Breaking News: Mt. Soledad Cross Must Come Down! (…eventually, perhaps)

Today’s report from San Diego (oh, and read to the end of page 2–there’s a poll!):

A San Diego federal judge made a reluctant ruling Thursday that the cross atop Mount Soledad is unconstitutional, although the chances of the La Jolla monument coming down anytime soon are unlikely.

The latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns will likely send the case back to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court declined to hear the case last year, but said it could reconsider once a lower court enters a final judgment.

Burns ordered the cross to be removed within 90 days, and then stayed that order until all appeals have been exhausted.

That’s right, they have to give a chance to run it by Scalia again, the justice who apparently really actually does believe that a Christian cross is a memorial to war dead of any and all faiths (which must be why the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America–with others–filed the suit). So don’t hold your breath. The Supremes had earlier kicked the case back to the lower court to let it simmer for a bit, rather than have the guts to decide.

As I said earlier…

The cross on the hill was a beautiful sight
On the days when the sky was most bluish;
It stood for the soldiers who gave up their lives
Well, except when the soldiers were Jewish.

The cross on the hill, it looked rugged and old
Though the city maintained it as newish;
The congressman said that it stood for the dead
Well, unless they were atheist, Muslim, or Jewish.

The cross on the hill was a secular thing—
That’s a lie, but it kinda sounds truish—
The judge said it symbolized service and loss
Well, except for the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or the religions of the tribal nations who once owned the land the cross is on.

The cross on the hill is religious, of course
Said a Judge who rejected the woo-ish
And it can’t be a symbol for everyone there
If it doesn’t mean Buddhists, the Hindus, the Pagans, the Jains, the Confucians, the Shinto, the Sikh, the Druids, the Wiccans, Baha’i, Hare Krishna, Zoroastrian, Scientologists, atheists, Muslim or Jewish. Or, you know, the indans. Or even Christians who don’t want a symbol, or use a different cross from the Latin Cross, or (fades)


Mt. Soledad Cross Image by Will Fresch–wikipedia commons

Missing From The Picture

The argument was lengthy;
It was fervid; it was strong;
Both participants were certain
That the other one was wrong:

Was the object of contention
A potential, or a child?
Just a maybe, or a baby
With a list of rights compiled?

Is it murder of an innocent
When choosing to abort?
The argument was wholly framed
In questions of this sort

For years, it seems, they stood their ground
And argued with each other…
And not a thought was wasted
On the wishes of the mother.

So, yeah, I saw an article in the National Catholic Register: The War On Religion Is Real And We Are Losing.

These days, we hear so much about “the war on …” this or that, we have learned to drown it out as hyperbolic nonsense promoted by those with an agenda. The war on women is a perfect example.
But I am here to tell you that the war on religion is real and religion is losing–big time.
Being religious is about putting what you believe into every day practice. That is they call it practicing your religion.
But increasingly, the State is imposing barriers to practice of your religion anywhere but in your head or heart. Out here in the real world, religion has no place.

Yes… the fact that the Church is not allowed to impose its desires on the rest of society, through Catholic-approved hospital procedures, through dictating what employees can and cannot have in their earned benefits packages, through (yes, even this!) the requirement that public businesses not be allowed to discriminate! What the rest of us recognize as the reeling in of privilege, this article saw as an attack on the God-given rights of the church. It’s a real war… unlike that silly “war” on women. There is no war on women. “War”, after all, implies that both sides are armed.

But today’s verse is not really about the article. It’s about the comments. I know, I know, never read the comments! But I really did find it astonishing, just how much concern there was for the only person involved–the preborn child. The discussion of the fetus, like the pictures on the protester’s placards, is remarkably devoid of any sight of the woman whose body quite literally surrounds the issue.

We are told that “science tells us” that the baby is its own unique person, with rights. Oddly enough, I think science might also tell us that the woman is a person as well, but this is not mentioned. We are told that “proper medical care” of the mother is only proper when the baby’s welfare is given equal weight (in practice, this can mean that if one dies, both must), because both are equally complete human beings. Good thing the church cares so much it is willing to do the deciding for everybody–everybody gets the same freedom when everybody is the Church’s puppet.

I would love, some time, for the debate to be framed around the woman. She is nothing less than invisible. There is a reason for that; there is no defense once the woman is acknowledged. The church has no right to make her decisions.

Related:
Jennifer, Jennifer
Fetal Testimony
God Is Pro-Choice (Just Anti-Woman)

Rants And Comments

The Coloradan has a fun opinion piece up, complaining that atheism is becoming the US national religion.

It’s a scattershot argument, at once claiming a near 80% Christian majority and demanding protection from persecution, since we are a republic, not a democracy. A fun read.

Anyway, I commented there, but I can’t tell whether it actually posted. I can see it just fine, but the comment count does not include mine. So I thought I’d put it here, just in case.

Ah yes… atheism is claimed by 1.6%, and “Christianity” by nearly 80, and you are complaining.

The situation you describe is unbelievable on the face of it. No rational person—and I assume you are a rational person—would ever claim that atheism was becoming the national religion of the US when all three branches of the federal government are dominated by Christians, when Congress feels the need to take time from their busy schedules to re-verify every couple of years that “In God We Trust” is our motto, when polls show “atheists” remain less likely to get someone’s vote than any other label tested… So, frankly, the situation cannot be as you describe it.

And it is not. The fact is, you are misrepresenting, badly, and you know it.

To begin, you complain of an attack on “religion in public life” or “whenever God finds his way into public view”. The truth is, even the most radical atheists are staunch defenders of the first amendment, and will defend your right to free expression. What we complain about (and what the courts have consistently agreed with) are the attempts to enlist the government (you note “Congress”, but conveniently omit any consideration of the 14th amendment—so it is not simply a matter of Congress siding with a religious view, but any representative of government) to take the side of one religion or another against all others, or against no religion.

In short, you can have religion in public life, but you cannot have it promoted or led by agents of the government. It’s a simple distinction.

You note that 78.4% of Americans are nominally “Christian”. What you don’t mention here, though, is that the various denominations of Christianity do not always agree. My sister is a devout Christian; her church strongly affirms and supports same-sex marriage. My uncle is a devout Christian; his church condemns same-sex marriage. If the government sides with one church, it sides against the other; it has, over the course of our history, been much healthier for churches not to allow the government to take sides.

One thing you had right, though, and I am glad of it—this is a republic, not a democracy. If it were not for our constitutionally protected freedoms, that 78.4%, should they ever happen to agree on something, could deny the basic rights of those who disagree. As is, the 1.6% you are complaining about only have the power they do because the constitution is on their side. One person plus the constitution beats 80% on the wrong side of the law.

I am glad, also, that you mention the founding fathers. It is, indeed, easy to see that they had no hesitation in declaring the importance of their faiths in God (remember, though, they did not share the same religion—there were, in fact, official religions for many of the colonies, so “Christianity” was not seen as the unifying label you treat it as)… which makes it all the more remarkable that the word “God” is not mentioned once in the Constitution, and the only mentions of religion are to expressly prohibit any religious test for office (article 6) and the first amendment (extended to all levels of government in the 14th). If they had wanted to say we are a Christian nation, they had every ability and opportunity to do so. They did not. They chose to keep government out of religion, and religion out of government. So please, by all means, practice your religion (even in public, if you want to ignore Matthew 6:6). But not while you are acting as an agent of government.

Like I said, it’s very simple.

Heh… no verse this time–but I clicked on “first amendment” up there under the title, and I am frankly astonished at how often I *have* written something I could have just pulled up for the situation. Is there nothing new under the sun?

The Insurance Scam

My insurance covers fractures
(Like most policies I’ve known)
Which is wasteful for the people
Who don’t have a broken bone

And it also covers polio’s
Expensive medications
Just in case it makes a comeback—
It’s been gone for generations

Why, my policy protects me
From the rarest stuff on earth
So I’m working on a cunning plan
To get my money’s worth:

From the corners of the planet
I’m collecting rare diseases—
I’ll have people send me samples
From wherever someone sneezes

Every parasite that troubles,
Each bacterium that lurks
Every virus, every prion,
I’m collecting up the works

And from government collections
From Atlanta to The Hague
I’ll grab cryogenic samples
Of each pestilence and plague

I will sample every toxin
That humanity has faced…
If I don’t, you see, insurance
Is at least a partial waste

And I want the proper value
For each dollar, for each dime…
If I live my whole life healthy
Then insurance is a crime.

Cuttlecap tip to Ed, this morning.

Poll: National Day Of Prayer?

Should there be a national day
When all of us will join and pray;
A day to send our thoughts to heaven—
And should this day be 9/11?

To show God’s love is everlasting
Join with us in prayer and fasting
Our nation’s ills won’t go away
Through just our work—we all must pray!

It’s time to get down on our knees
And humbly beg, “Oh, pretty please,
God, fix this mess—we know you can—
It’s far beyond the reach of Man”

The nation, having prayed as one,
Can now relax—our job is done;
The troubled nation’s worst demands
Are safely passed to God’s great hands

No need for us to try to mend
The problems we can’t comprehend—
No need to try to be aware
So long as God will hear our prayer

But… surely some will not believe;
They will not pray; they can’t conceive
That God will fix our problems quick…
These unbelievers make me sick.

Their lack of faith could cost us dearly—
Send us all to hell, or nearly—
If God won’t help, unless they pray
We’ll have to work hard anyway!

A day of prayer? No, not for me—
It’s just a waste of time, you see—
But prayer’s the choice of those who shirk…
It beats the hell out of doing work!

So, yeah… I accidentally clicked on an advertisement here.

IntellectualConservatives.com, is conducting a poll about an important issue. The results of these polls will be published online and are shared with major news networks and policymakers.

So you know it must be an important question.

1) Would you support a National Day of Prayer and Fasting on 9-11-13?

– No, there is no God.
– No, God doesn’t hear our prayers.
– No, we’re doing just fine without God’s help.
– Yes, our problems are so overwhelming, only God can save us.
– Yes, He promises to heal our land if we repent, pray and humble ourselves.
– Yes, this is what the founder of this country did frequently—and it worked.

2) Whom do you believe has better solutions for the nation’s problems?

– Conservatives
– Liberals
– Neither

You must include a valid email address and your postal code. “Votes with invalid emails will not be counted.” Oh, and “I understand that as a voter in this poll I will be signed up for FREE Intellectual Conservative alerts. I can unsubscribe at any time.”

Yeah, that couldn’t possibly bias the poll. I’d link to said poll, but I’ve tried everything and it seems like the only way to get there is through the ad itself–the URL for the poll itself won’t open the page for me. So, sadly, we won’t be able to sic PZ’s horde on them, and yet another bad poll will be sent to the networks and legislators, where the proper response (ignoring it) will be a secondary concern–the first concern being whether it is a slow news day and this fits their narrative.

“He Will Not Be Mocked!”

The congressmen were surely shocked
To hear the scream “He won’t be mocked!”
It’s not which words they were, but whose:
Such language usually means Ted Cruz.

During the House vote last night, after the vote timer had ticked to zero, but before the vote was called, a House stenographer made her way to the speaker’s microphone and yelled:

Do not be deceived. God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand. He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked, (don’t touch me) He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here, is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been… it would not have been… No. it would not have been… the Constitution would not have been written by Free Masons… and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.

After about the first three sentences, she was dragged out escorted out by the Sergeant-at-Arms, yelling the rest as she left.

She is being evaluated at a local hospital. I wish her well.

No word on whether the representatives and senators who use similar language will likewise be evaluated.

The Senate Chaplain Prays In Vain

The Washington chaplain attempts, every morning,
To start off the day with a prayer and a warning
A message for senators, angry and bold
As it offers a chance for the chaplain to scold
(They all say they’re Christian, except for a few,
So you’d think there’s a chance that they’d listen to you!)
But the senators listen, and nod with a smile
To a prayer that is aimed at the folks ‘cross the aisle
(It just couldn’t be that our side has done wrong,
So we’ll do what we do, as we’ve done all along.)

So, yeah… keep on praying; go nuts. What the hell…
I mean, why would you quit, when it’s working so well?

“Save us from the madness,” the chaplain, a Seventh-day Adventist, former Navy rear admiral and collector of brightly colored bow ties named Barry C. Black, said one day late last week as he warmed up into what became an epic ministerial scolding.

“We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride,” he went on, his baritone voice filling the room. “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”

I’m torn. Partly I view his prayers as an exercise in futility, a useless waste of time where he might as well be talking to a wall. And frankly, that’s about as much influence as I want him to have. I’d rather have him outside the senate, literally talking to walls. But there is a hint that maybe some senators are listening:

During his prayer on Friday, the day after officers from the United States Capitol Police shot and killed a woman who had used her car as a battering ram, Mr. Black noted that the officers were not being paid because of the government shutdown.

Then he turned his attention back to the senators. “Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism,” he said. “Forgive them the blunders they have committed.”

Senator Harry Reid, the pugnacious majority leader who has called his Republican adversaries anarchists, rumps and hostage takers, took note. As Mr. Black spoke, Mr. Reid, whose head was bowed low in prayer, broke his concentration and looked straight up at the chaplain.

In which case, he’s moved from ineffectual to evil. “Attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable” is an apt description, but not of both sides. When negotiating with a firebug, finding a reasonable number of fires he can be allowed to set should not require one side to move from a strong position of “zero”.

Eating The Monkey Brains

No time for anything right now, but I had to share with you a wonderful piece of writing on the shutdown. Charles Pierce, writing for Esquire, pens “The Reign Of Morons Is Here“, and it is beautiful. First, the succinct summary of the situation:

In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees. But there has never been in a single Congress — or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. That is why the government of the United States is, in large measure, closed this morning.

Then the analysis (this paragraph closing with the most appropriate metaphor I’ve seen on the topic):

This is what they came to Washington to do — to break the government of the United States. It doesn’t matter any more whether they’re doing it out of pure crackpot ideology, or at the behest of the various sugar daddies that back their campaigns, or at the instigation of their party’s mouthbreathing base. It may be any one of those reasons. It may be all of them. The government of the United States, in the first three words of its founding charter, belongs to all of us, and these people have broken it deliberately. The true hell of it, though, is that you could see this coming down through the years, all the way from Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address in which government “was” the problem, through Bill Clinton’s ameliorative nonsense about the era of big government being “over,” through the attempts to make a charlatan like Newt Gingrich into a scholar and an ambitious hack like Paul Ryan into a budget genius, and through all the endless attempts to find “common ground” and a “Third Way.” Ultimately, as we all wrapped ourselves in good intentions, a prion disease was eating away at the country’s higher functions. One of the ways you can acquire a prion disease is to eat right out of its skull the brains of an infected monkey. We are now seeing the country reeling and jabbering from the effects of the prion disease, but it was during the time of Reagan that the country ate the monkey brains.

I’ve only highlighted 2 paragraphs–the whole thing is well worth the reading.

And now I have even less time… dammit.

Did You Notice How Quickly The Free Market Swooped In To Take Over Head Start And Do It Even Better? Me Neither.

There’s nothing the government does, so I’m told,
That the free market doesn’t do better
So now with the government shutting its doors
And the market cut loose from its fetter
There is nothing to stop it from jumping right in—
Taking over, and doing things right—
Bureaucracy stood in its way until now,
But with government down, now it might!
So the kids who are staying at home for a bit
Cos the money was cut from Head Start?
The market should see an investment to make…
But they don’t. So the world falls apart.

“We Want To Patriotically Ignore The Will Of The Voters. Patriotically!”

The last time constituents voted, they noted
That one of the issues was health care reform
One candidate promised, “don’t heal it—repeal it”
And promised to take on the nation by storm
The nation, by whom they elected, rejected
The notion that healthcare was nothing but trash
The losing Republicans, routed, just pouted,
And bought local races with shitloads of cash

The courts said the law, despite bluster, passed muster,
So now, on the books, it’s the law of the land
Too late for opponents, so screaming and scheming
Is all they have left, which they simply can’t stand.
Within their own party, the fractions of factions
Are zealously fighting their way to the right—
Where once there were moderate voices, no choice is
Allowed to seem soft, or unwilling to fight

The ideologically driven are riven
By forces that split them and make them unwise
They’ll claim they’re just heading where freedom will lead ‘em
And death’s on the table, before compromise
But the thing is, they lost! There’s no mystery—history
Shows that such losses have happened before!
With the pathway the voters selected rejected,
Democracy fails… the alternative’s war.

Oddly enough, the Tea Party Republicans put me in mind of this verse… I wonder why. Man, for people who loves them some constitution, they sure are quick to abandon it when the process leads to someone else winning.