While many Americans celebrated and rejoiced at the barbaric hanging and execution of the former U.S. backed tyrant Saddam Hussein, most of the "civilized" world expressed disgust at the display of revenge and barbarism. Most of the advanced democratic societies in the world have banned state-sponsored executions. The Pope and the Catholic Church have denounced the execution and the death penalty. Where are all those "pro-life" fanatics when it comes to state-sponsored killing? Perhaps they should read more of the teachings of the man they claim to follow, who I believe denounced revenge and commanded his disciples to NOT return evil with evil, but rise above their enemies. The graphic above is from an Italian newspaper, and depicts the common ground shared by the U.S. and fundamentalist Christians and Muslims--they endorse revenge and state-sponsored killings of human beings. Is it really a cause for celebration that the United States shares this barbaric notion of "justice" with Islamic religious fanatics?
No, I don't defend Saddam Hussein. I believe "justice" would require him to stand trial in a world court for crimes against humanity, and allow more of his victims, expecially the Kurds, to testify to his brutality and inhumanity, and sentence him to prison for life. Repayig his inhumanity and cruelty with more of the same is not "justice", it is barbaric revenge.
While I am no fan of the tyrant Saddam Hussein, I do not see how executing him makes Iraq more "democratic" or solves any of the problems facing the country in a violent religious civil war. While Saddam Hussein was certainly guilty of many many war crimes and crimes against humanity, he was executed for only one of them, which killed a few hundred Shiites in the 80s. That trial was a farce. And wasn't he an "ally" of the United States during that period when he committed so many crimes against humanity? Didn't Ronald Reagan send Rumsfeld over to shake the tyrants hand and offer him U.S. support in his war against Iran? And if Saddam can be executed for "crimes against humanity" for ordering or presiding over the slaughter of hundreds of innocent civilians, what about other leaders, like George W. Bush, who have committed similar "crimes against humanity"??
With the death of an ex-President the media tries to focus on the good things the departed did as President, so we have been hearing a lot about what a great person former President Gerald Ford was. I was going to do some of the same, and say that Gerald Ford was one of the "better" Republican politicial leaders, since he was not quite as right-wing as Reagan or Bush. But how can we now say that he did the right thing by pardoning Richard Nixon for his crimes? Then I read this piece on DEMOCRACY NOW and was reminded not only of that bad decision, but also of Gerald Ford's tacit approval and the U.S. participation in the Indonesian invasion of East Timor that killed one-third of the Timorese population. I'm sure there are a lot more things like that the meda will not be discussing. Ford wasn't a right-wing nut like Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, but he was no saint either. We should reflect on the whole record of dead presidents and not forget their mistakes and the consequences of their policies.
I can say one good thing about Gerald Ford.. he did support gay rights, including marriage equality, in his old age. Hopefully the next president will not take that long to support equality for all.
It's that time of year again, Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) and his christo-fascist fans have been doing their annual whinning about the "War on Christmas" by us mean ol' secular humanist liberals. I haven't seen much evidence of it, but facts do not matter to these fanatics. To the theocon christo-fascists, any recognition of diverse religious and non-religious holiday observances which conflict with their religious Christmas holiday is an attack on baby Jesus and his followers. Is it really too much to include all "Happy Holidays" rather than only one--Merry Christmas?? As an atheist, I still send Christmas cards and say "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays" or Happy New Year, some of my friends have joked about it. I think "Christmas" has become more than just a religious observance of the supposed birthday of jesus christ. Many atheists and secular humanists observe "Winter Solstice" rather than christmas, but I sill like "Christmas", I put up a tree and decorate it, I like getting a bonus at work I can use to buy presents for family and friends (and myself!), and I like haveing some time off work to be with family. So I say "Merry Christmas"! Happy Holidays! Or as little Tim says in A Christmas Carol, one of my favorite books/movies about the evils of materialistic laissez-faire capitalism, "Merry Christmas to all!"
With recent best-selling books by atheists Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, it seems like atheists and secular humanists may have finally reached a point where they can become a politically organized group to counter the Christo-fascists who have virtually dictated social and political policies in the United States for the past decade. I have little "faith" in the weak liberal Christian churches who are losing membership and political clout. It is time, as Richard Dawkins argues in his speeches, for American atheists to get politically organized to fight theocracy, and to promote science and secular humanism instead of living in fear and silence. As a gay atheist, I see many similarities to "coming out" for atheists and gay people. It took me a little longer to "come out" as an atheist than as a gay man. Atheists are still probably the most hated and feared group in American society, but things will change as more and more people admit that they do NOT believe in the sky-gods of Christians, Jews and Muslims. And if we want to preserve democracy and secular constitutional government, we better get politically organized! But organizing atheists and humanists is like herding a bunch of cats! Now there is a SECULAR political action group to counter the Christian Coalition--the Secular Coalitoin for America which currently includes a coalition of secular groups: American Humanist Association, Atheists Alliance Int'l, Freedom from Religion Foundation, and others. It may be the best opportunity yet for secular humanists and atheists to gain some political power.
In an attempt to satisfy the recent New Jersy Supreme Court ruling that gays and lesbians must have the same rights as heterosexual married couples, the NJ legislature has approved a "civil union" law that is supposed to provide the same rights as married couples, but with a different name. Given the overewhelming opposition to "gay marriage," can gays and lesbians achieve equal marriage rights with "civil unions"? It makes political sense to give up the loosing "marriage" battle and work for civil unions, but it just doesn't seem very progressive to work hard to create a "separate but equal" instution for gays and lesbians that my fail to withstand judicial scrutiny in the hopefully near future.
If you thought a "Democratic" Congress would mean a dramatic change in military spending think again. Democrats Expected to Increase Military Spending While Dennis Kucinich and some progressive anti-war Democrats are proposing cutting funds for the Iraq occupation, most of the Democratic Leadership seems intent on proving they are "tough" on "national defense" and will support MORE military spending. As the article points out, the current federal military budget is over $430 billion, which does not include the $140 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. And if you add up all the money being spent on past and current wars (military actions) the total is nearly $1 trillion!
The anti-gay Christian Right is raising questions about Mitt Romney's Record on Gay Rights Seems like the Republican Governor of Massachusetts, and likely Republican presidential candidate, is suffering from the same ailment as John McCain--waffling on civil rights for gays and lesbians. While Romney has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage and tried to force the Democratic legislature in MA to take up the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, he once told the Log Cabin Republicans that he would do more for gay rights than Ted Kennedy! In a 1994 letter when he was a candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Kennedy, Romney pledged to be a more effective champion for gay rights than Edward Kennedy. In the letter he wrote: "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I willl provide more effective leadership than my opponent." In his 2002 gubernatorial campaign, Romney's staff campaigned for him in the Boston Gay Pride Parade.
Now he is singing John McCain's new tune with the anti-gay Christian Right. Neither can win the GOP nomination without the support of the Religious Right, and they are now questionning Romney's conservative credentials.
Ok, this is becoming an epidemic! Pastor Resigns Over Homosexuality In a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, the senior pastor of a thriving evangelical megachurch in south metro Denver confessed to sexual relations with other men and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.
A month ago, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Doug las County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.
Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.
"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. "... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."
There seems to be a strong correlation between religious fundamentalistm and homosexuality/homophobia. What is the cause/effect???
In another case of the Grammys losing its "artistic" credibility, the "Academy" snubbed Bob Dylan's MODERN TIMES in its Album of the Year nominations. Somehow, they found Justin Timberlake more worthy of the nomination. Oh well, here's a great video to watch while listening to THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN from the Best Album of 2006, Bob Dylan's MODERN TIMES.
(Yes, there are probably fewer gay Bob Dylan fans than there are Gay Republicans...)
V.P. Dick Cheney's Lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, is pregnant and the Christian Right is having a cow! I'm no fan of Uncle Tom Republican Mary Cheney, but it will be interesting to see how the public will respond to the reality of gay and lesbian couples having children--with no civil rights as parents! Since Mary and her partner cannot get married, thanks to her Dad and the Republican Party, they will lack many of the basic rights that married parents have. Maybe that will wake up "middle America" and the rational wing of the Republican party. We already know the reaction from the Religious Right: Concerned Women for America call the decision of Mary Cheney to have an out of wedlock baby "unconscionable," and Focus on the Family belittled the love of lesbian mothers for a baby as less than what a mother and father could provide... blah blah. While Mary Cheney's book (Now It's My Turn) was a big flop, selling less than 10,000 copies last I heard (the market for repressed Republican lesbians must be very small indeed), maybe the socio-political obstacles she and her partner will face as parents will shed some light on why gays and lesbians MUST be allowed to legally marry!
Gay Rights Activists Hopeful About New Agenda Now that the "gay marriage" issue is put on the backburner until the next election and a few more states amend their constitutions to ban it, gay rights organizations (HRC, NGLTF) are focusing on passing the hate crimes bill first, and then trying to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed later... I'm not sure why the leaders of HRC and NGLTF want to focus on Hate Crimes first, since that issue affects few GLBT people, while employment discrimination is a real threat for most GLBT people, since there is no federal laws protecting GLBT people from it. I have always had mixed feelings about hate crime laws, sure I support the, but I don't see how they do much to stop hate crimes, and they fuel the anti-gay right's accusation that we want "special rights." Why should crimes against certain groups get more severe penalties than others? Hard to argue that issue, and I think there will be more opposition to the hate crime bill than the employment non-discrimination bill--but I could be wrong. I think it may be a mistake for gay rights groups to settle for the hate crime bill, instead of pushing the Democrats in Congress to pass ENDA. Should it be the priority?
It will be good to get the public focus back on discrimination against LGBT people and off of gay marriage for a while...
I almost forgot to thank CHRIS LUGO, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, and the rest of the Green Party candidates for giving TN voters a PROGRESSIVE alternative to the conservative Democratic and Republican candidates. I am a Democratic Socialist, not a Green Party member, but I appreciate the work the Green Party candidates did, especially Chris Lugo, in championing the issues that a REAL progressive Democratic candidate should be fighting for in Tennessee. Chris only got about 2500 votes, but every one of those votes, including mine, was vote for progressive values and NOT a vote for conservative Democrat Harold Ford Jr., who sold out much of the Democratic party's base to appeal to the conservative theocratic base of the Republcian Party--and he still lost! And for those Democrats who will try to blame those of us who voted for Chris Lugo for Jr.'s defeat, do your math! Ford lost by over 50,000 votes, Chris got 2500! So you can stop blaming the Green Party for the failures of the Democratic Party!
Here's part of Chris Lugo's message to his supporters on his website which I would like for you to read:
"My main objective in running for office this year was to give peace a voice at the ballot box. About 2500 people felt so strongly about peace that this is what they voted for on November 7th and I think that is very exciting. I hadn't planned on stepping into such a big race nor such a tight race this year, and in many ways it was just a good year to run. The Senate seat was an open seat, the representative stepping down was the Senate majority leader, the major party candidates were both conservative and the race was tight so it was getting a lot of national media attention. I made a lot of Democrats nervous this campaign season and Harold Ford Jr. spent a lot of energy on telling the Democrats not to vote Green. His campaign called me the "Tennessee Ralph Nader" and told Democrats not to give in to the temptations of the Green party again like they did in 2000. The pressure and bullying that the Democratic party took this year with Greens and progressives was huge and it worked, but it still didn't bring them victory in Tennessee. I think was an important lesson, which goes to show that even if you decide to sell out your vote, you still might lose. Perhaps it is a calculated gamble that some progressives are willing to make, I would estimate that several percentage points of Democrats made that choice this year in Tennessee, and decided to vote for someone who has voted for war, voted for torture, voted against civil rights for the glbt community, voted for limiting first amendment rights and sat in a church with a cross behind him while he informed voters that he voted for the patriot act, against immigrants and proudly boasted of voting for five trillion dollars in defense expenditures in the last ten years."
Thanks Chris! Hopefully the "Democratic Party" and voters in Tennessee will wake up and demand that the TN Democratic Party offer voters a real alternative to the Republican Party.
I will continue to support PROGRESSIVE Democratic candidates and work to save the Democratic Party in TN, but I will not lift ONE FINGER to help conservative Democrats!
While TN and most U.S. states are taking steps to deny marriage equality for gays and lesbians, South Africa has joined Canada, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain (and Massachusetts) in legalizing same-sex marriages, over the opposition of Christian and Muslim groups who agree that homosexuality is an abomination to god.