Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bush Was Really THAT Stupid? Yes! Us too!

The following article appeared in the online version of Free Inquiry magazine recently, although it does not appear in the April/May or June/July editions. It's eye-opening, however! It's sobering to think that not only was former President Bush was really as stupid as this article highlights, but that we, the American people, elected this moron TWICE! And now that we have the most educated president since Woodrow Wilson, and the highest I.Q.'ed president since Dwight Eisenhower, it boggles the mind that anyone would want to return to the "glory days" of idiot leaders, and supplant Obama for bumpkin-babe Sarah Palin. Remember, this isn't an indictment of Bush's stupidity. It's an indictment of our own stupidity for electing and re-electing him. The American voter is generally more stupid than what you're about to read below.


A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush


Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.
Honest. This isn’t a joke. The president of the United States, in a top-secret phone call to a major European ally, asked for French troops to join American soldiers in attacking Iraq as a mission from God.

Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

This bizarre episode occurred while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to unleash the Iraq invasion. Chirac says he was boggled by Bush’s call and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

After the 2003 call, the puzzled French leader didn’t comply with Bush’s request. Instead, his staff asked Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, to analyze the weird appeal. Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters (38 and 39) in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly. In the New Testament, the mystical book of Revelation envisions Gog and Magog gathering nations for battle, “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”

In 2007, Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir. A French-language Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche, printed a sarcastic account titled: “When President George W. Bush Saw the Prophesies of the Bible Coming to Pass.” France’s La Liberte likewise spoofed it under the headline “A Small Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog.” But other news media missed the amazing report.

Subsequently, ex-President Chirac confirmed the nutty event in a long interview with French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, who tells the tale in his new book, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai (If You Repeat it, I Will Deny), released in March by the publisher Plon.
Oddly, mainstream media are ignoring this alarming revelation that Bush may have been half-cracked when he started his Iraq war. My own paper, The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, is the only U.S. newspaper to report it so far. Canada’s Toronto Star recounted the story, calling it a “stranger-than-fiction disclosure … which suggests that apocalyptic fervor may have held sway within the walls of the White House.” Fortunately, online commentary sites are spreading the news, filling the press void.

The French revelation jibes with other known aspects of Bush’s renowned evangelical certitude. For example, a few months after his phone call to Chirac, Bush attended a 2003 summit in Egypt. The Palestinian foreign minister later said the American president told him he was “on a mission from God” to defeat Iraq. At that time, the White House called this claim “absurd.”
Recently, GQ magazine revealed that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld attached warlike Bible verses and Iraq battle photos to war reports he hand-delivered to Bush. One declared: “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.”

It’s awkward to say openly, but now-departed President Bush is a religious crackpot, an ex-drunk of small intellect who “got saved.” He never should have been entrusted with the power to start wars.

For six years, Americans really haven’t known why he launched the unnecessary Iraq attack. Official pretexts turned out to be baseless. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction after all, and wasn’t in league with terrorists, as the White House alleged. Collapse of his asserted reasons led to speculation about hidden motives: Was the invasion loosed to gain control of Iraq’s oil—or to protect Israel—or to complete Bush’s father’s vendetta against the late dictator Saddam Hussein? Nobody ever found an answer.

Now, added to the other suspicions, comes the goofy possibility that abstruse, supernatural, idiotic, laughable Bible prophecies were a factor. This casts an ominous pall over the needless war that has killed more than four thousand young Americans and cost U.S. taxpayers perhaps $1 trillion.

James A. Haught is the editor of the Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) and a Free Inquiry senior editor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mojave Cross Stolen!

So, it seems that someone, and we don't know who just yet, has stolen the cross in the Mojave desert's war memorial. Because it was on government land, it was (and despite its absence, still is) the center of a huge court battle over whether its presence violates the separation between church and state.

Now, before I go any further, I simply must say that I sincerely hope the idiots who stole this cross did so because they were stealing it for scrap metal, or conducting a fraternity prank, or some other benign reason. Because if this cross was stolen by a group of atheists who wanted to take matters into their own hands, then they've made things so much worse. Our acceptance is obvious to those who know that religious freedom comes directly from being able to tell religion "no, thanks," but such people are still too rare a commodity -- unfortunately for us all. So any deliberate theft of a cross by atheists would only confirm every wrong stereotype we've gown bored with: lack of morality, self-centered, out to destroy religion, blah, blah, blah.

On the other hand, if this cross was stolen by a group of religious fools who wanted to keep the cross from being whisked away by liberal judges, then they're the bigger fools. The supreme court already ruled 5-4 against taking the cross down, even though they included a technicality which they sent back to lower courts for review.

That having been said, it's time for somebody to point out that 5 to 4 rulings, in any context, much less the highest court in the land, should not fucking govern anybody! Just recently a 5 to 4 ruling guaranteed that corporations get to voice opinions during elections as though they were citizens. That's unbelievably insane! Not that rulings higher than this are much better. The famous Dredd Scott decision, which ruled African Americans were not citizens, was not a 5 to 4 vote, was it?

It gives one pause, now that we're apparently getting a new supreme court justice in the form of Elen Kagen.

In order for there to be true freedom, we need justices who will not show favoritism to one sect over another. Future scholars may look upon this supreme court decision in the Mojave desert and liken it to a form of the Dredd Scott case, but unfortunately, we have to live in the here and now. Not the future.

Here's where conservatives say something I like. They say that justices should interpret the law as it reads in the constitution, and not try to legislate from the bench. That's a good value! I like that value. But let's face it: the threat of judicial activism is coming from the RIGHT, not the left! They want to overturn Roe v. Wade, not by actually changing the law, but by putting activist right-wing justices onto the supreme court.

So once again, we see that "liberalism" is nothing more than conservative values taken to their logical conclusion.

Let's hope that a new monument goes up on the Veterans' Memorial in the Mojave desert. One which honors all the faiths which gave their blood for this nation, not the least of which are the non-Christian, Native-American "code talkers," whose use of their aboriginal language clearly won the war on both fronts. We owe our very American lives and freedoms to these non-Christians!

I hope the V.F.W. in California remembers that.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Letter to Sheboygan Mayor

Well, on the National Day of Prayer, the Mayor of Sheboygan presided over a prayer event, and said that the Freedom From Religion Foundation should "stick their fingers in their ears," or something to that effect. So, the following letter has been sent, handwritten (as one should always do with public officials) to hopefully set him straight. The final line of the letter echos my last blog entry, but some things just bear repeating.

Dear Mr. Mayor,
I understand you recently presided over a National Day of Prayer event, and instructed members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation to stop up their ears during the proceeding on the principle of majority rules. While I admire your passion, when it comes to “majority rules,” I'm afraid you have been badly misinformed.
You see, where Men have the right to live free, a majority of whites cannot enslave a minority of blacks. Where there is freedom of speech, a majority of fuddy-duddies cannot tell a minority of comedians what they cannot insult. In like manner, where people have freedom of religion, a majority of Protestants cannot tell a minority of Catholics what to believe, nor vice-versa. Nor may a Christian majority tell a Muslim minority what to believe. And, by the same token, a majority of believers cannot tell a minority of unbelievers to pray.
I'm certain that you are a good man and a good mayor, and that you wouldn't have made this gaff unless some staff member or advisor hadn't badly misinformed you. But America is about freedom, and “majority rules,” as you well know, only applies during elections, or if an individual's activity or creed does tangible harm to someone. It really goes without saying that one cannot have religious freedom unless one has the freedom to opt out. That makes the rights of the atheist part of – indeed the most important part of – religious freedom, and those who opt out of all are merely the freest of free Americans. Perhaps you do not like atheists for personal reasons, but we are the canaries in the coal-mine. Our right not to pray protects your right to freely do so according to the creed of your choice.
And call me crazy for saying so, but I really think that America is best defined by free citizens refusing to get down on their knees.

Eric J. Hildeman
Founder of Freethinkers of University Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Times Square Bomb vs. Old Myth

Well, we have our Times Square bomb plot suspect. His name is Faisal Shahzad, and what a shock, his motives were inspired by religious extremism.

Once again, we see that the cable news media outlets refuse to talk about anything else, unless perhaps it's a quick look at our ruined gulf coast brought about by the biggest oil spill since the Exxon Valdez. But as I'm watching this news story develop, I can't help but marvel at the stubbornness of religion.

Repeatedly, Islam embarrasses itself by trying to bomb people into respecting it. That is, when it's not threatening to behead women who name teddy bears after the Prophet Muhammed. The so-called religion of peace is proving itself to be the biggest threat to world peace ever known. And yet, I repeatedly hear the claim made, again and again, that God is required for moral behavior.


I mean, how many times do we have to get bombed by the most fervent of believers before we realize that maybe, just maybe, religiocity is a problem, not a solution? How many times must children be sexually abused by priests or have knuckles slapped by nun's rulers before people excercise some common sense and LEAVE?

I can understand not leaving the faith in a nation like Pakistan, where apostates are killed for sport. But what excuse to Catholics have here in the supposed Land of the Free and Home of the Brave? More like land of the self-enslaved and home of the spineless.

I'm not suggesting that religion is always hurtful. But it's surely as hell-on-earth not always helpful! And it is not required for moral behavior. Put another way, when has an atheist ever bombed a building in a public square?

Rep. Pete Hoekstra was quoted recently as saying, "Being lucky can't be our national security strategy." I agree. Surely some of our national defense must therefore go into fighting the religiocity which continues to bomb us. Eliminating the National Day of Prayer is a good first start.

Here's my dream: To see the day when there are scantily clad women advertising sun-tan lotion on Al-Jazeera, and when television shows similar to South Park garner ire from religious leaders for insulting Mohammed -- not in New York, but in Riyadh, or Tehran. And to see freedom so fully expressed that America is finally the coast-to-coast Amsterdam it was meant to be. That world is achievable. But it starts with recognizing religious fervor as our enemy.

Call me crazy, but I really think that the spirit of America is defined by its citizens NOT getting down on their knees!


Monday, May 3, 2010

Do-It-Yourself-Global-Warming Experiments!

As I learn more about science, I keep coming up with better ways of describing global warming to people, and breaking it down in simple ways so that they can truly understand what's going on with this big blue nest-egg we continually waste unconservatively. Currently, this takes the form of simple experiments, which anybody can do at home, that prove global warming is true. These experiments are great family activities for parents and kids to do together. Here's just a couple of the best ones. And I'm putting these out there before I've yet had a chance to do a planned YouTube video of them, knowing full well that someone could steal the ideas and do a video first. If so, fine. The message is more important than the messenger.

Experiment #1: Carbon dioxide chamber.
Maybe you've heard someone like John Coleman -- former weatherman on 'Good Morning, America!' and the founder of The Weather Channel -- telling people that global warming is a scam because carbon dioxide is only a trace gas, and therefore can't have a large impact on our planetary weather. Here's a simple at-home experiment which proves him DEAD WRONG.
You'll need:
1.) An empty 2-liter soda bottle, label removed. 2.) A thermometer. Maybe two. 3.) A piece of narrow cardboard, long enough to cover the thermometer. 4.) A heat-lamp. 5.) An ordinary balloon. 6.) Some thread & tape. 7.) Some dry ice. 8.) A small syringe (without a needle) or eye-dropper.
Take the cardboard and tape it to the thermometer. This will shield it from the heat lamp so that the light from it doesn't give an artificially high temperature. (We want the temperature of the air, not the temperature of the glass.) Attach the string to the cardboard and thermometer and suspend it inside the empty 2-liter soda bottle, using some tape on the inside. Next, cover the opening at the top with your balloon, keeping it as deflated as possible. This will regulate the air pressure inside with the air pressure outside, again so as to not give an artificially high temperature.
Turn on the heat lamp and let it heat up the inside of the bottle. Make sure the cardboard-side of the thermometer is facing the lamp. You will see the balloon inflate as the air inside heats up and expands. Let the temperature stabilize (I recommend half an hour). Record the temperature inside. (At this point, you may use the option of a second thermometer, kept outside the bottle nearby, to make sure the temperature of the room doesn't change significantly to alter your result.) Usually, I find that the temperature reads somewhere around 90 degreees when I reach this stage. It's all right if your own measurements at home are slightly different.
Now, turn off the lamp and let the bottle cool. We will now add a small amount of carbon dioxide gas to increase the percentage of CO2 inside the bottle. Now, it should be noted here that Mr. Coleman is right about CO2 being a trace gas. It's only about 0.038% of our atmosphere. We're going to increase it by only a little bit, by adding 0.005% to total 0.043% inside our soda bottle. You can confirm the math at home, but you can increase that amount of CO2 by adding exactly 0.1cc's, or 0.1ml of carbon dioxide. How do you do that?
Here's where you use your dry ice. Fill a sink with water. Then, put a small glass under the water and let it fill all the way. Keeping the glass completely under water, put the dry ice into the sink. Now, catch the bubbles inside the glass! Dry ice is pure CO2! So the gas inside the glass is the pure carbon dioxide you need. Take your syringe and suck in a little bit of CO2. Now, it's easy to get a syringe, but if you can't, just use a small eye-dropper. Just remember to completely fill up the eye-dropper with water first, and suck in one tiny bubble at the very tip. (That bubble should be roughly 0.1cc.) Now, squirt the CO2 into the bottle by rolling up one corner of the balloon. With the syringe, point down. With the eye-dropper, point up! (And spill no water, if you can help it.) Because pure CO2 is a little heavier than air, it will travel down into the bottle. Now the percentage of CO2 is just a tiny bit higher.
Make sure the balloon is secure over the top of the bottle again, and turn on the heat lamp. Make sure the distance between the heat lamp and the bottle is still the same. Now, let the temperature stabilize again, and record the temperature.
You will observe that the temperature will jump by roughly 5 to 6 degrees farenheit, or almost 3 degrees celcius!
If you don't think that's much, just think about the difference between a 45 degree day and a 50 degree day. Or a 55 degree day and a 60 degree day. It's a lot!
Oh, and by the way, the new concentration of CO2 we made, at 0.043%? We're projected to reach that level of CO2 sometime after the year 2020.

Take that, John Coleman! You're so full of shit!

Experiment #2: Just a glass of ice-water?
You might think a thermometer and a glass of ice water wouldn't tell you much. But try this experiment at home, and you'll see otherwise. Take a plastic glass (it needs to be plastic, because glass will break due to the expansion of water when it freezes), and freeze it with a thermometer inside. (Don't use a cheap one for this!) After all the water has frozen, take out the glass and watch the temperature rise. You will observe the temperature climb until it reaches the freezing point, -32 degrees Farenheit or 0 degrees Celcius. Even as the ice melts into water, the temperature will remain about at this point while the ice melts! Why?
The reason for this is because the heat traveling into the glass is offset by the ice turning into water. As the heat goes from the surroundings into the water, the water transfers the heat to the ice, and the temperature remains the same. Only when the ice is almost completely gone will the temperature significantly increase!
The lesson here? Our polar caps pretty much do the same thing that the ice does inside the glass! This is why scientists may report minor temperature increases globally, but locally, we don't feel much of a difference in terms of how our winters or summers feel to us. Nor shall we, until most of the northern polar ice is gone!
We have satellite surveillance showing that, at the apex of winter each year, the ice cap is getting smaller and smaller. We already know the Antarctic ice shelves are disappearing, and glaciers are all significantly shorter. Already, Glacier National Park in Montana is a misnomer. Someday soon, we will have a summer where nearly all the North Polar Ice Cap is gone.
And then, like our glass of ice water, we will see the temperature shoot up. Because there's no more ice to offset the thermal transition!
Certain ignoramuses on editorial TV and radio shows guffaw at the prospect of global warming due to things like the major snowstorm which hit the East Coast this past winter. But "Snowpocalypse" or "Snowmageddon" has nothing to do with the fact that the polar ices are visibly disappearing. For now, there is still some polar ice left, and that means things feel pretty much the same, and so-called conservative hacks will continue to maintain denial with every annual snowstorm. But once the threshold is crossed, that's it.
Some people may think that certain e-mails publicized by a hacker earlier this year proves this all wrong. I suppose the fact that those e-mails were over ten years old and contained irrelevant data will impress such people now about as much as it did back then.

Oh, and when, not if, the sudden shift happens, all those conservatives who denied global warming will lose their ratings, and consequently, their jobs! If famine, water shortage, and global economic collapse doesn't scare such dittoheads, perhaps that fact will.

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah! National security, the silliness of tying our economies to the rise and fall of one commodity, and the fact that said commodity, namely oil, will certainly run out!

Go green energy!