Hitch is Not Great: How Rationalists Are Wrong About One Thing

Mick Zano

During my recent interview with Christopher Hitchens, which occurred without his knowing, we—or more accurately, I—discussed his most recent book: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.  I originally titled this article “Hooray for the Hate-Monger Christopher Hitchens,” but my colleagues eventually nixed that idea.  Still squeamish about my recent Copenhagen foray into political cartooning, I heeded their advice.  I do, in all sincerity, applaud Christopher Hitchens, as both a journalist and a thinker.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of his acerbic ruminations on any number of subjects. It is hard to argue with a rationalist, because they, by their very nature, tend to be…er, rational.  However, I cannot endorse the views he espouses in God Is Not Great, nor do I intend to stray into the dubious realms of irrationality.

From the perspective of Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics theory—wherein various levels of human consciousness are color-coded—Hitchens is cheering the move from blue (fundamentalism) to orange (entrepreneurial/rational).  From the perspective of human development, this is a move in the right direction and—perhaps more importantly—better matches my vest.  Hitchens reports, in damning detail, the overwhelming short-sightedness of certain organized religious endeavors, namely, all of them.  He champions the exposure of that which is dogmatic and dangerous, and I agree that the world would indeed be a better place without all of today’s endless Faith Based Stupidity (FBS).

In college I would have heeded his clarion call, ditched my Jesus-shaped air freshener, and sported my atheistic animosity with pride.  In my 20s, I, too, discovered the inherent illogic and endless contradictions riddling Catholicism.  I should point out that made me a late bloomer by Hitchens’ standards, as he was already pointing out Old Testament inconsistencies at age nine (the erudite little shit).  Not to be outdone, I managed to trick a DJ into playing “Hell’s Bells” at my church confirmation dance (true story).  We will let you decide, fair reader, which accomplishment is more important to humanity.

I find Hitchens’ omission of a segment on enlightenment and spirituality very telling.  On that front, he offers nothing, nada, nichts!  Not even a cursory glance at the possibility of something beyond his curmudgeonly cosmopolitanism.  “Our place in the cosmos is so unimaginably small,” Hitchens asserts, “that we cannot, with our miserly endowment of cranial matter, contemplate it for long at all.”  First off, leave my apartment and my brain capacity out of this!  Second, here is where millions may beg to differ:  What about meditation?  Or gnawing on Amazonian roots during a nude Yoga session?  Oh wait, I promised not to do this…

Let’s stick to rationality.  Hitchens profusely thanks Peter and Rosemary Grant—two Princeton-based evolutionary biologists following in Darwin’s footsteps—by saying, “We are in their debt.  Their lives were harsh, but who could wish that they had mortified themselves in a holy cave or on top of a sacred pillar instead?”  I found his rhetorical question quite interesting, considering that mankind’s first art surfaced via tripping primeval cave-dwelling shamans (TPCDS).  In fact, such troglodytes not only created the world’s first art, but arguably lifted humanity from the Neolithic realms outright.  These postulations are being embraced not only by crackpots like The Daily Discord’s Ghetto Shaman, but by mainstream archeologists, using that pesky scientific method of theirs.  Perhaps if the Grants squatted in a cave long enough, they would have gained even deeper insights into the animals they studied. The latest research in physics, consciousness studies, and emotional intelligence are compelling, but hardly reductionist.

The real heavyweight round came when Hitchens turned his grievous Gatling gun on Buddhism.  (In all fairness, he did give the Dalai Lama a ten-second head start.)  It’s actually fairly short chapter.  The first half can be summarized as “My Terrible Experience in Some Buddhist Rip-Off Retreat,” while the second half portrays the Dalai Lama rolling around in defeat, cupping his nads.  I do believe, Mr. Hitchens, that a weekend at Bangkok Bernie’s does not a religion make.  

Hitchens takes exception to the claim that the Dalai Lama is preordained to rule, and chides the exiled leader of Tibet for hanging around with the likes of Richard Gere.  I have to say, I am in complete agreement with Hitch on this one…I mean, come on, Richard Gere?  The book does shed considerable light on some of the historical problems that Buddhism had faced.  At his best, Hitchens is exposing the vast array of history’s faithular faux pas (“Faithular” is a word; I saw it on The Colbert Report).

Hitchens concludes with a scathing assessment of Nirvana-seekers (the spiritualist kind, not the band groupies), proclaiming that they “may believe that they are leaving the realm of the despised materialism, but they are in fact putting their reason to sleep and discarding their minds along with their sandals.”

He is simply wrong on this point.  The Buddhist debate is legendary and logical.  Believers following the dharma typically counted their breaths, meditated, and attained a deeper understanding of the world and the Universe (not to mention Thai hookers).  The Dalai Lama is not afraid of scientific discourse.  In fact, it is an interest of his (science, not hookers).  He welcomes Western scientific knowledge and its capacity to prove or disprove Buddhist assertions by putting them through the rigors of scientific testing.  In fact, the Dalai Lama proposes that any aspect of the dharma to be proven false should be stuffed in a small sock and mailed to the Pope.

Hitchens, like most men of Western science, has always placed the objective on a pedestal and the subjective in the shitter. But beware “rationalists,” for these turd-crusted subjective realms are no longer so easily flushable, especially in the wake of certain “enlightening” studies.  The work of Daniel Goleman follows the discourse between a group of Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists on the subject of destructive emotions.  When you have a well-trained objective interviewer and a well-trained subject hooked up to a neuro-imaging machine, we go beyond what is commonly dismissed as “subjective.”

Hitchens, apparently oblivious to such endeavors, at one point railed against scripture for imploring its disciples to banish any impure thoughts: “If God really wanted people free of such thoughts, he should have taken more care to invent a different species.”  The latest neuro-imaging techniques on the brains of habitual meditators and Buddhist monks are finding this “new species.”  These individuals seem to possess an almost superhuman ability to avoid common negative emotional pitfalls on a neural level!  They are not faking it.

Hitchens himself admits that the human brain is a “work in progress.”  So why discount the beliefs of those whose brains seem to be more disciplined, more organized, and functioning more efficiently?  A bevy of other recent studies suggest meditation increases blood flow to the brain and even thickens the cerebral cortex itself (but in a good way)!  Meditative practices can also combat pain, reduce stress, and boost the immune system.  Introspection and subjective techniques have produced observable/objective improvements in the function of the brain.  Looks like the William James gang rides again!

“What does this have to do with religion?” I can almost hear Hitchens mutter.  Well, Mr. Mutterer, the vast majority of these new and improved sapiens tend to catch glimpses of an ordered universe in these “subjective” states.  They see further and clearer; and, although much of their visions are inherently ineffable, a vivid picture of the universe emerges—an order almost ubiquitous amongst this brand of meditators, or Meditoranians, as Dr. Sterling Hogbein calls them.

This movement is growing and not, as in the case of Islam, by sheer numbers alone.  It is perpetually improving itself by incorporating Western thought to encompass and transcend what has come before it.  A person with an enlightened perspective would agree with many of this book’s claims and conclusions, for they are historically accurate and, therefore, irrefutable.  But I might suggest approaching this issue from a more integral perspective.  In other words, I’ll bring the booze, Hitch, and you bring the Thai hookers.

For Appeal O.J. Requests His First Jury

Along with several requests, including access to off track betting, his bookie, and a cellmate that looks like his first wife, O.J. Simpson has requested that his first jury be reunited for his upcoming appeal.

Haunted Gettysburg

Mick Zano

The night was moist and clingy like a BBQ-sauce-smeared wet nap. A damp chill hung in the air like a BBQ-sauce-smeared wet nap. OK, I’m out of similes. I got nothing. As fate would have it, there were far too many eateries and drinkeries within walking distance of our hotel to do any justice to the ghosts of Gettysburg. In a spirits vs. spirits grudge-match in my world, the carboxyl group version trumps ectoplasm every time. Some people shake at the sight of spirits; I shake when I don’t get enough of the other kind.

In preparation for our Gettysburg ghost hunt, I asked my wife to pack the Ouija board. We had planned to hold a candlelight vigil—illegally at midnight—in Gettysburg battlefield (and throw in some of that chocolate body frosting for good measure, sweetie). For those appalled by the imagery, remember, this is a spooky article. If you really can’t handle it, just think of my wife.

Armed with the latest paranormal research
equipment, my wife checks out some dudes

As it turns out, we had not packed the Ouija board, but instead packed the kid’s Jumanji game (I can’t make this stuff up, people). Well, at least it wasn’t Monopoly—we own the Pokeman edition, which I am reasonably convinced would be an affront to all spirits lurking in the Gettysburg region. Jumanji is at least a scary movie, so the themed board game could potentially work to our favor. You see? Aside from my incessant negativity, I am the eternal optimist. Now, if I had only brought Pokey’s bongos.

Armed with only an umbrella, a board game, a semi-chewed wad of gum, and some small bits of string, we headed toward the Devil’s Den. Prior to the Civil War massacres, the American Indians had already deemed the place “heap spooky.” It did warm my heart to discover that the gazillion Americans, who had butchered each other there, did so to the back drop of some pretty groovy free-standing boulders. Apparently, a primeval snake, called the devil, inhabited the place while feeding on unsuspecting tourists throughout the eighties.

As we approached that dreaded domain, an exigent fear crept into our souls like an eldritch cloud of necrophagous shadows. Amidst a foul unearthly stretch of hillside, above the ghoulish din of the myriad of Gettysburg ghost tourers, we heard the whirring and flapping of huge membranous wings. A church bell tolled thrice in the distance before an Angus Young rift split the night (Sorry, Hells Bells is my ring tone).

“Ah, yeah Dave, I’m in the battlefield now—covering the story. You’re not coming? And you say ‘m’ abstains? Loser.”

As I hung-up on loser man, a smell beyond putridity escaped from the most unfathomable, ineffable depths of that ancient necropolis.

Note to self: never eat the chili dogs at Ernie’s Texas Lunch.

Just after dusk, we played Jumanji amidst the lichen-covered ruins of that dark and terrible place. The game was never finished…we lost the instructions.

Sadly, our investigation revealed very little. We never returned to Devil’s Den for our late night séance (we ran out of body frosting). Instead, we poked around a place known as the “the grove,” where the battle for East Cemetery Street once raged. Besides, it was closer to the pubs. We did get scared witless upon our return to town—the humidor had already closed and only the Lincoln Diner was still serving food. I did catch one green orb in the upper right hand corner of a picture taken in the basement of the Farnsworth Bed & Breakfast. However, our parabnormal research team is convinced the mysterious anomaly is simply the spirit of Kazoo. You know, when the Flintstones ‘jumped the shark’ by adding a Martian to their prehistoric antics.

All things considered, the most frightening place in and around Gettysburg remains Gettybrew, one of the lousiest brewpubs north or south of the Mason Dixon Line. A year earlier, myself and fellow Discordian Pokey McDooris ventured into this spooky joint and, much to our horror, we accidentally ordered two samplers of the beer (served in wine glasses—monstrous, unfinishibly-large wineglasses—for seven dollars a pop. For the love of god, Montrisoure!) Already fourteen dollars in the hole, we could not muster more than a sip from each of the foamlessly flat brews. Ultimately, negotiations from the headless brewer of creepy hollow broke down, when we less than tactfully explained, in American Indian, how the beer “sucked big wampum.”

Years later I can still taste the phantom foam, those haunted hops, and that narley barley of Getttybrew. I still recall the words of that old gypsy barmaid: “Even beer brewed well by day, can become skunked when the skunk bane grows, and the kegs are exposed to light.” Mwahahahaha.

Ancient Skeletal Remains May Just Be Keith Richards

The skeletal remains of a two-thousand year old corpse found buried alongside of a bottle of Smirnoff in the sands of the Philippines, may simply be that of rock icon Keith Richards. The rock legend has been missing since a party held last Friday night.

“Sometimes Mr. Richards gets bombed, other times he gets embalmed,” explained Dr. Sterling Hogbein, of the Hogbein Institute and Bait Shop.

The aged archeologist reports that halfway through the excavation Mr. Richards stood up, mumbled something to his crew, and then staggered back toward Manila.  Undeterred by the setback, Hogbein has named the find Homo Britvodkus and announced that “before there was a Java Man, there was a Vodka Man.”

The House Divided

Dave Atsals

Did you back McCain while your significant other supported Obama?   Do you reside in a house divided?  The hard fought campaign still stirs emotions to an amber-level alert.  Sirens blare throughout the nation.  Dinner tables are divided, left verses right.  Double beds are split by the McCain/Obama line.

My not so formal, non-confirmed, occurring sporadically except on X-mas, or NOSEX study proves recent political division has led to the total demise of three formally happy married couples (FHMCs).  Four couples are not speaking, and three others are not consummating the election results.  The fact that this study surveyed only 3 households garnishes suspicion, but, this is the Discord.

In the first house, the wife backed McCain’s anti-abortion stance.  That was all. Nothing else mattered!  Nothing else could have, because she knew nothing else. When I asked her about Earmarks and publically funded elections, she replied, “My tax money shouldn’t go to help people get their ears tattooed.”  The husband voted for Obama, believing that whatever the wife did, the opposite was for the greater good. Can you spell DIVORCE?  The wife couldn’t.

Moving next door to my hard core Republican neighbor’s house, I encountered the same split.  The woman of the house, for Obama, was worried about McCain’s age, and despised Palin.

The female voted for McCain’s experience and loooooved Palin, she stated, “Any one that old has to know a lot.  Besides, I like how Palin winks through the camera.”

They have yet to consummate the election results, nor speak to each other.

As I knocked on the third and last door of my informal survey, it swung open.  I tried not to look inside but couldn’t avoid seeing the election results being consummated right before my very eyes. (My Lord, how does a kitchen table handle such weight?) Later that evening my grandmother stated, “Your grandfather and I do not talk politics.”  Well I guess that explains it, so much for my ‘they really voted for Nader’ theory (TRVFN).

Divisiveness among political views has led to hard feelings, failed marriages, and ended friendships.  At local pubs, dive bars, and one gentlemen’s club, drunken debates (or ‘field work’ as they call it) have surfaced between Daily Discord contributors. These open exchanges of ideas rarely cause Flip Flops in stance. They lead only to hard feelings with no clear cut winner, except the one that yells the loudest and, of course, slips out leaving the bar tab.  It’s all fun and games until someone is barred from their favorite watering hole.

Obama has promised to reach across the aisle and bring everyone together.  In order to do this, he will have to start door to door, preferably at my house.  I will greet him with “Hello Mr. President.  Could you please get my friend Pokey back into Zenos, order Mick to attend Caffeine Anonymous meetings, and remove your line from my bed?  Oh, and one more thing, there are these outstanding bills at a place called the Bullfrog….”

Bush Hopes to Calm Global Market by Leaving Soon

At a press conference on CSPAN 3 at midnight last week, President Bush attempted to quell fears of a global meltdown with a reminder of his term limit.  “It’s ok world,” he told reporters, “I’ll be stepping down soon.” 

Thus Spake Zanothustra

Mick Zano

Dear Goomis,

Dilemma?  Mwaah?  I have simply stated ad infinitum that America will not survive eight years of George W. Bush (Me, 2004).  I am not particularly happy about this development, because this is the country where I happen to get drunk a lot.  As to your point about the Bush years being over, they most certainly are not.  I’m stunned that this man is still making decisions (if you can call them that).  He just appointed a man who pissed away more money on this ‘bailout plan’ than, well…than Bush himself did in the seventies.  Let’s be clear, Barak Obama only has about a fifteen percent chance of limping this country along, but in the immortal words of Leslie Neilson, “There’s only about a ten percent chance of that.”

The best case scenario for our county is extraordinarily gloomy, Goomy, but only for those material-minded amongst us.  For the rest of us, this may be an exciting opportunity to live out all those exciting reality television shows.  Lost?  You better believe we are.  World’s dirties jobs?  It’s back to digging your own outhouse. World’s nastiest food guy?  We’re all going on the Renfield diet-plan soon enough.  Oh, and let’s see how long Survivor Man lasts in a Long Island Wal-Mart holding the last bushel of apples. I can’t wait for that one. 

Many tried to protect their assets by voting for the Republicans in 2004.  Some of us made comments to the Wayne Rogers and Ben Steins of the world at that time; I suggested that they use the money to build bunkers (Me, 2004).  Now, a few short years later, we are facing an economic collapse, two endless wars, and a constitutional crisis.   The trick is never to damage the constitution in the first place.  The trick is not to follow Russia or England’s lead into an endless imperialistic nation-building project (solo). The trick is not to squander the credibility that this country took over two-hundred years to develop.  The trick is not to tank a virtually unsinkable economy.  Make no mistake—the damage has been done. There is very little to do now, except stockpile canned goods. The “One” is done before he even gets to bat.  Hope is nice and all, but it won’t pay the bills.  Hope was in 2004.  Captain cardboard might have been able to do something back then.  The times they are a changing, and the really tough choices should have been made long ago. Thomas Friedman continues to be a real leader in this department, and I hope Obama heeds his advice. 

As for your comment about asking them (Al-Qaeda) why they hate us, well…I’m sure they have a host of legitimate reasons and a host of illegitimate ones—which still does not excuse one item on a terrorist organization’s agenda.  This is another example of the FOX News fallacy (FNF).  FOX paints anyone who questions our strategy as an appeaser and pools anyone who questions Bush in with the denialist squad.  Pacifistic appeasers are rampant in the US and they function predominately at a ‘green’ level of consciousness.  I have referred to these folks as the ‘Bake Al-Qaeda Brownies people.’  They are the main targets of the FOX News All-stars.  It is noble to be pacifistic but unrealistic when it comes to terrorist organizations.  These liberal pluralists are unfortunately the main justification for the right’s ongoing stupidity.  

The republican agenda has coddled these corporate criminals.  The Dems, not wanting to be outdone, have now thrown their hat into the ring and are predominately responsible for the current sub-prime mortgage crises.  Our President, always ready to up the stupidity ante, has now compounded the problem by doing something about it.  Hooray for George W. Bush, the anti-King Midas, the man who turns everything he touches into shit.

At the last Republican Convention, Duncan Hunter stated “America doesn’t apologies to anyone” (that was embarrassing).  Michael Moore described pre-war Iraq like Disneyland (that was embarrassing).  The problem with most Americans is that they only have a visceral response to one or the other, but not both statements.  That’s the polarization of America under Rove; that’s the closing of the American mind.  You yourself only here one side of the argument and at this point probably always will.  If you are happy with either party at this point, you’re sniffing glue (Me, 2006). The Democrats scare the shit out of me.  Obama’s going to spend?  What money?  Our deficit has reached a point of absurdity.  Someone said that “people choose a party out of ignorance and stay with that party out of pride.”  Never has that statement been more true than today.

I supported the war in Afghanistan, but watched stunned as our army pinned Bin Laden up in the hills of Tora Bora almost to the moment Bush systematically diverted 70 million dollars (without congressional approval) toward the invasion of Iraq (the first of many impeachable offenses).  I knew then that this was a turning point for the United States of America.  Iraq needed to be sanctioned, watched, and maybe even invaded, but not amidst the pleas for patience by inspectors like Hans Blix.   I protested ‘Shock and Awe’ day along with three other people.  We were beeped at, jeered at, and flipped-off by our hometown ‘patriots.’   I was made to feel un-American by the likes of Sean Hannity, a man who championed the long string of White House policies that have crippled our country.  Sean has essentially been wrong about everything with the sole exception that ‘there are bad people out there, who mean to harm us.’  Very astute, dip shit.  You know when I figured that out, Sean? 9-fucking-11. The difference between you and I is that I’ve figured out a lot of other things since then. 

Of course, all of the blame doesn’t go to the Bushter; this is a systemic problem, but his catastrophic leadership during a critical juncture in our country’s history has dealt a major blow to our credibility and our future.  He is the symbol of everything that is wrong with our country.  Here comes Incurious George donning his emperor’s new clothes as he water boards his way to world freedom. 

What hurt Al-Qaeda most since the onset of the ‘war on terror’ was the election of one Barak Hussein Obama.  This did not cripple the top leadership of Al-Qaeda but it will help with the soft war, and it could hinder Al-Qaeda’s ability to recruit.  In other words, they will have less people available to fly in the planes that crash into our buildings. 

FACT:  Every NIE report states Al-Qaeda is alive and well and many have reported that the organization has strengthened since 9-11.

FACT: Having two-story billboard pics of Abu Ghraib atrocities (sanctioned by the Bushies) in downtown Tehran has been a tremendous recruitment tool for those who mean us harm.

FACT: Instead of winning one war in Afghanistan, we are losing two wars.  Iraq is an endless, billion dollars a week, stalemate at best.

FACT: We are heading toward bankruptcy.  The American way of life is a  crumbling house of cards.

FACT: To gain intelligence you gain trust.  Every intelligence agency in the last two centuries knows this, so donning your ‘I’d Rather Be Wateboarding’ t-shirt only shows the world that you’re functioning at a staggeringly low level of consciousness.

Much to the chagrin of the Hannity’s of the world, stating these facts does not place me into the ‘Bake Al-Qaeda Brownies’ club. They are simply painful facts about the last eight years under our country’s gross mismanagement.

For the last decade my fellow Discordians have been discussing a series of events that, sadly, have all come to pass.  Here’s what we’re talking about now:

NEXT FACT: Capitalism became super capitalism became super (imaginary) capitalism.  

NEXT FACT: Now we are discussing the less pleasant aspects of a societal collapse…things like food and water shortages. 

NEXT FACT: We have re-watched every Road Warrior movie, without popcorn, to prepare for the inevitable.

You’re prediction, Goomis, that the economy will turn around in a few months, is a continuation of the FOX delusion.  Time to pull those plugs from your head and climb out of the tub any time, Keanu.  You stated in your rebuttal that the last time you checked this was a democracy.  Last time I checked, we had war criminals in the White House—individuals far above the rule of law.  Like it or not our government is a joke and we have slipped quietly into banana-republic-land (BRL).  You are right about one thing; it is time to look to the future…a future that will be very different than the “FOX News All Stars” are predicting.  And, yes, they will call it the Obama Depression, because they are assholes.

But I’ll tell you what, I’ll try to make this my last rant on Bush (operative word, try).  And how about I save your socialist comments for the next rebuttal?  I need to buy some more pancake mix for my latest venture, the ‘Hot Cakes for Hezbollah’ program.

Sincerely,

Mick Zano

Dexy of the Midnight Runners Vows Second Hit Coming

Dexy, of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, is off of his meds and back on the musical warpath. Several decades without a follow-up hit have not dampened the band’s hopes of a full resurgence.  When questioned about the band’s perpetual one-hit-wonder status, Dexy retorted, “What about Come on Eileen: Unplugged and Come on Eileen: the Instrumental?”  In a Discord Exclusive, Dexy told our own Cokie McGrath that the band is planning to name their upcoming chart topper, Come On Eileen…Really Already. I Mean for Fuck’s Sake, Woman.  Dexy later admitted this title might be shortened, edited, or set ablaze in a brown paper bag upon someone’s doorstep.

THE CRANK MANIFESTO: The Zano Rebuttal

The Crank

Dear Mick,

There are many problems with your last bullshit-filled verbal-diarrhea (BFVD). You claim to be a social liberal but a fiscal conservative. MY ASS. I know you…a little TOO well. You’re only conservative with your “fiscal”. Your friends and family have noticed all too well how “liberal” you are with our fucking “fiscal.” You are a tight ass, Mickky, and your ass is so tight it’s fucking watertight. When you fart it’s like letting the helium out of a balloon by squeezing the opening between your fingers. What sound is emitted can only be heard by dogs. Haven’t you ever noticed how the barking starts in your neighborhood soon after the burrito dinner at Taco Bell?

But I digress. Mick, as I’ve said before, this is a democracy. I’m really not sure you understand the meaning of the word. After all, your whole experience in the world of academia consisted of getting to know the local Buford T. Justices of the world to avoid spending any time behind bars for the fucking 24/7 keg party that you called college—whilst your parents toiled mightily back home to put you through five and a half fucking years for your four-year Liberal Farts degree (bark, bark).  Nice work, by the way, telling them that the school added classes to the degree “at the last minute.”  You’re finished at Faber, Zano! Expelled! I want you off this campus Monday morning! And I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that I have notified your local draft board and told them that you are now eligible for military service….(Sorry)

Anyway, in a democracy, the team with the most votes wins, period. Now, as far as I am concerned, Professor Steven Fucking Hawking could not measure the infinitesimally small iota of care I have on the subject of whether or not gays marry. But, obviously, MOST people do. Just like MOST people voted Obama in. Just like MOST men I know want to do Sarah Palin’s ass, especially when she is peering over toward Russian shores. Majority rules.

The gays do themselves a major disservice by violent protests. The video of a 250 pound male gay knocking over an old lady and trampling on her Cross, stays with me, and will for a long time. I would love to make that guy’s head the hood ornament on my, soon to be worthless, Ram.  Come on?  That level of violence, for such a bullshit problem? I have lived through students deaths at Kent State. That was about young people being killed in Vietnam, not about a word. That’s all this is, a word. Marriage. SO FUCKING WHAT! Most people want gays to have civil unions with all the rights that “married” people do. It’s just that you are about as far away from a religious person, Mikko, as one can get, so you don’t get how important the word “marriage” is to the religious. Let em’ have it! It’s not worth it. Move on, people. But somehow, Mikko, I don’t believe that you will…and in some inexplicable way that makes me very happy.

Yours Unruly

Goomis

World Economy so Bleak Japanese Cheer Godzilla’s Return

Yesterday marked the first time that crowds did not flee in panic over Godzilla’s emergence from Tokyo Bay.  The day ended in the loss of over 1000 points in their stock market, as well as the destruction of nearly half of the Island of Japan.  The change of heart comes as Japan’s stock market tumbled for the third straight week.  “No one would be able to leave the island anymore to flood foreign tourist attractions, and ‘death by Godzilla’ sure beats jumping out of a window,” states Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.  “Besides,” continues Aso, “fire is an act of purification…if, said fire, is coming out of the mouth of a seven story lizard, so be it.”

Gay Marriage Rebutthole

I’m proud to notice how Mick Zano’s writing skills have sharpened with this recent move west; I only wish I could say the same about his reasoning skills.  On the gay marriage issue, Mick makes one valid point, and on that I agree—many people’s rational arguments against gay marriage are a mere mask for their deeper bigoted motivations.  Unfortunately, there are occasions when bigoted assholes make better arguments than Mick Zano.

Mick suggests that these bigots—I suppose the Dali Lama should be included—have banded together to pick on the oppressed minority of homosexuals by denying them their inherent right to marriage.  But this dispute wasn’t started by the bigots; it was started by gay activists themselves, who went through the courts to change the traditional definition of marriage.  They argue that the issue of gay marriage is comparable to allowing bi-racial couples the right to marry.  This is not a civil rights issue and homosexuals have the same right to marriage as I do—we both have the right to marry…a person of the opposite sex.  Neither of us can marry people of the same sex. Government sanctioned marriage by definition exists between one adult man and one adult woman; I’d personally like to marry three different eleven-year old lamas (the Dali Lama not included), but that desire does not conform to the traditional definition of marriage.  I’m not going to turn this into a civil rights issue; I’m going to make my argument to the American people and elect legislators who will change the law so that my romantic aspirations can be realized (watch your life-sized nativity scene animals this Christmas, folks; that’s all I’m saying).

And let’s remember that gay couples already posses the right to marry before their family, friends, some churches, and God. They just don’t have the right to have their marriage recognized by the United States government.  Why is it so important for gay people to have the government recognize their homosexual union in the first place?  Why does the government recognize any marriage at all?  The answer—children.  Marriage has traditionally been the institution that best supports the nurturing and development of the future generations.

I do believe that it’s important for our society to respect alternative family units, and allow these families the equal legal rights that are provided to traditional marriages—including the right to adopt.  Civil unions are the legal bridge that avoids the anger, resentment, and crisis provoked by the ‘gay marriage’ issue.

With civil unions as a viable legal institution, the issue of gay marriage need not be this hotbed of political division, but if activists choose to press the fight by going to the courts, then please don’t blame me, the Dali Lama, or our bigoted mob.

Indian Probe Lands on Moon

The first Indian probe landed on the moon last week…OK, granted, the staff here at the Discord doesn’t always have a keen understanding of world events, but bear with us.  We really do sincerely applaud the efforts of Indians in the space race.  Now go out there and scalp some Martians, bitches! Did we mention that we are not always politically correct either?

THE CRANK MANIFESTO: Get a Life Zano!

The Crank

Dear Mick,

I see now that even though “The One” has now been officially elected, there can be no real end to the Bush Administration. While the rest of creation is now looking forward to seeing if “ The One,” or as McCain called him—and I prefer—“ That One,” will have a positive impact on life as we know it, people like Mick are now left with an implausible situation. “Now that Bush is ‘Over’, what do I do now?” After all, Mr. Zano has spent eight years of his rather short life totally obsessed with the ‘Evil Empire,’ ‘Darth Bush,’ and a group he calls ‘the Wal-Mart Midgets.’  He has had no real life…just ask his family, his friends, his probation officers!  So now he is left with trying to re-align the rest of his life, or, (and perhaps much easier) keep the “hope” alive.  A hope that somehow The Dark One (Dick Cheney) will re-emerge with more power than before, so Mick Skywalker can teach our descendants all about how he, and others like him, single pen-dedly brought Death-Star Earth to its’ knees.  Although, I admit Cheney does kinda look like that old Darth with his helmet off (but I digress).

Mick, the last I heard this was still a democracy and, while the east and west coasters all ride in Prius’ and think that spreading my wealth around is a great idea, there is still a small matter of the rest of the god damn country!  Now, I know full well that with your exceedingly high intellect, you are of course, right, and that the gap-toothed Nascar crowd has run us face first into a black fucking hole.  However, there are a lot of us—I mean ‘them.’ So fear not, our dim-witted children will all sit around the fire to listen to your rants, er, I-mean escapades for years to come.

As far as the reasons why we got attacked, I have an idea. Why don’t you go over there and ask them. That’s it.  Bring your pen, pile all of your liberal friends into the Prius…bring the fucking Wal-Mart Midgets for all I care!  I’m sure Al-Qaeda will tell you that they really don’t hate us for: our freedom, our way of life, our dancing, our singing, our movies, our fair treatment of women.  I’m sure they’ll tell you it’s really all about Bush and the neo cons. Yeah, that’s it—that’s the ticket, yeah, it’s the neo cons, see…

Let me know how that trip works out.

Bush lost, get over it.

Yours Unruly

Goomis

Your comment about socialism has yet to be proven.  Currently Obama’s tax plan is more in line with Reagan that Lennon, or Marx.   When we shift from captilism to super captililsm tax breaks is hardly communism.  Making imaginary paper money to bail out wall street, Detroit, and Citibank, may well be much closer to communism, that Reagonomics. 

No Link Between Discord Executive and Corrupt Illinois Gov. Blagojevich

The Daily Discord’s Chief Executive Pierce Winslow is amidst a political firestorm that can only be described as a political firestorm.  Winslow is adamantly denying any connection to the recent arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.  U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office is in possession of several phone conversations—one of which allegedly includes Mr. Winslow attempting to purchase Barak Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  Whereas Mr. Winslow is clearly heard offering part of the Discord’s recent two billion dollar bailout fund for the Senate seat in question, the conversation is garbled by dingbats and expletives.

The key phrase investigators are focusing on what occurred on December 1st, when Winslow is heard shouting: “I want that &*^%ing Senate seat, dip &*^%, or I’ll come over their myself and stick a *@&^  #*&^% with forceps you *&^%$ %^& #*&*^9$& sick &*&^ with bacon bits.  Winslow is also quoted as saying, “F*&* me, Blagojevich?  F&*^ You, you &**^%$ &^*# Cornel Wilde *&^%ing *&^% *&^&!”

Head attorney at the Discord, Mr. G. Shaman believes the garbled nature of the message renders it “F&#@ing moot” and, furthermore, promises to clean his own system prior to the court proceedings.

The West Nile, Virus, Bird Flu, Weaponized Anthrax, and Other Things that Make You Go Hmmmm.

L. Wolfe

In 1999 an outbreak of disease previously unknown to North America was identified in New York—the West Nile Virus. You may have since heard of it. In 2001, the anthrax attacks on the U.S. utilized a pure (or even weaponized) form of the bacterium that many experts agree could have only been manufactured under tight laboratory conditions at an expense only possible in a state-sponsored program (as opposed to Bin Laden’s cave-sponsored programs). In 2004, an outbreak of a potentially pandemic viral disease appeared in China before achieving a high fatality rate around the globe (not related to their food industry prowess).

Is it possible that these two viral outbreaks and the anthrax attacks were sponsored by foreign government’s bio-warfare research programs? Is there a relationship between these two outbreaks and the anthrax attacks? Are these incidents perhaps bio-warfare ‘research’ studies? Are these geocentralized pragmatic infections establishing a new paradigm in disease propagation? Hmmmm.

West Nile Virus

In recent years, West Nile virus (WNV) has emerged in temperate regions of Europe and North America, and presents a threat to public and animal health. The most serious manifestation of WNV infection is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds. WNV has also caused human illness in the US in recent years (Source: CDC).

WNV was first isolated from a febrile adult woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937 (West Nile Nancy). The ecology was characterized in Egypt during the 1950s. The virus was recognized as a cause of severe human meningitis or encephalitis in elderly patients during an outbreak in Israel in 1957 (West Nile Nitza). Equine disease was first noted in Egypt and France in the early 1960s, and by the 1970s it started to effect horses (West Nile Nelly). WNV first appeared in North America in 1999, with encephalitis reported in humans, horses, and a centaur named Bernie. The subsequent spread in the United States is an important milestone in the evolving history of this virus.

WNV has surfaced in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, west and central Asia, Oceania (subtype Kunjin), and most recently, North America. (Source: CDC).

Outbreaks of WNV encephalitis in humans have recently occurred in Algeria in 1994, Romania in 1996-1997, the Czech Republic in 1997, the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998, Russia in 1999, the United States in 1999-2003, and Israel in 2000. Epizootics of disease in horses occurred in Morocco in 1996, Italy in 1998, the United States in 1999-2001, and France in 2000, and in birds in Israel in 1997-2001 and in the United States in 1999-2002. (Source: CDC).

In the U.S. since 1999, WNV human, bird, veterinary or mosquito activity have been reported from all states except Hawaii, Alaska, and Oregon. (Source: CDC; see Figure 1 and Figure 2).

H5N1 – “Bird Flu”

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1, also known as A(H5N1) or simply H5N1 (you sunk my battle ship), is a subtype of the Influenza. It is a virus that can cause illness in humans and many other animal species. A bird-adapted strain of H5N1, called HPAI A(H5N1) for "highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of type A of subtype H5N1,” is the causative agent of H5N1 flu, commonly known as "avian influenza" or "bird flu".

The first known strain of H5N1 (called A/chicken/Scotland/59) killed two flocks of chickens in Scotland in 1959, before it was cornered in a windmill by a pitchfork and torch wielding mob, where it was eventually burned; but that strain was very different from the current highly pathogenic strain of H5N1. The current dominant strain of H5N1 evolved between 1999 and 2002 creating the Z genotype. It has also been called "Asian lineage HPAI A (H5N1)". Donated to Tyson foods by the Bin Laden Food Corp (Not a joke!).

H5N1 is easily transmissible between birds, facilitating a potential global spread of H5N1 (see Figure 3). While H5N1 undergoes mutation and re-assortment, creating variations which can infect species not previously known to carry the virus, not all of these variant forms can infect humans. H5N1 as an avian virus preferentially binds to a type of galactose receptors that populate the avian respiratory tract from the nose to the lungs and are virtually absent in humans.

H5N1 is mainly spread by domestic poultry, both through the movements of infected birds and poultry products and through the use of infected poultry manure as fertilizer or feed (Ieatbirdpoopo.com). Humans with H5N1 have typically caught it from chickens, which were in turn infected by other poultry or waterfowl. Migrating waterfowl (wild ducks, geese and swans) carry H5N1, often without becoming sick. Many species of birds and mammals can be infected with HPAI A(H5N1), but the role of animals other than poultry and waterfowl as disease-spreading hosts is unknown.

Anthrax

Anthrax is an acute disease in humans and animals that is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is highly lethal in some forms. Anthrax is one of only a few bacteria that can form long-lived spores. When the bacteria’s life cycle is threatened by factors such as lack of food caused by their host dying or by a change of temperature, the bacteria turn themselves into more or less dormant spores to wait for another host to continue their life cycle, or for another Star Trek episode.

Anthrax can enter the human body through the intestines (ingestion), lungs (inhalation), or skin (cutaneous) and causes distinct clinical symptoms based on its site of entry. Inhalation anthrax, if left untreated until obvious symptoms occur, will usually result in death, as treatment will have started too late.

Theoretically, cultivating anthrax spores can be done with minimal special equipment and a first-year collegiate microbiological education. It wasn’t me, honest! To make an aerosol form of anthrax suitable for biological warfare requires extensive practical knowledge, training and highly advanced equipment (I’m talking to you, makers of the Jack LaLanne Juicer!).

Concentrated anthrax spore containing postal letters were used for bioterrorism in the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US, killing five people and infecting 17 others. Only a few grams of material were used in these attacks and it is unknown if this material was produced by a single individual or by a state sponsored bio-weapons program. The crime remains unsolved. But where exactly was Jack LaLanne?

Other things that make you go “Hmmmm.”

WNV ecology was characterized in Egypt in the 1950’s; meaning, Egypt was researching the virus at that time. The 1956 Israel initiated the Arab-Israeli War on October 29, 1956, and a cease fire was eventually signed on November 6, 1956. Israel withdrew from key points in the Sinai Peninsula in 1957. The first WNV outbreak involving severe meningitis or encephalitis occurred in Israel in 1957 (Remember West Nile Nitza?).

WNV first appeared in the U.S. in 1999. The U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi , Kenya were bombed in August, 1998. The U.S.S. Cole was bombed in Aden, Yemen in October 2000. Hmmmm.

WNV first appeared in the U.S. in New York City. The WNV strain in NYC seemed to be unusually virulent, resulting in meningitis or encephalitis and caused 12 fatalities. NYC was the primary target in the 1993 terrorist attack on the U.S. (WTC bombing) and I hear something vaguely related may have happened in NYC in September of 2001. Hmmmm.

The 1999 US virus was very closely related to a lineage 1 strain found in Israel in 1998. Hmmmm.

WNV is only transmitted through mosquito vectors, which bite and infect birds/mammals/humans. Not the sort of thing a mildly ill passenger on an airplane (e.g., traveling from Israel to the U.S.) would easily spread to other passengers. Yes, yes, I remember, I had the lasagna. Hmmmm.

WNV has three different effects on humans. The first is an asymptomatic infection; the second is a mild febrile syndrome termed West Nile Fever; the third is a neuron-invasive disease termed West Nile meningitis or encephalitis. In infected individuals, the ratio between the three states is roughly 110:30:1 for naturally occurring WNV. Mortality occurs in less than 1% of these clinical cases. In 1999 in NY, outbreak surveillance identified 59 patients who were hospitalized with WNV. 63% of those patients had clinical signs of encephalitis and seven patients died (12 percent). Communicable Disease Program, New York City Department of Health, New York 10013, USA. Hmmmm.

In 1985, the U.S. delivered 5 shipments of biological material to Iraq as part of a program to provide aid to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Those shipments included engineered strains of anthrax, West Nile virus, and other pathogens along with the equipment and expertise to manufacture and continue research on these organisms and delivery methods. (CDC) Hmmmm.

In the 1990’s, while under intense scrutiny from the U.N., Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein bragged to Arab leaders that he had “his final weapon, developed in laboratories outside Iraq.” There were several independent intelligence reports at that time that indicated that Iraq was sponsoring a biological weapons program outside of Iraq in order to avoid U.N. scrutiny. During that same period, Iraqi scientists and technology were frequently traveling between Cuba and Iraq. Hmmmm.

There have been many scientific reports documenting serological evidence that WNV, in various forms, is present in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Florida Keys. It is considered highly unusual that these differing strains would be present in the Western Hemisphere unless there is some periodic re-infection. Hmmmm.

The Chinese government was one of the first signatories to the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention in 1972. China has repeatedly denied an offensive biological weapons program since that time. However, Soviet Union weapons experts have reported the known existence of a biological weapons facility located in a remote region of China in the 1980s. Coincidentally, in that very same region of China during that time, there were two separate documented outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fever; a rare and deadly disease typically caused by a viral pathogen. Hmmmm.

The very same technologies and methodologies necessary to manufacture and prepare viral hemorrhagic fever pathogens can also be used to manufacture and prepare other viral infections, such as H5N1. Hmmmm.

Review the information below and pleasant dreams:

Figure 1. The Spread of West Nile Virus in the U.S. – 1999 to 2007
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007

Figure 2. 2000 WNV Case Map for New York.

Figure 3. H5N1 Case World Map.
    Countries with poultry or wild birds killed by H5N1.
    Countries with humans, poultry and wild birds killed by H5N1.

Discord Announces Two Billion Dollar Bailout Request

The top Chief Executive of the Daily Discord, Pierce Winslow, has contacted key Washington officials on the hill this week to discuss the details of a pending two billion dollar bailout plan hoped to keep the Daily Discord from bankruptcy. The Discord, hailed by at least one bald person in Vegas as “an important media source,” desperately needs the cash-flow amidst these daunting economic times. The cost of maintaining the website is believed to top three-hundred dollars annually. Most of the rest of the two billion taxpayer-relief dollars will be allocated on much needed booze and hookers.

“No golden parachutes for us,” stated Mr. Winslow to the press on Wednesday, “Just some well-deserved drunken orgasms.”

Apparently, several of the Discord staff ingest illicit substances that are dangerous to wean from, so some of the money will have to go to medically necessary recreational drugs.

“Of course,” added Winslow. “Potentially lethal alcohol withdrawal is a very real issue for many of our employees…and may explain our Crank Manifesto column.”

Winslow plans to remain “painfully forthcoming” regarding expenses, but does warn that if the funds are denied a turn toward lower-scale prostitution could “exacerbate our current health care crises as our staff descends, en mass, on our local walk-in health clinics.”

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Dear Ghetto Shaman,

How can I become a Shamen?  I really don’t like pain and I have asthma real bad.  Will that be a problem?

Sincerely,

Tim Lions

Seattle, WA

Dear Tim,

First off, to become a Shaman one must learn how to fucking spell Shaman!  You spelled it right in my name, dipshit.  I am feeling generous today.  Since I am a healer, just send me twenty dollars and I will make you a Shaman. Send me twenty more and I’ll see about your asthma. Oh, and if the check should bounce, just remember that my friends are ancient Mayan gods.

The Ghetto Shaman

Mawiage, Mawiage, that Dweam Within a Dweam

Mick Zano

I live in one of the three hundred cities that protested the November 15th passing of Proposition 8.  I witnessed hundreds of people spouting spiritual slogans about ‘loving others’ and caring for their ‘life partners’, awful hate-mongering ideas.  Bright rainbowy colors bounced off an army of poster board like flowery daggers of doom.  Cruising by, I felt anger well-up in the pit of my stomach for these caring thoughtful protestors.  Where were the smoke bombs, the riot gear, or the people being bodily dragged into paddywagons?  Are these people puftas or something?

The juxtaposition of world events was somehow apropos.  Bush met on this same day with world leaders to say, “Yeah, like, we suck.  I suck.  Everyone I ever appointed sucks.  Yeah…Paulson pretty much sucks too.”  Bush went on to say that the bumps you feel are car-sized asteroids smashing into the hull.  Also, we’re heading right for the sun and can’t seem to change course.”  To address the scores of world leaders shouting, “What aren’t you telling us?”  He added, “We’re almost out of coffee.”  (Don’t you miss the Zucker brothers?)

Could you imagine the mayhem that would have ensued if kernels of truth actually emerged at this summit? Maybe truth isn’t always the right option.  Such a speech would dance dangerously close to something called ‘accountability,’ and we certainly can’t have any of that.  So let’s just blame Germany.  Anyway, it’s nice to know that almost to the very day that our economy collapsed around our feet, we still had the time, funds, and vitriol to fuck with some of our friends and neighbors—makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. 

Let’s look at marriage…that dweam within a dweam.  Your church can choose to recognize any union or you personally can choose to recognize any union.  As for legal issues, please leave your bias in the pews.  This is supposed to be a time of healing.  Why get out the salt and lemon juice now?  A lot of money was raised—even amidst the Wall Street woes—to take away existing rights. 

What drove people to do this?  The world of compassionate conservatism is a farce, people.  My dad said it best, “Lately Republicans only care about you if you’re unborn, frozen, or brain dead.”  Please start to rethink your views, people, because, frankly, they suck.

In 2004, shortly before the last election, I was at a party in central Pennsylvania, then my home.  Standing in someone’s kitchen around a keg (which is a law in PA by the way), the topic naturally drifted to the upcoming election.  The man leading the conversation was not going to support Senator Kerry, because of his views on gay marriage.  Knowing, even then, that four more years of this president would end our superpower status, I had to leave.  Speaking my peace while maintaining my composure seemed unlikely.  Besides, the keg had kicked.   Why does this issue resonate with people?  Why is it so important to straight people to affirm their straightness?

I am socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.  Let me explain why this somewhat unusual combo may be the needed second-tier approach to politics.  The government can’t, nor shouldn’t, fix millions of people’s laziness and/or stupidity.  Ideally, we should focus on supporting the truly needy and help the temporarily downtrodden get back on their feet.  This is the point where we should draw the line.  This approach is both worth the money and is our moral obligation as humans.  To do more, however, actually breeds a welfare state and exacerbates a host of physical and emotional problems known as Dem-entia.  Frankly, it is not realistic even under the best of circumstances to throw money around to the perpetually undeserving.  It is a trap that Obama must avoid.  People will endlessly milk the system as they slip into lower and lower levels of consciousness.  Twenty years of social service work has taught me one thing…don’t work in the field of social services. 

Furthermore, being socially liberal means everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and, in a nut shell, even if I don’t agree with you, I’m going to leave you the hell alone (particularly if it doesn’t affect me).  People are not stopping gay marriage because they think certain couples shouldn’t share the same legal rights and privileges as other straight couples; most of these people are having a visceral response.  They are acting against gayness—it’s bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.  Allowing gay marriage does not have to shatter your worldview.  It is the nice thing to do, and it is the right thing to do.  Legislating morality, if that’s what this is, is a fool’s errand, which is why so many of our less progressive pastors (LPPs) are so busy lately (well, maybe they’ll lay off the children).  

Here is my version of the political perspective score card.  There is something to be said for libertarianism.  Our ability to progress unhindered at each level and at each stage of our personal growth is a fundamental right.  AKA, piss off.  I might even vote libertarian, if I can ever stop laughing at their choice of candidate.  There is also something to be said for liberalism, namely, other people are people too.  They have a point of view that may differ from yours but that does not make them scary, nor does it necessarily make them enemies.  Old school conservatism has fiscal conservatism and small government in its corner.  For the life of me, however, I can not think of one thing social conservatism has going for it—unless you are hip on driving this country into a third-world status.  I can’t stomach even a sip from this punch.  It is supposedly based on the importance of nurturing and maintaining someone’s idea of core American values.  This argument is essentially meaningless.  What they fail to understand is that everyone shares those values—anyone who matters, anyway.  Only they are trying to silence all dissenting views and claiming a monopoly on these so called values.

Ken Wilber asserts that we must transcend and include—that progress to higher stages is hinged on incorporating and preserving that which is fundamental and true.  The definition of marriage does not necessarily fall under this jurisdiction.  This is one core truth that needs filed or flushed.  Rigidity in this matter is part of the problem, not the solution.  Some will argue that we will lose our way; that whites will be the minority; that our numbers are dwindling, and homosexuals unions will only exacerbate this while shaking the foundations of the traditional family.  Have you wandered around lately?  Any loving parents should be hired, immediately.  They are endangered, whether the child is raised by gays, straights, or wolves.

I don’t think enraging an entire faction of our society is going to win any hearts and minds, or sway anyone to your Leave it to Beaver sympathies.  It’s not going to save your version of America.  Mutual respect is what we should be embracing.  Respect is transformational—not some definition of an ‘appropriate’ union.  If we’re going to rally around something, let’s try respect for change.  Respect is the endangered species here, right Rodney?

The bottom line is this: the backlash against religion by progressives is warranted.  The dismantling of proposition 8 is further proof of a disconnect—not a return to our roots—but a gap in reasoning the size of the Grand Canyon.  I don’t see any Osmond Christmas Specials over on Walton’s Mountain in my neighborhood.  This is the wrong battle at the wrong time.  Stopping people from marrying who they want is not going to move this world any closer to your fantasy-ass Rockwell painting.  Social conservatives deserve the wrath of Maher and Hitchens.  Unless your goal is to destroy all credibility for the spiritual-minded individuals of this world, it is time to sit the hell down, put the five-spot into the basket, and pray for some common sense.