Westboro Watch: Godsmack?

Those kooks from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, are at it again. Actually, they’ve been continually at it, unfortunately. They’re the same ones responsible for the GodHatesFags web site and for protesting at the funerals of U.S. servicemen and women killed in service to our country. If you’ve read many of my posts, you probably already know something about them, so I won’t go into any additional detail about their past here.

Up until recently, the only time I’d ever heard the word “Godsmack” was in reference to the popular hard rock/metal band of the same name. Well, it now seems to be quite the hip terminology for these backwoods inbreds from the center of our country.

I have one question for these folks…Why are you so often taking the Lord your God’s name in vain with this term? I understand that you think EVERYTHING bad that happens on the face of the earth is God’s judgment for this, that, and the other but do you really need to so frequently blaspheme the God you claim to worship?

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  (Exo 20:7)

Here are a few examples of their particular brand of blasphemy…

  • Godsmack: Russian Rubble (in reference to a collapsed building in Russia)
  • Godsmack: Sinking Marines (in reference to the South Korean naval ship that recently sank)
  • Godsmack: Israel’s Woe (in reference to Israel’s current troubles in the Middle East)
  • Godsmack: Catholic Whore (in reference to troubles in the Catholic church)
  • Godsmack: Arkansas Shoot-out (in reference to two Little Rock police officers being shot)

These folks are famous for their hatred of homosexuals but they extend the same treatment to Jews, Catholics (as shown above), and basically just about everyone else but themselves. Apparently, they are the only perfect people on the face of the entire earth, God’s chosen people or some such tripe.

You better be careful, Westboro weirdos, you may be smacked next.

By the way, don’t you think their fearless leader, Fred Phelps, looks a lot like that evil preacher character from the 2nd “Poltergeist” movie? I’m just sayin’..


The Acceptability of Culpability

Once upon a time, in the world of politics, accepting public blame for some untoward incident was a relatively rare occasion. On those occasions, the evidence was typically overwhelmingly against the perpetrator. The guilty party would often go on to live a quiet existence somewhere away from the spotlight.

Unfortunately, most in public life don’t have that option any longer. The Youtube generation publicizes everything from the salacious to the ridiculous to the insane to even the mundane, making it nearly impossible to live outside the bubble, so to speak.

Because of this, or perhaps just along with this, it seems to have become acceptable to be culpable. Am I the only one who’s noticed this? It usually goes something like this…

  1. Rumors surface that Joe Politician is having an affair with a staffer.
  2. Joe Politician denies that the rumors are true.
  3. Evidence surfaces that the rumors are indeed true.
  4. A statement is released saying that Joe Politician doesn’t have any comment at this time.
  5. The story persists as more evidence is uncovered.
  6. Joe Politician has a press conference and admits that the rumors are true and accepts “blame and responsibility” for what has happened.
  7. Joe Politician enters some sort of rehab for his issue, illegal activity, or proclivity.
  8. After leaving rehab, Joe Politician conducts interviews accepting further “blame and responsibility”.
  9. Joe Politician either resumes his career or resigns and takes another position and vows to “serve the public”.

I may have missed a step or two but I think you get the picture. The point is that admitting wrong is no longer about just that, admitting you were wrong and apologizing. It now seems to be more about the process and how to make oneself come out looking good or, at the very least, as good as possible depending upon the transgression.

In many cases, Joe Politician claims they have a disease, that they had little or no control over their behavior. I believe THAT is the impetus behind scenario #7 above. After all, if you had to go into rehab to recover, there must’ve been something else behind the scenes that compelled you to act as you did. Yes, you’re somewhat responsible, but you’re also a victim now, you know. Not a perpetrator. A victim. Therefore, you’re also deserving of some pity and able to deflect at least a bit of the blame, right?

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a place for those who fall publicly to publicly admit their transgressions. That’s the way it should be, and perhaps it’s my skeptical nature rearing its ugly head, but it rarely seems authentic to me. I also think it’s incumbent on us to accept public apologies like this unless Joe Politician is giving us some other reason to believe otherwise. There should be some sort of restoration for those who fall into public sin. There has to be room for forgiveness. After all, most of us have done something worthy of shame and, if not, you probably will at some point in the future.

Regardless, I remain skeptical of many of these public admittances of culpability. It’s too much of a circus atmosphere going on surrounding these occurrences, making it more of a publicity stunt than a mere press conference or the trappings that go along with it.

Silent Nation

“A speechless world looks on
It just has to be!
Silent nation
In a silent nation
We must change what has been done
It’s a travesty
Silent nation

by Asia (Payne/Downes)

Early on in his Administration, President Obama declared that his Presidency would mark a new era of government accountability. His White House would be different from the previous Bush Presidency.

“The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known…

Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency” – President Obama

Noble sentiments for sure but what good is that if the person making the statement doesn’t follow through on it or, worse yet, has no intention to follow through on it?

According to a new study conducted by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, it was found that less than one-third of 90 federal agencies who process FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests have made any major changes to their procedures since President Obama took office.

However, since this is Sunshine Week (a good thing, in my opinion), Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, celebrated by sending yet another memo to the FOIA agencies. [sarcasm]I’m totally sure they’re going to repent and mend their ways now.[/sarcasm]

Another one of the promises that Obama made was that legislation would be posted online for at least three days before he would sign it into law. That promise hasn’t been kept. Between that and the fact that this Congress has been passing behemoth-sized bills makes it sort of difficult to implement transparency in this area.

Much has also been made of the fact that, during his Presidential campaign, Obama promised that the healthcare deliberations would be broadcast on CSPAN. Obviously, that hasn’t happened, either, and the meetings in relation to the current healthcare reform legislation have largely been held behind closed doors.

Obama also promised transparency in regards to the stimulus bill passed by Congress last year. Yet we still don’t know how those funds are being used and why a large percentage of the bailout has not even been released yet, regardless of the fact that much was made that the money would heavily fund “shovel-ready” projects. If that’s the case, why is the money still stuffed into the mattress?

Even some of the folks on the left are starting to note, with disappointment, that the Obama Administration is obviously not keeping their promises. The Huffington Post reports that federal agencies are not more transparent under this President. They also note that, under Obama, agencies cited an exemption for “deliberative process” 70,779 times, up from 47,395 times in Bush’s final budget year, an increase of over 33%. Also, Obama’s numbers here only reflect nine months in office. You won’t find me citing the Huffington Post very often but their article on this issue was very well done in this case. Also, an Associated Press examination of the 17 major agencies found a denial in 466,872 instances, or a 50% increase from Bush’s last fiscal year.

In all honesty, government does sometimes have good reason to keep certain information private. As conservative blogger Ed Morrissey notes on his blog, Hot Air

Critics would do well to remember that government often has good reason to keep sensitive information out of the public domain.  After all, we’re fighting a war in Afghanistan as well as battling global terrorist networks.  Furthermore, the executive branch has a right to solicit advice on policy, and it can’t get good, honest advice if the people being asked believe that their consultations will get plastered all over the New York Times.  While the government tends to default too often to secrecy no matter which party occupies the White House, those issues are valid still.

Well noted and Morrissey is correct. However, the drastic increase in FOIA request denials seems to be far outpacing the necessity for keeping some information under wraps.

Please read my other posts on this topic: No Transparency About Transparency, The Rush-It Through Approach, Transparency and Accountability ,”Transparency and Accountability” Update

Whatever it Takes

Whatever it takes. It’s a bloody game. Turn about is fair play. You had 8 of the most corrupt years ever. Now you get to watch as karma comes back to bite your asses. Pelosi will get her votes.

The political games in Washington seem to mount day after day. I thought most people were sick of it and I think that’s true to some degree. However, there are many within the Democratic party who aren’t quite ready to give up the shenanigans, underhanded tactics, and downright corrupt actions.

The above comment was copied from an internet message board that I frequent and was made in response to a statement I made about a good portion of the stimulus money being held back and that I thought the Democrats may be planning on using it to bolster their chances in the November election by releasing it at just the right time. This person’s response encapsulates the political atmosphere in Washington D.C., in my opinion. We saw spending and corruption both skyrocket with the Republicans in control of Congress through 2006. When the Democrats took over, Nancy Pelosi said things would be different. Heck, President Obama’s main campaign slogan was “Change”. Things were supposed to be different. Obviously, they haven’t been.

One of the changes Pelosi promised  was that the corruption would be cleaned up. Well, we see how that’s turned out, haven’t we? Have you heard of Charlie Rangel, “Cold Cash” Jefferson, all the tax cheats nominated to positions within the Obama administration, and all the others who don’t come to mind right now? It’s like someone pressed rewind on the celestial remote control and is playing back the worst parts of the previously Republican-controlled congress.

Another one of the changes promised by the Obama administration is that former lobbyists would not be appointed to jobs in his White House. Well, that pledge was violated almost immediately after his taking office. At last count, at least a dozen or more former lobbyists were working in the President’s administration.

The Democrats in congress better wise up because it’s looking more and more like the Republicans are going to take control again after the elections later this year. I’m betting they’ll start pulling the same kind of crap the Democrats have been pulling since 2007.

Social Justice Is no Justice at All

Part of my calling as a Christian is to share the good news about Jesus Christ with those I come into contact with. This doesn’t always mean literally preaching the gospel to them in spoken form but also living in such a way as to bring glory to God rather than myself. I’ll leave it up to God as the ultimate judge of how well I’ve accomplished that. Anyway, another part of that calling is also to help the poor and downtrodden.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mat 25:34-40)

This is a high calling and one which much of the church has not fulfilled. I believe much of the reason for that, at least here in the U.S.A., is that we are so self-sufficient. We want, as the saying goes, to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and tough it out when times are rough. That can be a good thing but, if one isn’t careful, it can also lead to a lack of compassion for those that can’t or aren’t, for some reason, doing the same.

On the other hand, I believe that some have also gone too far in the other direction. This is where the term “social justice” comes in. It sounds like a benign term. After all, why wouldn’t you want social justice? Shouldn’t everyone be on equal footing? The problem with that line of thinking is that it typically means a forced type of justice, a justice that neither helps the poor and downtrodden in the end nor creates an atmosphere of kindness and mercy. It’s a type of justice that only creates a sense of resentment and mistrust of the government and its programs that were created to achieve those ends in the first place.

The best example of this type of justice in recent times is the whole healthcare reform debate that has been going on here and magnified over the last year or so. Supporters of “healthcare for all” claim that there is an inherent human right to healthcare. While it sounds like a noble thing, let’s think about the repercussions of this thought process.

The Constitution gives us the basic inherent rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What happens if we make a commodity like healthcare on the same level as these? In order to achieve something like that, don’t you have to, by the force of government, remove liberty from those who have it and give it to those who don’t? If that sounds like a dichotomy, I think you’re right because the logical end is that both parties end up losing freedom to some degree. In my opinion and as the old saying goes, the poor don’t need a handout, they need a hand up.

The force of government doesn’t produce a more charitable attitude amongst those from whom freedom is taken. It also doesn’t produce a grateful attitude amongst those to whom it is supposedly given. The results are that society as a whole is negatively effected. Just look at the results of what has happened to countries who’ve attempted to go down this primrose path.

As I stated earlier, I’m not opposed to helping the poor or needy, orphans or widows, etc. Those are good things and things in which I’ve been involved in. However, Jesus never said nor indicated that social justice be enacted by the force of government. Instead he said to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). It’s our responsibility as individual citizens and/or members of the church to do our part to help those who need it, not because we’re enslaved by the powers of government to do so. In the end, social justice is no justice at all but just an empty vessel fit for serving no one.

The Crumbling Religion of the Man-Maders

The foundation of the man-maders religion just keeps on a-crumblin’. In yet more fallout from Climategate, Professor Phil Jones, one of the leading researchers at the center of this controversy, admitted that he had written some “pretty awful e-mails”.

In case you’re not familiar with Climategate and since the mainstream media has been suspiciously silent about it, it was revealed via intercepted e-mails that scientists conspired on how to avoid responding to freedom of information requests from those skeptical of global warming. They also discussed how to manipulate data from tree rings that reveals information about historical temperatures. In one of these e-mails, Professor Jones talked about manipulating the findings to hide a decrease in temperatures, instead of the increase that man-maders have been trumpeting.

The Institute of Physics provided information on this to a Science and Technology Committee inquiry, saying…

Unless the disclosed emails are proved to be forgeries or adaptations, worrying implications arise for the integrity of scientific research and for the credibility of the scientific method.

For his part, Jones still denies any wrongdoing and that no data was manipulated. He also continues to claim that scientific data on climate change still remains “robust”.

For previous posts about this and related stories, see below.

Top Man-Mader: No Global Warming Since ’95

Back to School for Global Warming

Bill Nye, The Not-So-Nice Science Guy

Obama’s Drinking Problem? Get Over It!

Much was being made in conservative talk radio today of the results of President Obama’s physical. It’s common knowledge that he is a smoker and that his doctors want him to quit smoking but the news today was that they also want him to moderate his alcohol intake. Most of the comments I heard weren’t all that inconsiderate but the underlying feeling was that Obama might have an alcohol problem.

My advice? Get over it! Unless Obama’s drinking is out of control and impairing his ability to govern, it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. Could it just be that he’s having one too many during the week without actually getting drunk or even getting a buzz, for that matter? The report doesn’t say he’s an alcoholic or that he needs an intervention, for crying out loud.

Oh, and for all you liberals out there that believed in and spread rumors about Bush’s supposed binge drinking and/or doing cocaine during his presidency, spare me the hypocrisy about your outrage over what people are saying about Obama and his drinking. You’re just as bad.