Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stunning idiocy

The AP's account of a bumbling former National Security Advisor ('97 - '01) reads almost comically.

Berger took a break to go outside without an escort while it was dark. He had taken four documents in his pockets.

"He headed toward a construction area. ... Mr. Berger looked up and down the street, up into the windows of the Archives and the DOJ [Department of Justice], and did not see anyone," the interview notes said.

He then slid the documents under a construction trailer, according to the inspector general. Berger acknowledged that he later retrieved the documents from the construction area and returned with them to his office.

"He was aware of the risk he was taking," the inspector general's notes said. Berger then returned to the Archives building without fearing the documents would slip out of his pockets or that staff would notice that his pockets were bulging.

The notes said Berger had not been aware that Archives staff had been tracking the documents he was provided because of earlier suspicions from previous visits that he was removing materials. Also, the employees had made copies of some documents.

In October 2003, the report said, an Archives official called Berger to discuss missing documents from his visit two days earlier. The investigator's notes said, "Mr. Berger panicked because he realized he was caught."

The notes said that Berger had "destroyed, cut into small pieces, three of the four documents. These were put in the trash."

After the trash had been picked up, Berger "tried to find the trash collector but had no luck."

Lesson: Don't play James Bond.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Regarding the Judeo-Christian argument that homosexuality is a sin, I have another perspective. The basis of this argument by organized Judeo-Christian religion comes from Leviticus 18:22 which states:
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
Leviticus is in the Old Testament and therefore part of the Torah, the book of faith of Jewish people. To further complicate things, there are different interpretations of Leviticus by Christians and Jews.
There are three major branches of Judaism: Reformed, Conservative and Orthodox. Reformed is the most liberal while Orthodox is the most conservative and Conservative is in the middle. In the news the other day was a piece about the Conservative (big "c" not little "c") governing body which had decided to let individuals congregations make up their own minds on gay Jews. In doing my own research, I discovered that there is a case of mistranslation concerning Leviticus 18:22.
So, I contacted a guy I used to work with to clear things up for me. He is an observant Jew who attended a Jewish school in Los Angeles. He also spent some time living in Israel. He's the closest friend I have who is knowledgeable on things Jewish. I sent him an excerpt which states the following:
"Many would regard 'abomination,; 'enormous sin', etc. as particularly poor translations of the original Hebrew word which really means 'ritually unclean' within an ancient Israelite era. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (circa 3rd century BCE) translated 'to'ebah' into Greek as 'bdelygma,' which meant ritual impurity. If the writer(s) of Leviticus had wished to refer to a moral violation, a sin, he would have used the Hebrew word 'zimah.'"
He responded asking if I was "simply making the point that the verse is ambiguous and widely misunderstood because of the complexity of the Hebrew word?". He followed with:
That being said, the Hebrew word mentioned on the religious tolerance website, "to'evah," has confused Jewish scholars and translators for centuries. It doesn't really mean "abomination"; I would use it more as an adjective, more like "ritually forbidden." This doesn't change many things for modern Conservative or Orthodox Judaism. Both movements are rooted in "halacha," or Jewish Law, and therefore take biblical or rabbinic verses as literally as possible. Conservative Jews, however, have made every effort to distinguish themselves from the Orthodox by taking changes in society and culture into account and applying traditional Jewish standards to contemporary life. Hence, we get to the Time article, which discussed yesterday's big decision by those Conservative rabbis. If you read that article--and the official press release--very closely, you'll notice that these rabbis essentially said, "There are homosexuals in our community. We can't push them aside anymore and we have to respect them. So, each individual congregation and institution will be allowed to treat the issue in its own way--as long as there remains a place for gays and lesbians to practice as Conservative Jews." They were very careful, though, to maintain the existing translation of that verse from Leviticus which, on a literal level, forbids acts of sodomy. (Something else to note about that technically only forbids "lying with another man," i.e. sex, not homosexuality itself. Interesting, huh?)
Given all that, I still question all religious texts that are taken literally (the Koran, Torah, Bible or Vedas). I think that people who practice this are textualists.

My personal conclusion from the Judeo-Christian religious texts is that homosexuality is the equivalent of not keeping kosher. I won't send someone to hell for eating a pork chop or for being gay (not that I have a say in the matter either way).

Thursday, December 14, 2006


In the Chicagoland area, patronage is a familiar word that describes how the political machine stays in power. It accurately portrays how elected officials from the municipal, state and federal level get and remain in office.

Patronage creates a situation in which people are more concerned with power than service. In Chicago, it's the Democrats who live and die by the phenomenon. It's not surprising because they are the majority party.

On a national level, the majority party has taken their patronage international...all the way to Iraq.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Science and Religion

"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
- Albert Einstein

Monday, December 04, 2006

Will Rogers' wisdom

"I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."
- Will Rogers

So true.

Barack Obama

2004 Democratic National Convention speech:

Part 1


Part 2


My general feeling is that God's plan does not involve splitting believers into groups such as a Catholics and Protestants . Furthermore, even the multiple Protestant and Catholic denominations seem to not be in the Bible. Pope Benedict said something smart for once:

"The divisions which exist among Christians are a scandal to the world."
- Pope Benedict XVI


Elrod posts a comment at Moderate Voice saying that:

"Hillary will re-unite the Right like no other candidate."

Friday, December 01, 2006

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?

According to this quiz, I have a terrorist supporting score of 66 percent, meaning that I am:

"more than half terrorist sympathizer. [My] ill-will toward America can barely be concealed, and has now been uncovered by this quiz. [My] love of America and of her dear leader, President Bush, is clearly approaching treasonously low levels. But it's not too late for [me]. [I should] shut [myself]out from all liberal influence, listen only to Sean Hannity, read only Ann Coulter, and above all stop questioning! Questioning only gets our troops killed in their noble battle against the forces of evil that besiege our great land!"


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani first marriage to Regina Peruggi was annulled. She was also his second-cousin. They were married for 13 years, from 1969 to 1982.

Giuliani had the marriage annulled because it was discovered they were second-cousins instead of third-cousins.

Because that would have been just fine.

People respect irrationality?

Obama is visiting the megachurch of The Purpose-Driven Life author, Rick Warren. The Chicago Tribune article notes that then-gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine (now Governor of Virginia) got a boost when he came out against capital punishment, basing his opposition on his Catholic faith. Obama has described "how his Christian faith helps shape his more liberal views."

I wonder if people respect politicians' ability to stake a claim when it is based on pure faith. I think people like a conclusive opinion and if faith gets them there, fine.

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