I Love my Uncle but, Newt Hates Him

Medina Valley Independent School District settles prayer case, Republicans surprise no one by flipping out.

 

My Uncle, Federal Judge Fred Biery, is a badass. Last June, he waded into a particularly religious area of small town “Real America” Texas and smacked down the overt proselytizing that had pervaded the Medina School District. Yet, as Fred executed his duty to uphold the tenants of the constitution, members of the political right used his completely unsurprising ruling to fan the flames of Christian “repression” ( Help, Help, I’m being repressed).

Newt “Moon Base” Gingrich was especially blood thirsty as he tried to reassert his conservative credentials, trying to keep his election hopes afloat despite the rising tides of Santorum after the results in Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota.

Newt called Fred an “anti-religious, dictatorial bigot.” Which makes complete sense as Fred continues the proud tradition of the Biery clan. A family that has done nothing but turn out District Attorneys, Federal Judges, civic servants, teachers, and combat veterans since WWII. So clearly my family is a bunch of hippie, communistic shitbags. I am getting a little sick of having my family name, which is not too common, being said with vehement disdain by the likes of Beck, Gingrich, Rush, et all. [Read more...]

A Foxhole Atheist Story

Thanks to the Soldier who allowed me to reprint his story, originally posted in the February issue of ISO Lehti.

Resilient Reflections: On Atheism, Service and Cooperation across faiths.

By A. Stringer.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and not those of the United States Army, the United States of America or any outside organizations mentioned or discussed.

A week ago I was sitting on a bus in Yongsan Garrison, when someone in a seat nearby started talking about the Religious Retreat Center, the only one of its kind in the Army. He was telling his friend about the change to a ‘Resiliency Retreat Center’, as a part of the Army’s move towards ‘Comprehensive Soldier Fitness’.

Sometimes you get the see the fruits of your labors.

Though it’s hard to pinpoint just when it began, it’s become apparent that over the last few years the case for secularism has made itself more and more distinct in the Army. Though it doesn’t by any means signal an end to religion in the force (more on why religion is not bad, later) it begins to break away some of the stigmatism that is associated with atheism and the military, and atheism in general.

Despite the cultural and societal advances of the 20th and 21st centuries, atheism is still regarded as a small and untrusted minority. Religious and political figures use the ‘secularists’ as snarl words in their campaigns, recent polls show us to be as untrustworthy as rapists in the eyes of most Americans,  and atheist advertising, from billboards to nativity scenes, continues to be the target of unpunished vandalism. The often vocal majority continues to peg atheism, and atheists, as devoid of any moral compass or usefulness in society. [Read more...]

The Operators

Michael Hastings covers the unwinnable Afghanistan.

Recently my buddy clued me into to another light colonel who “Hackworthed” or sacrificed his career in the hopes of raising consciousness about an unwinnable fight.  LT. COL Daniel L. Davis wrote a scathing assessment of the War in Afghanistan as the conflict pushes steadily into its second decade. Sadly, I believe the brass has learned from the mistakes of how it handled the public face of wars since Vietnam. By fostering an all-volunteer force, our country has effectively fostered a Solider Caste, ensuring that the effects of war are neigh invisible to the broader public. Political sentiment and the pure ignorance that is “American Exceptionalism” keeps any criticism of the war from being voiced. To do so is political suicide. Even Obama, who has handled the war like the smelly bag of trash it is, (a thing to be removed as soon as possible) has to step lightly through a minefield of critics to get out to the dumpster.

The most common response I get from friends outside the Army when the subject of Afghanistan arises is usually a variation of “I didn’t know we were still there”. The Army, like always, is almost single minded in its focus, the Army wants to win. The military is a very goal centric organization that places mission accomplishment as its number one priority.

We are told that the Surge and Counter Insurgency won the Iraq War, beat terrorism, and that it will soon be the same in Afghanistan.

However modern history does not jibe with the reality of twenty first century warfare. [Read more...]

Support our Troops Unless…

RBB experiences even more controversy.

“Support our Troops” in a saying that I personally don’t like. I just am not a big bumper sticker person, though I do have one simple U.S. Army star stuck to my car expressly for the purpose of getting out of the occasional speeding ticket. While I do agree with the sentiment behind “Supporting the Troops,” I think that it is used far too often in common discourse. Just like saying “bless you” is almost reactionary for most people when they witness someone sneeze, people will spout something to the effect of “support our troops” when they see Soldiers, it has become almost mandatory.

I think that because it is overused so much, “support our troops” is losing the sincerity behind the thought. Now normally I base this on my slightly nihilistic and narcissistic worldview but, today I have evidence and my evidence is Rock Beyond Belief.

Recently, FOX News reporter Todd Starnes conducted an interview with FTB’s own Justin Griffith. The issue was that Todd saw an opening for a story in a post Justin made on the Rock Beyond Belief website. To introduce the band Aiden, Justin posted one of their music videos, Hysteria, and called it a kick ass “atheist anthem.” The Fox News reporter had his opening, if that was the type of music going on at RBB then a  controversy would erupt, since as we all know Heavy Metal videos are NEVER a controversial art form, EVER. But after conducting the above interview with Justin, Todd on some level must have known that the story was not a homerun. After all the genesis of this event was Justin, a Soldier who we must, of course, support and who is more than a little accustomed to dealing with rules and regulations.

Justin made it absolutely clear that Aiden, like all other performers at the event, would adhere to a standard of family friendly content. But, I guess deadlines are deadlines and Todd ran his story anyway. Soon I watched as people did the ultimate American sin, they shit on Soldiers. [Read more...]

Sign This Thing Right Meow!

Paradise Valley High School wants signatures? Then FINE we will give them signatures!

Update, the preamble of the petition has been updated:

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support. I never imagined that the petition would gain so much attention. However, this whole situation has been a large misunderstanding between myself and the administration.

I never meant to shed Paradise Valley in a negative light. PV is an accepting community of diverse students and staff. I have met with my principal and this situation has been resolved.

The misunderstanding was completely on my end of things. Again, thank you all for your activism and support.”

So the requirement seems to be a case of miscommunication but, in the end the kids are getting their club, huzzah. [Read more...]

Alaska Airlines Ends Prayer Card Service

In response to customer reactions, airline axes mixing prayer and air travel.

 Two days ago Alaska Airlines broke with thirty years of tradition by ending the practice of distributing “Prayer Cards” with meals out respect to company’s diverse group of consumers and their many faith traditions or lack thereof.

What I find interesting is that up until 2006, the airline conducted meal service to the entire plane and during that time most responses to the prayer cards were positive. However, after 2006 meals only were served in First Class and the reviews became more and more negative until the airline preemptively removed the cards. Which says something about demographics, but I am too biased to draw any conclusions.

Anyhow, huzzah for small victories.

(Source: The T and D)

Golshifteh Farahani Exiled For Nude Photos

Iran censors an act meant to highlight the struggles of Muslim women.

As my fellow blogger Maryam Namazie has reported, recently the Iranian born actress Golshifteh Farahani posed nude in a French magazine to protest the conservative policies of her homeland and highlight the plight of women across the Muslim world.

Upon seeing the blasphemous image of a beautiful nude woman, the Iranian Ministry of Culture tactfully responded by permanently exiling her from Iran. We should all appreciate the sacrifice she has made with her statement.

(Source: Zeenews)

We Are All Evil Little Things

Support Jessica Ahlquist’s college fund and get a sweet T-Shirt.

Since the completely predictable and unavoidable judicial order removing the prayer banner at Cranston High, Jessica Ahlquist has been on the receiving end of an awful lot of harassment. So let’s show some solidarity with Jessica and declare that like her, we are all “Evil Little Things” by buying an awesome T-shirt (or two).

 

Each T-shirt will see all profits go to Jessica’s college fund. [Read more...]

The Troll Behind the Banner

The author of the Cranston High School Prayer is pissed.

So about 60 years ago, there was this guy named David and he went to Cranston High. There was a contest and something that David wrote was put on a wall. Swing forward to today and that thing David wrote was now having the opposite effect it was supposed to. For David’s goal was to unify the school, so he choose one of the two things that people by and large had in common, he choose God.

But the world has changed since the early 1960’s, and one student now felt very isolated because of David’s work. Upon hearing this, are we to think that David took the students concerns to heart? After all, “His prayer, [David] noted, is based on civility, intelligence and common decency.”

Nope. [Read more...]

A Great Quote on SOPA and PIPA

“It’s a different world we’re going into but it’s all based on the Internet. It’s all based on these connections. If you start limiting the connections, you’re going backwards as a society.”  – Glenn Beck

Let’s face it, if FTB and Glenn Beck both think a piece of legislation is really this bad… It probably is.