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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
My Secret - Frank Warren
Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi

31 October 2006

Gay Marriage

Same-sex marriage has kind of been a buzzword again lately. I'm not sure why. It's been legal in Massachusetts for a while now. So far as I can tell, despite what James Dobson claimed, civilisation hasn't yet crumbled.

But since some people still have their knickers in a twist over the issue, I thought I'd post this. It's an oldie but a goodie, straight from Kung Fu Monkey with love:
Here's the problem -- and I really do believe that misunderstanding this is the root of many issue in America today:

Your beliefs are not your rights. The government is in the job of enforcing your rights, not your beliefs.

The government does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation. It does not tell you who to marry, how to marry, who to love, what God to worship, what books to read ... that is not its job. The government's job when it comes to marriage is to make sure the legal mumbo-jumbo is observed. All the things that make marriage "marriage", all the emotional and religious context, that's up to the individual couples and their communities, be those communites Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, civil ...

If you belong to a church which is against same-sex marriage, fine. If this judgement stands, your church will not be forced to marry gay people. Do you know why? Because, and I will take this slowly, odds are gay people are not going to your church. Strange gay people are not going to paratroop in and occupy your vestry. This law will not make you have to look at gay people, or associate with them, or like them. You will not have to forgive them, or even agree with them. The special vows that make marriage a holy institution to you, they will not be saying them in your church, changing the meaning of those vows to you. They do not change what "marriage" means to you. You can continue to argue that gay people are bad or wrong or evil in God's eyes, and do so freely. Do you understand? Your. Life. Does. Not. Change. Your rights are not abridged. And so, your right to find them objectionable or icky or evil ends where their right to enter into a legal contract begins.

You may have excellent moral, or religious, or personal arguments against same-sex marriage. But you do not have a single decent legal one. And that is the government's reach, and no farther.

All that, of course, is me trying to convince someone with silly things like logic. For me personally, it quite simply boils down to this:

Christianity survived the death of its founder, centuries of brutal persecution by the most powerful Empire on earth, Crusades, corruption, bad popes, multiple schisms -- and still spread and thrived, converting over the course of its history hundreds of millions of people from wildly diverse, often hostile cultures.

It'll survive two guys sharing a life insurance policy.

Free Movies

Just a brief Halloween reminder: Archive.org has public domain movies available for free download. That includes movies like the original Night of the Living Dead and Nosferatu.

30 October 2006

The Lessons Of September 11

Someone once told me that hating him would be like drinking poison and hoping someone else would die. -- Rudy Tomjanovich

George Bush refers to something he calls "the lessons of September 11." I'm not sure what these lessons are (although others have offered some suggestions). As best as I can tell, the President seems to think that "the lessons of September 11" means "fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here."

There is, of course, a much better lesson to be learned from September 11. The Amish know this lesson. They taught it to us all earlier this month. When a 32-year old milk-tank truck driver shot and killed five young girls, the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania did something unthinkable: they forgave the murderer. Even more extraordinarily, that Amish community reached out to the family of the murderer, going so far as to set up a college fund for his children.

In doing so, this Amish community has acted in a way that few other U.S. Christians have in the five years since September 11. They have responded as Jesus might have.

26 October 2006

By The Numbers

The media, like the Lord, works in mysterious ways. For all its purported liberalism, the U.S. media sure makes you read between the lines. You'd think ye olde liberal media would beat us over the head with certain stories.

Take Newsweek's recent "Republicans are in trouble" poll article. It's a pretty standard rundown of data (60 percent of white Evangelicals will vote Republican in the midterm elections, the President's approval rating is 35 percent, yada yada yada).

But what is arguably the biggest news of the story is buried near the very end:

Other parts of a potential Democratic agenda receive less support, especially calls to impeach Bush: 47 percent of Democrats say that should be a “top priority,” but only 28 percent of all Americans say it should be, 23 percent say it should be a lower priority and nearly half, 44 percent, say it should not be done. (Five percent of Republicans say it should be a top priority and 15 percent of Republicans say it should be a lower priority; 78 percent oppose impeachment.) Rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts would be contentious too: 38 percent of Americans say the Dems should make that a top priority; 28 percent say it should be a lower priority; and 28 percent say it shouldn’t be done at all.
For the mathematically challenged, 28 percent of Americans plus 23 percent of Americans equals 51 percent of Americans. That means more than half of the country wants to see the President impeached.

Given, polls are inaccurate, and you have to take the margin of error into account. Nonetheless, compare that 51 percent with the President's 35 percent approval rating. And compare that with Bill Clinton's numbers at the time of his impeachment. Only 35 percent of the country felt the House made the right decision in impeaching him. And his approval rating after the fact was 73 percent, the highest rating of Clinton's presidency at the time (and a higher approval rating than Ronald Reagan ever had).

Sadly, impeachment is something you aren't likely to see in the liberal media's newspaper headlines anytime soon. Well, at least for a couple more weeks.

24 October 2006

Walking The Walk

Daily Kos reports some interesting findings. The nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America took a look at more than 300 legislative votes in the last five years which affected American troops and veterans. The proposals included veterans' benefits, healthcare, medical research dedicated towards injured soldiers, and so on. Based on these votes, IAVA calculated which congressmen and senators had a history of supporting the troops, and which didn't. The results were then graded on a curve.

You can see the full results of the report here. But it's the Senate results that are the most shocking. Every Senate Republican, without fail, scores a "C" or lower. And every Senate Democrat, without fail, scores a "B-" or higher.

It appears that Senate Republicans support the troops the way abusive husbands love their wives.

Assimilated Press

I stumbled across a new blog today, called Assimilated Press. It's basically satirical political news stories. Think The Onion back when it was funny, only not as funny.

I haven't read many of the posts on the blog yet. But many of the headlines alone are reason for stopping by. Here are some gems:

Republicans Oppose Masturbation Before Marriage
Supreme Court: Midnight Kidnappings of US Citizens Legal
Nation Stunned As Bush Tells Truth
Halliburton Given Contract to Develop Fuel From Human Remains
Bush Vetoes Recent Supreme Court Decision
Panic Spreads As Gay Sharks Attack Missing White Women
Bush Orders Closure Of American Border With Venezuela
Wal-Mart To Offer Outpatient Surgery In New Superstores
Vice President Cheney Bites The Ambassador From Liechtenstein
Mississippi River Becomes Ronald Reagan River
Cheney Spends Vacation Clubbing Baby Seals
White House OK's Use Of Torture In Public Schools
Speaker Hastert Claims He Was Molested By Bill Clinton
Neocons Prepared For Iraq War By Reading Chicken Entrails
McCain Blames Clinton For Influenza Epidemic Of 1919

20 October 2006

Nail In The Coffin

Enter into the fire, into the bloody gates of America,
The great, the fate, the late.
-- Saviour Machine

15 October 2006

Naivety: 2 Church: 0

Via McCarty Musings.

13 October 2006

Friday Random Ten

Smashing Pumpkins - Here Is No Why
M83 - Teen Angst
Nathan Ryan - Preacher
Sole - Da Baddest Poet
Oasis - Stay Young
The Mountain Goats - Southwood Plantation Road
Kim Taylor - Troubled Mind
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago (live)
Mashup - Jimi Hendrix vs. Jay-Z
Pearl Jam - (Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay

Friday Comics Blogging

12 October 2006

Faith Based Fictives Part 2

Part two of Keith Olbermann's report on David Kuo's Tempting Faith.

Faith Based Fictives

Their big success is now their biggest failure
Their golden child has been dethroned
Their reputation is now in ruins
Their tower to heaven has come tumbling down
And all the while
The good Lord smiles
And looks the other way
And looks the other way
-- Pedro the Lion

Last night on Countdown, Keith Olbermann discussed David Kuo's new book, Tempting Faith. In it, Kuo says what many of us have been saying for a long time, that the Bush White House is using Christians to get elected, and nothing more:

Author David Kuo's conservative Christian credentials are impeccable; his resume sprinkled with names like Bennett and Ashcroft. Now, as the Foley cover-up has many evangelical Christians wondering whether the G.O.P. is really in sync with their values, "Tempting Faith" provides the answer: No way.

Kuo, citing one example after another of a White House that repeatedly uses evangelical Christians for their votes — while consistently giving them nothing in return;

A White House which routinely speaks of the nation's most famous evangelical leaders behind their backs, with contempt and derision.

Furthermore, Faith-Based Initiatives were not only stiffed on one public promise after another by Mr. Bush — the office itself was eventually forced to answer a higher calling: Electing Republican politicians.

Kuo's bottom line: the Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians for suckers.

According to Kuo, Karl Rove's office referred to evangelical leaders as 'the nuts.'

Kuo says, 'National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy.' "
This echoes the comments Tucker Carlson made recently. I wonder if conservative evangelicals will start to wake up, or if they will simply view this as just another liberal plot against them. Could it be that George Bush isn't God's golden boy after all?

And they called Bill Clinton slick.

11 October 2006

Not For The Easily Offended

Am I the only one who finds this song stinkin' hilarious?

10 October 2006

Christmas, Christmas Time Is Here

It wouldn't be Christmas without a new 7-inch release from David Bazan on Suicide Squeeze Records. This year Bazan takes on "Away in a Manger" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." No word on whether he'll add verses to the songs, as he did last year with "Silent Night" (see above) and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It's only $6 and it's a small, 1,000 copy release, so this won't last long.

Relevant Status Quo Magazine also has a two-part interview with Bazan (part one here; part two here). It's semi-insightful.

And, while we're on the subject of Christmas, be sure you download Sufjan Stevens' "Sister Winter" and "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever."

Speaking of Christmas, is the War on Christmas™ still going on? Or did they send all those troops to Iraq?

08 October 2006

Focusing On The Family

Media Matters reports that James Dobson has expanded on his commments about former Republican Congressman Mark Foley:

As it turns out, Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we know of, and the whole thing turned out to be what some people are now saying was a -- sort of a joke by the boy and some of the other pages.
So let's review. Gay marriage will destroy civilisation. Children shouldn't watch SpongeBob SquarePants. But a Republican member of Congress asking an underage page about masturbation techniques, his sexual habits and the size of his genitals is "sort of a joke."

Good to have that clarified.

06 October 2006

Friday Random Ten

The Postal Service - Brand New Colony
Larry Norman - Prince of Peace
Superdrag - Who Sucked Out the Feeling
The Arcade Fire - Sonata
David Wilcox - Blow 'Em Away
Modest Mouse - The World At Large
The Advantage - Ghosts 'N' Goblins (Intro)
The Beatles - I Will
Kosmos Express - I Don't Have A Gun
RobinElla - Little Boy

05 October 2006

Jon Stewart On Foley Scandal

The Daily Show
's continuing coverage...

Addicted To Mediocrity

And you never ask questions when God's on your side. - Bob Dylan

There's a movie out right now called Facing The Giants. It is one of those inspirational Christian films. In other words, it's probably awful.

Here is the movie's description from Wikipedia:

Coach Grant Taylor at Shiloh Christian Academy has never had a winning football season. His car breaks down frequently, his house is falling down around him, and he and his wife are infertile. When he overhears school parents plotting to have him fired, he reaches a crisis point and prays. Reluctant at first, Coach Taylor resolves to get serious about his faith, and challenge his players to do the same. Events and situations work themselves out in a way that the entire school and community is touched, encouraged, and convinced that "with God, all things are possible."
I haven't seen the movie, but I'm guessing that in the end God takes time out of his busy schedule to help Shiloh Christian Academy win some football games. God is, after all, deeply concerned about the outcome of high school sporting events. The true test of faith is not whether Christians feed the poor, but whether they believe that God will help them score more touchdowns than the opposing team. I guess all the people starving and dying of thirst in Africa just aren't praying hard enough.

At any rate, the movie isn't exactly getting rave reviews. As of the moment, it's only got a 14 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Even Josh Hurst at Christianity Today gave it a one star review. And, as Looking Closer notes, that isn't sitting well with a lot of readers.

Here's a comment from Christianity Today reader Dave Peterson that is par for the criticism the review has gotten:

Your review of Facing the Giants is disgusting. This was one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. The audience seemed to agree with me also. There were cheers, whoops, laughter (in all the right places, not as you stated at the actors), and the inspirational parts were, well, flat out inspirational. I think your reviewer needs to be more in touch with the average Christian rather than set themselves up as a movie critic. I see this is one more example of Christianity Today going further away from the Bible and moving toward a liberal theology.
This is very telling of Christianity in the United States. It is also extremely sad.

For many Christians, the purpose of art is to reflect truth. I would agree with that, but not in the way they mean it. What they often mean is that art must somehow point people to Jesus. Or it must communicate a "Christian worldview." Or it must be inspirational. What this particular group of Christians does not care about is whether the art in question is actually good art. It is more important to them that art either bring people to salvation or that it win some arbitrary battle in the so-called culture war.

With a mindset like that, it is easy to see why George W. Bush is President. These particular Christians have little patience for quality, for nuance, or for the complexities of real life. They do not have time for moving beyond a superficial black and white view of the world. It is more important to them that a man be a Christian than that he be able to do his job well.

These Christians would prefer to rot their brains with Audio Adrenaline than listen to John Lennon. These Christians would prefer to visit a Christian doctor, even if he is not a good doctor. I would rather visit an atheistic doctor who knows what he is doing. These Christians would rather have a Christian President. I would rather have a Muslim President who is not an incompetent jackass.

Of Sex Scandals

Today the Chicago Sun Times printed comments by Newt Gingrich saying that Democratic sex scandals are worse than Republican ones. Gingrich, you'll remember, was one of the primary members of Congress to criticise Bill Clinton after Lewinskygate. Gingrich, you may also remember, has been married three times, and cheated on his wife while she was bedridden with cancer. (For some reason the always-liberal media failed to mention those facts. I guess they must not be relevant.)

I'm not sure how one would measure the severity of sex scandals along party lines. Nonetheless, I hope Gingrich hasn't forgotten the following gems:*

• Republican County Constable Larry Dale Floyd was arrested on suspicion of soliciting sex with an 8-year old girl.

• Republican judge Mark Pazuhanich pleaded no contest to fondling a 10-year old girl and was sentenced to 10 years probation.

• Republican Party leader Bobby Stumbo was arrested for having sex with a 5-year old boy.

• Republican Mayor Philip Giordano is serving a 37-year sentence in federal prison for sexually abusing 8- and 10-year old girls.

• Republican Mayor John Gosek was arrested on charges of soliciting sex from two 15-year old girls.

• Republican County Commissioner David Swartz pleaded guilty to molesting two girls under the age of 11 and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

• Republican legislator Edison Misla Aldarondo was sentenced to 10 years in prison for raping his daughter between the ages of 9 and 17.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Howard Scott Heldreth (the guy who tried to take Terry Schiavo a glass of water) is a convicted child rapist in Florida.

• Republican zoning supervisor, Boy Scout leader and Lutheran church president Dennis L. Rader pleaded guilty to performing a sexual act on an 11-year old girl he murdered.

• Republican anti-abortion activist Nicholas Morency pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography on his computer and offering a bounty to anybody who murders an abortion doctor.

• Republican United States Senator Strom Thurmond had sex with a 16-year old black girl which produced a child.

• Republican pastor Mike Hintz, whom George W. Bush commended during the 2004 presidential campaign, surrendered to police after admitting to a sexual affair with a female juvenile.

• Republican legislator Peter Dibble pleaded no contest to having an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl.

• Republican advertising consultant Carey Lee Cramer was charged with molesting his 9-year old step-daughter after including her in an anti-Gore television commercial.

• Republican lobbyist Craig J. Spence organized child sex parties at the White House during the 1980s.

• Republican fundraiser Richard A. Delgaudio was found guilty of child porn charges and paying two teenage girls to pose for sexual photos.

• Republican activist Mark A. Grethen convicted on six counts of sex crimes involving children.

• Republican activist Randal David Ankeney pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault on a child.

• Republican Congressman Dan Crane had sex with a female minor working as a congressional page.

• Republican activist and Christian Coalition leader Beverly Russell admitted to an incestuous relationship with his step daughter.

• Republican Judge Ronald C. Kline was placed under house arrest for child molestation and possession of child pornography.

• Republican congressman and anti-gay activist Robert Bauman was charged with having sex with a 16-year-old boy he picked up at a gay bar.

• Republican Committee Chairman Jeffrey Patti was arrested for distributing a video clip of a 5-year-old girl being raped.
*Apologies if some of the links don't work. I first posted this list nearly a year ago. If you find a link unclickable, use Google. All the kids are doing it.

I am also well aware that Democrats have had sex scandals of their own, involving children and otherwise. This is not a pissing contest, but a reminder that the Republican Party, despite what it implies, does not have the market cornered on moral values, whatever those are.

04 October 2006

Moral Relavitism

Streak quotes the always on point Tony Campolo:

For years [the Religious Right] have argued against situational ethics. They have stood for absolutes and contended that those absolutes should never be compromised. With conviction they have declared, loud and clear, that the end never justifies the means. Now, with the war on terrorism on our hands, they support torture when interrogating suspects.

A prominent scholar recently polled a dozen top leaders of America’s Religious Right, who were unanimously in favor of using torture “given the situation at hand." When it suits them, it turns out, the end does indeed justify the means.

If they have changed their minds and are ready to refute the golden rule, then it is time for them to say plainly, “For the most part we agree with Jesus, but there are special circumstances when we must ignore His teachings.”

Of course, these leaders ought to recognize the implications of their decision to support what they might call “necessary evils” in special circumstances. For instance, can they still tell a teenage girl who is pregnant by rape or incest that abortion is always wrong?

I’m not ready to answer such questions, except to say that the Religious Right can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that righteousness must never be compromised, and then add “except in certain situations—like torturing our enemies in times of war.

A Good Way To Start A Wednesday

Live cuts of David Bazan putting his spin on "Silent Night" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Plus Sufjan Stevens' recent New York show. And some other stuff. Over here.

03 October 2006

More On Foley

Dobson Vs. Dobson

Here’s what James Dobson had to say when Bill Clinton got a blowjob in the Oval Office:

"When assessing the legacy of Bill Clinton, we can't overlook his shameful sexual behavior in the Oval Office, and then, his lies under oath to the American people to cover it up. Indeed, it is my belief that no man has ever done more to debase the presidency or to undermine our Constitution -- and particularly the moral and biblical principles upon which it is based -- than has William Jefferson Clinton."

Here’s what James Dobson had to say about Congressman Mark Foley, who appears to have a fetish for 16-year old boys:

"This is not a time to be talking about politics, but about the well-being of those boys who appear to have been victimized by Rep. Foley. If he is indeed guilty of what he is accused of, it is right that he resigned and that authorities are looking into whether criminal charges are warranted.

"This is yet another sad example of our society's oversexualization, especially as it affects the Internet, and the damage it does to all who get caught in its grasp."

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a different standard for Democrats and Republicans?

(h/t: Streak)

02 October 2006

More Moral Values

Sigh. Another week. Another Republican scandal. This time it's a Congressman who also appears to be a pedophile. And Congressional leadership may have looked the other way. But they're against abortion, so it's OK, right?

01 October 2006


Earlier tonight 60 Minutes had a piece about the disturbing trend in which teenagers physically assault, and often kill, homeless people, for the thrill of it. Often these teens videotape the brutal beatings. Ed Bradley, the 60 Minutes correspondent who filed the report, seemed unable to fathom why teenagers would do such a thing.

What I find interesting is that we keep hearing stories about soldiers in Iraq who torture, rape and kill the citizens there. And now our government has sanctioned torture. And we wonder how our children can do such things.

Thanks for your moral leadership, Mr. President.

A Good Way To Start A Sunday

So someone on the Pedro the Lion message board I frequent posted an Over the Rhine show from December 2003. I have a few live Over the Rhine shows. This one isn't incredibly notable, except in one way.

It's got a few Christmas tunes, which is kind of cool I suppose. But better than that is David Bazan singing a cover of The Beatles' "Let It Be" with Karin Bergquist. Yowza.

Here's the set list. Here's the full show. Or just get Let It Be. It's at YouSendIt, so I don't know how long it will be up. Get it while you can.