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To start off, let me be clear: I generally loathe politicians on an equal opportunity basis. Okay, maybe there's a slightly more special place of loathing in my heart for the Constitution Party, those folks are kinda scary. But otherwise, Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian...whatever. I tend to be especially annoyed by party-line voters, be they constituents voting for candidates or politicians voting on...well, whatever they're voting on. Because party-line voting is pretty much synonymous with "I can't think for myself and don't really care about the people I represent" if you ask me. (Note: Just because one agrees with the party doesn't automatically make it party-line in my mind. Fine, blurry lines and all that.)

But right now, I have a general hatred towards Republicans. Read on.

That said...

So, as you might know, before we moved to Oregon, I talked to several people in Maryland's unemployment to verify that if I were to move, I would have continued eligibility, that leaving the state wasn't going to hurt me and all that. No, I was told. I would have continued eligibility. I just had to keep complying with the rules- you know, look for a job, file every two weeks, all that nonsense. And I was told not only that, but I was already approved to have unemployment eligibility through at least sometime in February- longer, if any more extensions were put into effect, but no less than that. Three different people told me this. Each time I asked, very carefully, if there was anyhting else I needed to take into account, was there anyhtign else that could affect or interrupt my unemployment eligibility?

I was told no, absolutely not. I would just need to remember that when I got notice of one tier of my extended unemployment ending, that I would need to call in and talk to them, whereupon they would hit a button in the system, and I would roll over to the next tier. Nothing else? Nope, that's it, good luck to you.

Except, they were wrong. You see, what all these fine people FAILED TO TELL ME was that my continued eligibility was dependent on congress periodically voting to renew the extension. Now, I saw a number of notices about this on the Maryland unemployment website, but until the most recent one, those things have been VERY misleadingly worded- there was nothing in any of the notices to make me think that they applied to anyone who has already even approved for the extended unemployment. What's there now is only slightly better- it's only obvious that it applies to you if it's already happened to you.

So anyway...I went to pick up my unemployment payment last week...and it wasn't there. I called Maryland, and found out that it was suspended because congress hadn't voted to extend it yet, but if they do, it will be released shortly. Did I mention that I never got a letter saying "Oh, by the way, they haven't renewed the bill so you're going to lose your benefits in a couple of weeks".

Was that too fucking much to ask? Well, I did get a letter- later the day that I found out that it was gone.

Long story short, we've got a bit of money saved so far. We ended up going and applying for food stamps. Gavin's disability overs our rent, so we didn't have a whole lot to worry about- but still, we had to worry about it.

Thankfully, it was passed earlier this week to renew the bill. I might not get my money for filed weeks until sometime next week, but hey, at least I'm going to get it.

Which brings me to the subject of my rant. See...I've been reading news articles about this now that I have the internet again, and I've seen clips of stuff in the news. The bill passed by vote? Two? Because every single member of the Republican party, except for two voted against it.

Some of them have been in the news whining that they're being portrayed as heartless meanies and they don't understand why people are so upset. They only opposed the bill because they disagreed with the source of the unemployment funds.

Is that all it is now? Well gee whiz sparky, why in the fuck didn't you try to introduce your own bill suggesting that? Why don't you publicly denounce some of the shit your colleagues are saying?

Or are you completely clueless to the other members of your party who have been shown on the news saying things like...

Several Republicans have suggested that extending the benefits would give workers less cause to seek jobs. "Continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said earlier this spring.

(From here:

Some additional gems:

During a door-to-door tour of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County businesses today, Corbett said “the jobs are there,” but that many people are purposely remaining unemployed, in order to collect benefits. He says he’s heard this from business owners across Pennsylvania. “One of the issues, and I hear it repeatedly – one of the individuals said, ‘I can’t get workers. People don’t want to come back to work while they still have unemployment.’’ He said. “They’re literally telling him, ‘I’ll come back to work when unemployment runs out.’ That’s becoming a problem.” Found here, complete with sound recording

And from Rand Paul (R-KY) "As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that's less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again," he said. "Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen." Here, again with recording.

And then there's Last Friday, Bauer told an audience in South Carolina that his grandmother told him "as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed."

He compared this to receiving assistance from the government, which he said is "facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
from Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer of South Carolina. He's since made some vague gestures that are supposed to look like an apology, I guess. It seems, Andre that people who are poor or unemployed really don't like being compared to animals who don't know any better. Shocker, that, eh? But you know, what should a rich asshole like you have to be surprised about when your comments aren't met favorably?

A clip from his apology is almost as good: "I never intended to tie people to animals," he said, before...tying people to animals: "If you have a cat, if you take it in your house and feed it and love it, what happens when you go out of town?"

The fuck????? Sir, I hope you have no pets. Because if you do, and you can't reach the logical conclusion of getting someone to come and feed your cat, or boarding it at a kennel when you're going to be away, you should be immediately charged with endangering animals. Oh, and by the way, unemployment- it's like a pet-sitter. When you're out of work, unemployment feeds you while you look for work. See what I did there? I'd brag about out-clevering a politician, but that's not much to brag about.

In June, Nevada Senate nominee Sharron Angle said that "what has happened is the system of entitlement has caused us to have a spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job." She added: "They keep extending these unemployment benefits to the point where people are afraid to go out and get a job because the job doesn't pay as much as the unemployment benefit does."

Also from the same site:

Back in May, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said that Congress needs to think twice about continuing unemployment benefits "because you're out of the recession, you're starting to see growth and you're clearly going to dampen the capacity of that growth if you basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment. Yes, it's important to do that up to a certain level, but at some point you've got to acknowledge that we're not Europe." (Found here)

And from Tom DeLay: DeLay praised Bunning, and added that "there's some studies that have been done that shows that people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out."

Crowley pointed out that saying "people are unemployed because they want to be" is a "hard sell."

DeLay responded: "Well, it is the truth."
(Here, with video)

You know, it must be so nice to be so easily able to pass judgment on people's economic situation when you've never been there yourself. I know that not all American politicians are particularly rich, and some even come from a working class background but I also know that plenty of them have never had to work or wonder where their next meal, or next week's meals were going to come from.

I know that there are some people who take advantage of the system, but you know, things can be done about that. You can, say, require people to keep records of their job hunt in order to maintain benefits and verify them- to a certain extent anyway, employers only keep applications and resumes on file for so long, but, you know, spot-checking can go a long way to dealing with this. Requiring people to register with the states department of labor workforce development office- or whatever you call it in each state- and spend a certain amount of time in those offices, or on their website looking for suitable jobs is something else that can be done.

I'm also really pissed off about the ones who are all "You should just take a job, any job and shut up and get off unemployment!" you know, in Baltimore, I couldn't even apply for most jobs that I cam across because they didn't pay enough? Well I could have...if I wanted to live in a hole in the wall in Coppin Heights with no electricity. And I don't mean "I want more money!" I mean I wouldn't have been able to pay my rent and the few bills that Gavin and I have or buy groceries. And we don't have a car, or kids or credit cards or medical bills or any other extra expenses. Nevermind what other people may have. I can tell you that it's a different story now- Minimum wage in Oregon is higher and living expenses are lower, so there are a LOT more jobs that I can apply for- and am. Don't fucking assume that people aren't taking jobs because they just want more money.

And the crack about unemployment paying more than jobs- in a lot of cases, no, it really doesn't. How much you get is dependent on how much you've made in the last four fiscal quarters, with the highest quarter thrown out and the other three averaged out. Or something like that.

Don't you people even fucking know how this unemployment thing works? guess not.

Gawds. As Gavin has said, even if Obama does everything else wrong for the rest of his presidency, I will be continually grateful that he made the assholes in congress go back and re-vote on this.

If you think this is unfounded and I'm just a republican-hating bleeding heart liberal whatever, please find me a democrat who's had shit like this to say. Please.
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Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.

Hyatt, who moved to Redding four months ago, said she joined the Redding Tea Party Patriots and recruited several members to help her collect the 433,971 signatures needed by March 29.

Hyatt said she has partnered with a couple of churches in Redding and one in Wildomar in Southern California to collect signatures. All the signature pages must be turned in together to the Shasta County registrar, she said.

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn't followed.

Schools currently are allowed to offer Christmas music as long as it is used for academic purposes rather than devotional purposes and isn't used to promote a particular religious belief, according to an analysis by the California Legislative Analyst's Office.

"Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas," said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. "That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' "

Ryan said Hyatt's initiative falls under the umbrella of causes the group supports, which concern limited government, following the constitution and fiscal responsibility.

But some groups say the initiative represents quite the opposite.

"I have two words to say about Ms. Hyatt's proposal: blatantly unconstitutional," said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is based in Washington, D.C., and has a local chapter in Sacramento.

Boston said he heard about the initiative in the news, which isn't surprising considering national newspapers such as The New York Times have published articles on Hyatt's efforts.

"In the unlikely event she got enough signatures to put it on the ballot and the even more unlikely event California passed it, it would be struck down by the courts," Boston said. "The courts have been very clear that public schools aren't supposed to be in the business of promoting or advocating religion."

Boston said he thinks Hyatt's initiative represents a larger issue of religious conservatives being unhappy with the changes resulting from American society becoming more diverse.

"The frustration some religious conservatives have is they want a mythological religious America that probably never existed," he said.

Hyatt, a substitute teacher who moved to Redding from Riverside, said her motivation for the initiative was to help restore children's moral compasses by inviting Jesus to school Christmas parties.

"He's the prince of peace; he's the only one who can get these kids to stop being so violent," she said in November.

Hyatt said she believes it is Americans' First Amendment right to worship.

"It's our right to have freedom to worship," she said. "That's why we came to this country. They came to be Christians and they're trying to take that away. They're out of line; we're not."

Boston said he believes proponents of Hyatt's initiative have unrealistic expectations.

"They're looking to the public schools system or the government to provide them a religious experience at Christmas," he said. "If you want a full-throttle religious Christmas experience, it's at church ... there's no shortage of those."

If kids want to sing Christmas songs, assuming they're not disrupting normal school activity, by all means let them. But for fuck's sake, public schools are not church. I'm not terribly worried about this passing into law, but it still pisses me off that someone thinks that she has the right not only to shove her religion onto other people but that she can coerce a public institution to do the work for her.

Christmas is a specific holiday, it is called Christmas for a reason. Yes, just like they said- it is. But Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice are also called those things for a reason.

Things like this just tie me up with inability to express how stupid they are. No one's preventing anyone from celebrating Christmas, why the fuck is it such a big deal if some people want to do something different at the same time of year? And where the fuck do you get off shoving your activities down other people's throats? Just.....gah....Get the hell over it already. Go to church to sing religious songs or sing them in your own fucking home, or even in the town square if you really want to. I won't stop you. But don't try to force everyone else to do what you want to do.

AND READ THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION, PEOPLE. Keep in mind that it applies to EVERYONE, not just you and the people that agree with you.

I have a new theory: The so-called "War on Christmas" was invented by people who want to shove their stuff on everyone else as an imaginary threat against which they can "fight back". Who's with me?

Thank you to the majority of people who DON'T try to impose your winter holiday and your god and views thereof and what might prevent violence on others.

Incidentally, it's the religiously-themed Christmas songs that annoy me the least. Some of them I even like. (In small, seasonally-appropriate doses.)
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Arright, so...

If you were afraid of the idea of gun bans and wanted to retain your freedom to own firearms, what do you think is the logical way to proceed?

A. Be a model law-abiding, gun-owning citizen and find a way to work peacefully for the right to own guns.


B. Create a domestic disturbance and then kill and severely injure a bunch of cops in the most fatal day for law enforcement workers since September 11th 2001.

Call me crazy, but logic says to me that shooting 'em up isn't really a good way to ensure that you're gonna get to keep your guns.

My prayers to those who were killed or injured and their loved ones and colleagues. May people learn to be more intelligent about their freedoms...
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After a couple more days existing in Baltimore and overhearing more conversations about Obama, I have another thought...

While I understand the massive historical significance of electing a black man to office...

For pete's sake people, the pigment in his skin isn't what's going to get the job done.

Additionally, to the three or four people that I've overheard saying that he's "not black enough" and that we need someone with darker skin- the fact that his skin is a little lighter than yours isn't gonna hinder his ability to do the job.
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Yes, I'm happy, Bush is gone. Yes, I voted for Obama. Yes, I am a little hopeful that things will get better. Yes, I think it was a damned good call for Obama to put a hold on all pending regulations for federal agencies until his administration can review them.

But reading over some of the posts on my friends list, and overhearing a good many conversations today and since the election, I feel the need to say this...(If this does not apply to you, feel free to be all smug or something :-P )

Barrack Obama is a man, a human being. He is not a god. He is not our messiah or savior or miracle answer to that which ails us. Even if he's here for two terms, he will not be able to make everything perfect, or even okay. He's inherited a global-scale nightmare of astronomical proportions. It's going to take a lot of detangling until even a tiny dent can be made. It's probably going to take several presidents to recover from this.

Don't put the man on a pedestal. Don't inflate him into something he's not because when he doesn't fix every little thing and make it all perfect, you'll hate him.

Bush may be now called one of the nation's worst-ever presidents, but I wouldn't be at all surprised of Obama ended up being one of the nation's most harshly-judged presidents once he's had his run.

Sarah Palin

Sep. 3rd, 2008 03:16 am
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I have never disliked a political figure in such a short time after first hearing a name.

I was going to write a nice, detailed, specific list of reasons why...but the more I read, the more my head hurts and for the sake of my poor little brain, I think I'm going to put it off for another time.

I'll leave you with this little tid bit for now (bolding mine):

Q: Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?

A: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.
Source: Eagle Forum 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire Jul 31, 2006

Then there's this link, with a very high shake to stick ratio of links to sources for all kinds of fun stuff on the sort of things to which she is connected:

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Arright folks, never mind all the other, logical, rational, legitimate political reasons for which I find Sarah Palin absolutely stomach-turning, even if it weren't for all that, I could never in good consciousness vote for her.

She has given birth to children and pinned them with such awful names as Track and Trig.

WTF, does she harbor a secret desperate yearning to go back and teach high school or something? (Not that Piper, Bristol or Willow are such great names either. But Track and Trig. Geez.)
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Yes, classical artwork. It's horrifically indecent. Sends dirty messages to impressionable little children. Boobs are bad and should be done away with.

Oh yeah, and if you ever serve as president, your spouse's ability to later serve as president should fall within the confines of your term limits, not be counted separately.

Washington is a town filled with boobs.

They're everywhere, from the bare-breasted ladies who decorate the fountain at Dupont Circle to the peekaboo statue in the Justice Department's Great Hall to the countless nudes in our museums. But while those of us who live here hardly blink at the public nudity, it can shock some of our visitors. Such was the case for Robert Hurt, who last week tried to add the issue of artistic indecency in the nation's capital to the platform of the Texas GOP.

"You don't have nude art on your front porch," the Dallas Morning News quoted the delegate as telling the platform committee at the state party convention. "So why is it important to have that in the common places of Washington, D.C.?"

Hurt, 54, a Kerrville, Tex., rancher and father of 14, told us in a phone interview he first came to Washington a decade ago for a gathering of the evangelical Promise Keepers on the Mall. "It was probably not much different than 'The Beverly Hillbillies' going to Beverly Hills," he joked. At the National Gallery, he was appalled to see statues of unclothed people. "I found it very inappropriate," he said. Returning a few years later, he discovered Arlington Memorial Bridge, flanked by the bare-chested figures of Valor and Sacrifice.

"The Lady Godiva thing -- that's what it conjured up, and that's not what our country's about," he said.

Hurt notified his elected officials of his concerns but believes nothing was done. While he said he respects free speech, "I believe art affects a country indirectly. I have been studying the decline of morals in this country. It's sending the wrong message to children that nudity is fine, that nakedness is fine. . . . There are degrees of vulgarity, and it opens up the door for the other stuff."

The platform committee did not adopt Hurt's recommendation on Washington nudity (nor his proposal to extend the 22nd Amendment -- presidential term limits -- to spouses). But Hurt said he'll pursue the issue, possibly with another trip here to videotape the evidence. "I'm not going to stop until I succeed. I'm prepared for a long fight."

Hmmm....looks like he's anti-birth control too.

*sigh* Well, it's good to know that he's gotten nowhere with this so far. Let's hope it stays that way. The very existence of stuff like this makes my brain trickle out my ears.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic presidential contender, said Monday he wants the House to consider a resolution to impeach President Bush.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi consistently has said impeachment was "off the table."

Kucinich, D-Ohio, read his proposed impeachment language in a floor speech. He contended Bush deceived the nation and violated his oath of office in leading the country into the Iraq war.

Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.

Kucinich won 50 percent of the vote in a five-way House Democratic primary in March, beating back critics who said he ignored business at home to travel the country in his quest to be president.
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The only way to truly believe in the equality of all people is to believe in God.

An atheist doesn't follow the command of some book, therefore cannot have any basis for believing in human equality. Because it's just not possible to have such a belief without being commanded by some supposedly omnipotent supernatural dude in the sky.

Emphasis and whitespacing mine.

This post is not quite coming out of the blue.

Some of Gil Smart’s columns have nearly prompted me to write this and now a response on TalkBack to one of my recent posts here has pushed me to do it.

I would not vote for a candidate for governor or president, and probably not Congress or the state Legislature either, who does not believe in God.

Would I press a candidate for the state House or state Senate on the point? Probably not but an espoused atheist or agnostic would probably have no hope of getting my vote.

Is this because I want a theocracy? No.

Is this because I believe non-believers can’t be moral, ethical people? No. (From all that I have heard about him and what I have witnessed in my limited dealings with him, I believe Gil Smart, for instance, is a wholly decent fellow — moral, ethical and all the rest.)

The reason I want a God-believing candidate for executive office goes back to the belief at the core of this nation’s founding: “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights …”

I would submit that this belief is key to the humility I’d like to see in elected officials, particularly presidents and governors, because they wield much of the life-and-death power of the state.

And I would suggest that a belief in God is the only way to believe in equality of human beings.

Let’s face it: Some people are smarter, better-looking and more physically capable than others. We can even objectively measure some of these things with IQ tests, physical fitness tests and games played by the rules.

The only logic that makes human equality work is a God-based logic that goes something like this: We are all created in God’s image and the differences in ability, beauty and intelligence between us are stunningly insignificant when compared to the gap between all of humanity and God.

And, so if God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves (in effect, to acknowledge them equal rights), then we have no business doing otherwise.

I do not see on what basis an atheist believes in human equality and the granting of equal rights that flows from that.

Now, has every president who believed in God acted in a way that made his belief in God evident at all times? No, but at least a belief in God offers a chance for the humility I want in every president when making important decisions for our nation.

Ronald Reagan, who I believe exhibited humility, said it best:

We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those humble enough to admit they’re sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.


(For anyone who may wonder, Gil Smart is a columnist for the Lancaster newspapers, whose website on which this blog post appears. Gil isn't so popular with the more conservative set. Don't actually know if he's atheist as insinuated in this post though I could swear I've seen writings of his before that mentioned going to church and/or believing in God. Not sure anymore though, and I don't really care if he's atheist or not.)
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Settlement In Americans United Lawsuit Comes After Discovery Of A Pattern Of Bias Against Minority Faith

The Bush administration has conceded that Wiccans are entitled to have the pentacle, the symbol of their faith, inscribed on government-issued memorial markers for deceased veterans, Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced today.

The settlement agreement, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, brings to a successful conclusion a lawsuit Americans United brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in November.

The litigation charged that denying a pentacle to deceased Wiccan service personnel, while granting religious symbols to those of other traditions, violated the U.S. Constitution.

(The article is a good bit longer than that.)


Jul. 6th, 2006 02:15 am
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The Statue Of Liberation Through Christ???

(It's the Statue Of Liberty. With a few new accoutrements. For serious.)

Or click here...I had some issue getting the link to work the first time... )

"This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis."

This statue proves nothing.

Dammit, it's my Statue Of Liberty too.

Yeah, you know, I'm just not too jazzed about that.
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This is one of the songs that was performed yesterday

"Symbol" by Celia

An American soldier came home today
Wrapped up as cargo in an American flag
He asked for one sweet silent symbol on his grave
But the pentagon said "Sorry son, request denied"

He served as any other with his hands and with his heart
He prayed to Father Sky, bowed down to Mother Earth
He honored air and water and the fire he danced around
but you didn't honor him before you put him in the ground.

It's a symbol it's a sign it stands for everything divine
Excuse me sir, I think you're wrong I checked and the last time
I read the doctrine it said practicing your faith is not a crime.
So let this soldier rest...honor his request.

You sent that little girl crying home from school
Told her she was evil and she disobeyed the rules
You took away her pendant, Grandmother's gift
But the other kids are free to wear their crucifix

And she knows that if you catch her, you'll have her expelled
She's frightened every member of her family's going to hell.
She's all messed up she's five years old, she doesn't know her rights
But her daddy is a lawyer, so get ready for the fight.

It's a symbol it's a sign it stands for everything divine
Excuse me sir, I think you're wrong I checked and the last time
I read the doctrine it said practicing your faith is not a crime.
So if you make thse children pray, let them do it their own way.

He's a believer so he wears it on his arm
First day, new job he set off all the alarms
The memo spread like wildfire that the devil had arrived
And the virus got to corporate and they fired him by five

Now all this misperception and everyone runs scared
Scared of the neighbors and scared to declare
Cuz the persecution's high, expelled or fired or denied
So what the hell did our ancestors fight so hard for?

It's a symbol it's a sign it stands for everything divine
Excuse me sir, I think you're wrong I checked and the last time
I read the doctrine it said practicing your faith is not a crime.
So if you make these children pray, let them do it their own way.

So raise up your chisel and carve next to his name
All that he held sacred and all that kept him sane
When you sent him off to war, you didn't care what he believed
now he served you with his blood, grant him his dignity

Freedom of speech, freedom of faith, freedom of religion
Freedom to stand up and fight for what we believe in
Freedom to die for your contry and be recognized
With a symbol of honor in your country's eyes

It's a symbol it's a sign it stands for everything divine
Excuse me sir, I think you're wrong I checked and the last time
I read the doctrine it said practicing your faith is not a crime.
So let his widow rest, honor her request.
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So I'm surfing and cliking along on the internet looking up stuff on Dominionists- hey, I'm kinda liking the website but I'm looking for the original sources so if I refer to something, some crazy person (like my parents...more on that later) can't say it's some crazy left-wing fabrication.

And I come upon this guy's blog:

Dr. Bruce Prescott

And on this blog was this essay. I think it's well worth reading:

If we have the courage to honestly look at ourselves through the eyes of others who are strange and foreign to us or who have been injured and ignored by us, then I believe our hearts will open and the whispering of God’s still, small voice will begin to ring loud and clear in our ears.
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Nabbed from [ profile] fervid_dryfire on the Battle Hymn Of The Repiblic

Blasphemy in Song

I never knew that the song was that long...or that graphic. Honestly I don't think I ever knew more than the first two maybe threew lines of the song. I leared it in first or second grade- but only the chorus, the "Glory glory halleluja" part...I forget why, but for several years I thought it was about Abraham Lincoln. And we were never told the title of the song.
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So we got up early today and Steph, Jesse and I drove down to Caryn and Will's, had breakfast and from there left to go first to Silver Spring, and then hop the Metro from there to Farragut Square in DC. The rally started at noon, there was a bit of music before the speakers. I'll try, but I know I'm going to miss a speaker or two...

First speaker was Rev. Barry Lynn from Americans United For Separation Of Church And State...I'm sad to say I can't remember much of what he said, but he had some good thigns to say.

There was another gentleman who was a pagan clergy person, but I didn't catch what his affiliation was, and don't remember his name unfortunately (there were a LOT of police, ambulance and fire sirens around the square today) but he spoke of one of the first things that he had done, back in the mid-80's was to help bring the Wiccan faith to prisons in Colorado for prisoners who wished for that option as their religion, and how when he was flown into CO, the person who picked him up and was in charge of driving him around the state to various prisons was a Pentacostal minister who told him that as far as he was concerned, Satan was getting into his car, and asked him not to speak to him. Over the course of the week, there was bad weather and some other mishaps (being stuck in between two doors of one prison due to a power out) and the minister kept saying that it was his God who was trying to prevent him from bringing Wicca to the prisons. Well, he spoke to a panel of government officials and got a system in place, the first in the country.

Caroline Casey, who is a radio host (I'm not sure of the details, but I plan to look for it) spoke of trickster spirits and deities...this was another one where she said so much, I didn't really get to process it all but it was worth hearing. I know that much.

Selena Fox talked about working with Roberta Stewart and how she had first filed the request for the pentacle 9 years ago and the process and bureaucracy she's been through since then. She also spoke of Liberty, and the Roman goddess Libertas who stands above the dome of the US Capitol building, and led a few short chants.

H Byron Ballard, who has organized the only interfaith event in the nation for three years now on the National Day Of Prayer spoke- with great humor- about incorporating religion into government- all of them. And the idealist picture that she painted was great in theory. But she was very clear that no, this is not practical and most people just wouldn't be down with that sort of change and went on to speak more about why we need to keep religion separate from government. She was definitely my favorite speaker, and has inspired me to see about starting an interfaith event here in Baltimore for the National Day Of Prayer. I spoke to her afterwards and she was very enthusiastic about helping with whatever she could to have more interfaith events take place.

Roberta Stewart, the wife of Sgt. Patrick Stewart spoke...her story was really sad. she didn't find out that the pentacle was still not approved for memorial plaques or headstones until she went to Arlington National Cemetary and found the place on the wall where his was supposed to be...the other four men that were in the same hellicopter with her husband all had plaques with symbols of their faith, but he only had a blank space. She showed some photos, and spoke about the effort that she's made- she took up the fight with stronger intent when Rosemary Kooiman died a few months ago. Rosemary had been trying to get the symbol approved for her husband, Abe's grave marker as well but had passed on before she could see that happen. Roberta is determined to see this happen in her lifetime.

The last speaker was Phyllis Curott, who is a well known author in the pagan world. I've not read any of her books, and frankly, the blurbs and interviews that I've read of her make me feel like I'm falling into diabetic shock, but to hear her speak was another thing altogether. She was very passionate, very vocal, sarcastic, and- well, she said it herself though not in so many words, verbose. They actually had to give her a signal to wrap it up. Most people that I talked to wanted to hear more. She was speaking mostly on the religious right's attempts to take over government and establish theocracy and how they're actually a lot closer than most people realize. She may have sounded like a raving lunatic conspiracy theorist, except for the fact that she was quoting directly from the people she was speaking against...and I have read or heard a number of things that she quotes from their sources.

After that there was some drumming and general socialization. I spoke to a number of people, including a fire performer who was touring the country, and someone that I supposedly met at Playa Del Fuego- I don't remember, but he remembered me. We all swapped contact info.

I very briefly met Phyllis Curott...there were maybe three peopple waiting to speak to her in front of me, and suddenly five or six more just kinda appeared to one side and started jumping in in front of everyone else. And then one particular individual kept interrupting everyone else who was trying to speak or ask questions, including putting herself right in front of me in the middle of a sentence....the environment was pretty chaotic, but there was just no calling for that. I was about to say "excse me but I've been standing here for ten minutes, long before you came up and interrupted me in the middle of trying to ask a question" when she walked away saying she had to speak to someone else, so I got my turn. That was about the lowest point of the day.

After it was all over, a huge group of us went back to Silver Spring to a Burmese restaurant called Mandalay. I've never had Burmese food before (Caroline Kenner tells us that Silver Spring/DC is one of only three metropolitan areas in the country that have Burmese restauants. The food was amazing, and not too terribly expensive- dinner, appetizer, drink and split a dessert for about $25. Dessert was pineapple ice cream served in a small, hollowed-out pineapple. I think both Steph and I could have died happy on the spot.

We hung around the restaurant for about three hours. It seemed like a LOT less than that, but the clock doesn't seem to have lied. I spoke to Byron about the interfaith prayer event, Selena Fox sat down and started talking, Roberta Stewart came was this huge community meet and greet. I'm really happy to have attended this event, and to have met the people that I met today.

There's another meeting tomorrow with the VA at 3pm. They're planning to get more insistent about getting an answer. So, thoughts, prayers, lit candles, if you do any of that...tomorrow at three pm eastern time.

For those who weren't there...itsounds like there's a pretty decent chance that the audio will eventually be available somehow. It was all recorded. I know I want failes (or at least transcripts) of some of those speeches...

Oh...and with the exception of one rather intoxicated- er- local, no one bothered us. Many a passerby saw what was going on and stayed to listen. Thwe whole thing went very smoothly (except for some audio glitches, but those were minor and quickly fixed.
badstar: (Default)
I wish things like this didn't need to happen...but there will be a rally tomorrow (7/4) in Washington DC concerning the struggle for fallen soldiers and veterans of the US millitary who are Wiccan (or practice other pagan religions which use the pentacle) to have the right to have the pentacle on their tombstones. This has been a struggle for over 10 years now, while various other faiths- some that most people have never even heard of have their symbols approved. (I know I've never heard of Konko-Kyo or Eckankar or Tenrikyo...but they can have symbols on their headstones.)

This struggle has been brought to light in the last few months by RobertaStewart, whose husband, Sgt Patrick Stewart who was killed in Afghanistan about 8 months ago. She has been working tirelessly to bring people's attention to the issue and to get the symbol approved.

If you're in the DC area and can attend, great! the information is right here:

If you can't attend...well, I'd like to say consider writing to your congressman about this but I'm honestly not sure how it works, as I understand it this is a VA administration thing...but I'm *trying* to find out.

You might say "Hey, but I'm not Wiccan" or "I think that pagan religions are wrong"...that's not what this is about. This is about fellow Americans who have fought- and some who have died serving your country- their country too. But the VA won't provide for a symbol of their faith on their tombstone as they have one that covers almost everyone else, including atheists (this isn't meant to be a dig on atheists, but an illustration of how otherwise diverse the list is.)

Here is the VA form which lists the approved symbols (some illustrations are shown, not all)

Here's an article with a lot more information about the issue, including details of symbols that were approved while people waited on the pentacle (which was ultimately rejected, stating that no new symbols were being aspproved while regulations were changed)):

And finally, if you don't look at any other link on this email, this one:

I can provide no better commentary than the last line of this article:

"After all, if we can't live up to religious freedom at home, we have no business asking soldiers to die for religious freedom abroad."***

there's no registration to read anything I've linked here.

***Yeah, I know...the whole issue abroad isn't about religious freedom, but bush and co. have said least in many times?
badstar: (lick a witch)
What sort of prayers (if any) should be allowed at government meetings? What crosses the line?

badstar: (various gods)
So...I'm on an email list (several of them actually, but for now- one in particular) where I had mentioned the book I just posted a review for and also happened to make a comment that it drives me berserk to see words purposefully misspelled to make a point or further an agenda, examples in question: the misspelling of "woman": "womyn", "wimmin", and worst/cheesiest of all "wombyn" (Someone else suggested "we-moon", which made my eyes bleed).

...and of course I was admonished for saying such things because "some need it to determine their own empowerment" (actually accused of putting down people, which I never did). Sorry but I'd have to say that if someone *needs* purposeful misspellings and can't find their "empowerment" through more substantial means, there's a problem.

I agree that a LOT of gross injustices have been commeitted...and continue to be committed, and something needs to be done, but something this superficial is not going to help anyone. Call me crazy, but purposefully misspelling a word isn't going to provide anything besides perhaps a momentary "so there", you can't tell me that your status is being equalized because you spell it "womyn" or "herstory" and I hypothesize that it may be more detrimental than helpful because a lot of people just aren't going to take you seriously if you insist on misspelling a perfectly valid word. (Myself included)

(By the way, here's a bit of etymology:

A Dictionary Of Euphemisms And Other Doubletalk, by Hugh Rawson, has this (among other things) to say about the word "woman":

"Woman" itself has a curious history, which may be of some consolation to female readers, since it shows that they are not, linguistically at least, derivatives of the other sex. "Woman," superficial appearance to the contrary, does not come from "man," but from the Old English "wif-mann," where "wif" meant "female" and "mann" meant a human being of either sex. As late as 1752, the philosopher David Hume could use "man" in the original sense, when contending that "...there is in all men, both male and female, a desire and power of generation more active than is ever universally exerted." What happened as the language evolved, of course, was that males gradually arrogated the generic "mann" to themselves, while the old word for female, "wif," was diminished into wife, [...] Today, some men still insist that when they use "man" in such constructions as "The proper study of Mankind is Man," or "Man is a tool-making animal," they do not intend to imply that their sex is the superior, but they are fighting the tide of our time.)

The word "woman" does not opress women.

And hey...I wonder how many feminists actually know that the word "vagina" was a Latin word for "sword sheath"???
badstar: (various gods)
For my IE Studies book, I chose The Myth Of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller. As a pagan, I find myself frequently bombarded withthe idea that once upon a time, life was peaceful, women were considered to be equal or superior to men, everyone coexisted happily and there was enough food, enough shelter for everyone. Until the evil patriarchy took over that is- at least that is what Marija Gimbutas, Merlin Stone and a host of others would have us believe.

Eller wrote The Myth Of Matriarchal Prehistory not to show that women really always have been second-class or worse (And illustrates clearly in chapter six, it can be extremely difficult to determine the status of women in a particular society when examining the evidence from different directions, and that may be further colored by the observer's bias) but because "'s my feminist movement too, and when I see it going down a road which, however inviting, looks the wrong way to me, I have an obligation to speak up." (pg. 7)

I personally do not identify as a feminist, which Webster's Dictionary defines as "of or relating to or advocating equal rights for women". I am much more apt to refer to myself as egalitarian, and there are those who would say that I am nitpicking over semantics, but I do not believe that the word "feminism" can be used to describe equality of the sexes any more than "masculism" could be. I would so much love to believe that there waws a time, even in the distant past that women and men were truly equal and if we could just get it together we could return to that way...but as Eller points out, when properly considered, all evidence underlines the fact that this simply never was, however she goes on to conclude that even if it never was, and even if it were never fully possible, equality is still a most worthy and necessary goal to work for.

Reading this book was interesting, if not necessarily pleasant at some points. I had to stop to consider my chosen Hearth Culture and their gods. As Eller points out, the Ancient Greeks were hardly friendly to women, quoting Aristotle's position that men are far superior to women, and that even a good wife will bring her husband trouble. I questioned that I should be honoring the deities of these people, it was not an easy question. But it was not the gods that brought such treatment of women to this world, it was happening well before the worship of these gods was in place.

I found this book to be worth reading because it does address the very common myth which is presented far too often as historical fact. Eller writes of the risk of breaking up the ranks of the feminist cause, but felt that it was far more important to write about how all evidence in truth points to the contrary. She concludes though, by saying that the idea of matriarchal prehistory is still valuable- as a myth that we can learn from for building a future where women do have equal status in society.


badstar: (Default)

July 2013



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