Saturday, May 19, 2007

Farewell to Falwell -- And Good Riddance

Jerry Falwell died this week, and while it may be unseemly to dance on his grave, trip the light fantastic, I shall.

Seriously, he was one of, if not the, least careful, least compassionate purveyors of the purported “love of Christ” I have encountered in my lifetime. Only Fred Phelps’ ability to be a gigantic religious rectal fistula surpasses Falwell’s voluminous achievements in this field.

Not only did he famously say, "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals," he spent even more time refining that notion. "AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals."

I’m sure that any God worth his or her burnt offering will have special little punishments for all kinds of transgressions, like wearing white after Labor Day, but I don’t spend a lot of time trying to specifically enumerate each one. He also said “I truly cannot imagine men with men, women with women, doing what they were not physically created to do, without abnormal stress and misbehavior."

Funny, that’s how I feel about single-sex bowling leagues, but I don’t tell people they’re going to hell if they belong to one.

Note to Fat, Creepy Fundies: please stop spending long summer afternoons imagining gay people having sex. It’s bad enough when we imagine y’all in Speedos, feather boas, and the latest in faux leatherwear from At least we don’t tell everyone else about the long nights of ensuing vomiting and diarrhea, which can only be resolved by pajama parties centered around bathtubs full of generic Appletinis. Just stop imagining gay sex, and the cosmo, mojito and various-tini shortages will all stop, immediately.

He was a major perpetrator of the “homo as boogeyman” philosophy, as evidenced by this further quote: “We will see a breakdown of the family and family values if we decide to approve same-sex marriage, and if we decide to establish homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle with all the benefits that go with equating it with the heterosexual lifestyle.”

Errr, I haven’t noticed New York, Vermont, or even Oregon going up in flames, recently, have you? Georgia and Florida on the other hand, restrict same sex marriage and they’re burning down. Who should we believe? Evangelists or our own eyes? Looks to me like God might not be so happy with the current crop of aging fundie leadership, hmmmm.

Just to be very clear about how much he hated the homos, he finished off with, “[homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven.”

Well, frankly, Jer, it’s gonna be a boring-ass celebration. No trendy drinks, or tight pants, just a bunch of Mormons not showing off their special underwear, and every humorless jackass “partying down”. Yeah, let me know when Ticketmaster gets hold of that revenue stream, so I can fail to wait in an endless telequeue for tickets to the Most Asinine Gathering, EVAR.

Unfortunately for the rest of the sarcasm industry, Falwell was never indicted for sleeping with prostitutes or partying with the KKK, although he was in bed with apartheid South Africa and Reagan's shameful legacy in South America. Those two stances do prompt one to reflect, “When did Jesus say, ‘Love your neighbor, unless they’re brown in which case enslave, exploit and destroy them” which is, frankly, a very Old Testament way of looking at things.

Additionally, Jesus counseled that love is the greatest of gifts one could give to another, regardless of the others’ faith tradition. Did Falwell believe this? Here’s his quote, “If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being.”

Wow, can’t you just feel the compassion?

This is the same guy who, in 1999, asserted that the Antichrist was a male Jew. I imagine Streisand started scripting "Yentl 2: Electric Jewgaloo" about then (straight to video, not sadly).

This is what he said right after 911, “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'You helped this happen".

Yup, everything bad that happens is the fault of the homos, and everything good belongs to God. What a nuanced, carefully thought-out position which affords the greatest good for the greatest number. Not. Here are a few more quotes:

“The whole (global warming) thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability”

"The argument that making contraceptives available to young people would prevent teen pregnancies is ridiculous. That's like offering a cookbook as a cure to people who are trying to lose weight."

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" -- Rev Jerry Falwell, "America Can Be Saved," 1979 pp. 52-53, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, "The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom"

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."
-- Jerry Falwell, "Finding Inner Peace and Strength"

"I do not believe the homosexual community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not qualify him or her for minority status. Blacks, Hispanics, women, etc., are God-ordained minorities who do indeed deserve minority status."
-- Rev Jerry Falwell, USA Today Chat, quoted from The Religious Freedom Coalition, "The Two faces of Jerry Falwell"

I mean seriously, in the aftermath of his untimely (as in too late) demise, we’re supposed to forget everything bad he ever said about homosexuals just to make the Christians feel good about lionizing him, which they were going to do anyway?

Pharisee, please.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Freeway Fixes

Last Sunday, the 580 freeway melted onto the 880. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures, heard the sensational coverage, etc., so I’m not going to recap. If you are hearing this for the first time, Google is your friend.

I’d like to comment upon some oft-overlooked points regarding the Golden State.

As I watched New Orleans partly wash away, I remember clearly spending several hours screaming at my television, because there were so many things that needed to be done, that weren’t. There was no leadership on the ground for more than three days. Part of what made that such a fiasco is that nobody in power bothered to show up.

When the freeway melted, the worst that happened was that the burned, shocky driver had to walk to within three blocks of my house (over a mile from the accident) to find a gas station and a cabby to get him to the hospital. Much has been made of West Oaklanders not picking him up when he tried to flag them down.

Umm, dudes, it’s farking WEST OAKLAND. What isn’t a warehouse or an abandoned factory, is some of the worst housing in Oakland. Additionally, one pretty much doesn’t want to pick up a weird-acting stranger who is gesturing wildly at one’s car at 4:00am on a Sunday morning. Heck, I’ve gotten to the point where I usually don’t make eye contact with men in general, because they are most likely to take that as an invitation to ask me for A: money, B: my marital status, or C: both. .

When the broken freeway was brought to my attention, my first thought was that the government needed to announce additional trains/buses/ferries to handle the increased mass transit use Monday morning. By 4:00pm Sunday, exactly that had been announced by several news stations.

I had worried they wouldn’t add any ferries, either due to overlooking them or because there simply wasn’t any expansion capacity. Realize that the ferry system in the Bay Area is not a legacy system like the cable car network. Commuter ferries were a response to Loma Prieta (1989), when the government at the time realized that the Bay Bridge wasn’t going to be immediately fixable, and the increased traffic on the remaining commuter routes were straining roads and drivers to the breaking point.

Secondly, I thought we should declare a state of emergency and start trying to get federal funds to assist in the rebuild. Again, by 4:00pm Sunday, exactly that had happened.

I also thought that rather than the incredibly confusing maps most TV networks were using, someone needed to use a dash-mounted camera to drive through the detours and let drivers know what they’d see in the morning. CBS News was right on that, giving driver views of the mess by about 3pm.

I wanted to see the governor, and possibly the mayor of Oakland to give some facetime to this issue. Imagine my surprise when finding out that due to the Democratic Convention in San Diego, the mayors of both Oakland and SF and the Governator were all down at the site by 10pm Sunday, looking solemn. Nobody managed to get Mayor Hairdo (Newsom) to put on a hard hat, though.

At that point, Arnie also announced that Monday would be a fare-free day on most transit venues Baywide. The only better version of that would have been a week of free fares, but we can’t have everything.

Demolition on the span had begun by sundown Sunday, and finished up by end of day Tuesday. Negotiations on steel purchases have begun and seem to be going well. The hastily reassigned contractors took steel and concrete samples of both bridges on Tuesday, and as soon as we know how much work needs done to the 880 (the lower span) we’ll have a much better idea of how long the 580 rebuild will take.

Basically, in the space of 18 hours, the governing bodies of the two cities/counties, and of California in general, had addressed every one of my initial concerns. I can’t express how proud that makes me of California. We have messes and waste, and pork, and wackiness, but when important stuff needs to happen, we suck it up, and make the improbable happen faster than most states can imagine.

Is anyone in Louisiana’s government taking notes?