Saturday, March 25, 2006

WWJT: Who Would Jesus Torture?

Now this is weird: you always hear about how a Secular society without 'god' or religion, we would be totally without values and society would fall apart? Well it turns out that a Secular society actually wins out in a big way over the values of religious folk:
Is the American public apathetic about charges its government uses and sponsors torture in its fight against terrorism?

Not apathetic, according to surveys. Fact is, a majority of Americans actually approve of the use of torture under some circumstances. What’s more, according to one survey, Catholics approve of its use by a wider margin than the general public.

"This may be a reaction to 9/11, the horrible loss of life and the atrocities of those acting in the name of Islam," says Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., member of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy. "Some people feel the situation is out of control. They feel a vulnerability and a temptation to respond in kind. We have to resist that."
Yes, that's it: meet atrocity with atrocity... completely the opposite of what that Jesus fella told you to do.

Here are the numbers for 'NEVER' on the question "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?"

White Protestant31%
White evangelical31%
Hmmm, seems like religious folk listen more to 24's Jack Bauer more than Jesus.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Fair Elections? In the U.S.? Apparently Not...

So the Economist had a really interesting passage about 'elections' in the U.S. recently:
The best way to make Americans interested in politics is to make the races more competitive. Participation jumped in 2004 because the presidential race looked both close and important. Which points to the most glaring problem of all with American democracy—partisan redistricting. Virtually all the states allow their politicians to gerrymander the boundaries of their districts, creating absurdly-shaped patterns. This makes races pathetically predictable: 98% of congressmen are re-elected, a ratio Leonid Brezhnev might have admired (though even the Soviet fixer would surely have felt the 100% outcome for California's incumbents in 2004 was a tad too obvious). It also drives politicians to the extremes, as they court their real electors, party activists in the primaries.
98% of congressmen get re-elected. Read that one again: even the Soviets weren't that brazen.

What have we become folks, what have we become?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ladies, You Have To Ask Bill Napoli

File Under: Funny Sad. Check ouy for more comic goodness

From the 'Not Voting for Hillary' File

A lot of folks have written to Salon stating their opposition to Hillary and, well, the consensus seems to be this: she's being set up by the Right Wing Media and will take a beating. I have to agree. Check 'em out...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Judgement Call

And this cartoon is EXACTLY why I never trust folks on 'The Right' that rant and rave about how pious they are or how the Bible must be followed exactly. Perfect cartoon.

Zbigniew Brzezinski On Iraq

Really interesting talk with Zbigniew Brzezinski at NPR... really worth a listen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Nick Madigan: Minding Scientology

Ho, ho it seems the Scientology bug has bitten A LOT of people lately, not the least of which is the Baltimore Sun's Nick Madigan who does Minding the Media on KCRW...
At first blush, the idea that Tom Cruise might have gotten an episode of South Park yanked off the air because it spoofed his favorite cult, Scientology, didn't seem like a big deal. Movie stars have pulled rank in Hollywood for decades, and the studios that rely on them for box-office dollars are not in the habit of denying them anything.

But the problem with the coverage of Cruise's connection to Scientology is that very few reporters in Hollywood take the trouble to look into what Scientology actually is. They simply parrot the line that a few celebrities are members, so it must be cool.

The other day on TV, an editor from US Weekly gushed that there was "no evidence" Cruise had silenced Comedy Central's program. Of course there wasn't, buddy. He's not likely to leave a paper trail, is he?

If those celebrity reporters had done their homework, they would have found that the so-called Church of Scientology has a long history of trying to silence its critics, many of them former members. Some of the faithful have ended up dead, including the son of founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science-fiction writer who decided in the late 1940's that there was more money in religion than in pulp novels.
Uh, oh... careful Nick, them's fightin' words.
Hubbard determined that recruiting celebrities was the best way to spread his galactic gospel. A Los Angeles Times story in June 1990 said that Hubbard told his disciples to "target prominent individuals as their 'quarry' and bring them back like trophies."

"The church has a special branch that ministers to prominent individuals, providing them with first-class treatment," the Times story said. In other words, they are not treated like run-of-the-mill disciples, some of whom have reported being subjected to extortion, persecution and other abuses. Not to mention the exorbitant fees they are charged for courses that are supposed to lead to an ultimate state that will "clear" them of unhappiness.
OH! Kid gloves are off and Nick is a swingin'!!
Robert Vaughn Young handled the media for the Scientology empire for 20 years, before abandoning the organization in 1989. Four years later, in an article in Quill, the magazine of the Society for Professional Journalists, Young wrote that he had used "secret directives" from Hubbard "on how to handle reporters, how to deal with police and government agencies, how to create front groups, and how to discredit or destroy a person or a group."

"Scientology," he wrote, "stands ready and able to unleash an assault on the journalist that can include private detectives and lawsuits."

There were other tactics. In Clearwater, Florida, where the church maintains a huge base, Scientologists planted spies in the 1970's in the newsrooms of the Clearwater Sun and St. Petersburg Times, both newspapers reported.
Ooof! You don't hear that kind of talk in the media... ever! Can Nick deliver the knock out blow?
I should note that a person close to me spent 30 years as a Scientologist, and it wrecked his life. He ended up penniless, chain-smoking and neglectful of his children. When he got chest pains, he ignored them, believing that only Scientology could provide healing. Finally, a heart attack killed him.

He was my brother, and his name was Tom, too.
... and the crowd goes silent.

Bravo Nick. Bravo.