And you thought Dick Cheney jokes were played out

Cheney’s got a gun

Noted without comment:

A lawmaker in this firearm-friendly state wants to help more people get the chance to shoot live animals _ even if those people can’t see.

A bill filed for the 2007 legislative session would permit legally blind hunters to use laser sights, or lighted pointing instruments.

“This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that’s great,” said Republican Rep. Edmund Kuempel, the bill’s sponsor.

Johnny and Junior at the End of Days

by matttbastard

What I learned from Left Behind: Eternal Forces:

– Heathen rock stars have spiritual cooties

– (Virtual) cold-blooded murder is ok, as long as

  • A. There’s no actual blood (and bodies disappear)
  • B. The people killed are non-Christian
  • C. Before meeting their demise, non-Christians are given the opportunity to convert, and afterwards a prayer for forgiveness is offered.

– And, most important:

“Muslims are not believers in Jesus Christ” — and thus can’t be on Christ’s side in the game. “That is so obvious”

See, killing rock stars, Muslims and other assorted unbelievers (including teh Joos!!1) is ok (within the context of the game) because they aren’t Christians. Like, so obvious (duh!)

Still, any game Focus on the Family says is “the kind…that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior” can’t be all bad.

Next up: PC adaptions of the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials.

Augusto Pinochet

Pinochet

by matttbastard

Perhaps his death will be a comfort to some. But it’s hard not to see it as a final cruel sidestep of justice and accountability. In that way, his demise is a fitting summation of his violent, defiant legacy.

BBC profile

BBC obituary

National Security Archive documents relating to Pinochet and CIA complicity in his ascent to power in Chile

update 12/11: superlative commentary from journalist Marc Cooper, who served as translator for late Chilean President Salvador Allende, the man Pinochet brutally ousted from power. Christopher Hitchens and Randy Paul also weigh in.

update 2: via nadezhda (in comments @ American Footprints) – Tony Karon on Pinochet:

Back in the 80s, as I was coming of age politically in South Africa, the example of Chile immediately explained why it was that the Reagan Administration backed the apartheid regime — because Chile showed that the U.S. cared nothing about democracy abroad, and would actively support vicious tyrants who declared themselves anti-communist. Even the deranged kleptocrat and mass murderer Mobutu Sese Seko, for example, was an honored guest in Reagan’s White House. As the Clash (who also memorialized Victor Jara on ‘Sandinista’) sang on a different track, “If Adolf Hitler, were here today, they’d send a limousine anyway…”

Back then, I believed that Pinochet deserved to die, to avenge all those whose lives he destroyed for no reason other than that their views were deemed unacceptable to his own, a blend of Prussian Military authoritarianism, Catholic crypto-fascism and the economics of free enterprise fundamentalist Milton Friedman.

But we all grow up.

The South African experience taught me that once the leaders of a violent authoritarian regime are stripped of their power, they are forced to confront their own criminality in the eyes of a society that has moved on, repudiating them — and more importantly, simply moving on to build a better society that, in itself, shows the moral bankruptcy of those that unleashed violence on the people in the name of progress and security.

[…]

In its humane handling of Pinochet, in fact, the government of his victims proved its superiority. Sure, his victims would have liked to see him face a judge and answer to each and every charge — Pinochet, while still ruling as the head of the military, created for himself a bogus amnesty. They pursued him to his death, but only via the law. It is Pinochet’s victims who will be memorialized with honor as the old man’s bones are interred. And all Chileans know, whether or not they admit it, that they have created a better society by getting rid of him. Pinochet will have sensed it, too

[Insert Pete Townshend quote here]

by matttbastard

Via Hilzoy: Guess who said the following:

On “a temporary basis, I’m willing to ramp [US troop levels in Iraq] up by twenty or thirty thousand . . . for, I don’t know, two months, four months, six months — but certainly that would be an exception,”

No, not John McCain; new Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes. Alas, Reyes shares other negative traits with the US political and security establishment:

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up al Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Wait – it gets better:

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said—a little.

“Pocito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

Continue reading

Frat House of Worship

by Isabel LaCoeur

Forget the yin and the yang
I’ll take the boom and the bang….
Don’t need in touch with my feminine side!
All I want is my testosterone high.

If these lyrics appeal to you and you’re down with Jesus, you might want to become one of the GodMen, a butchy Christian movement that could easily be sponsored by Mountain Dew. The GodMen want to re-masculinize the “wussy”, feminine practice of worshipping Jesus, keep the ladies in their place, and bring back the “Fuck” word.

“Jesus was a very bad Christian,” Coughlin declares. After all, he says, the Son of God trashed a temple and even used profanity — or the New Testament equivalent — when he called Herod “that fox.”

“The idea of Jesus as meek and mild is as fictitious as anything in Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code,’ ” says Coughlin, 40.

Let’s ignore the fact Jesus is referred to as ‘Christian’, and rejoice in the fact he was a bad-ass on par with The Fonz and a Wild One-era Marlon Brando. What a relief; here I thought that he was all love, forgiveness and turning the other cheek.

“He’s been domesticated,” says Roland Martinson, a professor of ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. “He’s portrayed now as gentle, loving, kind, rather than as a full-bodied person who kicked over tables in the temple, spent 40 days in the wilderness wrestling with his identity and with God, hung out with the guys in the street. The rough-hewn edges and courage … got lopped off.”

This rugged and manly new religious movement is the brainchild of standup comedian Brad Stine, Evangelical Christianity’s answer to Robert Bly. It may seem unexpected for a standup comic to lead a religious movement, but you have to admit the results are hilarious.

Leaders don’t even bring out the Bible until they’re well into the curriculum; instead, they teach ideals of Christian manhood through Steve Martin movies and clips from “Braveheart.”

“Do not think Sunday morning worship,” Caldwell says. “Think Saturday afternoon tailgate.”

Personally, when I’m looking for a little spiritual healing, I usually prefer Martin Short movies. I do find it interesting that the GodMen are inspired by the work of Mel Gibson. I wonder what they think of his more recent endeavours.

Now that the GodMen have established the fact that Jesus is a fellow testosterone junkie, it’s time for the ladies to recognize:

.. men taking charge is a big theme of the GodMen revival. At what he hopes will be the first of many such conferences, in a warehouse-turned-nightclub in downtown Nashville, Stine asks the men: “Are you ready to grab your sword and say, ‘OK, family, I’m going to lead you?’ ” He also distributes a list of a real man’s rules for his woman. No. 1: “Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.”

Stine’s wife, Desiree, says she supports manly leadership; it seems to her the natural and God-ordained order of things. As she puts it: “When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me.”

But some men at the conference run into trouble when they debut their new attitudes at home. Eric Miller, a construction worker, admits his wife is none too pleased when he takes off, alone, on a weekend camping trip a few weeks after the GodMen conference this fall.

“She was a little bit leery of it, as we have an infant,” he reports. “She said, ‘I need your help around here.’ ”

Miller, 26, refuses to yield: “I am supposed to be the leader of the family.”

Being the leader of a family apparently means leaving your wife alone to take care of your children while you play in a forest. At least she doesn’t have to worry about Rule No. 1 for a couple of days, I suppose.

But for all the hypermasculinity and bad Myspace-style poetry, Reverend Git R. Done and the GodMen movement have been helpful to at least one follower:

A few weeks later, Stephenson, 43, is still not sold on profanity. But he has ditched the nice-guy reflex of always turning the other cheek. When he spots a Wal-Mart clerk writing “Happy Holidays” on a window, he boldly complains: It should say “Merry Christmas.”

The clerk erases the offending greeting. Chalk one up for Christian testosterone.

“I wouldn’t have done that before,” Stephenson says proudly. “I am no longer a doormat.”

After all, the act of simply being inclusive is a terrible hardship that no righteous GodMan should have to bear.

Jill@Feministe has some great commentary

Quote of the Day

by matttbastard

The bottom line in the latest instalment of this debate was not whether the federal government could end same-sex marriage without having to shelter a ban on them from the Charter. Nor was it whether the notwithstanding clause was a legitimate recourse for governments to use to have the last word on court decisions.With same-sex marriage on the books since 2005, the debate had moved on to a more fundamental terrain: This week, Harper became the first post-war Prime Minister to ask the Commons to consider taking away the rights of a Canadian minority.That he failed to garner sufficient support to press on with the plan does not mitigate the fact that he was willing to ask.

– Chantal Hébert, “Minority rights ugly subtext in same-sex debate

The BNP’s got nuttin’ on Tony B!

by matttbastard

For some reason, talk of ‘loyalty tests’ for ‘religious organisations’ (ie, Muslims) really disturbs me. Following Germany’s lead, the Grauniad reports that UK PM Tony “The Poodle” Blair is calling on British religious groups who receive government funding to ‘prove their committment to integration’ (whatever that means). Blair also reignited the headscarf controversy, stating it was “plain common sense” for teachers to remove headscarves in the classroom. What’s next – crescent moon armbands?

Perhaps India Knight is on to something.

Worse than Darfur?

by matttbastard

One element of the chaos in Iraq not fully addressed in the ISG report is the ongoing displacement of its citizenry, especially religious minorities and the professional classes. Perhaps this is because there’s so little that can be done. Sectarian violence, abductions, and continuing problems with basic civil infrastructure contribute to the ever-increasing flow of refugees. The complete collapse of Iraq society, which at times seems like it could occur at any moment, would likely open the flood gates.

With a Maliki-led government seen by many (both inside and outside Iraq) as largely ineffectual, and the virtual neutering of the US as a legitimate power broker in the region, the factors provoking the exodus appear unlikely to mitigate any time soon (barring a coerced change in government and the abandonment of democracy, of course).

Continue reading

(Re)paving the road to hell

by matttbastard

CAP’s Morton Halperin, much like the Iraq Study Group report itself, misses the point: Iraq is FUBARED. Despite the (largely selfish) good intentions expressed in the video commentary, salvaging the situation in Mesopotamia is completely beyond the control of the US, and has been for some time now. There’s nothing left for the US to do – except try to “limit the fallout”, as CFR president Richard Haass put it, and get out.

Now.

A bump in the middle of the road

 

by matttbastard

The Iraq Study Group released its long awaited report on the US mission in Iraq to much media fanfare in Washington. President Bush made a classic non-commitment to the report (much like he did to the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission – and we all know how many of those were implemented) leaving some to wonder what the point of the whole exercise was* – besides signaling a superficial course correction in Bush Admin policy: ‘stay the course’ is out, ‘bipartisan consensus’ in.

Many analysts were less than impressed with the conclusions reached in the report. Slate military correspondent Fred Kaplan called the report an “amorphous, equivocal grab bag”. Former National Security adviser to President Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski said findings represent “a typical, middle-of-the-road consensus among an elite Washington “focus group”, composed of esteemed individuals not handicapped by much historical or geopolitical familiarity with the region’s problems.” Continue reading