The Skunk and Tiger

"Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge."-Horace Mann

Saturday, May 31, 2008

After DNC Ruling Obama 66 Delegates Away From Clinching Nomination

Nedra Pickler and Beth Fouhy/AP

WASHINGTON — Democratic Party leaders agreed Saturday seat Michigan and Florida delegates with half votes into this summer's convention with a compromise that left Barack Obama on the verge of the nomination but riled Hillary Rodham Clinton backers who threatened to fight to the August convention.

"Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path of party unity," said adviser Harold Ickes.

Clinton's camp maintains she was entitled to four additional Michigan delegates.

The decision by the party's Rules Committee raised slightly the total delegates Obama needs to clinch the nomination. Clinton advisers conceded privately he will likely hit the magic number after the final primaries are held Tuesday night, but said the ruling threatened to dash any hopes of a unified party.

"Mrs. Clinton has told me to reserve her right to take this to the Credentials Committee" at the convention, said Ickes, who is a member of the Rules Committee that voted Saturday.

The resolution increased the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination to 2,118, leaving Obama just 66 delegates away from the majority needed to secure the nomination.

"Our main goal is to get this resolved so we can focus on winning Michigan and Florida," Obama said while campaigning in South Dakota. "There were compromises. ... I'm glad the DNC worked it through and I hope we can start focusing on substance as opposed to process."

The deal was reached after committee members deliberated for nine hours, including three where they met privately and argued fiercely over their eventual deal, according to several people inside. They voted in front of a raucous hotel ballroom that frequently interrupted proceedings and reflected deep divisions within the party.

"How can you call yourselves Democrats if you don't count the vote?" one of the many hecklers in the audience yelled loudly and repeatedly before being escorted out by security. "This is not the Democratic Party!"

A senior Clinton adviser, speaking on a condition of anonymity about internal campaign decisions, said the decision could be used to help her raise campaign donations for a scaled-down campaign that might focus on a signature issue _ such as health care reform _ rather than a traditional fight for the nomination.

The advisers said no decisions had been made, and it was still possible that Clinton would bow out once Obama goes over the top.

Clinton and her supporters wanted the Michigan and Florida delegations fully restored, according to January primaries that she won. But those contests were not recognized by the party because they were held too early, and both candidates agreed at the time they would not count.

But as Clinton tried to catch up to Obama's delegate lead, she has argued that the votes of the 2.3 million people who participated in the elections must be recognized.

Obama supporters argued that they did compromise by allowing her to take the majority of delegates in two contests where he didn't campaign.

The sticking point was Michigan, where Obama's name was not on the ballot.

Clinton's camp insisted Obama shouldn't get any pledged delegates in Michigan since he chose not to put his name on the ballot, and she should get 73 pledged delegates with 55 uncommitted. Obama's team insisted the only fair solution was to split the pledged delegates in half between the two campaigns, with 64 each.

The committee agreed on a compromise offered by the Michigan Democratic Party that would split the difference, allowing Clinton to take 69 delegates and Obama 59. Each delegate would get half a vote at the convention, according to the deal.

The deal passed 19-8. Thirteen members of the committee had endorsed Clinton for president, so she wasn't even able to keep her supporters together.

Allan Katz, a Rules Committee member and Obama supporter, said the Obama campaign had enough votes on the committee to support the campaign's proposal to split the delegates 50-50 in Michigan. Ultimately, the campaign agreed instead to support the compromise negotiated by the Michigan Democratic Party as a way to resolve the matter.

"The ironic thing is Obama had the majority of that committee," Katz said. "The Obama campaign wants to move on and compromise. We did not muscle our way through it. It was a wise decision from a well run and wise campaign that will reverberate."

But the irate reaction from Clinton's campaign and her supporters in the sharply divided audience shows Obama will have a long way to go to bring the party together after a long and divisive primary.

"We just blew the election!" a woman in the audience shouted. The crowd was divided between cheering Obama supporters and booing Clinton supporters.

"This isn't unity! Count all the votes!" another audience member yelled.

Jim Roosevelt, co-chair of the committee, tried repeatedly to gavel it to order. "You are dishonoring your candidate when you disrupt the speakers," he chided.

There are three primaries left in the contest _ Puerto Rico on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. Obama should get at least 30 delegates in the remaining primaries, meaning he has to pick up no more than about 30 more superdelegates even if he loses Puerto Rico and South Dakota.

He will not clinch the nomination this weekend, barring a barrage of superdelegates Sunday.

The committee also unanimously agreed to seat the Florida delegation based on the outcome of the January primary, with 105 pledged delegates for Clinton and 67 for Obama, but with each delegate getting half a vote as a penalty.

Proponents of full seating continuously interrupted the committee members as they explained their support of the compromise, then supporters of the deal shouted back.

"Shut up!" one woman shouted at another.

"You shut up!" the second woman shouted back.

Obama picked up a total of 32 delegates in Michigan, including superdelegates who have already committed, and 36 in Florida. Clinton picked up 38 in Michigan, including superdelegates, and 56.5 in Florida.

Obama's total increased to 2,052, and Clinton had 1,877.5.

A proposal favored by Clinton that would have fully seated the Florida delegation fully in accordance with the January primary went down with 12 votes in support and 15 against.

Tina Flournoy, who led Clinton's efforts to seat both states' delegations with full voting power, said she was disappointed by the outcome but knew the Clinton position had "no chance" of passing the committee.

"I understand the rules. ... I can tell you one thing that has driven these rules was being a party of inclusion," Flournoy said. "I wish my colleagues will vote differently."

Alice Huffman, a Clinton supporter on the committee, explained that the compromise giving delegates half votes was the next best thing to full seating.

"We will leave here more united than we came," she said.

Some audience members heckled her in response. "Lipstick on a pig!" one shouted.


Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

I hope this will all be resolved by Wednesday so the party can unite and defeat John McCain in November. I expect the GOP and its supporters to start the real mudslinging and dirty campeigning. Obama will need to not make the same mistakes as Kerry and wait to long to respond and defend his platform.

Only 233 Days Left

Most Useless Items of Crapola

Olivia Zaleski blogs this week about unneeded merchandise for Americans to consume. Weather its a pill for your legs or a flag for your SUV we are ever ready to consume whatever we are told we need or want. Check out the list of 10 items soon to be clogging landfills once they lose their short lived hype. My favorite of Zaleski's selection below.

The Baby Wipes Warmer

"The baby industry capitalizes on the deepest fears of new and nervous parents. Certainly your baby will be uncomfortable, unhappy and will hate you for life if you do not wipe its bum with a warm wipey. This particular model ensures that it won't dehydrate the wipes, 'as leading wipe warmers tend to do.' You know what else won't dry out the wipes? Not using a wipe warmer".

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marines Proselytize Iraqis at Check Points, WTF!

Imagine your country is invaded and then occupied by a foreign power. The occupiers do not speak you language, share your culture or religious beliefs. In order to move about your city you have to pass several armed check points. Perhaps some of your family and friends have been mistaken for insurgents and killed at these check points. Then one day after being searched at gun point you are offered a chance to accept their version of God because yours is obviously inferior. Would that piss you off, just a little bit?

I am quite aware of the militarization of Christianity in the U.S.A. but now our Military is being used to evangelize Iraq.

Iraqis claim Marines are pushing Christianity in Fallujah

U.S. Marines are handing out this coin, imprinted with a Gospel verse, to Fallujah residents. | View larger image
By Jamal Naji and Leila Fadel| McClatchy Newspapers

FALLUJAH, Iraq — At the western entrance to the Iraqi city of Fallujah Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city. They checked to be sure that he was a city resident, and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.

Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was inside the city, the college student said, he looked at one side of the coin. "Where will you spend eternity?" it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

"They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city in Anbar province. At home, he told his story, and his relatives echoed their disapproval: They'd been given the coins, too, he said.

Fallujah, the scene of a bloody U.S. offensive against Sunni insurgents in 2004, has calmed and grown less hostile to American troops since residents turned against al Qaida in Iraq, which had tried to force its brand of Islamist extremism on the population.

Now residents of the city are abuzz that some Americans whom they consider occupiers are also acting as Christian missionaries. Residents said some Marines at the western entrance to their city have been passing out the coins for two days in what they call a "humiliating" attempt to convert them to Christianity.

In the markets, people crowded around men with the coins, passing them to each other and asking in surprise, "Have you seen this?"

The head of the Sunni endowment in Fallujah, the organization that oversees Sunni places of worship and other religious establishments, demanded that the Marines stop.

"We say to the occupiers to stop this," said Sheikh Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi. "This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians . ... Please stop these things and leave our homes because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions."

A spokesman said the U.S. military is investigating.

"Multi-National Force-Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military personnel in Fallujah handed-out material that is religious and evangelical in nature," the spokesman, Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll, said in a statement e-mailed to McClatchy. "Local commanders are investigating since the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices."

Multi-National Force-Iraq is the formal name for coalition forces in Iraq.

In interviews, residents of Fallujah repeated two words — "humiliation" and "weakness".

"Because we are weak this is happening," said a shop owner who gave his name as Abu Abdullah. "Passing Christianity this way is disrespectful."

"The occupier is repeatedly trespassing on God and his religion," said Omar Delli, 23. "Now the occupier is planting seeds of strife between the Muslims and Christians. We demand the government in Fallujah have a new demonstration to let the occupier know that these things are humiliating Islam and the Quran."

The controversy over the coins that Iraqis said some Marines are passing out comes on the heels of a tempest triggered by a U.S. sniper who used the Quran, Islam's holy book, for target practice. The sniper was pulled out of Iraq after Iraqi police on May 11 found a Quran with 14 bullet holes and graffiti on the pages.

In Islam, the holy book is never to touch the floor, let alone be defaced. Iraqi leaders condemned the actions, U.S. generals apologized and President Bush offered a personal apology to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

In Fallujah, Mohammed Jaber saw one of the coins and said he thought of the bullets lodged in the Quran, the torture of Iraqi men at the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 and the rape of a 14-year-old girl and her murder and that of her family in Mahmoudiya.

"Now we have this missionary way by these coins," he said. "We feel the Muslims are weak and we hope that we will reach a point when we are strong to let them know what is wrong and what is right. "

Naji is a McClatchy special correspondent in Fallujah.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scott McLellan

For anyone who has been following the disaster known as the Bush presidency, will find little new information in Scott McLellan's new book. However it is nice to see that Mr. McLellan has a conscience. Too bad he did not speak out sooner. Its funny how each book critical of Dubya pretty much supplements the previous ones, yet they still play the disgruntled individual spin.

The Politico and Washington Post have excerpts from former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's scathing book on the Bush Administration.

From The Washington Post:

Bush is depicted as an out-of-touch leader, operating in a political bubble, who has stubbornly refused to admit mistakes. McClellan defends the president's intellect -- "Bush is plenty smart enough to be president," he writes -- but casts him as unwilling or unable to be reflective about his job.

"A more self-confident executive would be willing to acknowledge failure, to trust people's ability to forgive those who seek redemption for mistakes and show a readiness to change," he writes.

In another section, McClellan describes Bush as able to convince himself of his own spin and relates a phone call he overheard Bush having during the 2000 campaign, in which he said he could not remember whether he had used cocaine. "I remember thinking to myself, 'How can that be?' " he writes.

The former aide describes Bush as a willing participant in treating his presidency as a permanent political campaign, run in large part by his top political adviser, Rove.

"The president had promised himself that he would accomplish what his father had failed to do by winning a second term in office," he writes. "And that meant operating continually in campaign mode: never explaining, never apologizing, never retreating. Unfortunately, that strategy also had less justifiable repercussions: never reflecting, never reconsidering, never compromising. Especially not where Iraq was concerned."

From The Politico :

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on "propaganda" to sell the war.
• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be "badly misguided."

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them -- and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

236 days left.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


My wife is off to Rockville Maryland for her annual federal grant reviews. I hope she has time to see some of Washington D.C. I have not been there since 2003 when we visited my friend Derry. I am managing the house and two kids by myself for the rest of the week, thankfully my mother-in-law is helping me out. I am pretty lucky to have so much support.

Speaking of luck, I talked my way out of a speeding ticket today, just after dropping Anne off at the airport.

I do not usually post song lyrics but since there is a R.E.M. song about returning to Rockville Maryland, I could not resist.

Rockville, (Don't Go Back To)

Looking at your watch a third time waiting in the station for a bus
Going to a place that’s far, so far away and if that’s not enough
Going where nobody says hello, they don’t talk to anybody they don’t know
You’ll wind up in some factory that’s full time filth and nowhere left to go
Walk home to an empty house, sit around all by yourself
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You’ll be coming back before too long

Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
And waste another year

At night I drink myself to sleep and pretend
I don’t care if you’re not here with me
‘Cause it’s so much easier to handle
All my problems if I’m too far out to sea
But something better happen soon

Or it’s gonna be too late to bring you back
Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
And waste another year

It’s not as though I really need you
If you were here I’d only bleed you
But everybody else in town only wants to bring you down and
That’s not how it ought to be
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You’ll be coming back before too long

Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
And waste another year

Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
Don’t go back to Rockville
And waste another year

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Our Sacrifice
by Dante Zappala

Sherwood would be 34, still a big brother, a father proud of his ever growing teenage son. He'd be holding it down somehow -- working like a dog, passionate about his family and the people he served. He'd know my son. They'd share on equal measure the endless newness and wonder of life.

Sherwood would be his father's hope as he fights cancer. He would be his mother's calm and his brothers' pride.

Sherwood would be here, present amongst the living, were it not for the war in Iraq.

Four years ago, in the emerging desert summer, an explosion rocked a suspected chemical munitions factory in Baghdad. A Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman patrolling the perimeter was fatally wounded when he was struck in the head with debris. His name was Sherwood Baker, age 30, recently promoted to Sergeant. He had a wife and a child.

My brother is dead. I must repeat that to myself with a quiet firmness. For many, Memorial Day represents the promise of burgeoning possibilities, a chance for a BBQ, afternoon beers and family gatherings. We, however, are consumed with flags, tears and the names of our dead.

For my family, Memorial Day bookends a season of anniversaries. For the fourth time now, we have repeated this litany. The last time I saw Sherwood was in February. The last time we talked was in March. His last e-mail came days before his death in April. His funeral was in May. And now we have this weekend to remember him amongst all of the fallen.

We remember Sherwood as we work amidst an inspired group of unlikely activists -- Gold Star and Military Families who want an end to the war in Iraq. We are regular folks, your every day nobodies, whose grief and vigilance is aimed at preventing further tragedy. We have banged on the doors in Washington, we have marched in the streets of America. We have relentlessly called for an immediate end to this hideous debacle.

Despite our efforts, and the efforts of millions of other dedicated citizens, the war has raged for more than 5 years. Memorial Day offers us pause, even as men and women, Americans and Iraqis, suffer death and injury.

In this moment as the eye passes over us, I find, perhaps, a single enlightening parallel. Our heroes who laid down their lives made courageous and selfless decisions to serve their country. They remind us that moral courage is nothing we can compensate. Rewards, we pray, are theirs heaven, for on God's earth they have lost everything they cherished.

We sift through the campaign season hoping against hope that the political process as we know it will end the war. We are wrong. No political strategy will end the morass, the corruption, the burning blanket on humanity that is Iraq. Only moral courage will end the war.

We who choose to stand on those grounds will not profit. The politicians who join us may not become Committee Chairs, they may not be re-elected, they may not have buildings named after them. They will simply do what is right.

As we plead our case, we will only be told intellectual lies about the need to continue funding the degradation and destruction of a sovereign society. We will only be asked to believe that our best interests are being served as death knocks on the doors of Anbar and America alike.

I have my purpose. Sherwood cannot enjoy the fruit of life -- he cannot watch his son become a man, he cannot counsel me, he can no longer raise his voice. There were no material possessions to inherit from my brother. Even his clothes were too big for me. What I carry of him now, what I speak in his name, what I raise my son with, represents all he has left me.

Memorial Day gives us each a chance to embrace the fallen as our own. Let us distinguish between the nobility of service and the nobility of this war.

Read the names of the 4081 servicemen and women who have been killed in Iraq. Each and every one of them is one of you. Common folks, unlikely heroes. Yes. Willing to sacrifice. Yes. Forever gone. Yes. Children will never be born, work will never be done, cries will never be heard.

Own their sacrifice and then ask yourself if you believe more of them dying in Iraq will bring justice to the world. Own their sacrifice for it is we who send them to war, and we who keep them at war.

Dante Zappala is the brother of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, KIA in Baghdad, Iraq 4/26/04. He is a member of Military Families Speak out ( and Gold Star Families Speak Out (

Friday, May 16, 2008

6 gas-saving myths

NEW YORK ( -- With gasoline prices hitting record levels, it seems everyone has a tip on how to save fuel. Much of the advice is well-intentioned, but in the end, much of it won't lower your gas bill.

Here's a look at a few misconceptions:

#1. Fill your tank in the morning
You may have heard that it's best to fill your gas tank in the early morning while the fuel is cold. The theory goes that fluids are more dense at lower temperatures, so a gallon of cold gas actually has more gas molecules than a gallon of warmer gas.

But the temperature of the gasoline as it comes out of the nozzle varies little during the course of the day, according to Consumer Reports, so there's little, if any, benefit, to getting up early to pump gas.

#2. Change your air filter
Maintaining your car is important, but a clean air filter isn't going to save you any gas. Modern engines have computer sensors that automatically adjust the fuel-air mixture as an increasingly clogged air filter chokes off the engine's air supply.

While engine power will decrease slightly as the air filter becomes clogged, a lack of performance or an increase in fuel consumption will be negligible, Consumer Reports says.

#3. Use premium fuel
With prices already over $4.00 a gallon, premium gasoline is a hard sell these days. But a lot of drivers think because their owners' manual recommends premium, they'll get better fuel economy with it. Really, they may be paying more money for nothing.

Newer cars for which premium is "recommended" - but not "required" - won't suffer with regular fuel. Modern engine technology comes to the rescue again. When sensors detect regular instead of premium fuel, the system automatically adjusts spark plug timing. The result is a slight reduction in peak horsepower - really, you'll never notice - but little or no reduction in fuel economy.

Always check your owner's manual before putting anything into your car. And if your car runs badly on regular, by all means, go back to the pricey stuff. (See editor's note at bottom)

#4. Pump up your tires
Proper tire inflation is important for a number of reasons. Under-inflated tires are bad for handling and can even cause a crash. Improper tire inflation also causes tires to wear out faster and to heat up more, which could trigger a dangerous high-speed blow-out.

According to on-the-road driving tests by both Consumer Reports and auto information site, underinflated tires reduce fuel economy, so proper inflation is key.

But you should never over-inflate your tires. They'll get you slightly better fuel economy because there will be less tread touching the road, reducing friction. But that means less grip for braking and turning. The added risk of a crash isn't worth the extra mile a gallon you might gain.

#5. To A/C or not A/C
There's no question air-conditioning makes extra work for the engine, increasing fuel use. But car air conditioners are much more efficient today than they used to be. In around-town driving, using the A/C will drop fuel economy by about a mile a gallon.

Meanwhile, driving at higher speeds with the windows down greatly increases aerodynamic drag. As speed increases, drag becomes more of an issue, making A/C use the more efficient choice at high speeds.

At most speeds and in most vehicles, A/C use drains slightly more fuel than driving with the windows down, contends David Champion, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. "My final take on is that it's very close," says Phil Reed, consumer advice editor for "It's hard to measure the difference and every vehicle is different."

The best choice - if temperature and humidity allow - is to keep the windows rolled up and to turn the A/C compressor off. You can keep the fans running to blow in air from the outside, but your car will be as aerodynamic as possible while still letting you breathe. You will save gas, but the fuel economy improvement will be slight.

#6. Bolt-ons and pour-ins
Before you buy a device that's supposed to make your car more fuel-efficient or pour in an allegedly gas-saving additive, ask yourself this: Don't you think oil and car companies aren't doing everything they can to beat their competitors?

If BP (BP) could add something to its gasoline that made cars go farther on a gallon, cars would be lining up at the company's pumps. Sure, people would burn their fuel-saving BP gas more slowly, but then they'd drive right past rivals' gas stations to come back to BP for more. BP stations could even charge more for their gas and still sell tons of the stuff.

So if there really was an additive that made gas burn up more slowly, it wouldn't be sold over the Internet one bottle at a time.

Likewise, car companies are already spending big bucks to increase fuel mileage. If General Motors could make its cars go significantly farther on a gallon simply by putting a device into the fuel line, don't think for a second it wouldn't be doing that. GM's car sales would go through the roof.

"There are a number of these gas-saving devices that are generally useless," says Champion.

But drivers who try them will swear they work. In reality, it's probably an automotive placebo effect, says Reed. Buy one of these devices or additives, and you're like to pay extreme attention to your fuel economy and how you drive.

Of course it can't hurt to keep a close eye on your driving habits -- and what kind of car you drive. In the end, that can make the most difference in saving gas.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Obama Seen As Stronger Candidate Versus McCain

Sam Stein
at Huffungton Post

Hoping to woo superdelegates, Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has turned to the argument that she, not Sen. Obama, is the best Democrat to take on John McCain in the general election.

Exit polls from Tuesday night, however, do not support that argument. In Indiana, despite the fact that the numbers portend a Clinton win, Obama is viewed as the nominee best able to win the White House, by a margin of 50 to 47 percent. In North Carolina, according to CNN, that divide is even more pronounced: "voters gave the edge to Barack Obama: 54 percent thought he was more likely to win in November, while 40 percent chose Clinton."

There are other telling signs. Forty-five percent of Indiana Democratic primary goers said Clinton was dishonest, versus thirty-three percent for Obama. Sixty-six percent said Obama shared their values. Sixty-three percent had the same opinion of Clinton. That spread was even greater in North Carolina, where 69 percent said Obama shared their values compared to 61 percent for Clinton.

There was one saving grace for the New York Democrat. The numbers suggest that there may be more defections to John McCain should Obama end up the nominee.

Fifteen percent of North Carolina respondents say they would vote for the Arizona Republican should he and Clinton face off in November. That number rose to 19 percent if it were McCain v. Obama. In Indiana, meanwhile, 17 percent of voters said they would support McCain if he were facing Clinton, while 20 percent said they would back the McCain if he battled Obama.

I will support whoever wins the Democratic Party nomination. However I have been very disappointed by the way the Clintons have been running their campaign, and it is time to unite as a party. As I post this Obama has won the North Carolina Primary and Indiana is still too close to call.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Adele on Broadway

Surfing the net and discovered a 1913 Broadway musical that was titled Adele. Even able to find a photo of the actress who played Adele, Natalie Alt.

There is also a current english soul and jazz singer who goes by Adele, we have been hearing her music on Sirius, pretty good stuff.


Sam turned four recently and got a new bike, family and friends having been stopping by to celebrate and to see our little chunk, Adele. Sam got a New Bike, the Electric Company Box Set, and an air rocket. He woke me up at 7:30 am on Saturday to go launch is rocket. I also was able to get some yard work done. Jay and Laura stopped by on Friday and my parents yesterday. The weather has been perfect and we are out and enjoying it.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The FLDS and the Pope

I love the Nation but its hard to find time to read it every week. I did get to read a short artical pointing on some of the similarities between the philosihies of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and other more accepted Christian faiths, yet the FLDS is much more scrutinized and criticized by the public and the media.

Men of the Cloth
by Katha Pollitt

I've written before about the evils of fundamentalist Mormon polygyny, which is thought to have some 10,000 followers in closed communities in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, South Dakota and Texas. I will never understand why the people who attack Islam as oppressive to women have nothing to say about the FLDS. The cultural relativist arguments they reject when applied to foreign countries are even less applicable here: everyone in the story is American, supposedly living under American law. Yet for decades state and local authorities have looked the other way when girls are pulled out of school to be "home-schooled," i.e., prepared for marriage to their uncles, and teenage boys are kicked out of the community so as not to compete with the elder men. Indeed, in areas near FLDS communities, public services have been infiltrated by their members: the public schools teach their religious doctrines; the police are on the lookout for girls and women who try to escape.
Still, appalling as is FLDS's extreme male dominance, there was another news story unfolding at the same time that had certain affinities but got a very different slant: Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States. What a lovefest! We heard endlessly about Benedict's intellect, charm and elegant red shoes. "Cat Lovers Appreciate Soul Mate in Vatican" made the New York Times most e-mailed list. How little the Pope had to do to win applause as a wise conciliator: having begun his reign trying to suppress the priestly pedophilia scandal, he met with the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and reminded Catholics that homosexuals and pedophiles, while both bad, are not the same. Having kept in the liturgy a prayer "for the Jews" so that God might "enlighten their hearts," he visited New York's Park East synagogue, where the rabbi did not similarly call on Catholics to give up their worship of Christ.

But what about women? Oh, them and their messy bodies! As blogger Dana Goldstein pointed out, only Barbara Boxer said boo when Republican Senator Sam Brownback, who supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion, proposed a resolution welcoming the Pope in coded antichoice language and asserting that religion, not the Constitution, was the foundation of our government. (Boxer led a movement that held up the vote for three days until the wording was changed.)...

Here is the complete article. I also enjoyed this unrelated comic strip below.

Click on the comic if you can't read it. Its by Ward Sutton from this week's The Nation