"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Liberty "University" demands apology from purge victims

Just the other day, we saw the story about how Liberty "University" had decided to pull the plug on a Student Democrats club on its campus.

Here is the email that notified them of their official recognition being yanked. Liberty "University's" clubs and student organizations policy reads like the standard boilerplate most actual institutions of higher learning have that is intended to keep radical, fringe, and criminal groups and cults off campus. No university want to be seen having its very own chapter of the Klu Klux Klan or an officially sanctioned wing of the Crips gang on campus. But we are talking here of the Democratic Party, you know, the guys who won the last presidential election, so you have to wonder about the kind of narrowminded, misinformed intolerance of points of view that are at even the slightest variance from their own expressed here:

Even though this club may not support the more radical planks of the democratic party, the democratic party is still the parent organization of the club on campus. The Democratic Party Platform is contrary to the mission of LU and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, Hate Crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc). The candidates this club supports uphold the Platform and implement it. The candidates supported are directly contrary to the mission of LU. By using LU or Liberty University and Democrat in the name, the two are associated and the goals of both run in opposite directions.

But then the story got some press and the "university" back pedaled a bit, saying the club could still meet on campus and be an unofficial organization, it just wouldn't be recognized by the school. Then things got a bit worse for them when Americans United for the Separation of Chuch and State, a group that monitors church-state connections, especially organizations that seek tax-exempt status as non-political religious groups, asked the IRS to look into Liberty "University" like they did with Rev. Jerry Falwell back in the 80s when his group lost its tax-exempt status for a few years

Legacy hire and Liberty "University" President Jerry Falwell Jr. learned his daddy's lessons well. The first being, when you've done something wrong to someone, blame the victim and insist that they apologize.

One can only hope the apology reads something like:

“Dear President Falwell,
We are deeply sorry that you are such a complete douche bag and that this so-called school is such a pathetic indoctrination camp for the Christian right. As a result of our attempts to buck your ham-handed attempts to shut down any semblence of free speech on campus, we have all been offerred full scholarships at real schools where we will get a real, fact-based education. Enjoy being the big frog in your ever shinking pond, you fascist numbskull. Toodles.

yours in Jesus

The former members and faculty advisors of the Liberty University Democrats

PS: Enjoy the coming IRS audit

A giant tip of the Fez to Bene Diction, who has the full tale.

Torture counterproductive - who could have guessed?

You would think that the points made by this former counter-intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan would be self-evident. You would think that, but then if you are reading this blog you probably aren't a knuckle-dragging right-wing sadistic moron that thinks  "24" is a documentary.

General Petraus apparently agrees - and its nice to see him admit that the United States has violated the Geneva Convention, rather than just arguing that such an international agreement is "quaint".

Cute fluffy bunnies of the sea or dinner?

Okay, this has gone on long enough. All this bullshit about the Governor General eating some seal meat that is. It is no better or worse than eating a big mac, roast chicken or a salmon steak. 

Meat is meat and this is simply a matter of cultural differences. Different people in different parts of the world eat or avoid different kinds of animal protein for all kinds of cultural and religious reasons. Try getting a bacon sandwich in Islamabad or Tel Aviv, or stewed dog in Philadelphia or jugged moose in Timbuktu or Okinawa-style horse sashimi in Cincinatti, or whale meat in London. Try asking for rabbit in Tokyo or a nice sirloin in New Delhi. 

Some societies have culinary cultural prejudices that are so strong that they don't eat any meat. Many individuals have adopted vegetarianism on health or ethical grounds and more power to them, but for a lot of people on this planet a vegetarian diet is not only impractical, but nigh impossible. You can't live on vegetables in a place that can't grow a sufficient quantity of them and so for people in the far North, vegetarianism isn't really an option. The Inuit and the Lapp have survived for millenia on meat - fish, caribou, reindeer, whale, seal, hare - you name it - if it swims or runs, its edible and there isn't much else edible in the far north. 

People, historically, have eaten what was available to them in most societies. At the same time, our various societies have evolved certain prejudices about eating companion animals or those that we consider unclean for religious reasons often based on bronze age sanitary conditions, when a bad clam could mean life or death. Other religious restrictions require animals to be killed in certain ways on the argument that such a method is the most humane. As our culture has become more globalized, these prejudices have either faded and are kept alive strictly as religious traditions or have become more strictly localized and often clung to in the name of tradition. Many Jews and Muslims no longer keep strictly kosher or halal, and dog is not widely eaten outside Korea as far as I know. Most Japanese no longer eat whale except as a sort of delicacy, while it used to be part of the school lunch menu for a variety of economic reasons.

But a new kind of prejudice has emerged as people have gotten farther from first hand experience with the food they eat, especially in the developed world. We don't like to see where those hamburgers and chicken fingers come from. We don't like to acknowledge the realities of the factory farm, the feedlot and veal pen.  We like the sausage just fine, but we don't want to see how its made. We like the steak, but we don't want to see the slaughterhouse. 

And so many condemn hunting as barbaric. They see no need to for people to go out into the woods and shoot Peter Cottontail or Bambi's mom when one can go to the supermarket and get slices of Wilbur and Babe wrapped in cellophane on nice anticeptic styrofoam trays. We don't like to eat anything cute - rabbit, deer, squirrel and yes, seal - all fall into this category.

I'll agree that buying your feedlot fattened beef and factory farmed chicken at the supermarket is a more efficient way of getting animal protein than hunting deer. I'll even specify that the majority of hunters in North America don't need to hunt to put groceries on the table. I'll even put aside all the "wildlife management" models that are used to argue the need for culling animal populations to avoid animal starvation based on the notion of man replacing natural predators. I'll also put aside the issue of fur for the moment.

 I won't put aside the simplistic "all meat is murder" argument beloved by some, because frankly it's complete bullshit. Mother Nature is red of tooth and claw, and we are part of nature. Man would not have survived the stone age, nor flourished as we have, without eating meat. Animals eat each other and for all our strivings and philosophy, we are part of the food chain. I'll admit we eat too much meat these days and treat animals badly on the whole, but anything that walks or swims or crawls is a meal for something else in the long run, circle of life, ashes to ashes etc etc.

Which bring us back to the seal hunt and Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean. The objection seems to be that she ate a cute little seal, the ones with the faces like puppies and the big sad eyes, and she ate it's heart! raw! Oh noes! Icky! -- and those nasty Canadians go out and massacre poor helpless baby seals for fun and profit in the cruelest ways imaginable! It must be true, because I saw it in a PETA brochure. All that video footage you've seen of Newfies and Eskimos killing baby seals looks bad and is great for raising funds, but most of it is no worse than what goes on in any other abattoir. 

Have a look around for the facts, not the PETA version of them. Most of what you hear from PETA on this subject is complete bullshit. In fact, most of what you hear from PETA on most subjects is complete bullshit. Their latest campaign, a boycott of maple syrup to convince the Canadian government to ban the seal hunt, is like boycotting American kiwi growers to convince the American government to end the Iraq War.

I don't always agree with Penn Jillette  - in fact I think he's often guilty of selective use of the facts to prove points that conform with his own beliefs, but Penn and Teller raise some interesting questions about PETA here -- though I think they do a severe disservice to their own arguments by allowing Dennis Prager and Ted Nugent on camera.

The extremists of PETA who want to "free" pets and domestic animals don't do any favors for the cause of protecting animals who actually need protecting. I agree that there should be limits on testing things on animals, but I'd rather things like AIDS drugs were tested on rats than humans. If we are going to have chemical cosmetics, they have to be tested for safety and I'd rather they were tested on animals than humans.  Animal experiments are a vital and necessary part of medical research and there are millions of people alive today who would be dead if it weren't for scientists sacrificing the lives of a lot of rats, rabbits, dogs and monkeys.

Whether Canada needs a commercial seal hunt is an open question, but the hunt wouldn't exist if people weren't buying sealskins. Whether the commercial hunt is any more or less humane than the poultry, beef or pork industries is not in question. There is virtually no difference. And Michaelle Jean was joining Inuit subsistence hunters for a meal. And there is no grounds I can see for criticism of the Inuit for hunting seal for food -- there aren't a lot of grocery stores up in the Arctic Circle

So if you want to go full PETA and eschew the use of animals in any way, be my guest. Stop wearing leather and eating meat and eggs and dairy - and stop using modern medicine and modern materials such as mylar that involve the use of animal products. You should also be aware that destruction of habitat is the real threat to most animal species, so stop using roads and living in cities or even wood or concrete structures and  get yourself a nice unheated cave somewhere. You have the right to make that decision of conscience, but so do other people and our decision may not be the same as yours. Humans as a species have eaten meat and worn skins since the dawn of time, I don't expect we will stop anytime soon just because a few people get a bit squeamish. The outrage over Michaelle Jean sampling some seal is in large part misguided, misinformed, arrogant and hypocritical. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Saturday night's all right for uke fights!

Apologies for stealing the title from RossK over at the Gazetteer, who seems to have gone AWOL for the moment, but this should tide us all over until the next edition of Weekend Uke Cover Fights.

First the original:

Now the cover by the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra -- apparently this is Brett McKenzie's pre-Flight of the Conchords band.

Brett would be the smaller, guitar-playing guy in this duet

"What would Jesus do if he was attacked by a polar bear?"

I really couldn't possibly add anything to title like that, except the following Q and A.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

They're here!

The new Jack Chick tracts are out! "It's a Deal" and "Evil Eyes" are new classics
but these older ones are better.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Round the blogosphere today

More to come

Selling Canada one piece at a time

I always thought that when people said "count the silverware" when the government changed hands, that it was just an expression of general mistrust, not something to be taken literally.
Silly me, I forgot we were talking about Stephen Harper and Co.

The truth won't set Dick Cheney free

For Dick Cheney 9/11 means never having to say you're sorry. His speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute is a masterpiece of self-justification

Over on the left wing of the president's party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they're after would be heard before a so-called "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and political opponents as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors

Now let's just break that paragraph down one bit at time and I'll see if I can translate it for you:

"Over on the left wing (those who oppose me are all communists) of the president's party (no real Republican would object to what we did) there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists (The ends justify the means and torture worked, it saved lives-- no really it did, nevermind all those people who argue otherwise--but our opponents don't care, they are just playing 'gotcha'). The kind of answers they're after (they don't care about the truth, they just want something that would make us look bad) would be heard before a so-called (it wouldn't be the truth) "Truth Commission." Some are even demanding that those who recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted (the reverse Nuremberg defense- I'm not responsible for what happened, I was only giving the orders), in effect treating political disagreements (ordering torture and other violations of the law and Constitution are merely partisan politics) as a punishable offense (they are being vicious and vindictive and want to hurt me, help!) , and political opponents (war criminals are merely people with whom the left disagree) as criminals. It's hard to imagine a worse precedent (oh noes! people will be held responsible for their actions), filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse (if we start prosecuting people for torture and war crimes, who knows where this whole 'punishing people for breaking the law' thing could go? My buddies at Haliburton could be next) , than to have an incoming administration criminalize (ordering people to be tortured, some of them to death, was not a crime, it wasn't! its only a crime because the Democrats say it is, despite 200 years of law that says otherwise ) the policy decisions (actual crimes) of its predecessors.

The real reason that the former vice president has been all over the TV and newspapers lately is not so much about securing his place in history as it is securing his place outside of the dock in the Hague.

Look, I don't think anyone will argue that the 9/11 attacks were not a horrible thing. Nearly 3,000 people died and that is pretty goddamn awful. But, rightwing pantspisser pronouncements to the contrary, it didn't change anything. The law is still the law. The worst crimes perpetrated do not allow us to ignore the law when it comes to catching and punishing the perpetrators. The Manson Family murders did not give the police the right to shoot suspected Beatles fans on sight.
Just because you're scared shitless doesn't mean you can do anything you want. The notion that "the end does not justify the means" is not just some collegiate philosophy 101 bit of theory, it is pretty much the basis of western law, along with that whole "innocent until proven guilty" thing and "habeas corpus" -- but then again, I suppose those were ignored or suspended too during the Cheney regime.

Maybe if Bwana Dick Cheney had thought of the possibility of going to jail a few years ago, the world would be a better place right now, but I suppose given his history in the Nixon and Ford administrations, one can't really expect him to understand that just because the President does it, doesn't mean its not illegal.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's spelled T-U-C-K-E-R, but it's pronounced "Fail"

Everyone's least favorite bowtie model and smarmy right-wing media douche bag Tucker Carlson has decided that, despite having utterly failed on PBS, CNN and MSNBC to do anything but prove himself a loathable loser, the internet community desperately needs another pathetic, fact-free clearing house for the screeching of the neo-nazi, paint-chip-eating fraternity brother wing of the right that aren't already on Red State or Big Hollywood. Ah well, on the bright side, think how much easier this will make things for people like Tbogg, Roy Edroso and the General. This won't be low-hanging fruit, this will be apples that jump off the tree and into the basket, peel and slice themselves and climb between layer of pastry, demanding to be baked.

And yes, Tucker is still a dick.