30 July 2012

NRA wants to arm violent warlords

Late last week, the United Nations failed to agree on a global arms trade treaty that would regulate the transfer of arms to conflict nations where they would violate arms embargoes or could be used in acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

The United States and Russia used their power to stall the talks, which are now on hold. A vote may occur later this year.

Meanwhile, the NRA is taking credit for blocking passage of the treaty this time around, in the name of the Second Amendment - even though the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs has clearly indicated that the treaty would not "interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession."

So apparently the NRA thinks warlords and other bad guys should have unfettered access to all the weapons they need to commit their atrocities lest a slippery slope threaten the rights of law-abiding U.S. gun nuts.

Not exactly logical. Yet they seem so proud of it.

24 July 2012

Philly monsignor gets 3-6 years for protecting pedophile priests

Earlier today, Roman Catholic Monsignor William Lynn was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in prison for covering up clergy sex abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Lynn's lawyers had argued instead for house arrest, claiming that a prison sentence would constitute "cruel and unusual" punishment. But what of the cruel and unusual treatment of the children whose abuse was enabled by Lynn's own actions?

According to the Associated Press, "Lynn was the first U.S. church official convicted for his handling of abuse claims in the sex scandal that's rocked the Catholic church for more than a decade."

I hope he won't be the last.

But it's not easy, especially since these kinds of cover-ups go all the way to the top - even to the pope himself.

Within the Catholic Church (like Penn State), protecting our children takes a back seat to protecting the reputation of the institution.

What would Jesus think?!

22 July 2012

Chick-fil-A's biblical hypocrisy

Chicken sandwich chain Chick-fil-A has never tried to hide its "Christian" roots. It's usually the only store in a shopping mall food court that is closed every Sunday. And the official Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose is "To glorify God."

But recently they've come under fire publicly for being anti-gay, to which company president and CEO Dan Cathy responded: "Well, guilty as charged."

Cathy went on to promote the "biblical definition of the family unit."

"[T]hank the Lord," he said, "we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

But it's interesting to note that Chick-fil-A is cherry picking the biblical principles it wants to observe.

After all, bacon is on Chick-fil-A's breakfast menu, even though its consumption is explicitly prohibited:

"And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you."
-- Leviticus 11:7-8
I do not expect a response from Chick-fil-A on that.

08 July 2012

Barney Frank ties the knot

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) married his longtime partner, Jim Ready, in a ceremony officiated by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

As the New York Times points, out, Frank, who was the first sitting member of Congress to come out as gay, now becomes the first to be married to a partner of the same sex.

Frank, who has been representing Massachusetts' 4th Congressional district since 1981, will be retiring from Congress at the end of his current term.

I wish him and his new husband much happiness in this next phase of their life together.

07 July 2012

Evangelical radio host wants church attendance mandate

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court's upholding of the Affordable Care Act, evangelical radio talk show host Bryan Fisher called "brilliant" a listener's suggestion of a mandate that everyone attend church or else pay a tax.

Perhaps someone should point him to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." And that's exactly what it would be.

Of course, the religious right won't let pesky things like the Constitution get in the way of their theocratic wet dreams.

04 July 2012

Jefferson is spinning

As I write this on the July 4th holiday, 2012, it occurs to me that Thomas Jefferson is surely spinning in his grave.

When he and the other Founding Fathers created this nation 236 years ago today, their vision was of a society in which "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

At the same time, they recognized that a true democracy requires an informed electorate. In a letter to William Charles Jarvis in 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power."
Instead, today our politicians are working to undermine public education and other institutions of opportunity for the poor and the middle class, and instead indoctrinate the masses via corporate funded political propaganda. That is plutocracy, not democracy.

Jefferson foresaw this possibility, and railed against it, saying:

"I hope we shall crush ... in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
In identifying this possibility, however, I doubt that Jefferson ever imagined that a Supreme Court decision would give free rein to "the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations" to "challenge our government to a trial of strength..." The Citizens United case enshrined as constitutional the corrupt ideal that money is power. Again, what we have here now is plutocracy, not democracy.

Jefferson is also famous for his concept of a "wall of separation between Church and State." I wonder what he would think of the fact that politicians all across the nation are trying to legislate religious "morality" in everything from contraception to marriage rights. That is theocracy, not democracy.

Two years ago, to add insult to injury, the Texas Board of Education decided to stop teaching that state's children about Jefferson's views. Apparently the ideas that led to the holiday they are celebrating today are just too radical for our children to consider.

And I don't think they even see the irony in it.