Chris Christy–Model Politician

My eyes are getting misty
As I listen to Chris Christie
While he shows us his sophisti-
Cated grasp of how things are
So he canned some staffer lady
Cos she acted really shady
Which I heard on local radi-
O, while sitting in my car

I’ve been stuck here since September
(When my rage was but an ember)
Now I’m furious, remember-
Ing this traffic jam from hell;
Who’s the scapegoat? Bridget Kelly,
And Chris Christie’s doing swell-he
Showed us all that he can dele-
Gate, and really do it well

Now he’ll finish up his presser
A defiant non-confessor
Though we know he’s an accessor-
Y, a bully, and a jerk
All those vicious lies need quashing:
He’s not bullying, just joshing,
So let’s send the man to Washing-
Ton and let him get to work!

My prediction: All of this will have been forgotten by the short-attention-span public, and do Christie no lasting harm. Besides, who else do the Republicans have?

Satanist, Atheist; Tomayto, Tomahto

The folks at Fox News have been hatin’ on Satan;
The thought of him sickens their good Christian hearts
A statue? in public? And Gretchen was retchin’,
While all of her guests played their usual parts:
“That statue’s offensive! It’s hateful! A state full
Of Christians would never have voted it in!
Majority rules—you don’t like it? Then hike it
To some other state that might tolerate sin!”

Conservative pundits are trying, by lying,
To claim the majority writes all the laws
Their cry “it’s Commandments we follow!” rings hollow:
They always forget the establishment clause
Not wanting to, yet, let them all in, they’re stallin’—
They’ll wait, while this case makes its way through the courts
In the meantime, the Decalogue only, so lonely,
Cries out to be joined by some goat-headed sorts.

Yeah, well, ok, I’m not really happy with this verse, so I’ll post it quick before I just throw it away. It started out as a comment on Gretchen Carlson’s innocent gaffe, then took a detour into the shouting match her guests launched (have you ever noticed how few guests actually answer the questions they’ve been asked? They answer completely different questions instead, loudly and independently of whether anyone else is talking), then into a vague commentary on the whole satanic statue thing. So it needs a good editing… which would kill the meter and rhyme. What ya gonna do?

There is much fodder for hair-pulling at that link, though. Misrepresentation of the Satanists who are proposing to donate the monument (satanists, rather, are the stuff of pulp novels, B movies, and Chick Tracts), “majority rules” being demanded by the Jewish talking-head (who asks “what did goats ever do? I don’t know why they are having to suffer.”… forgetting that his own religion gave us the “scapegoat”), a member of a smaller minority than atheists; Gretchen’s “the rabbi has a good point” after the rabbi’s alleged point disappeared in a haze of shouting…

Narrow Ohio Ruling With Broad Implications For Same-Sex Marriage

If you’re living in Ohio
And you want to wed your mate
There are certain situations
Where they’ll send you out of state:

See, Ohio has its standards;
Still, the balance of your life
They will recognize your union—
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you’re more-than-kissing cousins
And you want to tie the knot
There are states where you can do so
(Roughly twenty—not a lot)

You could fly to Alabama,
California, or New York,
Maybe Cape Cod, Massachusetts,
Say “I do”, and pop the cork

When you fly back to Ohio,
The remainder of your life
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

If you want to wed your sweetheart
But she isn’t yet fifteen
There are states that you could fly to
(Well, there’s one or two I’ve seen)

Though Ohio doesn’t like it,
You could wed your child bride,
Then it’s back as married Buckeyes
Cos it cannot be denied

Though Ohio doesn’t like it
It remains, for all your life—
They will recognize your union:
He’s the husband; she’s the wife.

But they made one big exception
Yes, they made a special note
And they said it was important
Cos they put it to a vote

And the people used the ballot
On that cold November day
To deny a legal status
If the wedded pair were gay

Adding injury to insult
Voters made it very clear—
If you’re legal in some other state
You’re still not legal here!

No, it won’t apply to everyone
With un-Ohio ways…
Not the cousins, nor the children,
No, it just applies to gays

But… the U.S. Constitution,
As amended, makes it clear
That we’re equally protected
Though Ohio thinks it queer

When majorities discriminate
And do it “just because”
It falls to the judicial branch
To scrutinize our laws

So, Ohio may not like it—
Disagreement may be rife—
But a man can wed a husband
And a woman wed a wife

Seems this is the week for court rulings you’ll want to bookmark. This time, it’s Ohio. The latest installment of (among other things) the story of John and Jim, whom we have seen here, here, and here.

Ohio’s ruling this week is very narrow, but with explicit hints that it applies to much bigger issues:

The court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages, if valid in the state performed, and even if not authorized nor validly performed under Ohio law, such as marriages between first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages.

That is, once you get lawfully married in one state, another state cannot summarily take your marriage away, because the right to remain married is properly recognized as a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1.

Moreover, as this Court held in its initial Orders this summer and reaffirms today, by treating lawful same-sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins, marriages of certain minors, and common law marriages), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection: that “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws” U.S. Const. amend XIV, § 1.

Therefore, under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize on Ohio death certificates valid same-sex marriages from other states.

As with the last decision reported here, Scalia’s dissent in Windsor is cited–judges apparently love irony.

And in case subtle irony is too subtle, the final footnote (22, on page 43) is more explicit:

As a final note, although the question of whether Ohio’s refusal to grant same-sex marriages also violates Ohio same-sex couples’ right to due process and equal protection is not before the Court in this case, the logical conclusion to be drawn from the evidence, arguments, and law presented here is that Ohio’s violation of the constitutional rights of its gay citizens extends behond the bounds of this lawsuit.

Live Free Or Dye? Killing Baby Animals For Freedom!

I’ve never seen a purple duck
I never hope to spy one
But now New Hampshire (what the fuck?)
Would like to let you dye one!

Perhaps you’d like an orange chick
Perhaps a turquoise rabbit
For boosting sales, this does the trick:
“A bright pink gosling—grab it!”

It’s said they make great presents
But they just give me the creeps
They don’t much look like pheasants
No, they rather look like Peeps!

They’re cute and soft and green or red
And oh, how they’re adored…
A couple weeks, and most are dead
Cos kids, you know, get bored

But chicks and bunnies have no choice
And sellers must comply:
They hear the short-term market’s voice
That calls “Live Free and Dye”

Just so that Republicans don’t get the entire pro-business anti-ethical behavior vote, a NH Democrat (edit: and libertarian Free-Stater) is the one proposing to allow the dyeing of chicks, ducklings, goslings, and/or rabbits, so that more of them can be sold at Easter.

State Rep. Joel Winters, a Nashua Democrat, is proposing repealing a 1985 law that makes it illegal to dye the birds and bunnies to promote their sale, raffle or if they are to be given as a prize. Winters said Monday that he doesn’t think the law serves a purpose.

In 1985, John Sununu (Republican, later Chief of Staff for George H. W. Bush) was governor. Hmmm…. in a Republican, pro-business administration, why on earth would dyeing baby animals be prohibited?

Former Agriculture Commissioner Steve Taylor disagrees. He said he fought for the law’s passage 28 years ago because the process stresses the birds and many die as a result. Taylor said too many people bought the cute colored chicks at Easter without knowing how to care for them.

Oh, that’s right… because dyeing baby animals does nothing to enhance their sales to people who know what they are doing. It only makes impulse sales by exasperated and/or idiot parents more likely. Great news for short term profits, great news for kids who like purple ducks… and (here’s the best part) by the time the kids get bored with them, they’ll be close to death anyway!

Hey, Let’s Decide Your Rights With A Poll!

The cross is there, on public land;
It’s been there fifty years.
The courts will say it cannot stand;
So, surely, it appears.
The local Christians see the case
A battle for our soul
Instead of legal argument…
It’s time to run a poll.

In Middleboro, MA, there is a cross on the median strip of a bit of Route 28. A 7-foot cross of red brick, with the word “WORSHIP” in faded white letters, that has been there for 50 years, since the Kiwanis club constructed it. The grassy island is owned in part by the city, in part by the state, but

In an effort to resolve the matter, the state and county agreed to donated their shares of the island to the town, which in turn will sell it to the local Kwianas Club.

At least one citizen is worried there will be trouble:

Jeff Stevens lobbied town meeting to stay out of the fray, fearing the town will become embroiled in a lawsuit threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This is not a Middleboro problem,” Stevens said. “It will open up our town to legal challenges.”

I’m sure you can guess how the vote went:

Town meeting ignored Stevens’ petition by a wide margin and supported selectmen 228 to 10. The vote drew a round of applause.

It’s like Cranston, and Jackson, and so many more… never happened.

Anyway, there is currently a poll at the site, asking your opinion of the cross– is it “a religious symbol that has no place on public property”, or “an appropriate expression of religious freedom”? As of now, it’s roughly two to one the wrong way.

Christian Plaintiff Wins Jesus Portrait Case In Jackson, OH

The Jesus portrait has to go,
We finally agree
It’s like you told us long ago
Before we paid your fee
If we had only listened then
We might have known you’re right…
But someone hollered “atheist!”
And so we had to fight.

We didn’t think the painting
Would offend a Christian soul—
We thought it was the atheists
Exerting their control
But freedom of religion means
A Christian can complain
When schools promote religion
When they’d really best abstain.

In Jackson, where the headlines say
“The atheists have sued”
It seems the story’s incorrect—
The facts are misconstrued—
One plaintiff is a Christian girl
It chastens us to say
Who saw the Jackson painting, but
Views Christ a different way

And victory for atheists
(As all the papers say)
Is victory for her as well
The schools, of course, must pay
We’ve learned a costly lesson, here
In Jackson public schools:
Tradition might speak loudly, but…
The constitution rules

I missed it Friday, but the parties have reached a settlement in Jackson, Ohio, and the portrait of Jesus has to go. Reactions are … predictable. It’s an ACLU and FFRF “Shakedown”, with the lawyers getting some $80,000 (which they had warned the schools about) and plaintiffs getting “the paltry sum of $3,000 each” (which I predict will be framed as sufficient motive that their suit can be dismissed as money-grubbing). Of course, nearly every report labels it an “atheist lawsuit”, which is worth unpacking.

A local news channel, WSAZ, has a nice collection of the major events in the case, updated at every turn (though the video at the top is not current). But even there, there is no mention of one fact that spoils everyone’s narrative.

One of the plaintiff children is a Christian. From the FFRF complaint:

Plaintiff Same Doe 2, attends Jackson Middle School and views the portrait of Jesus every day when Plaintiff walks through the entranceway to the Middle School. Sam Doe 2 identifies as a person of Christian faith and is offended by the religious portrait hanging in Jackson Middle School because it portrays the image of Jesus in a manner that is inconsistent with said Plaintiff’s religious beliefs and expresses the Christian faith in a way that distorts Sam Doe 2′s own beliefs about morality and religion.

The promotion of one view of Christianity does not just offend non-Christians, it offends other Christians who do not share that particular view. It is trivially true that different Christian faiths disagree with one another–and this was clearly the case during the writing of the constitution, when (for instance) Catholics were viewed as a threat to local governance.

This is precisely the sort of thing the first amendment was meant to deal with, and this is precisely the outcome that could be seen from months ago.

1957 (Beep! Beep!)

On this date, little Sputnik was shot into space
Just one shot, of many, in a war-proxy race
There were thousands, or millions, who were all losing sleep
Cos an object above them was going “beep…beep…”
There were others, of course, who were not so entranced–
When they heard the “beep…beep…” they just got up and danced.

Louis Prima, “Beep! Beep!”, recorded 1957. Lyrics, if you want.

In honor of Sputnik, launched this day (October 4) in 1957.

The Muppets Take The Mall!

The National Mall, that is–the Muppets are moving to the Smithsonian! (Great pics and story at link)

*******

Scooter: Places, everyone! Five minutes till curtain!

Fozzie Bear: Has anyone seen my hat?

Miss Piggie: Now, where did that Hope Diamond go? I was wearing it just a minute ago…

Gathering throng outside:
It’s time to buy our tickets
It’s time to shout “hooray”
It’s time to go and visit
All the Muppets on display!

Miss Piggy:
It’s time to wear the diamond
If only for today

Scooter:
It’s time to raise the curtain
On the Muppets on display!

Kermit (who has lived at the museum since 1994):
Our national museum
Is where they’ll settle down
You know you want to see ‘em
Whenever you’re in town

Miss Piggy:
It’s time to see my Kermie

Kermit:
I don’t know what to say

Scooter:
It’s time to get things started

Gathering throng:
Why don’t you get things started?

Kermit, others joining in:
It’s time to get things started
On the most sensational
Educational
Generational
Muppetational
Come and see the Muppets on display!

Miss Piggy, wearing the Hope Diamond. Smithsonian photo, by Cade Martin.

Cranston’s New Banner

The sign on the wall reads “No Christians Allowed”—
… Except for the fact that it doesn’t.
There’s a banner in Cranston, replacing the prayer—
The prayer that the Christians said wasn’t.

No “Heavenly Father”, no “Prayer”, no “Amen”
Just a pledge of good will and respect.
So it’s either much better the way that it is…
Or the banner the atheist wrecked.

Thus begins a new chapter; it’s time to move on
And the people are very excited
So the threw a small party, to show they were healed…
But Jessica wasn’t invited.

This verse isn’t so much about the new Cranston banner (which it actually is about) as it is about the reaction to this banner at The Blaze (which is quite different from the reaction at The Friendly Atheist).

Comments at the Blaze have a familiar ring to them–people are sick of God being taken out of our Judeo-Christian society; we are encouraged to embrace all diversity… except Christians; Jessica’s success was really and actually because God was on her side (I am not making that up). Christians should complain that the current banner offends them; Jessica is pondscum (sic); the judge misrepresented the first amendment, cos Congress didn’t put this banner up… It’s all there.

For the backstory on Cranston, here are the cliff notes.

One member of the class of 1963 (donors of both the original and the new banner), Janice Bertino, is quoted: “The community is healed. There is no more controversy.”

Let’s hope she’s right.

Let’s hope they don’t read The Blaze.

Time To Bring Back Public Whippings! (Or, Maybe, Not)

We’re pampering our prisoners
We’re treating them like guests
Instead of just ignoring them
We honor their requests

Free food, a bed, and exercise,
We cater to their needs
When what they’ve earned is punishment
It’s harshness that succeeds

No coddling them with training,
Cos they’ll never get a job
No need for education,
Cos a slob remains a slob

No TV time, no DVDs,
No books upon the shelves
These thugs want entertainment?
Let them work it out themselves

Let’s lock them in a tiny cell
And throw away the key
Unless it hurts, it really isn’t
Punishment, to me

We’ll show them, in the clearest terms,
What vengeance is about…
I wonder how they’ll thank us
When it’s time to let them out

You’ve probably all heard by now, Ariel Castro was found dead, having apparently hanged himself. As the poster child for horrible and criminal behavior, you’ll have to search a ways before you’ll find anyone mourning his death. Well, aside from those wishing he was still alive so that he could be dying more slowly; those voices are easy to hear.

And even at NPR, where accusations of liberal bias (in reporting and in commenting) are commonplace, the commenters are currently bemoaning the conditions of our prisons, arguing that they need to be harsher, more punishing, so that they do the job they were supposed to do and prevent crime rehabilitate offenders punish evildoers.

These commenters are wrong. You want the most successful prisons, in terms of low recidivism rates, low operating cost, and successful integration of inmates into society when their sentences are up? Let’s compare the US and Norway.

But of course, those are horrible measures of prisoner effectiveness if the real goal of a prison is to assign moral responsibility and punish wicked people. (Or to make money.) I have asked audiences which hypothetical they would choose, a simple procedure that would make certain a criminal would never commit a crime again, and would instead be a productive member of society, or a procedure that would punish that criminal harshly, with no effect on future behavior. A strong majority go for the punishment. (BTW, a strong case can be made that this is a holdover from religious thinking during the Reformation–the blossoming of the prescientific notion of freely chosen, morally culpable behavior. We can’t prevent it, cos it’s freely chosen, but we can and should punish the morally responsible actor, regardless of whether that punishment decreases crime.)

And with Ariel Castro as the poster child, there will be no one, or very few, arguing that our prisons are already too harsh for society’s good, that an overhaul of the system would be hugely beneficial (especially for non-privileged groups). Differential arrests, convictions, and sentences by race? No time for that, there’s a monster in Cleveland who deserves harsher punishment! We would rather punish after the fact than make our streets safer before. We would rather pay for prisons than schools and scholarships. We would rather blame a handful of criminals after the fact, than our own failure to improve society beforehand.

It’s so much easier.