Archive for December, 2010


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 87 Comments

Know who has a book coming out?

In this deeply personal and controversial memoir, Father Alberto Cutié tells about the devastating struggle between upholding his sacred promises as a priest and falling in love. Already conflicted with growing ideological differences with the Church, Cutié was forced to abruptly change his life the day that he was photographed on the beach, embracing the woman he would later call his wife.

Once a poster boy of the Roman Catholic Church-loved and admired by millions-Cutié found that he was not happy and able to live as a celibate priest, especially having to defend the number of positions he was no longer in agreement with. For years he kept his relationship a secret, while he soul searched and prayed for answers. The love that he deemed a blessing was bringing him closer to God, but further from the Church. In Dilemma, Cutié tells about breaking that promise, reigniting the very heated debate over mandatory celibacy for Catholic priests, beginning a new way of life and discovering a new way of serving God.

Not buying it, Al.

That description reads, to me anyway, like a guy who calls himself a conservative.  He says all the right things and is completely correct on all the right issues.

Then someone fixes him up with this really hot liberal and the two of them immediately hit it off.  She genuinely likes him and he’s never ever had a woman that unbelievably beautiful interested in him in his entire life.

Gradually, his political positions begin to change.  Abortion?  He can see some situations where it might be necessary.  Health care?  Some semblance of order must be brought out of the current chaos.

Taxes?  Raising rates on the rich affects him not at all.  Gay marriage?  It neither picks his pocket nor breaks his leg.   The Catholic Church into which he was born?  Lately, he’s been having trouble justifying some of its positions. 

And so on.  When friends ask him the reason for his volte-face, he tells them that he’s been “troubled” by these things for a long time and finally came to the conclusion that he’d been wrong about a great many things.

Which is a lie.  And he knows it.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

According to someone named John Whitbeck, the world domination game is over and the Jews won it:

Palestine was conquered, and is still occupied 43 years later, by the military forces of Israel.

Western politicians and the western media customarily apply the term “international community” to the United States and whatever countries are willing to publicly support it on a given issue, and apply the term “rogue state” to any country that actively resists Israeli-American global domination.

By its slavish subservience to Israel – as reflected yet again, both in the absence of a single brave voice raised against this new House resolution and in the Obama administration’s recently rejected offer of a huge military and diplomatic bribe to Israel in reward for a mere 90-day suspension of its illegal colonisation programme – the United States has effectively excluded itself from the true international community (redefined to refer to the great majority of mankind) and become a true rogue state, acting in consistent and flagrant contempt of both international law and fundamental human rights.

One might hope that the United States could still pull back from the abyss and recover its own independence, but all signs are pointing in the opposite direction. It is a sad ending for a once admirable country.

That’s just a little taste of Whitbeck’s egregiously airheaded stupidity.  John?  Hate to be the one to break this to you but “Palestine” was not “conquered” in 1967.  Know why that was, asshat?  Because NO SUCH ENTITY AS “PALESTINE” EXISTED IN 1967!!

Parts of Egypt and Jordan, both of whom had declared war on Israel along with several other Muslim entities, did.  These would be the fabled West Bank and Gaza Strip, both of which, along with something called East Jerusalem, had supposedly been “Palestinian territory” from time immemorial.

I can’t make the logic work either but then again, I’m not an anti-Semitic dumbass.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Insiders reveal what intelligent people have known for a long time.  Hugh Hefner is a degenerate sleazebag:

‘Everything in the Mansion felt old and stale, and Archie the house dog would regularly relieve himself on the hallway curtains, adding a powerful whiff of urine to the general scent of decay.’

Many girls, it seems, endured these living conditions for the chance of becoming a centrefold in Playboy ­magazine — an invaluable career boost for any glamour model.

Others admitted that they stayed only for the ­cosmetic surgery to which Hefner treated them as a birthday presents, keeping a running account with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.

But St James — with big university debts — was more interested in the weekly pocket money which Hefner paid all his girlfriends. ‘Every Friday morning we had to go to Hef’s room, wait while he picked up all the dog poo off the carpet — and then ask for our allowance: a thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred-dollar bills from a safe in one of his bookcases,’ she says. 

‘We all hated this process. Hef would always use the occasion to bring up anything he wasn’t happy about in the relationship. Most of the complaints were about the lack of harmony among the girlfriends — or your lack of sexual participation in the “parties” he held in his bedroom.

Read the rest of the whole, sordid thing.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Thursday, December 30th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Washington Post Barbie doll Ezra Klein says, “Reading is hard.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 27 Comments

In Exodus 33:20, the LORD tells Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”  Pat Cheng of the Episcopal What The Hell Does The Word Divinity Even Mean Anyway School must be better then Moses since Pat sees his god all the time.  Pat’s deity wears a black robe and tells Pat anything he wants to hear:

Anti-gay Christians love to quote John 8:32, which says that “the truth will make you free.” According to them, if only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people would simply accept the truths of the Christian faith, we would discover the error of our ways, repent of our sins and miraculously change our misdirected sexual orientations and/or gender identities.

As an openly-gay theologian, ordained Christian minister and seminary professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I agree that the truth will make us free. However, the anti-gay Christians have it backwards. As the groundbreaking events of 2010 have demonstrated, it is actually the truth of the fundamental goodness of LGBT people and our lives that will make us free. Ironically, this truth also will free anti-gay Christians of their own heterosexist prejudices and theological blind spots.

What were some of the truths about the goodness of LGBT people and our lives that were demonstrated in 2010? In August, the first fully-litigated U.S. federal court trial about same-sex marriage concluded that there was no rational basis for prohibiting LGBT people from entering into civil marriage. The trial court struck down California Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that stripped LGBT people in California of the right to marry. Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling demonstrated the truth that LGBT civil marriages are grounded in the same ethical values of love, mutual caring and commitment as non-LGBT civil marriages.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 13 Comments

In Brooklyn, two Methodist congregations share a building and nothing else:

The United Methodist church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, is anything but united.

Two pastors preach from the same pulpit and live in the same parsonage next door, but they are barely on speaking terms and openly criticize each other’s approach to the faith.

In the church’s social hall, two camps eye each other suspiciously as one finishes its meal of rice and beans while the other prepares steaming pans of chicken lo mein.

Two very different congregations share the soaring brick building on Fourth Avenue: a small cadre of about 30 Spanish-speaking people who have worshiped there for decades and a fledgling throng of more than 1,000 Chinese immigrants that expands week by week — the fastest-growing Methodist congregation in [Brooklyn].

Why is the Hispanic congregation dying out while the Chinese congregation is growing?  The New York Times reporter buries the lede, as they say.

Mr. Laporta, 55, hails from a church tradition of social action. He attends rallies for rent control and calls for immigration reform in his sermons. He says Mr. Peng ignores the plight of the illegal immigrants in his congregation.

Mr. Peng, 48, focuses more tightly on Scripture. “The people need the Word,” he said. He contends that Mr. Laporta has left his members spiritually hungry. “If the congregation needs to learn the policy, they can read the newspaper,” Mr. Peng said. “That’s why their congregation doesn’t grow.”

And that’s not all.

Chinese parishioners receive certificates of appreciation for every 12 new members they recruit. Most are immigrants from Fujian Province, under age 35 and living alone. On Sunday afternoons, after the Hispanic parishioners clear out, the social hall has the buzz of a lively mixer.

The Chinese parishioners work up to six days a week, often in restaurant kitchens. Many came to the church in search of community, and only afterward found Christianity, said an active member, Roy Ouyang. “It’s like a family,” said Mr. Ouyang, 26, a wedding photographer who arrived in this country five years ago. “I make new friends here. Maybe I can find a girlfriend, too.”

Let’s see.  One congregation stresses this or that liberal cause and is dying.  The other focuses on the Word of God, puts a premium on evangelism and is thriving.  What could possibly be the reason for the difference between the two of them?  Think, think, think.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Fish in a barrel and all that:

Scotland’s wind farms are unable to cope with the freezing weather conditions – grinding to a halt at a time when electricity demand is at a peak, forcing the country to rely on power generated by French nuclear plants.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Dan Riehl reports that the Pacific Ocean is laughing at Captain Awesome.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 20 Comments

I agree with Glenn Reynolds.  Not only does this high school need to be closed at once but the people who currently run the place are too stupid to ever be allowed anywhere near anyone’s kids:

An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.

Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.

The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.

The teen was initially given a 10-day suspension, then received notice that she was suspended the rest of the school year.

This month, Ashley Smithwick, a soccer player who takes college-level courses, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. She is no longer allowed to set foot on campus.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

George Clooney appears to be one of the few celebrities who are genuinely willing and eager to do way more than simply Raise AwarenessTM about a problem:

 A group founded by American actor George Clooney said Tuesday it has teamed up with Google, a U.N. agency and anti-genocide organizations to launch satellite surveillance of the border between north and south Sudan to try to prevent a new civil war after the south votes in a secession referendum next month.

Clooney’s Not On Our Watch is funding the start-up phase Satellite Sentinel Project that will collect real-time satellite imagery and combine it with field analysis from the Enough Project and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, organizers said.

The data will point out movements of troops, civilians and other signs of impending conflict. The U.N. Operational Satellite Applications Program and Google will then publish the findings online.

“We want to let potential perpetrators of genocide and other war crimes know that we’re watching, the world is watching,” Clooney said in a statement. “War criminals thrive in the dark. It’s a lot harder to commit mass atrocities in the glare of the media spotlight.”

The groups hope that early warnings will reduce the risk of violence.

An admirable effort.  But I have one question.  Then what?  What’s going to happen if Khartoum decides to roll the tanks if the Christian and animist southern Sudan secedes from the Muslim north(as seems increasingly likely)?

Throughout its wretched history, the United Nations has been outstanding at standing around and observing genocides(Cambodia, Rwanda, East Timor, etc) but has been worse than useless at actually stopping them.  So it’s difficult for me to understand why seeing what’s happening will help the people of southern Sudan much.

Why it will be visual evidence, accessible to all, for the international trial of northern Sudan’s Muslim leadership!  Not mention the perfect case for UN sanctions!

Both those things, of course, are the international equivalents of the strongly-worded letter.  And if that’s all the UN is aiming for, the only things both will accomplish will be large piles of southern Sudanese corpses as well as equally large numbers of southern Sudanese forcibly converted to Islam, sold into slavery or both.

If the information collected by this group actually stops genocide in southern Sudan, then it will have served a great purpose and Clooney should get a Nobel Peace Prize.  But here’s the problem. 

Eeveryone knows that the only way to stop genocide is with deadly force.  Everyone also knows that there is one country in the world, and only one, that might even be remotely interested in taking on that job. 

And considering that country’s current leadership, such a prospect must be considered extremely doubtful.

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: Don’t get the idea that I’m criticizing George Clooney here because I’m most certainly not.  If this idea prevents conflict between north and south Sudan, I really do think Clooney should receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

This is no symbolic gesture.  George Clooney is using his own resources to set up this program.  And the cameras aren’t rolling; Clooney’s going out of his way to make sure that the entire world’s left hand doesn’t know what his own right hand is doing.

And at the end of the day, this is all any private citizen can do.  Present the evidence for all to see.  Ask those in power in this country and others, “Here’s evidence of what’s going on in the southern Sudan.  Look at it.  Now what are you going to do about it?”

Politically, George Clooney and I probably don’t agree about much of anything at all.  Except for this little project of his.  I’ve never had any problem admiring someone with whom I disagreed politically as long as they were honest.  And right now, my estimation of George Clooney is pretty close to off-the-charts.

But I wonder if Clooney realizes what a Pandora’s Box this could potentially become.  Suppose the South Sudan secedes and Khartoum refuses to accept the vote and declares war, backed, no doubt, by every Muslim country in the world.

Thanks to Clooney, everything is on video and rapidly going viral.  The American people see for themselves what the north Sudanese are doing and become angry enough to demand that something be done.

Maybe south Sudanese flags start turning up at Tea Party rallies in large numbers.

So the Obama Administration quickly understands that doing nothing UN sanctions are not an option if the President wants to have a chance in hell of keeping his job.  So it goes to the UN and asks for UN approval for some sort of military action.

Theoretically, it shouldn’t be that tough of a sell.  The military mission, maintaining the independence of South Sudan and nothing more, would be a relatively limited one and probably easily doable so other countries might gladly participate.

But Muslim countries and their non-Muslim allies(Russia, Cuba, etc) violently object.  Perhaps Iran threatens to send troops to aid the northern Sudanese in their aggression.  Which impales the UN on the horns of a terrible dilemma.

If Turtle Bay were to approve of a military operation against a Muslim country, even a limited one like this, a violent reaction in the Muslim world is to be expected.  What form this reaction might take is anyone’s guess but withdrawal of a country or four from the UN along with increased terrorist activity worldwide is not out of the realm of possibility.

And if the UN elects to do nothing substantive go the sanctions route?

The United States and its allies could ignore the UN, go in and fix the problem themselves but, as I said before, I can’t see the current administration taking that step.  The Republicans and a great many Democrats might pass resolution after resolution insisting that they do but nothing will happen. 

Which will give the Tea Party one more issue while simultaneously leading many Americans to finally ask the basic question.  “United Nations?  One of the reasons you were founded was to prevent things like genocide from ever happening again. 

“Yet you have watched genocide after genocide occur and you’ve done nothing at all to stop any of them.  Now we have concrete evidence of a genocide occurring right before your eyes and you refuse to take any action at all.  Exactly what good are you anyway?”

Whereupon the idea of United States withdrawal from the United Nations instantly, finally and forever moves from crackpot idea to potentially-winning campaign promise for senatoral and congressional candidates from one end of this country to the other.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

If I’m this woman and one of these people asked me to switch shifts so they could attend some family function, say, I’m going to have other plans that day.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, December 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 45 Comments

New York City is currently under about 2 to 2-1/2 feet of global warming with wind gusts of over 40 really warm miles an hour.

UPDATE: MCJ Brooklyn bureau chief Steve T. sends this picture along.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, December 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments

…doesn’t mean that the Chinese aren’t out to get you:

Outgoing [New Hampshire] Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter implied the Chinese cost her re-election in November and secretly funneled money to help her Republican opponent Frank Guinta during a post-election interview with ABC News.

“They’re in the halls of Congress everywhere,” Shea-Porter said in the interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “[A]nd it means, for example, that you sit on a committee and you say something about concern about Chinese influence or something, you don’t even know if in the next election, somehow or another, they manage to send some money to some group that now doesn’t even have to say where they got it.”

There is no evidence that the Chinese funneled money into the First Congressional District race. Such a contribution would be illegal.

Jim Geraghty recalls some of this freakshow’s greatest hits.

Ironically, this is the Carol Shea Porter who had a constituent – a retired cop, no less — arrested at one of her town hall meetings for asking questions, restricted access to other town hall meetings, kept donations from Charlie Rangel after denouncing her predecessor for accepting donations from Tom DeLay, raved that she “loved” Alan Grayson for his “moral compass,” and that health care reform could be passed easily if they could only get rid of the male membership of Congress… so perhaps a theory like this is just par for the course.


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Monday, December 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 10 Comments


When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.

The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.

Under the rule, doctors can provide information to patients on how to prepare an “advance directive,” stating how aggressively they wish to be treated if they are so sick that they cannot make health care decisions for themselves.

While the new law does not mention advance care planning, the Obama administration has been able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with a strengthened Republican opposition in Congress.

The bill’s original author urged supporters to keep this new regulation on the down-low.

“While we are very happy with the result, we won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because we aren’t out of the woods yet,” [Oregon Congressman Earl] Blumenauer’s office said in an e-mail in early November to people working with him on the issue. “This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the ‘death panel’ myth.”

Moreover, the e-mail said: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists, even if they are ‘supporters’ — e-mails can too easily be forwarded.”

The e-mail continued: “Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it, but we will be keeping a close watch and may be calling on you if we need a rapid, targeted response. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

Gabriel Malor tells us to expect a lot more of this government-by-imperial-decree.  But let’s see.  We have a proposal that had to be stripped from the health care bill to get the whole bill passed.  Obama’s going to bypass the Congress in order to enact it.  And the bill’s original author doesn’t want anyone in the world to know the new regulation exists.

No, nothing pernicious going on here.

UPDATE.  We see nothing.  NOTH-ing!!

UPDATE: Or as Iowahawk refers to them…

For the last time, wingnut, they’re not “death panels.” They’re audition judges for “Who Wants To Be an Octagenarian.”


Posted by Christopher Johnson | Sunday, December 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments

The Obama Administration starts something that most people have known for a long time is a REALLY stupid idea.  A fight with Texas:

The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will seize authority from Texas to regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases because Gov. Rick Perry and state regulators refused to implement the rules.

The move caps a long dispute between Texas and the EPA, which have clashed over the Obama administration’s push to regulate industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

State officials complain the rules will unfairly punish Texas and its energy-hungry industries when they take effect Jan. 2.

While the EPA makes the rules, states implement most of the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

The most likely practical effect of the EPA awarding permits instead of the state is that companies will find it takes longer to acquire them, said Jeff Holmstead, an EPA assistant administrator from 2001 to 2005.

“EPA takes forever to do permits,” said Holmstead, the head of environmental strategies at law and lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani in Washington. “No state wants to be at EPA’s mercy.”

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