The Watering Hole; Thursday February 4 2016; Religion, War, Politics, Past, Present

“Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?”
(William Shakespeare, in Macbeth)

By the time this year’s presidential election is held, twelve full years will have passed since I wrote an essay critique of what were, to my eyes, current and troubling political issues implicit in the November 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. I find it curious that today, fresh manifestations of those same troubling issues remain on the front burner and include, in particular, the Republican cry for more war in the M.E. (this time against ISIL, itself a most likely consequence of Bush’s illicit war in Iraq that was well underway on election day ’04), along with their demands that abortion/stem cell research/LGBT marriage be disallowed and that their version of “religious freedom” be never limited.

Simple question: Why? Why does such nonsense continue day after day, month after month, year after year, election after election? “Have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?” Seems a fairly safe bet, actually. See below.


November 06, 2004

I know and well understand that this topic is one which is quick to wear out its welcome, but nevertheless I think it’s critical that no one should stick their head in sand in the hope that it’ll go away, because it won’t, it’s here to stay. Unfortunately.

As I’ve said many times before, I really and truly do not care what others believe, which church they attend (or don’t attend), or anything else that has anything to do with religion — it is, absolutely, a personal matter and should forever stay as such.

But I must confess that I become very troubled when what should be private religious matters are placed front and center upon the public stage, and when such matters are blatantly used to not only influence an election along dogmatic lines but also to shove a particular brand of said dogma down *everyone’s* throat via any legal means possible — ranging from local law to Constitutional amendment — my hackles quickly raise, as does my blood pressure.

There seems to be a differential that’s developed which I don’t think I quite understand: why the apparent urge to either legislate or constitutionally enshrine someone’s particular version of morality? I can easily understand that not all men wish to marry other men, but I wonder why that’s simply not left to personal choice? I made the heterosexual choice without difficulty, actually, but I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s important that anyone be told any given choice is right or wrong. My advice is that if you’re a man and don’t want to marry a man, then don’t; likewise, if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to marry a woman, then don’t. And if you’re a man who doesn’t want to marry a woman, don’t, and v.v. How hard can it be to grasp?

Likewise abortion — if a woman doesn’t want an abortion, she surely shouldn’t have one forced on her; nor, if she deems it appropriate, should she be denied. As with marriage, no one is forcing anyone to do anything, it’s a matter of personal choice, of personal responsibility. Isn’t that enough? Do we really need a Constitutional amendment to help keep things straight?

As with embryonic stem cell research — if it offends, don’t get involved. And if it offends, then even those offended, should they come down with a disease made curable via embryonic stem cells, have every right to refuse the cure.

A long time ago someone wrote about what many seem to believe to be the eternal gravity of the moral arguments, the gravitas, if you will. “Gravitas,” they wrote, is “the heavy tread of moral earnestness [which] becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence.”

Those must have been the good old days when ‘moral earnestness’ only qualified as being a ‘bore’ and not a threat to the First amendment!

But the bottom line, really, is that it’s precisely these completely illogical arguments which apparently swung attentions away from the *real* issues of the environment, the economy and the impact of deficits and tax cuts thereupon, the war in Iraq with its demonstrably false original premises plus the incredible mismanagement thereof virtually since day one, the domestic health care crisis, ad ad ad ad ad infinitum/nauseam. In other words, the apparent “swing” votes, i.e. the votes upon which the election turned, were offered based on what the pundits have called “moral values.” In other words, it’s not immoral to preemptively invade a country, destroy its cities, allow its museums and ammo dumps to be looted, and in the process kill or force the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people — but to allow two people who love each other the privilege of a legal union, NEVER! To insist that science research the potential benefits of embryonic stem cell derivatives, NEVER! To “pray” for the return of those more sane times when abortions were carried out in back alleys rather than hospitals or clinics, YEEHAW!

I freely admit that I see the Bible as being an authority on nothing at all, but once again it’s surely not my decision as to how someone else might feel about that same book.

On the other hand, sometimes I do wonder how the moralists among us might feel were the pendulum to swing to its opposite margin, and there soon appeared proposals afoot and legislation pending that would disallow any and all public displays and utterances of Biblical concepts, that churches would be taxed exactly the same as any other business or corporation, depending on size and income etc., that the only legal place to pray would be — staying with Biblical principle — in one’s own closet.

That’s not likely to ever occur, of course, but it is something to ponder in the sense that were any ‘assault’ on religion ever to be proposed, even indirect in the forms of public prohibitions or taxation, it would immediately bring forward cries of Constitutional violation, and more. Yet, here we are in a situation where religious leaders and their respective flocks not only demand the imposition of religion-based laws, but also maintain that their “religious liberty” allows them the privilege of imposing their beliefs on everyone else. It’s also well and proper to rewrite  public school science textbooks as a means to substitute Biblical creationism for legitimate and well-researched scientific theory.

I propose that something is very much awry with the situation as it now stands, and the likelihood is virtually a 100% certainty that it will get worse before (if ever) corrective measures are applied.

Meanwhile, there have been calls from leaders of both sides to reconcile our differences, to get on with solving problems instead. But how can that be, when a foundational portion of one side’s program is little more than a direct (and currently irrevocable, or so it seems) slap in the face of the other side(s) of the issue?

I’d like to see this nation get on with business as well as the next man, but am NOT willing to rent out the basement of the hen house to the foxes. Personally, I’d happily settle for the sort of true church-state separation as specified in Article I of the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . , but am not optimistic at all that such will prove the case ever again in my lifetime.

No matter how much times change, the more they remain the same. Or maybe “people” should be substituted for ‘times’?


Speaking of eating “on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner” — back to the present. Here are a small handful of links which point to topics and events that highlight tidbits of today’s political and religious silliness. They’re but a tiny part of the overall, of course, and they don’t reveal any more crazy than we’re already well aware of, but still . . . well, you know. 😯

Duck Dynasty Star Stumps For Ted Cruz: We Must ‘Rid The Earth’ Of Marriage Equality Supporters

“Either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or, it’s God saying, ‘There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.’ I’m leaning towards there’s a penalty for it.” (Phil Robertson)

“I am thrilled to have Phil’s support for our campaign. The Robertsons are a strong family of great Christian faith and conservative values.” (Ted Cruz)

‘Here am I Lord, use me’: Ted Cruz’s dad says Holy Ghost authorized White House run

“It was as if there was a presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and we all were at awe, and Ted, all that came out of his mouth, he said, ‘Here am I Lord, use me. Here am I Lord, I surrender to whatever Your will for my life is.’ And it was at that time that he felt a peace about running for president of the United States.” (Rafael Cruz)

As for the oft-shouted desire for complete “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!” — it quite obviously is not deemed by America’s political far-right movement to apply uniformly to all religions, to all “beliefs” (including non-belief) that citizens of America might consider their own . . .

The (Conservative) Smear Campaign Against The Mosque Obama Visited

[S]ince last Friday, conservative outlets such as Fox News, the Daily Caller, Breitbart News, and the Washington Times have all rushed to deride Obama’s visit, most accusing the Islamic Society of Baltimore of having “historic” or “deep” ties to extremism or “radical Islam.” Herman Cain told Fox News that the visit amounted to Obama “want[ing] to go kissy kissy with the Muslim Brotherhood” . . .

Apparently what seemed to be the obvious conclusion a dozen years ago still applies:

No matter how much times (and people) change, the more they remain the same.


“And thereby hangs a tale.”
(Wm. Shakespeare)




46 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Thursday February 4 2016; Religion, War, Politics, Past, Present

  1. There’s a debate tonight on M$HRC, hosted by Brian Williams and Rachel Maddow. Since there’s just two candidates, it should be a pretty good contrast between Hillary and Bernie. CNN had a Dem forum last night, and they had Bernie go first, so I fell asleep as soon as Hillary came on.

    • Whoever explained that to you doesn’t know history very well, especially of this very country. It just so happens that the people who were living here before White Europeans invaded their land had their own marriage customs that were not dominated by, or perceived to be, rooted in religion. True, there were religious aspects of their ceremonies, but I don’t think they viewed marriage as a religious institution (especially the tribes that required the groom to buy the bride from her family.)

      And while I may have some technical details wrong, there is one thing of which I am 100% certain: People living here were getting married LONG before anyone came along and told them about Jesus and the monotheistic religions. Marriage has been politicized in this country, but only by the people who want to deny it to certain people. And they’ve been hypocrites about it.

    • I think marriage has long been a civil contract that has been given the veneer of religion. Given that marriage obligated men to provide for the offspring of the marriage in patriarchal societies, the right and wrong rules of sexual conduct that were codified by religion were necessary to ensure that a man could be certain his labors supported his own offspring. The civil contract of marriage still has more to do with the ownership of property and assets than anything else. Those of us who are religious can have our marriages blessed according to our traditions, but any benefit from that exists only within our own lives and belief system.

    • Yes, in the Catholic Canon, marriage is a sacrament.
      The state has an interest in joint property ownership and resolution of dissolutions, hence the ‘marriage license’ granted by the state to control the strife caused when a sacrament is violated by the dissolution (which the Church doesn’t actually recognize). Just another reality checkmate.

      • My neighbors were living together for years before the state “allowed” them to get married.
        I’d rather have dozens of them for neighbors than the cat lady.
        Cat lady has her nose in everyone’s business and calls the cops on everything..
        Lonely, bitter cat lady gossiped about them and what would happen to our neighborhood.
        The neighborhood is fine and lonely bitter cat lady will die alone and bitter.

        • ‘Tis a pity that the word “tolerance” has so little meaning to so many who believe, for some odd reason, that their beliefs are the only ones that count. I don’t think I understand where INtolerance comes from, but it sure as hell is widespread — and unfortunately popular, esp. to Republicans everywhere.

  2. If they want their religious freedumb, so do I.
    Except I really don’t have a ‘religion’.
    So, in order for me to exercise my religious freedumb, they must give up theirs, renounce their false ‘god’ and then we’re all even.

    • If they’d just STFU, they can believe whatever they want. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “If my neighbor believes in twenty gods or no gods, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.”

    • It astounds me the way conservative minds work. They rant and rave and scream and shout about how we have to be afraid of all Muslims. But when the POTUS proves them wrong by visiting a mosque, they claim he’s the one pitting us against each other. No. The only ones who feel “pitted” are the ones who rant and rave and scream and shout about Muslims. It’s an entirely backwards perspective.

      THEY’RE the ones pitting us against each other, not the POTUS, and not the people who are tolerant. Intolerant people think we’re the ones being intolerant because we don’t tolerate their intolerance.

  3. I like that they don’t know if the asteroid will pass 9,000,000 miles away or just 11,000 miles away, but they’re still certain it won’t hit Earth. And there’s “an extremely slight chance” (1 in 250 million) that it could hit us in September next year.

    I had heard of the Oort Cloud many years ago and I knew it surrounded our solar system. But until recently, I didn’t know it was spherical and I didn’t know how far out from the Earth it extended. Turns out it extends about three light years out from the Earth – which means that it intersects the Oort Cloud surrounding Alpha Centauri. And those rocks are bouncing into each other, which is what sends these asteroids hurdling toward Earth. Jupiter attracts a lot of them away from us, but not all. In fact, from what I learned watching another science show, if it weren’t for Jupiter, life might not have evolved on Earth at all. Cool.

    • “when we cozy up to Saudi Arabia”???

      You mean like when we call one of the members of the Royal Saudi Family “Bandar Bush” because we’re that tight? That kind of cozy?

      Not to mention the person with the second highest stake in Fox news is – you guessed it – a member of the Royal Saudi Family.

      Look, Fox, if we want the Saudis to continue to accept only US Dollars as payment for their oil, yeah, we’re going to cozy up to them. Otherwise they might tell us, “Shove your dollars up your ass, we only take Euros for our oil.”

  4. Cannot WAIT! to see what ‘excessive gummint spending’ “As National Debt Hits $19 Trillion, a Spending Showdown Looms in Congress” the Repuglycan candidates go after.
    Lazy welfare frauds, health care excesses, senior programs like Meals on Wheels, reverse discrimination…. Everything not involving 1%ers or Lickheel Grubbman and their ‘FU-31’ unflyable multi million dollar runway décor.

    • We were hanger flying and discussed the new stealth jet and its incredible hubris. Stealth technology can be easily defeated when an overwhelming number of lesser technology jets are launched in its suspected direction.
      So they lose a few aircraft, they don’t care. They got you beat by sheer numbers.
      I have seen with my own eyes more Migs than the mind can imagine.
      They don’t need technology, they have numbers.

      • It seems that every generation of airplane designers makes the same mistake. They try to design planes that will do everything and that results in planes that do nothing well. The basic formula is quite simple. Put the biggest possible engine in the smallest possible air frame, get it working right, and then start adding capability.

        The fact of the matter is that planes like the F-15 and F-16 already perform at the limits of the human body. The way to achieve higher performance is to eliminate the fragile human pilot but the pilots won’t allow that to happen. So? We end up with gimmicks, like stealth, to keep pilots in military aircraft as long as possible. I think it’s still too early to declare the F-35 a outright failure but it doesn’t look good and will cost even more to come up with a usable plane that won’t match the performance of the planes they replace or fight. If stealth doesn’t work as well as it’s hoped? The next air war will be fought by pilots who won’t survive it.

        It would have made much more sense to spend that money, assuming any money is being spent on military hardware, on unmanned planes that could, literally, run circles around any plane designed to hold a pilot. Of course; we also send soldiers into combat with rifles that are 50 years old and were marginal, at best, when they were new.

        Getting back to the F-15 and F-16; both were designed strictly for aerial combat. The mantra was “not a pound for air to ground”. By following that mantra they ended up with airplanes that could easily take on attack/bomber roles at a fraction of the cost of a new design. The F-35 project disregarded all the lessons learned from the very successful Eagles and Fighting Falcons and the horribly flawed F-111 and it sure does look like we ended up with another Turkey.

        • And by the time we get these complex machines to production, the mission and the technology have already changed.

        • IIRC, the F-111 contract began as a ‘gift’ of Pres. LBJ to the state of Tejas, specifically to General Dynamics in, if memory serves, Fort Worth. It was a flop from the get-go.

          Meanwhile, because the F-4 Phantom (McDonnell-Douglas) was going out of style in Vietnam, the military wanted a new plane, one that would work. The result was that McDonnell-Douglas St. Louis (my employer at the time) received the contract to design and build the F-15 (McDonnell-Douglas thought they were going to get the F-111 contract before LBJ gave it to G.D., or so the story in St. Louis went in the late sixties).

          Bottom line, the F-15 worked from day one forward, the F-111 was never worth a shit. But still, I’m guessing LBJ was much admired by fellow Texicans anyway.

          • LBJ kept the program alive but it was Robert McNamara who came up with the idea of a do everything wonder plane. It was doomed from the start. There is also a story that a general, I forget who, had one of the greatest lines in aviation history. A senator or congressman asked him if the F-111 would do what they wanted it to do if they used more powerful engines. The general said “there isn’t enough power in Christendom to make that plane do what we want”.

            To be fair the F-111 did go on to serve successfully in a limited role, though it never justified its cost, and Grumman used the data generated by their participation to build the F-14 which was a very successful plane though it needed a new generation of engines to really fulfill its potential.

            • Seems to me the F-111 was to be a Navy plane, and it flopped on that level. I do remember it was Grumman who did the F-14 as a replacement for the F-4 Phantom and, presumably, for the failed F-111. Meanwhile, McDonnell-Douglas did the F-15 for the Air Force (and it replaced the Navy F-4 on the production line). Both the F-14 and -15 contracts were awarded to what was seen as the “best” submissions. That worked. The F-111 was political; it didn’t work. Well, it worked, but nothing like was expected. It’s long gone, the others persisted for decades.

            • I worked on avionics for F-14. I remember when we had to peel the Iranian Royal Air Force sticker off the door. I’m sure my spare parts were among those St. Ronnie swapped for fungible assets.

      • An old friend of mine has fallen under the sway of a bunch of RWNJs. The other day he said that he “doesn’t want to leave his daughter in debt”. I said, “then raise taxes and pay our bills now”. He changed the subject.

  5. Oh crapola. Now the dems are arguing over labels, as to who is a progressive; what’s your definition; how many times where you left of… Who the fuck cares? Inanity rules our political dialogue.

  6. Looks like a Federal court struck down Maryland’s ban on assault weapons.
    OK, come get your RUC Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers in five different colors, including Spring Pastels.
    I quote “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the state’s prohibition on what the court called “the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens” amounted to a violation of their rights under the Constitution.”
    How are you going to stop a home invasion with a puny AR 15? You need an RUC RPG Launcher! IN PINK~!

    And Clarence gets hisself a woodie.

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