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Tag: Politics & Activism

More evidence that either God or Al Roker hates gays

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From a Facebook exchange today. You need to read the initial link for the rest to make sense.

Sonya posted a link.
The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality

“What do you all think?”

Will:
WOW! I’m sure they’ll miss the overtones of this.

Graham:
Proclaiming truth and extending grace. It made me think of the verse in Proverbs 24:26 that states “an honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

Jason Crane
Remarkably offensive.

Meli:
sound thinking. it is a very serious problem for the church to feel she has the right to decide whether or not something is sin when God’s Word very clearly states that it is sin.

Jason Crane:
A gay man is stranded in a sailboat, and a wind comes up and he reaches shore; does that mean God loves gays?

Sonya:
Jason, I think the question for me goes back to the probability issue – what the heck is the probability of this just happening. The meteorologists happened to be clueless. That is where this differs to me a bit from an event such as a tsunami which is the result of an earthquake that was predicted and noticed, or a hurricane that was tracked for days. This sort of came out of nowhere and left to go nowhere…

And, yes, the answer is God does love gays. He loves us all. He just cannot be with sin.

Thank you also, for reading my page. I am grateful for your friendship!

Jason Crane:
I’m a big fan of Occam’s Razor. In this case, is it more likely that a meteorological event happened, or that an incorporeal invisible entity made a political statement by making the wind blow?

Plus, how do you know it wasn’t Zeus telling the world that he dislikes Lutherans? Or Vishnu declaring hatred for the Minnesota Twins? There is exactly as much evidence to support both those positions as there is to support a Christian reading.

And if logic isn’t enough: How does God loving everyone mesh with creating a potentially deadly tornado near a densely populated area?

The thing that I find hurtful is that it’s OK to demonize gay people, but not to criticize the frankly crazy notion that an invisible being decides where tornadoes go based on conversations about individual sexuality.

Your comment under the article is “What do you all think?” If by “you all” you meant “you all who think the same way I do,” then you should be more specific about inviting only certain types of comment.

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Bigotry and plain language

Yesterday I posted this uncharacteristic message as my Facebook status:

“Hey, all you opponents of gay marriage: F*CK YOU! (What? That’s not helpful? Oh, sorry. But, uh, f*ck you bigots anyway, OK?)”

This, as you might imagined, generated quite a few comments:

Dean Bowman at 1:36pm April 23: What about opponents of marriage?

Heather Dingman-Glenn at 1:40pm April 23: The majority of students at my school feel that all rights should be equal and are open to all kinds of relationships. However, I would say the boys have it worse than the girls. This is a high school where the majority of the parents are military.

Jason Crane at 2:48pm April 23: @Dean: I’m with you, man. State recognition of unions for legal purposes, and then let folks follow religious practices if they choose, with no state sanction or recognition whatsoever. (Unless, of course, you were just being funny.)

Wendy Ramsay at 2:59pm April 23: Snaps to that!

Julie White at 3:23pm April 23: Ideally, I think that the majority of the rights that come with marriage should just be given to people as basic human rights–you know, like health care, adoption for anyone who’s a fit parent and wants to make a family with anyone else–but as long as we live in a state that thinks that monogamous committed relationships should be rewarded, then … Read Morelet’s at least be equal about that. But in Julie’s utopia, no one kind of human relationship (as long as it’s consensual and doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights)would be privileged over another (I know, dream on)… off my soapbox…but this is why I actually have a hard time with the gay marriage issue…a lot of ambivalence.

Jason Crane at 4:07pm April 23: @Julie: Right on! Although I don’t think any of those rights should be given. We’ve already got them. I think we need to stop letting the corporate state take them away. But that’s just me being a punk. And shamelessly stealing from Utah Phillips.

Brenda Yarger Abel at 4:27pm April 23: Wow! Way to promote tolerance.

Jennifer Cornish at 4:59pm April 23
I’m strongly opposed to asshole marriage. Letting assholes get legally married just sullies it for the rest of us. It’s just sick. I mean, there are all kinds of statistics showing that assholes are behind the majority of domestic violence attacks, robberies, burglaries, bombings, wars and crappy BSG season finales. And I’m pretty sure that being … Read Morean asshole is very strongly correlated with being a pedophile. I mean, how can we let these people get married and (GOD FORBID) have kids? It’s like they ruin marriage for us decent people who just want to raise our non-asshole kids to be non-assholes. I’m not saying they should be discriminated against for being assholes. I mean, people can be however they want to be in the privacy of their own homes, but when public schools teach that it’s ok to be an asshole, that’s where I draw the line. Once we let them get married, they’re going to turn the rest of us into assholes too.

Jason Crane at 5:14pm April 23: Amen!

Jason Crane at 5:59pm April 23: @Brenda: It’s always hard to tell if someone’s kidding or not on this here Facebook. But in any case, I’m kinda over being tolerant of intolerance.

Jennifer Cornish at 7:57pm April 23: Is tolerance of bigotry ‘tolerance’? Interesting question.

Brenda Yarger Abel at 10:12pm April 23: Is it not possible to oppose gay marriage, without being intolerant of those who support it? Since bigotry, by definition, is intolerance of anothers beliefs religion or opinion, it would appear that the one F-bombing those who disagree would be a better example of the bigot.

Jennifer Cornish at 2:30am April 24: I think that by saying ‘Fuck You’ to gay-marriage opponents, Jason is being less of a bigot than those people fighting to take away the right for responsible, consenting citizens to get married and live their own lives in peace. I wouldn’t try to actively take away a bigot’s right to be a bigot. 🙂

Jason Crane at 7:13am April 24: Thanks, Jenn. You’ve said it better than I could have. I’m just tired of having people’s religious views imposed on my supposedly secular government. Discrimination and bigotry in the name of religious opinion are still discrimination and bigotry. No excuses.

Many people who are smarter than I have made the following point more intelligently, but here goes: You don’t get to shout “intolerance” when people oppose your bigotry. If you try to deny people their civil rights based on your religious preferences, then you are a bigot, and no one — absolutely no one — is bound to respect your point of view or shy away from denigrating it.

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On open source software and our electoral system

vote

Dan Wallach wrote an interesting piece today titled Open Source vs. Disclosed Source Voting Systems, in which he discusses the need for open source software to be used in our voting machines if we’re to have any hope of electoral transparency. Here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes, working on voting seems like running on a treadmill. Old disagreements need to be argued again and again. As long as I’ve been speaking in public about voting, I’ve discussed the need for voting systems’ source code to be published, as in a book, to create transparency into how the systems operate. Or, put another way, trade secrecy is anathema to election transparency. We, the people, have an expectation that our election policies and procedures are open to scrutiny, and that critical scrutiny is essential to the exercise of our Democracy. (Cue the waving flags.)

And one more excerpt:

Voting systems, in this regard, are just like Microsoft Windows. We have to assume, since voting machines are widely dispersed around the country, that attackers will have the opportunity to tear them apart and extract the machine code. Therefore, it’s fair to argue that source disclosure, or the lack thereof, has no meaningful impact on the operational security of our electronic voting machines. They’re broken. They need to be repaired.

The entire article is worth your time.

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Evangelism (the open source kind)

Software journalist Bruce Byfield has an interesting post today about free software evangelism and why he keeps his mouth shut at parties.

I tend to feel — and act — this way regarding most evangelism. It’s usually not fun to have political discussions at parties because people have so few facts at their command. Maybe it’s my personality, but I find it very hard to have “discussions” between entrenched positions where there is no hope of movement.

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Constitutional scholar apparently needs to brush up on Constitution

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Look, I know the guy’s a centrist, OK? I know he’s not the Messiah. But I’m still quite disappointed:

In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government’s legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping efforts.

In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by “sovereign immunity” from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act. The government’s legal filing can be read here (PDF).

For the first time, the Obama Administration’s brief contends that government agencies cannot be sued for wiretapping American citizens even if there was intentional violation of U.S. law. They maintain that the government can only be sued if the wiretaps involve “willful disclosure” — a higher legal bar.

The text above is from an article by Raw Story’s John Byrne.

I didn’t expect Obama to do the right thing on the war(s), or to be some great progressive leader. But I did expect him to at least break with the Bush administration when it came to respecting the basic tenets of the Constituion and U.S. law. Apparently that faith was misplaced. Sad.

By the way, if you want to help the Electronic Frontier Foundation do its good work in this and other cases, visit their Web site and toss them some money.

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The Democrats’ debt to the people of New Orleans

Melissa Harris-Lacewell and James Perry co-authored this piece for The Nation. Here’s an excerpt:

When New Orleans flooded in August 2005, the Democratic Party was a shambles, locked out of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. For nearly a decade the Democrats played defense against a Republican onslaught initiated by Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America. After September 11, Democrats had joined with Republicans in giving President Bush unprecedented executive authority, thereby helping to erode civil liberties at home and authorize ill-advised aggression overseas. In 2004 Democrats were keenly aware that a solid majority of Americans believed it was unpatriotic to protest the Iraq War. So instead of articulating a clear alternative to Bush’s militarism, they nominated John Kerry on the strength of his record as a solider. Even so, they found it impossible to outmaneuver the existing commander in chief.

In August 2005 the Democratic Party had no clear leader, no identifiable platform, no winning national coalition and little political courage.

Then the force of Hurricane Katrina devastated the inadequate levees surrounding New Orleans. Americans watched as the city flooded, the power went out, and food and water became scarce. They watched as emergency shelters became centers of disease, starvation, agony and death. The nation watched in horror, but no mass evacuation began and Air Force One did not land. As the crisis wore on, the public became increasingly confused by and angry about the lack of coordinated response to alleviate human suffering and evacuate trapped citizens. As the waters rose, President Bush’s approval sank.

Read the rest of the article.

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Call for government response, in rhyme

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A classic Burma-Shave sign poem

From today’s Albany Times-Union:

Greenfield residents use touch of humor to push town for road repairs

By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
First published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GREENFIELD — Denton Road residents have adopted an old advertising technique to protest the street’s poor condition.

Upset that the nearly 2-mile corridor straddling Greenfield and Saratoga Springs hasn’t been repaved in years, neighbors plugged campaign-style signs with balloons into nine bales of hay and planted them along the road.

In an echo of the old rhyming roadside ads for Burma-Shave shaving cream, the green placards form a jingle for passing motorists: “Try to avoid, The hazards here, And say out loud, Elections are near! A safe road, Is just a mirage, But we do have, A new town garage, Thank you Greenfield!”

Read the rest of the article at the TU site.

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POEM: Luxury Hotel

Luxury Hotel

Room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.
So many liftings of the mattress, so many bends of the knees.
Then there are the chemicals, the solvents, the cleaners.
Scrubbing with your face right down in the fumes,
breathing deeply from the exertion.
Cracked skin, aching muscles, arms like rubber.
You can’t even lift your baby girl for a kiss.
Other people’s pubic hair, other people’s vomit and blood.
One time there was a man hiding in the closet.
He put one finger to his lips and told you to be quiet,
but how could you be quiet when there was a man in the closet?
So you screamed and ran and they gave you half a day off.
Another time you begged and begged for shoes,
the kind with the special soles so you wouldn’t slip.
After days and weeks and months, they ordered them
on the very day your head hit the tile floor,
the same day they cornered you in the manager’s office
and nobody called for a doctor, the same day
you passed out waiting for the bus and a passerby
took you to the emergency room. A stranger had to do that.
There are seven Dominicans and three women from Jamaica
and five Senegalese and one Vietnamese lady in the laundry
with no English who keeps to herself in the mouth of the furnace.
Eight hours, ten hours, twelve hours if it’s busy.
Then it’s home to cook and do your own laundry and help
Javi and Lisa with their homework. Make the lunches
for the next day. Shrink into the bed and fall asleep
to the throbbing in your joints. The alarm at 4 a.m.
Then it’s room after room after room with no stopping, no let-up.
How many in a year? Five thousand? Six thousand?
The human body can only take so much.

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Book review: The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation

This brilliant graphic novel tells the unvarnished story of the development and amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The book is no hagiography of the document or its authors. Hennessey and McConnell point out the flaws in the Constitution and its unfortunate application to restrict the rights of many Americans.

In total, though, this book, like the best history books, inspires both an appreciation for past events and a desire to improve conditions going forward. Hennessy and McConnell are to be commended for furthering the cause of Constitutional literacy. Get this for every middle- and high-school student you know, and get a copy for yourself, too.

Highly recommended.

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Tasini to Paterson: Are you insane, Dave?


Labor writer and activist Jonathan Tasini

Jonathan Tasini has written a simple and compelling piece about NY Gov. David Paterson’s call for pension givebacks for state employees. Here’s the core of Tasini’s argument:

We could wipe out the budget deficit–or, certainly trim it down to something trivial–by raising taxes on the very wealthy and going back to a more progressive taxation system that we had in the 1970s. You know this: if the state replaced the existing rate structure (consisting of 5 brackets with rates ranging from 4.0 to 6.85%) with one consisting of 14 brackets with rates ranging from 2.0 to 15.0%, we could bring in $6-7 billion more, and perhaps as high as $11 billion.

Under this plan, 95 percent of the state’s taxpayers—95 percent of the people—would receive a tax cut. Like the proposals championed by President-elect Barack Obama, a more progressive taxation system would be easing the burden on the people who are the most at risk in our economically troubled times. The top one percent of taxpayers—whose average income is $2.685 million—would see their taxes go up about 5.4 percent. The four percent below that top one percent—those people whose average income is $326,000—would have their taxes rise 1.4 percent.In fact, the top five percent would have their dues burden slightly reduced because higher state taxes would lower their federal obligations.

Everyone else would realize a reduction in their taxes.

I highly recommend the rest of the article, too.

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