Friday, November 25, 2005

Giving My Thanks

    While I may not have any sky daddy to give credit to, the Thanksgiving season gives me an opportunity to pause and reflect on those who have and continue to make a positive impact on my life. My family, my friends, my fellow bloggers and readers, and my beautiful fiancee, just to name a few. But also, I feel very grateful for those who are politically active and fight against the injustice in this world. People who spend a good portion of their limited free time organizing, protesting, and attending rallies. Those who are out in the streets resisting, educating, and fighting for the issues that I tell myself I am "too busy for this week". Those who speak out and end up getting tear gas in the face while I'm simply relaxing on my weekend. Watching videos like this give me some of my rare moments of pride about being American, and give me hope that we will change as a country. And not simply go back to the way we used to be (we've never been all that great) but that we will live up to the ideals that almost all Americans have grown up believing in.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fox News Sets Up Enemy In Order to Rally Its Base

    Some of you may watch Fox News, but I hope you do it only for comedy. I generally check out their website on a daily basis and find out what they're up to, although it usually just makes me upset. But hey, anger inspires action sometimes. Lately Fox News has done a ton of segments about a supposed "War on Christmas". This war isn't just about making the holiday more secular, but they actually claim that secular progressives want to eliminate Santa and the like. The situation actually reminds me of UTI's What It Feels Like to be an Atheist article in the sense that we actually have people that are arguing viciously for other people to acknowledge and welcome Santa in their holiday season. Fox News' anchor Gibson has even wrote a book on the supposed war, and he comments on it practically everyday on his Fox News segment. He was recently invited to talk to O'Reilly so that they could mislead the public together. Here's the video, courtesy of Media Matters. O'Reilly made a list of the retailers that were using Merry Christmas as their greeting as opposed to those who simply use Happy Holidays in an attempt to scare these companies into saying the christian phrase. I have to admit that it's a good way to try to distract the people from a real war where men, women, and children are dying by inventing another war where the biggest atrocity is someone not saying 'Merry Christmas' and saying 'Happy Holidays' instead. Fox News will really save some money though by keeping its sound bytes and graphics from the War on Christmas for when the real war breaks out. Haven't heard about it? I heard about it from my GOP newsletter. If you make a contribution, you get a newsletter and each month it includes another classified government secret. Pretty cool if you ask me. But anyway, surely you've heard about the administration opening up oil drilling in Alaska. Haha, but everyone knows there is no oil in Alaska! But there is TONS of it at the North Pole. Our Dear Leader simply wants to get our troops some experience in drilling for oil while fighting in Arctic weather before combat operations begin. Personally I'm really looking forward to that war, some great photos should come out of it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Repost: God Damn Get Off My Money

       I posted this article a few months back and thought it would appropriate today with Newdow's lawsuit against the motto "In God We Trust". For those of you who don't stamp out or cross out the motto on the currency, I encourage you to do so. If you are looking for a good place online to purchase a cheap, simple stamp you can find a place here.

       The motto "In God We Trust" that is on our currency seems to have been there forever. Even most atheists probably look at it and don't think much of it. They probably think that it has been there forever and isn't likely to change. Well, at least the former isn't anywhere near true.

      The truth is that "In God We Trust" wasn't a motto of the United States until an act of Congress in 1956 made it so. This was primarily in opposition to the atheistic Soviet Union. "In God We Trust" didn't appear on paper money until 1957. And the first time it appeared on any piece of American currency was in 1864. Guess who's idea it was....yeah, the church. Let's take a look at that letter.

Letter by Rev. Watkinson written to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Dear Sir: You are about to submit your annual report to the Congress respecting the affairs of the national finances.

One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins.

You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were not shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation? What I propose is that instead of the goddess of liberty we shall have next inside the 13 stars a ring inscribed with the words PERPETUAL UNION; within the ring the allseeing eye, crowned with a halo; beneath this eye the American flag, bearing in its field stars equal to the number of the States united; in the folds of the bars the words GOD, LIBERTY, LAW.

This would make a beautiful coin, to which no possible citizen could object. This would relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism. This would place us openly under the Divine protection we have personally claimed. From my hearth I have felt our national shame in disowning God as not the least of our present national disasters.

To you first I address a subject that must be agitated.

      Yeah, so we've got that fucking motto on our money because of some damn minister. Separation of church and state my ass. This has been argued in the courts a few times, but the judges often say that "In God We Trust" is not a religious statement, but a secular one. I don't think I need to explain why that is completely ridiculous.

      If we did get rid of this motto, what could we use? Well, currently the U.S. actually has two official mottos. One is this religious-based one, which was added just recently. The other, if you remember it (you definitely don't see it as much) is "E pluribus unum" or "Out of many, one". Now which one of these mottos is constitutional? Which one of these mottos does a better job of uniting the country?

      And now, what can we do? Well, the first thing is to vote out the Republicans in 2006. If the conservative republicans have power much longer they will have completely filled the judicial benches with religious zealots and then we'll be lucky not to have "In God We Trust" tattooed on our foreheads. Meanwhile, you can simply write over the motto on the currency. You can cross out the motto or write "Keep Church and State Separate" or "E pluribus unum" there. Other people have bought stamps to make it look more professional, and to steamline the process. You can typically buy these stamps online for under $5. Check out this website for legality and other ideas- Godoffmoney. This will at least bring attention to the issue, and the more attention it gets the more likely we'll be able to do something. I think most reasonable Americans take pride in our separation of church and state idea, having learned about its importance even in middle school. Maybe another individual will see your message and decide to do it as well, multiplying your efforts. And at the very least, it feels good.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

United States asks "Is Torture Wrong?"

    You might have seen that in the news recently that the United States is debating whether or not it should allow torture of prisoners or not. Here is a CNN story about it. Before I continue, I'd just like to point out that the title of the article is "White House Pressures Congress to reject Torture Amendment". Well hey, that's sounds great, you even have 'reject torture' in the title! Most Americans who skim the top stories will see this and think "damn I knew that George fella was a good american". Now for the small percentage of people who actually read the articles you'll see that the 'torture amendment' that the White House wants rejected is a ban on torture amendment. In my opinion they could have put the world ban in the title, but I digress...

    So what's going on here is that the White House, specifically Dick Cheney, wants an exemption of CIA agents from the policy restricting them from torturing detainees. You might recall that in 2002 a Justice Department memo declared that the U.S. was not bound by many of the provisions of the Geneva Convention when dealing with "enemy combatants". But what's the scariest part about the U.S. wanting to use torture? I think this can be seen by a quick look at what Attorney General Alberton Gonzales said about torture in that 2002 memo. He said that the interrogation must entail "injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions — in order to constitute torture". So it looks like the White House wants the ability to murder detainees. Organ failure and serious impairment of body functions sounds like it would lead to death to me as well.

    Look at what we've become. Look at what we debate about now. There was a CNN poll on this earlier, I'm just waiting for the next poll saying "Would you be upset if a concentration camp was set up in your town?" And another thing, I'm afraid that the overuse of Nazi comparisons over the years has desensitized Americans to that comparision, when today it may be very appropriate to compare the current administration to the Nazi regime, or at least to fascism. Watch this animation and tell me what you think.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

To the Christian Left

    There has been much discussion recently on atheist blogs regarding the need for progressive christians and atheists to work together and put aside our differences in order to stop the dangerous path that we are now following as a country because of right-wing "compassionate" "conservatism".

     Can this be done, or are we too divided to really work together? In my opinion I think it's the former. So what exactly are our differences? Let's're a Christian and I'm an atheist. You believe in God, Jesus, and the gang, and I think they are simply fables invented by men to control the people. So that's one difference, but I don't know of many more. It seems as though we have many more things in common than we do that are different. We both despise bigotry, unfairness, corruption, war, lies, the assault on intellectualism and science, and policies that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. We probably like the same foods, enjoy watching the same TV shows, enjoy being with family and friends, and want the same basic things for our life, namely happiness and a sense of accomplishment when we die. We're both humans who are concerned about the direction that we are heading, and I think that our ideas of the best direction are more similar than they are different.

    And besides, why should we be at each other's throats? Neither of us are in power and are making any decisions at the moment.

    So how can we work together? Well, I think we need a good discussion on this, how we can take back America. For one, I think it's important for us both to not let the hot-button issues control our voting patterns, which is exactly what the right wants us to do. But to be honest, I don't think we'd be all too different on these hot-button issues. Most progressive christians I know approve of gay marriage, separation of church and state, and many are pro-choice. Like I said before, I don't think we're that different politically. But I think that we need to downplay the one difference that we have that could make it difficult for us to work together, and this means to be watchful of what we say. Negative comments about each other will not help us steer this country in the right direction. An example of this on the christian side is an article that I saw today called Is President Bush an Atheist?. I actually have mixed feelings about this article. I like the fact that it's a powerful message that might sway christians on the right, but it does so at the expense of atheists. If there were some justification for calling Bush an atheist, that'd be one thing. All atheists aren't good of course, but to identify someone as an atheist because you think they are selfish and whatnot is grossly unfair. Bush is still christian, he just has a different interpretation of what the bible says. I didn't look for an unfair christian characterization by an atheist, but I'm sure they happen, and atheists should be careful of this as well.

     For atheists who read this and want to check out the progressive christian camp, you could go check out Crossleft, whose founder recently posted on vjack's blog Atheist Revolution. She's a christian but her fiance is an atheist, so I figure a group led by someone like her is most likely to be able to bring us together. There may be other great christian left groups out there as well that we should look into.

    For the christians out there, who do you think makes the most sense for you to be allied with? Someone who professes to be a christian but doesn't appear to care at all about your interpretation of what the bible teaches, or someone who simply doesn't believe in jesus but otherwise has the same views that you have. And again for the atheists, I think that we can agree that religion is what the believers make it. Those who are intolerant of homosexuals will find anti-homosexual lessons in the bible (which there definitely are) while those who were raised better will focus on the lessons of tolerance. People who are intelligent and are, for lack of a better term, "good people", will find lessons in the bible to match what they believe. As George Bernard Shaw once said,"No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means". So I think that we can definitely find much common ground with the christian left.

     In any case, I think it's time we both put aside our differences, celebrate our common humanity, and work together to make this world a better place.