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    • Why Would Iran Attack Tankers?
      Well, if it did. Let me tell a story, possibly apocryphal. Back in the 70s the Russian (USSR) ambassador supposedly had a talk with the Pakistaini leader of the day. This is what he is reputed to have said. ” I do not know who will be in charge in Moscow in ten, twenty or […]
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Dish: Health Insurance Reform

WHHHOOOOOOOOOO! Health Care Reform for white men has passed! The most historical event evah in the history of historicalness has occurred! A Democratic Congress and a Democratic President has made a Republican Healthcare Bill Law! Insurance companies will be able to not provide helpless children with adequate care at last!

All this change! All this hope! I can’t take it! I’m going to spontaneously combust!

The world is going insane, and while normally I like insanity, this is not the good kind. Obama has just passed national RomneyObamacare–a Nixon wet dream originating from the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s in opposition to Hillarycare, and yet lunatic “Tea Partiers” are running around vandalizing the houses of Congressidiots who voted for the heaping pile of shit, screaming that they are “socialists?”

Obama signs an executive order restricting women’s access to abortion, and so called “progressives” and “feminists” are having kool aid induced orgasms as they compare the passage of a Health Insurance Reform Bill that would be better served as toilet paper to the Civil Rights Act? What the fuck?

Well, maybe I’m being unfair. The Bill IS Historic. Historically shitty.

I find myself–and we all must admit that I am normally so cheerful and chipper, yes, you know you all love me– I find myself feeling gloomy. I’m walking around campus with my hands shoved in the pockets of my fake leather jacket with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth–and I don’t even smoke! Security officers are mistaking me for troubled youth and are performing random searches on me.

Well, I am troubled. I’m troubled about a lot of things, but in terms of politics and current events, I am troubled about the fact that, as MYIQ said a few weeks ago, there appears to be no end in sight.

But what really has me bummed out right now is the realization that there is no end in sight for the mess this country is in. The single biggest problem facing our nation is the illness in our political system. When I say “illness” I mean the equivalent of an inoperable cancer that has metastasized. If we fixed our political system then we would actually be able to do something about those other problems.

For most of my adult life I believed that the Democrats were the good guys so even when they were getting slapped around by the Republicans I could support them and hope that after the next election they would grow a pair and start standing up for the liberal ideals they campaigned on.

I finally realized that the majority of the Democrats who hold elected office are not only corrupt but they have the same agenda as the Republicans. Oh, the say they’re on our side, and when it’s time for them to represent us they might make some speeches andr play some parliamentary tricks but when the nitty meets the gritty they lose on purpose. Lots of times they don’t even bother to put on a dog and pony show anymore, they just vote to bail out Wall Street or take away our civil rights as if that’s what we wanted them to do.

Now as far back as I can remember the Republicans were corrupt and they tended to be pricks or assholes, and sometimes both, but they weren’t insane. Nowadays there’s a lot of GOPers that are crazy as shithouse rats. That not only includes the elected ones but the voters too. Then you got the tea baggers who don’t think the Republicans are crazy enough.

I can’t believe that I am living in a country–I country I have grown up loving with every fiber of my being despite its flaws–where this is happening. The passage of a bill that bails out the Health Care Industry is historic! And in honor of Women’s History Month we passed it on the backs of women and their reproductive rights! Cats bark! Fish have tails! Catholic Priests are ethical in their treatment of young children!

The whole world is going mad I tell you! MAAAADDDDD!

Of course, intellectually I understand, there is always hope. Democrats are going to lose a lot of seats in November and while the Republicans that come into office will be even worse, the door will open for real liberals, not phony “progressives,” to show Donna Brazile and Howard Dean’s “New Coalition” to be ineffective and thus we will be able to take our party back.

But sometimes, in this Golden Era of Hope and Change, politics just isn’t enough. For once in our lives, we needed policy. Good policy that would actually have given broke-ass students like me real Health Insurance. Just a few weeks ago, before my spring break, I came down with the flu and missed a week of classes I’m still making up. If I had insurance, I might have been able to get antibiotics and missed only one day, maybe two. This bill does nothing to help me. For one thing, I’ll be done with my undergraduates and possibly even my graduates by 2014. At this rate I’m going to have to start stripping for my ‘scrips, just like a number of poor senior citizens who will shortly be facing cuts in medicare due to this lame-assed bill.


Sometimes, I get tired. Sometimes, I don’t want to live life day to day anymore. Sometimes I think things will never get better. Trying to get something to eat, trying to fill up my gas tank–always being hungry, worrying about my mom, worrying about my friends, worrying about all the people around me at my school who are going through the same thing.

Sometimes, honestly, I’m just tired. And today, forgive me, but I have to lament over the fact that politics took precedence over policy. Sorry.

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The Confluence CCD Class for Incorrigible American Women

If anyone had told me two years ago that I would be teaching a CCD class for incorrigible women, I would have thought they were playing a practical joke on me.  For one thing, I’m the LAST person on earth who should be trying to whip anyone into line where Catholic theology is concerned.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have morals and ethics.  It’s just that until Bart Stupak and his Vatican campaign staff came along, I thought I had a choice of religion.  Silly me!  I’m just a woman.  An *American* woman.  In France, I am told by one of my colleagues, there was a recent bill passed that provided greater compensation to doctors who provided abortions.  Apparently, the doctors in France felt they were being underpaid for the service and fewer of them were willing to perform the procedure.  So they government decided to make it easier for women to get this service by paying doctors more. I’ll see if I can find a citation, er, that’s not in French.

But I digress.

See, American women are not French.  No, we need the guidance of our ministers and fathers and husbands and boyfriends and guys who belong to a 2000 year old men only club who only recently apologized to Gallileo for dissing his heliocentric theory and sell their sopranos to foreigners for sexual pleasure that they aren’t technically supposed to be dabbling in anyway.  (There’s probably some clause that they invoke about how the choirboys haven’t officially taken any vows of chastity)  THEY can get away with it.  YOU cannot. Why can’t you?  I have no frickin’ idea.  I’m just here to teach this CCD class, not make the rules.

Now, I know that some of you are not Catholic.  You may be Protestant or Buddhist or atheists or neo-pagan universalists.  You may have thought you had the right to decide for yourselves whether you believed that zygotes have immortal and innocent souls that needed protection and that you are tainted with original sin for having SEX(!) or being created from the union of two tainted individuals who had SEX(!).  See, this is where you are wrong.  It’s not up to you to decide this stuff.  I don’t know why you can’t decide.  That’s not my job.  As I said before, I don’t make the rules.

Anyway, enough of the groundwork.  Where shall we begin?  Well. let’s start with saints.  To me, saints look like a holdover from polytheism but that might just be my mother’s protestant influence on me.  Saints have feast days in the Catholic calendar.  Saints can intercede on our behalf with the head honchos in heaven.  But each one of them is in a different department and carry out only a single function.  Like St. Anthony is supposed to help you find things.  St. Christopher is supposed to help travelers.  If St. Anthony and St. Christopher got together, they might market their services to people who lose their luggage at airports.

Now, who is the saint for March 25?  You may be surprised to know (or not), that there are many saints available for March 25.  But I have found the perfect one for incorrigible American women who after yesterday’s executive order signing ceremony (that wasn’t televised at lunch to nauseate the unsuspecting diner) are newly converted Catholics.  Her name is St. Dula.

From the Saints and Angels page we learn that St Dula was a:

Virgin martyr at Nicomedia, in Asia Minor, also called Theodula. The slave of a pagan soldier, Dula died defending her chastity.

What a brave, shining example St. Dula sets for us.  We should all go out and do likewise.  She probably couldn’t help it that she was a slave but original sin is powerful.  Her parents were probably responsible for her misfortune because they had SEX(!).   Nevertheless, this poor woman, and by poor I mean a working class person making little or no money, died rather than submit herself to the indignities of having SEX(!).  I find this story strange because had Dula become pregnant from rape, she might have been able to qualify for a federally funded abortion.  But never mind the inconsistency.  Believers in 2000 year old religions have to live with such things and so do you.  From now on.  Until we elect a woman.  Next time.

I pray.

Now, be good and pure or it’s off to the laundries with you.

The Magdalene sisters will getcha if you don't watch out!

The three pillars of alpha male social dominance

3 pillars of social dominance

The battle rages on between feminists over whether a “women-only” or “liberal women-only” strategy is the best path to upending the current patriarchal system.  This system is one that deprives the female gender of appropriate representation in the power structures of our nation.  I believe this is *the* question of our generation for women who witnessed the simultaneously positive and negative experience of the election of 2008.  Two strong female candidates, each from supposedly diametrically opposed ideologies, became political lightening rods; both were revered and ravaged at the same time.  Many of us saw the awesome potential of finally cracking that political glass ceiling and it excited us.  When the dust settled in the ashes of the political aftermath, a smoldering question remained — who should crack that ceiling? or more accurately, who deserves our support?

But, to my intended point here – are we focusing too narrowly on politics in our pursuit of social equality?  I’ve previously discussed the theory of social dominance as the fundamental explanation for women’s barriers to this social equality.  (It may be helpful to read the following posts here, here, and here, which provide the foundation for what follows.)  The basic premise of social dominance theory is that a socially dominant group establishes through its power, institutions that perpetuate their dominance.  This is accomplished through the the promulgation of legitimizing myths. (legitimizing myths = beliefs, norms, doctrines, ideologies, dogma, memes, etc.)  The socially dominant therefore use their power over institutions to promote legitimizing myths that are used to persuade the non-dominant group to accept their subservience. The only effective antidote to specific areas of social dominance is to mount a successful counter-movement for the purpose of gaining access to the power structures of the institution and to erode the legitimizing myths.

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Waiting On the World to Change

Take a Deep Breath, We'll be All Right

Take a Deep Breath, We'll be All Right

I don’t just have a special interest in the next few years in Politics because of my status as a Budding Mystic. I actually happen to have a future to look forward to, dreams to strive for, ect. Let’s just thanks all the Gods I have decided to go into Healthcare for now. It’s a recession proof field, so I’ll be all right, even if my Writing career has to be put on hold for a bit.

No doubt everyone here has heard of the coming Armageddon that is to supposedly befall us in 2012. We’ll get to that in a minute., but admittedly the news over the past few days has been rough. Torture Memos have been released, Iraq doesn’t appear to be doing all that well, Pakistan is trying to contain the Taliban in it’s own borders, the Swine Flu is spreading, Bea Arther has died (cries), ect.

And let’s not not forget the Economy.

Many people will tell you that the world is going to end in 2012 because that is when the Mayan calender ends. But that doesn’t really mean much. The Mayans vanished off the face of the Earth, if I remember correctly (and you will have to forgive me if my memory on this subject doesn’t serve me all that well, as I am too lazy to look it up). The Mayan calender has thirteen cycles, and 2012 is, I believe, the end of the last cycle.

So does that mean the world is going to self destruct? Hardly. You have likely heard of a series called Left Behind, by Jerry B. Jenkins. It is all about the “Rapture” and the “Tribulation” and the “End of the World.” It is possibly one of the silliest series on the planet, because, for one thing, it is based off of the Book of Revelations. Have you read Revelations? I laugh at anyone who claims they can actually interpret that book of the Bible. Left Behind was made into a movie that failed in the box office, but the nonetheless it sparked some of the “End of the World” feelings in the General Populace.

For one thing, I don’t take the book of Revelations seriously. I remember one incident in particular that solidified that feeling. My mom gave me twenty bucks to go to Youth Group with some old family friends when I was sixteen or so, and they were talking about Revelations. I was bored, and I took an interest in the conversation. That was around the time The Da Vinci Code was causing quite a controversy, and I had been reading Elaine Pagels, so I asked the Youth Pastor who wrote the Book of Revelations. This is how our exchange went. (Again, forgive me if some facts are wrong here. It has been at least a year since I last did any heavy lifting on this topic and as I explained, I am too lazy to look it up).

Youth Pastor: Well, all we really know is that it was written by a person named John. Some Biblical Scholars believe it was John the disciple-

Me: So no one actually knows who wrote it? It says here that this John had a dream and this is what the entire book is about. A dream.

Youth Pastor: Yes, well-

Me: And I am pretty sure that the Book of Revelations was written quite some time after Jesus’s death, right? Like…. hundreds of years or something? So how can this book have been written by John the Disciple? That makes no sense. So it must have been some other John. This entire book, the Book of Revelations, is just a dream by a random guy named John!

Youth Pastor:

Me: That’s it, isn’t it?

Youth Pastor: Well, yeah.

Me: Okay, then. I’ve proved my point. Carry on.

I didn’t bother arguing any further because the guy sitting next to me was really hot, and I got distracted. But I’m still not going to forget that conversation because it just made me think more about 2012.

Personally, I don’t think that in 2012, the world as we know it is going to end just because the Mayan Calender will.

A lot of people actually believe that the next few years will be filled with upheaval (Wars, Famine, and Economic Collapse) and the result will be a spiritual awakening, or something of the like, in 2012 that will mark the beginning of a long process that will take us to the Age of Aquarius.

I don’t know, myself. But I know I’m going to try to remain optimistic, no matter what happens. I won’t get upset about what’s in the news. What will happen will happen. As little people, we might not think we have control over much, but… okay, we don’t have control over much.

My point is to have a little Faith. It might seem like things are really terrible sometimes, but you know what they say: “With Darkness comes the Dawn.”

Shadows always pass, but then the Sun comes out. Sometimes, for things to drastically change (and don’t you agree that things need to drastically change?) we have to endure pain and sadness. It’s like making mistakes. You can’t regret them TOO much, or else you’ll never learn from them!

Well, anyway, I just needed to share that with someone.

It all just reminds me of my favorite Scene from Lord of the Rings. This one here:

Oh, and this is Bullet Witch, my favorite “End of the World” Video Game, because Alicia saves the world and blows up demons and such, all in High Heels:

“End of the World” Open Thread!

The President’s Preacher Help Line

Recently, The New York Times and the Telegraph uk have published articles about five religious leaders who are advising President Barack Obama. Supposedly Obama has sought these five men’s counsel (yes, they are all men natch) because he has been without a church and pastor of his own since he threw his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright under the bus on April 28, 2008 and subsequently on June 1, 2008 resigned from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, presumably in return for the unearned Michigan delegates he was handed by the DNC on May 31 at the infamous meeting of the Rules and Bylaws Committee in Washington, DC.

The five men who have been chosen to attend to the President’s spiritual needs are “overwhelmingly opposed to abortion,” according to the Telegraph; and all except Otis Moss, Jr. are opposed to equal rights for homosexuals. Here is a little information about each of Obama’s “prayer circle”:

Otis Moss, Jr.

Otis Moss, Jr.


Otis Moss, Jr., whom The New York Times calls “a graying lion of the civil rights movement,” is pastor emeritus of Cleveland’s Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and a member of Obama’s White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He is also the father of Jerimiah Wright’s replacment as pastor of Obama’s former church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (interestingly, this connection was not mentioned in the White House press release announcing Otis Moss, Jr.’s appointment). According to the Associated Baptist Press,

As a young preacher in his native Georgia, Moss helped lead sit-ins at segregated lunch counters and fought for voting rights for blacks. He went to jail several times for participating in sit-ins and marches.

He marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala., and Washington, and urged Jesse Jackson to run for president in 1983. Moss was co-chair of the National African American Religious Committee of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign…

According to the conservative Weekly Standard, Moss is close to Jeremiah Wright.

Otis Moss Jr. and Wright shared a mentor in Samuel DeWitt Proctor, who helped give rise to black liberation theology. In fact, it was the radical Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference that sponsored Wright’s now-infamous National Press Club appearance in late April 2008–which led to Obama’s break with Trinity and Wright. Less noted was the fact that the symposium’s guest preacher that day was Reverend Otis Moss Jr. Moss has publicly defended Wright and compared his preaching to that of Amos, Micah, Malachi, and John the Baptist.

Moss’s closeness to Wright is expressed most clearly in the 40-minute tribute sermon he preached from Trinity’s pulpit on the occasion of Wright’s 36th anniversary at the church in February 2008. Of Wright, Reverend Moss said: “All of us who know him and love him have been blessed by his genius, his creativity, his scholarship, his discipleship, his sensitivity as an artist, his boldness as a prophet, and, I agree, his rhythmic poetry.” This homage came long after Wright’s hit parade of sound-bites: “God Damn America”  . . .”America’s chickens are coming home to roost” .  .  . “Bill did us like he did Monica Lewinsky.” Poetry indeed.

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The U.S. government further nationalizes over religion, liberalism takes another hit

(Cross-posted from Heidi Li’s Potpourri)

The proper relationship between markets and governments in a liberal state is a debatable one. Adam Smith, generally understood to be one of the major progenitors of modern laisezz faire economic-political theory, did not advocate for the absence of the government intervention in economic affairs. Indeed he felt that the state, via law, would be required to create efficient markets because, in the era in which he wrote, professions and financial institutions were dominated by private parties who had not achieved that domination through economic division of labor and competition – the hallmarks of the Smithean classical economic theory. Rather, professions and financial institutions were dominated by guilds and churches, among other groups, who had achieved their economic position not by virtue of serving the economic interests of the community well, but as a side-effect or perk of attaining power in other ways. Smith’s economic theory qualifies as liberal not because it advocates minimal government intervention in economic affairs, but because of its egalitarianism: Smith argued that in order to create equal opportunity for individuals pursuing their economic self-interest (which he believed would have the fortuitious effect of creating an overall efficient wealth creating economy), power had to be removed from the special interest groups of his day (the guilds, the churches, etc.) that denied that equal opportunity on grounds that had nothing to do with economic interests (e.g. excluding some people from some sorts of jobs on the grounds of the religion) or with simply shoring up economic self interest that was not being exercised within a system likely to maximize overall wealth creation.

Today, President Obama has signed an executive order creating “a revamped White House office for religion-based and neighborhood programs, expanding aninitiative started by the Bush administration that provides government
support — and financing — to religious and charitable organizations that deliver social services.” (See this New York Times article, also reprinted after the jump in this post for all quotations).

This is precisely the inverse of a Smithean approach to government and the economy. Wholly apart from questions related to the constitutionality of the expanded office and its powers, this inversion must be noted on grounds of its illiberalism. What the expanded office does is to advantage certain groups – faith-based ones – not on grounds of the likelihood of their contributing to efficient wealth production, but on the grounds that the President believes they are “good” and will do “good”:

“No matter how much money we invest or how sensibly we design our policies, the change that Americans are looking for will not come from government alone,” Mr. Obama said. “There is a force for good greater than government.”

Whether or not one agrees with President Obama’s metaphysics (if by forces for good he is referencing supernatural beings) or his confidence in the beneficence of organized religious groups (including, see article, The Church of Scientiology) has nothing to do with the illiberalism of the government funding religious groups to expand their resources for “to lift up those who have fallen on hard times,” as President Obama put it.

If one of the tasks for our society is to aid those who have fallen on hard times, we have two established, liberal ways to accomplish that task. We can entrust the job to the market, assuming that entrepeneurs will find a way to serve their own economic interest while helping others. Indeed, many mega-churches can be understood as doing just just this: they participate in the supply-and-demand cycle for charitable services, often advantaged by all sorts of tax-exemptions, not just on income but on property owned. Or we can choose to add social safety nets officiated over by civil servants acting directly on behalf of the state.

The Time article notes: “In announcing the expansion of the religion office, Mr. Obama did not settle the biggest question: Can religious groups that receive federal money for social service programs hire only those who share their faith?”

Sometimes a conspicuous lack of an answer tells us more than any answer could. The fact that this question – whether faith-based organizations who receive direct government funding to engage in economic activity may discriminate on the basis in their own hiring practices – has not been giving a resounding no tells us that there is not even aspiration to liberalism in this effort to further meld government and religion in this country. Recall, Smith specifically objected to the negative that churches had on the creation of efficient provision of goods and services because churches imposed noneconomically relevant criteria who could participate in the provision of those goods and services. President Obama’s new office flies in the face of this point.

Perhaps this is why his executive order was signed stealthily, “away from the view of television cameras or an audience”?

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Tuesday: Losing my religion

I’m about to say something offensive.  I usually don’t give warnings when I do this but in this case, it may be necessary.  For any of you out there who are Catholic or fundagelical, you may want to cover your ears.  No, I take that back.  You need to hear this.

It’s time we stopped allowing the Catholic church and other churches from dictating what the natural order of things is supposed to be.  We need to reject it as a legitimate voice in the public sphere. When it says, “Jump!”, we say, “STFU”.

Now, I will admit that the church has done a lot of good things and it serves a purpose at the community level and provides comfort and guidance to people.  But throughout its history, it has also been coercive, manipulative, hard hearted and wrong.  It took 400 years to get around to pardoning Gallileo.  Women may look at that example and think it means that there is hope.  Maybe it will take another 400 years to validate women as human beings with souls but they’ll get around to it someday.  I would like to disabuse you of that notion.  The Catholic church is an entity that is run by men, ruled by men and whose hierarchy does not EVER let a woman in even on the ground floor.  They claim this is dictated by the New Testament itself and it will never change.  Think about that for a moment.  As far as the Catholic church is concerned, the interpretation of Christianity according to Jesus, Paul and the other apostles excludes women from the ranks of power and equality for eternity.  It is absolute.  

Now, I don’t know about you but I’ve always believed, based on my own rejection of an equally fundagelical religion imposed on me at a young age, that God or Goddess can use all of the help she can get.  Ok, to go further than that, I do not accept the traditional concept of a supreme being.  Put me in the Providence, creator, nebulous cosmic energy force category.  My creator does not have a gender and therefore has no reason to discriminate.  My Jesus never put women on a plane lower than men.  My creator is too busy with the universe to be worried about what two men do in the privacy of their bedroom.  And if this is what I believe, why should I ever buy into the anachronistic, unevolved, “women are second class citizens?  How conveeeenient” notions of some organized gang of guys in the Vatican treehouse?

The next time someone brings up the need to cater to the religious crowd, I’m going to say, “And what does that have to do with me?  I don’t care two figs for the religious crowd.  If they want to worship the ultimate employer in gender based discrimination, let them do it on their own dime.”

What I’m saying, people, is that if we want to put women on an equal footing, we have to attack the problem of discrimination at its root- religion.  And the first thing that needs to happen is church and state need to be completely separate.  Completely.  That means no more Office of Faith Based Initiatives, no more Rick Warrens at invocations.   If you want to pray, do it privately.  If you want to get up every morning and praise Yaweh that you were not born a woman, make sure you leave it in your bedroom before you step out that door. 

And if we want Obama to take us seriously, we need to pressure him to distance himself from the church.  Effective immediately.  The church is not my ultimate authority and it doesn’t represent MY values.  I am both offended that it has been allowed to dictate policy with permission of *two* administrations and insistent that it stops using my tax dollars to get even more of a foothold to practice discrimination with the help of government and I want it to stop.  If the stimulus bill has funds allocated to faith based initiatives, I want them stripped out. 

Lather, rinse, repeat until they are gone, baby, gone.

“[I]t is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties….Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?”

-James Madison, From the “Memorial and Remonstrance,” 1785