ChristWire parody site

As readers have pointed out many times before, the claims of creationists are so bizarre that it is hard to distinguish the sites of genuine believers from parody sites. One site that has puzzled many people and media outlets is ChristWire. One item that gave tips to women on how to find out if their husbands were gay, went viral, with many news organizations not realizing that they had been had. Some genuine Christian writers allowed their material to be reposted on the site, not realizing that their work was embedded amongst parody items.

Interestingly, the creators of this particular parody site are themselves believers, one calling himself an observant Catholic and the other a religious Protestant.

Piers Morgan and the Murdoch phone tapping scandal

In the continuing fallout of the scandal involving the Murdoch media empire, Rupert Murdoch’s son James has resigned from the boards of the Sun and the Times and shareholders are being urged to not re-elect him as chair of BSkyB.

In an interesting sidelight, it is alleged that phone hacking also occurred at the Daily Mirror (not a Murdoch paper) during the time it was edited by the smarmy Piers Morgan, who had formerly been editor of Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World. (Piers Morgan is someone to whom the description ‘smarmy’ should be treated like his first name.) Although he denies being personally involved in the practice, Morgan said that this kind of phone hacking was going on at almost every newspaper in London, but that it was done by investigators hired by the papers, not the reporters themselves, as if that somehow mitigates the offense.

I recently watched the 2003 BBC TV miniseries State of Play, the story of how investigations into the death of an aide and mistress of a prominent British MP unravels the net of intrigue involving government, big business, and the media. The reporters covering the story routinely record people’s conversations and access their phone records, suggesting that even though the story is fictional, this is standard practice. The film version starring Russell Crowe was released in 2009. I have not seen it but reading about it suggests that they have stuck pretty close to the original storyline, except for transplanting it to the US. The one thing they may have done differently is Hollywoodized the ending, which I would have to see the film to know.

But it’s not like everyone hates Piers Morgan. Andy Dick has started a fan club.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope all of you have a quiet and enjoyable day with family and friends, which is what I will be doing.

What I will not be doing this weekend is going anyway near any store. Recession, depression, or good times, the madness of shopping that accompanies this weekend is what I hate most about this otherwise wonderful holiday.

Is this billboard offensive?

ohiobillboard.jpeg

Apparently that’s what a billboard company in north central Ohio said in refusing to put it up. However the company is quite willing to post religious billboards.

The whole story is quite bizarre. (Via Pharyngula)

This illustrates once again that religious people resort to the strategy of ‘taking offense’ because they have no rational arguments to counter those of the atheists.

[Update: For some reason, this post has attracted an enormous number of spam comments and so I have regretfully closed it for new comments.]

Our corrupt Congress

60 Minutes blows the lid off how members of Congress are legally allowed to use the inside knowledge to which only they have access to make money on the stock market and in other deals. This is why so many of them leave Congress as multi-millionaires.

How is this legal? Because in making the insider trading laws, Congress exempted themselves from the laws that apply to everyone else.

Notice how much bipartisan harmony there is on matters like this?

Even disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who went to prison for his role in political corruption, says in an interview about his new book Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist that “I think the great tragedy in American politics is what is legal, not what is illegal.”

In the second part of the interview he talks about what needs to be done to clean up the bipartisan corrupt rot that has set in, and which he once took full advantage of. He says the so-called reforms that Congress enacts are a joke. He provides a good way to address the problem, which is the list of reforms that he, as a lobbyist, would have hated to see enacted because they would have made his job so much harder.

First, he says that once you are in Congress or are a staffer on Capitol Hill, you should face a permanent ban on working as a lobbyist. (Elsewhere, he described how lobbyists get our ‘public’ servants working for them. Once they see a Congressperson or a Congressional staffer who could be helpful to them and who is also hardworking and efficient, they tell him or her, “We would like you to consider working for us once you leave here.” That person usually is hooked and then willing to work on their behalf on legislation even while still working for Congress so that they don’t jeopardize their chances of a lucrative career if they should leave or be forced out of government.) Second, he says that, “If you’re a lobbyist or you hire a lobbyist or you’re at the public trough getting government grants or contracts or whatever, you can’t give one dollar politically, federally. If you make the choice yourself to do that, then you have given up the choice to give politically.” Third, he recommends term limits so that lobbyists would be forced to go through the tedious process of cultivating and eventually ‘buying’ new members on a regular basis. Finally, Congress should not be allowed to exempt themselves from the laws they pass for others.

I think that while many people suspect that Congress is corrupt, they do not realize how deeply the rot has spread. We are not talking about a few bad apples here and there, though once in a while there will be an uproar over one or two egregious examples of corruption and someone will face a ritual punishment. Those are the equivalents of the sacrificial virgins of earlier times, designed to protest the others from wrath. In this case, what they fear is the wrath of the people not of gods.

God’s Away on Business

The similarities in the voices of Cookie Monster and Tom Waits is uncanny.

Since it is hard to make out the words sometimes, here are the lyrics.

I’d sell your heart to the junk-man baby for a buck, for a buck
If you’re looking for someone to pull you out of that ditch, you’re out of luck, you’re out of luck

The ship is sinking, the ship is sinking, the ship is sinking

There’s a leak, there’s a leak in the boiler room

The poor, the lame, the blind

Who are the ones that we kept in charge?

Killers, thieves and Lawyers

God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.



Digging up the dead with a shovel and a pick, it’s a job, it’s a job

Bloody moon rising with a plague and a flood, join the mob, join the mob

It’s all over, it’s all over, it’s all over

There’s a leak, there’s a leak, in the boiler room

The poor, the lame, the blind

Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers

God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away, on business. Business.

[Instrumental Break]



Goddamn there’s always such a big temptation to be good, to be good

There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby, it’s a deal, it’s a deal

The ship is sinking, the ship is sinking, the ship is sinking

There’s a leak, there’s a leak in the boiler room

The poor, the lame, the blind

Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves and Lawyers

God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.

I narrow my eyes like a coin slot baby, let her ring, let her ring

It’s all over, it’s all over, it’s all over

There’s a leak, there’s a leak, in the boiler room

The poor, the lame, the blind

Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers

God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business.
God’s away, God’s away, God’s away on business. Business.

The supercommittee throws in the towel

My prediction that the point of the supercommittee was a way to gets cuts in social programs passed in Congress was wrong. Although that may have been the plan all along, it seems like the devotion of the Republicans to enriching the already superrich was too strong to overcome their desire to inflict pain on the poor, and so no deal was reached.

So what about the automatic triggers of $600 billion each in defense and non-defense spending that are supposed to go into effect automatically, and the prospect of which was supposed to be so dire that it would force the supercommittee to come up with a plan? The $600 billion is social spending will cause severe pain to ordinary people but the oligarchs and their agents in Congress do not care about that. It is the $600 billion in defense cuts that is the cause of Congressional angst.

It looks like since those cuts only go into effect in 2013, Congress thinks that it has time to find a way to avoid it. It will not be easy. The legislation that created the deal will have to be repealed by a new law passed by Congress and president Obama has promised to veto any such measure, though Obama’s promises cannot be taken seriously.

I frankly do not know how this will play out now. There are too many variables at play. But expect to see a lot of posturing and grandstanding and finger pointing. In other words, the normal working of Congress.