Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Breaking Local News: 19 year old girl charged with Felony; Bedford Co. DA Gloats

Note: Just as in my previous piece, Bedford (PA) County Drug Task Force Creates Jobs , I do not condone or support any illegal activities. Drugs are illegal, and selling them is idiotic. Don't do it.

Another drug bust in Bedford County, this time without a catchy operation designation. How about Operation: Lolita? Operation: Goodbye Future? Operation: Welcome to Adulthood?

Via my local sports section disguised as a newspaper, The Altoona Mirror: (They do not have this story posted online yet. When they do, I will provide a link as long as they still only publish the mugshots in the print version.)

The case is pretty basic. Idiots drive to Baltimore. Idiots buy decent amount of heroin. Cops get tip and stop idiots on their way back from Baltimore. I'm not even going to use the "innocent until proven guilty" cliche this time.

The idiots involved and charged in this case are a 29 year old man, a 31 year old man, and....a 19 year old girl.

They are idiots, and they got caught. And now their lives are forever changed thanks to the unattainable quest to eliminate drugs from our society. They are victims as well.

Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins was overjoyed at the arrests.

Our relentless attack on drug dealers in Bedford County is not going to slow down. We have far more information about the dealers than they think, and we will continue to use that information to our advantage. [Male Suspects Name withheld by blogger] thought he had a nice little enterprise going. It's over now.

Yes, the enterprise is over, although another will fill the role quickly. And a large part of the suspects future is also over. What isn't over is their addictions or this pointless war against our citizens.

19 with a felony, and the DA can do nothing but gloat.

Linking to LEAP and shutting up....

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Full schedule today, but I want to at least touch on a few things quickly....

Item: Crazy, in over his head quarterback continues to be worshiped by crazy fans.

A handful of Denver fans have decided a customized Tim Tebow jersey would make for the perfect Christmas gift. What could possibly be troubling about that? A whole lot, depending on who you ask.

Rather than have the last name "Tebow" on the back of the Broncos jersey, these fans have placed "Jesus" above Tebow's No. 15.


Remember, this past Sunday Tebow was 2 for 8 for 69 yards passing. Somehow I think Jesus would have a better completion percentage. If he existed, that is.

But I am much less interested in what crazy football fans or crazy Jesus fans do to worship their new saint of Denver than the larger perception of the story.

He's the model citizen, the guy you want your daughter to date

Really? Brain dead religiosity, anti-abortion Super Bowl commercials, and writing Bible verses on your eye black make you a model citizen? No wonder our democracy is in trouble. And, no, if I had a daughter, Tebow would not be on my list of men I wanted her to date.

Item: GOP candidates live in a fantasy land.

Via Yahoo News....

Republican presidential hopefuls are assaulting a proposal by GOP lawmakers on a bipartisan deficit-reduction panel that calls for increased tax revenues even as the special supercommittee appears increasingly headed for deadlock.

Can we officially point and laugh every time a Republican uses the word bipartisan now?

Item: Understatement of the Year Award, Penn State Edition.

From the Chicago Tribune, because I hate linking to my local fish wrap.

Jerry Sandusky: "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."

Unfortunately, the article doesn't say if he followed that admission with "the anal and oral sex was probably a bad idea as well, but hey, hindsight is 20/20."

Blog News....

Greetings once again, readers of Foster Disbelief. (Yes, all three of you.) Apologies for the sporadic updates. Most of my time recently has been devoted to work, family, and sleep. The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier every year, and more shoppers means more business and more hours at my place of employment. My very Christian sister and her very Christian new husband are leaving Florida to visit us in PA, and with my mother's health, I've been helping her prepare for company. And perhaps most importantly, it appears that the last gasps of methadone withdrawal have finally disappeared. Sleep is no longer a pipe dream, and when I do fall asleep I no longer stay out for 12 hours.

I've also made a decision regarding this blog a few weeks ago that has affected the amount of updates. Rather than force out scatter-shot daily updates that only end up being read by a few people, I have decided to post more selectively and on the issues that matter the most to me. Eventually something I write will find an audience, and I will revisit the option of daily updates. Something like this blast from the past from July 2008, my first article that actually got noticed. Evidence? Who needs evidence to start a panic?

If I would have had a clear head in 2008, there is a decent chance you would now be reading an established blog. Instead, the needle and I chose to let opportunity keep on knocking. One mistake I will not make again.

So what will you see here? There will still be a healthy dose of snark for the religious right and the current Republican leadership, but politics on the whole will take the back seat. Every now and then I may pull out the soapbox, especially during the coming election, but as we all know, there are already too many political bloggers. Instead, I will be concentrating on subjects in my wheelhouse. Science (Anti-Vax, Evolution v. Creationism, Cognitive Dissonance), Skepticism (Especially when I can tie it in with my past as a witch/druid/pagan/whatever), and Atheism. My past hasn't changed, so there will also be pieces on the drug war, and perhaps a touch or two upon music and culture.

That is all. Keep coming back, keep reading, and hopefully, you will find something worth your time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What If They Held an Election and Nobody Showed?

Election Day is upon us once again, and like most off year elections, only a distressing minority of the electorate will bother sacrificing a few moments of their precious time to make their voice heard.

The projected turn out in my state was listed as 20 to 25% of eligible voters. Most commentators I've read consider even that projection to be an overestimation of the probable result. From the Altoona Mirror (print edition only, it's an AP story so I'm linking to it at PhillyBlurbs):

Political science professor Christopher Borick, of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, predicted Monday only 20 to 25 percent of the state's 8.2 million registered voters will bother to cast ballots in the election, which comes between last year's elections for governor and a U.S. Senate seat and next year's campaigns for president and the other Senate seat.

Franklin & Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna, in Lancaster, leaned toward the lower end of Borick's turnout range.

"I think, if we get to 20 (percent), declare victory," Madonna said.

Why is the estimated turn out so low? Let's take my home county as an example.

For Tuesday's election, Blair County has 83,650 registered voters, the county's voter registration office reports. Those who go to the polls will be able to cast ballots for county commissioner, municipal and school board candidates and judicial candidates for the commonwealth, superior and magisterial district courts.

Two years ago, with the same kind of public offices up for grabs, 19.93 percent of Blair County's 84,305 registered voters showed up to cast ballots.

In contrast, more than twice that - 43.4 percent - voted in November 2010 when the ballot had gubernatorial and legislative contenders.

In November 2008, when Barack Obama and John McCain were seeking the nation's presidency, Blair County's voter turnout was 64.87 percent.

Above quote from an online Altoona Mirror article on voter turn out. Why they have two separate articles on the same subject with the same message, one for the fish wrap and one for the interwebs, is a question I can not answer.

Pushing that mystery to the side, we see a rough 60/40/20 split in turn out, depending on the offices up for grabs. Presidential elections get about 60% of my neighbors off their ass, State elections draw 40ish%, and local contests are decided by a few people who got lost and randomly showed up at the polling place on their way to lunch.

I know this isn't a glamorous election year locally. I realize that judicial elections in PA are a strange beast that end up confusing more than a few voters. I assume that more than a few people who would never think of missing a presidential election are staying home today because they think this election doesn't really matter.

And turn out like this causes me to worry about the future of democracy in our nation. People get sucked in to the big races, the nationwide and statewide contests, to the point that they forget how local elections actually effect their lives. Other than 2 state judicial elections, today's ballot also included retention votes on several other judges, the election of Blair County commissioners and leadership positions for individual municipalities, and school board contests for most local school districts. These offices set local tax rates and make decisions that effect every citizen in the area, decisions that can arguably effect us all much more than decisions made at the National or State level, and yet only 20% of my neighbors will take the five minutes required to cast a ballot.

While I was at my polling place, only one other voter showed up. Two high school students with the look of the truly bored roamed the parking lot with campaign literature on the local school board race. Four poll workers with an average apparent age of 70 cackled, drank coffee, and gossiped loudly about how the town liberal showed up for another year. This is democracy?

If 60% of registered voters showed up at the polls today, I can honestly say that my vote would have been worthless. Since I am from an incredibly red district in a bluish state, most local elections offer me no real choices. If a Democrat even bothers to run for whatever office is up for election, they get crushed 70-30, and half the local offices have unopposed Republicans, which leads to some creative write in votes. In cases like that, I pick out one ignorant, far right, wingnut who's annoyed me recently, and take solace in the fact that I just cancelled out his vote.

But when only 20% bother to cast ballots, every member of that 20 suddenly has much more clout than they should. It is still 1 person, 1 vote, but when 80% of voters check themselves off the list, that 1 vote is cast in a louder voice. What havoc could we cause if a significant portion of local registered Democrats made it a point to go to the polls no matter what the contest? Could we turn the county blue, if only for a year?

Voting is a right people are willing to die for, yet we voluntarily sacrifice the right for no good reason.

All elections affect you. Your vote counts. Wake the fuck up and be a citizen of the country you claim so much to love.

Yes, the system is damaged, if not broken. Yes, change is needed. But not voting is not an effective strategy for self-governance, or for change.

Vote or shut the fuck up.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Help, Help, They're Being Oppressed!!!

Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars over at Freethought Blogs has a story detailing yet another horrible example of persecution against Christians.

The EEOC recently ruled against an employee of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment who complained of religious harassment because the director of the agency sent an email to all employees about an office party to celebrate another employee’s marriage. The employee, who is Pentecostal, didn’t like that because it was a same-sex marriage. And apparently, informing him that he works with gay people is stomping all over his religious views.

Oh no's! I werk wit teh gays!

In case you suspect I am selectively quoting in order to make the complainant sound like an idiot, The Volokh Conspiracy provides excerpts from the ruling, Walker v. Jackson (EEOC Oct. 6, 2011).

On December 1, 2011 [sic], Complainant filed a formal EEO complaint alleging that he was subjected to harassment and reprisal on the basis of his religious beliefs (Pentecostal). Briefly, the complaint alleged that, on November 18, 2010 [sic], Complainant was the recipient of an email from the Acting Director, sent to the NCEA [EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment] global list-serve (which includes Complainant and all other NCEA employees), announcing an on-site celebration of a same-sex marriage of an employee which read as follows:
[Employee A] and his partner [named] are getting married this Sunday. The IO is sponsoring an informal celebration to congratulate [Employee A] on this happy event. Please feeI free to drop by the IO conference room on Thursday, October 7 at 4:30 P.M. to wish them well.
Thirteen days later, on October 18, 2010, Complainant responded to the Acting Director’s email, with a copy to the NCEA global list-serve, with the following message:
I feel your message announcing the celebration of the “union” of [Employee A] and his “Partner” was offensive and insensitive to my religious faith as a Christian. I think it is general knowledge that the Christian faith only condones “marriages” between men and women, not men and other men. As acting Office Director, I feel you could have been more “sensitive” and “neutral” with regards to this issue.
The next day, NCEA employees sent approximately 15–20 emails on the global list-serve (including Complainant) congratulating Employee A on his marriage. None of these emails specifically mentioned Complainant or his email. The record does show that two employees did email Complainant personally (not sent to the NCEA global list-serve) and expressed the opinion that Complainant’s email was insensitive because it was sent to everyone, including Employee A, rather than just to the Acting Director.

By final decision dated April 14, 2011, the Agency dismissed the complaint, pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(1), for failure to state a claim. The instant appeal followed. On appeal, Complainant argues that the 15 employees who copied him on the congratulatory emails despite receiving his email protesting the Acting Director’s original email were retaliating against him and harassing him because of his religious faith and beliefs. Complainant claimed that the barrage of emails “affected his psychological well-being in the office.” ...

Oh no's! I werk wit teh gays!

People. Your religious faith, no matter how strongly you believe, does not give you the right to not be offended. Gays do not have to go back into the closet if the very knowledge of their proximity gives you the cold sweats. Your co-workers do not have to agree with or respect your bigotry. You are not being oppressed.

Volokh sums it up perfectly:

Hint: If you publicly complain about a colleague’s celebration, and a bunch of people respond by conspicuously congratulating the colleague, that’s disagreement — it’s not harassment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The Atheist Experience gets email. Sometimes that email contains questions from believers trying to understand the atheist position and coherent arguments intended to start a dialogue both sides can learn and grow from.

This is not one of those emails.

Normally, I would just let Kazim's response speak for itself. The gang over at The Atheist Experience needs no help from me to deal with this attempt at apologetics.

But I just had to clean coffee off my monitor, the wall behind my monitor, my keyboard, and my desk. Not only was I forced to spit-take by this email, but I almost choked on my beverage. This email owes me.

All quotes are from the email to The Atheist Experience, written by someone with the handle “Advanced Technology Solutions.”

I have a few questions for you. I am a Christian, and a strong Man in my faith, therefore these questions may be hard for you to respond to

I hope they are difficult. I love a good argument. Allows me to strengthen my own points, and perhaps learn something new. Bring on the intellectual stimulation!

1.) Are you a scientist?
2.) Do you speak, write, or translate Hebrew, or Greek?
3.) Are you a parent?

Wait, what? Those are random. I bet he's building to a killer argument, starting with three seemingly unconnected questions before dropping the proverbial hammer that ties everything together. The only reasons I am not literally quaking in my boots in fear of my faith in atheism being destroyed are my complete lack of faith and my current lack of boots. I've dealt with too many bad arguments lately, but this one shows promise, if only because I have no idea what rabbit hole I will wind up down. I need to arm myself for this one. Bible, stack of books on atheism and counter-apologetics, textbooks on Christianity, and french pressed coffee; I am prepared, do your worst.

1) No I am not, although I am studying psychology with the goal of doing research. So no, I am not yet a scientist. Although, philosophically, are we not all scientists? Our whole existence is a series of experiments, from which we learn about ourselves and our world, using the resulting data to build our lives.

2) No, I can not. I would love to have that knowledge and the ability to read the bible and the apocryphal texts in the original language, and perhaps someday I will, but one can not be an expert at everything. I still take classes on Christianity, other religions, and biblical scholarship when I can, but psychology takes up the majority of my time and effort.

3) No, I am not a parent, although my ex has two little girls whom I love and fathered for 4 years. Since they were not my seed, I can not say this with complete confidence, but I feel like I loved them as my own.

Below are my reasons for asking these questions

I can not wait to see where this is heading.

1.) If you are not a scientist, then in fact you must take the word of someone you have never met, and use it as evidence for your case. Guess who else does that? That’s right Christians do that every day.

*insert raised eyebrow here*

Is that really "in fact" what I must do? I, as well as all other atheists, just take anything some random "scientist" says and immediately incorporate it into my worldview as gospel truth? Do I really have to explain how science works again?

Scientist looks at issue. Scientist develops a hypothesis concerning the issue. Scientist tests the hypothesis. Scientist publishes the results of the test. Other scientists read the published paper, critique it, and try to replicate the results of the test. Scientists either confirm or debunk the results of the first test. Each scientist and his/her test brings a little more knowledge to our table of understanding the issue. Eventually, if enough scientists and their tests all converge on one answer, the hypothesis may become strong enough to be called a theory. Even then, scientists will continue to poke, prod, and test the theory, using new methods, new ideas and new evidence to try to either strengthen or bring down the theory. Some theories have been tested and confirmed by so many scientists with so much evidence that they are considered by everyone who honestly examines the evidence to be fact. Some of the strongest theories include the germ theory of disease, the theory of relativity, the theory of a spherical earth, and the theory of evolution by natural selection. No matter how strong a theory may be, there will always be scientists examining the evidence and retesting them, because producing the evidence to overturn an established theory is the career equivalent of winning the Powerball for scientists.

I can see how you got confused. Cause believing a Bronze Age text was written by your god, accepting everything your priest/pastor tells you, and having faith that billions of people and their beliefs are wrong while you know the true mind of God is exactly the fucking same.


2.) If you answer no o this question, then how can you understand how these ancient texts were to be translated? Oh I know you rely on an expert who has studied these sorts of things their entire life. They have read the books, and been well educated. Let me ask who wrote these books? Men, flawed creatures, who believed the world was flat, and that the center of everything was the earth. Again blind faith in Men.

The stupid is starting to hurt. Is he arguing with himself in this paragraph? Let me see if I can get this straight. I can not read/translate Hebrew and Greek, therefore I must depend upon experts who have studied the languages and the texts to translate them for me. But it doesn't matter either way, because the ancient texts were written by flawed men from the Bronze Age.

If “Advanced Technology Solutions” is arguing that belief in the Bible as the word of God is blind faith in flawed men, men who clearly did not understand the world and the universe, and thus an outdated worldview, he'll get no argument from me. I know the bible was written by men from a pre-scientific time who used a tribal deity to account for their ignorance of the world they lived on. I know scribes added and subtracted from the manuscripts, I know certain books were written with ulterior motives, I know some books were outright forgeries, and I know the gospels were each written to make specific points, not as history. I also am aware of how the Bible was pieced together, by flawed men, and that there were many other books they could have included in the bible, yet instead decided to burn. Flawed men once again making the decision. And I am not even going to touch on the many different flavors of Christianity jockeying for dominance prior to the establishment of orthodoxy. Established once again, you guessed it, by flawed men.

At least we agree on something.

Although I get the feeling that what “Advanced Technology Solutions” really means here is that his experts have a direct line to God and can accurately explain the meaning of Scripture, while secular experts, who we apparently lack the ability to question, can only fuck it all up.

And if that is what he meant, he is not only an idiot, but an arrogant idiot.

On to number 3. Don't take a drink while reading.

3.) If the answer is yes, then you understand the rage of God “The Father.” Sometimes as parents we do become angry with our children, and we tell them “you will understand when your older.” And things of this nature. And to say that God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow is correct. Look in exodus where he plans to kill the Israelites, but Moses intercedes for them, and God spares them. We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion, and we read in the new testament that Jesus is seated at his right hand and makes intercession for us. He gives one reason for his wrath, he cannot stand Sin, but Jesus intercedes for us so that he not wipe us out.

If I was a believer, I would be praying right now that “Advanced Technology Solutions" is not only not a parent, but also infertile and unable to ever adopt.

Think that's a bit harsh? Then reread what he wrote. If you are a parent, then you understand the "rage" of God.

That quite frankly scares the shit out of me. My ex has two little girls whom I love dearly. While I was their step-father, I could never have raised a hand against them, let alone drown them, turn them to salt, stone them, have them gang raped to death, have them gang raped (but not to death this time), sacrifice them as a burnt offering, have sex with them, sell them, kick them out for eating fruit, tell them their sex makes them second class citizens, and/or condemn them to eternal torment.

Of course, he'd just claim that I don't understand any of those passages in the Bible, although I'm not really sure how else to interpret them. So fine, I'll toss the Bible aside, his own words are enough.

Look in exodus where he plans to kill the Israelites, but Moses intercedes for them, and God spares them......He gives one reason for his wrath, he cannot stand Sin, but Jesus intercedes for us so that he not wipe us out.

So when one of your kids does something bad, someone has to stop you from fucking killing them?

We see his rage in the great flood, and his compassion,

So if you had 5 kids and they did something bad, and your wife wasn't around to stop you, your bipolar response would be to kill 4 of them and compassionately allow 1 to live?

You either are sick, or just completely fail at constructing analogies. As much as I hope it is the latter, I still wouldn't let you within 100 yards of any children I know.

On a side note. If you are going to accuse Christians of Being “Stupid” You should understand that without proper theological training that you have no case for the non-existence of God, Just as I am not a Plumber, therefore, I must take his word when he says “frozen pipes.” The point is Pastors, or other men with theological training are here to help us make sense of the teachings in the bible, just as your “experts” help you understand the world. Without objection (right, everyone has an agenda, even Atheist) In closing learn Hebrew, and Greek, Translate the Bible for yourself, and ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist, not the proof from another group of “experts” Who like everyone else is left roaming the earth looking for a

[It just cuts off there]

I do not claim that Christians are stupid. Misguided, mistaken, and wrong, perhaps, but not stupid. You, however ......

You are not a plumber, so you have to take it on faith when he tells you that your pipes are frozen? I so wish I was your plumber. $$$$$

So without theological training, I have no place in the debate? Then cough up your PhD in Theology or shut the fuck up.

The point is Pastors, or other men with theological training

Why do I get the notion that his idea of "theological training" has nothing to do with any University and everything to do with bible study at the local church?

In closing learn Hebrew, and Greek, Translate the Bible for yourself

Why? Didn't you already say that the bible was written by flawed men? And even if I could translate it myself, I don't have the rigorous theological training you claim I need to make sense of it anyway.

ask where is YOUR proof that God does not exist

Burden of proof. I don't claim to be able to disprove the existence of God, only that there is no evidence to make me believe one exists. You're the one making the claim, you're the one who needs to bring the evidence. Disagree?

Then disprove my invisible pink unicorn.


I can only assume that while composing this letter, “Advanced Technology Solutions” believed he was writing a scathing, effective rebuke of atheist arguments.

Which makes reading his critique of atheism even more painful.

When I first began reading Christian responses to atheist arguments, I would immediately chalk pieces like this up as a Poe and move on to the next. I spent a lot of time and effort going over the atheist position and studying Christianity and other religions. It is obviously an issue I care deeply about, and I wanted to make sure that my arguments were well thought out, rational, and effective. I assumed that since Christians believe their eternal soul is at stake, they would seriously examine their own beliefs and be able to coherently explain not only what they believe, but why as well.

It took about 1 day for me to shelve that notion. I don’t pretend to understand why so many believers lack the ability to win an debate with a piece of lint, but I’ve argued with enough of them to no longer be shocked at the low quality of arguments they consistently put forth.

Their confidence while spewing forth these horrid arguments however, never ceases to amaze me.

This is the non-Kirk/Ray equivalent of the banana debunking evolution. 3 questions that have no bearing on the topic whatsoever, that he strongly felt would rock the foundation of atheism and force us all to find God. Normally, the points I see repeated by those suffering under blind faith are points that have been dealt with so many times that they are ex-parrots, only not pushing up daisies due to being nailed to the perch of apologetics. This however, this is just nonsense. I know 4 year olds who can structure a better argument. Things like this, they make me laugh, but then they get me depressed. Presumably, “Advanced Technology Solutions” is an adult with probably at least a high school education, and in his mind this was an effective argument.

And that is just sad.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Least Surprising News of the Year.....

Congrats to anyone holding 72 days in the pool.

The next part of Kim Kardashian's master plan to smother the dying breath out of American culture began today with her divorce announcement.

Sham marriage, sham divorce, sham reality show.

Sham celebrity.

Yet somehow, this is front page news.


Almost forgot. In case you care, here's the link.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bedford (PA) County Drug Task Force Creates Jobs.

(Story is from the Altoona Mirror.
The only reason I am linking it is the online version does not include the mug shots or names of the accused. Believe me, the print version took great joy in including both.)

After an eight month investigation, the Bedford County Drug task force ruined the lives of 21 addicts in a show of force and idiocy on Tuesday. In a second "fuck you" to the accused, the Altoona Mirror published color photos of each of the 21, who I must add, are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

"Operation: Scarecrow," as it is called, follows "Operation: Cupid's Arrow," which in February took 15 of the most violent non-violent addicts off the streets. Bedford County DA Bill Higgins, of course, thinks this is serious business. At a press conference, he said "Just like the 15 arrested in 'Operation: Cupid's Arrow,' these offenders will be zealously prosecuted."

"Operation: Scarecrow"? "Operation: Cupid's Arrow"? Can we have "Operation: Harm Reduction," next please?

Sheriff Charwin Reichelderfer then proves that he almost gets it, but that his mind just can't finish the leap.

I know from experience that many of these people will be characterized as just users by their friends and family. While they may be selling stuff to support their own habit, there is no question they are bringing this poison in our community and selling it to our kids. And for that they're going to be held accountable.

Bolds are mine.

Let me scan through the list quick and see how many have charges related to selling drugs to minors. Perhaps one. I say perhaps, because a few of these hardened criminals apparently were also parents, and got charges added if they had a child in the car with them.

Which I admit is not only stupid, but child endangerment. Drugs are illegal, leave your damn kids at home, or with a sitter.

But selling it to "our kids"?

Do you have proof of this assumption, Sheriff Charwin, or are you just jumping right to the most emotional target possible to corrupt the jury pool and further tar these child murderers drug addicts? Or are you trying to convince your self? Asshole, or asshole suffering from cognitive dissonance, I can't decide.

There is no reason to try to corrupt the jury pool, since I'd bet my car all 21 will take a plea. That's how it works. The ADA offers you a shitty plea, and then threatens that if you take it to trial, they will push for whatever crazy number of years they think sound believable. All 21 of these criminals victims are going to be facing felonies, and chances are all 21 will take the plea. The only ones who actually should take the plea are those offered ARD or IPP or some other path to clearing their record, but the threat of years in prison can affect your decision making.

Look, I know. Drugs are illegal. Selling drugs is illegal. They all broke the law. I get it, I really do. And unless it is far down the memory hole, I do not know anyone affected by this operation.

But I still know them. I see my past self in every picture. I know the game, I know the story. Some of them are runners for the actual dealer, delivering drugs and protecting the dealer. Some of them were hooking up a friend they probably used with a hundred times before. A few of them were probably straight set up by the Confidential Informant and actually are innocent. Some of them were only getting for someone else so they could make enough to get a fix. And, yes, some were driving to Baltimore and bringing back product to sell and support their own addiction.

8 months. Untold amount of tax payer money. 21 low level dealers, at the worst, off the streets facing a felony that will follow them forever. The one girl is only 18. One guy is 19. Welcome to adulthood.

And by the end of the week, 21 more will step in to fill whatever cog in the machine they happened to occupy. The heroin and cocaine will keep flooding the area. More people will get addicted. Then in 8 months or so, "Operation: June Bug," or the like will scoop up another group.

The cycle, it keeps on cycling.

21 jobs available today in Bedford County. It's high risk, but the profession is booming no matter the economy. No experience needed, just a self-destructive personality.

We've lost the war on drugs. The war was never winnable in the first place.

Why are we still fighting it? Why are there still casualties?

Isn't it time for harm reduction?

Going to link to LEAP, and shut up.

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Friday, October 21, 2011

Psychic Kids, Skepticism, and TMI

And the most evil show on television not involving Jenny McCarthy marches on......

Rebecca Watson posted Mark Stewart's report on the Psychic Kids panel at DragonCon today over at Skepchick. I urge you to head over there to read it. Nothing really has changed. The show still makes me physically ill, their psychologist is still a full fledged believer which makes her largely useless for these poor kids, and the believers still ignore all skeptical criticism by building strawmen to beat on while ignoring our actual arguments.

The "all psychic children are mentally ill" strawman always gets under my skin.

I'm not going to deal with Mark's report here. If interested, go read it. It is good shit.

Instead, I want to try to explain why I hate this show so much. Yeah, other paranormal shows presented from the classic believer viewpoint annoy me, but nothing else paranormal inspires this level of revulsion in me.

I haven't always been a skeptic. From 12 to 20ish I was heavily involved in Wicca and other new age forms of witchcraft. If this show existed then, I could have been on it.

Was I mentally ill? Not at all. Part of it was rebellion. I wasn't indoctrinated into a religion until 11 when my mom decided to return to Catholicism and force it into me. Part of it was the time period. In my backwater town, Wicca and the like had just began hitting the bookstore shelves in force and I would read anything. And a large part of it was just feeling broken and searching for anything to believe in. Every member of my family, all my friends, everyone my young mind knew at the time all believed in some form of God.

I believed because my extensive pagan library told me what I was doing was real. My mind would seek coincidences and attribute them to spells. My experiences were filtered through the lens of pagan belief. And of course, my circle of close friends all either believed as I did, or weren't confident enough in their own beliefs to question mine.

Belief in magic, witchcraft, psychic ability, etc, is set up to defy any proof against. Spell didn't work? Sometimes they don't. Couldn't connect with a spirit? Sometimes they don't want to connect. Asked to prove it? Sorry, nothing will work if a non-believer is around. Bending reality is hard enough work as it is.....

My first year in college, I would sit in the off campus coffee house and read the Tarot for spending money. My accuracy amazed not only those I read, but myself as well. At first I'd maybe do a reading a day; after the first month I had to turn people away. I thought I had proof finally.

Then I took my first Psych class and my entire worldview shattered. I didn't know the term "cold reading" yet, but I knew why my readings were so accurate, and it had nothing to do with the cards or the paranormal. I was using what I had picked up of human psych on the streets to read people for clues. I would start with classic general cold reading statements, stopping at each card until the client recorded a hit no matter how many different avenues I had to travel to get the hit, and gradually forcing them to give me enough information to supply a stunningly specific hit on the last cards.

I spent the next 4 years examining every other paranormal belief I held without the assumption that they were true, while still clinging to any shred of belief I could muster.

Then came the self-destruction as I could no longer be the person I had been for the last 12 or so years.

All kids who claim to have "powers" aren't mentally ill. I've never even seen any of us make that claim. Some are to be sure, some are attention seeking, some are suggestible, and some just have a perfect storm of causes surrounding them.

I can not even begin to imagine how much worse off I would have been with a tv show and adults I respected confirming my beliefs at every turn. Could I have ever escaped? And, perhaps more importantly, how much worse would it have been if the beliefs did crash around me?

These people are sick, and I don't mean the kids. Some of these kids will become the next generation of TV psychics, and some of them will get out relatively unscathed.

But some of them are going to watch their entire lives crumble around them. Watch the persona this show helped to create disappear leaving them alone to try to figure out who they are and how to make sense of the past how many years.

And some of them are not going to be able to get through the fallout.

Based on my own anecdotal evidence, I'm convinced this show is going to have a body count. If not from outright suicide, then from drug abuse or other self destructive behaviors.

I tried it all without a TV show.

I hope in 15 years or so when we can do actual follow-ups on these kids that I am proven wrong.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Catholic Bishop Finally Charged in Connection to Child Abuse

Ed Brayton over at Dispatches From The Culture Wars brought this to the attention of the blogosphere, so I will let his words and the original article speak for themselves, while I concentrate on the upcoming response from the Catholic League.

For the first time ever in the U.S., a Catholic church official has been criminally charged for failing to report suspected child molestation by a priest in his charge to the police. The New York Times reports:

The details from said New York Times piece:

A bishop in the Roman Catholic Church has been indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse, the first time in the 25-year history of the church’s sex abuse scandals that the leader of an American diocese has been held criminally liable for the behavior of a priest he supervised.

The indictment of the bishop, Robert W. Finn, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph by a county grand jury was announced on Friday. Each was charged with one misdemeanor count involving a priest accused of taking pornographic photographs of girls as recently as this year. They pleaded not guilty.

The case caused an uproar among Catholics in Kansas City this year when Bishop Finn acknowledged that he knew of the photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May. During that time, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, is said to have continued to attend church events with children, and took lewd photographs of another young girl.

A decade ago the American bishops pledged to report suspected abusers to law enforcement authorities — a policy also recommended last year by the Vatican. Bishop Finn himself had made such a promise three years ago as part of a $10 million legal settlement with abuse victims in Kansas City.


People, people, calm down.

Bishop Finn, as a moral and ethical leader in the Roman Catholic Church, was more than likely just holding on to the pictures to protect the innocence of the little girl in question.

There is just no reason to jump to wild conclusions like B.Finn was attempting to protect a struggling artist/priest from a world that would never understand the artistic vision of naked kids representing the Innocence of the Virgin Mary. There is no evidence that Bishop Finn was masturbating wildly to the photos while in his office or the confessional, or that he paid the priest in question with envelopes filled to bursting with money from the Offering to produce the artistic visions.

Only in a culture as Evil as ours would someone point the finger of blame at the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders, when the true danger to our children is obviously from the Gay Agenda. The Catholic faith, and its leaders are servants of God. Whatever a priest or Bishop deems fitting to do to a younger member of the flock, whether it includes nudity, fellatio, buggery, whips, ball gags, video/photographic equipment, and/or large amounts of drugged communion wine, we can be sure that it is for God and God alone, and not due to any base desire of the priest.

You should all be ashamed of yourselves.


There, I already wrote Bill Donohue’s response for him. The bigot better give me credit if I see any of this in a press release from the Catholic League.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obama is a Liberal Liar

I find the Obama-as-a-liberal meme to be quite amusing. Faux News and the Conservative Media Machine have conned the majority of their base and a great deal of the political center into acceptance of the meme. True, at times they seem confused over whether Obama is a far left Marxist communist or a far right fascist National Socialist, but discarding the coocoo-for-cocoa-puffs Hitler comparisons they have been largely successful painting him, along with most of the Democratic Party, as dreaded Liberals.

Rationality, to where have you disappeared?

We can argue for days over where on the political spectrum Obama and other Democrats land (I've heard center-left and dead center, while I would argue for center-right) but can we please stop this "Liberal" nonsense? No matter the cause, be it their true political beliefs, or just political opportunity created as the Republicans go off the rails of their personal crazy train, there is no viable national party representing the views of those of us firmly on the left. I don't expect for the Tea Party to see this as a negative, but I hope those on the right who still look at knowledge, logic, rationality and education as virtues realize that this is poison for our Nation.

The talking points are too easy. Effective policy needs criticism to blossom, it forces those on both sides to dissect their own ideas, tempering them to survive the attack of the enemy, leading to stronger more effective policies. Yes, I am a Liberal and I feel Liberal policies are best for this Nation, but that doesn't mean I want my ideas enacted without debate, rubber stamped blindly with any opposition shut down by the call of "fascists!"

*sigh* After that preamble, let me make one thing clear. I do not advocate "making Obama pay" in 2012. There is no viable 3rd option, and with the batshit insanity of the current Republican party, anyone they nominate for the Presidency is a danger to our Constitution and economy. So hold you nose and vote for Obama, but we need to start pulling the Democrats back to the left. That being said.....

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars, we once again find our President breaking campaign promises and doing a two-step on our rights.

Apparently not satisfied with completely breaking the promise not to prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers who comply with state law, now the Obama administration has set its sights on the First Amendment as well by prosecuting media outlets that accept advertising from medical marijuana businesses.

From the original article, Feds to target newspapers, radio for marijuana ads on California Watch:

Federal prosecutors are preparing to target newspapers, radio stations and other media outlets that advertise medical marijuana dispensaries in California, another escalation in the Obama administration’s newly invigorated war against the state’s pot industry.

This month, U.S. attorneys representing four districts in California announced that the government would single out landlords and property owners who rent buildings or land where dispensaries sell or cultivators grow marijuana. Now, newspapers and other media outlets could be next.

As Ed Brayton writes to finish his piece, "I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: When it comes to civil liberties, Obama hasn’t just been bad, he’s been an absolute disaster."

I could not agree more.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

For Republicans, It Is All About Jobs And The Economy

It's a no-brainer.

The Country is mired in the Great Recession with little signs of recovery. The sitting Democratic President, sharing dangerously low approval ratings with Congress, has finally appeared to grow a spine, aggressively pushing his jobs package while painting Congressional Republicans as obstructionists. And as the Occupy movement continues to spread from city to city, nation to nation, struggling Republican presidential candidates have a surprising chance to get back into a race that Mitt Romney, despite every opportunity, has failed to claim.

The plan?

1. Bring the 7th anti-abortion bill of the year to a vote in the House.
2. Have candidates double down on anti-abortion rhetoric.
3. Watch as a former Republican State Attorney General, who discussed patients private medical records with Bill O'Reilly on national television as part of his witch hunt against Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who I must point out was gunned down and killed in cold blood by an anti-abortion fanatic, faces the suspension of his ability to practice law for ethics violations without a care, thanks perhaps to his new found prominence in the anti-abortion movement.
4. ?????
5. JOBS!!!!!

It could be worse, I guess. They could be hypocritical as well. I mean, imagine if, at the same time they were trying to massively increase the power of government over a woman's body, they were also portraying themselves as the anti-government party, telling their supporters that government was the problem, and that less government interference with private citizens was the solution.

While you're imagining, here's Rachael Maddow with the story.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Hulk Turns Heel On Obama

In what may be the most shocking event of the political season, Bruce Banner turned into a large green creature and ripped into President Obama.

Wait. What? Are you sure?

Hulk Hogan rips into Obama?

He's still alive?

His political opinions are relevant because............

I got nothing.

Via Yahoo News reporting off of Faux News' cutting-edge, pulse of the nation show Fox and Friends:

Fake wrestling champion Hulk Hogan supported President Obama in 2008, but alas, the honeymoon is over, Hogan said Thursday during a Fox News appearance.

"I was a big Obama supporter and kinda, like, believed everything he said he was gonna do," Hogan said on Fox and Friends. "But now that nothing's happened..."

Hogan said he was still sore about the president using his theme song, "I Am a Real American" when Obama addressed the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner shortly after he released his long form birth certificate earlier this year.

"I kinda was a little upset that he didn't ask me permission to use my music," Hogan added. "But the change of heart is that I think I should be president. I know nothing about politics. I think a flat tax across the board would straighten everything out."

When told that the Hulk's idea sounds something like presidential candidate Herman Cain's "9-9-9 Plan," he responded, "Wow, yeah well he's not a real American like I am. . . . I've been around, people know me, they know everything about me, they know I'm for real, they know I know nothing about politics. I'll just make decisions on what's right or wrong."

How is it even possible to force that much stupid into such a small space? The Incredible Hulk could grunt out a more coherent and nuanced political stance while smashing things with a tank. How exactly do you go from being an Obama supporter to supporting a flat tax on Fox and Friends?

Easy! Just follow these simple steps.

1. Watch Hank Williams Jr. bring the stupid on Fox&Friends.
2. Watch a washed up, irrelevant former star like yourself receive tons of negative publicity.
3. Decide that negative publicity is better than no publicity.
4. Bring the stupid on Fox&Friends!

In Vol. 22, No. 4, the Fall 2002 issue of Free Inquiry Harlan Ellison had a piece that I will never forget titled "Terrorists". I can not locate it online for free, but I have the issue in front of me. He begins the piece

It is wickedly difficult attempting to generate a sense of gravitas when you have convinced yourself that you have nothing to say that anyone should properly need to hear.

Let me try this:
Why can't I get that portion of the human race to which I have access to understand that it has been systematically gulled, hoodwinked if you will, had enough smoke blown up its kilt to refloat the Lusitania, by disingenuous egalitarian bunkum, into believing "Everyone is Entitled to His or Her Opinion" when, in truth, everyone is only entitled to his or her informed opinion; and all the witless upchuck devoid of fact or common ratiocination is merely the chittering of intellectually-arid hominids swathed in Old Navy shmatahs.

No, I can't launch into it that way. Sounds too Elitist. Don't even dare to suggest that some folks are smarter than some other folks. That ain't The American Way. All opinions have the same weight: Herman Kahn, Debbie Reynolds, Miss Cleo, Colin Powell. Joyce Carol Oates. Adam Sandler.

And may I add, Hulk Hogan?

Skipping ahead a bit...

Everybody wants to be on television. Everybody. At the scene of a fifty-car smashup, bodies strewn everywhichway like bloody pick-up-sticks, there will invariably be some gobbet of human phlegm who, with slack jaw and extruded tongue, positions him or herself behind the stringer with the mike, who waves to the world or to Mom while squishing an ejected large colon 'neath his/her Nikes. Pedestrians in malls, passersby in markets, patrons in moviehouses, all pant and drool as their progress is impeded by a total stranger with a hand-mike, seeking their oracular wisdom. The late British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan once wrote, "I have never found, in a long experience of politics, that criticism is ever inhibited by ignorance."

And, hell, we pay politicians to have opinions.

Everybody wants to be a dancing bear on television, and everybody deserves to shoot off a big mouth on the tube, because as everybody knows....We Are All Entitled To Our Opinion.

Doesn't matter if we're dumb as a box of Hamburger Helper, as uninformed as a hemorrhoid, as surfeited with jingoism and urban myth as a foot-soldier in the White Aryan Army, by gosh we're entitled to express that bone-stick-stone opinion, endlessly, at the top of our lungs, ungrammatically, like uh totally and, gawd willin' and the crick don't rise, on telemuthuhfugginvision

With no intent to do so, nine years ago, Harlan Ellison wrote the most accurate review of Fox&Friends I have yet seen. (Apologies to Harlan Ellison for using such a small piece of a great article to make my point. I urge you to track the article down if you have never read it, the full work is definitely worth a few moments of your time.)

So who is next, Fox&Friends?

Britney Spears? Lindsey Lohen? Jeff Foxworthy? Billy Ray Cyrus? Smilin' Bob from the old Enzyte commercials?

You've got us hooked, don't leave us hanging now.

Screw expert opinions. We want ignorant opinions!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hasa Diga Eebowai

Yep. Ah ha. There is a omni-benevolent god. Yeah. I believe. Keep talking.

Apologies for a few days off....

Right now, I feel like a cross between Christopher Hitchens and Ke$ha.Make of that what you will........


1. Lucretius is a bitch to read sober, let alone on single malt.

2. Brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack, or any other whiskey probably isn't the best idea for a good morning.

3. The safe word is always "Red".

Monday, October 10, 2011

Venue Cancels Christian Speaker: We don't want your kind here!

No, not really. But could you imagine the outcry if the tables were turned?

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

My friends at the Center for Inquiry were set to host Richard Dawkins and Sean Faircloth for a talk Wednesday night at the Wyndgate Country Club in Rochester Hills, a suburb of Detroit. But the club has now canceled the event, saying they don’t want to be associated with such an evil person.


The Wyndgate terminated the agreement after the owner saw an October 5th interview with Dawkins on The O’Reilly Factor in which Dawkins discussed his new book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.

In a phone call to CFI–Michigan Assistant Director Jennifer Beahan, The Wyndgate’s representative explained that the owner did not wish to associate with individuals such as Dawkins, or his philosophies.

So he had no idea what the CFI's purpose is, and no idea who Dawkins was until he watched the O'Reilly Factor? I can see that, most bigots are ignorant. Oh, well. It is his right to be a bigot.

Although privately owned, The Wyndgate facilities are open to the public for special events and occasions. According to Title II of the Federal Civil Rights Law of 1964, “open to the public” means “all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Right to be a bigot? Check. Right to discriminate due to his bigotry? Not so much.

Now I finally understand how all the poor oppressed Christians in the U.S. feel.

“It’s important to understand that discrimination based on a person’s religion—or lack thereof—is legally equivalent to discriminating against a person because of his or her race,” said Jeff Seaver, executive director of CFI–Michigan. “This action by The Wyndgate illustrates the kind of bias and bigotry that nonbelievers encounter all the time. It’s exactly why organizations like CFI and the Richard Dawkins Foundation are needed: to help end the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever.”

And that is exactly why I came out publicly, no matter how much grief I get from my family/religious friends.

Here's the CFI-Michigan page for the fundraiser with Richard Dawkins. It found a new location and will go on as planned. For an evening with Dawkins, the cost is a value.

Hopefully, the eventual legal judgement against The Wyndgate is nowhere near as reasonably priced.

Alt-Med Vampires

Feel the need to comment on this. If you want the full story, head on over to Respectful Insolence to hear from someone actually qualified to take this on. Much thanks to Orac for watching this trash so I don't have to.

Alt-med practitioners, at least the slimy ones, seem to have a habit of abusing dead celebrities to sell their woo and attack modern medicine. Why would Steve Jobs be any different?

, you are a stronger man than I, because I can't get through 10 minutes of that before the nausea sets in.

Mercola:This is not routinely done for two primary reasons. The first is that it in no way, shape, or form addresses the original cancer, and it can easily spread to the new liver. But more importantly, he had to be placed on large doses of drugs to suppress his immune system so he would not reject his new liver. Tragically this is the very system your body uses to help control cancers. The liver has enormous regenerative capacity, and if they only removed the portion of his liver that contained the malignant cells, he would not have to take those dangerous anti-rejection drugs.

Orac? Insolence please.

I've discussed the issue of liver transplant for neuroendocrine tumors like insulinoma (which is what Jobs had) before. While it is arguable whether a liver transplant was the best decision for Jobs in 2009, it was certainly not outside the standard of care, nor was it unreasonable. Mercola also makes a very silly statement when he states that "if only" they had removed the portion of the liver containing the cancer, Jobs wouldn't have needed all those nasty immunosuppressants. Well, duh! Give that man a prize for stating the obvious as though it were some brilliant insight! Here's the issue: Transplant is not even considered for insulinoma metastatic to the liver unless the metastases are unresectable (i.e., they involve two or more lobes or are too close to major vascular structures). And what defines resectability? To boil it down to its essence, although there are certainly other considerations (the aforementioned vascular structures, for example) it's basically the ability to remove the liver tissue containing all of the metastase(s) and still leave enough liver tissue behind to survive on. Contrary to what Mercola thinks, the liver's regenerative capacity, although truly impressive, is not limitless, particularly if the liver is compromised by cirrhosis. Take too much liver, and the patient will die of liver failure because the liver can't regenerate fast enough (or just enough) to achieve function consistent with life. In addition to that basic equation, we just don't know whether Jobs' liver had been damaged or otherwise compromised by the insulinoma; it's possible that his liver wasn't in the best shape at the time, leaving less capacity to regenerate.

Thank you, back to the woo. From the interview transcript....

DM: There were some comments that he was leading up to his death, and people would post comments on Facebook and are asking why I couldn't get in touch with him and offer him some therapy. I'm not a cancer expert like you are, of course, but I believe someone like you could have really made a difference. My understanding is that your therapy was offered to him, but could you go to that process of why he chose not to undertake a natural or alternative approach to cancer?

DG: He wanted to see an alternative. In fact when he was first diagnosed, he got some dietary program - again, he was very secretive of that - So I don't exactly know what he did at that point. But through his acupuncturist, there was communication. He was getting acupuncture, and he was doing some alternative things as far as I know. This acupuncturist actually talked to me, discussing the situation. She was really anxious for him to come and see me. But he chose not to do that.

You know, I always respect the patients' right to choose the therapy they want to choose, so I would never dispute that. The patients have to make the decisions based on what they want to do. But she was very adamant; in fact, she knew about all my works in the alternative world. He had seen alternative-type practitioners. She really wanted for him to come and see me. He chose not to do that. From my perspective, it was unfortunate, because he was such a gift to the world in terms of his inventions and genius in the past 30 years.

I don't need a medical degree to deal with this one. This is simply two vampires pissing all over a deceased man to sell their "treatment." The "phantom acupuncturist" is a great touch. It lends the story a certain aura of verisimilitude. I'm sure the acupuncturist is unnamed due to privacy concerns, and not lack of existence.

Not that it matters one bit, since Steve Jobs is conveniently dead and unavailable to either confirm or deny any of this. Of course, if he just would have went to Dr. Gonzalez for treatment, he'd still be with us today. *insert eye roll here*

Orac, can you deal with this, because if I do it is going to be libelous.

Particularly vomit-inducing is the way Gonzalez turns around the argument based on a "patient's right to choose." Frequently, those of us who support science-based medicine, when confronted with the story of a patient who chooses quackery instead of medicine and suffers harm or dies as a result, will sadly say that a competent adult has the right to choose quackery if that's what he wants, mainly because he does. Self-determination is a basic human right. Here, we have Dr. Gonzalez turning that argument on its head, sadly shrugging his shoulders and expressing regret that Jobs had the right to choose his own course and chose SBM instead of quackery. After his flirtation with some sort of diet and unknown "alternative" therapies, Jobs appears to have turned to scientific medicine and never looked back, at least as far as we can tell based on the limited information available from press accounts. There's one thing that's for sure, though. If SBM couldn't save Jobs, Gonzalez sure as hell couldn't save him either, his claims otherwise notwithstanding. Now that Jobs is dead, Gonzalez's claims have the added bonus for him of being unfalsifiable, even though Gonzalez's methods have already been shown to be worse than useless for pancreatic cancer.

Thanks again, Orac.

Seriously. Dr. Mercola? Dr. Gonzalez? How about less pissing on the dead and more proving your treatments work, and no, I am not talking about anecdotal "evidence." Give me five bucks and ten minutes and I'll provide anecdotal "evidence" that I can cure cancer with a kick to the shin. Real evidence. Major journal articles. Double blind studies. Documented case histories. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

I'll wait.

Seriously, I'm in no hurry.

Got all the time in the world.

La la la la la.

Protip: Real evidence is not coming because their treatments do not cure cancer, or anything else for that matter, other than perhaps heavy wallet syndrome. Think I'm wrong? Then fucking prove it.

Prove your treatments work and I'll be right there in line to kiss your ass. Until then, can you please leave the dead to rest in peace?

Iran sentences film actress to 90 lashes, I check calendar to make sure this isn't the year 1316

Patriocentric Theocracy? Check.
Whipping women who don't know their place? Check.
Punishment that proves the point of the woman's "illegal activities?" Check.

Is this the plot of an important novel showing how religion can warp peoples sense of morality? A film showing how women suffered in a long ago, unenlightened time? A parable on the dangers of Dominionism and Patriocentric bronze age beliefs in the modern world?

Nope, it's just "modern" Iran.

The Envoy at Yahoo brings us today's news to both make you sick and piss you off.

An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian actress to 90 lashes for her role in a new Australian-made film

90 lashes? And not with a wet noodle either? What the hell did she do, shoot a porn in Mecca?

portraying social alienation, drug use and political oppression in Iran.

Oh. Ah. Um. All I can imagine is the following exchange.

"This film says that we alienate and oppress people here in Iran."
"Those bastards! Round them up then alienate and oppress them. That will teach them!"

While I hesitate to use the word "lucky" at anytime when referring to the violent abuse of women under a draconic theocracy, at least they didn't try to stone her to death.

Which I am sure would have been the sentence for filming a porn in Mecca.

"In an outcome that could have been lifted from the pages of the movie's script"--"My Tehran for Sale"--the film's lead actress, Marzieh Vafamehr, "was arrested in July and received her sentence at the weekend, according to reports quoting Iranian opposition website," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"Vafamehr often appears with a shaved head and no headscarf in the film, which also explores cultural oppression in Iran and taboos such as drug use," the paper said.

Granaz Moussavi, the Melbourne-based Iranian-Australian director of the film, declined to comment to the paper out of respect for the actress' family's wishes. Her portions of the film were "shot on the sly in Iran with a local crew in 2008," the paper said.

No headscarf? Shaved head? Shot on the sly? ....

Sorry, I can't bring myself to sarcastically imply this is a rational reaction. I try not to use the word much, but this is evil.

And fucking insane.

Since its disputed 2009 presidential elections, Iran has intensified a harsh crackdown against those perceived to violate its strict Islamic code, but often sentences are cruel and arbitrary. A moratorium had been declared on stoning in 2002, but the nation's Islamic courts have continued to hand down stoning sentences in accordance with the strict wording of the law. Reliable numbers are hard to come by, but human-rights groups estimate that scores of women were stoned to death in Iran during the 1980s and 1990s. One documented case of such a stoning was captured on a horrifying video in 1994. In 2009, two men were stoned to death in Iran on charges of adultery and murder.

Two gay teenagers, identified only by their initials, were stoned to death in Iran in 2005, and two gay men received a death-by-stoning sentence last year after filming themselves having sex.

Various parliamentary reforms have been mounted to reduce the penal system's harsher sentences, but they are not binding on the country's independent judiciary.


not binding on the country's independent judiciary.

Once more?

not binding on the country's independent judiciary.

They are killing people with fucking stones! Who thinks that is a just punishment? Religious fanatics who believe every word of their holy book is true, other than the parts that don't let them stone people to death, rape their own wives, and in general be self-righteous pricks. Fuck parliamentary reforms, fuck independent judiciaries. Religion is the issue here. Yeah, it is batshit insane religion, but it is still religion. No change is going to come until the underlying cause is dealt with, and that requires dragging Iran kicking and screaming into at least the 20th century.

They whipped a woman, 90 times, for acting in a film. Not a porn. Not a snuff film. Not even a breast filled teen comedy. It was a film with a message, a point, and no matter how much the Iranian authorities dislike the point, they proved it with their actions.

Let me be clear.

There is no justification possible for whipping a woman. There is no justification possible for whipping a dog, let alone a human. This isn't about a film, just as the stonings aren't about gay sex or adultery. It is about a patriarchal religion taken to extremes by men who have lost all touch with actual ethics and morality, refusing to accept the passing of time and the end of male values uber alles attempting to put uppity women in their place and GLBT people back in the closet through fear and violence.

Patriocentric theocracies have no place in the modern world. People are not property. Women are not your slaves, your wives are not sperm receptacles, girls are not fuck machines, and no matter how hard they make you, gays are not temptations sent by the devil.

If God exists, and agrees with Iran, I would rather burn in hell.


At least it could never happen in the United States.

The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 and 2005


According to Gary North, women who have abortions should be publicly executed, "along with those who advised them to abort their children." Rushdoony concludes: "God's government prevails, and His alternatives are clear-cut: either men and nations obey His laws, or God invokes the death penalty against them." Reconstructionists insist that "the death penalty is the maximum, not necessarily the mandatory penalty." However, such judgments may depend less on Biblical Principles than on which faction gains power in the theocratic republic. The potential for bloodthirsty episodes on the order of the Salem witchcraft trials or the Spanish Inquisition is inadvertently revealed by Reconstructionist theologian Rev. Ray Sutton, who claims that the Reconstructed Biblical theocracies would be "happy" places, to which people would flock because "capital punishment is one of the best evangelistic tools of a society."


For connoisseurs of surrealism on the American right, it's hard to beat an exchange that appeared about a decade ago in the Heritage Foundation magazine Policy Review. It started when two associates of the Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote an article which criticized Christian Reconstructionism, the influential movement led by theologian Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, for advocating positions that even they as committed fundamentalists found "scary." Among Reconstructionism's highlights, the article cited support for laws "mandating the death penalty for homosexuals and drunkards." The Rev. Rushdoony fired off a letter to the editor complaining that the article had got his followers' views all wrong: They didn't intend to put drunkards to death.

Ah, yes, accuracy does count. In a world run by Rushdoony followers, sots would escape capital punishment--which would make them happy exceptions indeed. Those who would face execution include not only gays but a very long list of others: blasphemers, heretics, apostate Christians, people who cursed or struck their parents, females guilty of "unchastity before marriage," "incorrigible" juvenile delinquents, adulterers, and (probably) telephone psychics. And that's to say nothing of murderers and those guilty of raping married women or "betrothed virgins." Adulterers, among others, might meet their doom by being publicly stoned

Yep. Could never happen here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Glenn Beck Still Insane! I Feel Much Better Now.

I try not to just repost other bloggers work here, but this is just too good. If you want to watch the video, go give Ed Brayton some more traffic.

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Glenn Beck continued his pattern of finding proto-Hitlers everywhere he looks. President Obama is the next Hitler for wanting to give health care to those who don’t have it — because, as everyone knows, Hitler began his campaign to exterminate the Jews by giving them health insurance. Even empathy leaders to Hitler. And this time, the winner is — spins the wheel — the Wall Street protesters.

Why is this man still relevant? How insane do you have to be to look at the Occupy Whatever protesters and think "yeah, Hitler!"? How insane do you have to be to listen to him and then say "yeah, he's got a point"?

I'd laugh if I didn't think a decent percentage of the far right thinks Beck is hitting nails square on the head.

George Will Makes Sense. I'm Going To Go Lay Down Now

Here in Pennsylvania, the Republicans are attempting to change the way PA's electoral votes are awarded, with 2 going to the State-wide winner, and 1 to the winner of each congressional district. There is little doubt that this is political electionrigging of a new level. For those unfamiliar with Pennsylvania politics, the Pittsburgh and Philly areas are deep blue, while the rest of the state is called Pennsyltucky.

Let's take where I live. The last time my district had a democratic rep was in 1939. To say my district "leans right" would be the understatement of the year. While Obama carried 54.7% of the PA vote in 08, my district went to McCain 63% to 35%. And Obama personally visited my city, tried to bowl, and ate a hotdog, yet still only got 35%.

If electoral votes are awarded by district, why the fuck would a candidate ever campaign here again? Hell, I already know my half the votes I cast are only to cancel out a Tea Party member, now they want my Presidential vote to be meaningless?

And then, George Will brings the sanity....

Republicans supposedly revere the Constitution, but in its birthplace, Pennsylvania, they are contemplating a subversion of the Framers’ institutional architecture. Their ploy — partisanship masquerading as altruism about making presidential elections more “democratic” — will weaken resistance to an even worse change being suggested.

Hi, my name is Foster Disbelief, and I agree with George Will. There are word combinations I am less likely to type, granted, but damn. So far this week I've agreed with Bill O'Reilly, found AL-Queda to have the rational position in an argument, and now am quoting George Will like a fanboy. I need to go lay down.

More from Will.

The 2012 Republican candidate might lose the statewide vote but carry, say, nine of the 18 congressional districts, cutting President Obama’s yield to 11 electoral votes. But if the Republican candidate carries nine of Pennsylvania’s 18 districts and the statewide vote — Obama’s Pennsylvania poll numbers are poor — Republicans will have cost themselves nine electoral votes, which would be condign punishment.

Not since 1988 has a Republican carried Pennsylvania, a state described as Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west and Alabama in between. Incongruous political cultures coexist in many states, so the temptation to which Pennsylvania Republicans may succumb could become a national contagion.

Look, I'm not too sure on the Electoral College. I've read arguments for and against reforming it, but it has never been an issue I've concentrated on. Too much else going on, not enough time in the day, picking your battles and so on. But I am sure that the path to reform should not be blazed by partisans with an eye to the next election.

Wonder what my rep has to say about it?

Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, said the proposal would be closer to a "one man, one vote" attitude, giving more importance to each individual voter in the state.

I need to move.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

How To Clean Everything! Reviews of Vital Punk/Hardcore Records

Every Sunday here at Foster Disbelief I will look at one album that made me who I am, and how it has stood the test of time. No matter what my current beliefs, I never would have been interested in politics if it wasn't for political punk. Yeah, sometimes the lyrics are cringe inducing, but some ideas are still vital.

One of my goals with this blog is to prevent young, brilliant, radicals from throwing their lives away, either thru naivety, or self-destruction. That Circle A shirt I wore? Naive. The heroin I shoved in my arms? Waste of life and talent.

Here's to reaching one person. That would satisfy me.

With that being said, perhaps the most influential record of my youth, and one of the best political punk albums ever, Propagandhi's first album, from 1993, How To Clean Everything

First cut, Anti-Manifesto

Listen to Anti-Manifesto Here

Dance and laugh and play. Ignore the message we convey.
It seems we're only here to entertain.
A rebellion cut-to-fit. I refuse to be the soundtrack to it.
While we entertain we're still knee-deep in shit.
There's something wrong inside.
We've played it safe, enjoyed the ride.
You won't like this but I've something to confide.
We stand for something more than a faded sticker on a skateboard.
Now we've rained on your parade and we're out the door.
And I don't even care any fucking more.

How many times, in bands or in the crowd, have I felt the same way? The knowledge that 99% of the people listening are ignoring any purpose you have? Watching as the words go unnoticed? Political punk is not just entertainment. Punk was never supposed to be just entertainment.

I am so full of shit.
But I will remain until this self-awareness fades
Until I defeat the purpose of this soapbox that you made.
That you made.

Hypocrites, everyone of us. Some of us realize it.

It don't really matter cuz nothing's ever felt as right as this.

Even when naive, the moral highground was still ours. Anti-Manifesto is still perfect for summing up the thoughts and feelings of those who know versus those who don't care.

Cut two! "Head? Chest? or Foot?"

Listen to Head? Chest? or Foot?

Both an anthem of the underclass and a indictment of the ignorance of the masses.

You're all the same. Just part of their machine.
Perpetuate their dream.
They subsidize your nightclubs and they subsidize your malls.
They herd and brand the masses within painted prison walls.
'Til your freedom of assembly becomes the missiles they create.
Or just mass delusion dancing to this music that you fucking hate.


I'd rather be imprisoned in a George Orwell-ian world
Than your pacified society of happy boys and girls.
I'd rather know my enemies and let you know the same.
Whose windows to smash and whose tires to slash
And where to point the fucking blame.

I would also prefer to know where to focus my rage. If only it was that easy.

Cut three is "Hate, Myth, Muscle, Etiquette"

Listen to Hate, Myth, Muscle, Etiquette

Mark your point of failing. It begins where you concede.
Hesitate. Procrastinate. Sedating.
All configured to impede your path.
You need a good kick in the ass.

In today's society, it is so easy to not care. Internet, tv, movies, etc. The masses need to wake up.

Mark my point of failing. It began where I gave in.
Comfort. Convenience. Placating.
Construed to suck me in, to their trap.
I need a good kick in the ass.

Even the Dissenters need a kick in the ass at times.

As time passed I realized we don't need rules to survive.
Just common sense and means to subsist.
So from here on in I will resist.

Cringe worthy naivety. No rules? Who's going to stop that big idiot from raping your daughter? You? Good luck. Anarchy is a great thought experiment. Not very good in practice, and I haven't even asked about who is going to fix the sewers.

And then they follow that with perhaps the best lyrics of the whole album. Figures.

The basis of change: educate! Derived from discussion,
not hate, not myth, not muscle, not etiquette.
Intellect, not "re-elect!".
Status symbols yield to respect between sex, species, environment.

One point I will always hammer home. Educate. Educate. Educate! Educate! Without education we are ignorant, and while ignorance may be bliss, it is not useful or helpful.

Next comes Showdown Listen to Showdown.

At first glance, it seems like a strange song. Then you realize what the name means, and it makes sense. There are two perspectives in this song as I see it. The view of the dissident, and the view of the man just trying to make it through life emotionally intact.


Waking up each morning with confusion in my eyes.
The wind is biting through to wave "hello".
Seeing my reflection, an exterior of lies.
I hope this shaky feeling doesn't show.
As if I had to tell you there was little left to say.
Stilted conversations colored blue.
You were sitting down and you got up to walk away.
I tried to stay but I was right behind you.
Tension in the stair, I cannot bear so close to helpless
as this song I sing. Inside me ring.
Final words are boring, never touch,
I know you whispered something in my ear.
I couldn't hear you.
Girls with the greenest eyes. The first time you have kissed.
Our quiet softest sighs.
A song for all of those who shot and missed.


Welcomed to this world, imputed identity.
Born, tagged, tattooed, pacified.
Generously bestowed my rights and privileges replete.
Arbitrary values ascribed.
There's nothing I can tell you. There's nothing I can say.
Stunted conversation, censored thought.
I'm completely free, at liberty, guaranteed
Unless of course you decide I'm not.
But I'll not be resigned to, fall in line behind you.
Tension in the air I cannot bear
So what the fuck am I accomplishing? Absolutely nothing.
All these words are boring, it's time for action.
But you've taught me to be a pawn.
It won't last for long.
Those who see through the lies are quickly gagged and bound.
Ambition realized, tear the whole fucking thing down.

Can't get much different than that. And a special roll of the eyes at the "tear the whole fucking thing down." Really? Destruction is the easy part, it's the rebuilding that is a bitch.

5th song is Ska Sucks. On a future album, you can hear the singer chanting "I hate this song" as the opening notes are played. Not even going to cover it. All ska bands are in it for the money? Pot, I'd like you to meet kettle. Oh, you aren't in it for the money? Then why the fuck do you think all ska bands are?

6th Cut. Middle Finger Response.

A song dealing with how comfort can cause us to close our eyes.

Why am I not part of this?
Pine cone wealth and cedar fence bliss?

The cry of the underclass.

Nobody cares about the state of affairs.
You can turn blue in the face, but you cannot erase.
Oblivious to the obvious.
I'm making perfect sense but I'm not getting through.

Yeah, I feel like that once a day.

But don't expect to find me with a note left to be read.
Pistol in my hand and a bullet in my head.
Because this census indicates and this atlas has related
3 billion humyns I haven't irritated.
I've got a lot of work to do. 3 billion people.
That's 3 billion snotty Fuck you's
Fuck you, fuck all of you.

Yeah, it's snotty, it's cliched, and it is naive. How is telling the whole world to fuck off going to solve anything?

At the same time, I'm alive because of that cliched lyric. Sometimes, even cliches can make you think twice.

Next cut, "Stick The Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch"

And this is the cut that went on the comps, that was fucking everywhere during my junior and senior year. And this is rhetoric that does nothing to help us or our cause. "Fuck the troops?" Welcome to political irrelevance. And then there is this:

Well, if you're dumb enough to vote,
You're fuckin dumb enough to believe him.

Great. Tell a generation of leftist radicals not to vote. Good idea.

The next track is "Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass" Those not in the know, know it as "Fuck Religion." One of the classic punk songs of the last 30 years. No comment needed.

You speak of Rastafari, but how can you justify belief
In a god that's left you behind?
You've simply filled the gap between the upper and lower class
And your faith merely keeps you in line.
An amalgamation of jewish scripture and christian thought.
What will that get you? Not a fuck of a lot.
Take a look at your promised land.
Your deed is that gun in your hand.
Mt. Zion's a minefield. The West Bank. The Gaza Strip.
Soon to be parking lots for American tourists and fascist cops.
Fuck zionism. Fuck militarism. Fuck americanism.
Fuck nationalism. Fuck religion.

How do you follow absolute perfection? How about with the song that made me a feminist? "Fuck Machine"

It's something physical, conditioned reaction.
It's something physical, conditioned attraction.
But have I finally escaped?
Will my eyes no longer rape the innocent womyn, children, humyn beings?
Seeing the pain that it brings.

There is no way I could ever explain how much these lyrics still affect me. What is my failing?

Shallow, superficial decision.
Real beauty obscured by my television.
But this just in! Bikini film at ten.
The female anchor smiles and shrugs it off,
"Boys will be boys!"
Do you really wanna be our fucking toys?
And in again, condone it with a grin.
Sit back, idly chat, smile, prove you're just a fuck machine.
Is that what you really wanna fucking be??
Conditioned reaction. Conditioned attraction.
Conditioned suggestion. Conditioned rejection.

36 years of social conditioning to find one and only one body type attractive. I could never explain how hard that is to fight, especially when so many women accept what they are told and play to it.

And yet again, subjecting womyn.
The female anchor's fists finally clinched,
"I'm not your fucking toy!"

Yes, I get chills every single time I hear that lyric. This song beats me down, and then builds me up, reminding me of my failings, while expressing my beliefs and calling my bluff. The end of the song is everything I want in a womyn.

And though I long to embrace, I will not misplace my priorities:
Humor, opinion, a sense of compassion, creativity,
And a distaste for fashion.

Nail? Meet hammer. Foster? Meet Failing. This society does not make it easy.

Next cut, "This Might Be Satire" And yeah, it just may be satire.

I wanna chew my bubble gum with you.
And I wanna walk you home from school.
And I wanna carry your books to every class.
And I wanna fuck you up the ass.
Girl, don't you know it's true, how much I love you.
I wanna sing it 'cross the land, oh won't you hold my hand?
She tells me that she loves me,
Now I'm gonna tell her that I love her.
She tells me that she loves me,
Now I'm gonna try and fuck her.
But where the hell are my priorities?
Left in the hands of the authorities.

They follow the satire with a song that I hope the GLBT movement found and made their own. I know I heard myself called "fag," and "queer" once too often for a straight guy. I have no idea what it would actually be like to actually be what people fear that much. This song got me through some tough times, I hope it reached who it was intended for. It works for any dissenters. The gay rights message is overt in my mind. I will never forget this band for helping me with this issue. As a straight male in pennsyltucky, believe me, peer pressure was not leaning towards being Gay-Positive.

"Who Will Help Me Bake This Bread?"

You can rearrange my face but you can't rearrange my mind.
You can beat this shell about me, but you can't touch what's inside.
So now who will help me bake this bread?
Who will be the first to speak and leave complacency for dead?
I've done all that I can on my own.
But stagnant minds persist to squeeze blood from this stone.
But I won't bleed for you. I have no need for you.
Death will be the day I concede to you.

"Death will be the day I concede to you." If I adopted one motto from the punk scene, there it is.

Then, for some reason they finish the album with a Cheap Trick cover with a vegan message added in.

"I want you to want me"
Which honestly is a confusing end to a masterpiece of political punk.

The vegan message involves a girl named Megan who obviously doesn't eat meat. The song ends with:

She don't eat bacon.
She'd never kill a sweet little innocent piggy to get bacon.
She's one of them vegans.
She's so sweet loving sweet talking lovable vegan.
And that's alright.

And then comes a chorus of "Fuck" Don't ask me, it's not my album.

Propagandhi is still around, although the bassist from this album, John K. Samson split off and formed The Weakerthans Personally, with the departure of Samson, Propagandhi went in a musical direction I didn't like, although I always check up on them and would definitely see them if they played close.

Some lyrics are cringe inducing, yet the over all pro-feminist, anti-racist, gay-positive ideals were/are vital to young punks forming their ideals, especially in conservative areas. As long as education is mixed in, this is an album that will have meaning for years, if not decades.

Next Week? The Subhumans, The Day the Country Died.