May 31, 2008

Economist endorses Bob Barr

Okay, so it's more of a backhanded endorsement.
A dysfunctional minor party's grumpy ex-Republican, most famous for his poor judgment and sour temper. Among his achievements: drafting the federal Defense of Marriage Act and licking whipped cream off two strippers' breasts.*

Mr. Barr's running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, is the author of a self-help book entitled "The Joy of Failure!"
Bob Barr FAQ.

* Barr's defense: 'They were married.'

Your plaice or mine

Fish sex predates even John McCain.

But see: McCain older than Spam™.

May 30, 2008


The wisdom of Jonah Goldberg

Two conservatives pay money to hear Jonah Goldberg speak in May, 2008, both report the following as a highlight: "If you write it in an email IN ALL CAPS, it has to be true." [Cue guffaws circa 1994.]

No mention of:

P1. Hitler enjoyed health food
P2. Liberals enjoy health food
C. Therefore, liberals are Nazis

P1. Fast food isn't fast enough
P2. Conservatives drive F350s
C. Therefore, conservatives prefer Arby's

Another "Reverend" goes bananas

And promptly apologizes, with condemnations and recriminations all around. What's to apologize for? Seems like fair comment to me.

Just not subtle enough, I guess:
Such a sense of entitlement and maternalism was bound to turn nuclear when an unapproved minority candidate decided to run, especially an Obama with far greater wit, savvy, and rhetorical skills than Hillary.
— some National Review character.

More lachrymosity: Bush wept.

May 29, 2008

Poor Mike Gableman

It's been some time since we've encountered Daniel Suhr, the fresh young GOP fellow in the robin's egg sweater vest combo.

Now it seems that Master Suhr has taken special umbrage at Adam Liptak's description of renowned conservative Republican Mike Gableman as "a small-town judge with thin credentials" in the pages of the New York Times. "This East Coast elitism is just rancid," moans the young GOPer.

First of all, Siren, WI is a small town by any measure.

But it's simply not true, Suhr 'argues,' because Mike Gableman's "four years as a front-line prosecutor is more than [Wisconsin Supreme Court] Justices Abrahamson, Bradley, and Butler have combined." Naturally, young Daniel doesn't mention that Justice Butler has been a judge — on three different courts — for longer than Mike Gableman has been a lawyer.

And a highly effective front-line prosecutor Mike Gableman was. So effective that he sat on a homicide case for two years, one so cold blooded that the criminal complaint indicated the alleged perpetrator blew a hole in his wife's back with a shotgun as she fled away from him, and the county where Mike Gableman toiled as a prosecutor refused to elect him to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, despite every surrounding county's determination to the contrary.

Likely because Ashland County is where they know "front-line prosecutor" Mike Gableman the best. And by the time charges were filed by Gableman's successor in office, after Gableman high-tailed it to an administrative position at a 20k per annum pay cut thanks to his political connections with former Republican governor Scott McCallum, the defendant removed himself from the gene pool.

And Mike Gableman had the temerity to claim repeatedly, during one of the most disgraceful political campaigns in recent memory, that he was a righteous advocate for victims of crime.

"I was mad as hell," the victim's cousin, Jerry Bauch said. "I was frustrated because the case simply went nowhere during the three years that [Mike Gableman] was district attorney."

That's some quality victim advocatin' right there.

However, it is true that Gableman won Burnett County fairly handily, because after all, that is where Judge Mike Gableman "presided over" 9,000 uncontested traffic tickets.

And that is no thin credential. It's enough to wallpaper Siren, WI.

"There's no need to insult the man," sniffs college Republican Suhr, who, via some particularly laughable contortions, depicted Justice Butler as a clear and present danger to the "safety, prosperity, and health of the citizens of many states, especially Wisconsin."

No, there's no need to insult the man, he just earned the privilege.

Mark Belling's unnatural man crush

"Lying ... lying ... lying ... liar ..."

h/t James Rowen.

(Belling occasionally sits in for Rush Limbaugh.)

Do say hello to my friend

Irony Metrics

A worthy debut (as expected):

Scott McClellan Agonistes

(Although he is totally lying about at least one of the people
"smarter than him.")

Lawyers for Jesus decry NY edict

Governor directs State agencies to recognize same-sex unions
"It’s a perfect example of a governor overstepping his authority and sidestepping the democratic process," said Brian Raum, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a national organization opposed to same-sex marriage. "It’s an issue of public policy that should be decided by the voters."
And that is a perfect example of an advocate putting his argument cart before the constitutional horse, because I'm certain New York ratified this, 220 years ago come July 26:
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.
There is a State public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause, but its erosion pursuant to the issue of same-sex marriage frightened the pants off of even Antonin "Some of my best friends are homos" Scalia in the course of his Lawrence v. Texas dissent.

From the Alliance Defense Fund's "What We Believe":
We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, with equality across racial, gender, and class differences.
What's the problem, then. Or is that only for "believers."

What I Believe — Steve Martin

Early heroes of the blogosphere

During [Thomas Paine's] years in Lewes, a great and endless political struggle captivated the entire nation, and its central figure was John Wilkes. Son of a maltster, parliamentarian for Aylesbury, and member of the notorious Hell-Fire Club, Wilkes loved nothing more than to attack King George III and his ministers — along with George's very own mother — in the pages of his newspaper, the North Briton. The government replied by having Wilkes thrown into the Tower, but the lord chief justice ruled this a violation of the parliamentary privilege, and he was released. Asked at the time to define the limits of free speech in Britain, Wilkes said, "I cannot tell, but I am trying to find out."

The government would not be stopped. While Wilkes was visiting his daughter in Paris for Christmas (and recovering from a duel), Lord Sandwich led a successful campaign to have him expelled from the House of Commons. Now stripped of privilege, Wilkes was quickly tried and convicted of seditious libel and, when he decided not to return from France, declared an outlaw. After running out of money, however, he was forced to come home, where he immediately won a seat in Parliament for Middlesex and turned himself over to the authorities, who responded with a sentence of two years' imprisonment. Wilkes sought a pardon, and Whitehall arranged to expel him from the Commons once again. His bravery against the state had made him one of the most popular figures in Britain, however, and he was immediately restored to his seat by the voters of Middlesex.

The story of John Wilkes was a dramatic illustration of government corruption abridging the sacred and traditional rights of a free Englishman, and it would resonate strongly with the American founders, including Thomas Paine. Additionally, Paine would seem to inherit something of Wilkes's style of provocation, with the bon mots of both men passed along at every level of society. While attacking George III, Wilkes was invited to play a game of cards. He replied, "Do not ask me, for I am so ignorant that I cannot tell the difference between a king and a knave." When Sandwich predicted that Wilkes would die from the pox or the gibbet, Wilkes responded, "That depends, my lord, whether I embrace your mistress or your principles."

— Craig Nelson, Thomas Paine, pp. 41-2.

May 28, 2008

Uh huh.

The appropriate sanction to be imposed here is a public reprimand. Any discipline less severe than a public reprimand would not adequately convey the gravity with which this court views Judge Ziegler's violation of a bright-line rule of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Any discipline less severe would not comport with fostering public trust and confidence in the judicial system.
The only discipline less severe is no discipline at all, unless you
count a stern finger wagging around a private conference table.

In re Ziegler.

Warren Jeffs' slippery slope

This is what happens when you legalize gay marriage:

Petitioner's Exhibit # 2

"Prophet, Seer and Revelator."

"Darwinism cannot explain gravity"

This is a placeholder for an interview between two of the most insipid morons on the planet, Glenn Beck and Ben Stein. It aired last night, but I think what's turning up at the link at the moment are older broadcasts, but the latest will be there soon enough, I'm sure.

Stein alleges that Richard Dawkins, whom Stein interviewed for his cinematic creationist propaganda piece, Expelled, claimed to have "dumbed down" his discussion with Stein because Stein is too stupid to comprehend the bigger picture. That seems about right.

At one point in the most recent interview, Stein mocks a non-god believer for his skepticism that life continues after death yet moments later, in claiming that German doctors prescribe massive doses of barbiturates for those wishing to take their own lives (exactly what this has to do with evolutionary biology is anybody's guess), Stein says, 'What if the pill taker is just having a bad day and regrets his decision? Because by then, he's dead and it's all over.'

Don't watch any of it unless you can stand forfeiting a few dozen IQ points (which is to say, viewers who would take this pair of complete and utter ignoramuses seriously, can't).

And yes, Ben Stein actually does criticize "Darwinism" for not being able to explain gravity. Nor can it — or a fish — ride a bicycle.

Bill Maher Watch: Day 26

Did American TV just essentially blow (off) crazed Marquette University professor John McAdams and his low rent, medium wave enabler, Milwaukee reverberating cranium Charlie Sykes?

Yesterday afternoon I found myself playing the piano in the gymnasium at Burleigh Elementary School in Brookfield — long story — and had occasion to stop by Brookfield Square where a number of large steel and glass displays are set up, including at least one giant one advertising comedian Bill Maher's July 24 appearance at the Riverside Theatre in downtown Milwaukee.

The lead sponsor for Maher's gig is American TV, and its logo still figures prominently, featured in its distinctive lettering right next to Maher's smiling visage. You can't miss it.

As for the delightful children of Burleigh Elementary School, I have rarely seen a more considerate and well behaved collection of youngsters. Any group of educators that can get several hundred kids to gather for an assembly and sit attentively and appreciatively through 45 minutes of, in large part, unaccompanied violoncello improvisations is clearly doing something right.

And when the said cellist, Matt Turner, asked whether the kiddies had any questions about the performances or the performers, at least one-third of the little arms shot up. Excellent questions, too.

Obviously public education is working out in Brookfield so the next time Sykes starts bitching and moaning about it, tell him it's idiotic blowhards like him that are fomenting the trouble, not the dedicated teachers and administrators, and especially not the great little kids.

You tell him, because I refuse to listen to that crap. Me and the cool kids at Burleigh Elementary prefer music to pointless noise any day.

Uzi had a very busy Tuesday

Not the storied Israeli submachine gun, but Uzi Aharon, the deputy mayor of a town near Tel Aviv, reports the Jerusalem Post:
In the morning, a story ran on how he organized to retrieve and burn hundreds of New Testaments given to Ethiopian Jews in his city by local messianic Jews. By 9 a.m. he was on an Army Radio news-talk show defending his actions, which he called "purging the evil among us."

At 10:30 he was on a morning news show saying that Ethiopian immigrants were being encouraged to go against Judaism by messianic Jews.

But by the early afternoon he had already been interviewed by Russian, Italian and French TV, explaining to their highly offended audiences back home how he had not meant for the Bibles to be burned, and trying to undo the damage caused by the news (and photographs) of Jews burning New Testaments.

But then he also told The Associated Press that he didn't condemn the Bible burning, calling it a "commandment."
Uzi sounds more conflicted than the Jews for Jesus he's battling against. Local authorities are to investigate the possible violation of two Israeli laws intended to prevent people from inciting religious violence. I guess you would need those in "The Holy Land."

In other Messianic Jew news, Connecticut wankee Joseph I. Lieberman is scheduled for a July Kibbutz with John McCain's "crazy" pastor, John Hagee. The countdown to Armageddon continues.

May 27, 2008

James T. Heresy

Yesterday cheap chuckles were had by all after Mike Mathias of Pundit Nation linked to an intemperate little screed delivered by Milwaukee medium wave radio "personality" James T. Harris.

Entitled "White Guilt on Parade," Harris admonished some Baptists in England who went on a trip to Jamaica to meet their Caribbean counterparts and formally apologize for the slave trade. Harris described the Baptist contingents as "white, guilty and stupid."

Apparently Harris learned of this outrageous mission from Christian Today (Harris calls it "Christianity Today," an entirely different publication based on an entirely different continent), which mentions six of the "white, guilty and stupid" Baptists by name.

Unfortunately for Harris, four of the six "white, guilty and stupid" individuals are black. It's unclear whether they remain, nevertheless, guilty and/or stupid.

Mike Plaisted informs us that Harris's dismembodied voice wafts out occasionally on weekends over the 50,000-watt AM station 620 WTMJ, into which its corporate patriarch, Journal Communications, has screwed an array of 40-watt bulbs.

WTMJ also maintains Harris's blog which, in happier times, was falsely labeled "The Hip Musings of James T. Harris," where he used to casually dismiss the greatest geniuses of American jazz music and — perhaps most memorably — criticize modern climatologists while insisting that Noah's global flood was an actual historical event, complete with indigenous Mesopotamian kangaroos and llamas and the subsequent drunken, incestuous repopulation of the Earth.

Because of that, I had thought Harris was some kind of professional scientist, but it turns out that he's actually a motivational speaker when nobody's listening to him on WTMJ. And, according to Plaisted, Harris was formerly a frequent caller to another WTMJ meathead, Charlie Sykes, as "James from Sherman Park," although you have to travel further east along Burleigh St. to find the river and the van.

Anyway, the indefatigable Mike Mathias rummaged up a few more Harris bon mots later in the day, this time comprising a scholarly and compelling repudiation of the distinctly heretical notion that Jesus of Nazareth was kind of a peaceful and compassionate guy. The said notion was proffered by one Nathan Johnson, writing in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student paper.

Fortunately Nathan Johnson is not "white, guilty and stupid," but his piece is "poorly written, illogical and vapid," says Harris, by way of demonstrating John 8:7. Not only that but Johnson has written a "hapless leftist screed" that presents Jesus as a "milk toast [sic], limp wrist pacifist," and a "Jimmy Carter style liberal."*

"Would Jesus be an American soldier?" Johnson posits, and cites a number of remarks attributed to Jesus for the contrary proposition. No, Harris agrees, Jesus wouldn't be an American soldier, but because — and here comes your non-vapid "logic" — he is Jesus.

Then Harris goes on to reference not the alleged sayings of Jesus himself, but rather the Rambo-Christ portrayed in the phantasmagorial hallucinations of the Book of Revelation, as conservative Christians are wont to do, most successfully Tim LaHaye, author of the "Left Behind" series of loving Christian bloodbaths and one of the truly creepiest people in America.

So, there you have it. Yes, I agree that Jesus would not be an American soldier, but what I'm agreeing with is poorly written, illogical, and vapid, and here's some pre-refrigeration, ergot-fueled dream sequences for your consideration.

It's a classic move by conservative Republicans self-describing as nominal Christians, when confronted with the teachings of Christ that contradict their Hobbesian dog-eat-dog worldview, to drag out every piece of the Bible, no matter how dubious and obscure, that contradicts the apparent moral disposition of their own personal Saviour.

Since for every "god breathed" proposition a contradictory yet likewise "god breathed" one can be dredged up from among the Bible's 66 books (give or take, depending on your denomination), it's pretty much a mug's game anyway. But that doesn't stop Harris from making a fool of himself, since that's what WTMJ pays him to do.

* Another Christian, last I checked.

Blame Canada

Why was it pushing 90 degrees* yesterday but in the low 40s this morning? "Canadian high pressure," said Greg Davis. That's it, we're taking Sidney Crosby back. (He's not doing anything anyway.)

* "Fahrenheit," whatever that is.

May 26, 2008

NASA lands probe in Sudbury, Ontario

.View north from Spruce and Simcoe Sts. (NASA/Canadian Press)

Stompin' Tom Connors — Sudbury Saturday Night

Hip, dumb, and color blind

Follow the first link in Pundit Nation's post this morning:
It must be so hard to be white, guilty and stupid.
Then go here and view the delegation of U.K. Baptists who are traveling to Jamaica. See, it's not so hard to be stupid.

Especially when you're a Milwaukee AM radio nitwit.

May 25, 2008

Republican sold for parts

Romney, 2 others get McCain's ear

Pencil Neck Geek

Bob Barr: No crazy ass pastors


That explains it

John McCain diagnosed with benign positional vertigo.

That is, a highfalutin medical term of art for flip flopper, "benign" being the operative Republican code word for "denial."

"Insane and characteristically American"

Adam Liptak has a piece in today's NYT on judicial appointments vs. popular elections, which focuses on last month's Wisconsin travesty.
In an interview, Justice Butler said the past few months had tested his commitment to elections. "My position historically has been that there is something to be said for the public to be selecting people who are going to be making decisions about their futures," Justice Butler said.

"But people ought to be looking at judges’ ability to analyze and interpret the law, their legal training, their experience level and, most importantly, their impartiality," he continued. "They should not be making decisions based on ads filled with lies, deception, falsehood and race-baiting. The system is broken, and that robs the public of their right to be informed."
Amen, brother.

And not just the campaign ads, but virtually everything written and shouted by the most obnoxious, dissembling conservative Republicans in the State.
Judge Gableman did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Not surprising. If I were he, I'd lay low also. Why get up now.

May 24, 2008

Bushey lawyers up

State: Bishop Bushey leads a cult.
Defense: Bishop Bushey is a man of the cloth.
State: No, he leads a cult.
Defense: Man of the cloth.
State: Cult.
Defense: Cloth.
Mediator: What the hell's the difference.
State: Tastes great?
Defense: Less filling.

Bishop Bushey Bond Bated.

Wisconsin cougar in Chicago

I met some Chicago cougars in the Hilton Milwaukee bar last night. Reciprocity, or something. Sadly, I'm too old for them. [rimshot]

Pretty distressing, for a self-aggrandizing male egotist.

May 23, 2008

Somebody you don't have to speak to

Bob Dylan, who turns 67 tomorrow, will be doing it onstage not in New York or Los Angeles or Hibbing or Paris but in, of all places, St. John's, Newfoundland. Then it's off to Reykjavik, Estonia, and Lithuania. The Never Ending Tour, indeed.

According to Bill Pagel's massive database at, the last time Dylan performed on his birthday was in Dresden, Germany in 2000, where he played seven encores and remarked, "I'll be remembering this birthday for awhile."

Since there's been yet more controversy over same-sex marriage again lately, here's a number that some Dylanologists have surmised to be about a gay man. I'm not sure whether Bob has either confirmed or denied that interpretation, but it makes sense.

Not as an admission by one of the most notorious skirt chasers of all times, but rather as a bit of compassion.

Happy Birthday, Mr. D.

(And Mr. F. and Mr. R.)

ACLU more dangerous than terrorists

According to the followers of religious nutcake D. James Kennedy. Although, "apathetic/uninformed Christians" are marginally more dangerous than colleges and universities. Whew.

h/t Joshua Rosenau.

Speaking of danger, somebody told me that people from Mequon are afraid to visit the Grand Avenue Mall even in broad daylight.

Is that true? I've lived downtown for going on six years and only been mugged once. Mind you, that was at 2 a.m. on the corner of 27th and Kilbourn. I can't say the Judy's Red Hot I went there to have was worth the 40 dollars I was subsequently relieved of.

It was pretty tasty though.

Must. Stop. Homos.

It's for your own good, sinners.
The Alliance Defense Fund is asking the [California] Supreme Court to rehear the case on a single issue. The group argues that the ruling should be stayed until after the November elections, when voters are likely to consider a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

In a 21-page legal brief, the defense fund argues that freezing the ruling would avoid chaos around the state as couples move to capitalize on their newfound legal right to marry by rushing to clerk's offices to get marriage licenses between now and November.
"Marriage trampled in California," asserts the ADF's website, which also contains the following "Statement of Faith":
Those who die in a state of sin and unbelief suffer the punishment of Hell.
I'll be sure to save them a seat, unless they get there first. In which case, toast me a marshmallow or three and give my regards to Mahatma Gandhi, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Jefferson.

Today's informative headline

Dem Strategist Sees Challenges For Obama

CBS News.

May 22, 2008

Remembering Falwell

All the hubbub over the "Reverend" John Hagee has overshadowed the recent (May 15) one-year anniversary of "the discovery of the carcass of Jerry Falwell on the floor of an obscure office in Virginia."

Take it away, Christopher Hitchens:
Cooper: Do you believe he believed what he spoke?

Hitchens: Of course not. He woke up every morning pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking, 'I've got away with it again.'

Cooper: Whether you agree or not with his reading of the Bible, you don't think he was sincere in what he spoke.

Hitchens: No. I think he was a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud, if he read the Bible at all, and I would doubt he could actually read any long book.
Chaucerian frauds (YouTube, 5:21).

Asked and answered

Why are so many godmen in this country such out-of-control nuts? — Posted by whatever
"Reverend" Hagee says he was taken out of context.

Sure you were, out-of-control godman. (Who exactly "reveres" these "reverend" people, by the way?) And the Straight Talker reminds us that he didn't sit in John Hagee's pews for 20 years. What a circus.

McIlheran patronizes socialist state radio

"I'm listening to the CBC streaming some Debussy."
— Patrick McIlheran
Oh sure, help yourself to some free health care while you're at it.

h/t Brew City Brawler.

Earlier: I Will Dare (from Let It Be).

"WOO ... Sweet God!"

Hitler was sent by Jesus to "hunt" Jews.*

Says John McCain's pastor, John Hagee.

* Jeremiah 16:16.

May 21, 2008

Grumpy atheists on teh intarwebs

My internets friend Thomas Joseph has been putting together an eminently thoughtful series at his blog related to the ongoing donnybrooks over creationism and biological evolution and, mostly, the dispositions of the various more celebrated participants.

Whether you agree with him or not (I do some and I don't some), Thomas J. is a most excellent writer and he relates a number of very worthwhile observations. I started working on something of a response but at the moment it resides in a folder with several other dozens of unfinished posts that I need to get back to one of these rainy days.

In the meantime, check out T.J. (only the titles are in Latin):

Primum non nocere* Part I
Primum non nocere Part II
Primum non nocere Part III

* First, do no harm.


I didn't know that 620 WTMJ carries this asshole.

h/t capper and James Rowen.

God returns to Tennessee public schools

Tennessee State Senator Roy Herron (a Democrat) has managed to wrangle a bill through the legislature to the Governor's desk that establishes a "state funded elective course consisting of a nonsectarian, nonreligious academic study of the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics."

Among the reasons Herron was inspired to sponsor the bill is he's had citizens complain to him for years that “they’ve taken God out of our schools,” which is not exactly an academic or a scholarly complaint (not to mention an implied denial of God's omnipresence).

One of the bill's provisions prohibits the "teaching of religious doctrine or sectarian interpretation of the Bible or of texts from other religious or cultural traditions."

Breaking through that series of disjunctions, we get a prohibition on the teaching of texts from other cultural traditions. Even if it means the prohibition is against sectarian interpretation of texts from other cultural traditions, the same problem inheres, as I see it.

Because that apparently means the course can only be designed to study the Bible and the Bible's influence, but not the Bible's own folkloric antecedents. I don't know whether that's constitutionally problematic, but it's certainly problematic as a question of scholarship.

What this bill allows is for Tennessee public school teachers to, for example, discuss the creation and flood myths in the Book of Genesis but doesn't allow them to discuss the earlier Sumerian mythology — an "other cultural tradition" — upon which Genesis is based, as if the Bible just appeared out of nowhere.

That's almost laughable, and probably has poor old E.A. Speiser spinning in his grave. I'm all for teaching a course on the Bible but if it's truly not just a vehicle for proselytizing or furthering our own American "Christian Nation" myth, then it should be comprehensive.

Laws like this may be challenged on constitutional grounds in two ways: on the face of their language, or "as applied," that is, as implemented. According to Tennessee's Attorney General, the bill's language is constitutional on its face, but obviously it remains to be seen what manner of zealots end up preaching teaching the course.

And on the eighth day, litigation ensued. (Gen. 2:3.5)

h/t Religion Clause (which is where all the links are at).

May 20, 2008

Not a bad idea

Perhaps we should cover our troops and vehicles in Qur’ans. Sounds like it would be better than armor.
And a bit of trenchant sarcasm:
Dear Iraqis, I’m sorry we got rid of your murderous, insane dictator. I’m sorry we’ve spent five years bleeding our country dry so yours doesn’t fall apart. I’m sorry that one of our soldiers showed the disrespect towards Islam that you institutionalize towards Christianity and Judaism. Please forgive us. If it will appease you we will gladly throw this soldier to the wolves.
Defusing a Koran shootingNYT

Opines a Randian Zionist:
GIVE HIM A PROMOTION! I am sure Christiane Imamwhore is weeping uncontrollably ...
That must be the Louis XIII Cognac of Hate Blogs.

Not for the kids, but for the rabbis

Two ordained Brooklyn rabbis avoided a federal fraud trial yesterday by pleading guilty to embezzling $75,000 from a school lunch program for low-income families.
This is why we need to post the Ten Commandments in school.

h/t BOP Watch

American TV welcomes Jim Gaffigan!

Offended Christian: I'm mad at that guy, who the hell does he think he is? If he's Catholic, what are we supposed to do, pray him into Heaven? Is that it? I'm very offended.

Jim Gaffigan: Are you sure you don't have an abortion doctor to kill or something? Lady, look, the applications for the Third Reich are over, alright?

American presents Jim Gaffigan.

Where's the outrage?

Earlier: American TV welcomes Stephen Lynch!

McCain = Jesus, USA = God

'I meant John McAmerica, not John McChrist.'
Georgia Republican Party chairwoman Sue Everhart said Saturday that the party's presumed presidential nominee has a lot in common with Jesus Christ.

"John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross," Everhart said as she began the second day of the state GOP convention. "He never denounced God, either."

Everhart was praising McCain for never denouncing the United States while he was being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"I'm not trying to compare John McCain to Jesus Christ, I'm looking at the pain that was there," she said.
Because saying someone is "kind of like" someone else is not a comparison. Or at least, not an attempt at comparison. Got it.
And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. — Leviticus 24:16
However, it's the other comparison that the self-described "jealous God" YHWH might have a small problem with. Aren't Republicans the ones who want the Ten Commandments plastered everywhere? That's so they can familiarize their own selves with them, apparently.

It's a Republican thing. They like the Bible, they just don't read it.

Did you know?

George H.W. Bush by presidential proclamation declared the 1990s "the Decade of the Brain." The Decade of the Brain safely over, son George W. Bush sought the presidency in 2000.

May 19, 2008

The sickness unto theocon bioethics

How did the United States, the world's scientific powerhouse, reach a point at which it grapples with the ethical challenges of twenty-first-century biomedicine using Bible stories, Catholic doctrine, and woolly rabbinical allegory?
Answer: It elected a shitload of conservative Republicans.

Leon Kass is crazier than a fish in a car wash — Steven Pinker

h/t folkbum's r&r.

Manimal29 fails Logic 101

How embarrassing.

Accusing one's interlocutor of "refusing to accept Aristotelian definitions" whilst simultaneously refusing to accept Aristotelian definitions one's own self is not the most effective debating tactic.

Particularly where the said accusation is deployed as an alleged premise to a non sequitur during an argumentum ad hominem.

Fortunately a rational animal is still an animal.

May 16, 2008

Onward, Gay Crusaders

It didn't take long for the usual crowd of homophobes and religious fanatics to get to preening and drama queening over California's same-sex marriage decision yesterday.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a.k.a. The Church of Latter Day Pharisees, is Hell bent on writing a State constitutional amendment that would forbid Stuart Gaffney from marrying his partner of 21 years.

Twenty-one years is 183,456 hours, or 3,336 times as long as Britney Spears's first 55-hour marriage lasted, yet the blessed nuptials of the ethically disheveled Pop Tart are the ones the Latter Day Pharisees would prefer the government to exclusively consecrate.

Even Mathew Staver, the self-appointed Florida attorney for Jesus with a record of shameless dishonesty that would stun an ox, wants everybody to know he's outraged, calling the decision "magical." Magic and necromancy, at least, Staver would know.

California's Catholic bishops too, are incensed (pun intended). Why in the world would a conspiracy of celibate old men care about marriage? I've decided not to eat Kraft American Cheese Food Slices, so it doesn't bother me whether they're individually wrapped or not.

Nobody has ever given even a halfway decent reason why the government should forbid gay people from marrying each other. The best that appears in the various State court decisions on the question is that the government has an interest in preserving some allegedly "sacred tradition."

And political conservatives actually support this ephemeral notion as a legitimate function of government? Conservatives sure aren't like they used to be. Somebody needs to be conserving the real conservatives before they all disappear.

It's a sacred tradition, the Alliance Defense Fund claims, that dates back to "Eden." (And Eden dates back to Gilgamesh, except the ADF's religious mythology is highly selective.)

The California Supreme Court took an enlightened step forward yesterday, in treating human sexual preference as a classification akin to "race" and ethnicity for the purposes of scrutinizing government actions aimed at separating the foregoing into socially acceptable and non-acceptable castes.

That heightened scrutiny is appropriate because sexuality, like skin color and ethnicity, exists on a continuum of subtleties. Any line drawn on the continuum is bound to be arbitrary, and laws can't be arbitrary and not violate a State's Equal Protection Clause.
The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures. — Junius
Religion is afforded the same heightened degree of scrutiny, even though today's Orange County Evangelical could be tomorrow's Santa Monica Scientologist and whereas if you're hounding after women at Bar Louie tonight, you're unlikely to be doing your best full drag Liza Minnelli impression at La Cage on Saturday.

Conservatives object to all this, mistakenly believing that the will of the government and/or the electorate can override an equal protection clause, and judges must unfailingly defer to the legislature and the electorate. That's ridiculous, obviously, as a fundamental matter of U.S. constitutional law.

And that's why Milwaukee medium-wave think tanker Charlie Sykes wants you to replace all judges committed to equal protection under the law with reliable GOP cronies and underachieving rubber stamps.

As if conservatives never go running to the courts to try and invalidate legislation they don't like. Mitch McConnell filed for an injunction against McCain-Feingold before the ink was even dry.

Today's convenient Republican devotion to direct democracy is nothing but a smokescreen for a desire to enforce subjective religious principles through state coercion and a prurient fascination with the mechanics of — male, especially — homosexual relations.

Another great big gay crusader, Ted Haggard, proved that already.

May 15, 2008

Simple, really

Seeking to preserve by State statute the allegedly "sacred" nature of marriage as defined in the Book of Deuteronomy is not a compelling government interest.* Why do conservative Republicans insist that it's all about the gay bum sex? It's like they're obsessed with it or something. That doesn't seem natural.

* It's not even a rational one.

A chip and fall off the old Bork

I mentioned John McCain's vacuous platitudes* and his laughably hypocritical "Justice Advisory Committee" previously here.

Now meet Randy M. Mastro, advisory committee member.

* No redundancy, they're vacuous even by platitudinous standards.

Republicans genetically superior, says Republican

Michael Medved loses final marble. — Pharyngula

Medved is also a creationist Senior Fellow.

This is him exercising his scientific credentials.
Michael Medved: "In My Pants."

Patrick McReasoning

Shorter McIlheran: "The left" is ultimately blameworthy for Barack Obama's depiction as a banana-eating cartoon monkey because "the left" spent eight years comparing George Bush to a chimpanzee.

McIlheran is correct to take offense with the latter comparison, as it unjustly maligns our noble cousins, the chimpanzees.

To be sure, Kingdom Metazoa suffers as a whole when any of them is compared to a politician. Or a newspaper columnist.

Elsewhere: Obama not a sufficiently typical American.

Pro-life dilemma

Nine-year-old absorbed embryo of own twin.

May 14, 2008

The emote in thine own eye

Is there a Godwin's Law for the KKK?

The comment above that one is even more sublimer:
Arthiest are a bunch of hypocrits. They fervantly attack anything they don't believe in while at the same time attempting to monopolize what people think about free speech and human origin. I don't know if it's because they are power hungry, mean spirited or insecure.
I loves me some Trilemma.

Earlier: Jackanapes on parade.

That's Entertainment

Fetch me a niblick, there's a good lad

"I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it's just not worth it anymore to do," said Bush.
The golfing, not the war.

But not until two months later, in October. Coincidentally, while he was having problems with his knees and a torn calf muscle anyway.

Now watch this drive.

Chaos, death and tears

Followed a link from learned counsel Mike Plaisted's riff this morning. Bob Novak typed this bit about some "unnamed" evangelical Christian nutcases who see a Barack Obama presidency in terms of Biblical prophecy, as in, a plague to bring about the End of Times prophecy.

Of course these whackfruits are planted wide and deep, from John McCain's religious pal John Hagee to the hyperventilating lunatics Rexella and Jack Van Impe, for whom the fanciful fiery death of all humanity in a river of blood is like a raging overdose of Levitra.

This is not news but Novakula's ghoulish angle is that they're somehow connected to good old Mike Huckabee of Hope, AR, favored in some circles as McCain's vice-presidential running mate.

And, obviously, Huckabee says it's bollocks. But they're out there:
My father in law voted to re-elect Bush, because he believed he was put on this Earth by God to hasten the Apocalypse, and he wanted this to happen so that he "wouldn't miss it," and get the chance to be assumed into heaven without being defiled by the grave. — Posted by fontapa
Now I know Republicans used to keep black people from voting by putting quasi-academic tests in their way at the polling stations, so is there a way we can set up some in situ diagnostic psychiatry?

Not only is it disturbing that but 49% of registered voters deliver the presidential mandate (and then only 49% of those, in a recent celebrated instance), 19% helps you lie and buy your way to a seat on a State Supreme Court, and 5% referendums you another Wal-Mart thrown up in Austin, TX. But what's truly frightening is fontapa's father-in-law being among the few that actually do get out and vote.

I'm practically convinced that with 100% voter turn-out in this greatest of all democracies, the only place you'd ever see a conservative Republican politician again is in a museum. Or maybe the End of Times really is coming, and this is our plague.

May 13, 2008

"The most childish superstitions"

It's an article of faith among creationists and other assorted apologists that the noted German-American physicist Albert Einstein was a religious man.

Hopefully this letter will put an end to that once and for all.

Even still, the CBC report carries the desperate ramblings of an Oxford theologian, continuing in futile resistance against Einstein's now-total cultural appropriation by evil atheists.

Richard Dawkins has wondered why modern universities still have theology departments, and if so, why they don't likewise have an emeritus chair in leprechaun studies. It's a good question.

Wis. Stat. § 940.01(1)(a)

The Neenah woman whose suffocation of her 2-year-old son was preceded by Bible reading and communication with incorporeal beings intentionally caused the death of another human being, says the government, so she's looking at life in prison today (no DP in WI).
After Caleb died, Brenda Thiel laid in bed next to him for about 15 minutes. She apologized to him, kissed him and told him she loved him.
The stuff of Gothic novels.
[Neighbor Karen] Mulvey said she recalled Thiel telling her she had joined Christ The Rock Community Church in the Calumet County Town of Harrison. "She said it was the best thing that ever happened to her."
Competency hearing to follow.

No noggin exam for Bishop Bushey?

Sister Mary Bernadette a.k.a. Tammy Lewis of Necedah, WI is scheduled for a competency hearing May 27 in Juneau County related to her two felony charges of causing mental harm to a child arising from having left a deceased 90-year-old woman to "rot on a toilet" for nine weeks whilst the children at issue shat in a bucket.

No word yet on similar process (as against the identical charges) for Lewis's co-conspirator in attempted resurrection and religious "Superior," Bishop Alan A. "John Peter" Bushey. Lewis's attorney had a pretty good line in court yesterday, though.
Dan Berkos disputed comments of prosecutors that Bushey headed a cult. Berkos said almost any organized religion could be described that way.
Well, maybe so. But that doesn't mean this one is excluded from the definition. "Cult" may be overbroad or even underinclusive, but if it has any legal meaning at all, it must apply to these circumstances.

Ya think?

I wonder if Counselor Berkos has his experts booked yet. Any hearing involving the distinctions between mental illness and religious belief is bound to be interesting. That's why they should flog the Bishop in there too. And while they're at it, grab that Kenny Van Hoof dude.

Don't Worry, Kyoto

So Senator John McCain is concerned about climate change, and is even threatening to get all Kyoto-sanctionmonious about it. What's his point? If climate change is your issue, you're likely not about to be snowed by McCain's tepid rhetoric. No, the warmth McCain is concerned about is that emanating from his occasional manhug buddy, G.W. Bush XLIII, where a little global cooling is in order.

The real "Bush Derangement Syndrome" is a GOP affliction.


May 12, 2008

SCOTUS too conflicted to stop tort nightmare

Corporate exposure in the Billions.

How 'bout dat.

Monday Night Mailbag

An anonymous reader writes: "You should get caught up in your knowledge of human origin. May I suggest that you visit the New Creation Science Museum in Ohio? One of their directors was a top evolution scientist that finally openly admitted the flaws of the theory. Perhaps, you could also be open minded."

Dear Anonymous, Petersburg, KY isn't anywhere near the top of my list of places to visit before I die and I doubt I could be persuaded to patronize the said "museum." Not without the assistance of organic hallucinogens, at any rate. Besides, I've already seen everything they've got a hundred times or more. But thanks just the same.

The Creation Museum is the stillborn brainchild of a supercilious nincompoop from Australia called Ken Ham, who, amongst a miscellany of other slapsticks, insists the universe is 6,000 years old. Ken Ham makes you long for the days when they used to send the criminals to Australia.

But Ken Ham is at least consistent. He thinks every word in the Bible is literally true, and that if even one word of the Bible isn't literally true, then not one other word of the Bible is literally true either. It's a compelling logic for millions of Americans, it is said. It's also an extravagantly risible fallacy, but never mind.

Apparently it would also crush Ken Ham's otherwise indomitable Faith to learn that the sun didn't "stand still" in the sky, pi is greater than three, or the mustard plant does not bear the smallest of seeds.

Ken Ham claims that if you add up the generations of the Old Testament (which include a number of mythic heroes and longsuffering heroines alleged to have lived for several hundred years) then you arrive at the Biblically correct age of the universe.

W3 is a star formation region in the constellation Perseus (a mere) 7,500 light years from Earth. A light year is the distance it takes light to travel in one year at about 59 million feet per minute. If the universe is only 6,000 years old, then the light from W3 wouldn't have reached us yet, and we couldn't see it. Yet, there it is.

So much for Ken Ham. But still, hundreds of thousands of dupes flock to his Kentucky carnival. That would be two feet every minute, in P.T. Barnumese, albeit slower than the speed of light, or even the short bus in third gear on its way to the Creation Museum.

Here's the manner of rigorously scientific installation you'll encounter at "the creationist Disneyland":
A male teenager is shown sitting at a computer looking at internet pornography and a female teenager speaks with Planned Parenthood about having an abortion; both acts are blamed on their belief that the Earth is "millions of years" old. The climax of the tour is the life of Jesus Christ, with a three-dimensional depiction of the crucifixion.
Let's hope they got that much right. By the way, why is it that they never seem to tire of killing him? We get it; enough already.

While the godless may — and not a few do — point and laugh, professional theologians are genuinely concerned:
The Rev. Mendle Adams, pastor of St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Cincinnati, said, "My brothers and sisters in the faith who embrace [the creationist] understanding call into question the whole Christian concept" and "make us a laughingstock." Roman Catholic theologian John Haught [said] it will cause an "impoverishment" of religion." Michael Patrick Leahy, editor of the magazine Christian Faith and Reason, says that by replacing the scientific method with biblical literalism, the museum undermines the credibility of all Christians and makes it easy to represent Christians as irrational.
I wouldn't go that far, but a subset for certain includes at least Ken Ham and his nitwit apostles. Anyway, they present their own selves as irrational. There are a few comical tours of the Creation Museum online. These two are pretty funny, as well as lavishly illustrated:

Incest, child abuse feature at Creation Museum — BlueGrassRoots
Not just your average load of horseshit — John Scalzi / Whatever

World of Whorecraft

Ralph told the suspicious hookers he and the other teens were people of restricted growth working with a traveling circus.
Ralph's ambition is to become a Texas politician.

Off to a fine start, my little friend.

Elsewhere: Real carnies not so fun-loving.

Bill Maher Watch: Day 10

May 12, and there are still two giant Bill Maher posters in the glass entrance doors of the Riverside Theatre bearing the prominent legends, "American Welcomes."

Dear god in heaven won't somebody make the nightmare end.
Republicans need anger management training. Look at John Bolton — if you can. One, his hair's not speaking to his moustache. And two, the Republicans actually like the idea of our most sensitive diplomatic post being helmed by a raging psychopath. Asking John Bolton to represent you at the UN is like asking R. Kelly to chaperone the Miss Teen USA Pageant — you know someone's gonna end up pissed.

— Bill Maher, New Rules, p. 219

May 11, 2008

Nonagenarian decedent on toilet update

The Journal-Sentinel this morning has a bit more background on this week's unusual tale of the Wisconsin cultists who left a 90-year-old woman to, as the J-S reporters put it, "rot on a toilet since March 4." (I got the mistaken impression from an early AP report that one of the two cultists, a man and a woman, was the deceased woman's daughter. Duh. She's 35, and evidently no relation.)

Turns out Necedah, WI was the alleged site of some particularly hysterical "Marian apparitions," that is, personal speaking engagements by what the Catholic Church calls the Virgin Mary.

Reports the J-S, "The man and woman, now facing criminal charges, were the bishop and a nun of an offshoot Catholic church unrecognized by Rome and unaffiliated with the shrine that has drawn worshippers for half a century, authorities say."

More clearly, according to this Wikipedia entry, the Catholic Church doesn't recognize the shrine, either, nor any of the Necedah Marian shenanigans in toto. It considers the visions to have been false (full marks to the Catholic Church for that much). The best part:
Fidelity Magazine, a Roman Catholic periodical, quotes one of [Mary Ann] Van Hoof's messages, in its February, 1989 Issue as detailing that the devotees of the Necedah Shrine would be spared Armageddon when, right before the world's doom, a 1,200 year-old man named Joe will come in a spaceship to save them.
At least that last bit is unbiblical, I take it.

The Necedah Shrine has its own oddball website too, Mediatrix are for Kids, operated by a tax-exempt outfit called For My God And My Country, Inc., Jennifer Sparby, Proprietor.

From that site there is a link to this thing, Diamond Star Light Beacon, which is registered to a Kenny Van Hoof, likely a relative of the original "simple and poor farm woman" Mary Ann Van Hoof, the entertainer of the original apparitions (there were a whole bunch).

There is a lot of strange, strange reading at Kenny's website, where wildly imaginative End of Times paranoia and supernatural conspiracy theories abound. Check it out, it's a kick. Get it? Kenny Van Hoof.

There's some crazy peoples up in them thar hills.

I can't put my hands on my copy of Weird Wisconsin at the moment, so I don't know whether this shrine joint is in it. It should be.

Kohler, a Wisconsin company, has several very nice toilets.

May 10, 2008

Sure fire ego wall kiss of death

h/t Thoughtful Conservative

Gableman goes creationist

Remember Burnett County, WI Sheriff Dean Roland? He's the government official who sent out an invitation to his May 1 "prayer breakfast" on official government stationery indicating that Burnett County Circuit Judge Mike Gableman is "a man who is deeply committed to our Lord, his religion and his profession."

The pancakes were indeed served and prayed over, and the Burnett County Sentinel carried a report of the bizarre event the other day.

Sheriff Roland tearfully recounted an "angry" phone call he said he'd received from someone seemingly taking issue with Roland's temerity in officially claiming that there's such a thing as an official, government-sponsored and -endorsed "Our" "Lord" just for Wisconsin.

"No greater love hath man ... I'm willing to die for you," Roland shouted down the phone, "Are you willing to die for me?" While Roland interpreted the predictable silence as a Righteous Victory against the godless hordes, I'm certain it was more the result of unalloyed dumbfoundedness with Roland's crude and fallacious meanderings.

Seriously, why do these government officials insist on getting up in front of a plate of flapjacks and publicly declaiming their various religions and supernatural beliefs? All it ever is is embarrassing. No wonder the Constitution counsels against it, for that reason alone.

I for one very much appreciate the dedication and service of law enforcement — as much as anybody, I'm sure. Public demonstrations of piety do nothing to enhance that appreciation.

Next came the guest of hizzoner, State Supreme Court Justice-elect* Mike Gableman, who delivered a liturgy comprised of carefully selected historical tidbits straight outta conservative Republican activist and notoriously unreliable pseudo-historian David Barton.

Then Gableman had a few words about religion and science.

"He quoted Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, a founder of modern physics, as saying, 'There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe, of which both man and nature are subservient.'"

"Science is catching up," Gableman added.

What's that supposed to mean? That science is proving God? Not exactly. Max Planck was a lifelong Christian. He accepted the existence of God entirely as a matter of subjective, personal faith. Not science. Planck was a believer long before he formulated quantum mechanics. And Planck's beliefs had little to do with the meddlesome Oriental deity about which Gableman is rambling.

In fact, Planck's position with respect to science and religion was precisely opposite of what Gableman suggested. "The faith in miracles," Planck said, "must yield, step by step, before the steady and firm advance of the facts of science, and its total defeat is undoubtedly a matter of time."

Planck would have found it odd to be invoked at a pancake breakast devoted to calling forth miracles from a god that tinkers about with cellular organelles and whatnot else. You're already seated comfortably in a nice restaurant, about to tuck into an infinite-cholesterol stack of Aunt Jemimas with syrup, and now you want a miracle also? Oy. I do and do and do for you kids ...

Anyway, there are plenty of scientists who believe in God. So what? As a matter of fact, one of the most vocal supporters of science education in America and by the same token one of the most vocal critics of so-called "intelligent design" creationism, Kenneth Miller, is a devout Catholic. So what? Nobody cares. That's his business.

The point is, "intelligent design" is a scam and a sham. So to suggest that because some scientist believes in god implies that science has proven god reflects a profound misunderstanding of both the limitless variety of personal theologies and science.

Gableman also mentioned the English philosopher Antony Flew. According to the Sentinel, "Professor Flew stated that developments in modern science had led him to accept the action of an Intelligent Mind in the creation of the world."

"Science is catching up," added Gableman.

Um, no. For one thing, Flew has contradicted himself on so many occasions over the last few years that it's nearly impossible for anyone, least of all Mike Gableman, to say what he thinks, or what led him where.

Most importantly, Flew's attitude toward a number of philosophical arguments for god have little to do with science. Flew doesn't even follow science. His idea of a scientist is Richard Dawkins. That's like me saying my idea of a musician is Hannah Montana.

The only people who care which philosophical argument for god Flew is accepting or rejecting this week are hamhanded apologists like Lee Strobel and Gary Habermas, who seize on Flew as some sort of poster child for Jesus, despite Flew throughout the "controversy" still categorically rejecting the existence of any of the Abrahamic models of god including the one Gableman and Sheriff Roland follow around.

And, same as Max Planck, for Gableman to suggest that science proved god to Antony Flew is just plain counterfactual and ridiculous. A better explanation is that Flew is losing his marbles or at least is having jolly sport at both his supporters and detractors.

After all, Flew came to America to accept something called the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth at an evangelical Christian college.

Just the inclusion of "Phillip E. Johnson" and "Truth" in the same sentence is enough to have them rolling in the aisles, including, I wouldn't be at all surprised, Antony Flew.

One may attempt to navigate Antony Flew's perturbations here.

All of which serves again to reinforce the brute fact that we're not currently putting our most thoughtful individuals on the State Supreme Court, only, in this latest instance, one merely capable of rehashing typically ill-informed and disingenuous conservative Republican propaganda.

* The phrase "Supreme Court Justice-elect" would surely cause James Madison to rotate in his crypt.

The Weekly Real Best of the WI-Blogs

Boots & Kittens

For a long while now, one of the smartest and funniest domains on the entire Quesosphere. And you don't even have to know anything about the blog B&K is making fun of. I'm still laughing at "Guess That Geographical Location — March 17, 2008" (scroll down a bit).

You'll never find Boots & Kittens on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's "Best of the Wisconsin Blogs," but you will find, inexplicably and with disturbing regularity, the very blog that B&K is so deftly lampooning.

That fact is one of humanity's most perplexing conundrums.

A recent sample:
Dead Woman Found on Toilet


This is ridiculous superstition. After all, every good Christian (that is, the ones at my church) knows that demons are responsible only for occultic games (such as Pokemon, World of Warcrack and Ouija boards), satanic rock music, false religions such as Wicca, Islam and Unitarianism, drug use, affection for rum and Romanism in general. If you're not my kind of Christian, you're pretty much demonic. Pray and fast, pray and have faith, pray and rebuke it! Follow the logic: Send the demon(s) into a pack of wild pigs, who will then drown themselves in a nearby body of water.
"Following the logic" is a B&K leitmotif, apparently a favored device at the parodied blog. It's singularly hazardous to draw attention to one's logic, particularly when you're not actually employing any.

It is with great shame

That I now admit that, until May 8, 2008, I had never listened to Junior Wells.

And what is even worse than never having listened to Junior Wells is that the only version I ever heard of Messin' With The Kid was by the Blues Brothers.

At least, one of them was from Chicago, but even that tangential blues cred is completely negated by the fact that the other guy was a Canadian. I never felt so white in my life.

So I get a gig last week with my good buddy and occasional professional associate Mike Kettler. Kettler plays (and teaches) drums in a variety of contexts, from rockabilly to jigs, hornpipes, and avant-jazz and asked me to play with him and a guy called George Castro in Cudahy next Wednesday night. Fortunately Kettler doesn't know I haven't picked up my bass since July and my Ampeg 2x10 combo amp has been sitting in a garage in Whitefish Bay since then. (I'm coming Colleen, I'm coming ... )

I have another bass rig at home but it weighs 400 pounds and I'm getting too old to drag that thing up and down a flight of stairs. I don't do roadying anymore period. Unless there's food.

Who George is (apparently he used to have a band by the fantastic name of Castro's Cuban Missile Crisis), I can't say and I won't be meeting him until the job because we won't be rehearsing, just showing up and playing. Like back in the days.

What George is is a blues guy so the tunes will be pretty straightforward: three chords (but, the best three chords in just the right order). Besides, Kettler gave me a set list and some charts, which is cool, because I didn't know drummers could even read music, let alone write it. May wonders never cease.

So anyway, Junior Wells. After procuring Messin' With The Kid from iTunes and listening to it about 147 times in a row, I purchased the Junior Wells collection, Best of the Vanguard Years. I thought Vanguard was a classical label with a few folkies. Guess not. Junior Wells is, quite simply, one of the best singers I've ever heard in my life. And I've heard a couple.

The opening track, Sonny Boy Williamson's Help Me, contains what is possibly the greatest spoken introduction to a tune of all times:
I want to do this ... number. It's not mines. But I'm gonna pay tribute to a ... an old fellerow and a, nice outstanding musician. A tribute to him. It's a number that he made that I think that will. Linger in your hearts forever. It's a crazy little thing that goes like this: Baby. You got to Help Me.
You Know That I Know and Stormy Monday Blues are museum pieces. And Shake It Baby is a James Brownian rave-up with some of the best recorded drums you're going to hear (as do the other cuts).

It could be a pretty sad commentary on contemporary American civilization that we're so inured to all these synthesizers and various digital crap we don't even know what drums sound like anymore. Drums, of all things, the first musical instrument the nascent species learned to play. Maybe that's the real great shame.

Funny thing is, it's what they call R&B nowadays that takes the most mechanical automation to produce. It used to be a room the size of a small garage and three microphones, or maybe even just one.

Therefore as your attorney I advise you to obtain Junior Wells's Best of the Vanguard Years and play it at suitable volumes. Make sure you have lots of bottom end. And also make the trip to Cudahy this week.

George Castro, guitar, vocals
Michael Kettler, drums, percussion
Yr hmbl corresp, bass guitar

"Perform Messin' With The Kid and other Top Favorites"

Wednesday, May 14, 8 p.m.
City Lounge
"Urban elegance and Old-Fashioned Charm" — Cudahy Now
3455 East Layton Avenue


Just hours after posting this, I was informed that the gig is canceled. Apparently the club has two owners and the other one had booked a piano player for the same evening. Subsequently, the owner who booked the piano player prevailed during the inevitable flurry of averments and disputations.

I don't recall ever having had a gig canceled in my life. Although when I was about 17 I was in a band that booked a four-nighter, complete with a signed contract, and got fired after the first night for not being loud enough. The club owed us around $1200 and we never saw a penny of it, and the Musician's Union didn't do squat, even though we were required to be members and pay annual dues — for exactly these sorts of situations. The contract had the Musician's Union logo at the top of it and wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Come to think of it, I have also never once heard a complimentary word about the Musician's Union. Rather, nothing except savage tales of bitterness, horror, and feudalist exploitation. Anyway, just in case any of the groupies were wondering, you'll only find a lonely piano player in the club Wednesday night.

"They sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say, 'Man, what are you doing here.'" And in any event, we still have Junior Wells.

May 9, 2008

Creationist sentenced to Turkish prison

Today Harun Yahya, tomorrow William A. Dembski.

Already got Kent Hovind.

A Mother's Day Prayer

Religious materials everywhere
and hymns playing on the stereo

At least occasionally, the distinction between religious belief and mental illness is somewhat difficult to discern.

After God entered negotiations with a Wisconsin religious woman, the woman left her 90-year-old mother dead on the toilet in her home for nine weeks. According to the religious woman, God promised her he would revisit his celebrated Lazarus number on the dead woman if the religious woman prayed to Him hard enough.

On Wednesday, police in Necedah discovered that the prior negotiations had evidently got somehow scuppered, and the woman's mother was still dead. Since March 4. "Piled" on the toilet.

The religious woman, Tammy Lewis a.k.a. Sister Mary Bernadette, said she was acting in concordance with the instructions of her religious "Superior," a gentleman called Bishop "I Refute It Thus" Bushey. Two counts of felony causing mental harm to a child — one for each of Lewis's two teenaged children — were filed against both grown-ups today.

Sister M.B. told police her mother wasn't really fully and completely dead and besides, there was another toilet for the kids in the house, which turned out to be a bucket in a closet.

Investigators understatedly described the scene as "horrific."

Bishop Bushey had warned the terrified children they had better not run away, because Demons were conspiring to keep Sister M.B.'s mother dead, and if the Demons won out, then the teenagers would have to go to school and get jobs, because the dead woman paid all the church bills. So just shut up and keep praying, kids.

"Juneau County Sheriff Brent Oleson said he had no further information on Bushey's religious affiliation," the AP reports.

Does it matter which one? The problem is *A* religious affiliation.

It's unclear whether the Bishop of Necedah's god was the same omnibenevolent deity who didn't save an 11-year-old girl from a diabetic coma and death late last month after an untreated three-week illness during an attempted "faith healing."

Earlier: National Day of Custom Mattresses.

Later: A Catholic Splinter Outfit.

So it wasn't Sister M.B.'s mother after all.

Brawler unearths some WI-Nazis

Tell 'em, Jello.

The WI-Nazis have a discussion board, too. Only 31 members, if that's any consolation. Say hello to "Panzer Girl" and "whiteboy1488."

Tough call whether you want to give these folks free publicity, but I tend to favor knowing they're out there, in a neighborhood near you.

After all, conservative Republicans don't exactly want us to ignore "Rev." Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan either, do they?


American TV welcomes Stephen Lynch!

"American Presents The Sick and Twisted Stephen Lynch," declares the full page color ad in yesterday's virulently pro-Catholic newspaper* The Onion, welcoming the "comedian" Lynch to Milwaukee's Riverside Theatre tomorrow night.

Search 'Stephen Lynch' at and find Lynch mocking the mentally and physically handicapped, homosexuals, and so forth, complete with foul and offensive language. He also sings about performing an abortion on his girlfriend by kicking her in the stomach and inserting a coat hanger into her vagina, among other things.

And, of course:


"How many Catholics do we have here tonight?" [Sparse applause] "That's way too fuckin' many." [Laughter]
sunday mass or bible class
i catch him in my view
so i close my eyes but there he lies
spread eagle on the pew
and when i see him in that frock
my conscience goes awry
i'll give him some communion wine
that's spiked with spanish fly

altar boy, altar boy
is it gonna be heaven or hell
you can play my organ all night long
if you promise never to tell
So, where's the fabricated outrage?

Anyone? Chuckles? McBueller?

*crickets chirping*
* This issue's top story:
Pope Returns To Vatican
With Comprehensive Plan
To Blow Up United States

Chillingly, the recording concludes with the phrase "May God bless America," followed by what is being called a "throaty, maniacal" laugh that experts have identified as the pontiff's.
(A near-perfect triple-decker headline, by the way.)

Ken Miller rips some Expelled

Despite these [numerous other] falsehoods, by far the film's most outlandish misrepresentation is its linkage of Darwin with the Holocaust. A concentration camp tour guide tells [Ben] Stein that the Nazis were practicing "Darwinism," and that's that. Never mind those belt buckles proclaiming Gott mit uns (God is with us), the toxic anti-Semitism of Martin Luther, the ghettoes and murderous pogroms in Christian Europe centuries before Darwin's birth. No matter. It's all the fault of evolution.
Stein, Mathis are fatuous, lying idiots

May 8, 2008

State executioners back in bidness

Georgia is first past the post
William Earl Lynd, 53, was put to death at Jackson state prison in Georgia late on Tuesday after a final meal of two pepper jack barbecue burgers with crispy onions, baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon and cheese, and a large strawberry milkshake.
He eats ate better than I do.

Here is an excerpt from William Earl Lynd's final (rejected) reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a stay of execution. Bear in mind that a sentence of death requires a killing plus some aggravating factor(s), as defined by State statute.
[The Georgia Supreme Court's] flawed decision may now allow a man to be executed based on a fake doctor's manifestly and undisputedly false and misleading testimony that a woman shot in the brain could have revived and struggled painfully before being dealt a final, cold-blooded shot to the head by Mr. Lynd.

Had a competent medical professional informed the jury that in fact, Ms. Moore immediately died after being shot in the brain during her fight with Mr. Lynd, there would have been no evidence to support the kidnapping aggravator or the prosecutor's inflammatory argument that Ms. Moore died a lingering, torturous death, which came when a cold, calculating William Lynd fired the final, fatal shot.

It simply could not have happened that way. Because the jury heard otherwise, Mr. Lynd's death sentence cannot be said, by any stretch of distorted moral or legal logic, to be fair, accurate and reliable. Had Mr. Lynd been subject only to the remaining statutory aggravator in this case — aggravated battery — it is overwhelmingly likely that he would not have been sentenced to death.

In Georgia, only one other person has ever had a death sentence affirmed based solely on the aggravated battery aggravator, and that involved the murder of a child.
h/t SCOTUSblog

Earlier: Git-R-Done.