Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

We're headin' for home today. I thought this was a fitting 'get outta town' song.

Emmylou Harris & The Hot Band Life in Budapest 1988

Leaving Louisiana

The next time I'm in Paris ...

I'm inviting myself to dinner at Chris' relatives' house. Anybody who serves two cheese courses is #1 with me.

All I want for Christmas ...

Is this. I can put it in the back yard and plink .22 rounds off it from my kitchen window. It's even bronze so it'll last a while. Beats shooting at the neighbors. Heh ...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Secular Humanist Progressive XMas!

Seasonal Forgiveness My Ass

Guardian (UK)

'Tis the night before Christmas and the season of goodwill. The mood is forgiving. Our faces warm with mulled wine, our tummies full, we're meant to slump in the armchair, look back on the year just gone and count our blessings - woozily agreeing to put our troubles behind us.

As in families, so in the realm of public and international affairs. And this December that feels especially true. The "war on terror" that dominated much of the decade seems to be heading towards a kind of conclusion. George Bush will leave office in a matter of weeks and British troops will leave Iraq a few months later. The first, defining phase of the conflict that began on 9/11 - the war of Bush, Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden - is about to slip from the present to the past tense. Bush and Blair will be gone, with only Bin Laden still in post (my em). The urge to move on is palpable.

Yes, the new year would get off to a more soothing start if we could all agree to draw a line and move on. But it would be wrong. First, because we cannot hope to avoid repeating the errors of the last eight years unless they are subject to a full accounting. (It is for that reason Britain needs its own full, unconstrained inquiry into the Iraq war.) Second, because a crucial principle, one that goes to the very heart of the American creed, is at stake. And third, because this is not solely about the judgment of history. It may be about the judgment of the courts - specifically those charged with punishing war crimes.

This is why there must be a reckoning. Bush will do all he can to avoid it: and it is wholly possible that one of his last acts as president will be to cover himself, his vice-president and all his henchmen with a blanket pardon. Even if that does not happen, Barack Obama is unlikely to want to spend precious capital pursuing his predecessor for war crimes.

But other prosecutors elsewhere in the world should weigh their responsibilities. In the end, it was a lone Spanish magistrate, not a Chilean court, who ensured the arrest of Augusto Pinochet. A pleasing, if uncharitable, thought this Christmas, is that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush will hesitate before making plans to travel abroad in 2009. Or indeed at any time - ever again.

The rest of the world needs to STFU about this and very quietly issue arrest warrants. Give it a little while 'til the criminals think all is forgotten, then invite them to come over...

It would be best if we could chew these shitstains out of our national skivvies ourselves, but if we are unwilling to do so I'll settle for somebody else doing it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O Holy Night

Sometimes even I remember that Christmas was supposed to celebrate the birth of our savior. Too bad the goddam religionists fucked that all up too.

Merry Christmas.

Celtic Woman, starring the angelically lovely Chloe Agnew, performs "O Holy Night," from the Celtic Woman concert at Slane Castle, in Ireland.

This song was never broadcast on television, or released in the DVD of the concert.

An Alternative Christmas

The other day, our friends Bev and Bentley gave us a copy of a hilarious CD called "Bah! Humbug: The Alternative Christmas Album". Funnier'n shit!

I tried to find "The Man Who Slits The Turkey's Throat At Christmas" and a coupla others at YouTube, but no luck. These will have to do. These are not your father's Christmas songs. Unless he hangs out with me, that is! Please enjoy these in the spirit in which they are intended. Heh.

Bill Barclay - The Twelve Days of Christmas

Tom Lehrer - A Christmas Carol

That time ...

It's that time of year again, when all the holidays converge. I actually do enjoy Christahanukwanzaa, just the whole idea of the fellowship and goodwill these holidays promote. Too bad we can't have that feeling all year long; the world would be a better place.

As all the regulars here know, I'm not a religious man. Got no use for organized religion and the ceremony that goes along with it. I am, however, a big fan of Jesus Christ. I don't worship him, don't think he's the Son of God, but I do agree with his philosophy. If more people would take his advice (peace, love, goodwill), we'd be a lot better off.

Christmas to me is a time to be with people you care about, helping out others who aren't as fortunate, and good food and drink. Last year, we took you to Germany with us for a traditional European Christmas with my family, but this year we're staying home and doing a quiet celebration with those we care for.

Billy Squier - Christmas Is The Time To Say 'I Love You'

And I generally don't wish for presents or material things but I would like the world to be a better place. My wish is to see our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan to spend next Christmas at home with their families and I most desperately pray the people in those lands are blessed with peace in the new year.

I also wish for tolerance here at home. After 8 years of divisiveness and hate, I would hope people (especially the religious ones - remember Jesus?) opened their eyes in the new year. To accept peoples' differences instead of hating them for it.

John Lennon - So This Is Christmas

I wish for prosperity for those who don't have it, for those who are struggling to put food on the table and shelter over their heads. As we feel no qualms about dumping money and resources into places that are in "the national interest", the health and prosperity of the world is in our national interest. As we've seen with this financial crisis, too much of what we do is global for us to ignore or exploit those in foreign lands who need our help. Yes, we're not doing well here but believe me, we're still doing far better than others.

Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas

And in closing, on behalf of my family, Gordon, and the rest of the staff here at the Brain, I wish you all a happy holiday, regardless of which one (or all/none) you observe. I wish you all health, prosperity, and, most of all, peace.

In the 21st Century, after ten thousand years of recorded human history, you would think we could take peace for granted by now. You would think we'd have matured as a race at this point but even the most 'civilized' of us still have the taste for war and oppression. We've collectively done such amazing things, things we take for granted today that a mere century ago would have been thought a miracle. You would think we could settle our differences by a means other than death and destruction. It's time we looked to the future collectively, not as a group of 200 disparate political entities but as a mature race of humans, dedicated to protecting the only place we have to live and those who share it with us. I pray we grow up.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's catching on ...

I thought I was the only crazy one but a lot of people are getting a big kick over the shoe-throwing thing. It's even come to the U.S.:

CHICAGO, IL (AP)- Residents in Chicago took their frustrations out on a cardboard cutout of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Monday.

A radio station came up with the idea of throwing a shoe at the makeshift governor as a fundraiser for a local charity.

Participants got three throws for a dollar.


Put up one of Bush and your charity will reach its fund raising goal with me. I'd be there all day, laughing maniacally, handing out money and throwing shoes. Heh ...

Since when ...

Has Hawai'i been some exotic foreign destination? Are they saying Steve McGarrett, Thomas Magnum, and Don Ho weren't Americans? Or is it just that the first black President, who happens to be a Democrat, hails from there?


For those of you who aren’t clear, Hawaii is one of our 50 states.


Merry Christmas

Me'n Mrs. G are heading out to the coast for our annual War On Christmas, so I'll just leave you with this pretty song. There's no movie, so just close your eyes and listen to it, and if you can't pretend for a minute that you're not a godless commie Librul fuck and get a little Christmas nostalgia, then just pretend the Star Of Bethlehem was a cosmicly serendipitous old time GPS that led to guys like Rick Warren. There, that oughta get ya in the spirit.

All seriousness aside, Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah or Kwanzaa to you all, or if you just like to paint yourself blue and dance nekkid out in the woods to celebrate the return of the Sun, I hope it's not too cold. See yas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm not gay, but I won't be drinking his water or eating his goddam donuts

I don't like Rick Warren any more than most of us do. I need some of his viewpoints like I need another itchy asshole, and I wish Obama had chosen someone more along the lines of Rev. Lowery who will get the Last Word at the inauguration, but frankly, he's just going to give one little speech that probably won't be remembered ten minutes after it's over by anyone except people who already fall for his shit. He's not going to be influencing policy like the christofascist whackjobs have been for at least the last eight years, maybe more like thirty.

Here's a coupla opinions from some gays in the know.

Hilary Rosen:

The gay community was hit harshly with realities over the last few weeks as a cabinet and senior White House staff was chosen in a Democratic administration that did not include a gay or lesbian appointee* and Pastor Rick Warren was chosen to give the Invocation on Inauguration Day.

(*This takes nothing away from open lesbian Nancy Sutly, new chief of the White House Council on Environmental Quality but that post is outside the power center of the White House and very issue specific.)

There's also the new SecNav, but I digress.

So despite my view that Inauguration day is a celebration that shouldn't be marred by the messy process of political compromise, I accept that for President-elect Obama, Inauguration Day is his first day of governing. He made a choice I disagree with and I won't soon forget the smugness of Warren's response. But, Barack Obama will own this inauguration, not Rick Warren. And I still believe in Barack Obama.

I still believe that he will lead our country to greater prosperity; health care for all; an energy policy that promotes a clean environment and a new economy. And I still believe that President Obama will work to enact public policy for to improve the lives of LGBT Americans. There will be missteps and compromises along the way. And those that simply don't understand what it means to be different in this world will have far more influence than I'd like in the debate. But the messy process of governing will also bring about progress in an Obama administration that will propel equality significantly forward.

Bob Ostertag:

It's just plain sad what the gay and lesbian movement has come to. November 4 was so extraordinary, so magical. The whole world seemed to come together. Except for gays and lesbians in California. We were supposed to feel crushed over Proposition 8. And now the whole scenario is gearing up to repeat itself on January 20: the whole world will celebrate the inauguration of the first black American president and the end of the George Bush insanity - the whole world except gays and lesbians who will be protesting Rick Warren's presence at the inaugural.

How is it that queers became the odd ones out at such a momentous turning point in history? By pushing an agenda of stupid issues like gay marriage.

[...] We have now come to the point that many unthinkingly equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia.

Rick Warren is now the flash point, the one all our political allies, even Barack Obama, are supposed to denounce because he doesn't pass gay marriage the litmus test.

[...] The quote that got all the attention was when Warren said gay marriage would be on a par with marriage for incest, pedophilia and polygamy. And yes, I think that's off-base. Not up there are the scale of the whole God-sent-his-only-Son-to-die-on-a-cross bit, but weird nonetheless. But let's look the rest of the interview, the parts that didn't get as much attention as that one line:

Q: Which do you think is a greater threat to the American family - divorce or gay marriage? A: [laughs] That's a no brainer. Divorce. There's no doubt about it.

Q: So why do we hear so much more - especially from religious conservatives - about gay marriage than about divorce?

A: Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? [Note: Warren is quite overweight.]

Yeah, he's a chubby little devil all right, but I'm the last one who'd bring that up, tending toward the chunky as I do. I must admit to enjoying tales of wingnut hillbilly heroin use, though. Heh.

Just a reminder to all those gays and lesbians who never look beyond their cultural ghetto: we've got some serious problems going on in the world today that need to be addressed now. Global warming in particular can't wait. For thirty years Evangelical Christians have been the anchor that has pulled this country to the right, giving us first Reaganism and then Bushism. Wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. And a decade of world-threatening climate change denialism.

At a minimum, 80 million Americans identify as evangelicals, and up to double that depending on how you define evangelical. They are the largest single religious group in the country, and the fastest growing. They are not going away. Somehow, some way, queers are going to have to share this country with all these people.

I am delighted that there is a new generation of evangelicals that thinks the biggest issue isn't homosexuality but global climate change, AIDS, and poverty. And who "don't believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles." I am so ready to make common cause with them. I couldn't care less about what they think of gay marriage.

Those quotes are the opinions of others and not necessarily mine. I'm just throwin' 'em out there for you. Plenty more at each post. There are no doubt many, many others. Personally, I believe in not sweatin' the small shit, and in the overall scheme of things Obama and us are going to be up against, this is small shit. Just my ever-so-humble opinion.

Taliban Eggs

From Doonesbury's milblog The Sandbox.

Many areas of Afghanistan are boulder-strewn. In one place on the J-bad Highway where the passes open up into a mountain-bordered plain, it actually looked like a boulder farm.

Thousands of large round boulders appeared as if they'd been purposely arranged in rows. I chuckled to myself from the turret of the humvee as we rolled along. We would encounter these fields in many areas of the country, and some were just mind-boggling. Like a carton of bb's scattered on a living room carpet, the thousands of boulders had been there for eons.

SGT Burt Schtickum, (who is still recovering from a torn aorta and resultant valve replacement that he narrowly but miraculously survived), decided that the fields of large round rocks were, in fact, Taliban eggs. Taliban, SGT Schtickum reasoned, were hatched from these eggs-cleverly-disguised-as-rocks in much the same way that killdeer hatch from eggs that look like pebbles.

The eggs, he maintains, have lain dormant for generations, Godzilla-like; and are activated to spawn by contact with diesel exhaust. Fiendish. As we patrolled, this sage of Afghan naturalism explained, we stirred our own foes with the exhaust plumes belched from our humvees.

It's hard to argue with the sheer Darwinian logic SGT Schtickum applied to explaining the constant supply of Taliban we were presented with.

The video below is from one of our drives through the fields of Taliban eggs. We were on a back road in Kapisa Province when we were suddenly surrounded by scads of them. As you can tell from the quantity of unspawned Taliban, we're in deep over there.

Jeebus, talk about a highway to nowhere! No wonder these guys got time to think up stuff like that! Comin' up with silly shit's better than fighting, though.

Maybe she's too honest? Or smart?

So tell me ...

Why I should think this whole Rick Warren thing is "much ado about nothing"?

When Obama invited Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration, he set off a major discussion about about what this says to the LGBT community, the Liberal (and Religious) Left, and the Religious Right. What's clear is that this particular decision has some hidden ramifications that will not be fully manifest for a very long time ...

I love everybody who says it's a good thing he's there so the god-people will warm up to Barry. Know what I say? Fuck 'em. I don't care if the 'religious right' likes the Dem candidate or votes for him. If it were up to me, I'd propose legislation to make abortions legal up until 2 hours before birth, just to watch the Jesus-freaks' heads explode. I'd make a law to give condoms to kids as they enter kindergarten, just to see the same result.

Tell me, why should we 'reach out' or 'be more understanding and inclusive' and 'tolerant' of people who have zero tolerance of anyone who doesn't share their twisted worldview? Why should we give a damn about people who enabled the Republican Party to become what it is?


Michelle Goldberg goes on to note that even when asked, Rick Warren is unable to distinguish his differences with James Dobson except as a matter of style. Furthermore, Warren believes that there is a strict hierarchy of authority which includes the fundamental correctness of the patriarchy. And he even admits to believing Jews are going to hell. If he thinks Jews are going to hell, what do you think he believes will happen with those Muslim allies he's now cultivating?

It seems that Obama and his team made this particular decision without truly understanding the overall consequences.


I'm tired of these self-appointed mouthpieces for god telling me I don't have morals because I don't believe. I'm tired of the gullibility of their flocks, believing everything that comes from the pulpit without question, for years voting against their (and our) best interests; throwing their support to anyone who says the right things to them.

This is a group of people who have been played for fools since Reagan ran for President and I'm supposed to take them seriously? This is a group of people for whom the name hypocrite fits so well. We have to sit and listen to their sanctimony and lecturing about the 'sanctity of marriage' and the 'culture of life' and 'heartland values' to the point of retching, yet the 'bible belt' has the highest divorce rate, the highest rate of teen pregnancy, and the lowest standard of education in the country? Horseshit. None of them have anything to say that a thinking American should listen to.

These are people who link distribution of AIDS medicines in Africa to belief, or at the least, acceptance of their 'principles'. It's easy to find converts at the end of the proverbial 'barrel of a gun'. When you refuse to provide education and appropriate birth control (condoms), when you turn a life and death situation into an opportunity to proselytize, it is you who have lost touch with 'moral values'.

When you marginalize an entire segment of the population, when you deride other religious groups for not believing as you do, and when you withhold information and prophylactics that can save a large number of lives, you have no regard for the 'culture of life'. When you care more for a group of cells forming inside a woman's body than you do actual living, breathing human beings, when you encourage people to deny health care on religious grounds, and when you applaud the efforts of terrorists who would kill those who provide that health care, you do not have anything resembling values.

Rick Warren represents these people.

So tell me again, Mr. Obama, why we should even admit these people are alive, let alone give them a position of stature at an event they've done their best to make sure would never happen?

I'm more than willing to give Barry the benefit of the doubt when it comes to cabinet appointments. Most of them look level-headed, qualified, and professional, but allowing Rick Warren this national stage is nothing less than an outrage.

Mr. Obama, everyone makes mistakes - I've made more than I want to count - but the true measure of a leader is to admit them and learn from them. It's time for you to admit you made a big one 'palling' up to Rick Warren. It's time to disinvite him and bring on someone more appropriate. As I said in a comment on an earlier post on this subject when Gord asked me just whom he should ask:

Who should he have used, Rev Wright?

Anybody but a man who believes political assassinations should be SOP in our foreign policy (a 'man of god' no less - Jesus weeps). Maybe a guy who wasn't a part of the bunch who now basically form the core of the Republican party? Maybe a woman whose church embraces gay couples in their congregation?

In fact, I have a friend who's a Presbyterian pastor in Detroit. His congregation can boast quite a few gay couples among the membership.

If Barry really has to have a religious man at the inauguration, I'll give him Pastor Pete's number. I'm certain he'd be honored and quite willing.

And that was just off the top of my head. Rick Warren has nothing to do with change, Mr. Obama. All he, and the rest of his slimy brethren, wants is to maintain the status quo and, naturally, the political power they've accrued over the past 30 years. With Rick Warren giving the invocation at your inaugural, Mr. President-elect, you're helping them do just that.