About Wayne A. Schneider

I'm a Liberal, Libertarian, Atheist Humanist. I believe that though the world is a dangerous place, it can be made better if we stop dividing ourselves by how we're different from each other, and reach out to each other through what we have in common. And that is that we are all human beings on this planet. Please remember that.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 20, 2014: It’s Not Just The NFL’s Problem, It’s Everyone’s

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Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stood before a room full of reporters and crapped all over women, children, and victims of domestic violence. I’m sure he didn’t think he was, but that was the upshot of his remarks. [Note: I was going to link to a transcript of his remarks, but the link I had was a stream of consciousness thing with no clear distinctions about who was saying what. I'm sure a more useful one will emerge if, like me, you don't want to watch the video.]

When asked to explain how the reports that his office had the second video with his comments that it hadn’t, Goodell’s replay was, in essence, “We hired Robert Mueller, who is very well respected, to find out the answer to that.” That’s not an answer.

dan graziano, espn. yes, dan. the a.P. Report about the video being sent to your office cites a voicemail and someone confirmed receipt of it. With that in mind, how do you explain that amid the league’s denial they had the video? dan, that is exactly why as i mentioned in my statement, we hired robert mueller, the longest serving director of the fbi to make sure that individual, robert mueller and his staff, they go through and find out as many facts as they possibly can. And report. It is independent. All that information will be something that director mueller will be dealing with.

See what I mean? Let me try to make that look more readable.

Dan Graziano: Dan Graziano, ESPN.
Roger Goodell: Yes, Dan.
DG: The A.P. Report about the video being sent to your office cites a voicemail and someone confirmed receipt of it. With that in mind, how do you explain that amid the league’s denial they had the video?
RG: Dan, that is exactly why, as I mentioned in my statement, we hired Robert Mueller, the longest serving director of the FBI to make sure that individual, Robert Mueller and his staff, they go through and find out as many facts as they possibly can. And report. It is independent. All that information will be something that Director Mueller will be dealing with.

So you asked to see the video, so they sent it to you, and you never watched it because you claim you never knew you had it? The Baltimore Ravens knew about it, according to the New York Daily News. And when they sat down with you, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Rice, and some lawyers, they assumed that you had seen the second video, which shows the actual beating Rice gave his then-fiancee. (The first video, for those not familiar with all the details, showed Rice dragging Miss Palmer’s unconscious body out of the elevator. The second, released after Goodell announced the two-game suspension – the crime happened in April – showed what happened inside the elevator.) But you claim you hadn’t, and went ahead with their recommendation of a two-game suspension. There were calls for your head then, Goodell, and the calls only got louder when the second video was made public, and people realized an NFL player could get in worse trouble for smoking weed than for beating up a woman.

Then we learned that Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson beat his four-year-old son with a switch, leaving wounds severe enough to have the star running back indicted for negligent or reckless injury of a child. An order of protection has been sought against Peterson. Peterson says (and friends confirm) that he was beaten in a similar manner when he was growing up, and he believed it worked. He has said he is seeking professional help to learn how wrong that was to believe. Too bad Sean Hannity never sought professional help after he was beaten by his father, in part because he says he deserved it. He was incredulous that his panel said they thought Hannity’s father should have been arrested by today’s standards saying, “I was not mentally bruised because my father hit me with a belt.” Actually, Sean, there’s a lot of people, not just Liberals, but professional types, who would strongly disagree with that statement. Unless you’re just saying that your mental bruising (which clearly happened at some point, and likely explains much of your conservatism) was not due solely to the beatings you got from your father.

If there is any good that can come from all these stories, it’s in raising the awareness that we need to talk more about domestic violence, and about violence against women everywhere around the world. We need to educate people that just because something has been going on for years doesn’t mean it should be accepted by society, or that it ever should have been. Do you remember when Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) rose on the floor of the House and told his own personal stories of the abuse he and his family suffered at the hands of their father, sometimes publicly? He told those stories to encourage his colleagues to support the creation of a National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Did you know that was more than twenty years ago? What have we learned since? Other than that it still happens? Adrian Peterson was eight years old when Dan Burton told the world about how his father would beat him for having to use the bathroom at night, then beat him for not being able to with his father standing over him. Did Peterson’s father hear about the media coverage of the shocking stories of Life in rural Indiana? Would it have stopped him from raising a son who would do the same thing to his own children, and to others people’s, if he did hear it? We may never know. What we do know is that Peterson has a problem with raising children, and someone’s going to have to tell him how to do it. And we also know Sean Hannity grew up to be a bully.

This is our daily open thread. You know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 13, 2014: This Week in Conservative Christian Crazy Talk

In a recent blog post filled with straw men and false equivalencies, Francis Cardinal George (not his name at birth) made the common Conservative Christian mistake of equating laws that require to you to let people who don’t practice your faith to do things of which your faith disapproves with you not being allowed to freely practice your religion. The two have nothing to do with each other. After starting out with a story that seemed to treat religious belief as historical fact, George went on to claim that the government had tried to take on the role of religion.

There was always a quasi-religious element in the public creed of the country. It lived off the myth of human progress, which had little place for dependence on divine providence. It tended to exploit the religiosity of the ordinary people by using religious language to co-opt them into the purposes of the ruling class. Forms of anti-Catholicism were part of its social DNA. It had encouraged its citizens to think of themselves as the creators of world history and the managers of nature, so that no source of truth outside of themselves needed to be consulted to check their collective purposes and desires. But it had never explicitly taken upon itself the mantle of a religion and officially told its citizens what they must personally think or what “values” they must personalize in order to deserve to be part of the country. Until recent years.

Actually that’s not correct. The laws we pass are supposed to reflect the mores of our Society. (Note, I did say “supposed to.” Clearly we never agreed to let corporations who make billions of dollars in profits pay no federal taxes to the government who made their success possible.) When a government passes laws that say things like “You can’t kill anyone except in self-defense,” or “You can’t take things that don’t belong to you,” we are saying what values you should have. And that’s the way it’s always been. Just because a law is passed that permits people to do things your religion wouldn’t permit you to do does not mean we are making your religion illegal. Nor does it mean we are forcing you to do anything other than live and let live. I often hear religious conservatives complain when the government decides you have permission to do something, that the government is requiring you to do that something. And that’s completely and totally wrong. And it shows in their misguided belief that because the government is letting you worship whichever god you choose to worship, that you must choose a god to worship. They seem to forget that ti also means we are free to NOT worship any god, if we so choose. This is because they have the erroneous belief that in order to have a moral center, you must have a belief in God. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I lack a moral code by which to live. My personal motto (and i didn’t invent it) is to treat other people the way I would want them to treat me. (Sound familiar?) I don’t need some trumped up fear of hell fire and damnation to know that this is the right thing to do.

But George’s real problem seems to be about sex, and why should that surprise anyone? After all, a man who took a vow of celibacy for his own personal religious reasons (one of which includes belonging to an organization with a history of covering up sexual child abuse by a small percentage of its members) is the perfect person to be standing in judgment of the sex lives of others.

In recent years, society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered “sinful.” Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The “ruling class,” those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone. We are told that, even in marriage itself, there is no difference between men and women, although nature and our very bodies clearly evidence that men and women are not interchangeable at will in forming a family. Nevertheless, those who do not conform to the official religion, we are warned, place their citizenship in danger.

I call straw man! It is not true that legislative approval has been brought “to all types of sexual relationships.” Only one, and that’s same-sex marriage. Just because ignorant buffoons have equated homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia does not mean he has a valid point. Those people have no idea what they’re talking about, and their viewpoints should not be treated as perfectly valid. Of course they have the right to hold those views, and the rest of us have the right to hold people with those views in contempt. And, FTR, we tried the “live and let live” approach to the rights of the LGBT community and it didn’t work out so great for them. It was mainly in the “let live” part where Society failed, and as a result we decided to tell people what values to personalize, in this case, the value being to “Love one another.” Being gay is not a choice, so it’s not true that gay people are willfully being immoral by being gay. The whole “Hate the sin, love the sinner” attitude doesn’t work if you believe gay people are just doing it on purpose because they lack morals and, therefore, shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else. Because you’re still hating the sinner.

He goes on to lament that when a recent SCOTUS ruling went “against the State religion” (again, a false premise, which makes the rest of his argument meaningless), it brought on a crisis of belief for many Catholics, apparently because the Huffington Post raised “concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen.” (I tried to find the specific article that said this, but he only gave a date and not a title.) Actually I can answer that one. In the United States of America, an officially secular nation, your responsibility is to be a good citizen before being a good Catholic. If you want to live some place where being a good Catholic is your first duty, then move to The Vatican. I hear they’re big on Catholicism there. But the First Amendment not only allows you the freedom to practice the religion of your choice, it also disallows the government from interfering with that right so long as your religious exercise does not interfere with the religious freedom of others. That’s the part Conservative Christians don’t seem to get, especially the ones who call for our laws being based on the Bible. You see, there are many, many different versions of the Bible, and they are not all translated the same way. Nor are they interpreted the same way. So my first question to anyone who thinks our laws should be based on “the Bible,” is “Which Bible?” The second question would be, “Why that one and no other?” And, of course, my third and fourth questions would be, “Why would a secular nation want to do something that?” and “How is that any different than deciding to base our laws on the Q’uran?”

[NOTE: This post, like many of the ones I post at The Zoo, will be cross-posted at my blog, but I'll have more to say over there. Feel free to drop on by It should be finished by later this afternoon.]

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Conservative Christians, Catholicism in a secular society, mental illness in an overly religious society, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 6, 2014: This Week In Paranoia: Kill Whitey, Big Sodomy, and A Criminal Organization By Any Other Name

Courtesy of our good friends at Right Wing Watch, we learned of several conspiracy theories floating around in the toilets known as the minds of right wing lunatics, some of whom you’ve heard of before. We’ve got the president planning to kill all the white people so he can declare martial law (which would seem silly since he could declare martial law first and save the taxpayers’ money on bullets.) We’ve got citizen border patrols sneaking upon and nearly apprehending scientists studying bats. We’ve got Teh Gays coming for your kids, as always. (Why is it always the kids Teh Gays want? Why aren’t they after your husbands and boyfriends, which is far more likely?) We’ve got the President secretly flying from Hawaii back to Washington to attend Christmas services at a mosque, then back to his family in Hawaii again without anybody noticing. And we’ve got a right wing cacophony of cries of secret messages and support for terrorists because the President chose to use a more accurate acronym for the bad guys. Nothing more than that. He just decided to use an ‘L’ instead of an ‘S’, and now you and I are going to die.

Professional Misanthrope Michael “Savage” Weiner wants you to buy his book (which I highly advise against) so you’ll understand Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 23, 2014: This Week In Crazy – Race Wars, Gay Recruitment, and Ebola

Courtesy of Right Wing Watch we learn that your precious tax dollars are paying the salaries of certifiably insane Congress Critters Hell bent on scaring the crap out of anybody within earshot, that some of those children from Central American countries in turmoil really may have come from Venezuela to be trained as warriors because, you know, the Revolutionary War, and that President Obama is simultaneously starting a race war and turning children gay. Oh, and those Central American kids have Ebola. Must’ve gone to Western Africa before heading back to Venezuela for their warrior training. And that’s just this week.

If it were just people like Tamara Scott, an Iowa state-level Republican official and conservative activist, I’d say it was a cry for attention. Scott thinks among the tens of thousands of migrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are warrior children, trained in Venezuela by Hezbollah, or Hamas, maybe both, who knows? After all, there were 12-year-olds fighting in our American Revolution. Except, of course, that was before there was such a thing as the modern childhood, an early 20th-century invention. Before that, once kids were old enough (four, five, maybe six years old), they started working for the family. Or they went to live with someone else and learn a trade. But they were put to work, maybe in the fields picking food, maybe on farms feeding livestock. There was no public education system, where kids were sent to learn to read and write and, most importantly though conservatives ignore it, to socialize, to learn to get along with other people. So it should surprise no one that there were 12-year-old children fighting in the Revolutionary War. What does that have to do with today? It’s hard for me to believe that someone who isn’t paranoid would believe this “chain of logic.” She may want attention, but what she needs is help.

If it were just people like Larry Klayman, a misanthrope who thinks the President and Attorney General of the United States are both trying to start a race war and to bring reparations to black people, I’d say someone was off his meds again. Klayman, like many voices we hear on the Conservative fringes of Society, has a problem with facts. His problem seems to be a severe allergy to them, to the point where he just doesn’t use them to make a point. In a WorldNutDaily column (from which I’ll quote but to which I won’t link), he wrote:

First, it has become clear that Obama’s economic policies and eventual legislation, such as the disastrous Obamacare, have been designed to favor blacks over whites, and to in effect have whitey pay reparations to blacks for the insidious years of racial discrimination. Obama’s intention is to melt down the gold in America and redistribute it to his people.

Second, Obama ignores racially motivated crimes against whites, some of which is manifest in the rising anti-Semitism and anti-Christian bigotry here and worldwide. It is an undisputed fact that hate crimes against Jews far exceed those against blacks.

I’m disputing that. I base that on the summaries of the last two annual FBI Hate Crimes Reports. In 2011, racial motivations were behind 46.9% of all hate crimes, while religious bias was behind only 19.8%. Lest you think this might have changed significantly the next year, in 2012 racial motivation accounted for 48.3% while religious bias only 19%. And while these are overall numbers addressing race and religious persuasion in general, it’s hard to believe if you dug down deep within those numbers, that “hate crimes against Jews far exceed those against blacks.” But that would have to mean that virtually all hate crimes of religious bias were against Jews, and only a small proportion of racially motivated hate crimes were against blacks for Klayman’s statement to be remotely true.

If it was just the Tea Party of Louisiana calling for repeal of Common Core because it turns students gay, I’d say it was bigots and homophobes at work again. Don’t think they believe their claim wasn’t baseless. They had proof. They had a link to “Broken World News“, a parody website whose About page features the warning, “Disclaimer: If you believe any of the shit you read here you are a freaking moron.” Spokesman Bob Reid that he was trying to “bring attention of the Common Core issue to those who maybe aren’t paying attention,” which I guess includes not paying attention to the links he was providing. I suppose I could give the Tea Party of Louisiana the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren’t bigots and homophobes, just freaking morons.

And if it was just Republicans in Congress, such as Phil Gingrey, Michele Bachmann, and Todd Rokita, claiming that the children fleeing violence in Central America were carrying the Ebola virus with them, I’d chalk it up to simple medical ignorance, even on the part of the one Georgia certified to be a medical doctor. (Hint: His name rhymes with Still Dinghy.) If they bothered to listen to the Centers For Disease Control (whose work they pay for through their taxes), they’d know that the only known location where people contracted Ebola has been Africa. And if they listen to Immigration and Naturalization Service, they’d know that none of these children have tested positive for Ebola. Not one single child. And that’s a problem.

The problem is it isn’t just these people, it’s a whole bunch of low-intellect, low-information people who listen to and believe them. And then those people start complaining their government is trying to start a race war, turns kids gay, and infect the country with Ebola. And then they go out in November and vote for the politicians who tell them all of that is true. Frankly, I’m surprised our Democracy has lasted as long as it has.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss race wars, gay recruitment, Ebola, or anything else that strikes your fancy and gets your conspiratorial nut going.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 16, 2014: Alabama and the Ten Commandments – Again

Tim Guffey, a commissioner in Jackson County, Alabama, who can best be remembered from me mentioning his name three seconds ago, has proposed doing what got current Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore removed from his office about a decade ago. For reasons defying both logic and common sense, Alabamans not only let the highest judicial officer in their state be elected by the people, they proved this was a bad idea by re-electing Roy Moore as their Chief Justice. Roy Moore got himself in trouble when he installed a monument to the religious aspects of the Ten Commandments on the public property housing the court house and refused to remove it when a federal judge ordered him to do so. Now a county commissioner wants to do the same thing, except he claims the Ten Commandments are a “historical document” and that without them, there would have been no Declaration of Independence or U.S. Constitution (the real historical documents beside which he wants to place the religious one.) Here’s the primary flaw in that argument: There’s absolutely no historical evidence that the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments is remotely true. So it can’t be an historical document.

What evidence exists, outside the religious texts within which they were included, that the events described about Moses and how he came to be in possession of these tablets are true? None! It’s just a story. If you want to believe it literally happened that way, do you also believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and survived inside it for three days only to be spit out onto dry land to live and complain some more? Of course, you have to start with a belief in a god to believe such a story could possibly be true (apart from the lines God had in the story), just as you would have to have a belief in a god to believe that Moses watched the Finger of God write the Ten Commandments into stone slabs on the mountain wall, or however it happened in Cecile B. DeMille’s movies the Bible. Which means it’s impossible to think of the Ten Commandments in something other than a religious context. Speaking seriously (I know my readers), have you actually read the Ten Commandments? Do you know what the very first one roughly translated into English (how convenient) reads? “I am the Lord thy God. Thou shall have no other gods before me.” Would you seriously argue that whatever else it says, it can have anything other than a religious context?

And while it may have influenced some of our nation’s Founders (BTW, Snopes does a great job of destroying some Conservative Christian beliefs as the myths they are about quotes from the Founding Fathers, and of our government buildings. Oh, and John Adams did say, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.”), that does not justify giving it such a place of prominence on the public property of the citizens of a secular nation, which we are. Benjamin Franklin was well-known for being a womanizer, which was used to great advantage in gaining support for our nation in its early history. Should we be putting monuments to his libido on public property? Of course not. It doesn’t matter what influenced these men personally, because it wouldn’t work for everybody. And when as a public servant you try to claim that a religious story should be treated equally with historical fact by the taxpayers, you cross a serious line against which Thomas Jefferson, one of your heroes, warned should never be done. Religious fundamentalism, whether it’s in the Middle East or Jackson County, Alabama, is never a good thing for a people who value freedom.

This is our daily open thread. Discuss whatever you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 9, 2014: It Was Forty Years Ago Today

It was forty years ago today, August 9, 1974, that President Richard M. Nixon bid farewell to his staff. At noon that day, Vice President Gerald R. Ford, appointed to the Vice Presidency upon Spiro Agnew’s resignation over corruption and tax evasion activities (they weren’t just allegations; he took a bribe in his VP office from a Maryland contractor) took the oath of office to become our nation’s first un-elected president (the next being George W. Bush). Fun Fact: Dick Cavett noted that the letters in Spiro Agnew’s name can be rearranged to spell “Grow A Penis”.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Richard Nixon, other people named Milhous, un-elected office holders, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 2, 2014: Lazy Day

I admit it. I got nothing. I’m so worn out from fighting the powerful forces of the right wing who want to promote selfishness as a virtue to protect their ill-gotten gains, that I just want to relax and be lazy today. Have fun.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss laziness, the days of the week, powerful forces of the right wing who want to promote selfishness as a virtue to protect their ill-gotten gains, or any other topic you wish. I’m going back to bed.