Sunday, October 29, 2006


Halloween Cookies: The Story of a Soldier

My wife enjoys baking cookies. If there's a holiday coming up, she's baking. Such was the case yesterday as my wife was in the kitchen making Halloween cookies. Although, she makes great cookies, the cookies are not the story. It's what Halloween cookies have come to be associated with that I'd like to tell you about.

As my wife stood in the kitchen baking, she was reminded of the last time she made halloween cookies. They were for her brother. She made large, orange-frosted pumpkin-shaped cookies that she packaged up and sent to him. He was serving in Afghanistan at the time. Mrs. kissfan's brother is a soldier in the Army.

He had deployed to Afghanistan in April of 2005. By Halloween, his deployment was only half over. During his year there, he missed his daughter's sixteenth birthday. He missed his son's ninth. He also missed his wife's birthday and their anniversary along with every major and minor holiday between April 2005 and April 2006 when his tour of duty ended.

At the time of his deployment, he had been stationed in Germany. So when his tour ended he returned to Germany to be with his family. Shortly thereafter, he was sent back stateside and reassigned to a unit in Georgia. During the transition, he was able to stop back home and spend some time with his mother in Iowa before reporting to his unit. It was nice to know that he was back home where he was out of harm's way.

So it was somewhat bittersweet as my wife made her Halloween cookies this year because her brother deployed to Iraq this morning for another year long tour. A tour that will once again cause him to miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

It's a little late to send any Halloween cookies this year, but when he gets there he's going to let us know what his address is. I'm sure he'll be receiving some of my wife's Christmas cookies.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



Looks like I'm going to have to take a little blog-vacation. Everyone at kissfan manor has had the flu this week except for me (I'm next). Add to that the fact that I'm trying to learn a new software program, am still taking classes for my Master's degree, AND the Cardinals are in the World Series and what you find is that I'm deep in the weeds. Therefore, I'm taking the whole week off. I'll see you next week for the run up to the election. Only two weeks to go!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Wise Words

Another Keith Olbermann K.O.
We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived… as people in fear.

And now — our rights and our freedoms in peril — we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid… of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight, have we truly become, the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before — and we have been here before led here — by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush.

You can read it all and watch it here.

Monday, October 16, 2006


The Game Show Governor's Race

Remember that great old game show called Let's Make A Deal? It was hosted by Monty Hall and the contestants were often given the choice of exchanging their prizes for what was behind a set of three doors. It was pretty much a crapshoot and the odds were pretty good that whichever door the contestant chose it was going to be less than what he or she had hoped for. Well this is the way I feel when I think about the current Governor's race here in Illinois.

Recent polling shows that the incumbent Democratic governor Rod Blagojevich has a commanding fourteen point lead in this race. Unfortunately, he's corrupt. And I don't mean just a little, I mean a lot. He has been under investigation for his hiring practices almost throughout his tenure and is now being investigated for accepting a $1500 check given to his daughter by a friend whose wife had just been hired by the state despite her inability to pass a required test. (This is just one of the many reasons I voted against him in the primary.) On the other hand, he has done some very good things here in Illinois. For instance, we are #1 in job creation in the midwest. He's also expanded pre-school for children, has made affordable prescription drugs available to all seniors, and has guaranteed affordable health care for every single child in the state. Democratic action at its best. But he's still corrupt.

His opponent is Judy Baar Topinka, the Republican State Treasurer and virtually the only Republican to have survived the George Ryan bribery scandal in the last election. However, she's corrupt too. Over the years, questions have been raised about her fundraising activities including the fact that during her re-election campaign in 2004 she took as much as $600,000 from banking interests that did business with the her office and stand to benefit from future state contracts. She's also on record as a strong supporter of George W. Bush's economic and tax policies plus she has miles of videotape to contend with where she loudly voices her support of her ex boss, George Ryan. Including one incident where she called him a "damn decent guy" and proclaimed that she "loved him dearly."

So what are my options? Well, much like Let's Make A Deal, it looks as though I've got three choices and the odds are pretty good that I'm going to end up disappointed.

Behind door number 1 is Rod Blagojevich - A corrupt Democrat who has done some good things for the state despite being ethically challenged.

Behind door number two is Judy Baar Topinka - A corrupt Republican who supports George W. Bush and has ties to a convicted felon.

Behind door number three is Rich Whitney - The Green party candidate who has no chance of winning and is exactly the person Topinka and the Republicans would like me to vote for.

So... which door should I choose? (tick tock tick tock tick tock...)

As hard as it is, I will be voting for the corrupt Democrat, Rod Blagojevich. Why? Because he is my party's candidate and has the best chance of getting things done with the Democratic state legislature. However, that doesn't mean he should get a free pass. I believe that it is imperative that we as Democrats hold to our principles and insist that Blagojevich clean up his act. And I think that this should be the MO of every Democrat across the country - Support your party, but demand transparency and accountability of your elected officials. How can we possibly distinguish ourselves from the culture of corruption that has infested the Republican party if we are not willing to hold our own party members to the same high standard? It's time that we showed the world that we are indeed the country of higher morals and values by cleaning up American politics, including those within our own party. And after we've seen the Republican party's façade of moral superiority crumble away, it's only fitting that Democrats should lead the way.

So anyway, this November I will be holding my breath and choosing what's behind door number one. Let's hope I'm making the right choice.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It's the Sex and the Death, Stupid

According to a recent CNN poll, voter interest is very high this year.
Politics is a water-cooler topic, a dinner-table subject, an issue to discuss after Sunday services, and this year the interest of American voters is at its highest level in more than a decade.

That renewed attention could translate into higher voter turnout on Nov. 7, according to an Associated Press-Pew poll.

Seventy percent say they are talking politics with family and friends, and 43 percent are debating the issues at work. Among churchgoers, 28 percent share their political views, a number that rises to 34 percent among the congregations in the South.

I don't think it takes a genius to figure this one out. I believe this has a lot to do with Mark Foley and Iraq. Why? Because people understand these things. They understand sex and they understand death. For a change, the Republicans are suffering under the weight of scandals that the average person can comprehend.

Most people don't understand the ins and outs of campaign finance. Money laundering really isn't something they're willing to spend too much time on. So when Tom DeLay is accused of laundering money through his PACs, most people shrug it off as just another politician playing fast and loose with money. But when Mark Foley is trying to diddle underage boys... that they get. And when we're hearing the daily reports of dead soldiers and dead civilians (possibly as many as 655,000 of them), well they get that, too. These things are easy to understand.

You see, up until now the Republican party has been lucky that their scandals have been too difficult to understand. But these latest ones are simple - A Republican Senator is trying to dork some kids and our sons and daughters are getting killed. And people are tired of it.

If the Democrats do actually gain control of either house of congress, they have the Republicans to thank. Not that the Democrats haven't been pointing these things out for the last six years, but the Right-wing Noise Machine finally appears to have blown a gasket. In the end, it doesn't matter how much lipstick the Republicans try to smear on this pig, we Americans may not understand much of what goes on in our own government, but we understand when creepy old guys are trying to fuck or kill our children.

Monday, October 09, 2006


The Bible and Homosexuality - A History

For some reason I'm fascinated with the Bible. More specifically, I'm fascinated with the way the Bible is manipulated and twisted to fit the conservative agenda. Oftentimes misquoted and taken out of context, the Bible has become the weapon of choice for conservatives everywhere who wish to push an agenda of bigotry and hatred. To their advantage, most people don't know enough about the Bible to dispute these wild claims nor are most people willing to admit their ignorance. Thus the "Bible-pushers" have won before the battle has even begun.

As for me, I know enough about the Bible to know that I need to look things up. Such was the situation this past Sunday.

When we're in church, my wife and I like to play a little game. Whenever the pastor quotes a passage from the Bible, we look it up. Not to see if he's quoting it correctly mind you (after all, he's reading from his notes), but to see if the quote is being used in the proper context. And what we've found more often than not is that when the quote comes from the New Testament the context it is in tends to have a tinge of liberalism to it. On the other hand, if the quote comes from the Old Testament, it tends to be more conservative. Because, after all, the God of the Old Testament was a vengeful God while Jesus of the New Testament was a tolerant and forgiving God. But that's not what I'm here to discuss. So back to the story...

The message this past Sunday was a rather mundane one. Consequently, my wife and I were afflicted with wandering minds. When our minds wander we tend to thumb through the Bible looking at different passages or looking up different topics. Whatever strikes our fancy. Well for some reason, my wife's fancy was struck by homosexuality. So she turned to the back of her Bible (the New International Version for those of you who wish to play along at home) and found homosexual listed in the concordance. It referred her to 1 Corinthians 6:9 which reads:
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

On the way home, she shared with me what she had found. I was stunned. I had always believed that the word homosexual was not in the Bible. So we looked up the passage in my youngest son's New Living Translation Bible and found the following:
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality,

Again, I was shocked. Could I have missed it all these years? Not to mention, I thought that the relevant verses pertaining to homosexuality (according to the anti-gay crowd) came from Leviticus. I knew I needed to look into this further. Thus began my search for the history of homosexuality and the Bible. What I found is extremely interesting.

For starters, there are twenty-one versions of the Bible written in English. The different versions are often called translations, however I prefer to refer to them as interpretations. You'll understand why later. The different versions are:
21st Century King James Version
American Standard Version
Amplified Bible
Contemporary English Version
Darby Translation
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition
English Standard Version
Holman Christian Standard Bible
King James Version
New American Standard Bible
New International Reader's Version
New International Version
New International Version - UK
New King James Version
New Life Version
New Living Translation
The Message
Today's New International Version
Worldwide English (New Testament)
Wycliffe New Testament
Young's Literal Translation

While it is often thought that the King James Version is the original English version, the KJV was actually based upon the Wycliffe New Testament of which there were two versions - an "Early" version and a "Late" version that contained a number of fine tunings. So to begin my search, I began with the Wycliffe. Looking at 1 Cor 6:9, I found:
Whether ye know not, that wicked men shall not wield the kingdom of God? Do not ye err; neither lechers, neither men that serve maumets [neither men serving to idols], neither adulterers, neither lechers against kind, neither they that do lechery with men,

According to this, anyone who engages in lechery [an indulgence of sexual desire], not just those who engage in lechery with their own kind, is not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. Sounds a bit extreme, but I guess fair is fair.

So next I moved on to the KJV. The KJV was first published in 1611. There I found this from 1 Cor 6:9:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Effeminate? Is this what is being interpreted as homosexual? To my knowledge effeminate didn't mean gay, it meant having the characteristics of the feminine sex. So I looked it up. It turns out that I was rignt. Effeminate is defined as:
(of a man or boy) having traits, tastes, habits, etc., traditionally considered feminine, as softness or delicacy.

So to me this would mean that any man who was delicate or soft would not be allowed to inherit the Kingdom of God. Along with the adulterers, of course. And what is this "abusers of themselves with mankind?" A little ambiguous, I would say.

Next came the Darby Translation followed by Young's Literal traslation, both of which made ambiguous reference to fornication and or efiminate, but neither was terribly specific. Young's did refer to sodmites and Darby's referred to abusing oneself with men, but still no reference to specific homosexuality. After all, sodomy can refer to an act between a man and a woman.

By 1899, the verse had changed dramatically with the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition. According to this version, 1 Cor 6:9 states:
Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,

Much less ambiguous and notice the lack of any reference to such things as sodomy or abusers of self with men let alone any reference, ambiguous or not, to a homosexual act.

For the next seventy years though, the ambiguity would continue. In 1969, however, things would change. This was the year that the New Life Version was first published. In the NLV, there was different language but no less confusion. From 1 Cor 6:9 we get:
Do you not know that sinful men will have no place in the holy nation of God? Do not be fooled. A person who does sex sins, or who worships false gods, or who is not faithful in marriage, or men who act like women, or people who do sex sins with their own sex, will have no place in the holy nation of God. 10 Also those who steal, or those who always want to get more of everything, or who get drunk, or who say bad things about others, or take things that are not theirs, will have no place in the holy nation of God.

But what is a sex sin? Is it all sex? Is it lechery? We're kind of back to where we started with the Wycliffe - It's not just homosexuals, but everyone.

By 1982, though, things became very specific with the release of the New King James Version where the word homosexual made its first appearance. From 1 Cor 6:9:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites,

What strikes me as odd about the appearance of this word is the timing. 1982, the year of its publication, was one year after the Centers for Disease Control first remarked on a strange group of pneumonia cases in five gay men. Originally known as GRID, or Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, this fatal disease would eventually become known as AIDS.

Since the publication of the NKJV in 1982, all new versions of the Bible (with the exception of the Amplified Bible, The Message, and the Worldwide English) have contained the word homosexual. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that these new translations interpretaions of the Bible have had a specific target? After all, the word homosexual has been around since the 1890s according to Random House. So why wait this long to use this particular word?

Although anyone with an education knows that AIDS is not exclusive to homosexuals, many still view it as a "gay disease." Are these new interpretations of the Bible merely playing off the fear of AIDS to promote an attitude of hate and bigotry? Who knows?

What I do know is that since the NKJV was first published, the frequency of the usage of homosexual in the Bible has grown. Many Bibles now also include it in 1 Timothy 1:10, which reads:
The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders,[c] liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching


The original King James version of this verse reads as follows:
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

Furthermore, the New Living Translation now contains four instances where the word homosexual is used - 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy and those passages from Leviticus that I thought I remembered. Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. From Lev 18:22 (NLT):
“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.

Compare that to the original KJV:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

And also Leviticus 20:13 (NLT):
“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.

And from the original KJV:
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Could the abrupt change in wording be a coincidence? It's timing would lead me to believe that it's not. It would appear to me to be a deliberate attempt to push an agenda of hatred and bigotry toward a very specifc group of individuals based upon an ignorant fear of the unknown and misunderstood. Much like the modern conservative agenda.

Friday, October 06, 2006


"Our Country"

This new song from John Mellencamp is a not-so-subtle poke at the Bush administration and it's habit of ignoring the things that make a difference in our country. You can listen to it and read the lyrics at As usual, John hits the nail on the head in that good old Woody Guthrie way of his. There's much more to it than just what we're hearing in those television commercials. So go listen to the whole thing. Trust me, it's a great song.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


We Have A Winner!

From Harold Ford Jr, the Democratic Nominee for the open TN Senate seat being vacated by Bill Frist, we receive this gem:
"I'm not going to take a lecture on morality from a party that took hush money from a child predator."

This needs to be the standard response from every Democrat whenever they are faced with that morality/values voter bullshit. This is just beautiful. I want it on a bumper sticker!

Monday, October 02, 2006


There Is Hope

I live in a red county in a blue state. Day after day I am subjected to Bush/Cheney bumper stickers, yard signs supporting the Republican candidates for every imaginable office, and the usual wingnuttery from my local paper's editorial page. In fact, I am one of the very few liberals who even bothers writing letters to the editor. Never mind the fact that I'm one of only two or three people in a ten block radius to have the balls to display yard signs supporting our Democratic candidates.

It was this sense of isolation that I took with me on Saturday last as I set out to the park to take some pictures for an assignment.

I went to the park with the intention of taking pictures of the fountain. It was a beautiful, clear day and I thought the sunlight in the fountain would give me some great photos.

As I stood there snapping pictures, something caught my eye. Through the water of the fountain, I was pretty sure that I could see something hanging in the window of an apartment that overlooked the park. So I stepped around the fountain to get a better look. I'm sure I must have looked like a fool standing there with a bemused grin on my face seemingly staring into the sky, but I just couldn't help myself.

What I saw gave me hope. It made me feel like things have started to turn. It made me feel like our country still has a chance to make things right. I'll let you look at the picture and make your own judgements, but I can tell you this - it sure made me feel good.

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