a man I’d have a penis and just see what it’s like to carry that silly thing around all day…

3. Write an autobiography in 25 words or less.

Wheezus doesn’t always get it right but she sure as hell tries.

4. What question would you like me to ask you? Why?

I’d like you to ask me if you could be my bitch. Because it would make me feel totally tough.

5. Lick something. What did it feel like.

Okay, I did this. It felt warm, a little dusty, and I got an electric shock from it. Which proves that Jon Stewart felt it for me, too.


Don't forget that if you want to be interviewed, leave a request in the comment section.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newsweek -- this story is getting ridiculouser and ridiculouser

Last week, as I'm sure you've heard, Newsweek printed a story using a source who said that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo flushed prisoners' Korans down the toilet.

All hell broke loose, riots ensued in the Middle East, sixteen people were killed, and Captain Cuckoo-banana blamed Newsweek. Yes, shame on you, Newsweek, for reporting something that's been in the news for essentially two years. Newsweek apologized, faltered, then retracted the story over the course of the last few days.

But why would they retract a story that is so similar to the stories found here?
(emphasis mine)

Financial Times (London, England)
October 28, 2004 Thursday
London Edition 2
SECTION: THE AMERICAS; Pg. 8
LENGTH: 310 words
HEADLINE: Four Britons held at Guantanamo sue US government
BYLINE: By JIMMY BURNS
DATELINE: LONDON
BODY:
Four British subjects detained without trial for nearly three years in the US military base of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are suing the US government.
In the first legal action of its kind, the former detainees, who were released in March, are alleging torture and other human rights violations.

In August Mr Ahmed, Mr Rasul and Mr Iqbal issued a 115-page dossier accusing the US of abuse, including allegations that they were beaten and had their Korans thrown into toilets.

- - - - -

Daily News (New York)
August 5, 2004 Thursday
SPORTS FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 34
LENGTH: 320 words
HEADLINE: ABUSED AT GITMO, FREED BRITS CHARGE
BYLINE: BY JAMES GORDON MEEK and DEREK ROSE DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
BODY:
THREE BRITONS freed from the terror prison in Guantanamo Bay say they were stripped naked and faced other abuses that mirrored what happened to inmates in Iraq.

They say that rats and scorpions had free run of their sweltering cages, loud rock music was used to drown out the sound of prayers, and sleep deprivation was common.

"They would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it," Asif Iqbal wrote.

- - - - -
The Independent (London)
August 5, 2004, Thursday
SECTION: First Edition; NEWS; Pg. 6
LENGTH: 729 words
HEADLINE: FATHER CALLS FOR SON'S RELEASE AFTER CAMP DELTA TORTURE CLAIMS BEGG DEMANDS SON'S RELEASE AFTER TORTURE CLAIMS AT CAMP DELTA TORTURE
BYLINE: JONATHAN BROWN Azmat Begg said his son's health was deteriorating Matthew Fearn/PA; Moazzam Begg: Held at Guantanamo for two years
BODY:
In the report, released in New York, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul - the so-called Tipton Three - said one inmate was threatened after being shown a video in which hooded inmates were forced to sodomise each other. Guards allegedly threw prisoners' Korans into toilets, while others were injected with drugs, it was claimed.

- - - - -

The Observer
March 14, 2004
SECTION: Observer News Pages, Pg. 5
LENGTH: 5420 words
HEADLINE: World Exclusive: Inside Guantanamo: How we survived jail hell: For two years the Tipton Three have been silent prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Now, in this remarkable interview with David Rose, they describe for the first time the extraordinary story of their journey from the West Midlands to Camp Delta
BYLINE: David Rose

As Muslims, they were shocked when in repeated 'shakedown' searches of the sleeping tents, copies of the Koran would be trampled on by soldiers and, on one occasion, thrown into a toilet bucket. Throughout their stay at Kandahar the guards carried out head-counts every hour at night to keep the prisoners awake.

- - - - -
The Washington Post
March 26, 2003 Wednesday
Final Edition
SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A12
LENGTH: 888 words
HEADLINE: Returning Afghans Talk of Guantanamo;
Out of Legal Limbo, Some Tell of Mistreatment
BYLINE: Marc Kaufman and April Witt, Washington Post Staff Writers
DATELINE: KABUL, Afghanistan March 25
BODY:
Afghan men freed today after spending months in legal limbo as U.S. prisoners in the war on terrorism said they were generally well-fed and given medical care, but housed in cramped cells and sometimes shackled, hit and humiliated.

The men, the largest single group of Afghans to be released after months of detainment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave varying accounts of how American forces treated them during interrogation and detainment. Some displayed medical records showing extensive care by American military doctors, while others complained that American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.

---------------

And why didn't the folks from Newsweek do a search on this story so they could defend themselves or respond? Is this upheaval really about a source...or is it about something else?

Tonight, Anderson Cooper said, "How did Newsweek get it so wrong?" And all I can wonder is...how can you be serious? Why is the focus of this tragedy pointing to Newsweek when it should be pointed at the White House, or at the folks at Guantanamo? And why, oh why, when the Pentagon officials took a look at the story before it went to print, did they find nothing wrong with it at that time?

I'm sorry Newsweek backed down.
I'm even sorrier to see they have become the most recent whipping boy for this administration.
And? The timing of this is just...wow. Just when I thought The Memo was ripe to be noticed. Crazy, isn't it. Or maybe it's something else.


(Credit to KrazyKat at DU for tracking down the above quotes.)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Tulips are Blooming

Oh for Pieter's sake, I missed Tulip Time for the first time in my 37 years.

Where can you find six million tulips and 2.5 million people from around the world, huddled in the rain in a small town (population 35,000), all in the span of a week? Holland, Michigan of course.

Last year they had a beer tent for the first time. Now that's authentically Dutch.

###

Friday, May 13, 2005

At the DMV

Just wondering...

Do you think I should make my blog title just a little bit BIGGER????

And, on a related note, I passed my vision test at the DMV, brought in my seventeen documents proving I am not an alien, including notes from my mother and from President Bush (senior, of course) who stopped by the house the other day -- he remembers me from that rally back in '89 or whenever that was that I held a sign with the word 'Bush' on it -- and I would like to now declare that I, the Wheeze, have an Arizona driver's license.

And it has my weight on it. Oh, the horror. And photo, of course.

And you know what's funny? It expires in 28 years.

Twenty-eight.
Years.
2033.

So the guys at the DMV were fun. I went to the one in a nearby small town, not the busy one we sat at last time for three hours. There is a horse in the parking lot. Anyway, they call my number (B1103, in case you were wondering) and I go sit down at desk #1. I dump out my briefcase to show that I have all the ID I need, and the guy (Todd) gathers it all up into a little hoardish pile. For whatever reason, I have to pay $25. But I am prepared--because *I know* they don't take credit cards here. So I'm writing out my check:
"Make that out to 'Todd'," says Todd. Right. That's a new one.
I hand him the check and say, tongue in cheek, "Do you need to see some ID with that?" Instantly I feel that same feeling one feels when somebody jokingly says the word 'GUNrack' in an airport, or 'No, you idiot, we're from Iraq' at the Windsor Border Patrol station.
Todd looks at me and doesn't smile. "Yes. I'll need to see your driver's license."
I look at the hoardish pile, where my Michigan license rests, a hole punched though it. "I am currently without driver's license," I say.
He takes the check and slides my stack of identification back to me, then hands me my application.
"Go see Dirk at desk #8."
I look around. There are only 7 desks.
"Are you sending me back to the chairs, sir?"
At this he laughs.
"No. Dirk's the guy over there at the front. He'll take your picture."

So I head over to Dirk, stand in the box, and it's like LifeTouch all over again.

"You're all set, that was a good one. It'll be done in a minute." Dirk says.
"Don't I get to see the photo first?"
"Ma'am, it looks fine. I'm an expert. I always get it right the first time."
"But... do I look--"
"NO!" says Dirk. "You do not.look.fat."

Twenty-eight years.

###

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mr. Bush goes to Grand Rapids, Michigan

I must take a moment to rejoice over the above article. Yes, I admit I am a graduate of Calvin College, where Predestination is the arrogant assumption of choice and nobody knows there are Democrats (and gays, even!) underground. And when my old college roomie told me the other day that Mr. Bush would be speaking at commencement, I was somewhat disgusted. (Perhaps my readers know of W's six weeks worth of commencement speeches, presumably to keep him out of trouble for a while.)

It is refreshing to see a Calvin student with the knowledge and gumption to be eloquent regarding this.

*does a little happy dance*

Thank you, Ms. Elzinga, for speaking out with class. Well done.

Put the Lie in the Coconut...

...And we'll drink it all up.

Okay, that was bad. It was a grenade, not a coconut. But this line says it all:

It never posed a danger to Bush and was apparently placed by someone who wanted to scare people in the crowd and attract media attention, Donadze said.

Hmmm...now WHO could possibly want to scare people? WHO would stage a threat to get sympathetic media attention? Did anybody see Karl Rove lurking in that crowd of Georgians? It couldn't be a real attempt on his life. Because Georgia loves George. ('Man, what a big state.' 'No, this is the other Georgia, W.') I suggest keeping your eye on this story--look for said hand grenade to turn up again in a few days on eBay, miraculously etched with a picture of Jesus Bush, and selling to the highest bidder, Halliburton, for, oh, $72 million or so.

Actually, I don't really believe in the grenade. What I do believe is the power of the White House, who I am sure gave strict orders to the Bush staff and to the media: do everything necessary to keep the Downing Street Memo from surfacing. Obviously our MsM is so overworked and understaffed--what with the Runaway Bride, and Laura's horse joke, and now this very threatening grenade story to cover--that this trivial memo has to take a back seat until things settle down a bit. Whew! But I'm not terribly worried. I mean, the memo surfaced just ten short days ago, and it only proves Bush is bloodthirsty and a lying sack, so first things first. And nobody believes what they read in newspapers, anyway, according to the Pew Research Centre. Yes, 45% of Americans "believe little or nothing of what they read in their paper." The New York Times is out to change that, though--they're going to add more religious articles to combat that ugly stat. Thank God for John Conyers, without whom The Memo would be less publicized than it is now. If that's possible.

Maybe the coconut grenade really DID have a lie in it. Maybe it was a message in a bottle, of sorts, the innocent little rolled up memo peeking out the pin hole, trying to get some attention. The media was there at the Bush event. Maybe the grenade was some concerned citizen's desperate attempt to get somebody, anybody, to read the memo and report on it. After all, what sort of sane, anti-Bush demonstrator would throw a live grenade? We don't want the guy dead, after all. Impeached, perhaps. But the last thing the Dems want is a) to see Dick Cheney in the President's chair, and b) to make W a martyr.

###

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Everything in Between

An update from the last post.

Pastor resigns.

You know, I feel sorry for this guy's family. Being married to a pastor is not easy, but this family has suffered more than I hope I ever do.

###

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Defining the Line...and what happens if we do this right.

Recently, the line separating church and state has been crossed. When a pastor tells his congregation that their votes for president will determine their standing as church members, it's an obvious violation. Telling them they can repent or leave implies that a vote for Kerry is a sin. A sin?!

What about this church?

Saint Columba's affirms the faith catholic as it has been received in matters of the historic male priesthood, the sanctity of marriage between man and woman, and the traditional title of God our Father as spoken by Jesus in his teaching and prayer. There is an effort by some to silence Christians when speaking of the morality of the people who wish election to governmental offices in the United States. Nonetheless, Saint Columba's supports those who adhere to unchanging Christian values. We don't make the rules; God does. All we do is let people know what those rules are. As a result, Saint Columba's thrives as an Anglican expression of the Church catholic.

Let me get this straight—God makes the rules…and you ‘let people know’ THE RULES. This is murky at best.

Reverend Rick Scarborough, a conservative Texas Baptist minister, likes politics. I don't have a problem with that. He has every right to voice his beliefs and opinions in the political realm. But where does one draw the line that separates church and state?

The line may be hard to define.

He attacked high school sex education courses, experimental medical treatments and transsexuals trying to change their gender identification. He recruited like-minded candidates to run for the local school board and city council. He crisscrossed the country to protest the ousting of Roy S. Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, for installing a Ten Commandments tablet at his courthouse. And Scarborough created a network of "Patriot Pastors" to lead evangelicals to the polls in 2004.

The above, in my opinion, is fine for a pastor to do. It’s obviously stupid, but he has a right to do it--as long as he doesn’t do this from the pulpit. But...

His first foray into politics came two years later, when he attended a local high school assembly on AIDS awareness, and was appalled at the frank talk about condoms and "various sex acts." He read the transcript from the pulpit one Sunday morning and took his complaints -- and at least 400 parishioners -- to the school board. Eventually, the high-school principal was replaced by a supporter of abstinence-based sex education.

The experience taught Scarborough the power of the pulpit in stirring action, and he became a prominent force on the local political scene.


(emphasis mine)

...in my opinion, this crosses over into something not only biblically wrong, but possibly unconstitutional as well. You see, Pastors have the ability to coerce. They are leaders. One doesn’t have to outright declare from the pulpit that the congregation must vote Republican or else. Subtle hints are all that is necessary for a pastor to ‘inform’ his church where they should stand politically. This is an abuse of power, and it is wrong. The church is the place to teach from the Bible, not from Dr. Dobson’s latest newsletter.

I believe that Justice Sunday, with the Justice Sunday League consisting of Dr. James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Bill Frist and others, is responsible for the latest rash of boldness by radically conservative pastors. I’m not sure I want to stop them from committing professional suicide.

But what happens next? I'm cautiously optimistic. But I'm sad as well.

I'm optimistic that the religious right, as they show judgment and hatred for gays and those who have had abortions, is in effect helping moderate Christians figure out what they stand for -- that Christians will remember that Jesus did not show hatred for people, and does not wish his followers to participate in hypocrisy. I'm optimistic that moderate and liberal Christians will be forced to take a stand, and that they'll stand against politics from the pulpit. They need a bit of encouragement though--many moderates are quiet about their beliefs. After all, when moderates or liberals speak up in the church society, they are blasted and called sinners. Yet many liberals will scorn anyone with the name 'Christian', no matter what that Christian stands for. Moderate and liberal Christians get smacked from both sides. So something shocking and radical like the above had to happen...indeed, more of it will have to happen, for them to venture out and take a stand.

I'm sad that the right continues to head in this direction. I'm sad that Christian leaders in this country, leaders who attempt to speak for all Christians, behave in such an un-Christ-like way and give Christians a bad name. I'm sad, in a way, that this is causing an irreparable fault in the Christian religion. But I'm optimistic that perhaps those who truly follow Jesus' words and actions will eventually become the definition of 'Christian' in the years to come, replacing the intolerant, ignorant and arrogant league of outspoken, religious rightists who currently define this word in America.

The time is ripe for action. Liberals have a chance to welcome these former life-long conservatives who look at a potential Bill Frist candidate for president in three years, and shudder. I have great confidence that liberals are most accommodating and will make these folks feel welcome. Moderate and liberal Christians, I applaud you for your beliefs, and urge you to talk about these issues, to read what is happening in congress, to turn off Fox News and watch something (anything!) else. Decide for yourself what you think Jesus would do. Honestly, do you think a vote for Kerry in the last election is a sin deserving excommunication? If you want to see the end of this cultish, radical right regime, stand up and say it out loud. And have courage, knowing that you will not stand alone.

To spur you forward, I leave you with a prayer. A very special prayer, which is so disturbing that I have to share it. It is taken from the opening of the Kansas Senate:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe on those who call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that: We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism. We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn children and called it a choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the living Savior, Christ. Amen. “

Isn’t that just perfect?

(Happy Mother’s Day)

###




Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sex Ed Put On Hold

Yes, this is interesting.

GREENBELT, Md. - A federal judge on Thursday blocked Montgomery County public schools from instituting a new health curriculum that includes discussions of homosexuality and demonstrations on how to use condoms.

For example, the curriculum juxtaposes faiths such as Quakers and Unitarians that support full rights for gays and lesbians with groups such as Baptists, who are painted as "intolerant and Biblically misguided," the judge wrote in his opinion.

Quakers? I didn't know. Good job, Quakers.

"I don't think it is right that we have 13-year-olds learning to think whether they are gay or straight," said Laura Quigley, who has three children in the school system. "We just need to let them be kids."

Yeah. I hate when 13-year-olds learn to think. Bad, bad school.


Students and parents who choose not to take part are offered alternatives that include abstinence-only programs.

Parents have the choice of opting out of the health curriculum by signing a permission form, school system attorney Judith Bresler said while arguing the case Thursday morning. If the court blocked the county schools, it would hurt only the students who agreed to take part, not those opposed to the program who can choose not to participate, she said.


So what's the problem, exactly?


"These parents cannot allege ... that they are harmed by the decisions of others," Bresler said of the groups behind the lawsuit.

But Erik Stanley, an attorney for the two groups that filed suit, said the curriculum implies that homosexuality is a biological trait, not a lifestyle choice. It excludes the viewpoints of ex-gays and those who believe that "same-sex attraction can be overcome," he said.


Will somebody, PLEASE, prove this is a biological trait already? Apparently the testimony of thousands of gays who say it is not a choice isn't convincing enough. And apparently, all the heteros have made 'that choice'. Which naturally leads to hatred...right?


(thanks for the link, Sami)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Not My Jesus

I watched it. And since I’m a straight, white, middle-class woman, I haven’t been completely and personally offended by the Religious Right. Until now. They mildly offend women and their ‘places’ from time to time; and no female pastors stood behind the pulpit during the Justice Sunday Webcast on April 24 to teach us about the way Christians should ‘do politics’. But that didn’t offend me, and I don’t want an explanation for that. I prefer to hope that no woman was crazy enough to offer her own equal rights as a politi-church sacrifice in that Kentucky house of worship.

But I was offended. I watched Dr. James Dobson and his league of cohorts speaking out in this venue. Speaking out not against sin, or in favor of loving one’s neighbor, or forgiveness. Not pleading for folks to help the homeless and the 11 million children in this country without health insurance. But speaking out with a message of judgment. Their judgment, not God’s. And though the agenda of the evening was to denounce the filibuster, the sub-text was clear from the beginning: homosexuals are evil, women who have had abortions are evil, and any ‘so-called’ Christians who support them are evil. In fact, it seems that anyone who doesn’t believe the same thing as Dr. Dobson and the Justice Sunday League is evil. Which means I’m doomed.

The event escalated into something I can describe only as bizarre. The speakers progressed from bashing Democrats to bashing gays. Senate phone numbers scrolled across the bottom of the screen, and large photos of the ‘guilty’ Senators were posted--the scene resembled a Jerry Lewis Telethon hosting “America’s Most Wanted.” Throughout the course of the evening, something was said about equating Democrats with terrorists. Further gay-bashing ensued, interspersed with accusations of liberals being un-Christian. Then the tremendous finale: a song about the war. After all, the filibuster is preventing us from supporting our troops. Isn’t it?

And while the ending song was more entertaining than offensive, the real point this team made was that if I were truly a Christian, I’d call my Senator (yes, he’s one of the ‘squishy’ ones Dr. Dobson warned me about) and urge him to remember that Christians—yes, we poor persecuted Christians--are being pounded by the ‘Secular Left.’ And as a Christian, I should support the conservative political position. Or else.

This Christian perspective is offensive. I think these religious and political leaders were wrong to do what they did. And I want to hear more from others who think this too--the Jim Wallises of the world, the Tony and Peggy Campolos, the Anne Lamotts. Because it was really only a few weeks ago that I figured it out: if what the Justice Sunday League says is true, I have no representation. For it seems there are only two categories: “Religious Right,” and “Secular Left.” But neither one is me. I’m religious and liberal, and I’m wondering where the rest of my family is. I know I’m not the only ‘Christian Leftist’ in America—many of them were picketing this event, writing letters, calling Senators in support of the filibuster rule. And I applaud their efforts. That is, if I actually exist. I’ve been told by the Religious Right that I’m not a Christian if I support things like equal rights for gays or if I oppose the war in Iraq. You’ve heard that too, haven’t you? That opposing the war means we don’t support our troops, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. in the Justice Sunday Webcast declared that two men wanting to get married is the most insane idea he’s ever heard, something that would be expected in an asylum. That really helped me feel the love of Jesus—did you feel it too? When the church erupted into applause and rose to their feet for a standing ovation as he finished, I sat slack-jawed. I knew this would happen; of course I knew. Yet I had hoped that perhaps, in God’s House, on a Sunday, in front of millions of people, they might have refrained from utter jubilation as they danced prematurely on the grave of a segment of society who truly has been persecuted for years. Yet these leaders continue to scream ‘tyranny’ in the name of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Dobson, Senator Frist, Mr. DeLay, what right do you and your compatriots have to suggest I’m not a Christian? Are we not to leave the judging to God? What has happened to the teachings of Matthew 25:40, which does not go forgotten in the hearts and actions of many Religious Liberals (as well as secular liberals, I must add), “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me?” To put it a bit differently, I give you the words of author David Sedaris: “He nice, the Jesus.” As a Christian, I stand in opposition to your skewed principles. The hatred you spew is not on my behalf. This rhetoric you stand for, I resent. The hearts of the people you have injured will only harden toward the God you worship, instead of seeking Him for the God He truly is—the God of the broken-hearted. And your words and actions hurt not only those you persecute, but they hurt the Christian faith, and you are making it increasingly uncomfortable--no, unbearable--for me to associate myself with the name. This is not my Jesus, gentlemen, and you do not speak for me.

###


*many thanks to Sasha and Dweeze for the help

Monday, May 02, 2005

Shopping

My husband is back from Detroit and we met for lunch today. At KFC. I'm thinking...what happened to us?

After lunch, he decided to take the afternoon off which was wonderful. "Good, you can go grocery shopping with me," I said.

What you might not know is that Matt is the grocery guru in our household. When I go shopping, I buy things not on the list. I might come home with an assortment of cheeses and a variety of flavored olive oils. When he goes, he sticks to the list, compares prices, shops like a pro. At Walmart.

So I agree to go to Walmart just this once. We park a bazillion miles away in the crammed lot, and exit the car. I hold my hand up to my eyes and look left, then right. "Which way?"

He is not amused. We trek the miles to the store. He grabs my shopping list and stands in front of the cart possessively.

"I push the cart," I said.

"Not in my store you don't."

Okay. Well. He manuevers down the too-narrow aisles, dodging and careening around blue-haired folks like Junior at the Texas Motor Speedway. I follow. I've never seen him so agressive--it's a real turn-on.

Until he begins pointing--a trait he learned from his father, a teacher.
"Chicken," he says, dismissing me. "Hotdogs. Yogurt. Three gallons of 1%. I'll be in Cereal."

I trot off to fulfill my assignment. Three gallons of milk, by the way, is heavy when you have to go all the way back to Cereal. Especially if you take the long way around through cosmetics. I arrive in Cereal, breathless.

"Charcoal," he says.

"But --"

He points. I go.

Charcoal is heavy, by the way, especially when you stop in the craft area to look for cow's corn so your son can make TechNoir some Corn Pillow Underwear.

When I find Matt again, the cart is full. "How did you--"

"Shhhh," he says.

"But...the cheese..."

He shakes his head sternly. "Come. We're done."

I am beside myself. I didn't even get to see the produce.

We stand in line at the counter to pay. "I like shopping with you," he says. "I don't usually get to argue with anybody."

"Yeah...huh."

He eyes the cart for a moment. "$177.00, it'll be. Only because of the eye stuff and all those extra tampon things. Normally, I come in right around $150. It'd be $250 at Basha's, you know." He's chiding me, isn't he.

We approach the conveyor belt and I start loading things on to it. Matt begins to rearrange the things I've set down. I stop and watch him. Once the conveyer belt is full, and fully sorted, he sorts what remains in the half-full cart as well. I notice he puts the non-food items in the child seat and arranges the buggy with food in some order I can't decipher. Alphabetically, perhaps? Nonchalantly, I move a loaf of bread from the main basket to the non-perishable section, pretending to search for something. He moves it back, patting it lovingly. When the belt begins to move again, I load stuff willy nilly onto it, grabbing things from both sections of the cart.

"No, see..." he says. "We put the like foods together, and the bathroom stuff together, and the cleaning supplies, and the refrigerated items, and...well then they might get bagged properly and they'll be easier to put away," he explains as he again rearranges the belt.

"But I always put the groceries away. So why do you care?"

He glares at me. "I. just. do."

As he places the items on the belt, one might think he was putting together a thousand-piece puzzle. I approach the credit card swiper thingy. Of course, Matt has already swiped his card to save time. Hey, I do that too. I see the monitor is asking if he wants cash back on the debit. I quickly tap 'yes' and "$60.00" without him noticing.

"I'll be over here by this bench if you need me," I say, brightly.

"Okay," he mumbles, still hard at work and focused on the job at hand.

When all is swiped and bagged, the cashier says something like $217.67. Matt's face registers shock. He looks crestfallen. "Oh..." is all he can say. He takes the receipt and turns away, pushing the pregnant cart, when the cashier calls out.

"Wait sir...don't forget your cash back."

She hands him three crisp twenty dollar bills. He glares at me again, and does a quick math problem in his head. "Woo hooo!" he says. "I'm under. Again. Ha!"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sedaris in good form...but not the highlight

For a man of small stature and high, piercing voice, David Sedaris brought a storm of applause to the desert in Tucson on the last show of his 30-day American tour.

Okay, but first, I went to my College Roommate's house. If you recall from a previous blog entry, I hadn't seen Taffy since we were in our early twenties, until I discovered she lived only two hours away from our new home in AZ and we met for lunch about 6 weeks ago. Taffy is one of the funniest people I know in real life--her sense of humor is a little like Supes', if you know him--and she is a satirical writer, so there is much to discuss over a few beers.

Anyway, it was still just a little bit strange to see her after all this time--our March lunch meeting wasn't nearly long enough to catch up on everything. So I drove to her house a few hours early to hang out before the show.

Now, If you have read Sedaris, you may laugh when I tell you that I walked into her house and a parrot squawked at me. I've never imagined Taffy with a pet. That it was a parrot, who, according to Taf, could speak (it all sounded like squawking to me, but I am a woman of very little parrot appreciation), made it so strange it pushed the evening into a surrealistic deja vu--was I back in college, living in Sedaris's world with Taffy?-- except not really, because...well...I can't explain what is beyond my own comprehension. Here I was, in my Roommate's house, we are thirty-seven years old, she owns a parrot and I own a husband and two children, and she and I are going to see David Sedaris. Together. On a University campus.

So she showed me the tricks her parrot could do, and all the while I'm thinking two things:
1. Yeah, but can it imitate the trash compactor? and
2. Who is this woman before me, talking to a bird in a mommy voice?

It doesn't seem odd to me that I've changed a lot since college. But my college friends are frozen in time, unable to advance in age or career--in my mind. I am sure Taffy is thinking the same things...or maybe not. One never, ever knows what Taffy is really thinking.

Taffy poured two beers and we sat out on her back porch. Her backyard is approximately 8' x 20'...not unusual for AZ. She pointed out the brilliance of the landscaper--underground sprinkling--a MUST for such an expanse of patio (1/3 of the yard) and grass. And the trees. In this plot of land smaller than the size of a single stall garage, grows an orange tree, a lemon tree, a big something-kind of bush, a palm tree and a rose bush. Behind a rose is a lizard, watching us.

In the midst of the forest is a birdbath. Taf pointed to it.
"I water it every day," she said.
"I can tell--it's really grown. I remember when it was this big," I said, measuring a space of three inches with my thumb and forefinger.
"Can you believe it."
"Time sure does fly."

We spent the next few hours laughing about the things we used to laugh about.

"The sky's about one-twenty-five," said Taf, nodding.

I nodded too. But I didn't know this joke. Still, it felt familiar.

We rocked silently in our chairs, an old married couple, the coo of doves the only sound beside the sand, crunching beneath the runners.

###

*thanks to Taffy for giving me permission to make fun of her