blueollie

Democratic Debate clips

Workout notes 2000 yard swim, yoga. The yoga session was a bit stiffer than normal.

Democratic Debate, AGAIN. :)

Here are some of my favorite clips:

I said that Barack Obama won the debate. I am not alone in saying so:

I also said that Joe Biden gave outstanding answers. True, he threw some sharp barbs, which I did enjoy. But what I really liked is that he was the only candidate that actually taught me something. Listen to his answer to this “would you guarantee that Iran wouldn’t get nuclear weapons on your watch”; she actually explains why that was a bad question without a simple answer. He also talks about how our policies are driving up oil prices. The clip is about 7 minutes long but is well worth listening to.

More on Obama:

John Edwards: populist theme.

But Hillary Clinton had some good comebacks of her own.

(note: she says that she wants to prevent a rush to war, not a war itself She speaks very, very carefully.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have Kucinich UFO clip. :)

Seriously, my main issue is this: Clinton continued to try to make it appear as if she straddles on every issue. Yes, the issues are complicated and don’t have simple “yes/no” answers, but Biden did a much better job of conveying that. Clinton started to do that (explain the nuances on an issue) on the Spitzer driver’s license issue, but only after she appeared to be completely trapped. I wish that she had done that to start with.

On the other hand, Obama laid out a clear vision of where he wants to go and HOW he wants things to be done differently.

Unfortunately, Richardson hasn’t put up his debate clips as yet; he had a few good things to say.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social | Leave a comment

Obama wins the Debate.

Well, Dodd, Edwards, Obama all went after Clinton. They damaged her, I think; at the end they caught her waffling big time on the “do you back Spitzer on the driver’s license” question, and on the white house records question.

For the first time, she appeared to be a bit rattled.

Biden made some good nuts and bolts answers (the “will you allow Iran to get nuclear weapons”) and the best slam (at Giuliani), though Obama had some good ones at Giuliani.

So, I’ll go this way:

Best policy answers: Biden
Helped himself: Obama
Most aggressive: Edwards
Biggest Woo: Kucinich (UFO)
Hopeless: Richardson. (yes, I like this guy but….politics is a contact sport.)
Most Doubletalk: Clinton. She looked downright flustered at the end.

Upward: Obama, Edwards
Downward: Clinton (though she still leads)
Forget it: Kuchinich.
Needs a miracle: Biden, Richardson, Dodd (too bad)

My winner: Barack Obama.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate: Part III

Dodd Asked about oil prices (gas, and heating oil). Are people doomed to suffer high energy costs; what can be done? He says that we should invest much of this extra money should be reinvested into other energy sources. Says emergency fuel assistance.

Biden Says that we should stop rattling the saber; much of the price increases is due to people thinking that things will get worse.

Edwards Conservation; asks people to make sacrifices (patriotism in other than war).

Clinton agrees with everyone else; mentions the strategic oil reserve.

Obama Notes that 30% of the cost is risk; that can be lowered. Mentions that other ideas are sound; talks about auto gas mileage standards; mentions that he went to Detroit to talk about this; worked with Biden.

Kucinich Stop the war, end the occupation, stop planning for war with Iran; this brings up the cost. Brings up impeachment.

Richardson needs an energy fuel “Apollo Program”: 50 miles per gallon standard. Calls it an energy revolution. Says “little bills” are meaningless.

Dodd Asks if he can ask country to sacrifice for the environment. Dodd talks about the corporate carbon tax that he pushed for. He says that you can’t overlook price. He mentions that Al Gore likes his plan. He knows that this tax has a price.

Edwards asked if there is a bottomless well for those who choose to live in risky areas. He says that the national community should be there for people who have been devastated. He brings up New Orleans. He says that we “needed a surge in New Orleans, not Baghdad.” Does “smarter” means “unlimited”? Edwards says that we do need to be smart.

Clinton Asked about taxes; Bill Clinton says that he backs Rangle’s elimination of the alternative minimum tax. She says that Bill was making a point that the rich should pay more so the less wealthy should pay less.
But she says what she would spend on; but won’t say what she is going to do. Says that she disagrees with some details but is in agreement that the AMT needs to be changed somehow. She points out that the details are nuanced.

Obama Says he doesn’t know all of the details of the Rangle plan. Says that we need to broaden the conversation. Talks about the 10,000 page tax code full of loopholes. He says that we need to restore balance in the tax code; says his plan has specifics; mentions 50,000 dollars as the threshold for some of his programs.

Kucinich He is asked about hedgefunds. Notes that the hedgefunds pay less tax than income. Noted that Harry Reid won’t change this: Kucinich says that people are disgruntled with Democrats because they won’t stand up to things like this. He says to protect the small investors. He says that our system redistributes the wealth upwards. Mentions universal not-for-profit health care, mentions impeachment.

Edwards Why won’t the Democrats act on hedgefunds? Edwards says that they should. He mentions that this is further proof that the country isn’t working for all of us; mentions the Blackwater mercenaries. He talked about inspections of imports, trade (imports from China, for example).

30 second questions.

Richardson: overseas, students overseas spend 190 plus days, our students fewer than 180 years. Richardson says that he commits to spending time on education and to a longer school year. She mentions the poor math scores; he talks about higher pay for teachers, and academies. Get rid of NCLB.

Kucinich Needs a country that stands for peace, cut the pentagon, give the money to pre-kindergarten progam.

Obama More instruction in the classroom is needed, but we need more math and science research grants! :) We can get that money from not having the war.

Clinton Child care, pre-kindergarten programs, mentions agendas and programs. Kind of a sputnik program.

Edwards Says we have two public school systems right now; need universal pre-kindergarten, national teachers college, incentives to teach in tough places

Biden need to go to school longer, 16 years of education, education of inner city people.

Dodd Single most important issue according to him. Federal government should be a partner; too often the circumstances of birth determine the kids education.

One more break.

student question: medicine, doctors are having more trouble earning income. How do we attract good doctors?

Dodd medical malpractice: part of health care plans

Biden mentions the large amount of debt that doctors graduate with; get the insurance companies off of their backs.

Edwards Universal health care will help, more nursing school scholarships, get rid of mandatory overtime.

Clinton Gives insurance companies an ultimatum (preexisting conditions)

Obama Mentions a reimbursement system for medicade and medicare. Programs to help people get educated in these areas.

Kucinich Wants medicare for all. Says he is the only one. Not for profit.

Richardson Two years of paid education for one year of service. Medicare reimbursement. Nurses shouldn’t be forgotten about.

Obama Commercial aviation. How did our air travel become so undependable? Obama says this has been a long time coming; knows that service is down. Airport capacity, restrictions on flights, and remote connection areas.

Clinton New York Governor: driver’s license to illegal immigrants? Clinton agrees; she says that they are driving. Period. She says you need to fill the vacuum.

Only Dodd raised his hand, when they were asked about driver’s license.

Clinton said that she didn’t said “yes”. Dodd says “yes you did”. Clinton says that there are three different licenses; a special card; asks what Dodd would do.

She says “you are playing gotcha”. She says that her governor was making an honest effort to play the cards that were given him, so to speak.

Edwards Mentions that Clinton said two different things within a few minutes; says she is doing double talk.

Obama says that he was confused with her answer. He says that honesty is needed; he says that leadership is making the hard choices for the issues. He says that he agrees with Spitzer’s idea; it is a public safety issue.

Kucinich Saw a UFO??? He says that he saw something. Says he did and that more people saw UFOs than approved of George Bush’s presidency (not true).

Obama Says that he doesn’t know if there is life on other worlds, but there is life on earth and we ought to attend to that! :)

Clinton Armstrong says that 3000 people die of cancer every two days. She says that she will “do everything we can to combat that”. Mentions that she went to his symposium; will fund the new cancer research that is underfunded.

Dodd make marijuana legal” Dodd says that too many people are in jail; shouldn’t be there. Others said that they disagreed.

Biden No toys from China? He says to shut it down. Says we would have shut down another country’s import; where is Rudy, could have helped with UFO’s.

Obama What will Obama go as on Halloween. Says his 9 year old is going as a math professor! Says he will wear a Mitt Romney mask which has two sides to it! :)

Whew!

October 31, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate: Live Blogging, Part II

Clinton Asked about whether she is electable, and the response to Giulani. Gives a great counter (“we don’t need that kind of experience”). She talks about the change that we need change, and again mentions that the Republicans are taking shots at her. He says that we not only need to “turn the page” but to “throw the whole book away.”

Anther question of her: she is asked about the documents of her and President Clinton’s communications when she was First Lady. She says that the records are being released oh-so-slowly; mentions that the healthcare records are there. She was asked again about President Clinton’s letter to say that the records shouldn’t be released until 2012.

Obama Says we need openness and transparency in government; says that Clinton is being secretive. He says that most people feel as if the government is working for special interests and not for them.

He then counters that Clinton is being targeted by Republicans is because that is the kind of fight that they are comfortable with her. Obama says we don’t need any more of that kind of bickering.

Edwards Says that the Republicans WANT to run against her. Mentions that Clinton has gotten the most money from the defense, health and pharmacy industries.

Edwards says that if you want the status quo, vote for Clinton.

Clinton Says that we were making progress in the 90’s (when her husband was president); says that this ended when the SCOTUS gave the election to Bush. She takes a shot at the others for not having the experience to make the changes.

Obama Asked about his lack of experience: he says that he has brought opposites together (as he has); he mentions that he has stood up to special interests, and has worked on ethics reform. Talks about having the experience of standing up when it isn’t easy. He mentions that he has stood up to special interests.

Richardson Condemns attacks on Clinton; says that he differs with her on many issues, but says that we should “save the ammunition for the Republicans”. He says that we elect governors rather than Senators (last one was JFK). Brings up his experience. He says that we need to stay positive, only focus on difference on issues.

Dodd Brings up electablity. Says that half of people won’t vote for Clinton. Dodd says that Edwards has taken money from law interests. Talks about his working with Republicans on many issues; he can find common ground.

Edwards He says that nobody is pure and that he is perfect. He says that he has not taken money form special interests during the campaign; mentions that Obama hasn’t either. He says that what he brought up is relevant. He mentions that lobbyists have hurt our fights for health care and for the environment.

Kucinich hey, how about universal health care? Canceling NAFTA? Job losses; mentions that others have taken money from hedge funds.

Biden Says that Giulani is the most unqualified person running: “noun, verb and 9-11; there is nothing else”!!!! He brags about making the city safe; it was the Biden, and then the Clinton crime bill. He is not qualified.

Biden says that he has been around since others have been in Congress, as First Lady.

Now to Social Security.

Clinton asked about her social security: talks about not lifting the cap; claims that she has been inconsistent. But she is dodging the question though she is talking about what she will do. She mentions that she won’t be advocating a possibility until social security is solid; she won’t argue Republican talking points.

But then she is question about what Bill Clinton said in 1998: she said the numbers had taken off since then. She rejects the move toward privatization.

Obama Questioned about “everything is on the table” remark. Obama agrees that it is in not in crisis though there is a long term problem. He notes that more retirees are on the way; he says that we have to deal with it. Obama says that among the options that are available is to remove the cap on the payroll tax to fund it. He stands by that.

Obama says that he isn’t afraid to debate Rudy Giuliani. Obama says Clinton has not been truthful and clear on social security, that is, there is an actuarial gap (money in and out).

Clinton: says she doesn’t see the difference between what she said and what Obama said.
She stresses the need for a bipartisan commission.

Obama Romney confused his name (Obama) with Osama’s . (that means that Romney is an idiot). Obama says that he doesn’t pay much attention to what Romney says “at least this week”. Now he mentions that his background is different than others; he says that this represents the power of the country. He mentions that not many gave him a chance in the Illinois Senate (US Senate) race (true, at least early in the primary).

Break Two.

Obama scored well, but Biden is shining.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social | Leave a comment

Democratic Debate: Live Blogging. Part I.

I apologize for this steam of consciousness mode; I know that I will probably make some grammatical mistakes.

New York Times Preview

Obama is being watched closely:

It seems hard to believe that after SO many debates this year, that another one could provoke more than just a yawn. But it seems fair to say that the Democratic debate taking place in Philadelphia tonight, televised on MSNBC starting at 9 p.m. Eastern, may be the most eagerly anticipated forum of this year.

That is because of Senator Barack Obama. Last Friday, Mr. Obama –- whose campaign has been, for the most part, studiously non-confrontational -– gave an interview in which he attacked the credibility Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, ticking off a string of disagreements with her as he proclaimed that “the time has come” to start distinguishing himself from his opponents.

And it’s not only Mr. Obama. John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, has himself turned up the temperature on his attacks on Mrs. Clinton.

That’s what you need to know: Here’s what to look for.

Mr. Obama. Will he pull the trigger? Will Mr. Obama say on television, in front of Mrs. Clinton, some of the things he said in the interview with two New York Times reporters aboard his plane last week? (Read the excerpts.) Mr. Obama has appeared to struggle from the start of this campaign with how to marry what he has promised to be a new approach to politics -– free of the partisan bitterness that has marked presidential campaigns for so long -– with what it takes to actually win a presidential race.

For a while, judging by the crowds he drew, the number of small contributors who flocked to his campaign, and some polls, it appeared that Democrats were rallying around this new voice. But Mr. Obama has watched as Mrs. Clinton has pulled way ahead of him in national polls and polls in New Hampshire, even as he has remained strong in Iowa. Many of his own supporters have expressed frustration that he has not highlighted his differences with Mrs. Clinton or verbalized the reservations many Democrats have about Mrs. Clinton

The trick for Mr. Obama is to find a way to make these attacks without appearing that he has have abandoned the “politics of hope” message he brought in the front of the race in response to polls. Candidates who go on the attack tend to find that voter opinion of them turns more unfavorable; Mr. Obama would appear to be particularly at risk of this.

Mr. Obama’s advisers are calculating that at some point, the initial story line that Mr. Obama is drawing differences with Mrs. Clinton in response to his poll numbers will fade, and that Democrats will begin considering the criticisms he is making of her. Still, it is not an easy task Mr. Obama faces tonight, and especially challenging one for someone who is making his first run for national office and may not yet have risen to his full potential as a candidate.

And the Clinton campaign is not making it easy for him; it posted a video on YouTube and its Web site this morning showing Mr. Obama, in a memorable speech at the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, talking about how he was not going to attack his opponents and did not even think Democrats should be looking to attack Republicans. That message drew a warm response that morning, but it is part of why he is in something of a box today.

Oh, one other thing: It is of course possible that Mr. Obama will end up not pulling the trigger. That would give late-night TV hosts, columnists and television commentators plenty of fodder for a few more days of Obambi-bashing

We’ll see; here we go!

Obama is up first. First, he is asked about how he differs from Senator Clinton, and how she is “like a Republican”. Obama starts with a joke; says this is Rocky vs. Apollo Creed with his being Rocky! :)

He accuses Clinton of flip flopping on NAFTA and the Iraq war.
Clinton says that the Republicans don’t see it that way; as evidence she says that the Republicans have gone after her; she did not counter his charge directly.

Edwards: asked about his accusation that Clinton has engaged in double talk. Edwards talks about Bush destroying the trust between the public and the office. Edwards said that Clinton is defending a corrupt, broken system, and says that Clinton will keep troops there. Edwards hammers on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment. He gets her on social security.

Clinton doesn’t counter directly, but talks about her record and says that she has stood up to the administration. She appeals to Bill Clinton’s record. She talks about no-bid contracts and tax increases on the wealthy.

Clinton is asked about the Kyl-Lieberman amendment (which was condemned by Senator Webb). She says that she is not in favor to “rush to war”. She says that this is a diplomacy option. She says that this amendment is not an authorization for war; noted that even Senator Durbin (who voted against the Iraq war) voted for it.

Dodd is asked. He says that this vote will haunt us. He noted the similarities with the Iraq authorization vote; he said that we should have learned our lesson in 2002. He says that it was dangerous. He noted that Lugar and Hagel voted against it too; Dodd says that this was the time to show leadership.

Biden is asked: he says that there are consequences about what we do. He noted that oil prices went up as a result. He noted that Bush has been emboldened. He noted that there are consequences for Pakistan and Afghanistan (the moderates are put into jeopardy; this gives the appearance of a crusade against Islam). Biden claims that this vote has consequences.

Obama is asked about a “red line” for attack Iran. Obama says that we shouldn’t be talking about attacking Iran. He says that Republican rhetoric is a rejection of diplomacy; he says we need to talk to both allies and enemies. He recommends talking about both carrots and sticks. He says the resolution weakens our capacity to influence the region; says we haven’t tried as yet.

Clinton Says economic sanction are part of diplomacy. He says to put “everything on the table”. She says that the Revolutionary guard being declared as a terrorist group hurts them economically. She will not speculate about when they will get nuclear weapons; same as Obama.

Edwards Wonders how passing Bush’s amendment is putting pressure on Bush, notes the language is similar to the 2002 Iraq resolution. Edwards says that they have to say “no”; says that Bush is rattling the saber. Says the resolution is written in the language of the neocons and enables Bush.

Richardson Claims to have been the only one to have negotiate with the Iran. Someone else disputed this. He says that they can make some deals; nuclear power for potential for nuclear weapons. Says that he knows the region (U. N. Ambassador) He says that it will take skilled diplomacy; says that saber rattling is not effective. He says that we need allies, in particular from Russia and Europe.

Kucinich Says that we need to reject this move to war with Iran; he calls some Democrats are enablers. Talks about the policies of preemption. He wants to know when the Democrats will stand up to Bush and to try to impeach him. Got some applause.

Clinton Pledges to do everything she can to prevent a nuclear bomb. Edwards Says something similar.
Obama Notes that the question isn’t that helpful. Says that we will not be governed by fear. Says that we are NOT the weakest one but the strongest one. He mentions the erosion of civil liberties.
Biden Notes that this is a complicated question. Gives an example of why some questions don’t have a simple answer. In fact, he gives an excellent example; this guy is smart.
Dodd Says which one of them has the background and experience to make the best judgment. But he mentions that Pakistan is a bigger problem.
Richardson Says he would make the pledge, but to do it by diplomacy. He talks about loose nuclear weapons. The key, he says, diplomacy. Talks about how he brought people out of Iraq when Saddam was in power. He talks about his international experience. He talks about North Korea and how he dealt with them.
Kucinich Scolds the media for bad questions; urges media to not enable the run up to war. Talks about the non-proliferation treaty (nuclear weapons).

Clinton Kennedy, one of Clinton’s campaigners, said that she has never heard of Clinton opposing the war. Clinton says that she does oppose the war and will end it. She says that there is no plan in place to turn it over. She talks about assembling a team to do this; she says that there are problems all over the place; calls many places “tinderboxes”.

Obama Says her answer is not consistent with respect to the Iran Kyl-Lieberman amendment. He agrees that we need to focus on diplomacy. He says that we can’t just dictate. He says that the next president shouldn’t have been one of the co-authors of the Iraq resolution. He says we need to engage Iran, Syria and other countries.

Edwards Says that if you think that we should keep troops in Iraq and there should be no timetable for withdrawal of troops, then vote for Clinton. Mocks the “if we knew then what we know now”, mentions that she moves from “mode” to mode (primary and general); says Clinton is more of the same.

Clinton Clinton says that we should pursue Al-Qeda; how can one do that without troops. Calls it a limited mission. She says where she stands and says that it is nuanced; her withdrawal plan is “responsible”.

Break one.

Analysis: Biden gave the best “nuts and bolts” policy wonk answer; it is clear that she is a smart, knowledgeable guy. Obama came off well; Edwards landed the hardest shots, and for the first time Clinton didn’t really shine above the rest. She did ok though; her best line was the one about the Republicans constantly attacking her. That will play well. She also had the “the voters know my record” (though in fact, they don’t).

October 31, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama | Leave a comment

Halloween Eve 2007

Workout notes 3 mile easy walk, yoga, 3 miles easy back home. Things are coming together; I felt good the whole way. It is almost as if this weekend’s long, gentle walk has made me high.

During my pre-yoga walk (when it was still dark) I saw a large raccoon on the trail.

Social/Politics

I found many interesting articles out there; here are but a few of them:

Religion/Kooks/Woos

The United States: still “a woo friendly” country as more people believe in ghosts than approve of President Bush!

True, I am glad the people disapprove of Bush…but ghosts?

Put Conrad, a homemaker from Hampton, Va., firmly in the camp of the 34 percent of people who say they believe in ghosts, according to a pre-Halloween poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos. That’s the same proportion who believe in unidentified flying objects — exceeding the 19 percent who accept the existence of spells or witchcraft.

Forty-eight percent believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP. But nearly half of you knew we were about to tell you that, right?

Conrad, now 40, lived in Syracuse, Ind., when her family was scared from the house they rented.

“It kind of creeped you out,” she recalled this week. “I needed to get us out.”

To put the roughly one-third who believe in ghosts and UFOs in perspective, it’s about the same as, in recent AP-Ipsos polls, the 36 percent who said they are baseball fans; the 37 percent who said the U.S. made the right decision to invade Iraq; and the 31 percent who approve of the job President Bush is doing.

A smaller but still substantial 23 percent say they have actually seen a ghost or believe they have been in one’s presence, with the most likely candidates for such visits including single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services. By 31 percent to 18 percent, more liberals than conservatives report seeing a specter.

I could have done without reading that last sentence. :)

But at least most Republicans believe in creationism and most Democrats support evolution. Scroll midway down.

At least many are not that enthusiastic about “faith”; some take a “consumer approach” to their religion.

which, I suppose, isn’t all bad if one takes the approach that religion is supposed to serve humanity. But then again, sometimes, you need to hear what you don’t want to hear.

Of course, there are us unbelievers; many of us started life as being very devout. In my case, I found myself being shocked at how primitive and barbaric the Old Testament was (mass murders, jealous deity, a deity who couldn’t deal with iron chariots!) I also found myself asking “do I believe in this nonsense” every time I recited something. Eventually, I had to admit that the answer was “no”, even though I saw some usefulness in prayer, meditation, and having a main myth as a paradigm for life.

Of course, the pious kooks have not gone away.

See the video here.

Of course, even the kooks are willing to attack religion, so long is it isn’t theirs. There is this evil “Islamofacist” enemy that the wingnuts rail against.

Someone had to say it; I’m just glad it was Paul Krugman.

[T]here isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s. […]

Mike Huckabee, whom reporters like to portray as a nice, reasonable guy, says that if Hillary Clinton is elected, “I’m not sure we’ll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” Yep, a bunch of lightly armed terrorists and a fourth-rate military power — which aren’t even allies — pose a greater danger than Hitler’s panzers or the Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

(via Crooks and Liars)

True, Al Qeada IS our enemy (Sunni), and we should fight them. But there are many different kinds of Islamic militant groups and many of these have very different ends. There is Hamas (Palestinian Sunni Muslim group opposing Israel) and Hezbolla (Shite organization in Lebanon)

Fred Thompson Ok, I am becoming less scared of this guy by the moment. But he is still loads of fun; evidently he doesn’t know the difference between “gay marriage” and “civil unions” or what states have done on this matter:

Freddie’s trouble started when he was asked if he would support a federal civil unions law. (Does that sound like a trick question to you?)

The comical candidate responded: “Soviet Union?”

“No, civil unions,” replied the New Hampshire resident.

“Oh. No, I would not be in support of that,” said Grandpa Fred.

Freddie’s trouble continued when he elaborated. The clownish candidate did not appear to understand the difference between civil unions and same-sex marriage. Thompson answered the question as if the two are one and the same. Fred’s response also indicated that he had no knowledge of the legal status of civil unions in New Hampshire, or anywhere else for that matter.

In short, the ‘aw shucks’ candidate confused soviet unions, er, I mean civil unions with same-sex marriage and proceeded to get it all wrong.

Concord Monitor:

[Fred Thompson] stumbled over a question about a federal civil unions bill, which he said he would not support.

He blamed courts for compelling states to allow same-sex marriage or civil unions and criticized judges’ interpretations that the constitutions in those states required it.

“The controversy that is before us is basically, so far, a judge-made controversy,” he said. “No state governor has signed off and introduced legislation on the state level that has endorsed marriage between two people of the same sex.”

Actually, New Hampshire passed a bill legalizing civil unions earlier this year, without a court ruling requiring lawmakers to do so. Gov. John Lynch signed the bill June 1, giving same-sex couples the same “rights, responsibilities and obligations” as married couples. The law will go into effect Jan. 1.

Of course Huckabee isn’t much of a threat either, but it is so much fun to tweak his followers! :)

By the way, the last Thompson post was from the Tennessee Guerilla Women, who also sent a link to a cool “what kind of liberal are you” quiz.

Finally, Citizens Against Hate linked to a cool blog which I added to my blogroll.

Here are a couple of articles that I found there:

they discuss the death of a young African American in a penal bootcamp and the public’s reaction to it:

[...]When Martin Lee Anderson was murdered by the seven guards and a nurse at the Panama City, Florida boot camp I was taken aback by the number of painfully insensitive comments coming from people in the white community. The cover up that ensued after his murder started with the county coroner attributing his death to a latent sickle cell trait despite the fact that the guards were seen on video standing around Mr. Anderson and beating him. The guards even confessed to shoving ammonia tablets up his nose and holding his mouth shut in order to suffocate the young man and gain his compliance.

But what was more troubling was the fact that so many people with a white mindset were actually celebrating because the juvenile judicial system had taken another one of our black children out of the picture before he had the opportunity to become another thug terrorizing America. So many good white people are so afraid of Mr. Anderson and the potential trouble from “his kind” that the emerging thought process can be summed up as any time a black child is killed society should rejoice. One good white Christian said that they prayed for Martin Anderson’s soul to be redeemed from his evil ways so that he can get into heaven, but they still considered his death a good start for something positive for our national community.

It’s no longer enough for white mindsets that our black youth are given a separate and less than equal sorry form of American public education. It is no longer enough that our black children have a greater chance to be impoverished and grow up in single family homes. It is no longer enough that black children receive less than adequate medical care. White people in America now party when black children are wrongfully killed by a system that refuses to have compassion for the black community. [...]

You see that a bit here as well. Consider our local “jaywalking” incidents. We’ve had cases where many (mostly minority) kids were walking to school in the middle of the street even when sidewalks were available. They just took it over and made it difficult for cars to pass though.

People reacted negatively to that (of course, as did I). But in my opinion, this was more of a “why those &^%$ so-and-sos, they don’t respect our society” type of thing. Yes, we have university students who jaywalk (in a different way) and these people (who are older and should know better) were sometimes given tickets. But much of this was “oh my, doing this in the dark might get you killed” type of reaction.

In other words, one reaction had a bit of (tough) love to it; the other had no love at all.

Another article from this blog had a funny line:

But everybody in America knows that the black person wants to do nothing more than to sit at home and look for a handout. A lot of people are more than happy to make the assumption that black people are looking to sit on their ass at home, collect a fat welfare checks that they use to pay for the brand new Cadillac they use to drive to the welfare office, stay in their section eight government funded home, and watch Jerry Springer episodes on their flat screen forty seven inch liquid crystal television with high definition. Black people are too ethically, morally, socially, and intellectually challenged to even try to earn a living. But somehow, black people are clever enough to cheat the government out of thousands of dollars and live life as royalty in the urban ghetto.

Hmmm, cheating the government out of thousands (millions?) of dollars: isn’t that what Halliburton and Blackwater do? :)

October 30, 2007 Posted by | creationism, hillary clinton, Peoria/local, politics/social, religion, science, walking | 5 Comments

29 October 2007

Workout notes 2200 yard swim; I am getting better at swimming again. Then I had the best yoga session (on my own) that I’ve had in a long time; the “camel” pose is finally beginning to open up for me.

Walking: my legs are recovering. But for those who wonder why I call myself “pathetic”, here is the type of walking a national class (or world class masters) ultrawalker does:

quick note: I walked the hilly 30 miles today 48 minutes faster than last week, 4h 26m. Ate a bag of jelly beans, a coke and a gatorade. morning weight 175. feeling strong. last mile 8:27.

Ray has qualified for the U. S. Olympic Trails 50K racewalk.

Get a load of this training week:

147 kms this week in 6 days. That’s about 90-91 miles, I think.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 60k, with 6 k slow, 50k in 4:25:34, 4 k slow

Tuesday: 10k jogging/ski walking

Wednesday: 8 k slow walking

Thursday: 3 X 5k in 24:07, 23:22, 23:49

Friday: 6k slow, 8 k slow

Saturday: 1 k slow, 25 k 2:07:10 (26:02/25:08/25:22/25:02/25:34), 1 k slow, 5 k 23:52, 1 k slow, 1 k 4:31, 3 k jog.

I’m ready to walk about 4:15 now for 50k. I have 12 weeks to lose a few pounds, increase the pace a bit, and do more long walks. I’d like to take a second per week off my readiness pace, which is around 5:05 per km now. I can walk 4:55s without breathing hard, but 5:05s or so is all my legs can handle for 3-4 hours. In the 25k today I had a few 4:58s or 4:59s, but my legs were tired from Monday so I stopped at 25k to rest instead of doing 40k in 3:22, which I probably could have managed with an all-out effort.

A 4:25 50K training walk!!!! For the uninitiated, I’ll put it this way: his training walk would have placed him 12 out of 133 in the Chicago 50K RUN (paved bikepath course) in 2004 (the year I walked a 6:20, which remains my PR). Of course, the world record walk is 3:35, and anything under 3:50 is considered world class.

Anyway, this is what a real athlete does in training. This is why my wife calls me a “pretend athlete”. :)

Athletic excitement this week: Football, Navy vs. Notre Dame. Can Navy end the long losing streak (since 1963?) Notre Dame is a 3.5 point favorite.
NFL: Colts-Patriots. Two teams that just completely dominated other good teams. The Colts blew out Jacksonville and Carolina on the road in back to back games (the first one on Monday night, no less) and the Patriots dominated a good Redskin team 52-7 and blew out the otherwise undefeated Cowboys in Dallas.

In running, we have the men’s Olympic trials marathon on Saturday.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | swimming, yoga | 2 Comments

Huckabee Part II

I haven’t done much today, other than some light yoga and an easy 2 mile walk with the wife.

My last post about the candidates (and about Huckabee in particular; I said that his belief in the supernatural intervention by deities disqualifies him from being President) generated a post from someone who at least appeared to be posing as a woo.

These days, it is hard to tell the morons from the those who are making fun of morons. (think: Restateupdate, LiberalsMustDie, ColbertNation.)

It turns out that this guy is “serious”, I think. On his blog he says he is from the Ozarks and says that he is proud to stand with people that liberals consider stupid.

Well, maybe I can do even better this time and get even more negative comments! ;)

Today, Huckabee went on national TV and tried to outwingnut the other wingnuts; as Crooks and Liars reports:

Huckabee, behind in the polls and not wanting to be outdone by the “we must go to war with Iran” Giuliani campaign, went on Late Edition this Sunday morning and tried his best to prove he’s just as capable of starting an unnecessary war based on bad intelligence as any other Republican candidate. Repeating the lie that Ahmadinejad said he wants to destroy Israel, Huckabee swears he will do “whatever it takes,” and will not even rule out using tactical nukes in doing so.

Huckabee: “I think the President’s right with trying to bankrupt them before we bomb them. That’s a good way to start.”

He also thinks that Saddam really did have WMDs. Just because we never found them yet doesn’t mean he didn’t have them; and if he’s elected President, the first thing he’s going to do is dig up the end-zone in Giants Stadium to look for them. (OK, I made that last part up, but not by much).

Hmmm, I wonder if Huckabee’s god told them that Saddam had them? Hmmm, he is not only a woo, but a warmonger. Nevertheless, I am sure that he is knocking them dead up in the Ozarks!

By the way, don’t expect to get any credit from the wingnuts; to them being wrong about Saddam having WMDs is a sign of intelligence; in their eyes “being wrong is being smart.” You see, one side being almost united about a failed and illegal war is a sign of a lack of serious debate.

This is sort of what is known as the “unsinkable rubber duck” defense, this time applied to foreign policy.

hese days, of course… conservatives are beset by panic and gloom. You’d think this would, at minimum, give us a small respite from boasts about the right’s victory in the War of Ideas. But no…. The new line… is that conservatives are more intellectually serious because they’re having deep debates over first principles, while liberals enforce stultifying conformity…. Presumably Iraq, where the right’s ideology has collapsed most disastrously, should be a delicate point for conservative intellectual triumphalists. Instead, it’s their favorite example. “Democrats today,” complains Berkowitz, “are nearly united in the belief that the invasion has been a fiasco and that we must withdraw promptly.” Meanwhile, conservatives are fiercely divided. Ergo, the right is “wrestl[ing] with the consequences of change more fully than progressives.”…

[I]t’s certainly true that conservatives today are more divided than liberals about whether the Iraq war has been a fiasco…. Conservatives see their split on this proposition as evidence of intellectual acuity. I see it as evidence that roughly half of all conservatives are barking mad. On last year’s National Review cruise, as Johann Hari reported in these pages, Norman Podhoretz called the war “an amazing success” and insisted that “it couldn’t have gone better.”… Maybe it’s the blind Bush hatred talking, but I’m not terribly embarrassed that liberals are united in rejecting this notion.

October 29, 2007 Posted by | politics/social | Leave a comment

Presidential Candidates: Huckabee is an unqualified Woo

First of all, what is a “Woo”? Basically, it is someone who believes in something irrational (e. g., ghosts, spirits, dousing, esp, etc.) As far as I am concerned this applies to people who believe in standard nonsense such as burning bushes, parting seas, Jewish Zombies, flaming chariots, celestial virgins, magic decoder glasses for golden plates, etc.

And, as far as I am concerned, a candidate who believes in supernatural divine intervention (creationism, a changing of physics on our behalf) is a “woo” and is therefore unqualified to lead our nation.

Using religion as a way of centering or as a way of finding the right thing to do, or to even ease back pain (yoga) is ok.

As a review, check out the following:

Answer: Obama says that religion can help with values thereby making responses more effective. Richardson says that faith is personal. Biden gives the best answer (“no amount of prayer can stop a hurricane”), and Clinton skillfully avoids turning off the woos. Edwards gives a good answer too (help him with his own personal life, but can’t miraculously cure disease.

Now, to the candidates:

Bill Richardson: I love his resume and think that he is doing a good job as governor. But his future would be more as a possible Senator.

John Edwards: solid liberal credentials, but I wonder how much he is benefiting from not being in the Senate at this time and shouting advice from “the peanut gallery”. He remains a player who asks the tough questions.

Barack Obama My top choice, but he is going through the growing pains of being a national candidate. We’ve recently discussed this. At long last, he is going after Hillary Clinton. I see that as a good thing; politics is NOT a “no contact sport”.

Hillary Clinton By far the best campaigner, and knows how to find common ground with others. No, I find her too conservative for my tastes. But I see it this way: I might agree more with Dennis Kucinich than any other candidates. But in the case of Rep. Kucinich, if I agree with him on 20 issues, I’ll probably get satisfactory action on NONE of them from him. I might agree with Hillary Clinton on, say, 10 issues, but am likely to get action on, say, 4-5 of them. Therefore, even from my point of view, I am better off with Clinton.

John McCain. I don’t agree with him on most issues, but I do trust him to put the interests of the country above those of his party. Yes, he supports the war, but wants it “done right”; that is, he would ask for sacrifices on the part of the country (which I’d agree with). If forced at gunpoint to vote for a Republican, he is the one I’d pick.

Mitt Romney On one hand, he did a good job as governor of Massachusetts. On the other hand, he’s gone away from his stands, presumably because he “had a change of heart’. Needless to say, I am skeptical. I see him as a slick “insurance salesman” from the Bourbon wing of the party. I do trust his administrative skills though.

Rudy Giuliani I agree with many of is social views, but he strikes me as a unrepentant war-monger who has 9-11 to offer and little else. He would be something like a smarter “wise guy” version of George W. Bush. No thanks.

Mike Huckabee Believe it or not, his candidacy has some cross over appeal; in fact I’ve seen some blog posts written by liberals who praise this guy (here and here)

Yes, I admire the fact that he is not a hateful Republican and that he appears to genuinely respect people. But the fact is that he is an unabashed woo; he openly believes in real, physical, divine intervention.

This clown is not qualified, period.
Think about it: how much better are our lives now-a-days (in terms of diseases that we can cure, child mortality, etc.) and WHY our lives are better: our science is better! Had we settled for a “god did it” answer, our life spans would still be in the 40’s and we’d still have child mortality rates near 50%.

Fred Thompson I once thought that he was too dumb and lazy to be a good president. But there are a couple of other views out there:
His laziness might lead to his not doing as much harm as he might otherwise do:

The New York Times dinged him for a campaign visit to Florida that featured “no more than three campaign stops a day.” The Times deemed this “a relatively leisurely schedule.”

Only three events a day? Unenthused about the butter princess? Someone stop this man from getting near nuclear weapons! At least, that’s the curious implication when people talk about Fred Thompson: that Thompson’s laziness makes him unsuited to be president. It’s an image that threatens to ruin his campaign before it has a chance. “Saturday Night Live” has turned him into a joke (“I’m not sayin’ I don’t want to be your president, because I kinda do”) and influential conservatives doubt his mettle. Thompson “has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent ‘want-to,'” Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said recently.

But this is deeply unfair. Not the notion that Thompson is lazy; he clearly is. (The quotation he chose for his high school senior portrait reads, “The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do tomorrow.”) What’s unfair is the idea that laziness disqualifies him from the presidency. In a society that has grown to fetishize work, laziness has gotten a bad rap. Moreover, a little laziness may be just what we want from our next president. [...]

But who says fanatical drive is essential in a great leader? Winston Churchill frequently stayed in bed until 11 a.m., worked in his pajamas, and enjoyed long afternoon siestas. (Some doctors argue that taking mid-afternoon naps–a practice guaranteed to draw instant mockery from friends and coworkers– leads to better work performance.) Nor is hard work necessarily a virtue. Take our most industrious recent presidents. Richard Nixon worked diligently– frequently in the name of persecuting his enemies–while Jimmy Carter moistened his brow laboring over such matters as scheduling for the White House tennis court and precision hostage rescues.

The gold standard for presidential laziness was surely set by Ronald Reagan. According to his biographer, Lou Cannon, Reagan often didn’t start his days until 9:30 a.m., finished them shortly after 5 p.m., and usually took Wednesday and Friday afternoons off. When Reagan once complained during his 1980 campaign that his schedule began too early, Cannon writes, an adviser told him to get used to it, because, once in the White House, Reagan would have a national security aide arriving at 7:30 every morning to brief him. “Well,” Reagan replied, “he’s going to have a helluva long wait.” Cannon concludes that Reagan “may have been the one president in the history of the republic who saw his election as a chance to get some rest.” You may not admire Reagan’s record. But the primary voters Thompson is wooing certainly do, making the Gipper’s example an ideal comeback next time someone calls Fred lazy.

Doesn’t George W. Bush–with his inseparable feather pillow and long hours with espn–prove the perils of laziness? Not at all. As his recent biographer, Robert Draper, told me, Bush may be inattentive to detail, but he is not in fact lazy. To the contrary, Bush is a fitness freak, a punctuality obsessive, and an early riser. [...]

Bush’s problem isn’t that he shunned work, but rather that he took it on without being prepared. Starting a war, after all, is not the act of a lazy man. It involves far more long meetings and complicated speeches than simply letting a troublesome problem fester. If Fred Thompson is as lazy as reputed (and if he’s anything like me), he’d have stuck a Post-it note to his wall back in 2002 reading saddam? and then never quite gotten around to invading. Which, in retrospect, may not have been such a bad thing.

And as the Tennessee Guerilla women point out, Thompson’s work “ethic” puts him in touch with most Americans:

They usually have the best Thompson bashing stuff.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | bill richardson, edwards, hillary clinton, obama, politics/social, religion, science | 12 Comments

All over the map

Workout notes Nothing yet; I plan to do some yoga and to walk with my wife.

Note: I feel very satisfied with yesterday’s walk though it was slow. I was beginning to question my mental toughness (could I stay with it for a long period of time) and I reminded myself that I can, so long as I keep the early pace under control.

After the walk, I met my wife at a large Chinese buffet place. This particular place is very crowded, and there are many, many very overweight people who eat there. In fact, it is common to see a car drop off a load of obese people near the door; they can’t be bothered with walking from the car! (I am NOT talking about someone leaving a physically handicapped person nearby).

So, of course, I start to feel smug, and then I remember my friend with pancreatic cancer; one who used to be able to run marathons and 5K’s at a 6:20 pace. Whatever physical abilities I have are due to, in part, having the physical health and monetary means to train.

In other words, I have been very lucky, and I need to remember that.

Football Last night, both Arizona State and Kansas remained unbeaten, as did Hawaii. Arizona State is better than people think. I don’t know about Kansas.

So, what do the major unbeaten teams have facing them?

Arizona State has Oregon, UCLA, USC and Arizona coming up. Brutal.
Kansas: Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Missouri. The last game might be tough.
Then they would have to play the south division winner.

Boston College: Florida State, Maryland, Clemson, and Miami. Doable. Then they would have a championship game.

Ohio State: Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Tough, but within the capabilities of this team.

I’d say that Kansas has the easiest road (possibly Oklahoma in the championship game, and Oklahoma, in my opinion, is overrated)

More on football: watch this 15 lateral play with 2 seconds left, as Trinity beats Milsaps.

Video of the ending of the Trinity-Milsaps game. Note: there are 2 seconds left on the game clock, but the video of it is over 90 seconds long!

This is even wilder than the famous Cal-Stanford play.

Other topics:

Politics It is no secret that I back Barack Obama. But his campaign is going through some bad growing pains.

For example, I talked about the uproar over his hiring a homophobic singer (someone who had claimed to have been cured of his homosexuality) to sing at one of his campaign events.

One blogger states how I feel

This is an update to the post below. Courtesy of Aravosis, comes this statement from Barack Obama:

“I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country,” Obama said in the written statement.

“I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division,” the statement added.

Simply not good enough, not that I frankly expected anything better. I am heartened to see that he mentions homophobia, however I would have liked o see him take a harder approach to the language he used to talk about McClurin’s views. “strongly disagree” would be better as “repudiate”.

It seems like the campaign did a terrible job vetting the participants, at least that is what I am optimistically thinking. The campaign would have faced significant blowback if they disinvited McClurin. Instead they decided to face the ire of the GLBT community. That was a political calculation and further evidence of where the community stands with respect to Barack Obama. Needless, to say this will be a continuing topic of conversation in the GLBT blogosphere and has the potential to stay in the media’s eye.

Ok, I disagree with the “simply not good enough” statement of the blog author; I think that Obama made the best of a self-inflicted bad situation.

And frankly, these are the kinds of mistakes that Hillary Clinton doesn’t make.

I don’t pay much attention to David Broder, but he gets it right this time:

These are difficult days for supporters of Barack Obama. This city is filled with people who have voted for, worked for, contributed to and, in many cases, prayed for the success of the young senator from Illinois. The struggle he has had in trying to overtake Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination is wearing on their morale.

Last weekend, I heard them tell each other that while the race started months ago, it is still the early going; that the crucial days in Iowa and New Hampshire are still ahead; and that there is time for Obama to close with a rush, as he did when he came from behind to capture the nomination for his Senate seat in 2004.

But the steady drumbeat of polls showing Clinton with more support than all the other Democrats combined — and twice as much as Obama — is taking a toll. In their private moments, they wonder whether even Obama, gifted as he is, can pull off this feat. [...]

They see Obama as someone uniquely positioned to heal a divided nation — and to change the image of America in the world — simply by virtue of his history and personality. They can visualize the headlines and television coverage around the globe if he were elected to the White House.

Among the Obama faithful, Hillary Clinton is not reviled. Indeed, there is a good deal of admiration for the way she has conducted herself in the campaign.

But at every turn, Obama’s people feel that he has been outmaneuvered and outsmarted by Clinton’s timing and tactics. [...]

The speech that he delivered at DePaul University here was as serious a discussion of the lessons of Iraq and the future of American foreign policy as anyone could wish. And, as I was repeatedly reminded by the Obama people, it got next to no national press coverage. It was briefly summarized on Page A8 of The Post, Page 11 of the Boston Globe and Page 20 of the New York Times.

Why? Because the Clinton campaign, with exquisite timing, that same morning released its latest-quarter fundraising totals, which put her ahead of Obama for the first time in the money race. The Page 1 stories in the next day’s Times and Post were simple: Clinton, leading all the polls, now leads in campaign finances as well.

The pessimists in the Obama camp worry that never again will they have such an opportunity to highlight his early opposition to the war — in contrast to Clinton’s vote for the resolution that President Bush used when he ordered the attack on Baghdad.

That is probably an exaggeration. Future debates, especially those coming in Iowa and New Hampshire, may provide more openings. It is also the case that the voters in those states are far less firmly attached to their current candidate preferences than polling numbers would suggest. There is, in fact, time for Obama to rally. It’s just hard for his people to believe it right now.

As far as Hillary Clinton goes: (ok, I am ducking as I say this): I actually LIKE her. Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer a “flaming liberal” and on the issues, Senator Clinton is easily the most conservative among the top three Democrats. But she sure is a good campaigner, and she has a good ability to find common ground (though her detractors call it “triangulating”).

We’ll return to politics a bit later (later post); right now I want to discuss some religion/society issues:

From around the blogosphere:

Science Avenger: absolutely takes Dinesh D’Souze apart. Here is a sample (please read the whole thing):

“In a way, the atheist attacks on God and religion are a bit odd. I don’t believe in unicorns, but I don’t go around writing books about them.”

Well no, that is because there is no group of unicornists running around trying to outlaw ice cream cones because of their resemblance to the Holy Horn, or trying to suppress scientific findings and indoctrinate children with bronze age creation myths, or trying to prevent people from using birth and disease control. Many atheists lack belief in astrology and the Loch Ness monster as well, but we don’t attack that nearly as much as we attack religion. Same reason: the astrologers for the most part leave us alone and don’t try to force their views on the rest of us. Let Christians develop the same tolerance for differing views, and rest assured, the atheist attacks on them would abate.

This is a Coulteristic non-argument. It’s just a smart aleck claim akin to what a 10 year old might conjure up. Why isn’t it spelled out logically? Because D’Souza knows how absurd it would sound to say “Gosh, atheists sure criticize belief in God a lot. They must really believe in Him.” It is not the stuff of serious scholarship, and certainly not the sort of thing that is going to be a challenge to atheists.

The only point I’d make here is that D’Souza’s work is more about making his fellow theistards feel better about themselves than about trying to convince the other side. Then again, you can say the same about the new atheist books (which I have and enjoyed, thank you). But they didn’t change my mind about anything.

Atheist or Anti-Theist: evanescent explains:

When I first started to self-identify as an atheist, I held several positions that I have since rejected. An example of one of these was the notion that science answers “how” questions and religion answers “why” questions. Although I was unaware of him at the time, I would have agreed with Gould’s non-overlapping magisterium. Now I don’t. I don’t actually believe religion has anything worthwhile to say on anything. Religion never shied away from making bold claims about the world when it was talking to an ignorant unscientific audience. If religion doesn’t overlap with science today it is only because the religious are rightly afraid to compete with science; a battle they have historically always lost. Some fundamentalists aren’t happy to remain on their side of the playground however; they actively undermine legitimate science and try to have their view of reality supersede any other. Finally, religion makes numerous claims that are incompatible with scientific knowledge. Some theists rationalise these incongruities by appealing to symbolism or non-literalism. That’s their choice, but I don’t think you can justify every contradiction, and indeed if religion was true, why would you have to?

Another position that I used to tacitly hold is that religion can do whatever it wants, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. That is after all, one of my universal principles for living: do as you wish, as long as no one is harmed. In theory, if religion also lived by the same precepts, I would have little problem with it. I don’t agree with everyone’s worldview, but I would hate to see a world where any worldview was imposed. In my ideal world, free speech, free inquiry, and freedom of belief (or non-belief) would be permanent inalienable human rights. The reason I am so opposed to religion is because it embodies everything that civilised society should not want to see realised on any scale.

I see no reason to believe in anything supernatural, which obviously includes god. That makes me an atheist. But what about anti-theism? You don’t have to be an atheist to be an anti-theist strictly speaking. One could fully believe in a god and also be opposed to him and his regime. One assumes that the character of Satan is an anti-theist. Being an atheist doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an anti-theist either. I don’t know many atheists personally who self-identify as anti-theists, but this might just be because they don’t know of, or like to use, the expression. I will explain why I’m an anti-theist.

First, I’d like to point out that there doesn’t seem to be one theist who doesn’t dislike the idea of what they believe in. This may seem like a rather obvious point, but is subtly powerful. There are many facts about the world we accept. Some of them we like and some of them we dislike. Some we are glad are the case, and some we wish were different. But we accept it. I don’t like the fact that I will die, but I accept it. I don’t like losing, but it happens (occasionally). I don’t like having to pay so much in taxes, but it’s a fact of life. A nihilist may consider the ephemeral nature of life as inferring that life is meaningless, whereas a humanist would infer that life is even more precious because it is so brief. Isn’t it rather convenient that there isn’t one theist who believes in a god and doesn’t wish it were true? If it were so obvious that a god existed, why are the only ones who believe in him those who wish it were also true? [...]

One point of disagreement: I fully believe that religion has something to offer, on a personal level. If one accepts religious myths as paradigms to live by (and accepts the positive ones), it can be useful. Prayer and mediation can relax people; help them get centered to deal with their respective challenges. Yoga can relax the body and mind; even make both stronger. (Yes, yoga can be thought of as a religion; in fact many continue to claim that it is bad to take the religious aspect out of it)

To me, religion becomes harmful when it stops being a self-help technique and starts being thought of as a source for truth.

Shalini takes on this issue (of combating the widespread belief that believing in irrational stuff is ok, or even good) and points out that even our mainstream media is part of the problem.

Feature story: Does your house have ghosts?

*bangs head on the wall*

A sampling of the kookery and buffoonery that passes of as a ‘feature article’ on CNN:

If natural explanations cannot be found, and it’s determined that there is indeed a presence in your house, the investigators will likely suggest you get in touch with a family minister so he or she can come to the house and to pray for the soul of the spirit that is present. This is not an “exorcism,” but simply an attempt to get the ghost to leave in peace.

October 28, 2007 Posted by | football, hillary clinton, obama, religion, science, walking | 1 Comment

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