The Watering hole, Saturday, February 13, 2016: We Need Less of Moore’s Ilk – UPDATED

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is at it again. It seems no matter how hard he tries, which appears to be not very, Moore can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and its rulings take precedence over any state or local law. Despite having lost his job once before in 2003 for refusing to follow the orders of the SCOTUS when they ruled he must remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from state property, Moore may be about to lose his job again, and for the same reason – failing to obey a SCOTUS ruling because it contradicted his personal religious beliefs. Moore claims the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is confusing because it says that not only must Alabama let gay people marry, but it has to recognize lawful same-sex marriages in other states. This violates the Chief Justice’s personal religious beliefs and he believes that is reason enough to order all Alabama probate judges in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. He is wrong, of course, and in violation of his oath of office. Again. Like every public official in this country, elected or appointed, Moore took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath does not allow for exceptions where you feel your religious beliefs are being ignored, or because you feel that state law takes precedence over federal law. In fact, on the latter point the Constitution is quite clear. “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” Chief Justice Roy Moore does not believe this means SCOTUS rulings take precedence over Alabama State Law. How he ever got through law school and was allowed to practice law and even become a judge with this belief is beyond comprehension. What in that clause would make anyone think a state’s constitution or laws would be superior to the federal Constitution? How can any sane, intelligent person make that argument? The answer is they can’t, which means any person making such an argumetn is not sane and intelligent. Especially when they say their religious beliefs are superior to any court rulings. Part of the problem here is that Alabama elects their state’s highest judges rather than appoint them and make them go through a confirmation process conducted by people who at least have more of an understanding of the law than the average voter. (In my home state of New York, our state’s highest court judges are appointed by the governor and confirmed by our State Senate.) Your average voter is completely ignorant about how the law and the constitution work, so putting the choice of who should be deciding how their laws are interpreted in the hands of people who are completely unqualified to make that determination is ridiculous. Too many people wrongly believe this nation is officially Christian and should abide by Christian law, which seems to be based entirely on Jewish Law given how often they quote the Old Testament. This is the kind of person Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is: a conservative evangelical with the warped belief that Christianity is the law of this land, the First Amendment to the contrary notwithstanding. He needs to be impeached, convicted, removed from office and barred from ever holding public office again. So does Associate Justice of the United States Antonin Scalia.

Justice Antonin Scalia is also at it again. What he’s at is demonstrating his complete and utter disqualification to be interpreting our nation’s constitution. In a recent speech to a Catholic high school class, Scalia made the claim that “there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the government from legislating, establishing, or favoring religion over non-religion.” He thinks it’s possible, but he seems unsure, that the Constitution may prohibit the government from favoring one religion over another, but it can certainly favor religion over non-religion. I don’t make any claim to be an expert in the law or the Constitution, but that claim strikes me as being, in legal parlance, “bullshit.” Even before the third amendment sent to the states became the first one ratified (there were twelve amendments sent to the states; the first never passed and the second eventually became the 27th Amendment, and the other ten became the Bill of Rights), there existed a clause barring religion from playing a part in our government. Article VI clearly states “…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” How then, can one argue, should our laws should be based on the Bible if it’s unconstitutional to require anyone to prove they believe the Bible to be something that should be the basis of our laws? I certainly don’t think it should be. Have you actually read it? It’s horrifying! It’s a form of child abuse to teach children it’s the truth. The same for any deity-based religious text. Prove to me that gods exist before you start telling me I have to do what you claim they say. But you can’t presuppose the existence of gods and claim that as your proof. Nor can you claim that only something like a god can produce everything we see around us, because that would be the same thing. First prove gods exist, then prove they made everything around us. Not the other way around. Don’t say only a god could produce everything around us, so that proves they must exist. Scientists have been debunking that for centuries. Nor can you make the extraordinary claim that gods exist but that it’s up to me to prove you wrong, so in the meantime I have to follow your god’s laws. There are so many flaws in the belief that gods exist, let alone that one or more of them created everything, that it simply defies logic to believe it’s true. And please, don’t tell me my disbelief is because I lack faith. Faith is the rejection of facts, evidence, and experience in favor of believing what one wishes to be true. To say something is true simply because you have faith that it is true is to literally reject logic and reason and say it’s true because you say so. Well, that’s not good enough for me. If you’re going to tell me I have to follow the laws laid down in your deity-based religious text, then I require proof that the deity on which your religious text is based actually exists and will do me harm if I don’t follow those laws. Is that really too much to ask? It’s not enough for you to tell me what your religious texts say will happen, because you still haven’t proven to me that your religious texts are based on anything real. In recent years, the Church of Scientology has been exposed as a giant scam. Nobody seriously believes our bodies were invaded by extraterrestrial beings from a planet billions of miles away. I mean, the entire story line is ridiculous, and I think most people would agree. So why are deity-based creation stories any more credible? Because you say they are? Can you imagine what would happen if someone tried to make Scientology the official religion is the United States and forced everyone to practice it? Well that is exactly what the founders of the United States, under the US Constitution, feared. Did you know that before the United States came along, every nation had an official religion? The USA was the first one to say, “We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to say one religion is better than any other. And we’re not going to say you have to practice one particular religion, or that you can’t practice certain other religions. We’re not going get into any of that at all. You are free to practice whichever religion you wish, or even no religion at all.” And that’s the part Conservative Christians like Associate Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Moore get wrong.

Nobody can be required by law to do anything just because a religion requires it of its adherents. There may be perfectly valid non-religious reasons to lass a law banning something, and those have to be the ones cited as justification. The one thing you’ll find in common with such valid laws is that they follow a principle common to many religions but also to non-religious philosophies alike. And it’s a principle most atheists you’ll ever meet follow: Treat other people the way you would want them to treat you. You don’t want someone to be able to murder you? Then make it a crime to murder someone. You don’t want someone to be able to steal your stuff, then make it a crime to take other people’s possessions. This has nothing to do with religion, or what reward or punishment (if any) one might have to endure after one dies, it’s simply the right thing to do. I am amazed at how many people distrust atheists. In fact, there are seven states where atheists are barred by law from holding public office. Those laws are unconstitutional, of course, and must eventually be struck down even if they’re never enforced. For reasons surpassing logic, people seem to believe that it’s impossible to have a moral code without a belief in God. This is nonsense. If the only thing that makes you do the morally right thing is the belief that you’ll be rewarded or punished after you’re dead, then you really don’t want to do the morally right thing, do you? I don’t believe in an afterlife, or a reward for good people or a punishment for bad ones. I try to treat other people the way I would like them to treat me because it’s the right thing to do. I’m 100% positive that it won’t make any difference to me one way or the other what happens to me after I’m dead because I won’t be around to experience it. And if you want to wave your religious books in my face and tell me I’ll suffer eternal damnation for not believing what you do, understand that the only thing preventing me from taking your religious book out of your hand and smashing you in the face with it is my morals, the ones you say I can’t possibly have because I lack a belief in God.

UPDATE: Associate justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at his ranch in Texas. http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/us-world/article/Senior-Associate-Justice-Antonin-Scalia-found-6828930.php?

I will not celebrate the death of any man, but I will not weep for this one.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to make fun of religious nutjobs like Moore and Scalia, or discuss anything else you wish..

The Watering Hole; Friday February 12 2016; Fear The Bern!!

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity;
and I’m not sure about the universe.”
(Albert Einstein)

Apparently Iowa and New Hampshire have substantially elevated Bernie Sanders’ candidacy in the eyes of a bunch of those vocal right wing nutcases. Not sure what it is that fuels the typical wingnut loudmouth, whether it’s irrational fear or ordinary stupidity. Maybe some of each? That would explain a lot.

Anyway, here are a small handful of recent vocal nonsensicals which make a pretty solid case for the three (wingnut-only) levels of dumb, dumber, or dumbest ever. You choose!

Alex Jones: Bernie Sanders ‘Is The Final Plague’ Upon America

Alex Jones once again lit into Bernie Sanders and his supporters, this time warning that the Vermont senator represents “the final plague” that will bring down America. . . .

“You won’t learn from history. You won’t learn from the nightmare of socialism and collectivism and communism when it puts all these nobodies on top of you who revel in black uniforms and checkpoints and making your wife have sex with them so you can have a job.”

‘First They Came For The Rich’: Michael Savage Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Start Killing Americans (as Savage borrows an idea or two from Martin Niemöller):

. . . conservative talk radio host Michael Savage voiced his rage over . . . the growing popularity of Bernie Sanders.

“First they came for the rich, but you were not rich and you did not stand up for the rich; then they came for the middle class, but you didn’t stand up for the middle class because you were not even of the middle class; and then when they started to come up for the poor there was no one else to stand up for you because everyone else was taken out.”

That wasn’t quite enough for Michael the Wiener, so he added this:

Michael Savage: Bernie Sanders’ Wife ‘Looks Like Stalin’s Housekeeper’

“When I saw the beautiful Trump family on the stage last night, I said, ‘America is back again.’ I said, ‘Camelot is back again.’ I said, ‘My God, wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a first lady like Mrs. Trump? Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a first family like the Trump family?’

“Can you imagine what this county would look like if Bernie Sanders became president? His wife looks like Stalin’s housekeeper. And if you want an America with a first lady that walks around looking like Stalin’s housekeeper, well my friends, vote for Bernie Sanders.”

I don’t know what Stalin’s housekeeper looked like, but I seriously doubt she was anywhere near as cool as Jane O’Meara Sanders! Bernie’s got MY vote for sure!!

Louie Gohmert: We Got Sanders Because We Let ‘Hippies From The ’60s’ Become Teachers

“. . . we let some of the hippies from the ‘60s who created such chaos then start teaching the teachers, and teaching them how great socialism is and just rewriting history and keeping them from realizing socialism has never worked, it will never work in this world, in this life, because if you’re going to pay everybody the same thing then they’re going to quit working.”

And here’s Glenn Beck’s prediction of the ultimate consequence for all of us if someone like Sanders should be the voter’s choice instead of God Cruz:

Glenn Beck Says Only Ted Cruz Can Save America From Revolution

“. . . the election of a ‘socialist’ like Bernie Sanders . . . will inevitably result in revolution engulfing America.

“You don’t have to believe me. I’d ask you to read history, I’d ask you to do your own homework. I tell you these things and I usually tell you these things with most of the audience and definitely all of the educated class making fun of me. I’ve done this a million times; I’m right probably 80 percent of the time on these big things where I stand on them, maybe a higher percentage. I know, because I read history.”

Glenn Beck notes that he’s right probably 80 percent of the time on these big things. Who knew?? Guess I’ve  only watched him or read him that other 20% of the time when he’s always wrong. Oh well. Live and learn.

In fairness to idiot loudmouths everywhere, though, I feel duty bound to toss them the Biblical bone verse that perfectly describes the ultimate consequence of such brashly stupid behavior.

He that digeth a pit shall fall into it.
(Ecclesiastes 10:8)

Actually nah, go ahead, proceed, ignore that pit fluff. Finish your pit and then jump in. Improve the quality of the world up top — Bernie’s world!

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday Februaury 11 2016; Nut after Nut after Nut . . .

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be;
and that which is done is that which shall be done: and
there is no new thing under the sun.
(Solomon in Ecclesiastes, King James version)

No new thing under the sun indeed. Below, five Nuts ‘speak their mind’ as absolute proof of Solomon’s ancient premise, and as proof of yet another (presumed?) Biblical premise, duly highlighted.

Sandy Rios: Beyoncé Ushering In The Antichrist With Her ‘Black Racism’ And ‘Lawlessness’

“It’s just in-your-face black racism. And also cop hatred.”

“Of course, if we undermine the law and order of our country, we will, and probably are, descending into lawlessness, and those of us that understand scripture know that that is a sign of the Last Days. The Man of Lawlessness will reign. Lawlessness, the breakdown in respect and honor. And so Beyoncé, who could be such an example to women everywhere, and I don’t care black or white, conducting herself with dignity with all that God has given her, her beauty and her natural talents, instead twisting it into something that is very ugly and very profane.”

Alex Jones: Liberals Love It When ‘Jihadis’ Rape And Murder Women

“The left teaches in schools self-loathing, self-hating, where your identity is hating yourself, so when someone rapes or stabs a woman, it is a beautiful thing because it is a German or it’s a French woman being stabbed, she deserves this.”

Liberals “smile” at the crimes committed by “jihadis,” he said, because they have a “mental illness” and “hate Jesus.”

Pat Robertson: Obama Destroying America As We Near The End Times

“He is dangerous, he is really dangerous,” Robertson said of Obama. “But whether or not he can destroy this country in the next few months that he’s got ahead of him — his people will saddle us with so many regulations. We’re looking at a serious, serious economic collapse with no driver, no country strong enough to take on the burdens of the world unless the United States mans up and does it.

“God Almighty is on the throne. His purposes will stand, regardless of the Iranians, regardless of the Sunnis and the Shias, regardless of the Soviets, regardless of who wants to hurt who, God is going to have His way and it will come to pass as the Bible says it will.”

Michele Bachmann Says Progressive Taxation Causes People To Violate The Ten Commandments

Bachmann warned that a progressive income tax is unbliblical because it encourages the government to tax the rich to benefit the poor, which makes people covet their neighbor’s possessions in violation of the Tenth Commandment.

“Just look at any campaign commercial on TV,” Bachmann said. “It’s appealing to the lower interests of man and it appeals to the American people to violate the Tenth Commandment. We are told, don’t covet; in other words, don’t be jealous and don’t want what your neighbor has. Your neighbor had to work for what he has and don’t be jealous of your neighbor, get out and work yourself. Instead, politicians say, ‘Oh no, no, your neighbor is rich because he stole it from you.’ That’s not true, it’s a lie, and so does anyone benefit from that thinking? Absolutely not. The Bible is exactly right.

And for good measure, one more that should top things off:

Heidi Cruz: Ted Running To ‘Show This Country The Face Of The God That We Serve’

[According to Heidi Cruz] “this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country” and people need to be reminded that “Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution.

“When I thought about doing it for our country, it became very clear to me that our family must be in this race. And it also became clear to me that we are at a cultural crossroads in our country and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.

“And I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion.”

Whew. There. That should be enough to set the world on fire. No worries, though, because Michele Bachmann absolutely nailed it when she pointed out that The Bible is exactly right,  esp. when it shouts out universal truths for all to hear, such as

“And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon;
as it is written”
(John 12:14)

Oops. Errr, sheesh. How the hell did THAT happen! So sorry! Here, THIS is the one I meant to use — to highlight the concept of Bachmann’s Biblical inerrancy thesis:

“. . . the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice
forbad the madness of the prophet.”
(II Peter 2:16)

There, that’s better. A quotable line from ‘Two Peter.’ The perfect summation of Wingnuttistanian . . . ummm . . . Principles?? OK. Sure. Why not. Good word.  Also solid proof that

The Bible is exactly right.

Sigh.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole: 2/10/16: Daylight Slavings Time

In a disparate bid to stay relevant, GOP hopeful and Goodyear Blimp wannabe Governor Chris Christie announced a plan to change time. Not 1985 DeLorean change time, but a way his State will change the way time is measured.

Beginning with the onset of Daylight Savings Time, New Jersey will switch to a 10-hour day. That is, each 24 hour day will be divided into ten one-hour units. Each hour will consist of 100 minutes, and each minute will have 100 seconds.

“It’s a much easier way to keep track of time” the governor said, noting that with the ten-hour day, no one would have to count to twelve, or divide by sixty. “I mean, think about it. A quarter of a dollar equals 25 cents, but a quarter of an hour only equals 15 minutes? That’s nuts.”

The governor went on to explain that the change in measuring time will in no way affect the American worker. “An 8 hour day will still be an 8 hour day. And workers will still be entitled to overtime after 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.”

When front-runner Donald Trump heard of Christie’s plan, he immediately jumped on the bandwagon, vowing to make weeks only 5 days long.

OPEN THREAD.

Have at it.

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 9, 2016 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Environmental statements of the presumptive nominees (my presumption at this point in electoral time).

 

Marco Rubio – The Privatizer

http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Marco_Rubio_Environment.htm

 

Hilary Clinton – The Big Government works ‘if we just tweak it’ candidate

http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Hillary_Clinton_Environment.htm

 

 

Discuss…

 

Plus any tidbits you get from the NH primary.

 

Art credit: The best I could do is refer you to this gamer’s/developer’s site:

indieb.com 

 

 

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 8, 2016: Trump the Lawless

Over the weekend, Donald J. Trump, the billionaire racist real estate developer son of a millionaire racist real estate developer, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he would bring back waterboarding (and “worse” techniques). When it was explained to the authoritarian favorite that waterboarding and many other forms of torture are illegal under both US and international law and treaty, Trump demonstrated his complete lack of comprehension of the law, how it works, how national security works, and why subjects are classified at all, by saying he would bring it back by “declassifying” it.

Sorry, Donald, but whether or not the use of waterboarding is classified has nothing whatsoever to do with its legality. In fact, classifying its use would violate several additional laws besides the ones barring its use in the first place. It is illegal to classify something just to keep it hidden from the public, or because it was illegal at the time. For those who never served or never learned the distinction, information is classified (or not) based on the damage its disclosure would do to national security. Nothing more. If it could cause some identifiable damage to national security (not national reputation), some minor information that could give a potential enemy information they could use to their advantage over ours, it would be given the level “Confidential.” The exact number of troops in a unit would be classified Confidential, since it could help an enemy to know the exact number of persons they’d be facing. Information whose disclosure could cause serious damage to our national security would be classified Secret. Mission logs in a communication unit that does presidential support missions would be classified Secret. (I’ve written some.) But information whose release could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security is classified Top Secret. Obvious things like nuclear launch codes would be classified Top Secret. And there are levels of Top Secret requiring even higher levels of clearance to obtain. Sometimes they fall into the category of Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (SCI). A good example would be safes that have two combination dials where nobody is allowed to know both combinations. (It’s called the Two Man Integrity System.) You could be cleared for that level of classified info, but it doesn’t mean they have to grant you access to it. I don’t think many in the civilian world understand that in order to have access to classified information, you require three things. First, you must have proper identification or be personally known to the person revealing you the information. Second, you must have the proper level of security clearance for that information. This can be waived by the Commander-in-Chief or a command level officer, but not by lower ranking personnel who might have to handle it as part of their everyday duties. The third and most important thing you must have is a need to know. I happened to have held a very high level security clearance, but that didn’t mean I had the authority to just open up the safes and read classified reports, even for things well below my clearance level. I didn’t have any need to know the classified information, so I would never have been given access to it. This is often overlooked in many lesser-quality TV shows or movies, and people are told things they shouldn’t know because they don’t need to know it. So nobody could say they sat and read a bunch of classified reports and learned stuff because they would have had to demonstrate a need to know the information they sought. When something is classified, it has to be because its unauthorized disclosure would damage national security. And despite the idea I personally believe some Bush Administration officials may have harbored, our national reputation is not part of our national security. You can’t classify something just because it would make America look bad. So if waterboarding were being used, that fact alone could not be considered classified. By Trump saying he would “declassify” its use, he shows he has no understanding of how and why information is classified.

“You can say what you want. I have no doubt that it does work in terms of information and other things — and maybe not always but nothing works always. But I have no doubt that it works,” he insisted.

Then there’s the matter of whether or not one believes “it works.” Whether or not one believes it, the fact is it does not “work.” It never has. (And, please, if you have to twist and manipulate the facts around one small piece of information which may or may not have been learned as a result of torture, it still wouldn’t prove it “works” or was justified.) It does not generate usable or reliable information because a person being tortured will say anything to get the torture to stop. Wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you tell them anything you think they might want to hear, even if you made it up entirely, if you thought it would make the torture stop? Don’t lie. And waterboarding is torture, you can ask Sean Hannity. Oh, wait. He’s never fulfilled his promise to be waterboarded for charity, so he wouldn’t know. I’ve never been waterboarded, either, but I never offered to be. I believe the people who have undergone it and said it was torture, including conservatives. What you see happening on TV and in the movies, where torturing someone gains useful intelligence, is bullshit. Torture is done as a show of power and domination over a prisoner. I’m assuming it’s a prisoner that’s being tortured, because if it isn’t there are far more serious problems being neglected here. And once you start torturing someone, they’ll say whatever they think you want to hear, whether or not it’s the truth, as long as they think it will make you stop torturing him. This is reality, and to deny it and claim torture does “work” is to reveal a level of mental illness usually reserved to the people being chased by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. These are sick people we’re dealing with here, and when you combine that with the overwhelmingly authoritarian streak Trump and his supporters have, waterboarding will be the least of your problems. Torture is illegal for a reason. And it makes no difference what handpicked lawyers in your administration say, it is still illegal. If you cannot wrap your already-wrapped-with-something head around that idea, you are completely and totally unfit to occupy the office of President of the United States. Or even Senior Domestic Policy Adviser.

“When they’re chopping off the heads of people — and innocent people in most cases — beyond waterboarding is fine with me.”

One more time for those who have trouble with polysyllabic (big) words: You can’t do it. It would break the law. You would go to jail and pay a yuge fine. Does that make it clear? We signed international treaties where we agreed that Torture was never, under any circumstances, justifiable. Never. It makes no difference whatsoever what criminals do, it does not justify stooping to their level. I understand why you think it would. You are an Authoritarian, as are most of your followers. You believe in the use of brutal tactics to have your way. You lack empathy. You lack ethics, too. You will say anything to get people to give you what you want, and you aren’t even being tortured! You think this makes you a good businessman. It might make you a rich businessman, but I would hardly say it makes you “good.” You wrongly believe that one of the qualifications that makes one a good president is the ability to negotiate a deal. But that wouldn’t be your job as president, either domestically or overseas. There are people who have been working for the government far longer than you whose job it is to negotiate labor contracts and international treaties. You aren’t the one who will be doing that, so stop going around telling everyone you will. It’s a lie. One among many you tell all the time. But just because you say it’s true doesn’t mean it is, and it doesn’t matter if people think it’s true, it still isn’t. Waterboarding is torture. Torture is never legal or justifiable. It doesn’t work and never has. It’s not going to save anyone’s life and does more long term harm than any short term good it arguably might do. And it is a really, really, sick, depraved thing to do. No decent human being would even think of using it, and you’ve proven to everyone you are anything but. And so are the people who adore you and believe in everything you say. I weep for this country.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish. I won;t torture you.