Samuel the Supervisory Cat
In keeping with the Bloggin' of the Dog, here is an intro to Samuel, Holly's Office Cat!
A little brevity on the weekend...
Progressive, balanced, committed, tolerant. Proud to represent the unheard voices of same-sex couples and their supporters...
Read, think, ACT!
|Marriage is love.|
So three key questions now linger regarding this press conference:
1. Will the press ask the President tough questions? Reporters are supposed to set the question agenda and ask tough ones. Those are often questions the subject (a Democrat or Republican) may not want to get.
2. Will reporters INSIST on doing follow up questions? Even if the President picks someone to avoid a follow up, the next person should then ask a follow up to make sure that question has been fully answered. Follow up questions are a vital part of the interviewing process. It doesn't matter if someone is a liberal or conservative - they should get solid questions and, if necessary, follow up questions for more details.
3. Will Jeff Gannon be there? Or will he be busy (or booked)?
To the dismay of many mainstream religious leaders, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, participated in a weekend telecast organized by conservative Christian groups to smear Democrats as enemies of "people of faith." Besides listening to Senator Frist's videotaped speech, viewers heard a speaker call the Supreme Court a despotic oligarchy. Meanwhile, the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, has threatened the judiciary for not following the regressive social agenda he shares with the far-right fundamentalists controlling his party.
Apart from confirming an unwholesome disrespect for traditional American values like checks and balances, the assault on judges is part of a wide-ranging and successful Republican campaign to breach the wall between church and state to advance a particular brand of religion. No theoretical exercise, the program is having a corrosive effect on policymaking and the lives of Americans.
The centerpiece is President Bush's so-called faith-based initiative, which disregards decades of First Amendment law and civil rights protections. Mr. Bush promised that federal money would not be used to support religious activities directly, but it is. The program has channeled billions of taxpayers' dollars to churches and other religion-based providers of social services under legally questionable rules that allow plenty of room for proselytizing and imposing religious tests on hiring. The initiative even provides taxpayers' money to build and renovate houses of worship that are also used to offer social services.
Offices in the White House and federal departments pump public money to religious groups, but provide scant oversight or accountability to make sure that the money is spent on real services, not preaching. Indeed, Mr. Bush's goal is to finance programs that are explicitly religious.
A recent want ad posted by a taxpayer-financed vocational program of the Firm Foundation for inmates in a Pennsylvania jail stipulated that a job seeker must be "a believer in Christ and Christian Life today" and that the workday "will start with a short prayer." A major portion of inmates' time is spent on religious lectures and prayer, according to a lawsuit filed by two civil liberties groups.
The Bush administration and Congress have turned over issues bearing on women's reproductive rights to far-right religious groups opposed not just to abortion, but to expanded stem-cell research, effective birth control and AIDS prevention programs. The Food and Drug Administration continues to dawdle over approving over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for fear of inflaming members of the religious right who deem any interference with the implantation of a fertilized egg to be an abortion. This foot-dragging may be good politics from one narrow view, but it harms women and drives up the nation's abortion rate.
The result of this open espousal of one religious view is a censorious climate in which a growing number of pharmacists feel free to claim moral grounds for refusing to dispense emergency contraception and even birth control pills prescribed by a doctor. Public schools shy away from teaching about evolution, and science museums reject scientifically sound documentaries that may offend Christian fundamentalists. Public television stations were afraid to run a children's program in which a cartoon bunny met a lesbian couple.
In a recent Op-Ed article in The Times, John Danforth, the former Republican senator and U.N. ambassador who is also a minister, said his party was becoming a political arm of the religious right. He called it a formula for divisiveness that ultimately threatened the party's future. With the nation lurching toward the government sponsorship of religion, and the Senate nearing a showdown over Mr. Bush's egregious judicial nominees, it is a warning well worth heeding.
The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons.Read it all HERE.
Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram.
More than 700 people joined religious leaders and Democratic politicians at two rallies yesterday to denounce Christian conservatives' use of a Louisville church as a platform to advocate prohibiting filibusters against judicial nominees.
The larger of the two rallies, designed to counter a telecast from Highview Baptist Church last night, took place at Central Presbyterian Church near downtown Louisville. More than 600 people came to hear Baptist, Episcopal, Jewish and ecumenical leaders from around the country criticize what they described as an effort to paint dissidents as anti-religion...
Yet two-thirds of Americans polled by Gallup say that the economy is "only fair" or "poor." And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse.
Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so...
The two-pronged allegations entail powder-keg charges that the city tested AIDS drugs on foster children and that if a foster parent objected the children were then placed elsewhere.
The New York papers have started breaking this story and if it isn't proven incorrect it could prove to be quite explosive. First, some tidbits from The New York Times:
The city's Administration for Children's Services has hired an outside research firm to investigate allegations that the city inappropriately put foster children into medical trials for AIDS drugs in the 1980's and 1990's and that foster parents who objected to the trials lost custody of the children.
The agency also said it would form a panel of national health care experts to review the findings of the investigation, to be conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice, a New York-based nonprofit research group. The agency's commissioner, John B. Mattingly, said he thought that children's services had acted appropriately but that he has asked for the outside investigation to allay concerns raised by some reporters and by a minority advocacy group. Most of the children in the trials were African-American or Hispanic.
"We are taking this step because, while we believe that the policies in place at the time reflected good practice, we acknowledge the need for transparency in all of our dealings with the public," Mr. Mattingly said. "For us to be effective in our mission to protect New York City's children, we must have a sense of mutual trust with those families we seek to serve."
Accusations that the city had allowed babies in foster care who were not perilously ill to be used in medical testing of AIDS drugs were first reported in The New York Post in 2004.
At the time, officials from the agency and from the hospitals where the trials had taken place said they had been legitimately conducted on only foster children dying of AIDS who had no other medical options at the time.
The Times' story gives Mattingly's explanations that nothing untoward happened. Some facts he offers:
The review by the agency staff, he said, determined that about 465 children had taken part in the trials between 1988 and 2001, with most participating before current treatments for AIDS became commonly available. He said that according to the records only two children were removed from foster parents who refused to undergo the trials and that both of those children had serious medical conditions that required treatment.
But Vera Hassner Sharav, the president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection says the agency can't be trusted to in effect investigate itself:
She said that documents filed with the federal government showed that many of the foster children were only presumed to have AIDS. "It's a hell of a thing to give a child toxic drugs when they are only presumed to have AIDS," Ms. Sharav said.
And it doesn't end there.
News-Medical.Net focuses on the outrage and includes these questions raised by New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright:
--Who made the decision to administer the drugs?
--How old were the children, and where were they from?
--Given that this program began in an era when people had yet to fully comprehend the how and why people contracted HIV, were the children made aware of what medications they were taking, and for what they were taking them?
---Given that medical science was not nearly advanced at the time this program began, was sound medical science utilized in administration of these drugs?
--Were the foster or birth parents made aware, and was permission given?
Meanwhile, the AP has lots of info on the controversy and offers this on what comes next:
The review also will examine whether the children fit the medical criteria to be included in the tests and if the enrollments were appropriate given the medical knowledge of the time, according to the ACS.
Mattingly said he did not believe that any children had died from their participation in the research.
He said investigators will try to find as many of the participating children as possible to assess their current medical condition, and the agency will also be reviewing records to see if there were more children who participated.
If you ponder this case, you can see that the key questions (as from the ones Wright raised) are these:
- If this indeed happened, what kinds of drugs were tested?
- Who ordered them to be tested?
- Who specifically got the drugs?
- What, if anything, resulted from the drugs? Did the drugs help or hurt these children? If so, specifically, in what ways?
- What are the specifics — even if it only occured with one case — regarding any foster parents whose kids were removed because they would not agree to it? What do these foster parents (if they are still around) have to say under oath to investigators? Every effort should be made to locate them.
On a case like this there seem to be several possible outcomes.
It could turn out that this is a case of a group and some elected officials making allegations that prove to be overblown. Credibility is like oil in a well. Once removed, you can't put more back in.
Or it could turn out that for some 20 years foster kids were used as human guinea pigs and pulled out of homes where their foster parents wouldn't agree. The argument will then be made that the intentions weren't bad and that if the drugs succeeded millions of lives could be saved. But if the allegations are proven true then those arguments, we are sure, will tested extensively by some lawyers who could become quite rich.
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By Michelle Goldberg
April 25, 2005 | Beneath their black robes and mandatory head scarves, the women in Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoirs about Iran after the revolution are worldly even by Western standards. Outdoors in
By inviting outsiders into this intimate world, Satrapi makes contemporary
To be a secularist in
Satrapi's latest, "Embroideries," is less explicitly political than the
The title itself sounds quaint and homey, but it's a spiky double-entendre. In a "full embroidery" operation, we learn, a woman's vagina is sewn to trick her husband into thinking he married a virgin. Satrapi's book is a mocking rebuke to the cult of chastity, and a statement about the way human passions find their way around the most determined repression.
One thing that comes through in all of your books is that the regime in
Absolutely. In the first place, when you look at the whole history of
For instance, when I was a child and I was going to school after the revolution happened, there were whole lessons to brainwash us, and we were supposed to become extremely religious and all of that. The reason that we escaped from that was that the parents, they would say, "Don't believe whatever they tell you in school. Learn the things that you should know about mathematics or geography. The rest of it is not true." And they would tell us what was their truth. It's in this way that we could keep who we were.
Your parents are so extraordinary in these books. Was the freedom they gave you common among educated Iranians?
I had extremely modern-thinking parents, even for Europeans or Westerners in general. They put a lot of faith in me. They trusted me. I was not brought up like a girl. I was the only child. My father taught me how to drive when I was 11 and a half!
They were young in the '60s and had all these ideas of emancipation and openness and all of that. In Iran, we were almost always under dictatorship, but in my private house where I was living, even if we wanted to buy a sofa, each person had one vote, and my vote counted just as much as my parents'. They had ideas about how a child should be, and they stayed extremely faithful to their ideas.
I don't know if this is common or not common, but in my [extended] family, most of the parents were very nice and open-minded and easygoing, and my friends' parents were the same.
I don't pretend that I am presenting the whole population of
Exactly, and suddenly it's completely leaning the other way, and you have to react very fast. Suddenly there's this really big change and nobody was expecting it. Talking and laughing was the only way to survive. Either we had to laugh or we had to die.
Reading your books, I sometimes think that people are the same everywhere. But even though the women in your stories are very ironic and sophisticated, there is still a big difference between the sexual mores of
The subject of sexuality is, I think, both more and less a taboo in
I'm not talking from the legal point of view. I'm talking about the way the people think about it or talk about it. But then comes the issue of virginity, and virginity for me is really the sign of a patriarchal society. In a patriarchal society in which the father is the chief of the family, he owns the land and he owns the cow and he owns the house and he owns his wife, and so it's better if she is not secondhand. If you want to buy a pair of shoes, it is better that nobody else has worn them before you -- it is something like that.
But at the same time, nobody stops any divorced woman from remarrying. Divorce is not considered something terrible in
America is much more open than Iran, and our public culture is more sexual, but the women in your books strike me as more down to earth about sex and relationships than we are. In the
Absolutely, absolutely! They show the belly of pregnant women every second, and write that this actress and that actress is pregnant ... they consider that the belly of the woman is just made to make children.
And also they teach in the schools -- I know American teenagers -- instead of teaching them how to have safe sex, they tell them that they shouldn't fuck at all! It doesn't work. People, when they are 17, they are so full of hormones, and the only thing they think about from the morning until the night is sex, sex, sex. Teaching them how to have safe sex is much more logical.
You have gone through a period in the '60s with sexual liberation and all of that. Now there is this whole thing in
On the contrary, in
I read that
This is impossible! Do they think that children in the high school, because they tell them "Don't fuck," that they will stop doing it?
Especially when they couldn't even stop people in
At the same time that Iranians have a much more conservative regime and government, I have the feeling that they're much more liberated. They're much more liberated talking about abortion, talking about sex, talking about divorce.
When I got divorced it was no big deal. Life moves on. Yeah, I made a marriage and it was not the right one. My grandmother, she got divorced also. Almost everybody in my family has had a divorce. It's not a big deal. And normally, their second marriage has been much happier. Or if it hasn't, so you marry six people, seven people! It proves that you've lived, that you haven't been bored your whole life!
You said something interesting before -- that fears about security make us conservative. Can you explain the connection?
First, people have stopped talking about pleasure. Eating is a pleasure, but they will tell you if you eat you're going to get high cholesterol. If you make love, you're going to get AIDS. If you smoke, you're going to get cancer. But smoking is a pleasure -- I'm a smoker, I can testify. Eating is a pleasure. Making love is a pleasure. OK, it's a risk sometimes.
The fact is, the world is very fearful, because we don't know who the enemy is. The world is at war, but at war against who? Bin Laden turns into Saddam and Saddam turns into someone else. They all the time talk about security. Security, security, security. But when you talk about security, then everything is about being safe. And being safe also means having less freedom.
It makes a society much more conservative, looking for security. If you have freedom, then you have more risks. It goes together. Myself, I prefer to take some risks, and once in a while it's going to hurt. My grandmother always said the saddest life is to be born a cow and to die a donkey.
What does that mean?
That means you are born stupid, and you're going to die even more stupid.
In your life you have to experience things; you have to see things. What is the interest of life if you're always scared and you don't see anyone and don't go anywhere? What is the point in living? Just eating and shitting and making money?
The interest of life is somewhere else. The whole world has become more conservative, and at the same time we Iranians, who are supposed to be the most conservative, I think we are less conservative. The young people, they have been brought up by the schools to be extreme fanatics, but they are secular. They are more secular than my generation.
Some conservatives here think that secular young Iranians would be happy if
Democracy, contrary to what they try to tell us, it's not a paper that you hang on the wall and then you have a democracy. Democracy is a social evolution. It is something cultural. Iranians, they have become much more secular, and they are ready for democracy, but they have to fight themselves for democracy, and the only thing that other countries can do is to understand their fight and help them in their fight.
Do you think it's ironic that, in the face of American threats, you almost find yourself defending the Iranian regime?
Absolutely, but if we want a democracy, the Iranian people have to do it themselves. The Americans say they want a democracy in Iran, and at the same time, when the Iranians wanted to become democratic in 1953 with [Mohammad] Mosaddeq and to nationalize our oil, the CIA came and made a coup d'état in my country. Why do you want me to believe that they want to come and make a democracy? We have to make our democracy!
There are many things that I wish for in my country -- I want my country to be free, I want my country to be democratic, I don't want any journalists to go to jail because of an article they wrote in my country. But if the
Is there anything that outsiders who want to support Iranian liberals can do to help them?
Absolutely! You have the Federation for Human Rights -- I work with them -- and so many things like that. Internationally, instead of making wars and dropping bombs, instead they can make a much more powerful United Nations. They can make international law. How was it possible that they stopped Milosevic, and they brought him to the court at
For the people who think that
My criticism is not towards
Do you see similarities between the Christian fundamentalists in our government and the mullahs in
They're the same! George Bush and the mullahs of
Do you have any advice for secular Americans who are faced with living in a country that's increasingly governed by religious fundamentalists?
If I have any advice, it's that every day that you wake up, don't say, "This is normal." Every day, wake up with this idea that you have to defend your freedom. Nobody has the right to take from women the right to abortion, nobody has the right to take from homosexuals the right to be homosexual, nobody has the right to stop people laughing, to stop people thinking, to stop people talking.
If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it's that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don't know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.
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About the writer
John - to respond to your question . . . .
is their final goal. Ohio
Ohioseems to be their giant "test market" for their agenda: remember the discussions here regarding how is changing starting here over a year ago? Ohio
What does my theory mean? What if the nation is to become
in the public schools - their Great Maker (even as they themselves made that maker bereft of its Catholic and Jewish roots; they embrace a tradition of their own making) made the world. Darwin
Science "proves" it, or so they argue. So
took science out of science class. Who needs science when Jeeeezzuzz tells ya? Ohio
(2) No gays welcome - their 2002 changes to the Ohio Revised Code and the 2004 changes to The Ohio Constitution (the most Draconian in the
) prove this attitude. USA
(3) No Non-Christians welcome. In
, the city, county, and state offices show overt expressions of Christianity; especially when Christmas and Easter come to pass. Nobody else gets to express their religious sentiments - just the Friends of Ken Blackwell and the Ohio Restoration Project. Jews, Buddhists, etc. need not apply: they have no rights. Ohio
(4) Massive tax breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given
Ohiohas lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to Chinaor . India
(4 1/2) Massive "relaxation" in environmental rules - more breaks for business in the name of "job growth." Given Ohio has STILL lost the most jobs under Bush, that means, in reality, massive tax breaks for business in the name of moving that business to Mexico - so the business owners can argue the regulations in Ohio are still not sufficiently "relaxed."
(5) Higher unemployment. See 4 and 4 1/2.
(6) Higher gas prices.
(7) "Job retraining" to work at McDonalds.
(8) Faith-based anything and everything. Faith-based urination will shortly be mandated in bars (just kidding - I hope).
Which leads me to the following conclusion: WE ARE SCREWED
As the economy and social fabric (that "social fabric" was, after all, once provided by the government) decline, we will become the source of the blame.
We want science in place of faith because we are immoral secularists - as dictated by our homosexual practices.
We are greedy, single yuppies wanting high returns on our investments (all gays are well-to-do: ever watch 'Will and Grace?'): it is our fault companies are divesting of better paying jobs here to feed our hungry, bottomless portfolios.
We are ridden with AIDS, syphilis, and other illnesses brought about by our practices. Even Andrew Sullivan (bare-backing studfucker he is) will take blame because it's our drain on Medicare/Medicaid that is putting our "system in crisis."
Sure - this is hyperbole: but my point is I am reflecting John's comment back.
We *WILL* be blamed for everything. We will be blamed for we already *ARE* being blamed for everything.
I've been pushing the idea (very, *VERY* hard) that those of us on the progressive side of things need to move to Blue States *PRONTO*. If needed, we need to get help from our friends already in blue states to get the "Red Refugees" among us to blue havens, too.
Why have I been arguing that the "Red Refugees" need to relocate Blue?
Because the Microsoft event proves what I have suspected all along.
What I have suspected is: (1) the red-states are utterly past redemption at this point.
(2) the Blue States are under heavy assault and need *ALL* the help they can get.
What more evidence do you want now that our own long-time supporter has turned-tail???
In the short term, I have an even greater concern for those in Red States.
That concern is overt violence against gay-lesbian folk from far-right Christian radicals; the types who used to burn crosses and hang blacks.
Given such people are only one step away from power in many Red States, I expect to see murder, in the "Name of Jeeeezuz and Christianity" go unpunished because the murderer's friends sit in government and the courts.
Possibly as early as this summer; summer seems to be the time for that kind of behavior (think "race riots" of the 1960s - but this time, we're the targets).
Just my two cents worth . . . .
But historians and Jewish groups agree that the pope's wartime record, which was very common to young men of his generation, has little if any significance today . . .
New York Times
Few See Taint in Service by Pope in Hitler Youth
April 21, 2005
"The majority went. That does not make all of them Nazis ... I wouldn't say that Ratzinger made a choice. He rather slipped into the Hitler Youth thing."
Father Rupert Berger, a contemporary
of Ratzinger who refused to join the Hitler Youth
Interview with Newsday
April 22, 2005
Haselbeck said Traunstein responded to Nazism as an ordinary Bavarian town would, and Ratzinger responded like an ordinary resident. "I think it was the normal way for a young man," he said.
Pope's Home Town Walked
a Fine Line Under Nazi Rule
April 22, 2005
Ratzinger insists he never took part in combat or fired a shot, because of a badly infected finger.
Pope Benedict: His role in the Nazi years
April 21, 2005
"Resistance was truly impossible."
The pope's brother, Georg Ratzinger
Interview with the Times of London
April 17, 2005
The White Rose Society (German, Die Weiße Rose) was a World War II-era resistance movement in Germany calling for nonviolent resistance against the Nazi regime . . . leaflets were sent out in mass mailings from different cities in Bavaria and Austria, since the members believed that southern Germany would be more receptive to their anti-militarist message.
Last updated March 27, 2005
By the summer of 1942, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell were at the center of a close-knit group of friends who shared the same ideals and interests . . . Hans and Alex were soon joined by Christoph Probst (a level-headed, married soldier and father of three who was loved by everyone who knew him) and Willi Graf (another medical student and a devout Catholic who never joined the Hitler Youth and refused to acknowledge those who did) . . . These friends, sometimes joined by popular philosophy professor Kurt Huber, Jürgen Wittenstein and others, formed the heart of The White Rose.
The White Rose
Therefore every individual, conscious of his responsibility as a member of Christian and Western civilization, must defend himself as best he can at this late hour, he must work against the scourges of mankind, against fascism and any similar system of totalitarianism . . . Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!
The White Rose
"Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare to express themselves as we did."
White Rose member Sophie Scholl
Testimony before a Nazi "People's Court"
That afternoon, the prison guards permitted Hans, Sophie, and Christoph to have one last visit together. Sophie was then led to the guillotine. One observer described her as she walked to her death: "Without turning a hair, without flinching." Christoph Probst was next. Hans Scholl was last; just before he was beheaded, Hans cried out: "Long live freedom!"
Jacob G. Hornberger
The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent
"It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others. The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice."
84-year-old Elizabeth Lohner,
a resident of the pope's home town
Interview with the Times of London
April 17, 2005
"Our Constitution has never been so violated
Thursday, April 21, 2005
By MARY ANN MANCUSO
The letter written by John Wagenknecht on April 2, titled "Where's my Republican pal?" caused a few members of the Republican Party to become a little defensive. I think I understand why. They're not sure what their party stands for these days. They believe they are "pro-life," but most are pro-death penalty and pro-war. They also believe they are patriots, yet want to change our Constitution to limit our civil rights.
The last one wrote, "Mr. Democrat, you might wonder where your Republican buddies have gone. We are still here, freedom-loving, patriotic Americans." Whose freedom is he talking about? When a person is attacked by our president and other government officials for trying to make the best decision for him and his spouse, such as Michael Schiavo, is that freedom? When a woman's right to choose is threatened every day by our president and his party, is that freedom? When the president wants to amend the Constitution to deny two people of the same sex who love each other the right to create a family environment for themselves, is that freedom? The writer also said, "We believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." Our Constitution has never been so violated.
Where do I start? Separation of church and state, or the part about all Americans being created equal? In that regard he writes, "Yes, most of us believe in the Lord God Almighty just as the founders of our country did." Their party continues to spin this as higher morality and the party that's closer to the, "Lord God Almighty." I don't find morality in an administration that would mislead American citizens and invade a country where so many innocent people -- and sadly, so many children -- were killed, all for self-interest.
The fact is, they don't believe in the United States Constitution, and they are not American patriots. The Democratic Party does and always has fought to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms for all, right here at home. True American patriots?
I guess my favorite statement was, "We believe in majority rule, after all, isn't that the foundation of democracy?" Well, we all know that's not true or Al Gore would be President. Forget about Florida, if majority ruled, Al Gore won by over 300,000 votes.
Thanks to John Wagenknecht for his letter. He's not alone in his quest to find his "Republican pal."
(Mancuso is President of the Democrats of Napa Valley Club.)"
Now read his analysis here.
"SEATTLE, April 21 (NY Times) - The Microsoft Corporation, at the forefront of corporate gay rights for decades, is coming under fire from gay rights groups, politicians and its own employees for withdrawing its support for a state bill that would have barred discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Many of the critics accused the company of bowing to pressure from a prominent evangelical church in Redmond, Wash., located a few blocks from Microsoft's sprawling headquarters.
Microsoft officials denied any connection between their decision not to endorse the bill and the church's opposition, although they acknowledged meeting twice with the church minister, Ken Hutcherson.
Dr. Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, who has organized several rallies opposing same-sex marriage here and in Washington, D.C., said he threatened in those meetings to organize a national boycott of Microsoft products.
After that, "they backed off," the pastor said Thursday in a telephone interview. "I told them I was going to give them something to be afraid of Christians about," he said."
The federal judiciary has an enormous impact in shaping life in America. The political debate over what kind of judges we want in these lifetime positions is legitimate and important.
Not so legitimate is the use of exaggerated, inflammatory rhetoric and religious invective by conservative groups that are waging all-out war on judicial independence — a dangerous trend that has alarmed a broad spectrum of Jewish leaders. And politicians who should know better are joining the chorus.
This week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was scheduled to appear on a simulcast organized by conservative Christian groups to support Republican efforts to end filibusters on judicial nominees. The filibuster is a legitimate issue for debate. What is alarming is the claim by some of these groups that their opponents, as well as the judges they accuse of “judicial tyranny,” are waging war against people of faith.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) recently appeared at a forum on “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” with activists who called for the wholesale impeachment of federal judges and at least one who suggested that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was driven by “satanic” principles. And in a Senate floor statement that may have set a new low for irresponsibility, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seemed to suggest a possible connection between several recent courthouse attacks and public dissatisfaction with liberal judges.
Taken together, all of this points to an escalating assault by forces with little understanding of the separation of powers in the American system and a reckless willingness to use the most dangerous, inflammatory kind of rhetoric.
As Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman noted last week, the fight over the judiciary is a political one, not a religious struggle.
“Whatever one’s views may be on this or any other issue, playing the religious card is as unacceptable as playing the race card,” Foxman said.
We agree. It’s important to support judicial independence even when it produces unpopular results, and it’s critical to avoid escalating what has already become a bitter culture war with ugly religious overtones.
Da New Pope (as Ezra would say) doesn’t like da faggots. As anyone who’s spent more than five seconds hanging around this joint knows, at Shakespeare’s Sister, we likes da faggots, and so we don’t likes da new pope.And the way Ms. Julien loves Dr. Alix...(note from Ms. J)
In 1986, Pope Ratz (as by which he will heretofore be referred) wrote a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, in which he recommended that “appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons” be developed with “the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences, in full accord with the teaching of the Church,” even though homosexuality had been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) thirteen years earlier. By 1986, the psychological, sociological, and medical sciences didn’t regard homosexuality as a “disorder” in need of treatment, but clearly, Pope Ratz (and the rest of the church) did.Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.If it weren’t for the fact that this gay-hating bigot was just made head of the largest network of institutionalized homophobia in the universe, that would almost be laughable. A strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, says the former member of the Hitler Youth. Whether he was compelled to join or joined voluntarily is a matter of debate, but regardless of the origins of Pope Ratz’s former Nazi associations, including serving in the German army, they surely gave him the opportunity to see intrinsic moral evil up close and personal. Those fuckers were marching the fags off to the gas chambers, not the other way around.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
As many as a million gays and lesbians were killed in the concentration camps during the Holocaust, with particularly harsh treatments reserved for gay men, who were also widely recruited for bizarre scientific experimentation, in search of a cure for future Aryan homosexuals. Gay men also had the highest death rate (60%) of any other social group relegated to the camps by the Nazis. Lesbians and gays were viewed as a threat to the future of the Aryan race, because they did not procreate, and when the Nazis came into power, they facilitated a swift backlash against the progressiveness of Berlin which had fostered a vibrant and thriving gay community. The entire country was delivered a steady stream of anti-gay propaganda, and the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated with virulent homophobia, which may well explain Pope Ratz’s strange acceptance of violence against gays, even as he condemns it:It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.A man like this has no business leading the church.
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.
Using the same logic that instituting protections against lesbians and gays will incite violence against them, because they have no right to be protected, it is understandable why the church makes no exceptions for abortions when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Clearly, the victims of crime deserve no remedy, if such remedy is anathema to church teaching. Once brutalized by an attacker, prepare to be victimized again by the church if you want anything more than prayer.
I reject this pope, I reject his church, and I reject its teachings. I reject the notion that people I love are evil for being gay, or that any expression of love between two consenting adults is somehow sinful. There’s nothing sinful about love, and there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the way I love Mr. Shakes, and the way Pam loves Kate, and Mr. Furious loves Mr. Curious; I reject all claims to the contrary. And if that consigns my eternal soul to the fires of hell, then off I go, tra la la. I never fucking liked harps, anyway.