Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 10 News Stories of 2008 According to The Political Junkie.

-The election of the first African-American to the presidency of the United States of America.

-The 2008 recession, which finds America and the world in the worse economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

-The passage of Proposition 8, which changed California's constitution to deny marriage rights to gays.

-The Chinese Olympics and the accompanying protests due to China's oppression of Tibet and their support of Burma and the Sudanese government, which is said by many to be involved in the Darfur genocide.

-The Mumbai terrorist siege.

-Russian invasion of Georgia.

-The shoe thrower protest by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi. It was more than a funny stunt as it will be seen by many historians as a fitting period to the horror story that was the presidency of George W. Bush.

-Pirates off Somali.

-War in Afghanistan heats up, Taliban resurgent.

-The Governor Blagojevich arrested on corruption charges.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Did Bush Really Sign a Gay Rights Bill into Law??

Believe it or not President Bush has signed a gay rights bill into law:

Call it a Christmas present for gay and lesbian couples. President Bush signed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 (WRERA) two days before Christmas. The new law makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death.

Previously, employers could decline and surviving same-sex partners would have to pay tax on the inheritance of the deceased partner’s retirement savings. Legally married heterosexual couples automatically avoid that tax penalty.

TPJ: Knowing Bush there must be some fine print somewhere. Too, I wonder if he signed the law with a pink pen or a feather pen?

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Festivus Miracle in Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD -- In the world of the TV sitcom "Seinfeld," Festivus is a goofy, high-tension Christmas substitute dreamt up by George Costanza's angry dad. Revelers gathered around an aluminum pole and couldn't leave until someone pinned the head of the household to the floor.

Festivus is still good for a laugh among "Seinfeld" loyalists, even 11 years after the episode was first broadcast.

Funny, but nobody's laughing much about the Festivus pole that popped up under the dome of the Illinois Capitol this week.

Not the people who set up the nearby nativity scene.

"I think it's a mockery," said Dan Zanoza, chairman of the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee.

Not the atheists who set up their own Capitol display.

"If the state's going to create a forum for religion at this time of year, which we do not approve of, this is what's going to happen," said Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

TPJ: The Christians (like usual) are missing the point. The Christians are feel that their religious traditions are being mocked and disrespected and yet that is the very reason that the Atheists are trying to get their displayed posted too. They feel disrespected, discriminated against for their lack of belief and offended that public government buildings are honoring one set of beliefs over others.

We Atheists are upset that the government isn't honoring the Constitution's requirement that government not establish a religion. So allowing a nativity scene to be displayed on government property but not allowing other groups their displays is heading down the path toward establishing and giving preference to one religion over another.

Yes, the Constitution also says that the government shouldn't prevent the free exercise of religion but it doesn't say the free exercise of only one religion--Christianity. It applies to all religions. Atheists don't fight Christanity to be annoying and just "for fun" but because government buildings should be religiously neutral since Americans of all beliefs and those of no beliefs use them and pay taxes to keep them running. Happy Festivus for the rest of us!!!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Using Science to Explain Biblical Stories. Part One: Sodom and Gommorah.

**NOTE: This is not an attempt to insult anyone so if you are insulted by this post then I apologize. I am starting a series here on how Biblical stories can often be explained by a modern understanding of science. If of course the Bible is even true--which I don't believe it is. I am doing it not out of a desire to destroy anyone's faith but from a personal interest explaining the stories I've heard during my 22 years as a Christian. I am a skeptic by heart and enjoy attempting to explain the seemingly inexplicable.***

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Sodom and Gomorrah were two ancient cities mentioned in the Bible most likely near the Dead Sea. The story in the Bible says that the town was destroyed by "God" because of the their "wickedness" by fire and brimstone (sulfur rock). So what does science have to say about this story?

As we know much of the Middle East sits above oil and natural gas fields as well as atop pockets of sulfur rock or brimstone. There are fault lines in the area where most scholars believe Sodom and Gomorrah existed as well as within much of the "Holy Land." Ancients didn't know much science and therefore natural disasters would be seen as "God's" doing and explained by man's "sinning."

So all it takes is a decent sized asteroid to hit the area, which would ignite the oil and natural gas fields nearby and underneath the city. As well as the igniting and throwing sulfur rocks into the air, which would then reign down upon the nearby cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus giving off the effect of flaming rocks pouring down upon the cities and burning them to the ground.

Another explanation could stem from the many fault lines that exist in Israel, Jordan and throughout the Middle East. An earthquake could have cracked the Earth, which exposed natural gas pockets, pools of oil and veins of sulfur rock. All it would take is one spark from the many cooking fires to explode the pockets of gas, ignite the sulfur rock, which would reign back down upon the city burning it to the ground.

There are simple, (Occam's razor) scientific explanations for this event either way and so people who were not privy to science would seek to explain such a natural disaster with what they believed--"God." "God" was an understandable way to explain events, which were at the time mysterious in origin and thus very frightening.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dedicated to Muntadar al-Zeidi and His Shoes.

Dedicated to Muntadar al-Zeidi and his soon-to-be-legendary pitch at George W. Bush on December 14th, 2008 (Baghdad, Iraq).

TPJ: Does anyone know how I can contact him or his TV station to show him my support?

UPDATE: I found an email address for the news station that he works for: h.office@albaghdadia.com

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Friday, December 19, 2008

FOX Host Carlson Afraid Christianity In Mortal Danger.

So an Atheist sign in the state capital of Illinois was stolen and now the Atheist group behind the sign wants to replace it with a new one saying, "Thou Shalt Not Steal." Yet Gretchen Carlson apparently doesn't get the point of the replacement sign.

It seems apparent to me that those who would be the most upset by the sign would be rabid Christians. Therefore reminding them that they [most likely Christian] broke a commandment of the very religion they are claiming to defend by stealing that sign is on point and brilliant. It's called using your critics words and beliefs against them. It's a great debate tactic and Carlson's only comeback to it is to claim that Atheists have no right to use the ten commandments because Atheists don't believe in them? That's a nice dodge from the point of Christians stealing despite being commanded NOT too.

So in other words Christians can break the commandments when dealing with Atheists because Atheists shouldn't have the same rights to freedom of expression as Christians enjoy. In part too because Atheists are seen by extreme Christians as evil to be defeated by any means necessary and therefore (to these type of Christians) the end justifies the means (i.e. stealing). It's not too unlike radical Muslims who think "God" will bless them in heaven for killing the nonbeliever because belief in "God" is more important than free will and the commandment against killing. Thus we see that many radical Christians don't actually believe following every commandment by the letter as they often say they do.

Michelle Maulkin actually takes the high road for once in basically saying "Just ignore them." But Carlson is completely freaked out to the point of saying that if they treat them as equals then Christianity might disappear??? Come on. Honestly. It might disappear from the public square (as it should according to the Constitution) but Christianity is not going to disappear from a country [America] that is beyond any measure predominately Christian. Besides, where is their faith that "God" won't let Christianity die out in America?

And should it be about control? Shouldn't your belief in Christianity be personal? Isn't it more about your own salvation than about being the dominate belief system to maintain your feeling of superiority as being "number 1?" I'm a Buddhist and we are no where near the dominate religion in America and I don't care. For one Buddhism is barely a religion but number two, I don't practice Buddhism so that maybe one day Buddhism can dominate America. I practice it because I find meditation to be helpful in my daily, personal life.

I am a weak Atheist/strong Agnostic, I know many other Atheists and for most it's not about abolishing Christianity but rather about equal representation in the public square. Either everyone gets to have a display or no one should as the public square belongs to everyone and public/government buildings/locations are paid for by everyone--not just Christians. It seems really simple and basic to me.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shoes Thrown at Bush in Iraq.

The second best thing to breaking a foot off up in his ass is throwing a pair at his head. That must have felt good to throw those size 10's. It's pretty sad that it has come down to people lobbing shoes at our president. Can't Obama start tomorrow?
I find it rather ironic that the Bush people said that we'd be greeted at liberators in Iraq with flowers and candy being thrown at us. However, now our president is getting stinking shoes thrown at him. It seems fitting for a farewell gesture from the country he destroyed. Seeing him standing up there in front of a crowd of people getting footwear thrown at him gives me an idea. I might be willing to forgive his idiocy if he goes on a farewell tour of America with one of those dunk tanks and every American and Iraqi gets a chance to throw a ball at the target in hopes of dunking the bastard.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart vs. Mike Huckabee on Gay Marriage.

Jon Stewart does a great job arguing for the right of homosexuals to marry.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Governor Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Politics.

(CNN) -- In the great annals of "What Was He Thinking?" (political edition), the case of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich sets a new standard -- for its breathtaking stupidity, venality and illegality.

Here's a fellow who knew he was under investigation for "pay to play" schemes, who then allegedly continued to extort campaign contributions -- and more --
without any thought that someone was actually watching. The Illinois governor retires the stupidity trophy currently held by soon-to-be-ex-Rep. William Jefferson, who stuffed $90,000 into his freezer. At least Jefferson tried to hide his criminality.

TPJ: This guy is right out of the movies (or "The Sopranos") but at least the guys in the movies know enough not to talk in their office and home when they know that they are under investigation!! What an idiot. Go to a parking lot out in the industrial part of town at 1a.m. or something for your malfeasance. This isn't some petty crime here either.

This guy was basically auctioning off a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder from the lowest gutter. His kind of corruption is the stuff of the Robert Mugabe government in Zimbabwe and maybe sending him down there is what we should do except that would be punishing the good people of Zimbabwe more than they are already suffering. This modern day Boss Tweed not only had his hand in the cookie jar but his other hand and both feet too.

So here's my question, "What is wrong with Chicago politics?" Illinois and Louisiana have to have the most corrupt politicians in the country. This kind of corruption is all too common for Chicago. One can build a long list of former governors and other political leaders from Chi Town who have been caught up in the muck but hey, at least you guys gave us Barack Obama.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gay Marriage: So Close Yet So Far?

A recent Newsweek poll found a majority of Americans favor civil unions for gays and lesbians with all the legal rights that come with marriage but stop short of favoring being officially "married."

When it comes to according legal rights in specific areas to gays, the public is even more supportive. Seventy-four percent back inheritance rights for gay domestic partners (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 73 percent approve of extending health insurance and other employee benefits to them (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 67 percent favor granting them Social Security benefits (compared to 55 percent in 2004) and 86 percent support hospital visitation rights (a question that wasn't asked four years ago). In other areas, too, respondents appeared increasingly tolerant. Fifty-three percent favor gay adoption rights (8 points more than in 2004), and 66 percent believe gays should be able to serve openly in the military (6 points more than in 2004).

TPJ: Yet despite all these numbers only 39% of Americans support allowing gays the same legal right to the word marriage as heterosexuals. It is so frustrating to be all but there on the particulars of marriage equality for gays and lesbians but falling just short of gays and lesbians enjoying the emotional enjoyment and social legitimizing term "marriage." It is nothing short of "separate but equal." It is a dismissive term (civil unions) that says, "Yeah we'll tolerate 'you people' wanting to share your lives together. However, it has to be called something different than marriage because then we'd have to admit that 'you people' are equal to us 'sexually normal' folks (heterosexuals) and we don't want to do that."

It's like finally convincing a relative with whom you've had a disagreement with in the past to share a dinner together. So they invite you over and you arrive, however, while they are willing to share the food with you they refuse to eat at the same table with you. Instead you have to eat at the "kids table" just off from the "grown up's" table.

In other words, yeah we finally accept that we have to include you in our lives but you still have to be punished somehow for your "differences" with us. You still aren't worth sharing the adults table with. They have to remind you that they are in charge and will only have a relationship with you if it's on their terms, which includes accepting a humiliating "second class" status. And somehow that's being benevolent? That gays and lesbians should be happy with second class status because at least they aren't being lynched like in the past? When it comes to gay marriage in our society we are experiencing the sexual equivalent of "whites only" establishments where instead of "whites only" city pools we have "heterosexual only" marriage rights.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Obama Cabinet and Staff Selections.

I have been watching Barack Obama's cabinet and White House Staff selections with excitement and anticipation. It appears that I'm not the only one:

Of his high-profile cabinet appointments, 69 percent to 25 percent approve Obama's pick of his former Democratic nomination rival Hillary Rodham Clinton to be his secretary of state. By an overwhelming margin, 80 percent to 14 percent of Americans endorse Obama's decision to ask President George W. Bush's defense secretary Robert Gates to keep his post, said the poll.

58 percent to 33 percent said they support Obama's plan for huge spending packages to stimulate the crumbling economy. By a more than three-to-one margin Americans said they trust Obama to handle the economy better than Bush, who will hand over control to the Democrats on January 20. Americans are not worrying that many of Obama's administration picks worked under president Bill Clinton, with most of them thinking that the appointees will help the incoming team lead more effectively.

TPJ: His desire to select people for their talents and not just for their loyalty tells me that President-elect Obama is humble enough to acknowledge that he doesn't know everything. It also shows me that he is willing and actually encourages dissenting views so that the best ideas and decisions be made whether they are his or not, which shows that he is confident in himself enough to not have to be the only voice in the room. It also shows that he's not weak where he needs "yes" men and women around him to feel confident.

I have also found it refreshing to hear from President-Elect Barack Obama on such a regular basis. It is reassuring to hear him speak about the pressing issues at hand as our current president has pretty much abdicated his role during his last days as our leader. I guess that can be seen as a good thing though that Bush is bowing out early. And combined with the regularity of press conferences from Obama I also like the way he says things with that calm yet assertive style.

It gives me comfort that our new leader is keeping us so informed in what is going on, which is something Bush never did. He never let the American people into the process and I hope that Obama continues this dialogue with us. Obama's emphasis on communication gives me assurance that he really does care what we think of the process and that we won't just be ignored as just "the masses" like Bush did. It gives me the feeling that he understands the true role of the American people in relation to government--the bosses. His ability and willingness to bring us into the discussion is refreshing.

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