Archive for March, 2009

The only good things to come out of Afghanistan are…

After a few tokes, he looks hot

After a few tokes, he looks hot

Gee, all we can get to fight against the Taliban is a bunch of stoners. It makes perfect sense. Here we are invading a country populated by stoners and religious nutjobs. Who are you going to trust? THE STONERS, DUH!!!!! I really feel for these guys. Truth be told, most “Islamic” nations are populated by a very substantial minority of really cool, very normal people. The stoners don’t want to hurt anyone. They just want to go back to having fun, playing soccer, pulling on the hooka, drinking beer, and stuff. The religious nutjobs want to kill anyone who disagrees with their religious agenda, and stoners fit that bill. Still, while I feel for you people, I think the answer is moving the stoners to the US and Europe (if they’re lucky), and letting the fucking taliban have the fucking sheep. It’s what they really want. 

From Juan Cole:
A Guardian Television report suggests that 75% of the 80,000 Afghan army troops are regular marijuana users. Many are alleged to be village juvenile delinquents who were kicked out. Discipline and tactical know-how is limited. They are facing old-time guerrillas like the Hizb-i Islami of Gulbadin Hikmatyar.

John Hope Franklin



John Hope Franklin is dead, but he had a great run, against considerable odds. Franklin’s story is the antithesis of that of my redneck relatives. He was born in a small segregated town in Oklahoma, and was very lucky to have a prominent lawyer for a father and a schoolteacher for a mother. Well, lucky if you live. You see, most non-rednecks don’t get this, but rednecks killed black people, especially prominent black people, with great frequency. Franklin’s father sought better pastures in Tulsa, only at a really bad time–when Tulsa’s white Christian population was massacring  African Americans in the “race riots” of 1921. Not a good time to move your law practice, or your young family.  You see, I have family who participated in those riots, I’ve heard the stories at family reunions. Not the Iranians, of course. Sherkat’s are civilized.

Franklin’s account of his father’s ordeal is chilling, especially if you know anything about the bloodthirsty redneck mobs that were killing people right and left. Jesus fuck, what they would do to a black guy in a suit. The targets were primarily prominent businessmen and women. What used to be “the black Wall Street” at Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, was reduced to rubble. The property of nearly every African American in Tulsa was destroyed, leaving around 10,000 people homeless and fleeing for their lives to Kansas City and other places where they hoped to find refuge. At least 400 and maybe upwards of 1,000 African Americans lost their lives. Tulsa was never the same. And rednecks loved that! No more uppity black people! They didn’t call them black people, of course. They called them niggers. And, anyone with any sympathy for a black person killed, beaten, widowed, or whose children or relatives were killed or maimed was a nigger lover. Nobody in my family was a nigger lover, until my mother married an Iranian.

I’m glad Franklin lived to see Obama elected President.

Left Behind




Percentage Opposed to Same Sex Marriage: General Social Surveys 1988-2008




Wow, I didn’t used to have much hope that Americans would actually change their social values, but people are gradually shifting. The 2008 GSS was just released (to no fanfare) and they actually asked the same sex marriage question!! No doubt there were howls of protest if there were any religious folk on the GSS  board. And, looky looky. Most Real Americans support the right of other Americans to get married. In contrast, sectarian Christians (who liked to be called Evangelicals, so I’ll call them sectarian Christians), are overwhelmingly opposed to granting basic civil rights for same sex couples. Indeed, the sectarians have barely budged since 2004, while most Real Americans have realized that discrimination against gays and lesbians is juvenile  and unfair. In 1988, most Americans were shameful–even among people who were not affiliated with noxious Christian groups, about 65% opposed marriage rights for same sex couples. Among the fundies (as they don’t like to be called), nearly 80% opposed civil rights. By 2008, over 60% of real Americans favor legalizing same sex marriage, while 69% of the “evanglicals” remain opposed to marital rights. 

     The reason why is obvious, there is a clear mechanism linking evangelical’s subcultural averson to extending civil rights to same sex couples. Evangelicals are childish bigoted assholes, and they promote this juvenile incivility in their subcultural communities. And, when you’re dealing with people whose mentality is about that of a seventh grader (a poorly performing one, maybe even homeschooled, at that), you can’t really expect them to behave like civilized adults. Homophobia is really easy to embrace when you’re a het. I understand that. But, if you’re not a bigoted moron, you feel guilty about being mean to gays and lesbians once you grow up and realize that people are people, and everyone’s just trying to get along as best they can. I’d let the fundies get along, if they weren’t constantly fucking with other people. As an Iranian Redneck, it’s always been my job to beat up the bullies who pick on the other people who don’t quite fit in. Evangelicals need to get out of the public square, and crawl back under the  rocks where they belong. Wait for your Jesus, you’ve been left behind here.

Pissin’ in the wind….


 Click for cute figure with 2008 GSS Data!   


In March of 2009, the most important survey of American religion was released, but nobody noticed. While media pundits and religious activists tout the findings from surveys with very low response rates and minimal comparability to other studies, the 2008 edition of the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey became public access sometime in March. I’m a regular user, and I couldn’t tell you precisely when the new GSS became available. There was no press conference, and this will be the first you’ve heard of what’s really going on in American religion.

     The cover of USA Today and almost ever other publication presented findings from the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) data, which is a nice little study, for some purposes. Last year, findings from the Pew data generated a media circus, and before that, it was the Baylor survey.  What the ARIS, Baylor, and Pew studies have in common are exceptionally low response rates. Few of the targeted respondents actually complete the interview–about 20%, perhaps a little higher in ARIS, Baylor, and Pew. In contrast, the lowest response rate ever achieved in a GSS survey has been 70%, and the 2006 and 2008 surveys garnered 71% of targeted respondents.

     Studies cannot be compared when they use different questions, so the pissing match between pundits and investigators of these studies has no scientific merit. The question asked in ARIS is unique, and interesting. But, you cannot compare the distributions of the ARIS question on religious identification to distributions of religious ties based on other ways of asking the question. Given the exceptionally low response rates of the Baylor, ARIS, and Pew data, legitimate scholars should be embarrassed for having made claims about population parameters which cannot be discerned with reasonable certainty.

     What is really going on? GSS data provide a much more accurate summary of the trends based on comparable data collected over time. Below is a table cumulating evidence from the GSS surveys from each decade. As you can see, the percentage with no religion has increased dramatically; from under 7% in the 1970s, to over 15% in the 2000s. Non-Christians move from under 11% of respondents in the 1970s, to over 20% of respondents since 2000. Notably, in the just-released 2008 GSS data presented above in Figure 1, 16.5% of GSS respondents reported no religious identification, and 21% are non-Christian. This is a higher proportion of non-identifiers than is reported in either the ARIS or Baylor studies, probably because non-identifiers are more likely to be non-respondents in studies with low response rates.

      Further, contrary to ARIS and Baylor, high quality data from the GSS show that the proportion of sectarian Christians (the proper term for what journalists and activists call “evangelicals”) is in decline. Most of the decline comes for Baptists, who are shrinking. But, other sectarian groups peaked in the 1980s and now hold the commitments of fewer Americans.

     Religious identification is declining in the United States. Anyone who claims that irreligion is not growing is simply wrong. And, claims that conservatives continue to grow are based on exceptionally weak evidence. Should we believe ARIS or Baylor? The answer is neither. The GSS shows no growth among sectarian Protestants since the 1990s, and Baptists (the largest sectarian group) are in decline.

     One in five Americans rejects religious identification. The 2008 GSS shows that 20% of Americans believe that the Bible is a book of Fables (up from under 14% in 1984, the first year the GSS asked that particular question), and that 18% do not believe in a “god” (up from 13% in 1988, the first year that particular question was asked).

     Religion isn’t going away, but rejection of religion is growing. Americans have long been forced to accept the hegemony of Christianity, but that hegemony is breaking down, and secular Americans cannot be ignored by anyone serious about contemplating the vagaries and trajectory of American culture.



 Table 2.1  


Trends in Religious Identification: GSS 1972-2006







Liberal Protestant












Moderate Protestant






























Other Protestant
























Other Religion


















Foreign Intelligence

You like sheep?

You like sheep?

Jesus Fuck. Now, the Likud Party has veto power over Obama’s appointees. Great. Nobody can be appointed unless they hold fealty with a foreign government, or at least the far right wing party of a foreign polity. And, this is for “intelligence”. Given how wonderful our intelligence has been under the previous regime, which held even cozier ties to the Zionist right wing, this doesn’t look like a good strategy for the future. We already have lame duck Bushnik’s proclaiming a nuclear capacity in Iran which doesn’t exit. It’d be nice to rid our intelligence agencies of  people whose primary loyalties are to another nation. Instead, people loyal to the US are being purged.

Hate Crimes are So Uninteresting….



In the last few weeks there have been several hate-related murders perpetrated by far right wing Republican activists, mostly against latinos. You’d hardly know it from the news coverage. The latest was this week when a former Bush-Cheney campaign worker in Florida busted up a town hall meeting where Chilean exchange students were learning about democracy and local governance in America. Why the fuck would anyone come to the United States to try to learn about democracy? But, I digress. What they learned is that the United States is full of murderous fascists, and most people in the U.S. don’t give a shit as long as the dead bodies are some shade of brown. Instead, we’ve had a solid week and a half of FRONT PAGE Washington Post teasers pointing to a big break in the murder of a white woman. And, of course, when they finally reveal what they obviously have known for more than a week and a half, the supposed culprit is some poor hispanic guy. Yeah. Sure. Great. Thanks Dick Tracy. I guess now that you solved the white girl murder and pinned it on some brown guy, you can go back to beating young brown girls in the jail….

The Exorcist



Jesus Fuck, this is the best they can do? Some pathetic wackjob who really thinks he smelled demons on some poor kid? This is the kind of person the Republican Party wants to put forward as their future? Of course, he starts off his first major by lying about his role in Katrina, then he pokes fun at essential services like monitoring for volcanos and earthquakes (they are connected, dipshits). Jindal isn’t simply some typical Republican liar, like Dick Cheney or W. Jindal’s making shit up because he hears voices and sees visions. Jindal is a nutjob. Clinical. Sorry. End of discussion.