Christianity in Russia

Russian Christians have essentially passed one whopper of a bill:

A bill that stigmatizes Russia’s gay community and bans the distribution of information about homosexuality to children was overwhelmingly approved by the lower house of parliament Tuesday.

More than two dozen protesters were attacked by anti-gay activists and then detained by police, hours before the State Duma approved the Kremlin-backed legislation in a 436-0 vote.

The bill banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” still needs to be passed by the appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither step is in doubt.

This is what happens when Christian ‘morality’ overtakes the thought that is necessary in secular morality – the latter being the morality that has driven the modern world to its most prosperous, most free, and least violent times.

Before the vote, gay rights activists attempted to hold a “kissing rally” outside the State Duma, located across the street from Red Square in central Moscow, but they were attacked by hundreds of Orthodox Christian activists and members of pro-Kremlin youth groups. The mostly burly young men with closely cropped hair pelted them with eggs while shouting obscenities and homophobic slurs.

From time to time I will hear it asked, ‘If you were walking down a dark street alone, would you ever find yourself afraid of an approaching group of strangers if you knew they had just come from a late night Christian meeting?’ Well, here’s the answer to that manipulative, assumption-filled, horseshit argument. I would be petrified if I was a member of whatever minority that group happened to hate based upon their necessarily subjective interpretation of the Bible.

And that’s the real problem here, isn’t it? The unavoidable fact of subjectivity that comes with a text as flimsy as the Bible encourages this sort of inanity. And, really, that’s merely the icing on the cake, for the ultimate ill of the world is the very premise of this sort of ‘thinking’, and of religion as a whole: faith. An effectively random way to believe, faith has only the power to harm, and anything good that relates to it is incidental. It’s like driving without using the steering wheel. Sure, you might end up parked perfectly in your driveway at the end of the day, but there’s no good reason to expect any sort of specific result like that. It’s far more likely that you’ll end up in a ditch or, worse yet, colliding with another driver.

My favorite thing about New START…

…is that of the few people in Russia’s government who are against the treaty, their big complaint is this:

The lower house’s Communists and Liberal Democrats opposed ratification, saying the treaty’s provisions will weaken national security.

“We think this treaty means a strategic defeat for Russia as it in no measure limits the development of the U.S. antiballistic defense,” said Leonid Kalashnikov, a Communist legislator and first deputy head of the International Affairs Committee. “The treaty also doesn’t take into account the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. NATO partners, which leaves us with a 30% inferiority in the number of warheads.”

Both of these issues were picked up by some of our crappier members of Congress (Kyl, McConnell). The difference lies in the fact that they lied about the treaty and said it weakens the U.S. anti-missile defense. Weird, huh? But they do converge with the dissent in Russia when they lament that their country might not have enough nuclear weapons. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure a handful would more than do the trick.

Anyway. I’m glad the Republicans were unable to hold together as their usual stubborn group that prevents anything good from happening.

Two quick things:

First, I find it hilarious that conservatives are still whining about the child nutrition bill that was recently passed. Some jamoke filling in for the odious Glenn Beck said on the radio today that the bill takes control from the hands of parents, apparently countering a debate point that said otherwise. He’s wrong. The bill prevents kids from being able to buy as much crap at school. This empowers good parents who give their children lunch money for the purpose of buying substantial food, not snacks and soda. The only people who are having their control restricted are kids who want to buy junk. And if any crappy parents want to fill their kids with fat, they can buy it themselves. The government is not required to provide shitty food to children. Oh, and the bill also does all these other great things:

• The bill expands eligibility for lunch programs and sets nutrition standards for school meals.

• It is the first increase in school lunch funding since 1973.

• The act will allocate an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to school meal programs, boosting the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by 6 percent. Maine would receive about $1.1 million annually.

• The number of children eligible for those school meals will increase.

• The U.S. Department of Agriculture will use Medicaid data to certify students who meet income requirements, providing 115,000 new children with meals, and census data to determine schoolwide income eligibility.

• The act will allow program providers, such as day-care centers, at-risk after-school programs and emergency shelters, to be reimbursed for providing after-school meals.

• The act will allow the USDA to set nutrition standards for all school meals and require schools to make nutritional information readily available to parents.

Oh, the horror.

Second, it looks like the New START treaty with Russia is going to pass when it comes to a vote.

Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a 67-28 proxy vote to wind up the debate and hold a final tally on Wednesday. They broke ranks with the Senate’s top two Republicans and were poised to give Obama a win on his top foreign policy priority.

“We know when we’ve been beaten,” Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah told reporters hours before the vote.

I’m just glad Obama doesn’t trust Russia as much as the Republicans do.

This one is really a no-brainer. In fact, as anyone who has bothered following this story knows, these treaties routinely get passed without much fuss; everyone recognizes that they are necessary and good. The only reason this one has become an issue is because Republicans either simply don’t want to give Obama any sort of victory or they want to wait until they hold power in the House and are stronger in the Senate so they can pass it and claim at least partial credit. It’s political pettiness run amok.

Just pass it

The GOP is just awful.

President Barack Obama tried to sway reluctant Republican senators on Monday to back a new arms control treaty with Russia as GOP aversion to giving a politically damaged president another victory intruded on his national security agenda.

There it is; that’s all you need to know. The GOP is refusing to pass the sort of thing that always gets passed easily because they want to politically harm the president. This was never about New START or anything important; it’s the height of pettiness.

Kerry bemoaned the politics atypical for arms control treaties.

“When the leader comes to the floor and says that our national security is being driven by politics, we really need to step back for a moment and calm down and think for a moment about what is at stake,” the Massachusetts Democrat said. He later added: “I mean is there no shame ever with respect to the arguments that are made sometimes on the floor of the United States Senate.”

The audacity of Republican ‘leadership’

The U.S. and Russia have long had a deal – dating to the Cold War, in fact – where they have allowed ground inspections of the other nation’s nuclear arsenal. This helps to ensure the other side doesn’t have a secret buildup happening. This deal adds meaningful weight to reduction treaties. It also contributes to security for both sides – but especially the U.S. – because there is more transparency in terms of where nuclear arms are being sent around the world, if anywhere.

But the Party of No doesn’t really give a shit.

One of President Obama’s top foreign-policy goals suffered a potentially ruinous setback when the Senate’s second-ranking Republican said the U.S. nuclear treaty with Russia should not be considered until next year.

The statement Tuesday by Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) stunned the White House and Democrats, who scrambled to save the pact. It came just days after Obama declared that ratifying the treaty was his top foreign-policy priority for the lame-duck session of Congress.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) needs 67 votes to pass. Because of Democratic losses in the midterm elections, it would be harder to approve next year, requiring at least 14 Republican votes rather than nine now.

Kyl is making a political stand designed purely to embarrass the President. His actions serve no purpose – especially since Obama has already done a little backscratching by committing money to modernizing the country’s nuclear complex already, as requested by Kyl. The toolsac just wants to make a political move.

Kyl, of course, is taking his cues from Sen. Mitch McConnell. You know, that’s the guy who said the Republicans Party’s number one goal over the next two year is to kick Obama out of office? Yeah, that guy. For once a Republican wasn’t bullshitting. This is really their whole plan – do whatever it takes to embarrass the President. And then when the economy starts to recover as a result of natural growth plus all the Democratic policies put in place that have strengthened our country, they will take credit for that. I promise that when we start seeing good growth and shrinking unemployment over the next 18-20 months, the Republicans will start taking credit – despite getting nothing done by being the Party of No.

But let’s not bother to inspect Russia’s shoddy nuclear complex. I’m sure no weapons will end up in the wrong hands. What reason do we have to be distrustful of that nation, anyway?