Archive for June, 2005

Around the LC

June 30, 2005 2 comments

It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these:

Archy discusses the flypaper strategy.
BBWW lists some interesting things paid for by our tax money in the name of airport security.
Amy has a post supportive of the thimerosal/autism scaremongers. Skeptico and Orac are required reading on this subject.
Earnhardt the messiah.
New member Dodecahedron has a very succinct statement on the flag burning amendment.
Our second new member quotes the old “Vietnam 2 Preflight Check.” Still good.
New member number three (this is alphabetical order, of course, not any significant ordering) has a good post on Afghanistan.
I seem to lose against Michael Jackson just as the Downing Street Memos do. Losing any sort of fight against Michael Jackson is embarrassing.
Noz talks about Iran’s new president’s involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis.
New member number four discusses Joe Barton’s crusade against Michael Mann and global warming.
So, those guys on Wall Street aren’t golden gods after all.

Categories: Blogging

Remember kids, the Jews are keeping you from using Amtrak

June 29, 2005 3 comments

Israel and its friends are to blame

It’s sad but true: When our government had to chose between all the folks using Amtrak and Israel’s military ambitions, it chose to spend your tax dollars on a foreign power (who some believe possess the sixth most powerful military in the world). Amtrak needed $1.8 billion this year and got $0 while Israel wanted $2.2 billion in military aid and $360 million in economic aid and got everything it asked for.

I almost want to say this letter is satirical, but it seems just sane enough not to be. Very odd.

Categories: General

Daily religion-bashing

June 28, 2005 2 comments

Just cause I feel like it:

Critics say the church hushes up this story — it involves an evil demiurge who, 75 million years ago, blew up 178 billion souls with hydrogen bombs planted in Earth’s volcanoes, trapped them on “electrical strips,” brainwashed them and packaged them into clusters that now cling to every human being and mess with our bodies and heads — for two reasons. One is that the church needs a sufficiently dramatic payoff after stringing members along through years of courses and trainings, all costing upward of a quarter of a million dollars. The other reason is fear that revealing this fantasia of kooky stories might turn off potential converts — but, hey, that never hurt the Old Testament.

(Part 2 of Salon’s Scientology series)

Categories: Religion

Scientology in Salon

June 27, 2005 Leave a comment

Salon has the start of four part series on Scientology online today. Not bad, but nothing that interesting. Hopefully the series can make up some of the credibility lost in the recent thimerosal/autism fiasco.

Categories: Religion

Ten Commandments OK in Texas, not in Kentucky

June 27, 2005 Leave a comment

Court: Some Ten Commandments Displays OK

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court struggled in a pair of 5-4 rulings Monday to define how much blending of church and state is constitutionally permissible, allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed outside the Texas state capitol but not inside Kentucky courthouses.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held. Those courthouse displays are unconstitutional, the justices said, because their religious content is overemphasized.

Not surprisingly, I agree with that one. It seems painfully obvious when you read exactly what they did:

As directed by the resolutions, the Counties expanded the displays of the Ten Commandments in their locations, presumably along with copies of the resolution, which instructed that it, too, be posted, id., at 9. In addition to the first display’s large framed copy of the edited King James version of the Commandments, the second included eight other documents in smaller frames, each either having a religious theme or excerpted to highlight a religious element. The documents were the “endowed by their Creator” passage from the Declaration of Independence; the Preamble to the Constitution of Kentucky; the national motto, “In God We Trust”; a page from the Congressional Record of February 2, 1983, proclaiming the Year of the Bible and including a statement of the Ten Commandments; a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln designating April 30, 1863, a National Day of Prayer and Humiliation; an excerpt from President Lincoln’s “Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible,” reading that “”[t]he Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man””; a proclamation by President Reagan marking 1983 the Year of the Bible; and the Mayflower Compact.

Gee, I think we’re seeing a pattern.

Scalia lets loose on the decision and on Stevens’s dissent in the Texas case in his dissent. Some of it is plainly bizarre: he apparently failed to read Stevens’s citation for an argument he made (Stevens dissent in Van Orden, footnote 32) before attacking him and he attacks Stevens for making a nonsensical argument:

JUSTICE STEVENS also appeals to the undoubted fact that some in the founding generation thought that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment should have a narrower meaning, protecting only the Christian religion or perhaps only Protestantism. See Van Orden, ante, at 20–22. I am at a loss to see how this helps his case, except by providing a cloud of obfuscating smoke. (Since most thought the Clause permitted government invocation of monotheism, and some others thought it permitted government invocation of Christianity, he proposes that it be construed not to permit any government invocation of religion at all.)

Oddly, Scalia seems to understand the point of his argument a bit later:

JUSTICE STEVENS argues that original meaning should not be the touchstone anyway, but that we should rather “expoun[d] the meaning of constitutional provisions with one eye towards our Nation’s history and the other fixed on its democratic aspirations.” Van Orden, ante, at 27–28 (dissenting opinion). This is not the place to debate the merits of the “living Constitution,” though I must observe that JUSTICE STEVENS’ quotation from McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 407 (1819), refutes rather than supports that approach.

That was exactly Stevens’s point with that argument:

A reading of the First Amendment dependent on either of the purported original meanings expressed above would eviscerate the heart of the Establishment Clause. It would replace Jefferson’s “wall of separation” with a perverse wall of exclusion—Christians inside, non-Christians out. It would permit States to construct walls of their own choosing Baptists inside, Mormons out; Jewish Orthodox inside, Jewish Reform out. A Clause so understood might be faithful to the expectations of some of our Founders, but it is plainly not worthy of a society whose enviable hallmark over the course of two centuries has been the continuing expansion of religious pluralism and tolerance.

It is our duty, therefore, to interpret the First Amendment’s command that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” not by merely asking what those words meant to observers at the time of the founding, but instead by deriving from the Clause’s text and history the broad principles that remain valid today. As we have said in the context of statutory interpretation, legislation “”often [goes] beyond the principal evil [at which the statute was aimed] to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.”” Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U. S. 75, 79 (1998). In similar fashion, we have construed the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit segregated schools, see Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U. S. 294 (1955), even though those who drafted that Amendment evidently thought that separate was not unequal. We have held that the same Amendment prohibits discrimination against individuals on account of their gender, Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U. S. 677 (1973), despite the fact that the contemporaries of the Amendment “”doubt[ed] very much whether any action of a State not directed by way of discrimination
against the negroes as a class, or on account of their race, will ever be held to come within the purview of this provision,”” Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 81 (1873). And we have construed “”evolving standards of decency”” to make impermissible practices that were not considered “cruel and unusual”” at the founding. See Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. ___, ___ (2005) (slip op., at 1) (STEVENS, J., concurring).

To reason from the broad principles contained in the Constitution does not, as JUSTICE SCALIA suggests, require us to abandon our heritage in favor of unprincipled expressions of personal preference. The task of applying the broad principles that the Framers wrote into the text of the First Amendment is, in any event, no more a matter of personal preference than is one’s selection between two (or more) sides in a heated historical debate. We serve our constitutional mandate by expounding the meaning of constitutional provisions with one eye towards our Nation’s history and the other fixed on its democratic aspirations.

Sorry for the long quote, but it seemed necessary. The Texas case decision I don’t agree with:

In contrast, a 6-foot-granite monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol — one of 17 historical displays on the 22-acre lot — was determined to be a legitimate tribute to the nation’s legal and religious history.

A legitimate tribute where all the monuments surrounding it have something to do with specific Texas history? Stevens puts it best (again):

The sole function of the monument on the grounds of Texas’ State Capitol is to display the full text of one version of the Ten Commandments. The monument is not a work of art and does not refer to any event in the history of the State. It is significant because, and only because, it communicates the following message:

[Ten Commandments]

…The message transmitted by Texas’ chosen display is quite plain: This State endorses the divine code of the “Judeo-Christian” God.

Well, one out of two isn’t terrible, I guess.

UPDATE: There are more intelligent commentaries here and here.

Categories: Church and State


June 24, 2005 Leave a comment

Emperor – Inno a Satana
Arcturus – Collapse Generation
Frantic Bleep – Mausolos
Pain of Salvation – Song for the Innocent
Frantic Bleep – Curtainraiser
Darkane – Parasites of the Unexplained
Nevermore – Who Decides
In Flames – In Search For I
Isis – False Light
Mastodon – Joseph Merrick

Categories: Music


June 23, 2005 1 comment

As if I wasn’t irritated enough (de-facing the grocery store for inventory will do that to you), I find that Karl Rove (of all people!) made some vile and ridiculous remarks yesterday. I’m past being surprised, but I had the same response Heliologue had to the White House’s defense of the speech. Maybe Rove was just mad at American Dad on Sunday.

Then, I see that John Vincent is under attack. Absolutely mind boggling. McCarthyism? Where the fuck do they come up with this stuff?

Anyway, I’m going to go listen to the re-release of Up the Downstair I just received and probably go to sleep.

Oh yeah, another flag burning amendment passed the House. What a bunch of idiots.

Categories: Bush, Montana