Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What about Tom Tancredo?

So what has Tom Tancredo been up to since he got to Congress? I went through my archives to come up with a quick recap. Enjoy!

Lawmakers Back End of Public Schools
The Denver Post, 23 February 1999

The vice chairman of the Colorado Senate's education committee, John Andrews, has signed a pledge calling for elimination of all public schools. So too has US Representative Tom Tancredo, also of Colorado, who sits on the House Education Committee in Washington. [more]

CSAP politicians' tool to scrap public education
Douglas County News-Press, 04 April, 2001

If your child was a little frustrated while taking the Colorado Student Assessment Program test, don't be surprised. After two years of resistance, our governor took the test and couldn't finish the math section on the high school level, and Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., was seeking the shredder. [more]

Tancredo reneges on term vow
The Denver Post, 26 September, 2002

Rep. Tom Tancredo, who once led the term-limits movement in Colorado, renounced his pledge to remain in the House for only three terms... [more]

Violation of trust by Tom Tancredo cannot be overstated
Douglas County News-Press, 02 October, 2002

Last time I expressed confusion over how an obviously smart guy like Tom Tancredo could get himself wrapped around the immigration axle so badly that members of his own party were distancing themselves from him... [more]

Protesters target Tancredo
Rocky Mountain News, 1 November, 2002

Rep. Tom Tancredo, a staunch opponent of Denver Mayor Wellington Webb's immigration policies, bolted from a news conference Thursday as chanting, sign-waving counterprotesters surrounded him. [more]

GOP Targets Pro-borders Tancredo, 19 November, 2002

Rep. Tom Tancredo, the nation's most outspoken opponent of the invasion of illegal aliens, is being targeted for defeat - not by the Democrats, but by the GOP establishment. [more]

Tancredo doesn't see Jericho in desert wall
Rocky Mountain News, 22 February, 2003

...The Littleton Republican, assisted by ranchers, locals and a retired Border Patrol agent, came to gather more evidence to advance his congressional agenda to militarize the border if necessary to make it secure...A Border Patrol agent explains that he and his colleagues would prefer a lower fence to a solid barrier, so they could see threats coming. Along the wall's joints are hundreds of square gaps. Someone could jam a shotgun through one of them, wait for a patrol vehicle to come alongside and blast away, said the agent, who declined to give his name...Tancredo hears the agent out, but waves him off, convinced of the wall's superiority...[more]

U.S. bombs Mujahedin; backers hide
The Hill, 23 April, 2003

Congressional supporters [including Tom Tancredo] of an Iraq-based terrorist organization kept a low profile this week after confirmation that U.S.-led coalition forces attacked their bases during the final days of the war. [more]

Congressman seeks to end E-RATE program
American School & University, 1 May, 2003

U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) has proposed legislation (H.R. 1252) that would terminate the E-rate program that provides $2.25 billion a year in subsidies for technology upgrades in schools and libraries. [more]

Tom Delay PAC contributions to 108TH Congress
Campaign for America's Future, 4 October, 2004.

Rep. Tom Tancredo received $28,439 from indicted Texas Congressman Tom Delay's Political Action Committee ARMPAC. [more]

Math Says Homeland Security Committee Most Partisan
Georgia Institute of Technology, 16 May, 2005

The Select Committee on Homeland Security of the 107th Congress was one of the most partisan in the U.S. House of Representatives. No, that’s not the latest finding of a Washington think-tank, it’s the results of a new analysis from mathematicians at Georgia Tech... Among the most partisan Republicans were Thomas Tancredo from Colorado... [more]

Bill Winter for Congress

Ex-Marine Bill Winter will be running for Congress in 2006 against Tom (Three terms for me) Tancredo. I have known Bill for a couple of years, and I think he will make a terrific candidate and Congressman!

Tancredo, as you might remember, ran for office pledging to serve only three terms. Of course, Tom reneged on his promise once he discovered how much fun it is to beat up on illegal immigrants.

Check out Bill's website here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The War on Christmas

The latest non-issue to be endlessly hyped by Fox News and Bill O'Reilly is the so-called "War on Christmas." Apparently, several large retailers have decided to emphasize the "holiday season" in their December advertising, thereby attempting to increase their potential customer base to include celebrants of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, in addition to those of us who celebrate Christmas.

According to O'Reilly, this constitutes a massive assault on the long-suffering Christian shoppers, who are now forced to trudge through suburban shopping malls with nary a "Merry Christmas" to be heard. They have to make do with clerks who wish them "Happy Holidays" instead. How rude and insensitive can our retailers get?

In my experience, most children seem to think that Santa Claus is somehow related to Jesus, maybe his uncle or stepfather or something like that. Instead of blaming the merchants for trying to make a few extra bucks by being inclusive, I think we ought to ask Christian parents just what they are teaching their kids about Christmas. And, what exactly are these kids learning in their Sunday school classes?

Personally, I think all advertising should be banned during December anyway, but that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The 23rd Qualm

I'm not sure where this originated, but I had to pass it along...
The Bush is my shepherd; I may not relax.
He maketh trees to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I trudge through the labyrinth of pollution and war,
I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the name of thy religion.
Thou anointest the land with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my garage apartment forever.

Redneck Liberals

Eric Schuck, an assistant professor at Colorado State University, had a very entertaining column in today's Denver Post. From the column:
I'm a redneck liberal. I have a profound belief in social justice, union wages, the benefits of publicly funded education, the nobility of civil service, conservation of natural resources and a whole host of things typically associated with classical, early-20th century progressive politics. But there's one thing that I've kept from that early-20th century idealism that most of the folks in Boulder did not: I am perfectly willing to turn some tin-pot despot's country into a parking lot before breakfast if I think the rodent poses a threat to my kids' future.
Finally, somebody who thinks like I do! Like it says at the top of the page, I live in Highlands Ranch, which has a surplus of rednecks but a significant shortage of liberals.

I, too, am a redneck liberal. Having grown up on a farm in Iowa, I am no stranger to the working end of a pitchfork, and I have actually fired a gun (several, in fact). I work for a major defense contractor in Aurora, and I ran for the state legislature as a Democrat in 2004.

I don't agree with Schuck that all Democrats have become borderline pacifists. Unfortunately, though, it's a sad fact that we have allowed ourselves to be painted as such. Most Democrats probably have political views that are much closer to Theodore Roosevelt than to Noam Chomsky, but you won't ever hear that from Dick Cheney or the so-called liberal media. In fact, my favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican. He always fought hard for what he believed in, and he was proud of America and the ideals she represents. He understood that we are stewards of our land and resources. He also recognized that prosperity is dependent on a social contract between American business and the American people -- a contract that no longer seems to exist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Religious Consultation

While Googling for a link to Mark Twain's War Prayer, I ran across a site called The Religious Consultation. One of the articles poses some difficult questions regarding abortion:
Case # 1: A woman is two months pregnant when she discovers she has cancer and needs chemotherapy. The chemotherapy would be fatal to the fetus. She decides on an abortion. If you were that woman or if this woman were your wife, your sister, or your daughter, would you be pro-choice for that abortion?

Case # 2: A woman, in spite of her best contraceptive efforts is pregnant. She has a serious heart condition and two physicians tell her that continuing the pregnancy would be likely to cause her death. She choose to abort. If you were that woman or if this woman were your wife,your sister, or your daughter, would you be pro-choice for that abortion?

Case # 3: A woman who suffers from a serious bi-polar condition discovers she is pregnant. The medicine she requires to be functional would damage the development of the fetus. She chooses abortion. If you were that woman or if this woman were your wife, your sister, or your daughter, would you be pro-choice for that abortion?

If you were at the clinic when these women came for their abortion, would you join the pickets in insulting them and calling them murderers? Or would you see women who made serious decisions for pro-life abortions?
Tough questions. I don't have a good answer for any of them. Do you?

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day proclamation

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

-- Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Taxes, the budget, and moral values

So, have you been enjoying those tax cuts? No? I can’t say that I’m very surprised. As a matter of fact, the few bucks that George W. Bush threw at my family have been replaced with tuition increases for my kids in college, higher interest rates, rising food costs, and higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for my health insurance. I’m really looking forward to higher prices for natural gas and electricity this winter, too. Does anybody remember $3 per gallon gasoline? Let’s see, that was just a couple of weeks ago, wasn’t it? Oh, and last month my employer had its first sizable layoff in years. Yessir, those tax cuts sure have done wonders for working men and women everywhere!

In fact, George W. Bush and the Republican Congress have made no secret of their disdain for working men and women. Their tax “reforms” which eliminated or drastically reduced taxes on wealth, including capital gains taxes and the “Paris Hilton” inheritance tax, make their core values very clear. Accumulated wealth and income from wealth are valued. Income from wages is not. If you’re like most people and your income comes from the sweat of your brow, well, that’s just too bad. As Leona Helmsley used to say, “Only the little people pay taxes.” At least until she went to prison for tax evasion, that is.

George W. Bush’s tax “reforms” have wreaked havoc on the middle class, while wealthy taxpayers have watched their incomes skyrocket and their taxes plummet. Furthermore, Bush's tax cuts have wrecked public services and undermined prospects for long-term economic growth. Thanks to Bush’s tax “reform,” middle-class workers today are faced with a higher tax rate on their wage income than the 15-percent rate that millionaires pay on their investment income. Can someone explain to me how this is fair or moral? I sure don’t understand it. One of our core American moral values is our belief in fairness. Our tax system should reflect those values, not flout them. There has been very little that was fair about our federal tax system for many years, but Bush’s “reforms” have managed to make a bad situation even worse.

As the federal budget deficit has continued to climb, George W. Bush and the Republican Congress have pressed for even more tax cuts for the wealthy, while pushing funding cuts in dozens of programs – cuts that will hurt our most vulnerable citizens: children, the elderly, veterans, disaster victims, the unemployed. Jim Wallis said it best, “The choice to cut supports that help people make it day to day in order to pay for tax cuts for those with plenty goes against everything our religious and moral principles teach us. It says that leaders don’t care about people in need. It is a blatant reversal of biblical values … It is one more example of an absence of morality in our current political leadership.”

Our federal budget and tax laws establish the priorities for our country. They reflect our values as a nation, and what we believe is important for current and future generations. The prophet Isaiah said: “Woe to you legislators of infamous laws … who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan.” I wonder what Isaiah would say today about the values of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Target pharmacists and Plan B®

The following is a copy of an email I sent to Target this evening:
I am writing about recent news reports about a Target policy that allows its staff pharmacists to refuse to fill a legal prescription based on their personal judgment. Specifically, I believe that this practice affects women who attempt to fill prescriptions for the Plan B® emergency contraceptive.

As a father of three daughters, I am horrified to think that, God forbid, should one of them be raped, official Target policy would permit one of your pharmacists to refuse to fill their Plan B® prescription. I can certainly find no legal or moral justification for such a policy.

I have been a loyal Target customer for nearly 25 years, and I have always held your company in high regard. One of my daughters was even a Target employee while attending college. However, your company's policy on this issue makes continuance of my relationship with Target very difficult. I urge you to end this policy, and require every Target pharmacist to fill any legal prescription that is presented, including prescriptions for Plan B®.

In closing, let me remind you of the pharmacist's oath:

At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy.

I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.

I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve.

I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.

I will maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical, and legal conduct.

I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.

I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.

Craig Ziesman
Several members of the blogosphere are advocating a boycott of Target. I am not ready to take that step. As I said in my email to Target, I have a lot of respect for Target. They have been a pretty good corporate citizen, especially when compared with Walmart. I even applied for a job at company headquarters a couple of years ago when I was unemployed, but they didn't invite me to interview. I didn't even hold that against Target.

I believe that if enough of us express our reasoned objections to this wrongheaded policy, Target will get the message and do the right thing. So, get busy!

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

I happened across Religion & Ethics Newsweekly for the first time on PBS YOU, channel 377 on DirecTV tonight. KRMA, Channel 6, broadcasts this program at 12:30am, which is not exactly primetime. KBDI, Channel 12, broadcasts this program at 5:30am and 11:30am, which is not much better. It concerns me that neither station broadcasts this program during primetime, considering the vacuum in moral leadership that we face in the Bush administration and in the U.S. Congress.

The program tonight was part 3 of a series, "Faith and Family in America," which examined the problems of poor black families -- high rates of divorce, single parents, and out-of-wedlock births. At the same time, a high percentage of African-American women say they are very religious. The program looked at why so many poor African-American families are in trouble, and what their churches are doing to help. The website has a streaming video version of the program available for those without Tivo or those who are VCR-challenged.

The program website also has an interesting report on a survey about religion and the family conducted in conjunction with the "Faith and Family" series. From the report:
On the question of "moral values," the survey found that most American families place a higher priority on personal values than on divisive social issues. In the 2004 national election exit poll, about one fifth of voters said moral values mattered most in deciding how to vote for president. In the RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY survey, roughly the same proportion -- 18% -- named moral values as the concern that worries them the most. But when asked what "moral values" means to them, the largest number of respondents -- 36% -- said personal values such as honesty and responsibility. Only 10% of respondents said "moral values" means opinions on a social issue, such as abortion or gay marriage. One quarter said "family values," such as protecting children.
I remember the breathless commentary from the pundits after the 2004 election about how "moral values" was the number one concern for voters. Of course, the pundits told us that meant the majority of voters were against abortion and against same-sex unions. We suspected that was not true, and now we finally have these survey results to confirm those suspicions.

Speaking of surveys, the November 10th Newsweek poll shows that only 42% of respondents describe George W. Bush as honest and ethical, and only 29% describe Dick Cheney as honest and ethical. So much for moral values and the Bush administration.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sermon gets church in trouble with the IRS

The LA Times reported a few days ago about an IRS investigation of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. Allegedly, the former rector had spoken about the Iraq war in one of his sermons in 2004. Marcus Owens, the church's tax attorney and a former head of the IRS tax-exempt section, called it "ludicrous to suggest that a pastor cannot preach about the value of promoting peace simply because the nation happens to be at war during an election season." Most religious organizations across the U.S. have decried the actions of the IRS.

The federal tax code allows religious groups to lobby and speak out on public issues, but they are not supposed to engage in partisan politics or endorse candidates.

The IRS investigated Reverend Ronnie Floyd of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas, after complaints about a sermon in 2004 where he praised George W. Bush and lambasted John Kerry. The IRS found no cause to pursue that allegation. Conservative televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson openly backed George W. Bush in 2004, but the IRS failed to investigate their tax-exempt status.

Earlier this year, Pat Robertson called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, yet the IRS still did not question his organization’s tax-exempt status.

Many conservative churches want to change the tax law so they can back candidates. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), has repeatedly introduced legislation to do exactly that. However, the National Council of Churches is opposed to such legislation.

The actions of the IRS against All Saints seem politically suspicious considering the church's liberal reputation and long record of political activism, and considering that no conservative churches have been threatened. Why is it that opponents of Bush administration policies have crossed the line, but supporters are safe? Can anyone say Richard Nixon? Anyone?

I believe that all churches, whether left or right, have a responsibility to provide moral guidance on the important issues of the day, as long as they do not become full-time lobbyists and do not have a "vote for" sign out front. That being said, it is still critically important for the IRS and the Bush administration to come clean about why All Saints has been singled out, and why Falwell and Robertson are untouchable.

Galileo on science and religion

From a letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany:
"...since the Holy Ghost did not intend to teach us whether heaven moves or stands still, whether its shape is spherical or like a discus or extended in a plane, nor whether the earth is located at its center or off to one side, then so much the less was it intended to settle for us any other conclusion of the same kind. And the motion or rest of the earth and the sun is so closely linked with the things just named, that without a determination of the one, neither side can be taken in the other matters. Now if the Holy Spirit has purposely neglected to teach us propositions of this sort as irrelevant to the highest goal (that is, to our salvation), how can anyone affirm that it is obligatory to take sides on them, that one belief is required by faith, while the other side is erroneous? Can an opinion be heretical and yet have no concern with the salvation of souls? Can the Holy Ghost be asserted not to have intended teaching us something that does concern our salvation? I would say here something that was heard from an ecclesiastic of the most eminent degree: "That the intention of the Holy Ghost is to teach us how one goes to heaven. not how heaven goes."
I think the creationists and the ID pushers need to think long and hard about what they are doing. I can't imagine that the Holy Spirit is very happy with them.

Tancredo - "Constitution, what constitution?"

The Washington Post reports that Tom Tancredo has a new twist on an old schtick. According to Tom, "There is general agreement about the fact that citizenship in this country should not be bestowed on people who are children of folks who come into this country illegally." Unfortunately for Tom and his friends, the framers of the 14th Amendment didn't agree. The 14th Amendment begins:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
Tom wants to get around this language by claiming that illegal immigrants are not truly subject to American jurisdiction (like diplomats, I guess), and therefore their children don't qualify for birthright citizenship. Unfortunately for Tom, the Supreme Court rejected this thesis more than a century ago.

The Post points out that diplomats, as a consequence of the lack of jurisdiction Tom would extend to aliens, cannot be arrested or charged with crimes. Illegal immigrants = diplomats? Hmmm. Of course, Tom almost always starts talking long before his brain engages, so nobody should be surprised this time.

Unfortunately, there is no consensus about what Jesus would do about illegal immigration. In fact, Bill O'Reilly and Cardinal McCarrick of Washington clashed earlier this year. Bill wants us to think that Jesus was a fan of sealed borders, while McCarrick points out that Jesus was a champion of the disadvantaged. Not much common ground here.

The real culprits, of course, are the American corporations who depend upon cheap illegal immigrant labor to sustain our low-wage economic infrastructure. What would Jesus say about that? I wonder.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bush -- still dishonoring our veterans

Speaking during the Democratic Party's weekly radio address, retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, the former U.S. military commander in the Middle East, said the Bush administration has consistently refused to provide enough money for veterans' health care and has also repeatedly tried to increase the cost of prescription drugs and health care services for veterans nationwide. Hoar continued:
"As a veteran and a former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, I have seen first hand the kind of sacrifices they are making for us. It's a debt we will never be able to repay... But we have a special duty to make sure our veterans receive the benefits they have earned and deserve when they return home."
Have you noticed how the Bush administration constantly tries to claim the mantle of patriotism, yet they repeatedly dishonor our nation's veterans. Of course, the Bush White House is filled with chickenhawks, so their actions should hardly come as a surprise to anyone.

One other thing -- why is it that when combat veterans enter politics, they are invariably Democrats?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Debbie Stafford wants to dumb down science in Colorado schools

Republican legislator Debbie Stafford of Aurora wants to introduce a measure in the next Colorado legislative session to give free rein to teachers who want to push pseudo-scientific alternatives to evolution in Colorado schools. Stafford makes the following claim:
"There are over 50 scientific journals and periodicals that have already published information on intelligent design..."
This would be big news, if it were true. In fact, a quick Google search for "peer review" "intelligent design" turns up only a handful of possible candidate articles, and all of those have been roundly criticized and refuted by the mainstream scientific community.

I wish legislators like Stafford would stop spreading misinformation and promoting ignorance in our public schools. It's hard enough for our kids to get a decent education as it is.

Pat Robertson: "God hates intelligent people."

Thanks to the ABC Family Channel, aka the Disney Corporation, for beaming the hypocrite-in-chief into our homes every week:
If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin..."

Pat Robertson
I'm sorry, Pat, but I seriously doubt that God is upset that the voters in Dover got tired of the incumbent school board wasting tax money on frivolous issues like "intelligent design." After all, it's not like they were torturing people or letting poor black people drown because it interfered with their dinner plans.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

ID supporters lose in Pennsylvania

From Yahoo News:
Voters on Tuesday ousted a Pennsylvania local school board that promoted an "intelligent-design" alternative to teaching evolution, and elected a new slate of candidates who promised to remove the concept from science classes.
For the last several weeks, I have been following the lawsuit brought by parents against the incumbent school board in Dover, Pennsylvania. The blatant attempt by the old board members to introduce conservative Christian theology in the public school science curriculum was truly frightening.

Reason prevails. Somewhere, God is smiling...

Kansas, creation, and science

Since not that many people actually read and study the Bible, they don't actually know that there are two different creation stories -- one in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 and another in Genesis 2:4 - 25.

Some folks of a particular persuasion try to paper over the differences, and at least one translation of the Bible actually combines the two into a single story. While I don't agree with the theology of the Worldwide Church of God, this article on their website provides one of the best analyses that I have seen of Genesis and the creation stories. Michael Morrison, the author, says:
The Bible is not meant to be a scientific textbook. Nor is it designed to reveal secrets about primordial history that have no relevance to salvation. The Bible does not answer the questions that science asks. Nor does science address all the issues the creation account does. The two approaches are different tools for different jobs, and if people perceive conflicts between the two, it is because they are trying to force a tool to do a job it wasn’t designed to do.

However, many people think that science and Christianity conflict. They think they have to choose between science on one hand and belief in a six-day creation on the other. This is unfortunate, because there shouldn’t be any conflict. We can have faith in God and believe facts.
This is exactly the mistake that the Kansas State Board of Education made today with their 6-4 decision to approve new standards that (1) redefine science to include supernatural causes and (2) give credibility to a non-existent scientific controversy about evolutionary theory. Morrison anticipated just this sort of action when he said:
Faith should be built on the correct foundation, not on an overly specific interpretation when other interpretations make better sense. Belief in God can legitimately be combined with a nonliteral view of Genesis 1. Christians do not need to feel that faith requires a 6,000-year-old-earth theory, a six-day creation theory, a "gap" theory or any other theory that attempts to squeeze scientific precision out of the biblical creation account. Such theories may, in the long run, do faith more harm than good, if they cause people to reject the Bible.
For those on both sides of this issue, I highly recommend Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth R. Miller, a devout Catholic and a professor of biology at Brown University. Miller clearly and irrefutably rebuts every "theory" of creation science through a systematic and even-handed examination of the evidence. He also shows how creation science is bankrupt of ideas, both as science and as an expression of Christian faith.

Ultimately, the question is not how human beings came about, but how we use our gift of life. For me, it doesn't matter if humans evolved from something else. Humanity is still set apart, something special. As humans, our consciences tell us right from wrong. We feel love and compassion. We have minds that can discover and understand new ideas and concepts. As a result, we and we alone are responsible for our actions, and we must answer to God for the choices we make.

Finally, I just don't understand those who want to use the coercive power of the state to indoctrinate our students with a warped and cartoonish view of our Creator. Our God is an awesome and powerful God, and He doesn't need any help from the Kansas State Board of Education.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bob Schaffer says liberals are socialists

In the November 3rd edition of the Highlands Ranch Herald, former Colorado congressman Bob Schaffer was quoted as saying:
Liberals believe government owns private means of production.
I think Bob is a little confused. The dictionary has this definition for liberalism:
A political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual and favoring civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority.
and this definition for socialism:
Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
I'm willing to bet that Schaffer also believes that capitalism is central to the teachings of Jesus. Everybody remembers the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said, "Thou shalt not regulate corporations, nor tax their profits." Wait, you don't remember reading that? Well, that's too bad! Don't you know that the writer of Matthew's gospel was just a liberal reporter, and slanted the coverage of the speech to leave out those remarks?

Actually, you should Google "liberal socialism" sometime and see what pops up. The results are pretty scary. I had no idea that embracing the definition of liberalism that I cited above meant that I was a disciple of the Antichrist. I'm so ashamed.

Thomas Sowell flip-flops

I saw Thomas Sowell's column in today's Rocky editorial page in the Denver Post. Sowell does his best to characterize the efforts of Patrick Fitzgerald to get to the bottom of the Plame-gate scandals as a "fishing" trip.

Sowell tries to advance the two main spin points of the White House damage control effort. One is that special prosecutors can't be trusted. The other is that even though someone in the White House clearly violated the Espionage Act and revealed the identity of a clandestine CIA agent, no crime was committed.
What really needs serious re-examination are laws under which special prosecutors are issued unlimited fishing licenses to go see if they can trip someone up on inconsistencies in their statements about something that was not even a crime in the first place.
Of course, let's remember what Sowell said back in October, 1998 when Ken Starr was chasing Bill Clinton:
When Clinton lied, was Starr supposed to let it go at that or was he supposed to start collecting evidence to the contrary? And when Clinton tried to stop him from getting evidence and testimony that contradicted the lies, was Starr supposed to roll over and play dead or go into court and start issuing subpoenas?
Gee, that seems a bit inconsistent with what he says today -- a flip-flop, if you will. Of course, we should also remember that Starr's original official purpose was supposed to be about investigating Whitewater, not Bill Clinton's sex life, which was what Bill actually lied about.

Sowell also had this to say about special prosecutors in 1998:
When lies under oath become acceptable and revealing the truth provokes outrage, then you know we are in big trouble. Or you will find out the hard way, as those in power begin to ignore the restrictions on their power that were written into the constitution.
Truer words were never spoken, Tom.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Vatican says "Listen to science"

A Vatican cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

I guess they learned a few lessons after that Galileo mess a while back.

The Beatitudes and Torture

Dick Cheney said this week that although the Bush administration doesn't engage in torture (yeah, right -- see here for a different opinion), the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment.

Funny, I always thought that "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" was the actual definition of torture. Perhaps Cheney should spend some time reviewing the Gospel, specifically Matthew 5:1-12.

5:1 When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him.
5:2 Then he began to teach them by saying:
5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me.
Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

Yessir, I can see right away where Jesus would be a supporter of Bush and Cheney on this one. How about you? Let's see -- merciful, peacemaker, pure in heart -- yeah, that sounds like Bush and Cheney to me...

Whose Bible Is It?

I just finished reading Whose Bible Is It? by Jaroslav Pelikan, who is a professor of history at Yale University. The book describes the history and evolution of the Old and New Testaments from the original oral traditions through current translations in hundreds of languages.

This book will sorely trouble those who believe that the Bible contains the inerrant Word of God, as Pelikan clearly traces the influence of humans with varying agendas on the written text that comprises the modern Bible. For example, the Latin Vulgate version contains editorial departures from the original Hebrew and Greek that are the basis for Catholic doctrine that is difficult or impossible to find in scripture. Even after original Hebrew manuscripts were discovered and printed that highlighted the changes and errors, the Catholic Church refused to correct their Bible, preferring to stay wedded to orthodoxy.

Pelikan talks about the changes to the canon -- the official list of books -- of the Bible over the centuries, and how different strains of Christianity each have their own canon. If the Bible were literally the inspired Word of God, wouldn't you think that there would only be one version? Why would God confuse us about something that is so essential to understanding Him?

Unfortunately when humans are involved in any activity, personal agendas, bias, knowledge (or lack thereof), and politics always seem to corrupt the outcome in some way. Even though this is as true for the Bible as for anything else, fundamentalists still insist that the Bible is to be understood as literally true. Other writers have commented on the perils of trying to interpret every word of the Bible as literal truth, whether it makes sense or not, so I won't cover that ground here.

Unfortunately, religious fundamentalism in the United States has evolved into the politically oriented "religious right," which opposes the influence of liberalism and secularism in American life. This has resulted in the continuing battles in America over topics as diverse as abortion, the Supreme Court, and evolutionary theory, and which has led many to believe that the religious right wants to replace our democratic government and institutions with a fundamentalist theocracy. Pat Robertson is one of the leading proponents of Dominionist theology, and he has several disciples in Congress, who have been leading an assault on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Anyway, I have wandered a bit from where I started. I highly recommend this book. It is clearly written, insightful, and chock full of interesting historical background on the most influential book in human history.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jimmy Carter on Bush

USAToday reported today on comments by former President Jimmy Carter about George W. Bush. Former presidents usually avoid direct criticism of sitting presidents, but I guess Carter just couldn't hold his tongue any longer. From the story:

Carter acknowledged that both he and Bush proclaim their Christian faith as part of their governing philosophy, but the similarity ends there.

"I don't have any doubt that he is very sincere about his Christian faith," Carter said of Bush. "There are some differences in interpretation. ... I have a commitment to worship the Prince of Peace, not the prince of pre-emptive war. I believe that Christ taught us to give special attention to the plight of the poor."

Bush, he said, "has committed himself to extol the advantages of the rich."


Samuel Alito and the Vanguard problem

Editor and Publisher reports here on a story in the Boston Globe about Samuel Alito and his relationship with Vanguard mutual funds.

It seems that Sammy promised during his confirmation hearings in 1990 to recuse himself from any cases involving Vanguard, due to his large holdings of Vanguard mutual fund shares. Yet, in 2002 he presided over a case involving Vanguard anyway.

After Alito ruled in Vanguard's favor, he complained about the plaintiff's efforts to vacate his decision and remove him from the case, saying: ''I do not believe that I am required to disqualify myself based on my ownership of the mutual fund shares."

If anyone, especially a federal judge, can be that blatant about breaking a promise and then lying about it, they certainly are not qualified to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you ask me, Sammy has broken both the 3rd and the 9th Commandments. James Dobson, where are you when we need you?

What's really interesting is that the Bush spin machine is conveniently ignoring Alito's promise, and is focusing only on the conflict of interest charges. Their position is that Sammy's $400,000 investment with Vanguard was just petty cash, and there is no way that he would have ruled for Vanguard just to protect his own financial interests.

Remember, it's Sammy's lies and lack of integrity that are at issue here, not the money. Don't get sucked in!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Evolution and "Intelligent Design"

I am a Christian who sees no conflict between belief in God and acceptance of evolutionary theory. I believe that evolution is simply the mechanism that God used (and continues to use) to create the diversity of life on Earth that is seen in the fossil record and that exists today.

Proponents of "intelligent design" claim that they only want the facts to be presented, but what are those facts? The truth is that the scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming. Scientific studies in paleontology, comparative anatomy, biogeography, embryology, biochemistry, and molecular biology have all provided overwhelming evidence that corroborates evolutionary theory.

In an essay published on, Benjamin Wiker claims that "We're not dealing then with a controversy between science and religion, but a clash between two faiths, two religions." That certainly seems to be the perspective of "intelligent design" supporters, but for proponents of evolution it is always about the science. For a scientist, a theory is not a guess or a hunch. Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up from testable observations and hypotheses. Where are the testable observations and hypotheses that comprise "intelligent design" theory?

Wiker implies that support for evolution is some sort of secular conspiracy. In fact, the ancient Greeks originated the idea that similar species were descended from a common ancestor before the birth of Christ. Charles Darwin himself was a devout Christian, and once stated he did not “in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word of the Bible.” Even the Catholic Church has no quarrel with the teaching of evolution.

Wiker refers to a quote from Franklin Harold as evidence that he has been "indoctrinated against design." I agree with Harold that we may never know exactly how life on Earth got started, but why does that bother Wiker so much? Much of the beauty and mystery of belief in God is being able to accept things on faith without demanding proof. If life arose spontaneously from the primordial soup, so be it. If God provided the initial spark, I am happy, but that has nothing to do with the evolutionary process since then.

The theory of evolution has stood up to rigorous scrutiny, and treating it as “one theory among others” only embraces ignorance and transmits that ignorance to our children. Every school in America must preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge.

I believe that God has given us the physical laws which govern our universe. God has also given us human minds capable of critical thought and reasoning. The proponents of "intelligent design" commit the ultimate act of hubris when they argue that we should reject our gifts and deny the clear evidence of what God has created. Any failure to use our minds for scientific inquiry is clearly a rejection of the will of God.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ref C Wins!

I was quite relieved to see that the voters of Colorado had enough sense to ignore the lies of John Caldara, Douglas Bruce, Joe Stengel, and Grover Norquist when they voted yesterday to approve Referendum C by a narrow margin.

If the voters had rejected C, the legislature would have been forced to cut $365 million from Colorado’s next budget. Here is the list of discretionary budget areas where cuts would have been made:
  • The $640 million Discretionary Medicaid Budget that funds medical services, nursing homes and prescriptions for the poor, elderly, pregnant women, and the disabled.
  • The $597 million Higher Education Budget that funds community colleges and State universities.
  • The $533 million Corrections Budget that funds prisons for convicted felons.
  • The $500 million Human Services Budget which funds child welfare, mental health care, and basic services for the disabled.
  • The $236 million Judicial System Budget.
  • The $82 million Department of Revenue Budget that funds the Motor Vehicle Dept. and collects taxes.
  • The $79 million General Government Budget that funds the Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Senate and House of Representatives.
  • The $59 million Public Safety/State Patrol Budget.
  • The $22 million State Parks Budget.
  • The $4 million Military & Veterans Affairs Budget.
Our own state representative, Ted Harvey, showed his typical leadership by opposing Referendum C. Of course, Harvey was once employed by Caldara's Independence Institute, which shows just how low even he can sink. We should also remember that Harvey was on the opposite side of Highlands Ranch voters on every ballot issue last November, too, so he remains just as out of touch as ever.