Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Playing the God Card

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Behold the great Dr. Bill Frist, miracle-worker! Watch as he miraculously diagnoses a chronically brain-damaged patient--simply by watching about 45 minutes of edited videotape footage provided by her parents. More miraculous still, according to his own website, his specialties are the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, not the brain! Watch as he confounds the experts who have actually examined the patient in question by proclaiming that she is not brain-dead and indeed is capable of recovery! Be further amazed as he proclaims that it is possible to get HIV and AIDS from the tears or sweat of an infected person, contridicting more than 20 years of so-called "established science." Now, come to Jesus and fight the ungodly filibuster at the same time as the Good Doctor exhorts his followers to wage a holy war against the heathen asses who dare to oppose "people of faith" imposing their faith willy-nilly on society at large, the Constitution be damned! I ask you: is there nothing this miracle-worker cannot do?

Oh, but this only scratches the surface of the many accomplishements of Bill Frist, M.D. According to Wikipedia, that fount of all knowledge, "While in medical school, Frist adopted cats from Boston animal shelters, telling shelter staff he intended to keep them as pets. He would then experiment on and kill the animals as part of his medical studies. Later, in his 1989 book 'Transplant,' he commented: 'It was a heinous and dishonest thing to do. I was going a little crazy.' PETA later called on him to apologize... As part of Frist's preparations for political office, in December 1993 he ended his membership in Nashville's all-white Belle Meade Country Club, which he had joined in the 1980s following family tradition.... During that campaign, he also attacked [incumbent Democratic Senator Jim] Sasser for his attempt to become Senate Majority Leader, claiming that his opponent would be spending more time taking care of Senate business than Tennessee business. Frist won the election by 13 points, becoming the first physician in the Senate since 1928. Frist himself is now Senate Majority Leader."

Just thought a little background might be helpful in understanding Frist's Sunday appearance via videotape at the "Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith" prayer service at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. For those who don't know, this "Justice Sunday" event was a rally against the Democrats' use of the filibuster to block a few of Bush's judicial appointees. The claim being brought out is that the Dems are not just filibustering ideological extremists, but "people of faith" for the sole reason that they are "people of faith."

Kinda reminds me of the times Republicans claimed the Democratic party was "anti-women" because it opposed several female Bush nominees. Or the time the Republicans claimed the Dems were "anti-Catholic" because they opposed a Catholic Bush nominee. Or the times they claimed that the Dems were "anti-black" for opposing a black nominee or "anti-Hispanic" for opposing a highly unqualified partisan hack of a nominee who just so happened to be Hispanic...

The Republicans have stumbled onto a great truth we Democrats have expended a great deal of energy trying to keep quiet: We do hate women. That's why we made Nancy Pelosi our leader in the House. That's why out of the 68 women in the House of Representatives, 45 are Democrats. That's why out of the 14 female members of the Senate, 9 are Democrats. That's why out of the 8 currently serving female governors, 6 are Dems. That's why women historically tend to vote for Democrats disproportionately more than for Republicans, the so-called gender gap. In fact, we hate women so much, most Democratic politicians support the most important issue for a lot of women, the right to have control over their own body.

We also hate Catholics. This explains why Catholics have traditionally favored the Democrats, and why the only party to ever get a Catholic in the presidency was the Democratic party. (In fact, I do believe we Dems are the only major party to ever nominate a Catholic for the office, as we did at least 3 times: in 1928, 1960, and 2004).

Our hatred of African-Americans is everywhere apparent. Of the 43 black members of the 109th Congress--42 Representatives and one Senator--every single one is a Democrat. Blacks tend to vote for Democratic presidential candidates by a comfortable 90% margin. Hispanics also tend to vote for Democrats nationally. Out of the 24 Hispanics in the 109th congress, 19 are Democrats. Ergo, for all you Spanish-speakers out there: Los Demócratas no son el amigo de personas Hispanas.

I'm sorry that I have to spell out the blatantly obvious. But it almost makes you wonder if Bush chose these nominees because of their race/gender/religious affiliation. Of course, he wouldn't be that cynical, now would he?

Nonetheless Republicans are furious that the Senate Democrats appear to be taking their constitutional duty to "advise and consent" presidential nominees seriously. As I pointed out in a previous post, so far Democrats have confirmed more than 200 of Bush's judicial nominees and are currently blocking only 7. That's more than 95% success rate for Bush, but that's apparently not good enough. Keep in mind that Republicans blocked far more of Clinton's nominees for petty political reasons and you didn't hear Democrats talking about abolishing the filibuster or finding some other procedural slight of hand to make the minority powerless. As I've already covered the folly of what Trent Lott termed, and what the Republicans called, the "nuclear option" (until they realized the term's radioactive connotations and chose the more pleasant-sounding "constitutional option; as Josh Marshall pointed out, "It's the Crybaby Option. 'Oh, boo-hoo, we only got 95% of what we wanted so we're changing the rules. Waaaaah!' Sort of like at a seven-year-old's birthday party where they want the parent to change the rules of Pin the Tail on the Donkey because they're not winning every time." ) I don't need to make that case here.

The most troubling aspect of this whole thing is tonight's event itself. It takes place at a church. It's title is "Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith." First off, there is nothing about the filibuster that "people of faith" should oppose on religious grounds. Yes, it has been used to stymie civil rights legislation, but has also been put to good use. It is neither inherently moral, nor immoral. Nor is it mentioned anywhere in the Bible or in the works of any Biblical scholar or theologian I know of. So, it's really not a religious issue.

Then we come to that title. The Democrats are using the filibuster against people of faith for that reason alone is the implication. Hmmm.... Sounds a lot like what they say anytime Democrats oppose a member of a minority group. Rather than have an honest discussion on the individual's qualifications and beliefs, the Republicans have again resorted to name-calling.

This is maddening for two reasons. One, if Democrats hated people of faith, since more than 90% of Americans routinely identify themselves with some religion, we wouldn't win any elections, now would we? So, it's not "people of faith" is it? It's people of a certain faith: the kind of politicized Christianity that condones the death penalty, but loathes abortion; that wants to give tax cuts to the rich and cut social services to the poor; that rails against peaceful organizations like the UN but never met a war waged by a Republican president it didn't like.

The problem is not that these Christians have these beliefs. It is the assumption they make that all people of faith share them, and if you don't agree with them, then ergo, you are not a person of faith. We've already seen how Republicans have appropriated the American flag. Patriotism is a solely Republican virtue. A Democrat who won many awards in Vietnam due to his heroism is vilified as a coward, while neither of his opponents were willing to even fight in that war and in fact went to great lenghts to avoid such service. Obviously the patriotism of the men who did everything possible to avoid serving their nation on the field of battle trumps the patriotism of the man who volunteered for duty and showed true heroism in combat. Obviously you can't be a Democrat and really love your country. In fact, liberals and Democrats secretly hate our nation and root for its destruction, conservatives such as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and many right-wing bloggers claim.

Now they are making faith a litmus test as well. Many Christians oppose the death penalty, take the biblical injunction literally to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable", and take the message of Jesus to be one of peace rather than war. We are Liberal Christians. We do not claim that you cannot be a true Christian if you disagree with us on matters of interpretation, if you place emphasis on different issues than we do. But we do insist that our views are as in keeping with the Bible (if not more so) as yours.

Christianity in America has to a large extent been hijacked by the right. The Christian Right has a definite set of goals: ending abortion; banning euthanasia; "bringing God back into the schools and public life" (goverment endorsement of their faith to the certain detriment of others); banning the teaching of evolution, the Big Bang theory, carbon-dating, and any other established scientific fact or theory that contradicts a literal interpretation of Genesis; and regulating media content to filter out "offensive material", just to name a few.

Because the Christian Right in this country has organized politically, while the Chrisitian Left has not, the Right has been able to set the moral issues agenda. That's why there was all the media coverage of Terry Schiavo but not of third-word debt, so much about the morality of abortion but not about the morality of the death penalty, so much about welfare cheats but so little about the Bible's call for social justice and spreading economic opportunity, so much about fighting the teaching of evolution in our schools and not enough about fighting AIDS in Africa, so much about free trade but so little about fair trade, so much about offensive images or words on TV and not a whisper about the deeply offensive crimes against humanity taking place in Darfur even as I type this. The former are now considered "Christian" issues while the latter are not. Thus when it comes to discussion on issues Christians care about in this country, only one side is consistently heard.

This imbalance has serious implications for the Christian church in America. No party has a monopoly on God. Especially not the Republican party. Seriously, the party of Tom DeLay is the party of God? Don't make me laugh!

So, what could account for last Sunday's weird mixing of religion and political opportunism? The cynic might suggest that, as Karl Marx postulated, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." At least it helps distract from meddlesome political scandals. Whenever your poll numbers are sinking, you're mired in scandal, and you've played the "media bias" card and that just hasn't worked, play the "God card." It allows yourself to appear the martyr while distracting the media and your constituents from the your ethically/legally questionable actions.

There is another explanation. The thing Republicans rail against most passionately is "judicial activism." Those liberal judges are threatening the moral fabric of our nation by their decisions that don't reflect sound judicial reasoning, they claim. The only problem with this complaint is that Republicans truly are upset about judicial activism: they want more of it! That's right. Why didn't those judges intervene to stop a perfectly legal process in the Terry Schaivo case? Why didn't they intervene to keep Elian Gonzales here in violation of federal law? The same people who decry Roe v. Wade as "judicial activism" wonder: why doesn't the Supreme Court prevent any woman anywhere in America from getting an abortion? Do they not see the irony? To them, the problem isn't "judicial activism"; it's that the courts are upholding the law rather than being judicial activists for the Christian Right's ideological causes.

So now the matter becomes clearer. At root, this is about the attempt of the Christian Right to impose its beliefs on the rest of the nation. The Democrats won't let them stack the courts with unqualified right-wing extremists, so the independence of the judiciary must go.

Already Tom Delay has said "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse." The Los Angeles Times (sorry, registration is required) reports that: "The March conference featuring James Dobson and [Tony] Perkins, [president of the Family Research Council] showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges. Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was 'prominently' discussed. 'What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them,' Perkins said. He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to 'just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do.' These curbs on courts are 'on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress,' he said.

"Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."

I think it's fair to say we've finally reached the point where the Republican party's pandering to the Christian Right has become a clear and present danger to the future of American democracy as we know it. The Founding Fathers created a secular government that gave protection to the minority from abuse by the majority. Then as now, the majority of Americans were Christian. But it is hard to imagine they'd approve of a government that is held hostage to the demands of a determined faction of American Christians. That's what's behind the attempt to abolish the filibuster: an assault on the very fabric of our Republic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Habemos Papam!!!!

By: Ed

Pope Benedict XVI, formally Cardinal Ratzinger, now leads the Roman Catholic Church. Finding information on his life is difficult right now, though no doubt it will become easier in the next few days, but I will share what I have been hearing and reading about him thus far.

Pope Benedict was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He has (as he well should) a doctorate in theology and is the first German Pope since the 11th century. Pope Benedict XVI has been a voice in his position as Cardinal of calling back to traditional beliefs and against relativism. This means the Church will not be making any major changes to doctrine and as one blogger wrote "no matter though who was elected this would have been true, it is just that they now realize it and once again will have to fall back to "maybe the next Pope".

“Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism... We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism, which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”
-(now) Pope Benedict XVI

What I found most important and prayed for most though I found in his speech after being selected Pope. He said:

“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me — a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. I entrust myself to your prayers,”

“The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers”

He was humble. This is a good sign and a great start for the new Pope. I pray, and ask all readers to also pray, that Pope Benedict will remain humble, pius, and dedicated to God's Church. May God's will be done. Viva El Papa!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

On Terrorism

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

Eric Rudolph was sentenced yesterday to four consecutive life sentences. I can only regret that when he dies the first time, his remaining three life sentences will be commuted to time already served.

Though I vehemently oppose the death penalty, I despise how Rudolph got off with just life in prison. Yes, he made a plea bargain, but the evidence against him was pretty irrefutable. The only reason prosecutors did not go to trial with this is that the FBI knew how many pounds of explosives Rudolph had stolen and it was far, far more than the amount contained in his bombs. Rudolph told them that he had hidden the explosives all along the North Carolina border. He offered to tell them where the explosives were hidden... but for a price. You can guess what that was.

Thinking about the case of Eric Rudolph and the hate-filled manifesto he released railing against abortionists and homosexuals prompted a reflection on the nature of terrorism itself. In these post 9/11 days, "terrorists" are supposed to be A-rab "Islamofascists." Yet here we are confronted with a white native-born American who turned to terrorism. The divisions between foreign and domestic terrorism seem tenuously thin.

Islamic terrorists derive justification from a false view of their religion, as do Christian terrorists like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh, and Terry Nichols. Islamic suicide bombers often pack their bombs full of nails. When the bomb explodes these nails become thousands of tiny deadly projectiles travelling at the spead of a bullet. A person might survive a conventional bombing. It would be hard for a person in the vacinity of an exploding bomb filled with nails to avoid having any vital organs punctured by this shrapnel. It is an inhuman method of upping the body count and increasing the suffering of the victims. Eric Rudolph also packed the bombs he exploded at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, two abortion clinic, and a lesbian bar, full of nails.

It occurrs to me that terrorists everwhere, including both Islamic and Christian, have not just shared tactics, but shared ideologies, shared mentalities of hatred. The terrorist, no matter what cause he serves, divides humanity neatly into only two categories: comrades and targets. Anyone who does not join the forces of Good in a violent struggle against the forces of Evil is a target. Thus, there is no "collateral damage." There are no "innocent civilians" being killed, only individuals complicit in maintaining an injust system. The most extreme example of this can be found in the attack on the school in Beslan, Russia by Chechan terrorists last fall. The children were not innocents to the terrorists; by not actively joining the armed resistance, they made themselves targets. Thus, the Butchers of Beslan, like Pontius Pilate, claimed to have washed their hands clean of the matter.

This highlights the fundamental difference between war and terrorism. In war, opponents attack only military targets. Thus, regardless of justification, Pearl Harbor was an act of war, not terrorism. The same could be said of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in October 2000. On the other hand, the 9/11 attackers attacked civilian targets (the World Trade Centers). The Pentagon is not a military target due to the civilian control of the military. Most of the people killed at the Pentagon that day, and most of the people who work there, were office workers, not uniformed military personnel. Even if the Pentagon was a legitimate military target, hijacking a passenger airliner and killing the passengers in the execution of the attack, is a terrorist act, not an act of war.

So it seems we have a fairly straightforward definition of war (targeting the armed forces of a nation or group) and terrorism (targeting non-military personnel). This definition can lead to some disconcerting conclusions. For example, take the firebombing of Tokyo in March, 1945, killing over 100,000 Japanese civilians. Or the firebombing of Dresden, with at least 25,000 civilian casualities. Neither were really military targets. Tokyo had military forces, but far more civilians. Dresden was the cultural and artistic center of eastern Germany, a city swelled to overfilling with panicked refugees. The strategy of napalming these civilian targets was to wear down the resolve of the civilian population, just as it was in the atomic bombing of Nakasaki and Hiroshima. If that rationale sounds familiar, it was the same motive of the 9/11 hijackers and Eric Rudolph: to wear down the resolve of the civilian population to continue their government's "oppression." So, if we're truly being honest, let's ackowledge the state-sponsored terrorist attacks carried out by the United States in WWII. (Note that I'm not saying these terrorist attacks weren't necessary to win WWII--though I don't beleive they were; I'll save that for another post--simply that they were terrorist attacks by both intent and result.)

All this notwithstanding, Eric Rudolph had a grievance against the federal government. Instead of resorting to terrorism like a coward, he should have gone to Fort Bragg or some other military base to make his point mano-a-mano. Or more like mano-a-brigado. Ok, more like mano-a-3rd Infantry Divisiono. To be sure, the battle wouldn't have been a "fair" one. But Eric Rudolph would have gotten a "martyr's" death. And his victims would still be alive today. Eric Rudolph could have done that. But then, he wouldn't have been a terrorist, now would he?

News Break:

By: Michael Akerman

The Pirate Captain, Whil Piavis, has won the runoff election for Student Body President of NCSU. As I've mentioned before, I am unabashedly pleased at the outcome. Piavis has proven himself a skilled and dedicated Populist candidate who knows the desires of the Student Body. When one considers that student government is merely a representative body, like a labor union, not a legislative body, it's apparent that knowing student tastes is the most important thing.

I, for one, welcome our pirate overlords.

~By my hand,
Michael Akerman

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A false view..

By: Ed

Read Michael's post first.

Perhaps it is my fault for not being able to completely articulate the meaning behind Church teaching, but I feel as though I have answered these questions and my conclusions were far different from the post below.

Let me first explain that the Church does place high value on tradition, but that tradition is based on scripture. The idea that tradition is followed "with no reference to rationale" is simply ludicrous. If our values and beliefs were contrary to life (assuming the continuation of life and society can be attained by reasonable lifestyles) than the Church wouldn't have lasted so long. We would have followed the path of pagan religions into near obliteration. I say near because some old relics still continue. The truth is that our beliefs based on scripture are a mixture of faith and reason. The faith part is necessary because we do not always understand God's plan, but we do know what He asks of us and we continue as such.
Relatively sinless west?
I will be one of the first to defend this nation as great because of its freedom and many past works (though we have made mistakes), but to say our people as a whole are reatively sinless and enlightened is extremely arrogant. The vast majority of people hold on to their beliefs because its "their team"; not due to some enlightened view of the world. They fell into a group that accepted them and, again, that is "their team" now. Granted, some hold to enlightened views for unselfish reasons, but certainly not a majority or even a great deal of people.
False Analogy
The previous post stated "Is the ideal in the Catholic Church to refuse food to the starving, because the fed are picking and choosing which parts of the doctrine to follow?" Michael, I have quite a bit of respect for you, but this is without a doubt the most ignorant thing you have ever said.
How could you compare denying condoms to denying food? First, the Church considers contraceptives used during sex a sin. It doesn't say owning a condom is a sin (going back to our "you can use condoms for other things" debate). Eating isn't a sin when it is to keep you alive.
Lets take each example now in turn, as I find them so incredibly hateful and ignorant that they each require personal attention.
"If China were giving all the rice to the richest 5%, would the Catholic Church simply tell them to stop that and hope it will happen?"
Tell me what the Church IS to do in this situation. You seem to forget that the Church does not have an army (especially not to fight China). The Church can only preach what God has told us. I would say though, that if people are starving because someone is taking their food that it is probably a just war if they rebelled. War is not a sin when the motives are pure.
"Yet, the Catholic Church decides that it cannot offer aid, or allow some minor sin to better fight a worse"
How can we offer aid other than the countless missionaries we have sent with food to help those people and teach them? You can only explain that the frying pan burns so often and then its up to them to not touch it. Education is the key to helping them. I am also shocked that you would think allowing a sin to prevent another is just. That is how everything breaks down. It used to be that the majority of people were with the Church in not using contraception. Indeed, the majority of laws banning contraceptives were created by protestants. Then some groups said that extreme circumstances warranted contraceptive use. Then it became "if your not ready use contraceptives". Now all protestants and many Catholics think it is perfectly ok to use them. Sin should never be allowed or considered ok for any reason. All sin is an offense to God.
No, I believe the devil steps through when, because of Earthly desires, we allow sin to be justified. That is when satan laughs at us because we valued our bodies over our souls and God's Word. If the blood of innocents is on our hands than the fate of their souls is on yours.
The Papacy and women priests
I find your lack of knowledge about the bible quite disconcerting. I also don't see how you can make accurate judgments about scripture without knowing much about it. There were many educated women as well as men when Christ came to Earth. Secondly, the fact that you would assume anything about God's choice of disciples was coincidence is a plain affront to His devine nature.
Remember, God chose His own culture, time period, and Priests. To say His decisions were nothing but a product of His culture is to insult Him. First, because it means God couldn't go against peer pressure from His own creation, secondly because it means He was too stupid to choose our own (as you think) "more enlightened" culture to make it easier to ordain women Priests.
Going back to the idea of education, many Apostles were simple workers; fishermen. The only thing they were educated in was scripture because they were Jewish. This education was the same for females as they too were Jewish. Jesus chose men to be Priests. He didn't do it because of His culture. He already departed from His culture so much anyway that if He chose to ordain women, it wouldn't be much more of a problem. Does this mean Priests (and thus men) are higher than women? No. A Priest is simply a different path, as a nun is or a married couple.
I don't know where you get your ideas Michael, but they aren't what the Church teaches. We do not teach that the Pope is always infallible. He makes mistakes like any of us. It is true that a pope has only used papal infallibility twice and for good reason. The issues in question were splitting the Church apart because the pope had not given a deffinitive statement about it. The Pope finally, after much prayer and thought, give his statement and added that it was infallible so that people would stop fighting about it. It was the equivalent of a mother or father putting their foot down. The Pope is a man just like us and there have been bad Popes. Articles of faith always come out unscathed though.
The church is a pilgrim in a foreign land. This is not our world because our Lord is not of this world. When the Church changes to suit popular opinion the end is near; not for the Church, but for the world and those who say they are in the Church, but are really of the world.


By: Michael Akerman

The Potent Potentate of the Papacy

Something about Catholicism confuses me. Their indoctrinated beliefs all seem to stem from the fact that it's "always been" the indoctrinated belief, with no reference to rationale. For instance, everyone's favorite, contraceptives: the idea, Ed has said, is that the people suffering under AIDS shouldn't pick and choose what parts of doctrine to follow. But what does that have to do with the enlightened West (I mean that with no sarcasm. As much as the environmentalists would have us believe we're brainless, heartless, bloodthirsty savages, the very fact that we have an environmental movement defines us as enlightened)? Do we not, as the sinless (relatively), have a duty to reach out in aid to the sinners?

Is the ideal in the Catholic Church to refuse food to the starving, because the fed are picking and choosing which parts of the doctrine to follow? If China were giving all the rice to the richest 5%, would the Catholic Church simply tell them to stop that and hope it will happen? Sinners will stay sinners, and affect innocents. Perhaps that is the most important thing to remember in the contraceptives debate: it's not just the rational (?) adults that are affected. Fornication leads to pregnancy, and the children are punished for none of their own wrongdoing with a curse of AIDS, as well as poverty and orphanhood.

Yet, the Catholic Church decides that it cannot offer aid, or allow some minor sin to better fight a worse. Do they really believe contraceptives are worse than a child with no parents, living alone, starving, and poor, and suffering under the blight of a disease for which he has neither money nor ability to fight and will kill him before he grows to maturity? And without contraceptives, this situation only grows. Pregnancies are not averted. AIDS is not averted. So the devil steps through the door in the guise of both. The child becomes not a beautiful creature, as he should be, but the product of illness and blight, stricken with the hand of Satan, with no help from the supposed servants of God. Frankly, there is no defense of the Catholic doctrine in this area. It is, indeed, heinous to fight against contraceptives in a situation like that. Would Catholics refuse taxes to pay for government services, since tax collectors have long been considered sinners, even if the government services do great good? Would Catholics refuse food to the innocent refugees in a war, because the participants, their fellow countrymen whom they have no control over, follow a false god and are sinning in their unrepentant murder of others?

This is what they do when they refuse contraceptives to Africa. The blood of innocents stains the hands of the Catholic Church, and I ask, what do they intend to do about it?


The sad fact is, it is this way in many cases in the Catholic Church, though not to the degree of unabashed evil of the contraceptives debacle. The refusal to ordain female priests stems purely from a few variably interpretable lines in the Bible, sheer tradition, and some foolish notion that since Jesus only picked men, that means he only chose men on purpose, not because of random chance (there were only 12 disciples. The odds of them being all men are not low) or because men, in those days, were the only educated people who could be trusted to treat the Word with the sanctity and respect it deserved. Frankly, I can't see how any of the supposed "evidence" defines the doctrine such that females should not be ordained, now that they have the same educational opportunities as males.

As a final note, I wonder what devout Catholics will do when a new Pope changes the doctrine. There is a fundamental paradox in the church, which is why no robot will ever join, in that, since every Pope is infallible (though the Pope, if my understanding is correct, has only had to use unqualified, unreasonable infallibility in two cases, when the Catholic God-King declared some doctrine that didn't have solid Biblical basis) about church teachings, then two Popes cannot disagree without disrupting the order of the universe. If God is always correct, the Pope is the voice of God, and the Pope is infallible because he always hears the voice of God correctly, then either that statement is false, or the meaning of right and wrong are changing. Doctrine has changed in the past centuries, so, since the doctrine is the Word of God, right and wrong must be shifting with the times. Wouldn't a devout Catholic have to throw out their ideals as Popes change the interpretation of the Bible? When John Paul II began to reach out to Muslims, who was right, him, or Urban II, who advocated the Crusades to cleanse the Holy Land?

The End of Days

Sadly, as far as world politics goes, my analysis is that, unless the next Catholic Pope can drastically modernize the flexibility of the Church, the Catholic Doctrine will slowly lose its place as a force in world politics. I say sadly because, for all the inflexibility and uselessness the Doctrine has shown in modern times, the Church has wrought great good with its evil. The Crusades, looking back, were wrong, but providing education for at least part of the population during the Dark Ages blunted somewhat the destructiveness that was that era. For all the death in the name of God, there has been far more life and charity in the name of the same. Frankly, I don't want the Catholic Church to go the way of the poodle and the dodo, because its sway is commonly useful for great good, but unless it can change, the Protestant churches will be the new Catholicism. But Protestants don't have a centralized authority (and, I hope, never will), so they can never be a major player on the world stage.

The slow choking off of Catholicism progresses already in the United States, and other liberal nations, aided not a little by the Priestly Abuse scandal (which the Church seems to accept without much argument, sadly, but that's another post). Modern education has opened the eyes of students to the problems of the world, and they see the glaring points where the Catholic Church will not take action more than the points where the Catholic Church makes good where evil once was. Such is the way of observation. The same way we see the scandals more than the triumphs in politics, we see the sex with boys and the refusal to aid Africa more than the charity in religion. If the Church doesn't turn around, it will die, as a tree under vines, in the modern liberalization and modernization of the world.

To some, the preservation of ideals may be more important than the preservation of the Church. In that case, the Church will die with them.

~By my hand,
~Michael Akerman

Sunday, April 10, 2005

None Dare Call It Treason

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

"Treason doth never prosper:
What's the reason?
Why if it prosper,
None dare call it Treason."

Lee's Decision

General Robert E. Lee, commander in chief of the Confederate armies, and nearest and dearest to his heart, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, had faced difficult decisions before. Deciding to divide his army at Chancellorsville two years earlier, sending Stonewall Jackson with the majority of his forces to flank the bluecoats, leaving Lee in the meantime with only two divisions to confront a far larger Union army, had been nervewracking. His audacity had paid off handsomely in the end, though.

Not so for his decision to allow General George Pickett's and Lt. General James Longstreet's infantry attack on the Union center on Cemetary Ridge on that horrible third day at Gettysburg. Failing to forsee the devastating effect sustained Union rifle fire would have on his exposed Confederate infantry on the open field and up the grassy slopes had been Lee's greatest failure as a commander and as a person. He relived it often in his dreams. In those dreams, he saw the corpses of his fallen comrades at The Angle, Malvern Hill,
Dunker Church, Hagerstown Pike, Bloody Lane, and so many other scoured farmlands, north and south. It was those dreams that came back to him now, as he faced the hardest decision of his career.

It was April 9, 1865. Richmond, proud capital of the Confederacy, that fair city that Lee had saved from capture at the hands of the inept McClellan in the summer of 1862, had finally fallen. The Confederate government, led by President Jefferson Davis, was heading south on a fast train. As a parting gift to the city, the Confederates had ordered the commercial district of the city set ablaze, to prevent any supplies from falling into Union hands. The fire had quickly spread to residential neighborhoods. Lee still seethed at that final insult, more destructive than anything Sherman's troops had done in Georgia. He had fought a fierce campaign in the week since, trying to hold off General Grant's army long enough to allow the majority of his army to escape to the mountains of western Virginia, where they could eventually link up with General Joe Johnston in North Carolina and fashion some kind of effective resistance to the advancing bluecoats.

But all such grand plans seemed dashed now. Last night, his supplies had been captured at Appomattox Station by the advance guard of the Army of the Potomac. Lee was now surrounded on three sides by Federal forces. The only escape was to the northwest: into a barren land that could not support his army.

It was obvious that further conventional resistance was futile. Yet, what about unconventional resistance? One of his most trusted aides, Porter Alexander, now urged disbanding the army into small guerrilla bands. What could not be accomplished through massive battles might perhaps be accomplished by turning the South into a minefield of militia groups, irregulars using terrorist tactics.

Again he asked himself: What am I fighting for? Most Southern leaders had favored secession as a means of preserving forever the institution of slavery. Lee abhorred the institution and had no slaves himself. He had joined the Confederacy and rejected the offer to command the Union forces, because he couldn't bear the thought of taking up the sword against his fellow Virginians. Given the choice between taking arms against his countrymen in Virginia or taking up arms against his fellow countrymen in the other states, he had chosen the least repugnant option. Yet, were he to accept Porter's advise, Virginian would be turned against Virginian. Virginia would be laid waste and the wounds of this battered nation might never heal.

The pressure on Lee to adopt a guerrilla strategy was enormous. Davis himself had ordered Lee not to surrender and public sentiment in many parts of the South would be receptive. He could not prevent the Union from conquering the South, but he could make it ungovernable. In the long run, the Union might tire of the thankless task and grant the South independence. It was the best hope for winning the war.

But, yet. Lee's thoughts turned to the terrorist actions of William Quantrill in Missouri. Lee remembered hearing of Nathan Bedford Forrest's "victory" at Fort Pillow. Hundreds of black and white Union soldiers were massacred by his men, upon his orders, after they had surrendered. Was this what it had come to? Would he have to abandon all his principles, both those installed in him at West Point and those he derived from his Christian faith and Southern upbringing, to win this war? No. He had once said, "It is better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity." Those words came back to him now in this fateful hour. Bolstered by this injunction, with a look of sad resignation clouding his countenance, Lee turned to an aide and ordered him to dictate a reply to Grant's letter. After signing the surrender later on that day, Lee had had his band play "The Star-Spangled Banner." The message was clear: We were all Americans now.

None Dare Call It Treason

Yesterday marked the 140th anniversary of Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, the final act of the Civil War. Today the "Lost Cause" is still idolized by some Southerners. Shirts picturing Lee in front of the "Confederate" flag are commonplace, though the Confederacy was not around long enough to officially adopt a national flag. (The "Confederate" flag was merely the banner of Lee's army of Northern Virginia until it was adopted as a symbol by the terrorist organization founded by Nathan Bedford Forrest in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War: the Ku Klux Klan.)

If anyone should be so foolhardy as to challenge the Confederate mythology of the Lost Cause or attempt to take down a Confederate flag from a public place, such as the South Carolina Statehouse, they will be bombarded with strident charges of trying to take away "Southern heritage." Now, I've lived in the South my entire life. To me Southern heritage includes grits, BBQ, cornbread, and sweet tea. It includes a vocabulary complete with "y'all"s, "I reckon"s, "over yonder"s, and "usetacould"s (one word). It seems ridiculous to claim Southern heritage begins and ends with the Confederacy. After all, the South has been under the control of America, Britian, and Spain for hundreds of years. It was under the sway of the Confederacy for a mere four years. The British flag is more a part of "Southern heritage" than the Confederate.

Most people who object to displays of the Confederate flag object to the Confederacy's embrace of slavery. No matter how you slice it, the South only remained in the Union as long as they could extract concessions on the slavery issue by threating disunion. When the slavocracy lost one election to a man they had reason to believe might not continue the policy of appeasing the South, they made good on their threat. When reconciliation still seemed possible and when the slave-owning border states seemed vulnerable to secession fever, Abraham Lincoln refrained from making the war a crusade to end slavery. After the bloody victory at Antietam, Lincoln had a convenient excuse to do what he had wanted to do all along and issue an Emancipation Proclamation. Escaped slaves fled to Union lines and enlisted on the side of freedom. The Confederacy refused to free slaves to serve as soldiers until just before Richmond's fall and there is no record of any having served. No war is truly a matter of black and white, good and evil. But the Civil War was the closest thing to such a struggle as exists in American history.

While this objection is perfectly understandable in light of present-day morality, I think it overlooks the most important point. The Confederacy was not simply a group that struggled to maintain "Southern heritage." It was a group of people who committed treason against the United States of America. Because of their treason, more Americans died than in every other war in our nation's history combined. And for what? Some just and noble "Lost Cause"? For "State's rights"? They fought for state's rights, I concede: A state's right to seceede and take up arms against the United States at any time should a particular election not go its way. For "individual liberties"? Yes, they fought for the right of one man to own and abuse another simply because of the color of his skin.

The Confederate flag is the flag of traitors. We can admire the remarkable leadership and fighting abilities of men like Lee and Jackson who fought underneath its banner like we can admire the strategic genius of Rommel without worshipping at the altar of National Socialism. General Lee gave up on the "Lost Cause" 140 years ago. It's long past time everyone else did as well.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Election: Yar, She Blows!

By: Michael Akerman

Here at NCSU, the mockery of government and democracy that we call the student body elections has ended. Well, almost, but more on that momentarily. Like most elections, this marks the end of a season of annoying signs, stupid publicity stunts, offices no one cares about (what the heck is a Register of Deeds anyway?), and one major candidate that simply stands above the rest. I'm here to talk about that candidate.

This election season marked the appearance of quite the character in the race for student body president. Calling himself simply "the Pirate Captain" (a legitimate stage name, considering student elections require only a valid ID number, not a name), a candidate seems to have stolen the hearts and minds of the student body with a flamboyant and excruciatingly thorough portrayal of, of course, a Pirate Captain. From the driftwood signs to the commercial made with full crew compliment, the Captain seemed to follow a plan for a publicity stunt gone awry, which, it turns out, is just what was needed.

You see, the Captain has won the de facto election. Much to the chagrin of the other candidates, the Captain garnered full 40% of the popular vote, which, though not enough to avoid a runoff election (we have no electoral college here), puts him squarely in the lead, 20% ahead of the next candidate.

The other candidates are livid, though they are covering it adequately. They claim that the Captain is simply not qualified, makes a mockery of the system, and doesn't know what he is getting himself into. I plan on addressing these points. It's worth noting, first, that they applaud him for getting out the vote (a record 27% turnout. Um... whoo).

Oh, but the claims that he is unqualified: for a number of reasons ridiculous, not the least of which is the fact that student government is a powerless mockery of government which has the sole duties of strutting about and stealing football tickets (this accusation based on a real event). Indeed, the Pirate Captain has shown himself to be fully devoted to the cause, as is evidenced by his near flawless character portrayal. He has gone to the trouble of creating a rather good website, signs, and a pirate shanty in the brickyard. Besides, he has a solid platform (his "plank"), and has shown himself as the people's candidate, promising improved game transportation and seating, and open government meetings. He promises, frankly, a government with transparency. To say he doesn't understand governing is foolish (besides, he's a Captain. He must be a good leader).

Perhaps more weighty, and weighted, is the accusation that he is making a mockery of the system. Evidently, this is not the case. Humor does not mean irreverence, necessarily, any more than a suit makes a businessman. The Pirate Captain, through his evident devotion to his candidacy, has simply used humor as a campaign tool. Besides, the system is already a mockery, for reasons stated earlier.

The final accusation, leveled as a cutlass against a throat, is that the Pirate Captain is not prepared for office. Indeed, this follows from the claim of irreverence, but is disproved by the same reasoning. If the Captain could organize a "crew" very effectively, campaign soundly, craft a professional and serious platform, and, ultimately, win the election, all indications turn that accusation about. Indeed, out of candidates who were unable to mount the least opposition to the Pirate Captain, he is the most qualified.

Surely, the campaign was an extremely crafty device. This seeming joke was manipulated expertly into a vessel for the revelation of the Captain's natural talents. It was a fresh breeze through student government's stagnant swamp, shaking the traditional candidates out of their lethargy. Ultimately, it was a perfect, though perhaps accidental, campaign.

~By my hand,
Michael Akerman

Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Firm Resolve

By: Ed

Indeed, Pope John Paul II has met the Heavenly Father. Catholics, including myself, mourn the loss of a great leader, but rejoice that this loyal servant of God Almighty has been called home. I would ask all to pray that, whatever your personal beliefs are, the next Pope will be who God wills the seat of Peter to be taken by. Let not our will, the clergy's will or even the Cardinal's will be done, but rather God's. This should be our utmost desire.

If the readers of this post would indulge me though, I would like to share what I believe is necessary for the Church in the future and the next Pope. I have my own beliefs on this, but again, if I am wrong I pray God's will and not mine be done.

So many have commented on this Popes life on the news. He played an integral part in stopping destructive communism in Europe. He preached the Word of God when he was still a priest and had threats made on his life. Numerous accounts of his generosity, piety and kindness have been told and yet people still maintain his teachings are outdated. The Church flurished under his leadership and God's work through him. If we are to believe scripture and "judge them by their works" how could we not trust that this man is a great teacher sent by God?

I noticed in Michael's post some teachings I want to comment on. First of all, yes! The Church needs some big changes. Most, however, have to do with education. Every Catholic should know what as well as why we believe (at least) the basic and essential articles of the faith. There are many Catholics who don't even know there is a book (The Catechism of the Catholic Church) that explains all of our teachings. I simple flip through an index and the scriptural basis for everything is revealved if they would but look.

Above all, we should stay rooted in our tradition. Birth control is a prime example. I find it amusing that people claim the Church's teaching against birth control fuels STD's, Abortions and unwed mothers. The Church also teaches fornication and adultery are wrong and these actions are what really spread STD's, increase the desire for an abotion to "erase" the mistake so nobody knows, and lead to unwed mothers. Its funny how the Church is responsible for people who pick and choose its teachings for their own selfish desires. I also find it amazing that these people can think that those suffering from the previously stated conditions don't have the will enough to say no to sexual temptation, but can say "wait, the Church doesn't believe in contraceptives so we shouldn't wear a condom." The truth is, if everyone abided by the Church's teaching, there would be no STD's. So, to all who are afflicted and blame the Church's stance against contraceptives I say "stop having sex!!"

That is what we should be working towards; sex only within a committed marriage. Contraceptives only lead to more sex and thus more problems. They take an immoral action and remove the consequneces. Then, when things do go wrong, the person who said none of it should be going on is blamed. Besides this point, contraceptives make sex only about the "good feeling" . It becomes only about self satisfaction instead of an act of love within marriage.

Interestingly enough, American's have over a 50% divorce rate. Couples (Catholics and non-Catholics) who use Natural Family Planning have under a 3 percent divorce rate. Again, "judge them by their fruits."

An interesting essay from the Vatican about the ordination of female priests is called Inter Insigniores . Basically, it reaffirms the teaching that only men can be ordained. This is due to tradition, but also because a female priest would be a breach of the matter of the sacrament. For those who don't know, Sacraments must have the correct form and matter. Baptism for example can't be done with sand. God didn't say "Amen Amen I say to you, he who is not orn again of sand and spirit shall not inherit the Earth". He said water. It is not in the Church's authority to change Christ's wishes. Likewise, a Priest stands in place of Christ (in the physical sense) so that Christ can work through Him in the sacraments. Christ also only chose males (and in turn those males only chose males according to His example) to be Priests and stand in the place of Jesus who fulfills the role of the new Adam. So, Priests must be men. Now remember, this doesn't mean Priests are better or higher in dignity than a nun. They simply fulfill a different role.

I think that is everything and I hope this clarifies some issues. Again, I believe we need more focus on education Catholics should (at least the majority) be the most knowledgeable people on Earth of their faith. We need a strong Pope who is pius and stands firm with Church teaching.


Saturday, April 02, 2005

The End of an Era

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

This afternoon, Pope John Paul II shuffled off this mortal coil and went to meet his Maker. His suffering is at an end now.

His papacy was the most remarkable in perhaps the entire 2000 year history of the Catholic church. He broke the mold in so many ways. John Paul II was the third-longest serving pontiff in history. He has been pope for my entire lifetime. John Paul II was also the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. He traveled to more than 120 nations, spreading the word of God from his familiar Popemobile. Not just a great leader of one Christian denomination, he was a great world leader.

Because I'm lazy, on this occasion, I'll partly just regurgitate what I said in a post a while back.

"Although I am not a Catholic, I have immense respect for the man. I consider John Paul II to be one of the truly great leaders of the past century. Remember, it was John Paul II and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa who, more than anyone else, encouraged the people of Poland to resist the Soviets."

For decades, the West and the Soviet Union stood at odds. Because both sides were armed with the most destructive weapons in the history of warfare, both sides reasoned that the Cold War could only end in the destruction of both nations in a nuclear holocaust, a possibility so horrific, the West pragmatically played the game of detante with the Soviets. If you can't beat 'em, at least learn to tolerate them.

The people behind the Iron Curtain were essentially written off by the Western powers. When Hungary had revolted in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Soviets had brutally put down these surges of democratic spirit. As long as the Soviet leadership was willing to use overwhelming brute force to maintain its empire, any democratic revolution in Eastern Europe would amount to nothing.

Karol Wojtyla and Lech Walesa understood that things had changed. The old Stalinist ideologues were gone. The men who ran the Soviet Union and its satellite states were, similar to the rulers of China today, communist in name only. These scared old men wanted to maintain their material comforts and had little appetite for putting down rebellions in other nations in the name of preserving Marxism.

"When it became apparent that the Soviet leadership was no longer willing to use force to keep the nations of Eastern Europe in its despotic grip, the whole house of cards that was the Warsaw Pact quickly fell apart. Forget Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev; it was two Poles who brought down the 'Evil Empire.'"

It is to be ranked as one of the greatest miracles of recent human history that the Cold War ended in a nonviolent democratic revolution from behind the Iron Curtain, from the very people who had been written off by the Great Powers. That it did is largely a testament to the remarkable courage and faith of one Karol Wojtyla. His visit in 1979, in which he called for Poles to "transform this land", sparked the Solidarity movement, which the pontiff subsequently did much to support. As the Polish puppet government found itself unable to quell Solidarity and found the Soviet Union unwilling to get its hands dirty, a reverse domino effect ensued, leading in a few short years to the total collapse of communism in all the Warsaw Pact nations. Humanity owes Karol Wojtyla a debt it can never repay.

I have long been fascinated by the remarkable story of how two Poles brought down a despotic nuclear power. I'll probably write a book about it someday. This will do for a eulogy.

The Road Ahead

"John Paul II also did a lot to help mend relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Judaism, and science. (He apologized for the Catholic Church's intolerance toward Galileo, an apology about 400 years overdue) But on social values issues (like allowing women to be clergy; making celibacy optional; and allowing the use of condoms and other forms of birth control to cut down on the number of abortions worldwide and, also AIDS cases in Africa) the Pope was inflexible. A mixed legacy, indeed, though overall, one any pontiff could be proud of."

Whoever emerges as the Pope's successor will have his work cut out for him. The Catholic church seems (to this non-Catholic, at least) to need major changes. The church's position on birth control, while principled, is responsible for an alarming increase in AIDS deaths in predominately Catholic African nations. The church's refusal to grant women and lay people a greater say in the future of the church is another gathering storm Rome will have to confront, sooner rather than later. The child sexual abuse scandals here in America have highlighted the dangerous shortcomings of the Vatican's culture of secrecy. Scarcely 40 years after Vatican II, it is becoming increasingly evident that a Vatican III is necessary. Any bureaucracy is hard to change, especially one as steeped in tradition as the Catholic church. But change it must if it is to continue to thrive and command the loyalty of more than 1 billion people around the world.

So, now the fun begins. The cardinals are gathering in Rome to select a new pope. The smart money is on the Italians, for the simple reason of every pope but the last one for the past almost 500 years having been Italian. Alternatively, an old pope could be selected to prevent another long-winded pontificate. Germany's Cardinal Ratzinger is 79. How much longer could he live? (Wait. Don't answer that.)

It would be refreshing, however, if the cardinals decided to favor another area of the world this time. Catholicism is a church of many different nationalities. It is a fast-growing faith in Africa and, admit it, it would be nice to see a black guy wearing the papal crown. Almost half of the world's Catholics live in the Americas and Brazil has the largest Catholic population of any nation. A Latin American pope would thus also be a good choice.

Recently, the pope appointed an unidentified person a cardinal. This has been interpreted by some to mean the appointment of a Chinese bishop. The reason for the secrecy is that the Chinese government forces Catholics to pray only in state-supported churches which do not acknowledge the authority of the pope. Personally, I'd like to see a Chinese pope. It would send the same signal to the communists in China as the appointment of the last pope did to the communists in Eastern Europe. What better way to honor Pope John Paul II?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Ipod therfore I am?

By: Ed

Well, I just bought an Ipod. I thought it would be a nice change from my Samsung Yepp (some number) that I havn't used in ages and only held about 40 songs. I was worried at first, and for good reason, becuase most of my audio files were WMA. After assurances from salesmen and friends alike that Itunes converted WMA files though (I never trust JUST the salesmen) I decided to take the plunge.

I bought the 20 GB Ipod (5,000 songs is more than enough) and in eager anticipation ran upstairs to start setting it all up. That was at about 3 in the afternoon. I got to listen to my new mp3 player though only after hours of troubleshooting, wasting several CDWRs, and fits of anger that my 370 dollar (320 without extra warranty) toy was refusing to cooperate. That placed me at about 11 o'clock. Let me explain what happened...

Apparently, what everyone conveniently left out was that protected WMA files are unable to convert, thus my ENTIRE library of music was s.o.l. for Ipod. Windows Media Player apperently protects everything regardless and since EVERYTHING was in WMP I was in a pickle. I found, after some time, a solution online. Burn your whole library to CDWRs, then upload directly to Itunes. It seemed simple enough. Sure, I was po'ed, but if it only took a couple CDWR's and a little more time I could take it. So I thought...

After burning my entire library (quite a few CDs) I put the finished disks into the disk drive. Whats that? You think that solves everything? No no no... Its ok though, because I thought that too at first.

I heard the sound of the drive starting to move, then I heard it reach full speed. Then I heard it slow and stop, but without opening in Itunes. "Thats ok" I said, still optimisticly hoping I hadn't bought a 300 dollar paperweight, "I'll try it again".

*Drive hums*, *Drive gets louder*, *Drive stops*

Now I am upset. I set Itunes as the default media player during installation, but it did nothing. I poured over solutions and troubleshooting guides online and found what might have been the problem. I began burning my library after setting Itunes as my default player. To burn the CD's though, I needed to use WMP to access the files. Apperently, this caused some sort of conflict when new media is introduced because WMP likes to be the default player too.

So, I did a system restore and (just in case) erased and reinstalled Itunes afterward, careful not to go near WMP. Then my CD's went to autoplay in Itunes just fine. But wait, I have forgotten something, WMP doesn't write any fu*king song, band, genre or even album titles to the fu*king cd. So I spent another hour or two listening to the beggining of songs and typing their (hopefully close to real) names.

It is ok though. I am sitting here listening to my Ipod now and it works quite well. All I had to do after converting the library was sync the Ipod, let it format (without any interference from me) and download automatically the Itunes library. The sound is good and it is easy to use. I don't think I need to say though that every new song I get goes directly to Itunes.

So, all in all the Ipod is pretty good, but if you have protected WMA files in WMP I would think long and hard about it because you will spend a whole day converting songs.

One more thing, I am sure Akerman has already figured out some really easy solution that would have taken me about half an hour, but Akerman wasn't online at the time and I wanted to use the Ipod as soon as I got it.