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It’s so funny – I was riding the elevator up to work this morning and saw a news bit that said that the first Muslim, Arab-American woman was crowned Miss America 2010. The first thing I thought was, “Hoooo boy, I bet the wingnuts are gonna get really pissed off over this!

And, BAM, here it is, just two hours later:

Last night, the Miss USA pageant crowned Miss Michigan Rima Fakih the 2010 Miss USA. Fakih, who hails from the large Arab American community in Dearborn, Michigan, is a Lebanese American and the first Muslim to ever win the crown. (Miss USA 1983 Julie Hayek was reportedly the first Arab American to get the title).

In winning the title, Fakih defeated first runner-up Miss Oklahoma Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, who garnered headlines when she responded to a judge’s question about immigration policy by saying that she was “perfectly fine” with Arizona’s radical new immigration law. Just as they erupted over Carrie Prejean’s loss in the Miss USA contest 2009, the right is again alleging a liberal bias against Woolard. But many more right-wingers are enraged over Fakih’s crowning:

– Conservative radio host Debbie Schlussel blamed Fakih’s win on a supposed “politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate” in America and labeled her a “Lebanese Muslim Hezbollah supporter with relatives who are top terrorists.” [5/16/10]

– Right wing pundit and Fox contributor Michelle Malkin ranted that “Fakih’s cheerleaders are too busy tooting the identity politics horn to care what comes out of her mouth” and that “the Miss USA pageant didn’t want to risk the wrath of the open-borders mob.” [5/16/10]

– Conservative author Daniel Pipes, who was briefly appointed by former President George W. Bush to the U.S. Institute of Peace, opined that “this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action.” [5/16/10]

– Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson complained that Woolard’s “informed opinion” may have cost her the crown, and said that Fakih may have won because we live in a “PC society.” [5/17/10]

Will someone wake me up when we become a serious country again?

Oh, and can someone please send me a link to an article (preferably in Reason), pointing out how all this anti-Muslim backlash is anything but feral, teabagger-style racist xenophobia?

Although this post by Krugman is speaking to the kind of extreme libertarianism that believes in little, if any, government involvement in safety regulation (see, e.g., Milton Friedman below), it’s still poignant considering our current oil spill circumstances:

Thinking about BP and the Gulf: in this old interview, Milton Friedman says that there’s no need for product safety regulation, because corporations know that if they do harm they’ll be sued.
Interviewer: So tort law takes care of a lot of this ..

Friedman: Absolutely, absolutely.

Meanwhile, in the real world:
In the wake of last month’s catastrophic Gulf Coast oil spill, Sen. Lisa Murkowski blocked a bill that would have raised the maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from a paltry $75 million to $10 billion. The Republican lawmaker said the bill, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), would have unfairly hurt smaller oil companies by raising the costs of oil production. The legislation is “not where we need to be right now” she said.
And don’t say that we just need better politicians. If libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.
Frankly, I am much more comfortable with putting our safety in the hands of government regulators, as opposed to corporations and tort lawyers.


Constitution, check. Marine tags, check. Mountains, check.
Alabama, check. Horse, check. Farm, check.
Business, check. Police, check. Vietnam, check.
Spending money, check. Yelling, check. Criminals, check.
Corruption, check. Family farms, check. Illegal immigration, check.
Unemployment, check. Tough talk, check. Facebook…………. okay, check.
Rifle, check check check!

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NPR – Legal pot, under the guise of the California’s medical marijuana laws, has spurred a rush of new competition. As a result, the wholesale price of pot grown in California is plunging.

Prices are now much less than $2,000 a pound, according to interviews with more than a dozen growers and dealers. Sheriff Tom Allman of Mendocino County says some growers can’t get rid of their processed pot at any price.

Hey drug dealers, welcome to a land of freer markets! Now go get yourself a real job, one that does something real efficient-like instead of being propped up by society’s puritanical prohibition.

Remember last year, a Field Poll showed 56% of Californians in favor of legalizing marijuana cultivation and possession for recreational use? Some weeks ago a SurveyUSA poll confirmed this figure in support of the ballot initiative this November.

It’s a new day, people. Get your friends out to vote.

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Ok, this is really starting to creep me out. In several different venues over the last couple of years, I have either experienced or witnessed a Christian asking an atheist (e.g., me) the following question after being told about said atheism:

“So what do you think happens to you when you die?”
It is almost always phrased in precisely that manner and always strikes me as a strange and formulaic question from out of far left field to the conversation that preceded it.

Well, Andrew Sullivan just did exactly the same damn thing today in the following post*:

Drum responds to Linker:

[T]he prospect of a Godless world is more salient for some than for others. Nietzsche wrote about this in the broader cultural sense…and Linker talks about it later in the personal sense: “There are no disappointments recorded in the pages of [New Atheist] books, no struggles or sense of loss. Are they absent because the authors inhabit an altogether different spiritual world than the catastrophic atheists?” Speaking for myself: yes. I have never in my life felt the need to believe in God, and that lack simply doesn’t inspire any emotional resonance in me. I don’t know why this is, but I do know that I don’t feel empty inside, I’m perfectly capable of feeling wonder and awe, and there’s no sense of loss or anything else involved in any of this. Linker might regard that as unfathomable, finding the tortured brooding of the catastrophic atheist more to his liking, but it’s so. And I have no idea how you discuss this. Linker feels the pull of the supernatural and I don’t, and all the conversation in the world won’t change that or make it any more explicable.

I totally respect Kevin’s position, even though I could not share it if I tried. If I may intrude, and ask a question I do not mean to be loaded, just curious: I wonder what Kevin thinks happens to him when he dies? And how does he feel about that – not just emotionally but existentially? These questions can be addressed without talking of God. And yet they reveal something about what it is to be human.

Seriously, Christians, you are freaking me out here. Is there some super-secret cabal of religion trainers that teaches this rhetorical tactic for young religionists to use when faced with scary, unfathomable atheists?? Is this supposed to be some magical question that instantly converts heathens?

Perhaps a less conspiratorial explanation would be that many deophiliacs become that way primarily because their beastly parents traumatized their children with stories of the fiery pit of hell that awaited naughty little boys and girls who sinned and disobeyed their parents.

From this, maybe the always-plaintive question of “So what do you think happens to you when you die………?” is simply a spontaneous projection of a religionist’s inability to grasp a viewpoint that isn’t grounded in the deep-seated fear of an iffy afterlife in which St. Peter might decide to cast you down into the bowels of hellfire and eternal suffering if he finds you insufficiently pious.

What do you think? I am really freaked out by this reoccurring weirdness.

Can anyone help explain what’s up? Is there a conspiracy afoot!?

P.S. The correct answer to this damn question that jeebus-lovers keep asking is WORM FOOD! Nothing more, nothing less.

* Check out the Drum post Sully linked to – good stuff.

Update: Jeez, I really shouldn’t have smoked all that weed in college. I wrote a post called “On Religious Necrophobia (i.e. The Fear of Death)” on a similar topic back in July of last year:

I recently reconnected with an old friend via Facebook and discovered that he has, in the years since I last saw him, become a born-again Jehovah’s Witness type. We’ve communicated a few times since then and, as expected, he’s made several none-too-subtle overtures to bring me over to the Promised Land. I typically don’t mind it when people do this, as it gives me an opportunity to dust off my well-developed antitheist catechism and see what holes need sprucing up.

Another added benefit of engaging with the religiously minded is that it gives me an opportunity to ponder what drives some people to seek out religion and the comfort it can sometimes bring.

I recently received a note from my friend, imploring me to consider the horrors of “Demon Death” waiting for me someday down the road. Here’s my reply:

One thing I think that defines people who fall into the easy comfort of religion is an indescribable fear of death. My theory is that this fear is generally implanted at a young age by parents who fear death and/or parents who are caught up in some silly notion of an afterlife.

As for me, I never grew up with any notion of a fear of death and was never exposed at a tender age to religious notions of a scary hellfire afterlife. Who knows whether this helped pave the way for me to be a comfortable antitheist in my later life but it certainly didn’t hurt!

You talk about death as if it’s something to be feared. I, however, have no such fear. Never have. As a result, I don’t even have a frame of reference through which I could even begin to relate to the fear you are trying to sway me with.

To me, death is what it is: a final ending to a period of life that started with birth. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing in my experience that has ever led me to any other conclusion and there likely never will be.

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This is hilarious:


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No particular reason why I’m posting this photo but I found it a while back and it still makes me smile.

 
 

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