Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dollars for Discrimination

Religious groups protest Madden bill to regulate hiring | Politics West

A reasonable Colorado legislator wants to be sure religious organizations using public funds operate under the same anti-discrimination policies that every other tax dollar recipient abides by.

Currently, religious groups using tax money for social programs can discriminate against job applicants on the basis of religion. Catholic Charities, for example, can refuse to hire Baptists and Focus on the Family can legally turn away qualified atheists. The agencies claim the bill would somehow damage their integrity.
“Faith-based non-profits are spurred to social action by their deeply held religious beliefs,” said Jim Pfaff, president of Colorado Family Action.

“Asking them to compromise their convictions not only breaches their religious liberties, but it is asking them to deny the very tenets that compel them to social action.”
But it's hard to see how the bill would be all that terrible. Religious organizations, such as Focus on the Family, routinely collect private donations to cover overhead. The bill wouldn't disallow discrimination for positions funded by those dollars.

Several years back, then-Governor Bill Owens stripped state funding from Planned Parenthood, arguing that state law prohibited state funds used to abortion. When PP responded by producing accounting data that showed the firewall between abortion services and state funds, Owens refused to believe the organization could credibly make that claim.

Maybe the state's religious organizations remember that sophistry. And maybe they fear being treated the same way. In any case, their argument against the bill rings hollow. Public monies should not be used to discriminate on religious grounds. The spiritual leanings, or lack thereof, of receptionists, computer programmers, security guards or marketing execs should not be used as criteria for employment decisions under any circumstances. This bill merely makes such discrimination illegal for a limited number of positions funded by tax dollars. The religious organizations are free to pursue their missions as they see fit. They shouldn't be free to apply their particular prejudices with taxpayer support.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Peer Review? I Got Your Peer Review Right Here.

Professional creationist Ken Hamm, owner of the cash cow Creation Museum, is launching "an online technical journal" for creationists in need of another publicity channel. Ostensibly, Hamm's journal will feature only peer-reviewed articles. If those rude mainstream scientists have ridiculed your creationist ideas in the past, fear not - the Answers Research Journal is an exclusive club:
Ken Hamm, president of Answers in Genesis, said submissions will be peer-reviewed, but the journal's guidelines discourage asking non-creationists to conduct those reviews.
See? Your wildest speculations, so long as they seem consistent with at least one version of the current Christian bible, will be safe from corrosion by inconvenient facts.

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A Modest Proposal - Doug Bruce for Vice President

Dan Whipple has a brilliant plan for the next step in slum-lording, TABOR-authoring, press-kicking Doug Bruce's career.

Colorado Confidential:: Doug Bruce for Vice President!
In the brief period during which the Colorado state House has been in session, one thing has become clear: The only reason that Douglas Bruce is in the legislature is that Colorado Springs Republicans were eager to get rid of him. Following the time-honored Peter Principle, they promoted him from the El Paso County Commission to the state House. I think the next step in Bruce's meteoric career should be obvious to everyone. So I'm starting a "Doug Bruce for Vice President" campaign. Using the Colorado Springs Republican strategy, this would have the salutary effect of removing Bruce from the state Legislature while placing him in a position in which he could do little further damage to the commonweal. As Thomas Marshall, 28th veep of the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson, said: "Once there were two brothers. One went away to sea; the other was elected vice president. And nothing was heard of either of them again."


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Huckabee Theocracy

Think Progress » Huckabee: ‘amend the Constitution’ to ‘God’s standards.’

OK, it was bad enough that he has an imaginary friend and no one laughs. But now Mike Huckabee has declared his intention to remake America in his imaginary friend's image, or, at least, what's convenient for Rev. Huckabee to claim that image is.

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Don't Fence Me In

Immigration crackdown hits fence builder - Yahoo! News
Mel Kay builds fences. His was the largest fence-building company in Southern California; he rode the nation's housing boom to $150 million in annual sales. His fences are just about everywhere — at gated subdivisions, on military bases, at prisons.

He even built fences at two immigration jails, a Border Patrol station and the U.S.-Mexico border.

Which is the second irony, because he admits now that many of his company's fences were built by illegal immigrants. Federal authorities knew it, and they went after him tenaciously, determined to send him to prison as an example to other employers who hire undocumented workers

See what happens when you go with the low bidder? But seriously, doesn't this tend to support the position of those who claim illegal immigrants are more an asset than threat?

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Romney Can't Count So He Doesn't Count

Rhetoric heats up after New Hampshire primary | - Houston Chronicle

What is wrong with this guy? Can't he use a calculator, is his staff reporting numbers they want to believe are true, or is he just willing to say whatever does him the most good?

In Boston, Romney sought to assure his top financial backers that he can win in Michigan and beyond, after disappointing second-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. Romney was born in Michigan and his father was governor.

"It's just getting started," he told hundreds of supporters gathered at a convention center for a follow-up to his campaign's "National Call Day" that raised an unprecedented $6.5 million a year ago. The former Massachusetts governor misstated results when he told them he's received "more delegates than anybody else." An AP analysis of primary results shows he is second in the delegate count, with 19. Mike Huckabee has 31.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Now Can We Talk about Healthcare?

Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis

By measuring rates of "amenable mortality", or preventable death, a rough measure of the quality of a country's health care system can be obtained. Contrary to Rudy Giuliani's prostate cancer ad, we have some serious ground to make up.
if the U.S. had been able reduce amenable mortality to the average rate achieved by the three top-performing countries, there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths annually by the end of the study period.
Or to put it another way:

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We Knew Bill Gates Was the Antichrist, But Really. . .

Conservative pastor urges buying Microsoft stock to fight its gay rights efforts

A fundigelical in Redmond, WA has a strange crusade going:
A conservative Christian pastor plans to launch a high-profile campaign Tuesday urging religious followers to load up on Microsoft Corp. stock, in an attempt to force the company to "stop financing ungodly ventures."
Must be a Mac user.

I'm not sure how this would make Microsoft change its corporate policy, but I do see a profit motive for the fundie pastor:
Hutcherson, joined by some of the country's most influential Christian leaders, has created a new organization, AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its Web site tells visitors, "You have the power to change the world," and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account. Among the listed supporters are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and religious pundit Gary Bauer. (emphasis added)

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Facebook vs. Twitter

Doc Searls Weblog · Let's call it a twiver

The brilliant Doc Searles nails it.
... Facebook is AOL 2.0. It’s heavy and complicated and wants to run my life

Whereas Twitter is sleek, fast and mutable.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Cart Before the Horse - New target? Romney says he can beat Obama

Mitt Romney has his eye on the future. In New Hampshire, he told a smallish group at an Elk's Lodge

But Romney embraced Obama’s theme of change, channeled Clinton’s assertion that a record of change is important and finished by saying that he could beat Obama in the general election.

The former governor spoke of Obama’s victory in Iowa, saying “he surprised a lot of people.”

“He beat them all because he talked about change in Washington,” Romney said to about 100 voters at the Elk Lodge here.

Romney, sounding a lot like Clinton has in recent days, then said that he can beat Obama because he has a long record of producing change.

I suppose it would be helpful if Gov. Romney beat Gov. Huckabee or Sen. McCain first.

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Church Wants to Display 40 Years Dead Corpse

BBC NEWS | Europe | Plan to dig up Padre Pio attacked

The Catholic authorities in Italy want to exhume the by-now pretty dessicated corpse of famous bleeder Padre Pio, a Franciscan priest who is credited with miraculous cures and stigmata.

Church authorities say they want to display the body for veneration by the faithful for several months from April.

But Pio's relatives have threatened to take their local bishop to court if the corpse is removed from the church crypt in San Giovanni Rotondo in south Italy.

Even if the Church gets its way, I wonder who'd possibly be interested in looking at a corpse that old?

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Decline of the American Empire

Bruce Sterling public interview on the state of 2008 - Boing Boing

The good news, of course, is that I see a way to shield me & mine from the worst of it.

Ten years ago, there was a little Belle Epoque era of good feeling there when the "Washington Consensus" held its sway... and the thought among opinion-makers of the time was, you know, let the dot-com Long Boomers run that show. Everybody knew that what they were saying and doing didn't make much sense -- but at least there was plenty of pie there for the Formerly Free World.

Now the Americans have clearly lost the thread... the Americans are really just horribly out of it, they're like some giant fundie Brazil, nobody takes their pronunciamentos seriously or believes a word they say... Whereas the world is much more seriously global now. China and India are real players, they're part of the show and they matter.

Serious-minded people everywhere do know they have to deal with the resource crisis and the climate crisis. Because the world-machine's backfiring and puffing smoke. Joe and Jane Sixpack are looking at four-dollar milk and five-dollar gas. It's hurting and it's scary and there's no way out of it but through it.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

And He Still Gets Donations

Pat Robertson predicts violence, recession for 2008 | |

Apparently there's a Clueless Fuck Club that lists the 700 Club as worthy recipients. I'm not saying that some supernatural agency is not speaking to Pat Robertson - but it's increasingly likely Pat's hearing is going bad.

Robertson acknowledged Wednesday that his prophecy of a nuclear terror attack in 2007 failed to unfold.

He also cited information from God when he predicted on a year go that major U.S. cities would be hit by "very serious terrorist attacks" causing "possibly millions" of deaths.

No such catastrophe occurred.

"All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us," Robertson said on "The 700 Club," a television show he hosts on the Christian Broadcasting Network, based in Virginia Beach.

"So did I miss it? Possibly," he said of his unrealized prediction. "Or, on the other hand, did God avert it? Possibly. But whatever, it didn't happen, so I think we can all rejoice."

On Wednesday, Robertson, 77, implied that God informed him who will be elected president in November.

"He told me some things about the election, but I'm not going to say, because some old man on "60 Minutes" would make fun of me, so I'm not going to tell you who the winner's going to be," Robertson said, in apparent reference to CBS humorist Andy Rooney, who turns 89 on Jan. 14.

Additionally, "the Lord was saying there's going to be violence and chaos in the world," Robertson said. He cited violence in Kenya and Pakistan, saying "we've just begun to see what's going to happen."

Robertson said he received no divine information about the war in Iraq. In past years, he said, "the Lord told me it would be a disaster; well, it has been a disaster."

In May 2006, Robertson cited God in predicting that "the coasts are going to be lashed by vicious hurricanes this year" and that the Pacific Northwest could see a tsunami.

No hurricanes struck the U.S. coastline in 2006; three tropical storms hit the country.

In January 2004, Robertson said, "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout" re-election for President Bush.

Bush won 51 percent of the vote that fall, beating Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Mmm. . . yeah. Whatever.

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Maybe Coulda Phrased This Some Better

Al Jazeera English - News - Pakistan To Fix New Election Date

Considering some sources claiming Ms. Bhutto's assassination was prompted by her impending release of evidence of rigged elections, this is maybe not the best lede for Al Jazeera to use.

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Political Entrepreneurs

Twelve Feet of Dog

A First for Denver - a 4-20 Event

Colorado Confidential:: Denver Approves Permit for Pot Event
Denver Approves Permit for Pot Event by: Erin Rosa Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 03:02 PM MST The Denver Parks and Recreation Department has recently approved a park permit for an event celebrating marijuana. Colorado Confidential has learned that pot proponents are planning an organized festival in the Denver's Sunken Gardens Park on April 20th, the first such "4-20" event to be sanctioned by city.

This should be an interesting event. With Denver PD ignoring the citizens' wishes to treat pot smoking as a minor crime, a city-sanctioned public toke-athon could produce some truly schizoid law enforcement behavior.

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