Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 'C' Word

The right wing has opened my eyes,
though it should not have been a surprise.
If you haven't heard,
then new bad 'c' word
is the evil thing called 'compromise'.

I'm a bit of a political junkie. I love the democratic process, the nuts and bolts of our electoral machine. I also very much enjoy watching the implosion of a major political party. The Republicans have whole-heartedly embraced the lunatic fringe, the teahadist insurgents hell-bent on either everyone believing their way or destroying everything and salting the earth behind them, ensuring nothing will ever grow again.

I know that there are lunatics of every political stripe. On the left there is ELF, ALF, Greenpeace and PETA. The difference, however, is the fact that the left doesn't embrace the fringe as their base, insisting that everyone follow their beliefs lock-step, and excoriating those who don't follow their rabid frothings as not true believers and jettisoning them from the party.

The right has truly come to believe that compromise is a dirty word, and they will shut down the democratic process instead of finding a common ground.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Check It

Ignoring all semblance of tact
Romney's aides have finally cracked.
They said, right out loud
"Our campaign won't be cowed
by people who choose to check facts."

An aide for the Mitt Romney actually said "we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers."

Out loud.

In front of other people.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Money Talks

Even before it had bloomed
Chris Christie knew it was doomed.
Although the ticket
asked him, he quit it
to avoid the G O P's gloom.

JT shares a story about ho Mitt Romney's first choice for his Vice-Presidential candidate, Chris Christie, turned down that 'honor' in order to remain governor of New Jersey. His reasoning?


If Christie would run on the presidential ticket, he would have to step down as governor, due to New Jersey's 'pay-to-play' laws. If he were to run, banks and other investment firms could not donate more than $250 to the campaign and still do business in NJ.

Would Christie had run if Romney had a chance of winning?

"But Christie adamantly refused to sacrifice his post, believing that being Romney’s running mate wasn’t worth the gamble."

That's faith in one's convictions.

He looks hungry.

The Unkindest Cut

Let's calm down and get a grip.
I'll give all of you a good tip:
It's a boy? Then rejoice
but leave it his choice.
Avoid giving your son the snip.

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement stating that "Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it." I scoured the technical report looking for which study might have led to this conclusion, but there were no references at all.

There was a study concerning circumcision in the news recently. This study was deeply flawed on many levels, flawed to the point that The Lancet refused to publish. This study seemed to show that, for a certain subset of men in Sub-Saharan Africa, circumcision reduced the rate at which they contracted HIV. There are many, many sites which point out the flaws in this study, but the biggest flaw, in my mind, is the fact that those males that were circumcised for the study were told to refrain from sexual activity for 6 weeks and, if they were to engage in sex, they should wear a condom. Uncircumcised men in the study were not given the same advice, which gave them 6 extra weeks of opportunities to contract a STD.

Where did we get this idea that baby boys should have their genitals mutilated on a regular basis? As a religious ritual, circumcision has been around for thousands of years. In the United  States, however, we have John Harvey Kellogg to thank for the popularization of the practice. Yeah, the same guy who brought us Corn Flakes and Grape Nuts was a proponent of slicing off a bit of a boy's junk on a regular basis. From Plain Facts for Old and Young:

A remedy which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision.

The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed. If any attempt is made to watch the child, he should be so carefully surrounded by vigilance that he cannot possibly transgress without detection. If he is only partially watched, he soon learns to elude observation, and thus the effect is only to make him cunning in his vice.

There is, of course, no medical basis for this type of thinking. Just an idea that, by cutting a boy's foreskin off, he would be broken of the evil nasty habit of masturbation.

Here's my idea. If we are going to perform unnecessary medical procedures on newborns, let's make them count. The only medical reason for circumcision is the prevention of phimosis. Phimosis has never killed a person in the history of humanity. Appendicitis, however, can be fatal. I propose that each newborn child, not just boys here, let's be truly equal, receive an appendectomy. If people are going to say that there is a medical reason for circumcision then let us perform other procedures on newborns that might save their lives down the road.

Of course, if you are against the saving of a child's life, then just admit that circumcision is a religious and cultural idea, and let us lump it in with female genital mutilation and stop the procedure completely.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

One Small Limerick

On a pillar of flame through the air
he went to the moon, cause it's there.
Since I was a boy
I've looked up with joy
and wished that I could join him there.

Neil Armstrong, the first human being to step foot on a world other than our own, has passed away. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, put his achievement better than I could hope to:

"I’ve said many times that we can divide all of history into two parts: before humans landed on the Moon, and after. It was not just an important moment, it was the moment, a defining, crystallizing slice of time that confirmed that we humans had become a space faring race. One world could not and would not contain us, and the sky itself was no longer the limit."

July 20th is one of the Stage Family Holidays. We celebrate Moon Day, the anniversary of his singular moment, his one small step that will forever mean that we earthlings shall never more be bound to this one rock.

Goodbye, moon man.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Born Free

Of everything on and off Earth
there are things that my time is worth.
This story's a bore.
Some things matter more
than the place of the President's birth.

Mitt Romney has finally embraced the crazy end of the Republican party. I know, I know, he's said some really stupid things since the primaries, but this one takes the proverbial cake.

"No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate; they know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised."

His campaign has since tried to mitigate the idiocy, saying that “He’s illustrating that he was born and raised here in Michigan.”

If he's so proud of being from Michigan, why did he vehemently oppose the bailout of the auto industry?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legitimate Limerick

Originally posted on Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Some things leave your mouth agape.
The bottom of barrels they’ll scrape.
It’s not a surprise
that Akin’s allies
defend his definition of rape.

Thus far I have stayed away from the idiocy that is Todd Akin. Akin is a Republican member of Congress from Missouri. He is currently running for the Senate against Democrat Claire McCaskill. On Sunday the 19th, Akin made one of the most profoundly stupid statements a politician has ever uttered:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, 
that’s [pregnancy from rape] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape,
the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

I can kind of understand the "legitimate" part of the statement. I'm sure he meant "forcible", which is how he and Paul Ryan have tried to define rape under proposed laws. The "try to shut that whole thing down" starts with a complete lack of understanding of basic human physiology and continues with a healthy dose of misogyny. Because, of course, if a woman gets pregnant then it is not a real rape. Her body didn't shut down the pregnancy, therefore she either wanted it or enjoyed it, so therefore no rape was committed.

Bryan Fischer has come out in support of Akin, even as Republicans have pulled both verbal and monetary support from him and his campaign.

Grade Card

People are making a fuss
about the new "atheists plus".
There's loads to untangle.
Whatever your angle,
we still have a lot to discuss.

The Atheism+ thing has been going around the atheist blog-o-sphere for a few days now, and I am sure that both of my readers have been waiting patiently for my take on it.

The wife and I had a discussion about this a while ago. I have identified as an atheist for a while now. As we were talking, she mentioned that the "atheist" label seemed empty. Atheism is not a positive belief. Atheism simply means one does not believe in any gods. Standing for no gods, or against every god (as I tend to do), is all well and good, but that doesn't describe what I actually believe.

If I had to put down what I had to believe, I would say that my feelings for the most part overlap the ideals of secular humanism. The current kerfluffle, however, says that humanism doesn't go quit far enough in being an accurate descriptor of some people's beliefs.

In comes Atheism+.

Jen McCreight describes it as "Atheism + Humanism + Skepticism", which seems to be about the best definition I could find online. This seems to me to be a grand idea. No gods, plus focusing on our fellow humans, plus having a questioning attitude about our universe seems to be a very positive statement.

I'm not ready to start calling myself an "Atheist+" yet, but I believe that this basic start can be a jumping-off point, something with which we can start a much broader conversation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We're Not Evil, Just Misunderstood

We won't ask you to join a clique.
We're mostly here for laughs and kicks.
Come get to know
the H C C O
and help us get to 6 6 6!

The Humanist Community of Central Ohio is an extraordinary group of which I am lucky to be a part. They are having a drive on Facebook to get 666 likes before August 31st. As of right now, the page has 549 likes. If both of my readers like it, they'll get to over 550!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Deity Diet

If you eat your god like a roast,
like dry, dull and tasteless french toast,
make sure you don't slip
listen to this tip:
Make sure that you have the right host.

If you are Catholic, the ritualistic cannibalism is nothing new to you. Transubstantiation is the idea that, after the communion juice and crackers are blessed by the right magic words, they are turned into the literal blood and body of Jesus Christ. I touched on this earlier, concerning the passing of said deity. This post is not about that.

This post is about a little girl.

Allison Sisson has celiac disease, which prevents her from absorbing some essential nutrients and can cause abdominal distress and other issues. She is also a proud Catholic, and enjoys the ritualistic cannibalism that goes along with her beliefs. The normal cracker is just too wheaty for her, so her mother approached the priest with gluten-free crackers. The priest said that the snacks were hunky-dory, said the appropriate rites, and everything was fine.

Until the bishops got involved.

The one, true cracker is "wheat and wheat only", because "at the time, the bread was unleavened. It would have been basically wheat and water." Anything else would be uncivilized.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Easy Money

Working for cash is a chore,
but I found a way to make more!
A business that profits?
Buy it, then gut it,
then ship all of the jobs offshore.

Bain Capital, the company which Mitt Romney founded, ran, and which he still owns controlling shares in, has continued the philosophy under which he began the company. They have recently bought out an auto-parts company that has been turning a profit for years. Not content with measly auto-parts profits, Bain has divested the company of its assets and is moving the plant's operations to China. And, if that was not enough of a kick in the junk, the current employees are being asked to train their Chinese counterparts. The company's employees have appealed to Romney, but so far no answer from his camp has been forthcoming.

As I said yesterday, I am not against a corporation making a profit. Putting profits over people is wrong, and putting short term profits over long term growth is just stupid.

Monday, August 13, 2012

With a 'B'

Though they won't indulge in a beer,
and they've stifled freedom for years,
Mormons have dug deep
and shelled out a heap:
Seven BILLION dollars a year.

Yup. Current estimates have put tithes given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at up to $7B. All of it tax free. And what does the church do with these funds? Donate it to the poor? After all, Christ said that the rich won't enter heaven. Of course they won't donate it. They use their money as capital to leverage business acquisitions.

Now, I'm all for a business making a profit. Hell, I'm all for a church making a profit. If you are using your religion to make an obscene profit, then going directly against the tenets of that religion, you should have your tax-exempt status revoked, immediately and permanently.

It's True

He might seem clever and wily,
and thinks of himself very highly.
It took time to place
where I'd seen his face:
Paul Ryan looks just like Guy Smiley.

The 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee
H/T to Tyler Lowry

Saturday, August 11, 2012

November is Coming

After we vote they'll be cryin',
because we ain't buyin' their lyin'.
Mitt Romney's veep pick
is thick as a brick
He won't win the race 'cause of Ryan.

Mitt Romney has hit derp factor 9, choosing Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate heading in to the Presidential election in November. Paul Ryan had become well known for his budget that would have gutted Medicare, while raising taxes on the lowest wage earners and cutting trillions in taxes from the richest Americans.

Some have said the Rep. Ryan is the smartest guy on the Republican's side. I'm not sure what that says about the right, but Ryan is what a stupid person would think a smart person would sound like.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A day of infamy

As your voting base gets littler
and your mind becomes brittler
just rip out a page
of the Book of Rage
and say your opponent is Hitler.

Today, August 1st, 2012, is a banner day for women's health. Insurance companies cannot charge a copay for a wide range of preventative measures, including mammograms and birth control. These new guidelines don't help women who are not insured, but it's a start.

The Republicans have decided to take a completely different approach. By not requiring a co-pay, they argue, the government is attacking their First Amendment rights. Mike Kelly, a Pennsylvania Representative, spouted:

"I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day.  The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."

Not to be out-derped, New York Representative Ann Marie Buerkle babbled:

"August the 1st is a day that we as American will look at as the largest assault on our First Amendment rights."

I can understand their point. It's not like Jesus ever healed anyone without charging them.