Attack of the Killer Porn!

First there was Marriage Protection Week. Then there was Protection From Pornography Week. What’s next? Protection From Prostitutes Week?

Porn — the raw yummy sexual kind — is just another evildoer, according to the government.

The Prez sez: (from an honest-to-god proclamation)

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 26 through November 1, 2003, as Protection From Pornography Week. I call upon public officials, law enforcement officers, parents, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

…any ideas for appropriate activities? I know I have one cued up in the VCR…

Check out the hilarious skewering of Bush’s proclamation by’s Mark Morford. And be sure to check out the link at the end of the article. Happy clowns who love Jesus. I will buy dinner and drinks for anyone who purchases one of their t-shirts. Really.

Phelps Clan: “Thank God for 9/11”

Our good friends at the NY Daily News have a sickening article titled Hate from the heartland about the self-parodying but still repugnant Fred Phelps. His merry band are (I think I have this right) protesting a Long Island high school where the football team was caught hazing freshmen players by jamming things up their bums. The culprit? Not the age-old, school-sponosored, parent-approved culture of jock sado-masochism. Noooo. Us– The Gays. Controlling those hot, young Long Island gridiron studs by mind control rays, one imagines.

But the kicker is the photo. Three of Phelps’ eight (!) kids holding signs reading: “God hates America,” “God hates fag enablers,” and astoundingly, “God blew up the shuttle.”

Either these people are not Christians, or I’m not. Somebody get back to me on that before Sunday, OK?

It gets better. Apparently Mrs. Phelps is just a s nutters as her husband. Quoth she: “When you teach children that it’s okay to indulge in any kind of sex act that they like … that it’s okay to be gay, it is inevitable that they will end up being violent and doing things that they shouldn’t.”

So I suppose she believes that suppressing homosexuality, stigmatizing it, forcing it into hiding– is better, and would create less violence and trauma. Of course. That never hurt anyone, or caused gay kids to off themselves at three times the normal rate. But then, I’m sure she’s all for gay kids offing themselves. The really good thing, though, would be just to kill us all so our evil Football Player Sodomy Mind Control Rays can’t corrput the youth of America. Like, for instance, her poor children. Those poor little kids are clearly far beyond the help of any amount of therapy or deprogramming. Wouldn’t you rather be one the bum-addled frosh on that team than one of those poor souls?

Too bad there is no picture of the sign reading “Thank God for Sept. 11th.” I would hang that up somewhere so I could look at it any time I needed to get really, really angry.

And just for the record– since we know some members of the Phelps clan sully our site with their crazy eyeballs— I’ll let you in on how I know The Gays aren’t behind this. If we were, someone would have thought to show up with a digicam to bring us, for $19.95 a month. And the better our fine nation would be for that than a family that hands its kids signs like “God Blew Up the Shuttle.” There’s porn, and then there’s real obscenity.

Just for self-defence

A gun is a great defensive weapon … until it’s wrested from your hands by an attacker and turned back on you. The NRA would do well to heed this lesson. A 19-page blacklist found on the NRA’s website listing organizations, politicians and celebrities opposed to guns has been turned against the NRA by anti-gun activists. It’s a perfect description of the broad spectrum of poeple opposed to the out-of-control gun laws in the USA. Some celebrities were so miffed that they weren’t included that they even petitioned the NRA to be added!

Heh, heh.

Rare sign of Congressional sanity

I was fairly apoplectic a couple weeks back when I heard on NPR that Bush wanted to tighten already-draconian restrictions on travel to Cuba (a place I’d love to see before it becomes a post-Castro theme park).

Don’t we, as a nation, have bigger fish to fry? Can it really by Osama, Saddam, and our favorite fossilized Marxist, in that order? Don’t we at least need to add Kim Jong Il and make it a Trapezoid of Evil? Cuba is no threat to anyone, and our continuing embargo is only hurting the Cuban people. Why is “engagement” OK for China (still Commie if I’m not mistaken) but not for Cuba? (Maybe Bush just wants to keep people away from his Guantanamo concentration camp.) (Click that link, really. It makes me nostalgic for the day’s when Prava’s anti-U.S. editorializing was ideological bullshit. Now the White House press office has the monopoly on that.)

So I was thrilled to read that the Senate is joining the House in passing a provision to lift the travel ban. It’s a sign of something sane and healthy afoot that this weird Bushian effort was so soundly blocked by bipartisan effort. Of course he may veto the bill, but that would mean rejecting the entire $90 billion Transportation and Treasury appropriations bill. It will be fun to watch this one unfold.

“Find the Boeing”

I’d had a very low tolerance for any sort of Sept. 11 conspiracy theory… but this site has somewhat piqued my curiosity. Check it out, and please provide the reasonable explanation I seem to be missing when I look at these photos. Is it insane to think that something other than a plane might have caused the destruction at the Pentagon? Some French folks go even further than that. I will only say that there is very little about Rummy that would surprise me. (Funny, really, how little we’ve seen that last picture on the news.)

Oh, that’s why!

By way of my cousin (who is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy at the Pentagon) came a copy of the Stratfor newsletter with a discussion of the recent strategy changes for the ongoing war in Iraq. What I found most surprising is not that we needed a change but their understood justification for the war in Iraq:
“To consider this, we need to recall the two strategic reasons the United States had for invading Iraq — as opposed to the public justifications :(italics mine)
1. Seizing the most strategic country in the region as a base of operations from which to mount follow-on operations against countries that collaborate or permit collaboration with al Qaeda.
2. Transforming the psychological perception of the United States in the Islamic world from a hated and impotent power to a hated but feared power”
OK, the first one, while I am not completely comfortable with the means, I agree with this end. Terrorism needs to be fought both at home and abroad but one would have hoped that with all of the resources at our disposal that there could have been a better and less public way to accomplish this objective. I realize that Reagan’s executive order 12333 prohibited us from just arranging the assassination of Saddam Hussein (not that it kept W from trying, I’ll bet) while he was the “elected” leader of Iraq and it’s probably not the best foreign policy choice to go around whacking people, but I prefer it to invading a sovereign nation and miring ourselves in the thankless job of nation-building. And now, of course, it is too late. We are obligated to finish what this government has started. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee, even if they manage to establish Iraq as a stable base of operations, that the goal of launching successful operations into other countries in the region will bring an end to al Qaeda or its proxies around the world.
The second one I believe is flat short-sighted and assumes that there is no diplomatic path to building relations with Islamic countries. Granted we have not had too much success in this arena since the British first started carving the place up with the other European powers, but am I the only one that thinks fear is what inspired the hatred in the first place? Fear of losing their territory, their history and religion. I don’t pretend to be an expert on Middle East affairs (or anything for that fact) but I still believe that building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships is the best course to providing stability and prosperity. That doesn’t mean we’re wimps, it just means that we are looking to secure a better future for our world. Reviving the “US as world bully role” is not the way to secure that better tomorrow. It is the way to ensure that for every terrorist that dies or is captured there will be 10 to take his/her place.

Numbers to back up “Fox News makes dumb crackers dumber” theory

An exhaustive study reported in the WaPo confirms the obvious. “The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were ‘the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions.'”

It would be great if this was just sloppy journalism. But writer Harold Meyerson hits the nail on the head:

One question inevitably raised by these findings is whether Fox News is failing or succeeding. Over at CBS, the news that 71 percent of viewers hold one of these mistaken notions should be cause for concern, but whether such should be the case at Fox because 80 percent of their viewers are similarly mistaken is not at all clear. Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and the other guys at Fox have long demonstrated a clearer commitment to changing public policy than to reporting it, and an even clearer commitment to reporting it in such a way as to change it.

Take a wild flight of fancy with me and assume for just a moment that one major goal over at Fox is to ensure Bush’s reelection. Surely, anyone who believes that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were in cahoots, that we’ve found the WMD and that Bush is revered among the peoples of the world — all of these known facts to nearly half the Fox viewers — is a good bet to be a Bush voter in next year’s contest. By this standard — moving votes into Bush’s column and keeping them there — Fox has to be judged a stunning success. It’s not so hot on conveying information as such, but mere empiricism must seem so terribly vulgar to such creatures of refinement as Murdoch and Ailes.

What makes Fred hate?

So apparently the haters use Google, too. In response to my recent post about Fred Phelps, someone named Timothy Phelps posted the following response:

Two comments, filth-boy. First, it’s only because you don’t really know Christianity or the Bible that you pretend not to know what happens to God-hating fools when they die. Read in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus. Unless you’re just dead set on being ignorant, you will have your answer. Second, there is absolutely nothing grammatically incorrect about saying “in defiance of God’s warning”. God’s commandment quoted here is also a warning of the consequences. Much like a statute making an act a crime is a clear and undeniable warning that to engage in the act will result in punishment under law. Try not to impose your lack of grammatical prowess … in addition to your lack of scriptural understanding … on everybody!

To which I responded:

Hey everybody– start calling me “filth-boy.” I really like that one. And Timothy, I’m shocked to hear you quoting the New Testament, since your god clearly predates and misinterprets the gospel of grace and love in Christ. My understanding of that gospel is not impressed by your wrongheaded proof-texting. The devil can quote scripture for his purposes, so I’m hardly impressed that you can, too.

Finally, I didn’t say it was grammatically wrong, but syntactically (and therefore logically) flawed–I think Fred was trying to say “because he defied God’s law,” but failed to be that clear. The proposed statement makes it sound like going to Hell is against God’s law–tellingly, the opposite of his intended hateful meaning.

Hi Timothy, if you’re still enjoying our site, you should know I was raised Nazarene, am a practicing Anglican, and have read more theology than a lot of low-church preachers. I’ve read the Bible plenty–certainly enough to know that worshipping it (instead of the true God) is idolatry just as sure as bowing down before that golden calf was.

I did a little websearching and apparently this Timothy guy really is Phelps’ son. If he’s the one I’ve seen on TV a couple of times–like the time they came to Seattle and picketed my church, St. Mark’s, to proclaim that the gay couple who died in the Alaska Airlines crash in California a couple years back were in Hell–he can probably tell us quite a bit about the real, close-to-home motivations for his father’s gay-baiting zeal. Because the son I saw on TV acts way gayer than any of us. Hell, he would make Perry look butch. None of the Fab Five are as flaming as this guy. As with the rumored-to-be-a-jew Hitler, we know that nothing fuels the fires of hatred quite as much as self-hatred. So of course it doesn’t surprise me at all that Phelps’ son spends so much time on the Internet, though I’d expect him to be somewhere with more pictures and less text.

E-voting and Diebold’s deceptions

So not only were republicans able to steal the 2000 elections in Florida, but that disaster has accelerated the shift to e-voting, without broad discussions of its methodologies and risks. As much as I love digital technology, I am upset with any voting system that fails to provide a paper trail of any kind.

Worse still, the CEO of Diebold (the dominant player in traditional and electronic voting machines) is an activist, far-right Republican fundraiser, who wrote in a fundraising letter last year that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” This immediately makes me thinks about foxes in the henhouse. And with e-voting, there is absolutely no way to be sure votes haven’t been tampered with. And a recent Johns Hopkins study of Maryland’s e-voting procedures shows how easy Diebold (and flawed state safeguards) make this. (How easy, you ask? Hardwired passwords, source code exposed on public FTP sites, and the storage of election results on easily-forged smart cards. Add to this the serious flaws in the training of election workers and the physical security of the machines after their shipment to polling places, and you end up with the potential of wholesale election tampering and theft.)

Even more troubling are the comments of a whistleblower who worked with Diebold as a subcontractor in the lead-up to Georgia’s 2002 gubernatorial election, which ended up with the surprise unseating of a popular Democrat by a Republican challenger who had trailed him in the polls throughout the election. Diebold subcontractor Rob Behler claims that Diebold engineers applied patches to voting machines after they were certified, and that they actively avoided recertification, due to time constraints and because it could have prevented Diebold from being paid for the machine. Why the need for patches? Because up to 30% of the machines were crashing and freezing. (The OS in question? Windows CE.)

I am always mindful of the adage that one should never suspect malice until ignorance is ruled out. Diebold sounds mighty ignorant, and it has cleared leapt into the breach with e-voting in an attempt to preserve the market share it built up on mechanical voting systems. But you know, they make most ATMs, which are about as safe and reliable as technology gets. Wouldn’t you expect they could engineer a voting machine that is at least as good as an ATM? Unless, that is, there were compelling reasons to hold our votes less secure than our money. If you’re the CEO of Diebold, perhaps there is a good reason.

Digital voting systems are fine– the technology has the potential to make voting faster, more convenient, and more accessible for those with disabilities. But it is clear that e-voting needs to maintain some kind of paper trail to allow auditing.