Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jerry Falwell compares Hillary Clinton to Satan; Hugo Chavez does the same with George Bush

"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate. She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't." - Falwell

"The nation is weary of the vitriolic and divisive political rhetoric that still comes from some on the Religious Right. In particular, the country is tired, truly tired, of Rev. Jerry Falwell. At the Religious Right’s Values Voter Summit, Rev. Falwell said that Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency would energize the Right’s base more than Lucifer. This is also the man who said the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were God’s judgment on America and he specifically blamed feminists, homosexuals and the ACLU. Agreement or disagreement with Senator Clinton’s politics is not the issue. Personally demonizing public figures is the issue. Such political poison isn’t just bad for the Body Politic and the more civil discourse we so desperately need. It also simply isn’t Christian." - Jim Wallis

Falwell also had the gall (or perhaps the stupidity) to say that, according to an article in the Guardian, the remarks were off-the-cuff and not intended to demonize the Senator. Well, he is either lying or stupid. When we demonize someone, we're saying that we don't see the need to engage with them as equals, and that we don't consider them to be a fellow child of God. As such, Jerry Falwell's actions here are particularly un-Christian. As an ordained minister, he has no excuse unless he was drunk or stoned.

""And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] "And it smells of sulfur still today." - Hugo Chavez

Now, for Chavez, at least he had the guts to call President Bush on his actions. "Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world," he said. "What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?" he asked. These are things that need to be said before the rest of the world. But, as with Mahatir Mohammed, having the courage to condemn the US isnot a sign of true courage, or of wisdom, or of righteousness.

Once again, demonizing another person is a sin. It's also not useful. It does make for good rhetoric, but it will rally Americans behind Bush even more. And it will further increase the hatred that many people feel for the US.

Let us pray for the courage and the wisdom to resist evil, but to resist also the temptation to demonize the evildoers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Exxon Mobil blinks in the global warming debate, Posted on CNN Money, September 20, 2006

Background: Exxon Mobil is one of the worst corporations in existence. Exxon closed Mobil's domestic partner benefits program to new employees when the two corporations merged, and yet it has the gall to say that it doesn't discriminate against gays, because its non-discrimination clause uses generic language. Exxon is still fighting punitive damages in court from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, where it allowed an alcoholic captain to pilot a tanker which ran aground. It denied that there was any "scientific evidence that this oil ... could cause damage to any population or species." It has violated the Clean Air Act to the tune of half a billion dollars in fines (normally, fines are slaps on the wrist). It is involved in innumerable toxic spills and pollution lawsuits. And it has funded quack-science groups that question the existence of global warming - they might as well question the fact that the Earth is round. However, there is some evidence that they may be discontinuing funding to one such group.

PS, Despite this good news, I will not be buying gas at any Exxon or Mobil station anytime soon. A full list of Exxon Mobil's sins is available here; some of the charges may be overblown, but it's still a long list:


NEW YORK ( -- ExxonMobil, which has come under increasing scrutiny for funding junk science views on global warming in recent years, has given no money to a global warming denier group it had previously funded.

The oil company donated no money to the Competitive Enterprise Institute in 2006, which ran ads on American television touting the benefits of carbon dioxide in May with the catchphrase: "Carbon dioxide: They call it pollution. We call it life."

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels are burned and has been shown to be linked to global climate change.

In 2005, however ExxonMobil (Charts) had given the organization $270,000.

The company says there is no connection between the funding change and a July meeting with the UK scientific society, the Royal Society.

In a letter released at the beginning of the month the Royal Society charged the company with funding "organizations that have been misinforming the public about the science of climate change."

Oil giant Exxon is reviewing its funding of groups that deny global warming's dangers as part of its annual review of organizations it donates to, according to the company.

"Decisions on funding are made based on that review, which is not final," said Mark D. Boudreaux, Media Relations Manager of Exxon Mobil.

Boudreaux said that "the review includes all charitable organizations we support, including those in the public policy area."

"This review is NOT in response to any action by the Royal Society," said Boudreaux "but is something we do in our normal budgeting process."

ExxonMobil shares fell 2.12 percent Wednesday. BP (Charts) ended the session 31 cents lower. Royal Dutch Shell (Charts) gained 32 cents.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Prayers for 9/11

Before I start, I'd like to offer prayers for all civilians and military personnel killed at 9/11, and in the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. And I do mean civilians and soldiers on all sides of the conflict.

And now, I'd like to remind us all of Augusto Pinochet, the now-senile ex-dictator of Chile. He siezed power from Salvadore Allende, the democratically elected, leftist President of Chile, on September 11, 1973. Being irrationally afraid of Communism, the CIA planned to have Allende overthrown. Plan A would have persuaded the Chilean Congress to confirm Allende's opponent as President. Plan B would have found generals willing to overthrow Allende and provide them with the resources to do so. Now, it is important to acknowledge that the CIA did not assist Pinochet in his coup. However, there is evidence that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the takeover, and that they did support Allende's opponents in the elections.

"I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves." - Henry Kissinger

In the pilot episode of the sci-fi TV series Battlestar Galactica, Cmrd William Adama, one of the main characters, remarks at his ship's decommisioning ceremony that there comes a time when you can't hide from the things you've done. He was (probably) speaking about how humankind had created the robotic Cylons to assist in life on the Twelve Colonies. The Cylons later revolted and tried to destroy the human race. They were fought to a standstill and an armistice was declared. Later, at the time of the pilot episode, the Cylons launch a surprise attack. 23 billion people die. There are under 50,000 survivors.

The same can apply to America, and her longstanding tradition of interfering in the affairs of other countries. We helped Pinochet. We also provided assistance to Saddam's new regime. We also deposed the democratically elected president of Iran and installed the Shah ... who was later overthrown by the Iranians. If you wonder why the Iranians hate us so much, if you wonder why Ahmedinejad is so virulent, think of this. It's an aspect of history that the mainstream media, despite their proclamations of independence and objectivity, fail to mention.

George Bush claims to be a Christian. To their credit, Cheney and Rumsfeld have made no such claims (that I know of), so they at least cannot be accused of religious hypocrisy. But as for George, he doesn't seem to understand the part where Jesus says, "Love your enemies," and, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's no great cognitive leap to see that if we are to love our enemies, we should treat them as we would ourselves be treated. Almost all humans believe that if they are attacked, they have the right to defend themselves. However, if we were subjected to a pre-emptive strike based on faulty information, we would not like that one bit. If we were occupied by forces who inflicted heavy civilian casualties, we would not like that either, particularly not if some of those casualties were deliberately inflicted (e.g. Abu Ghraib). If another country did this to us, we would be furious. But when we do this to the Iraqis, we justify it and come up with all sorts of excuses to make ourselves feel better, even righteous.

What if the Iraqis are just us in disguise? What does that do to us? We act as if we have God's blessing as a nation in killing Iraqis and supporting Israel's illegal occupation. Madeline Albright said, of the civilian casualties inflicted as a result of the embargo after the Gulf War, that it was "worth it." There really is no easy way to say it. Americans must face up to the things we've done. If we do not answer to them in this life, then in this life, our children or grandchildren will answer for them. And in the next life, we all will surely answer to the Supreme Judge.