September 7, 2008

1 nation, indivisible, except by 0


First off, I was asked by several readers to post a link to Anne Kilkenny's letter about Sarah Palin, since it adds more to the picture: Ms. Kilkenny was in Wasilla with Palin since the very beginning, and it's about the most reasoned, temperate and well-written document you'll find, should you still be sitting on the fence.

And while I'm in the mood for such temperate forbearance, I'd like to take some of the complaints about McCain/Palin and explain why they're total bullshit. No, I haven't gone soft – I just think the following items are fairly ludicrous:

McCain shouldn't be President because he needs his staff to tell him how many houses he has.
It was impossible not to love this one, since it played so well into the Republican narrative, but honestly, this was meaningless. What McCain should have said was "Cindy and I have been very lucky in our investments and have a few properties that generate income for our family – Cindy generally takes care of that side of our finances, and I'll have to get back to you about how many investments we have."

Case closed. Sure, it makes them sound rich, but it plays more into the American Dream. Hell, we own a place we don't live in, but the rental allows us to pay the mortgage and come back for great visits. But McCain screwed up his response and made it sound like he actually lives in seven houses and is too flush to know the frickin' difference.

John McCain is filthy rich; but then again, so was John F. Kennedy and FDR, and they were fantastic presidents. The whole idea that our candidates have to know the price of milk – I dunno, I've always thought that was horseshit. I'd rather they be fixing the planet than shopping for beets at Safeway.

Sarah Palin should be taken off the Republican ticket because she used her power to fire the chief of police who wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law.
At first glance, this seems like megalomaniacal bullshit from a revengeful queen, and yes, it probably was. However, the ex-brother-in-law in question is a fucking piece of work. He tasered his own 10-year-old stepson (on a dare, supposedly), was a excruciatingly rotten father who just finished his fourth marriage, threatened to kill Palin's dad, and drank on the job.

She may have acted unethically, and she may be censured for it, but I have to say, if someone in my family behaved like that dude, I'd have to be talked out of bashing the motherfucker's shins with a tire iron. Just sayin'.

John McCain shouldn't be President because he's too old.
If that's the case, we should also take Justice John Paul Stevens off the Supreme Court, get Barney Frank out of Congress, and stop listening to my mom. In general, I'm an ageist when it comes to older people because of their seemingly-intransigent views on blacks, women and gays, but unless you're Ronald Reagan and barely able to keep awake during war briefings, a President's age shouldn't matter.

The only scary part about a President McCain is the relative likelihood of his VP taking over the slot. Insert shudder emoticon.

John McCain cheated on his wife, Sarah Palin didn't strap her baby into the car seat, she kills wolves from planes, his grin resembles a skeletal death mask, etc...
Look, any or all of these details may reveal that your candidate once was – or still is – an asshole, but none of them are dealbreakers to me. Sure, I like hearing 'em in the hopes that it contributes to their loss, but deep down, I know they are useless barometers for leading the country. Even Palin's disheartening redneckism is anathema only to me and a few other snobs.

However, this I know: Sarah Palin wants to ban books. She wants to outlaw abortion even for rape and incest victims. She is an evangelist Pentecostal who believes Iraq is a holy war. She doesn't believe man is responsible for global warming and wants Creationism taught in schools.

McCain is never going to get us out of Iraq and is likely to engage us in more war. He has no substantive environmental policy at a time when we have a decade to avert disaster. He has become virulently anti-choice. He has zero economic aptitude and no plan to get us out of recession other than the same tax cuts that have destroyed the middle class.

Just so we're clear. Being a pinko, untrusting whiner, I'll look for almost any reason to hate a Republican - but when pushed into sobriety, it's really the simple things that remain most powerful.

Posted by Ian Williams at September 7, 2008 11:29 PM
Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 1:31 AM

About the creationism thing... it's less than that, really. Yes, she believes it, however she may define it, and there's a hundred ways to define it. She doesn't want creationsim added to school's curriculum and has never made an effort to do so. As she made clear, she merely doesn't want it to be an illegal topic should a student mention it in debate during class. Why so touchy about that? Why do you want to ban certain speech? It makes it sound like you're not confident in your own theory about the origin of the universe, and I know that's not true. There's nothing to be afraid of here.

Early last week a commenter on this blog posted an anonymous chain email purporting to be written by someone who knew Sarah Palin. It was written by a friend of a friend who had a college friend who, blah, blah blah. Considering the lies that have been circulating about Obama via chain emails, I was surprised this person would partake in the same -- she had just previously written how furious she gets when receiving them about Obama. The email linked by Ian is written by a registered Democrat, according to the NYT, although that's not mentioned in the letter, so I doubt it is fully fair to Palin (the author says Palin resigned from the oil & gas commission in protest, but she didn't like that job anyway, she accuses Palin of bullying her way onto her high school basketball team, etc.). It's full of whining and petty gripes.

Look, Palin made a lot of enemies in her short rise in Alaskan politics, which is notoriously corrupt. She's a reformer who fired many people for corruption and incompetence. It's no surprise that they would be happy to tear her apart now, accusing her of "biting the hands of those who helped her"). Sure. There's a lot of jealousy going around. Most people will take these supposed personal accounts with a grain of salt.

By the way, I caught McCain on Face the Nation Sunday morning. He was telling how he will appoint Democrats to his cabinet and be among his advisors. It's not some silly ploy, he actually agrees with Democrats on many issues. He'd do well to not remind conservatives of that fact for the next 60 days.

Posted by: cullen at September 8, 2008 5:18 AM

As for the first chain email written by an Alaska denizen, it was for real. I know the part about 'classmate from Bryn Mawr' seems circumspect, but evidently it is possible to attend that school and then move to Alaska to make a life. But Matt, you are right, Sarah's jones to make sure creationism can be discussed in class alongside other scientific theories is one of the least of my worries---"palin'" in comparison to my other truer fears.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 6:30 AM

Goggle it, cullen. You'll find that it's a hoax. Snopes has it, too.

Posted by: Lyle at September 8, 2008 7:48 AM

What's Goggle? Is it something on the Interweb?

p.s. The letter smells of hoax to me, no matter how much I want it to be real...

Posted by: Caroline at September 8, 2008 8:26 AM

Lyle - It's real. NPR interviewed Anne Kilkenny in her home on Friday. It was funny - she's just this lady who lives in Alaska who wrote an e-mail at the behest of her friends in the lower 48 who kept asking her about Palin. During the interview her phone rang umpteen times.

Posted by: kent at September 8, 2008 8:59 AM

Here's the problem that I have with literal Creationists: I know committed Christians who don't have a problem with science, so I know it is possible to have Christian faith and also understand and believe in the Scientific Method.

Creationism and 'Creation Science' and 'Intelligent Design' are all rhetorical gambits to try and justify a belief in the supernatural. Anyone who believes in the literal truth of the Bible, and thinks Evolution is a lie, is saying that there is natural law as observed by science, and a God not subject to observable natural law.

I'm sorry if it offends anyone, but I will never vote for, or respect the intellect, of anyone who has this Dark Ages philosophy, and I think in the political realm they're a menace to society.

And here's why: If you think what you believe is more important than the things that can be shown to be true, then your actions need never take reality into account.

While I respect Christianity, upon what, really, can anyone base the opinion that it is 'better' than any other set of extra-scientific beliefs? I will say that as a coherent ethical system it's great, but frankly it's honored more in the breach than the observance.

Leprechauns, Voodoo, Santaria, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a supernatural Christ all have the same truth value. Which is to say, you can have faith in them, but never any objective certainty about them.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 9:04 AM

Heh. Just to be clear, I was writing about a different email. By the way, the closer one looks at the criticisms of Palin, the smaller they get. From a 1996 article:

"'All questions posed to Wasilla's library director were asked in the context of professionalism regarding the library policy that is in place in our city. Obviously the issue of censorship is a library question... you ask a library director that type of question,' Palin said."

Anyone seen a poll this week? A 4-point lead among registered voters and a 10-point lead among likely voters? Even I'm skeptical.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 9:08 AM

"Anyone seen a poll this week?"

Anyone seen my friend Bradley?

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 9:12 AM

"Creationism and 'Creation Science' and 'Intelligent Design' are all rhetorical gambits to try and justify a belief in the supernatural."

Georges Lemaître, the physicist who first proposed the Big Bang, was denounced by his colleagues as a closet creationist for his theory. They disliked the notion that the universe had a beginning, which would imply a "creator." Of course, that theory has held up under scientific scrutiny.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 9:16 AM

No, it's not really that high minded at all.

Creationism isn't a scientific concept, thus it shouldn't be taught in a science classroom. Learn about creationism from your church/mosque/synagogue/temple what have you or your home. Knock yourself out.

One ought not teach about creationism in science class for the same reason one ought not teach about the quadratic formula in history class.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 9:26 AM

So you would ban speech in class, FreshPaul. Then if it were up to people like you, the Big Bang would never have been proposed (since it is a form of "creationism"), and with it all that the theory has brought to our scientific understanding of the universe.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 9:33 AM

That's pretty much exactly wrong, Matty.

Speech, generally speaking, is necessary for most forms of pedagogical communication.

Your haste to dismiss my comments out of hand leads to sloppy rationalisations.

There's a big difference between a student making a comment on an issue (ie creationism) and including that issue in the curriculum to be taught in a course. This is my point. Creationism (an idea I have a general assent with, theologically speaking) shouldn't be included in the curriculum of a science class because it is, by nature, not scientific.


Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 9:47 AM

"There's a big difference between a student making a comment on an issue (ie creationism) and including that issue in the curriculum to be taught in a course."

Wow, talk about getting it exactly wrong. Palin does not want creationism in the curriculum. She explicitly opposed that. She's on your side on this one. What was that about haste to dismiss comments out of hand... ?

On another front, last week a commenter on here accused Palin of cutting funds for teen mothers. As it happens, not true:

Palin tripled it. Next!

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 9:56 AM

Where did I mention Palin?

I was responding to your assertion, not hers.

Her selection is frightening for all manner of reasons; this issue is quite irrelevant to electing someone to national elective office (like so many other "issues" people wrongly claim matter to electing a president, despite what those mollified by Palin might think), due to the fact that curricular decisions are made by state and/or local districts in concert.

So, now that we've gotten that out of the way, who else here is going to hell for having voted Kerry in 04?

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 10:02 AM

"I was responding to your assertion, not hers."

My assertion was there's nothing to be afraid of about Palin's position on the matter. She's the only reason the subject was even brought up. But at least we're all on the same page now.

Posted by: Piglet at September 8, 2008 10:18 AM

Looks like a classic neoconservative. Fringe right wing on the social issues, but wants to spend to a degree that would make LBJ blush.

Why doesn't she campaign proudly on that platform and see who gets elected, instead of pretending to be against pork and earmarks when she and almost every other politician in Alaska spends her political career wallowing in it?

Posted by: Ehren at September 8, 2008 10:25 AM

As someone who has intense respect for mystical/supernatural thinking and a skepticism of scienctific materialism (to which I mostly subscribe), I think the problem with creationism is that it attempts to prove the mystical using empirical tools. It's like trying to trap god in mason jar. The tools of science can't say anything about mystical phenomena, and even though these tools have been wildly successful for a lot of the world's problems, trying to frame religious arguments using them just weakens your own position. It's a desperate train wreck that the great theologians of even a generation ago would've recognized as a horrible trap for a religion struggling to stay sexy and popular.

Posted by: Jack at September 8, 2008 10:31 AM

First off, Snopes has confirmed this letter is true.

Here is the more important thing: I've read these comments n Ian's blog for a while and have stayed out of it, but here is the short version of my response (no one has enough time for my long version):

I think creationists are idiots. I also think pro-lifers are idiots. You shouldn't care that I think they are idiots, that means nothing. But you should care that these idiots want to force their religion upon me. I am not Christian, I am a Jew. Like many Jews I do not subscribe to the "revealed" Christian doctrine that life begins at conception. There is no evidence for life beginning at conception other than the Pope's revelation in the mid 1800s (and this is the same Pope who was the first to promulgate the idea that A Pope is infallible. Get this? He is so stupid that he thinks that if he wears a certain hat and sits in a certain chair, that he can't make a mistake).

St. Augustine was the first Christian to speak against abortion, but he did so not to prtect the so-called "life" of the child but because aborting a fetus would make the sex act for pleasure and therefore sinful. You want to espouse your religion, you douche bags? Learn it first.

Why does this matter? It matters because when you vote for an RIGHT WING nut job like Sarah Palin or any republican who holds that it is their job to govern based on Christian principles, you are violating my civil rights to practice my religion. You are telling me that I am not an American, that I don't count. and to do so, above all other issues of right and wrong, is a vilation of the constitution, plain and simple.

This is why the government has to be pro-choice. If it is, and you want to not have an abortion, you get to not have an abortion. If I want to have an abortion (or, rather, my wife and I decide that she should have an abortion), then we get to decide that. And if, after consideration, we change our minds, or you change your minds, we all get that too.

There are lots of reasons to vote against McCain/Palin, but the one I am responding to is basic: if you want to live in a society governed by homogeneous religious principles then move to Iran and stop wasting my time. You don't like religious freedom, then, to steal a tactic from the Republics, leave this country you unpatriotic traitorous sack of shit.

Ian spends a lot of time attacking with rudeness and not facts -- this is true -- and it can be offensive -- this is also true -- but why should he try to use facts against delusional religio-fascists who believe that their fictional book is more True than my (likely fictional) book, especially when the claim to life at conception isn't even in the fictional book in the first place.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 11:03 AM

It's going to be a long 8 years (16?) for Jack.

Honestly now, in what way has Palin "forced her religion" on anyone? Where did she say it's her "job to govern based on Christian principles"? She doesn't oppose sex-ed in schools. She doesn't want creationism added to the curriculum. What about abortion? You don't necessarily need to be religious to oppose it (science tells us, among other things, the fetus has a heartbeat and can feel pain as early as 20 wks). Palin thinks abortion is murder. If you thought that way, would you not advocate protection for the victims? Really? That said, Palin has been quoted as saying abortion policy is a matter for the legislature.

It's mostly anti-Christian bigotry.

Posted by: Jack at September 8, 2008 11:26 AM

Ahhh, yes. Poor victimized Christians.

The medical profession defines death as the absence of brain waves. If we were to be consistent, the presence of brainwaves would be the indicator of life. A heartbeat is not an indication of life, it is an indication of muscular movement. (By the way, soldiers and Iraqi citizens all have heartbeats, but we have no problem killing them.) We also don't know that fetuses _feel_ pain, we know that tissue responds to stimulus. It is a religious interpretation to call that stimulus pain.

Palin is against abortion in all cases, this is a religious perspective, and you can pretend that it is not but it is. Creationism is a religious and anti-Scientific doctrine and has no place in schools. And, of course, you poor victimized Christian, you are right, "Palin thinks abortion is murder," (your words) but it is WHY she thinks such a thing that is relevant. I THINK its not. Why should her thinking be more important than mine? Because she was a hockey mom? Because she happens to live in a small town? (I do too, btw, but not nearly as small as the town she was Mayor of, although my state has a smaller population than hers.) Because she agrees with you (presumably)? What makes you so important?

And, btw, just to quell your ad hominem attack -- I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion. I have spent the last seventeen years studying the subjects of religion and justice (twenty one if you count undergraduate). I have taught the Gospels numerous times in my class and I teach the philosophical foundations of both Catholicism and Protestantism regularly. So, not only do I have an opinion, but I have an informed opinion that I have dedicated much of my life to reexamining on a regular basis. It is just more ignorance and fascism on your part to assume that because I don't agree with you or your version of Christianity (or Palin's) that I am a bigot. I am not.

My position is plain: (1) Most American Christians don't know squat about their own religion (not, all, mind you, but most -- and most Jews don't know squat about their religion as well), (2) the bible is not revelation, (3) A democratic government based on the separation of church and state that holds that diverse religions must live together cannot govern from within one religious perspective, (4) science and it's standards of evidence, falsification, and reproducibility must be the cornerstone of public policy decisions.

But I forgot, since I disagree with you and expect that American should be pluralistic and democratic, that everyone should be able to exercise their choice, than I am a bigot. Good to know, especially since, you know, you are the first person to ever point that out.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 11:51 AM

"The tools of science can't say anything about mystical phenomena, and even though these tools have been wildly successful for a lot of the world's problems, trying to frame religious arguments using them just weakens your own position."

this is some of the most accurate and succinct epistemology I've seen in a long time.

Well done, Ehren.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 11:58 AM

Jack, your screed drips with animus toward Christians. It's self-evident, as is your elitism. (Why the resume? Am I (or Sarah Palin) not qualified to disagree with you?) Of course you're entitled to your opinion. So is Sarah Palin. So am I. We're all entitled to petition our government, advocate policy, propose new laws, and everything else Americans of all stripes do every day. What makes you so important that your opinion trumps all others?

"My individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for our country." -- Barack Obama, 1998

Posted by: Neva at September 8, 2008 12:01 PM

Go Jack.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 12:06 PM

P.S. I forgot to mention how much loved this bit: "just to quell your ad hominem attack...". Coming from a guy who just called Christians "douche bags," traitors, and "sacks of shit."

Posted by: Jack at September 8, 2008 12:27 PM

The purpose of telling you my job was to show you that I wasn't a bigot. It was to show you that I have thought deeply about these issues and have come to an informed decision from intensive reading, thinking, and talking with a wide variety of people, and have done so for close to two decades. (A resume, oh enlightened one, would be much more detailed, I assure you.) I was defending myself against your claim that I was responding out of ignrance. Show me another way to do that besides "agreeing with you" and I will do so.

I did not suggest that you are not qualified to engage with me, but your own refusal to actually address the issues and to purposefully misread what I am saying is certainly evidence that you are not worth wasting my time on. That you are incapable of learning (or at least unwilling). Not a unique situation in this world, sadly.

And Christians are not automatically douche bags, these douche bags happen to be christian, and because they are douche bags they want to impose their Christianity on the rest of us. There are plenty of douche bags who are Jewish and plenty who are other (including atheist). They are douche bags because they expect others to act and believe like them just because they believe or act a certain way.

It is a mark of the American Christian right that anyone who has actually bothered to study and learn about something is an elitist. How come you go to a trained mechanic and a trained surgeon but you refuse to acknowledge that maybe someone educated in philosophy and religion might actually have something to contribute? That my reading of the relevant texts and histories, and that my exploration of the ideas makes me elitist? Next time you need a quadruple bypass, you should ask your friend who "believes" that the aorta is in your foot to do the surgery. That would solve this problem once and for all.

If life were different, I would wish upon you the world that you wish upon others. I would wish upon you a country run by ignorant war mongers who wish to impoverish the working class, who send someone your kids to war in the name of religion, while laughing at them behind their back when they ask for medical care and protection for their families. I would wish upon you a world where your government ignores you while you drown in a hurricane and starve for lack of social programs, where teachers teach your children that 1+1=3 and that Rev. Fallwell actually talks to God. That would show you, for sure, but unfortunately, my daughter would have to live in that world and that is too much to bear. So instead I periodically forget that reason, evidence, knowledge, and, yes, a tad bit of anger, won't ever penetrate the ignorance of a group of people who are so stupid, that they willingly vote for someone who is actually trying to enslave them. America gets the president it deserves, and if we get McCain/Palin then we deserve what we get. But if you don't think that you and those with your beliefs aren't going to be the first people up against the wall when it happens, you need to read more history. But, of course, reading history would be elitist, so go misread revelations instead. That will show me!

Posted by: Caroline at September 8, 2008 12:55 PM

I'm pretty sure that Jack doesn't think all Christians are douchebags. In your work, Jack, I'm sure you've come across the Christian Left, yes?

By the way, Jack, I love you.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 12:56 PM

"I was defending myself against your claim that I was responding out of ignrance."

I never said you were ignorant. Who's misreading who? You never addressed my questions, Jack. Show me where Palin has done any of the things you allege. A lot of folks are trying to portray her as an extremist, a label that does hold up to scrutiny. (Except perhaps with her opposition to abortion in the case of rape, which I don't share either. But she's on record of saying that's a legislative matter.)

"...your own refusal to actually address the issues and to purposefully misread what I am saying is certainly evidence that you are not worth wasting my time on."

Nonsense, I've done neither. You just don't like the answers, so you prefer to insult. I hope that's not your teaching style.

"They are douche bags because they expect others to act and believe like them just because they believe or act a certain way."

Care to show me where Palin has done that? No?

"But if you don't think that you and those with your beliefs aren't going to be the first people up against the wall when it happens, you need to read more history. But, of course, reading history would be elitist..."

"Up against the wall"? Sheesh. By the way, I'm very much an elitist in the context you're now writing. Earlier, where you were condescending, I meant cultural elitism. But you're right that we get the government we deserve. I've said the same thing about Obama/Biden.

Posted by: ChrisM at September 8, 2008 1:25 PM

Jack & Matt,
Below is the link to an open letter from the Catholic Archbishop of Denver reacting to comments by Speaker Pelosi on the topic of The Church's teachings on abortion.

Posted by: Jack at September 8, 2008 1:27 PM

Let's be clear: I don't like the answers. I think they are ignorant. They are ignorant of both science and of Christianity, as I pointed out in my first response. But again, as I said before, that I think they are so is irrelevant. What I seek, and what the Republicans do not, is a society in which each person has the right and the ability to choose for themselves. You appear to want the homogeny, and the candidates you support most certainly do.

When Palin says abortion is an issue for the legislature, she is advocating for overturning Roe v. Wade. It is a way of saying that abortion is a state's rights issue and not a matter of religious freedom or privacy. Bush, McCain, and others ALL advocate for the legislature, so yes, that is an example of extremism. Her attempts to ban books, those are example of extremism, her advocacy for teaching creationism, those is an example of extremism.

What is most astonishing about them, and you, Matt, is that you insult while claiming not to. You have called me a bigot and elitist, attacked my teaching style and my "screed." Such is your right and I think you should have every opportunity to do it. But be honest about it. (Doesn't Jesus want you to be honest?) I, on the other hand, have been straight forward in calling certain people douche bags and explaining why. I have known and loved many in the Christian left, (thank you Caroline) and, in fact, have known and loved many in the Christian right (I lived with one for a year, as a matter of fact, and if things had gone differently, we might even have married -- oh wait, sorry, that might sound like a resume). But she wasn't a douche bag, nor were my friends. They weren't cowards who were afraid to admit what they claimed.

These people whom you defend are douche bags, they are traitors who hate 50% of America (at least) to quote John Stewart, and they propagate ignorance, bigotry, xenophobia, and caricatures of both urban and rural America. These people are bad, they are EVIL, by their own standards, by Jesus's actual standards, and by mine. Why are they not washing the feet of the outcast, as Jesus calls upon them to do? Why are they not giving up material goods, as Jesus calls them to do? Why are they not loving and turning the other cheek, as Jesus calls them to do? You say that they are defending against the murder of innocent children, but as I showed in my first point, there is no evidence for this, scientific or religious, except a Catholic revelation by someone who thought he could not be mistaken.
These people are extremists in every way shape or form and not only do I disapprove of them, I am ashamed of them.

So, Matt, next time you accuse someone of being an anti-Christian bigot, look in the mirror, because I am neither a bigot nor uninformed. What I am is angry and disgusted and ashamed, and I pray to my god, to your god, and to any god that will listen, that these people are identified as the charlatans that they are and that the scales fall from the eyes of their supporters.

I'm done posting here because I have nothing left to say, except one thing:

Caroline, you love me?
How YOU doin'?

Posted by: Anne at September 8, 2008 1:30 PM

Hey, Jack -- awesome (and I am a practicing Catholic and would argue the pro-life thing is more complex than just a fetal brainwave, but anyway).

Matt is what I like to call an Internet Tarbaby. The more you try to verbally sock it to him, the more he clings to you like an odoriferous oily colloid. The fact that he's somewhat smart only makes him more persistent. I have run into these characters on Internet forums since the 1980s, and after a while they all start to sound alike.

Back away! He will continue to purposely ignore the intent of your arguments and turn them against you. It's the Tarbaby Way, baby.

And now I suppose it will be my turn.... (Dons protective tinfoil)

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 1:39 PM

"Her attempts to ban books,"

Shown to be false.

"her advocacy for teaching creationism"

Shown to be false. Nice try, but you couldn't do it.

"they are traitors who hate 50% of America (at least) to quote John Stewart, and they propagate ignorance, bigotry, xenophobia, and caricatures of both urban and rural America. These people are bad, they are EVIL..."

You are the one painting a caricature of Christians. Your venomous in your attacks on them. If it's not bigotry, it sure looks like it. It's clear to me now that you're wasting MY time, as I've addressed your arguments in good faith. Good luck to you.

Tarbaby? Careful, there Anne.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 1:46 PM

ChrisM, thanks for the link.

Anne, I only engage debate with those who want it.

Posted by: CM at September 8, 2008 1:58 PM

"I also think pro-lifers are idiots. ... Like many Jews I do not subscribe to the Christian doctrine that life begins at conception. There is no evidence for life beginning at conception"

Okay, I've been wondering this for some time, Jack, but what does SCIENCE tell us about exaxctly when life begins? Is it 12 weeks after conception, or what? (Serious question.) And if science doesn't have a conclusive answer, then would you consider someone an idiot who, religion aside, believes that an unborn kid has civil rights too? Just like your arguments about rights, there can be non-religious arguments made for this.

And even if the person who is making those arguments is Christian, doesn't mean they are making those arguments entirely for religious reasons. They could, wow, have your background and still make them!!

I find people who can't conceive (no pun intended) of that train of thought hypocritical. I wouldn't use the term idiot, though.

I'm a Jew too (whoopee doo) and pro choice, but I still can see why some people would disagree and be intelligent and concerned. Do you know when life begins?

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 2:13 PM

Life begins whenever Rupert Murdoch says it does.

Why all the fracas?

Posted by: Rebecca at September 8, 2008 3:29 PM

Being pregnant is no guarantee of giving birth to a live baby. Therefore, life begins at birth.

Welcome to the group Jack.

Posted by: scripture at September 8, 2008 5:05 PM

From Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I know it doesn't mean much to Jack, and that is his right. However, I felt the need to at least put this out this out there. God is a part of it at the beginning - a wonderful work. That says enough for me.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 5:11 PM

Any kids who's ever bought a pack of condoms knows when life begins.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 5:14 PM

Sorry that I'm a few hours late with this, Matt, but in response to asking whether Darwin's theory or creationism should be taught in schools as part of the curriculum:

"Teach BOTH. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject – creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides."


Furthermore, "debating both sides" isn't how scientific method works; it's got nothing to do with "debating" as creationism has nothing to do with science. Nor is it sound pedagogy most of the time...but I digress.

Speaking of Gov Palin, I see that she's going to appear on ABC with Chucky Gibson.


Wasn't Gibson one half of the dipshit team (along with Geo Stephanopolous) asking all the moronic questions at the Clinton-Obama "debate" this past spring?

If so, Palin can get ready for a litany of inane and irrelevant questions.

Of course, she was put on the ticket precisely to mollify those who vote solely based on inane and irrelevant "issues", so perhaps this was a savvy move after all.

Posted by: grubby at September 8, 2008 5:17 PM

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."

The fetus/kid/mass is in the womb for nine moths. All that poetic passage means is that "stuff" is a life at some point before it comes out. That says nothing about life beginning at conception. But more power to you for living in a fantasy land. Hope you enjoy yourself.

Posted by: Claudia at September 8, 2008 5:43 PM

For those who argue that life begins at birth, would you advocate that abortion remain legal throughout 40 weeks of pregnancy?

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 6:04 PM

Nice try FreshPaul, but you (purposefully?) left out the rest of the story, as shown on FactCheck:

"A couple of days later, Palin amended that statement in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, saying:

"Palin, Oct. 2006: I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.

"After her election, Palin let the matter drop. The Associated Press reported Sept 3: "Palin's children attend public schools and Palin has made no push to have creationism taught in them. ... It reflects a hands-off attitude toward mixing government and religion by most Alaskans." The article was headlined, "Palin has not pushed creation science as governor." It was written by Dan Joling, who reports from Anchorage and has covered Alaska for 30 years."


Click the link for more analysis. FactCheck debunks a lot more anti-Palin smears. Contrary to Obama's lies, she did spike the Bridge to Nowhere. The Alaskan Democrats gave her credit for it on their website, until it was scrubbed today, but not before a screenshot was made. And the NYT also published an article crediting Palin for killing the project. Obama and Biden voted for it, natch. While Obama's on this anti-pork kick, will some interprising journalist ask him how many hundreds of millions in earmarks he slipped in for Illinois?

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 6:07 PM

Interprising is the new web-savvy spelling of enterprising. ;)

Posted by: CM at September 8, 2008 6:28 PM

>>Being pregnant is no guarantee of giving birth to a live baby. Therefore, life begins at birth.

So a minute before birth, a baby isn't alive? Then what is it?

Also, there is no guarantee that a kid who has leukemia will survive. Is that kid not alive either?

Hmmm, I'm still in the dark about when life begins.

If the answer is "nobody knows," which I think is a better answer than the one suggested above, then I think most of us could conceive of some very smart people believing that fetuses have rights.

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 6:36 PM

No, I posted the exact quote as I found it...she said it, I posted it. I didn't realise I had to consider all of your misplaced a priori assumptions to boot.

Further, I didn't know I was to mine the vacuum tubes of the internet to comb for any subsequent retractions.

It's not a "smear" if she actually said it.

Get your JP Zenger on.

giddyup indeed.

Posted by: Zel M. at September 8, 2008 6:38 PM

Wow, I came on here to praise Ian for level-headedness and for joining my mission to call bullshit whenever I see it, but the pissing match between Matt and Jack has leaked out onto my keyboard and threatens to short-circuit my laptop.

If I may add a couple of other things to Ian's list that are bullshit for being seriously considered:

McCain doesn't have the temperament to be a good president.

I'm sorry, when did temperament become a presidential quality? I get it - McCain is a crusty old bastard, which leads to the fallacious assumption that he would be more likely to somehow be a grumpy old man and lead us headlong into some sort of unknown conflict. Well maybe crotchety old coot is exactly what we need in a president dealing with Putin or Ahmedinejad. Carter had an easy-going temperament, and so did Eisenhower. How did those work out?

Biden is going to be Yoda to Obama's Luke Skywalker/Palin is going to pull McCain back to the right.

Let's be honest here. A VP selection does one or two things: maybe it tries to create a geographic balance (Edwards) or to deliver a big state (Bentsen). But when you are having to choose a VP because it shores up the base (Palin) or shores up a glaring weakness (Biden), then the choice is for all the wrong reasons. Presidents surround themselves with advisors and staffs and VPs are often a distant thought. Shoot, sometimes presidents and VPs don't really even care for each other (Clinton and Gore, Reagan and Bush I, Kennedy and Johnson). To think that either Biden or Palin will have significant impacts on an Obama or McCain administration is a longshot at best. I say once again that the vote is for the top of the ticket.

Posted by: Caroline at September 8, 2008 7:06 PM

Jack - Ugh, alas we each have spouses but [blush] I'm fine. Keep up the good work. I will just have to love you from afar.

Posted by: Matt at September 8, 2008 7:08 PM

"I didn't realise I had to consider all of your misplaced a priori assumptions to boot."

It's only fair to include a person's clarification on their statement. I guess I'm not surprised that Daily Kos diarists would ignore that part. To mention it would ruin their smear. Both sides are guilty of this, I know, which is why I read this site as well as other leftist blogs/e-zines. I do my best not to be misinformed by either side.

To those who would ignore how Palin has governed on controversial issues and attack her personal beliefs as more relevant to assessing her fitness for office, I would remind them that both Obama and Biden hold personal views that many here find objectionable. But they say they won't force their beliefs on others, just like Palin on abstinence education, abortion, creationism, etc. Same thing.

As has been pointed out, I should have also complimented Ian on his attempt at fairness today following Hate-The-GOP Week. It was indeed refreshing.

I think the VP choice is a little more relevant this election than usual as it affects how people will vote. Polls already show a huge swing (~10 points) to McCain in single female voters. That would signal more than a mere post-convention bounce. It's a permanent shift in the dynamics of the race. But lots can happen between now and November.

Posted by: Zel M. at September 8, 2008 7:08 PM

One of my old mentors used to say, "Never get into a pissing match with someone with an unlimited supply of piss." Nevertheless, I tread lightly into the area covered by Jack and Matt today.

Jack wrote:

"What I seek, and what the Republicans do not, is a society in which each person has the right and the ability to choose for themselves."

I agree, but in any society do we not seek to impose (or apply, may be a better word) one standardized set of values or morals? I understand and appreciate your point of view, but are you not trying to substitute your point of view for Matt's? Are you not saying to Matt that, in a society based on choice, your way is right but he is free to believe in the Christian mythology if he desires? How is that different that Matt saying his way is right and YOU can choose to believe differently?

"This is why the government has to be pro-choice. If it is, and you want to not have an abortion, you get to not have an abortion."

Do you feel this way about guns? That gun ownership should be a choice and if you do not want to own a gun, then don't buy one? How about the death penalty? Should a society have a choice on how to deal with its criminals and if you don't want to face that choice, then choose not to commit a capital offense? How about helmet and seat belt laws? The point is, we regulate things all the time, whether it be in the name of safety, social justice, morality, or date I say, religion. Nearly everyone can find something they disagree with and can argue it on a "choice". You may consider it apples and oranges, but the point is ultimately the same.

And to step in the pile of shit regarding abortion: If Palin truly believes in no abortion whatsoever, even in the case of rape or incest, then she may have the clearest moral position of all - and I say that as someone who is pro-choice. If you agree that life begins at conception, and you believe that abortion is wrong, then the logical conclusion is that abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances. If on the other hand, you believe that life begins at birth, then logically you should believe that you can terminate a pregnancy up until 5 minutes before birth, and I don't think even the staunchest pro-choicer truly believes that. Any intermediate position (viability outside the womb, brain waves, etc) is moral equivication and justification. And again, I say that as a pro-choicer.

Posted by: Zel M. at September 8, 2008 7:20 PM

Matt wrote:

"I think the VP choice is a little more relevant this election than usual as it affects how people will vote."

I agree to a point. I think what the Palin pick has done for McCain is make the ticket more palatable to the base. It has long been my assertion that any election is for 20% of voters. You see, 40% of the electorate will vote Democrat regardless of who is running (see Mondale, Walter) and 40% will vote for the Republican candidate regardless (see Dole, Bob).

The difference in this case was what seemed to be sincere doubts on the right about the ability to pull the lever on a McCain ticket and the possibility of some of that 40% staying home (but NOT voting for Obama). McCain needed Palin a lot more than Obama needed Biden with the base 80%. Obama needed Biden for the last 20%, and I'm just not sure how Palin will play in that same 20%.

I will say this - Obama should be ahead by 10+ points, given the lousy economy and unpopular Republican incumbent...

Posted by: FreshPaul at September 8, 2008 7:26 PM

"It's only fair to include a person's clarification on their statement. I guess I'm not surprised that Daily Kos diarists would ignore that part."

I read it in the news article, not a 'blog' such as Daily Kos. You want it to be one way, but it's the other way.


Posted by: Lyle at September 8, 2008 9:23 PM

Interprising, Goggle...we're seeing all sortsa words today from Matt (that said with a huge smiley face to my favorite online conservative)

Caroline, I'm so chuffed that the letter is real!

I heart FreshPaul for his Rupert Murdoch line. Classic!

Posted by: Ian at September 8, 2008 11:48 PM

Jack, to add to your frustration, Caroline is both stunningly smart and stunningly pretty. But your presence here is refreshingly awesome regardless. FreshPaul, you too. But everyone knows I'm a big ol' homer.

As a quickie, my view on abortion is simple: when you outlaw it, women die trying to administer one to themselves - which, as you rocket scientists know, means both the mother and fetus are killed. My own morality about "when life begins" has nothing to do with it. I'm in favor of "less women killing themselves".

Posted by: chip at September 9, 2008 12:59 AM

1) We need a Lucy picture/video, stat

2) Back when freshman were ineligible to play basketball (before 1974, IIRC) the UNC freshman team was known as the Tar Babies.

See and scroll down to Tar Babies

I'm guessing Dean Smith is for Obama and Coach K is for McCain. That's enough to tip me to Obama right there.

3) I feel like I've met Caroline and I know Jack's spouse but I could be wrong about both.

Posted by: Claudia at September 9, 2008 9:14 AM

Ian, it's hard to disagree with your simple conclusion regarding abortion. But I don't think that justifies it. By the same logic, it's just fine to restrict the drinking age to those 21 and older, since statistics show an increase in alcohol-fueled deaths among people under 21 when they are legally allowed to drink. It's a big dilemma for society to decide how far it wants to go in protecting people from themselves.

Great post, BTW.

Posted by: Matt at September 9, 2008 5:40 PM

Jack's read Zel's comment, I have no doubt, but he won't answer it. He can't while consumed with so much hate.

Posted by: craighill at September 10, 2008 7:29 AM

jack you are a fucking moron

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