Headline Muse, 8/27

As they batten the hatches and cower
Still their numbers increase by the hour
Not exactly a boast—
Cast your eyes on the coast;
There’s a million, right now, without power

Headline: Hurricane Irene Causes Power Outages For Nearly 1 Million East Coast Customers

Have not heard word from my relative who, at last info, was refusing to evacuate in NC. She’ll be fine, is my guess, but a hell of a lot of people won’t be.

Exercises in Futility

He hears the prayers, but God refrains
From redirecting hurricanes;
Is it that praying doesn’t work?
Or is this “God” a royal jerk?

Maybe Texans should have been praying that they get missed by a hurricane. God responds to reverse psychology… or just doesn’t respond.

Another Pledge?

What is it with the GOP and pledges? The Pledge to America, the No-Tax Pledge, abstinence-only “virginity pledges“, “under god” in the pledge of allegiance… and now, an anti gay marriage pledge. Erm, I mean a pro-traditional marriage pledge.

The nice thing about pledges is, pledging is easier than thinking. Perry, Bachman, Romney, and Santorum no longer have to consider the merits of the idea. They have pledged. They are honor-bound. For Perry, this represents a change from his earlier states’ rights stance. States’ rights is a dog-whistle, but the baggers missed it and accused him of being soft on gay marriage. So…

When he said that it might
Be a state-by-state right
The teabags accused him of hedging
In a matter of days
He was ditching the gays
And to make it official, was pledging
The republican plan
Is one woman, one man,
In the view that’s supported by Perry
Keep the government small
Till eventually, all
It can do is say who you may marry
Cos in matters of love
When a push comes to shove
It’s the government’s job to determine
That there’s one group—the straights—
Who deserve to have mates,
While another, the gays, are mere vermin
There’s no need to decide,
For a groom or a bride,
Cos the pledge means the choice is preempted
The decision’s been made
And it must be obeyed…
On the off chance the governor’s tempted.

38 Percent

Some say God used evolution
As His “how it’s done” solution,
As a way that they can reconcile the two opposing views
But that reconciliation
Lives in pure imagination
It’s a compromise that’s simply not available to choose
Middle ground, which they’re demanding
Shows a lack of understanding
Intervention means the process wasn’t natural at all
Darwin’s process of selection
Doesn’t need a god’s inspection
Saying “both” is just redundant; clearly, one of them must fall.

I saw a link to this story (about Rep. candidates’ creationist views). In it, the Gallup poll I showed my ignorance of yesterday is brought up:

In its most recent polling on the topic, Gallup found that 40 percent of Americans believe God created humans just as they are today. Another 38 percent said they believe God guided the evolution process. And 16 percent believe human evolution involved pure science

I have somehow lost the link I saw, but it implied that the 38% who believe in a god-guided evolution are as scientific as the 16% who believe in an unguided evolution, with the differences between them philosophical and not scientific. I’m not certain if that is possible in theory, but in practice it is dead wrong. In practice (and by “practice” here, I am simply looking at the comments to the Fox News story linked above), the people (in this admittedly biased sample of convenience) who claim that god guided evolution are just plain wrong about natural selection. It is not that they understand natural selection and thing god guides it, rather it is that they think god took a long time rather than a short time to create things supernaturally.

If god played a role, it was not natural selection. If it was natural selection, god’s role has shrunk to nothingness. Philosophically, it may be true that evolution does not require the absence of a god. It does not eliminate god, it simply renders god superfluous for this particular purpose. Practically, though, I suspect that taking the “god guided it” position may simply identify the people who believe in evolution but do not understand it.

Frankly, it is good that they believe in it. It would be far better, though, if they understood it.

Arrest Of “Christian Warrior”

Jealously, Zealously,
Oregon Terrorist
Cody Seth Crawford, was
Talking with God;

Whether religion, or
Torched up a mosque, in his
Christian Jihad

Crawford, a self-described Christian warrior, told an officer on his Dec. 14 arrest (for unrelated charges), “You look like Obama. You are a Muslim like him. Jihad goes both ways. Christians can jihad too.”

He’s being held for psych evaluation, and prosecutors argue he is a flight risk.

I feel sorriest for his 5-yr-old son.

If you can’t hold a pen, is it still mightier than a sword?

Though the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given momentThe Mouse That Roared

Image: Washington Post/Facebook

Making fun of politicians
Is a noble, grand tradition;
In the freest of societies, it’s cherished as a right
Elsewhere, though, if you’re outspoken
You can get your fingers broken
As this Syrian cartoonist, in the hospital tonight.

The photo above is of cartoonist Ali Ferzat, Syria’s best-known political cartoonist. He is in hospital tonight with broken hands, as a warning not to continue lampooning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ink is powerful stuff. In the long run, Ferzat and other critics may find they had the power to help topple a government. In the short run, he’s in the hospital with two broken hands.

Franken vs DOMA

First, a message from Al Franken.

It’s time.

There’s no good argument against marriage equality. There’s no good argument in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. And there’s no reason we should wait one more day to repeal it.

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, represents bigotry and discrimination against millions of Americans who want the same rights the rest of us cherish. We don’t need to wait for a study. We don’t need to read a poll. We know right from wrong. And we know it’s time for DOMA to go.

So let’s do it right now. Repeal DOMA. It’s time.

(Go ahead, follow the link. It’s his petition to repeal DOMA.)


Next, one from earlier this year:

In the constant chase for headlines
Given fast-approaching deadlines
Politicians fight each other for the top spot on the news
In this rough-and-tumble scrimmage
As they fight to hone their image
Some conservatives may think they’ve found an issue they can use

It’s that goddamn gay agenda
The republicans expend a
Lot of energy in fighting, as they pander to their base
If a legal stance looks funny
Often, following the money
Shows the underlying logic (as, of course, the present case)

In this mess, if you’re litigious
Then you’re probably religious
And it’s blasphemous that marriage should be offered up to gays
And republicans get boners
Over big financial donors
(If the dollars were sufficient, why, I’m sure they’d swing both ways)

It’s a match that’s made in heaven
For Two Thousand and Eleven
As the campaign is upon us and we’re choosing sides, of course
Let the Democrats disparage
Us, we’re standing up for marriage!
It’s a sacred institution… like Republican divorce!

NPR’s Morning Edition reports on the political posturing surrounding the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Conservative Republicans are on the wrong side of history here, but it looks like they are hoping they are on the right side of their own base. I’ve argued over marriage issues for years, and have never yet found an objection to same-sex marriage that did not boil down to a religious view. From my perspective, then, it comes down to a First Amendment issue: if the government takes a stand opposing same-sex marriage, it favors one religious view over others.

It’s not a matter of what is good for the children. My lesbian neighbors have raised a fine son, despite not being recognized as a real family; real concern for the well-being of children would lead to support for gay families. It’s not that marriage is designed to promote procreation; my sister-in-law is hoping for her third childless marriage. Since she is heterosexual, no one has a problem with that–least of all, the Republican front-runners, who [at least as of last month] sport more ex-wives than candidates.

It’s not even freedom of religion. There are a good many churches that recognize, welcome, and celebrate same-sex marriages. These conservative Republicans would want these churches overruled.

No, it’s money. There is money to be had by fighting on the wrong side of this battle. If that money can keep a handful of politicians in the headlines for a bit longer, they can keep the positions of power they hold. When they eventually are swept aside, that same money will be available for speeches and appearances. Ex-senators and ex-representatives will make more for one speech than I do in a year, railing against the moral decline of civilization.

Meh. I’ll take that, if I can go to my neighbors’ wedding.

The Politics Of Religious Identity

The majority of Christians have no beef with evolution;
They are perfectly accepting of the facts.
They may say, “it’s how God did it”; it’s an elegant solution,
And it’s how the sane majority reacts.

But it puzzles me immensely that so many are aligning
With the anti-science faction on their fringe
Who use Genesis as text to show the fact of God’s designing
Though their evidence and logic make one cringe

And despite their disagreement over how to read the Bible,
Over teaching it as science in our schools,
The majority stays silent. I suspect it might be tribal,
And “protect your own” is chief among the rules.

With beliefs in disagreement, but “we’re Christians” all the same
It’s the labels now determining the roles
So they vote against their interests, and it really is a shame
When it’s “onward, Christian soldiers” to the polls.

With the one nominally pro-science Republican candidate now polling at about 1%, behind a herd of creationists, I begin to doubt the surveys that say biblical literalism is a tenet of a very small fraction of Christians. Of course, in a Venn diagram, that small fraction nicely overlaps the most likely voters in the Republican base, so if unlikely voters are also unlikely to talk to pollsters (I love talking to them. I ask them questions.), the polls are likely to be extremely biased at this point.

I hope that is the case. If the polls are representative, then an awful lot of people are currently planning to vote against the things they themselves believe. Why? Perhaps because they label themselves “christians” before they label themselves pro-education, or rational, or independent, or whatever. As vastly different as two people might be, as vastly different as their belief systems might be, if they both identify first as “christian”, a creationist has a foot in the door. Throw in years of identity politics and punditry, and well-educated people will vote against their interests, and against the interest of the country.