what's worse?

That the president is not keeping his campaign promise to have a hands-off approach to medical marijuana in states where it is legal, or that he apparently has no control over his own justice department?

I'd say it's a push. Buck, stopping, etc...

(Aside--speedy recovery, Gino!)


have you told a scientologist to fuck themselves today?

Just a friendly reminder, only abject frauds answer social critics with character assassination.


did we win?

Not trying to be funny here (for once). It's a serious question. What do you think?

Also, this.

(It only took 18 months, but I finally figured out how to copy and paste a URL on my phone. While drinking no less!)

(I didn't want to leave wassisname's ugly bloody mug at the top of the page for more than a day.)


sic semper tyrannis

"To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now." -Sully


gop debate 9: the electric bugaloo

I got to the gym around 5:30 local time last night, and plugged my headphones into the TV sound thing on the treadmill to watch the GOP debate in progress. I did my three miles in just over 25 minutes (not bad considering I'm coming off a cold), but I only lasted 20 with the debate.

Seriously, it was pretty fucking awful.

Here's my rundown:

Ron Paul--Didn't even speak while I was watching.

Jon Huntsman--Didn't show up, and was therefore the winner. I hope he had a lovely evening.

Rick Santorum--Comes off like a petulant, whiny bitch.

Newt Gingrich--Misses being on TV, is clearly running for vice-president.

Herman Cain--I can't believe that otherwise intelligent people are taking him seriously.

Michele Bachmann--Actually sounds reasonable when she's pointing out the holes in Cain's tax plan. Stopped clock, etc...

Rick Perry--You know what? Seriously, fuck Texas. Everyone who wants to live in Texas, does*.

Mitt Romney--Very good at debating, horrible at making people like him. I'm sure there's a real person in there somewhere, but I doubt we'll ever see it.

Best internet snark of the night: Radley Balko (on Facebook): "Just to mess with people, Fox should do an episode of House that starts like another GOP debate, but then all the candidates collapse, crap blood."

*Possible exception: some Mexicans.


qui bono?

Some interesting patterns in this data set.

Eggheads like Obama. Finance people like Romney.

And the military likes the most prominent Republican non-interventionist of the last 10 years.


riding the tiger, cont'd

I don't have time to compile links and quotes, but it seems that an awful lot of Republican candidates and pundits doth protest too much over the whole "Mormonism is a cult" thing.

Seriously? Where has everyone been? I was taught precisely that from the earliest time I can remember, even in my relatively sane, more or less moderate evangelical church growing up. And I know I am not alone in this.

To have strong religious convictions is to believe them at the expense of all other possibilities, by definition. It is to believe that you are right, and everyone else is wrong. If you think someone else's vastly different spiritual path is just as valid as your own: you may be spiritual, you may be open-minded, and you may be very observant of the cultural rituals of your professed faith...but you aren't particularly religious.

This is one reason why religion is not a very good rallying point for politics in a pluralistic society. Once upon a time our politicians recognized this, and tended to keep that shit to themselves.


they went there

I suppose this was inevitable.

I wrote the following on December 7, 2007, and I am re-posting it in full because I think it still stands.

romney's speech on religious (non)tolerance

Here's the problem with Mitt Romney's Mormonism.

Mormons believe strange things. (In broad strokes) they believe that you lived a pre-mortal life, that your life on earth (what the rest of us call "your life") is just one step in the process of learning the difference between good and evil, that you retain your essential personality (and, importantly, gender) after death, that you will get another body at some point in the future depending on how rightous (i.e., Mormon) you are, with Satan and his immediate associates being banished to some place called the outer darkness, the merely wicked to the "telestial kingdom" which is more or less like hell, (but only for 1000 years), the basically good non-Mormons getting to live in the "terrestrial kingdom" which actually sounds pretty decent, and the good Mormons getting to shag and make spirit babies in the celestial kingdom for all eternity. (Compiled and quickly summarized from here and here.)

I've left a lot out here--mostly because I don't care to get much deeper into it myself--but this pretty much covers the really big theological differences that Mormons have with evangelical Christians. (There's also some stuff about God having a body and Jesus showing up in North America to preach to a tribe of white people, not to mention the whole magic underwear thing, but let's not pile on the Mormons, OK? Seriously. They make good neighbors.)

The thing is...none of this is objectively sillier than what evangelical Christians believe. What makes the Mormon four-tiered afterlife stranger than the Christian two-tiered one? What makes a God with a human-like body stranger than an amorphous spirit who is (according to most modern church doctrines) omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent--and yet, is somehow either bound by his own arcane rules of sin and redemption, or disinclined to bend them for the benefit of his people (whom he loves!)

I could go on, but that's a book, not a blog. And it's been written several times over by better writers than me. The only real difference is that there are a lot more evangelicals than Mormons around. So a 2000-year-old Jewish guy preaching a kindler, gentler version of God, being executed by the government, rising from the dead, and ascending to heaven and by so doing making it no longer necessary for people to slit the throats of livestock and set them on fire to make God happy and get into heaven--that makes perfect sense, BUT...that guy showing up in North America a few years later to preach a gospel of celestial procreation is cultish and weird.


Honestly, I have nothing against Mormons or evangelicals. Really, I don't. I just don't share their beliefs. However, neither do I buy into the politically correct nonsense about "respecting the beliefs of others", because respecting the beliefs of others makes absolutely no sense. Either your beliefs are better than everyone else's, or they aren't. And if they aren't then what's the point, exactly?

I believe my beliefs are better than yours. Deal with it.

I do, however, believe in respecting people, if they are worthy of that respect. And I base that judgment not on what people believe, but what they do. Of course, Mitt Romney and the people to whom he was pandering yesterday clearly would not extend me the same courtesy.

Until it becomes socially acceptable and politically feasible for an atheist/agnostic to be out of the closet, this country can lay little claim to meaningful religious tolerance.


a quick thought on the occupation

I generally find nonspecific ranting against capitalism irksome. (Particularly when it is done via a snazzy laptop or iPad.) On the other hand, I cannot help but note that none of Ayn Rand's mythic heroes did anything remotely resembling credit default swaps or mortgage securitizations.

Not everyone who is wealthy is a parasite. But many wealthy people aren't creating much of anything, either.


release the memo

Conor Friedersdorf:

Obama hasn't just set a new precedent about killing Americans without due process. He has done so in a way that deliberately shields from public view the precise nature of the important precedent he has set. It's time for the president who promised to create "a White House that's more transparent and accountable than anything we've seen before" to release the DOJ memo.

I'm honestly ambivalent about the assassination of al-Awlaki. My bias is in favor of due process. On the other hand, it is not as though he was someone in the United States doing illegal things. If he really had--as has been asserted--an operational role in AQ, I think he could very reasonably be considered a legitimate military target first, and an American citizen second.

I think the question boils down to not--as Glen Greenwald and other civil libertarians whom I greatly respect have asserted--whether the president has the power to kill Americans abroad if they are engaged in terrorism, but rather if his citizenship is relevant to whether he was a legitimate target for the military prosecution of terrorists.

(By way of digression--this is a fine example of how messy things can get when the roles of the military and of law enforcement become muddled. But I'll leave that to another time.)

In any case, if the reasoning within the administration is so air-tight, then it ought to be made public.


"Of course, marriage to Newt Gingrich is a temporary aberration, too."

--Paul Constant