Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Me and John

OK, I confess. Not only do I post occasionally here, and not only do I make snarky comments on other people's blogs, I also send snarky emails to various Fox News personalities. Yes, I am that pathetic. My favorite one-way friend is John Gibson. (Though I seem to remember one of my better missives being sent to O'Reilly in which I apologized to the poor underling that had to read it and commiserated with them about what a cheap bastard their boss must be, what with the 25% discount on Factor Gear™ they likely get as a Christmas bonus every year.

Of course, in the dozen or so messages I have sent to these clowns, I have only gotten two responses. One from Mike Straka (the Grrrrr guy) and one from my boy John. And I truly love John Gibson. He really doesn't get the attention of a Hannity or O'Reilly, but he is easily worthy. He is just as nutty. Anyway, his big obsession is The War on Christmas and he doesn't disappoint.

So here's what I recently wrote to my friend John:
(slightly edited for clarity)

To: waronchristmas@johngibson.com
From: seattleslough@gmail.com
Subject: Why a war?

John John John. . .

Someone has obviously been hitting the egg nogg early.

First you claim that Christians are 84% of the Country*. Then you talk about the "less than ten percent of this country that is not Christian." Huh? Percentages are based on the number 100 last I checked. 100 - 84 = 16 which is greater than "less than ten."

But that is just a dumb mistake. The really ridiculous thing you do is to basically fail to point out the difference between private and public displays. Christians are allowed to celebrate Christmas, Easter, Lent, Ash Wednesday and whatever other important religious holidays they think are significant in whatever way they want. Just like Jews, and Muslims, and whoever the hell celebrates Kwanzaa. It is when you somehow require the acquiescence of public institutions that problems arise.

Why are Christians so uniquely fragile that they need the State's recognition? We don't live in a country that recognizes Ramadan. Yet Muslims are thriving here. We don't live in a Kosher country, yet Jewish families are happy as the clams they can't eat. So why do Christians need more? What makes Christianity so much less able to sustain itself on its own? Why do Christian parents, for instance, need their children to pray during school? Isn't prayer twice daily at home enough? Why do Christian parents need to have a society that supports their beliefs? Can't they, like any Hindu family, do it as a family, and not lean on the government to help with the brainwashing?

What gives? Isn't the fact that Christmas displays are already in every department store, mall, restaurant, private club, private school, and 84% of the nation's living rooms and front yards enough for you? Do you really need to add courthouses and city hall? What does that say about you and your security in your own beliefs?

Don't get me wrong. I love the secular Christmas holiday. I decorate a tree every year. But I can't see how, for the life of me, having public institutions making similar displays helps me at all. Get over it dude. There are real problems in this country. This ain't one of them.

How many pieces are you going to waste on this non-story? It is two so far and we aren't even past Halloween. I know you have a book to shill, but who do you think you are, Bill O'Reilly?

Seattle Slough
Seattle, WA

* I disagree here. The City University of New York's ARIS study, conducted in 2001, has Christians at about 76% of the population and they called over 50,000 Americans. Plus you'd have to concede that lots of people would claim to be Christians but are only saying so because of social pressure. As they say, there is an Atheist in every choir.

Plus, many Christians don't like or celebrate Christmas. Mostly because there is nothing Christian about it. The colors red and green, the symbol of the stag, the hanging of mistletoe, the burning of a decorated log, the jolly fat man - all come from the Pagan ritual of Yule, which was celebrated at the winter solstice long before the Romans brought Christianity to Northern Europe. Jesus wasn't born on the 25th of December. No one knows the date he was born. (Heck, no one knows the date he died, and people at least knew who he was then)

I will let you all know if I get a response. And I will surely post it here, no matter how thoroughly this renown and published Christmas Expert refutes my logic. Not saying he will. But just in case.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Thanks Fox! Yet again.

From Fox News' Junk Science column comes this feeble attempt to debunk some recent global warming = bigger hurricanes claims:

"And as far as Wilma being the “strongest” hurricane on record, chief meteorologist for weatherunderground.com and former Hurricane Hunter flight meteorologist Jeff Masters told Reuters that similar storms could have occurred before the 1960s.

“Back then we didn't have satellites and we didn't have aircraft reconnaissance. So it's quite possible that a lot of those hurricanes [were as strong, or stronger than Wilma].We just weren't around there to see,” said Masters."

Let me get this straight. The statement is false because why now? No one claimed Wilma was the strongest hurricane ever. They said the strongest hurricane on record. Which this idiot seems to think includes storms not on record. Junk Science? How about that junk you're shooting into your arm dude. Wake the fuck up already.

Quite possibly the weakest debunking ever.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Half Mast

BACKGROUND (PART I): I generally don't listen to right wing radio. Those brave souls at places like mediamatters.org have much tougher constitutions than I for putting up with hours and hours of this crap.

However, while my little pick-up's crappy radio still works, it's (high-tech for 1992) display is no longer functional. So I have to find radio stations by sound alone. Thus I caught, and am now paraphrasing, this exchange from Mike Gallagher's show. Gallagher was discussing the phoney uproar about a column which has the right all a titter.

BACKGROUND (PART II) Apparently, there is so little for the right to complain about that is not of their own making, they are resorting to picking on local columnists. In this case, a Dallas Morning News columnist responded to the vociferous concern of some of Georgia's finest about the proper way to display flags, which to them seemed more pressing than the unbelievable tragedy that led to the gesture in the first place.

Of course, Bill O'Reilly, who was named in the column, attacked the colunist first on his national television show. So a day or two later, I was not surprised to see that Mike Gallagher, an O'Reilly fill in, is tackling the same pressing issue on his national radio show:

Gallagher has some woman on the line who is expressing her concern (talking point) that if we fly the Mexican flag at half mast, do we have to do the same for all the other countries? Etc. Etc.

Gallagher says (again I am paraphrasing): "But aren't you offended that this columnist suggested that you and others were more upset about the flag issue than about the murder of those migrant workers?"

Woman: "Oh yeah, my aunt lives right across the street from where those murders happened. It could have been her!"

No shit. She wasn't concerned that five human beings were beat to death with aluminum baseball bats, another was shot, and another raped beyond than the fact that it could have been her aunt. What a horrible, horrible bitch that woman must be.

Gallagher thanked her and moved on. How bad are these people?

Not really off topic: If you haven't read this piece by Bill McKibben from Harpers about the so-called Christian right, you must. Immediately.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Balls and Strikes

Been awhile. No excuses.

So we all remember way back when our current Chief Justice was entering his confirmation. He assuaged our fears by comparing himself to an umpire, and explained his judicial philosophy by stating:

"Umpires don't make the rules; they apply them. … They make sure everybody plays by the rules. … And I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

Sounds good. Though I personally think a Supreme Court Justice is more like a member of the Major League Baseball Rules Committee. A low strike call today, is not a low strike call tomorrow or the next day. District and Superior Court Judges can make unpublished rulings, but not the Supreme Court. They make precedent. Every time.

But I digress. I do like the comparison. And using it illustrates how absurd the Miers pick is. If Judges are umpires, then sitting on the Supreme Court is being on the lead crew for the World Series. So here's the problem. Miers hasn't even umped a little league game, to say nothing of three or four solid years at AAA. Essentially, as a lawyer, she is a player, not an Ump.

So it isn't just that we have questions about her Strike Zone. We don't have any evidence that she knows the rules, to say nothing about her ability to apply them fairly.

To extend the baseball metaphor to its logical conclusion, imagine that Miers is a baseball player. A soon to be retired player. One who worked for George Bush and who has a somewhat mixed legacy and rumors of sexual disfunction. I am speaking of course, of Rafael Palmero. Would it be refreshing to allow Rafael to call a game or two? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Would I want to see him standing behind the catcher at the outset of the World Series? Would anyone?