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, October 3, 2015: Backward, Christian Soldiers

There is a belief among some people (and when I say “some people,” I mean Conservative Christian Americans) that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation, on Judeo-Christian values, and for the benefit of Christians. They are wrong on all three counts. The only evidence I’ve seen that the USA was “founded” as a Christian nation come from David Barton, a well-known snake oil salesman who has been misleading people for decades, and all of it refers to the USA as it was founded under the Articles of Confederation. Barton and his ilk want the USA to be a Christian nation so badly that they promote a philosophy called Seven Mountains Dominionism, which is a plan to establish a virtual theocracy here. In their minds, the Bible takes precedent over the US Constitution. (I can promise you this atheist will oppose such a movement at every turn, but I seriously doubt any such thing will ever happen.) But I don’t believe that any of their thinking is correct regarding the secular United States of America formed under our present Constitution. The authors of the First Amendment saw what a government run according to someone’s idea of Religion, Christian or otherwise, could do and decided they wanted no part of that. Besides, when Conservatives speak of “Judeo-Christian values,” what they’re really talking about is Old Testament punishment for things they personally find offensive, especially gay people. (If someone could explain below why there are both Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 in the O.T., I’d really like to know. Both list pretty much the same sins, but Lev 18 says the sinners should be banished, while Lev 20 says they should be put to death. Which one Conservative Christians quote can tell you a lot about them as human beings.) And just because it was Christians escaping persecution in Europe for their extreme conservative Christianity who landed here and took the land from the people living here at the time does not mean this nation (under our present Constitution) was founded just for Christians. Again, some people (see above) actually believe that. The only argument I can say against that belief is that nowhere in the body of the Constitution, or in its Amendments, are the words “God,” “Christ,” or “Christianity” to be found. If the USA was really “founded as a Christian nation,” wouldn’t you expect those three words to be all over the Constitution and its Amendments? Why would they not be? BTW, through his usual tactic of lies and deception, Barton is pushing a new movement to get Conservative Christians to vote for Christians candidates and principles. I have to wonder why this movement would be necessary if this were already a Christian nation, founded on Judeo-Christian values, for Christians. Logic means nothing to people like this.

There is also a belief among some people (and when I say “some people,” I mean Conservative Christian Americans) that Christians in this country are being persecuted for their beliefs, with Rowan County, KY, Clerk Kim Davis being one of the latest examples. They believe that Christianity itself is under attack. They’re so insecure in themselves and in their Religion that they act as if the mention of any other religions will bring everything they believe crashing down. (In reality, the Truth is enough to do that.) It has gotten so bad that a conservative Christian organization in Georgia is freaking out because students are being taught the basics of the three Abrahamic religions (the ones who all worship the same God under different names) in their studies of the Middle East. [Never mind the school district being targeted has been teaching the same class for nine years without prior complaints.] Now face it, you can’t begin to comprehend the cultures and events in the Middle East without first understanding the role Religion plays in the region. For one thing, it is the birthplace of all three Abrahamic Religions. On that topic there’s something I have to say. For the life of me, I don’t understand how we can get three major Religions who all worship the very same God (on this, there is no dispute, even though some people in the story expressed disbelief of this, which is proof that this particular education is needed there) but who all say that worship must take place in different forms, under penalty of death (all three, not just one), yet all claim to be the “One True Religion”? And how can there be hundreds and thousands of variations of these Major Religions who also claim to be the one correct way to worship God? (They must be different or else they would all be the same one.) Anyway, perhaps that’s something the curriculum might have explained, but I’d have to move down to Georgia to hear it, and I have spent enough time in Georgia, thank you. (Military training. Can’t say more.) But why do Conservative Christians see teaching someone the basics (some call them “tenets”) of other religions as a threat to the free exercise of their own? Learning about them is not converting them to that religion. Besides, it’s what you actually do, not what you tell others you do, that defines which religion you practice. You can learn everything you want about Islam, but if you still pray to Jehovah, and you still attend church services each week, and you still wear a cross around your neck, you’re still a Christian, so stop worrying about it. There’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim anymore than there is with being a Jew or a Christian. You can pick apart any Religion based on a belief in a supernatural being who secretly tells only three people what he wants, and then expects everyone to believe that person (again, under penalty of death in all three cases), and find all kinds of things that make that religion look bad. If you want to save time, I’m sure you can find things in all three that make them look good. But there’s no reason for American Christians to fear persecution just because other Americans are exempt from Christianity’s rules. That hasn’t stopped our installing 44 consecutive Christians as President (one of them twice.) Get over it, Conservative Christians. No one is coming for your cross.

There is yet another belief of at least one person (and when I say “one person,” I mean the conservative Tennessee Lt Governor Ron Ramsey, a gun nut who believes the NRA’s crap about the purpose and scope of the Second Amendment) that because this latest mass shooting specifically targeted Christians because of their faith, those “who are serious about their faith” should “think about getting a handgun carry permit.” He goes on to say, “I have always believed that it is better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.” That’s funny, I have always believed it is better to resolve a situation without someone dying than it is to kill someone to bring it to an end. What I don’t understand is this belief that a gun is the only option for self-defense. It is because of this cavalier attitude toward guns that so many children have died from being shot by other children. I understand why Conservatives feel this way. (It has to do with the way their brains perceive danger more than a Liberal’s brain might.) But what I can’t understand is why a Christian would believe this, too, especially one who was “serious” about his faith. Jesus never carried a gun nor did he preach violence. The Lt Gov concluded his post with, “Our enemies are armed. We must do likewise.” Really? I’m no ally of any organized religion, and I may even go so far as to call myself an enemy of them, but I also believe in non-violence and I would never carry a gun around with me (absent the collapse of civilization) to make my enmity toward religion known. Like Jesus, I would use words to persuade my fellow Americans that more guns and religions are not the answer to America’s problems, one of which is the presence of too many guns and religions.

If nothing else, Conservative Christians want to take this country backwards, not forwards. They are likely the very people to whom then-Senator Barack Obama referred on the campaign trail as those who “cling to guns and religion” during frustrations with economic conditions. [BTW, I learned something in looking up that remark. I always heard that Mid-West Christian gun owners were offended by that remark, but they weren’t the only ones he mentioned. The entire sentence was, “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”] I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Jesus wasn’t a Conservative. And he wasn’t a gun nut, either. And he wasn’t afraid of other people. You’re the ones who are supposed to be like him, not me.

Give us this day our daily open thread, and forgive us our late posting, as we have forgiven those who have failed to timely post before.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 26, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – The Pokey and The Gapper

I have to talk about these two together, because in combination, they often create one of the biggest headaches commuters face each and every morning – the Complete Stop For No Apparent Reason. “The Pokey” is, as you may have guessed, a slowpoke. Now, I would cringe at the accusation that I am a “Leadfoot” (or “Zippy”, as I’ll talk about at a later date), but I do like to drive fast. Safely, yes, for I do not believe in that bullshit that “speed kills”, but a little fast. (Speed doesn’t kill, bad driving does. Race car drivers survive fast driving all the time.) I feel that a 55 MPH Speed Limit for interstate highways, which were built when the national speed limit was 75 MPH, is too oppressive. I even think that 65 MPH is too low, but at least it’s a lot closer to the speed at which I like to drive. I’m not going to set myself up for a conviction for speeding by saying anything more specific than that. Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 19, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – This Isn’t Any Signal

“This isn’t any signal. It’s a direct statement. If it’s a signal, fine.” – George H. W. Bush, as reported in New York Times, Mar 10, 1980, p B10

By a funny coincidence, we’ll be talking about the exact same thing.

On every car that I have been in, there is a stick coming out of the left-hand side of the car’s steering column which I’m certain is gathering dust in some people’s cars. It’s the lever that operates the turn signals, otherwise more cleverly – and properly – known as “directional indicators”, on account of they’re for indicating which direction you intend to take your car next. And that’s the whole key right there. Until you use your turn signals (I’ll use “turn signals” if it makes everyone happier, until I have a point to make), people are going to expect that you’re going to continue doing what you’re doing, especially if what you’re doing is just driving along at a steady speed in the lane in which you’re currently traveling. [And unless otherwise indicated, and as will be the usual standard for this series of posts, it is assumed that the roads are clear and dry and the weather conditions are favorable for driving. So none of these, “What if it’s raining?” retorts. We’ll cover that another time.]

And that brings us to a good tip about using turn signals. There’s a right way to indicate to the driver behind you (let’s call him “Me”) that you’re about to do something other than what you’ve been doing the past several miles, and there’s the way too many of you who live near me have been doing it to the driver behind you (“Me”). The trick is to remember what the purpose of the turn signal is. (I’ll give you hint: It has to do with “indicating” a “direction”.) As most of you are aware, humans are not normally able to read other people’s minds. So if you decide that you want to change lanes, or take the exit off the highway, or turn into a parking lot or driveway, the odds are good that you will be slowing down or speeding up, and that being the case, it’s certain that the people around you (“Me”) have no clue what you’re about to do. So we ought to have some indication that things are about to change. Don’t you think? I mean, who really likes it when the guy just ahead and to your right decides he wants to slide into your lane right in front of you without telling you ahead of time he was going to do that? I know I don’t, which is why I don’t do it to others. (It’s am important rule that people with my religious beliefs try to employ. You might say it’s Golden to us. Except we don’t expect a reward after we’re dead for following it.) That leads us to the next driving rule:

Wayne’s Driving Rule #2
The correct sequence for making a lane change or a turn off onto an exit or into a driving way or parking lot is:
1. Turn on signal (the correct one)
2. Appropriately apply brakes or speed up
3. Change lanes or make turn

1-2-3. Not 2-1-3. Not 2-3-1. And certainly not 3-2-1. It’s 1-2-3. Now, you may ask, “How much time should I allow between Steps 1 and 2?” In fact you should ask it. Go ahead. Ask it. I’ll wait.

I’m glad you asked. Experts disagree. New York State law requires you to have your signal on for at least the last one hundred feet before making the actual maneuver, but I say that’s too short a time. At 60 MPH, you are traveling 88 feet every second. (You are also driving too slowly and could cause traffic to come to a stop behind you on the highway, but we’re going to cover that next week.) So it only takes you about 1.136 seconds to travel 100 feet. And if the driver behind you (“Me”) was to be driving at a hypothetical speed of 80 MPH, he would travel 100 feet in a little over 0.85 seconds. I have quick reflexes, but that that quick. So rather than using distance to determine how far ahead to apply your signal, I say you should use time. You should apply your signal at least five seconds ahead of when you intend to make your move (assuming you aren’t swerving out the way to avoid something in the road, such as the debris from the car at which I fired one of my nerd-designed missiles), but no more than ten seconds. If you leave it on more than ten seconds, it’s quite probable that everyone, including yourself, will forget that it’s on. But the main thing is to avoid flipping it on at literally the last moment, even though that’s what New York State law allows.

You see, it really doesn’t do anybody any good if you wait until you’ve already hit the brakes and started turning your wheel to flip on the turn signal telling the driver behind you (“Me”) that you’re about to make a turn, when the fact that you are in the process of making that turn already gave it away. How much help do you think flipping on the signal last is going to do? The purpose of a directional indicator is to indicate to the people around you which direction you intend to go, not which direction you already started going. The only good applying it after you made your move does is to confirm that, yes, you don’t know how to drive properly. The fact that you were probably taught to drive by your parents, who didn’t know how to drive, either, is the reason our car insurance rates are so high. The fact that driving has become such an essential part of American life is reason enough to require all future drivers be taught by professionals, not by someone who leaves the turn signal on for ten miles. No, if you already have your license you will be grandfathered in, even if you’re a grandfather.

And by all means, do use that signal if you’re doing anything that would come across as “unexpected” to the non-psychic behind you (“Me”). That includes pulling over to the side of the road. That would be one of those excellent occasions where some way of telling the guy behind you (“Me”) that he can swing around you and get on with his life would be appreciated. It’s just like you’re turning into a driveway, except you’re not actually turning into a driveway. But you still have to put on the signal (I’m guessing it’s going to be to the right), then apply the brakes, then slide off to the side of the road, preferably far enough off so that your car won’t be sticking out into the lane. That reminds me. Why do so many people think they don’t need to use their turn signals if they’re taking a right-hand exit off the highway, or moving into the lane to their right, or making a right-hand turn at an intersection? You still have to let the enraged maniac behind you (“Me”) know what you intend to do, especially if it’s going to involve slowing down, which I’m pretty sure that guy behind you (“Me”) doesn’t want to do.

But you know, turn signals aren’t just for indicating a complete change in direction (such as perpendicular to the one you were going). They’re also good for letting the cars around you driving at speeds in excess of 65 MPH (and the legal speed limit) that you’re considering cutting over in front of the car moving up swiftly in the lane to your left (“Me”). Now, in these cases, it isn’t always necessary to hit the brakes, but you still want to turn on that signal a few seconds before you make the actual maneuver. Again, once your car has already swung over in front of mine, causing me to either brake fiercely, swear loudly, crap pungently, or perhaps some combination of all three, what’s the goddamn point of putting on your turn signal then? It’s not like you’re preparing me for something. The best thing is to glance in your side view (and rear view) mirrors, turn your head to check your blind spot, hit the signal, then wait a beat or two before making your move. And for crying out loud, if you’re going to move over into a lane of traffic that’s going faster than you were, do hit the gas and speed up. (Remember Wayne’s Driving Rule #1.) Otherwise there was no point in moving over in front of the impatient asshole coming up hard on your ass (“Me”).

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss bad turn signal users, bad presidential candidates, bad breath, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 12, 2015: Driving Me Crazy – The Pacer

Well, lucky you, Dear Readers. Over the next few Saturdays, I’m going to tell you about those idiots out there who don’t know how to drive properly. Oh, the things I’ve seen. Worse still, the things I’ve heard about. Well, I’m going to tell you where some of your fellow citizens and non-citizens alike are going wrong. I’ll introduce you to the vast array of Driver Types that I’ve created over the years (well, “created” in the sense that I thought of them myself and didn’t steal them from anybody, even though someone else might have thought of them, too) including “The Gapper”, “The Pokey” and, today’s target, “The Pacer”. (By the way, how do I know it’s not one of you I’ll be writing about? Because I know that you are all smart people, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the people of whom I’ll be writing, it’s this: They’re not very bright.)

A Pacer is one of those people who Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Saturday, September 5, 2015: How The Right Gets Religious Freedom Wrong – Kim Davis Edition

Article VI of the United States Constitution states:

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.

Immediately after that it says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Kim Davis, a Democrat, was elected County Clerk of Rowan County, KY, in November 2014 and took office in January 2015. She succeeded her mother who had retired from that position. Prior to taking office as County Clerk, Davis served as Deputy Clerk for 27 years. According to a press release from her lawyers, Liberty Counsel, Kim Davis only wanted to have her name removed from the marriage license forms. She was willing to file any form without her name on it, but because marriage licenses stay in the records permanently, she said, “I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.” That’s where she first went wrong. You see, it really makes absolutely no difference what “God’s definition of marriage” is because that’s what her particular religion tells her. What she fails to grasp is that the rest of us are not in any way, shape, or form, bound by her religion’s rules and dictates. We do not have to put her God before all others. In fact, we do not even have to acknowledge her God exists, let alone let His rules govern us. The United States government, and all State Governments below it, and all local levels of government below that, are officially secular. To have it any other way would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. I don’t believe that Conservative Christians understand that yet. They operate under the misconception that if you don’t let them force you to live by their Christian rules, that this is somehow oppressing their religious freedom rather than oppressing your own. If they were told they had to follow Sharia Law in all of their government duties, you can bet everything you own they’d be fighting that as a violation of their own religious freedom. Yet they are incapable of seeing how what they’re doing to the rest of us is the same exact thing.

I do want to jump in and point out that her statement starts with something very hard to believe. “I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage.” She’s only been a born again Christian for about four years. Prior to that, she was married four times (the second and fourth times to the same man, her current husband, whom I like to call “Grover Cleveland.”) Six months after getting divorced from her first husband, she fathered twins by her eventual third husband. So before she was elected County Clerk, she herself violated those very teachings of Jesus himself regarding marriage. Plus I refuse to believe that in her 27 years of being a Deputy Clerk, she never once issued a license to “sinners like herself.” God did not like divorce. Did she issue her own license to herself? It’s a public document, so someone in the media can find out. Or did her own mother give the licenses to her sinful daughter? It’s not a critical question; I’m just being nosy. Anyway, there’s a good article in USA Today that runs down the timeline of what happened when.

So, what other strange arguments are her supporters making? Well, Rena Lindevaldsen, one of her Liberty Counsel lawyers, says that God’s Law is superior to Man’s Law. To understand this truly insane legal argument, it helps to know that Liberty Counsel is all about defending God and his followers in court. Now, I would never want Liberty Counsel to be my lawyers not just because I’m an atheist (and damn proud of it), but because they are terrible lawyers who are bound to be disbarred some day, especially when they advise their clients to break the law. Not advise them what will happen IF they break the law, but to actually advise them to break the law. I’m not sure lawyers are supposed to do that.

Deacon Keith Fournier of Barbwire claims that since she took office before the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell that she is not bound by it, and is only bound by the laws that were in effect at the time she took office. This one is laughably wrong. As Right Wing Watch so perfectly stated it

If this would be the case, then anyone who was elected to office before the Loving v. Virginia case, which struck down state bans on interracial marriage, would then be able to refuse to issue marriage licenses to such couples, or allow officials to block the integration of schools because they took office before Brown v. Board of Education was handed down by the courts.

But, of course, that’s not how the law works. Nor does the office belong to Kim Davis personally, it belongs to the People of Rowan County.

The injunction operates not against Davis personally, but against the holder of her office of Rowan County Clerk. In light of the binding holding of Obergefell, it cannot be defensibly argued that the holder of the Rowan County Clerk’s office, apart from who personally occupies that office, may decline to act in conformity with the United States Constitution as interpreted by a dispositive holding of the United States Supreme Court.

Besides, Kim Davis was not elected to enforce God’s Law, she was elected to follow KY and Rowan County Law. How can she possibly believe that it is constitutional for her to subject the people of her county to the laws of her personal God? What if a Muslim were elected to that office (okay, suspend your disbelief for just a moment and pretend it could happen in KY), would it be proper for the new County Clerk to say he or she would only follow Allah’s Law? I think everyone, including Liberty Counsel, would agree that this would be unacceptable. But they wouldn’t agree that it would be unacceptable for the exact same reasons Kim Davis’ actions were unacceptable.

Former weight loss success story and current presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee claims that Kim Davis is the only clerk following “the law.” Apparently he meant God’s law, not the supreme law of the land (as determined by the SCOTUS.) He also demonstrated that he doesn’t understand much about how the Constitution works by saying

“Kim is asking the perfect question: ‘Under what law am I authorized to issue homosexual couples a marriage license?’ That simple question is giving many in Congress a civics lesson that they never got in grade school,” Huckabee added. “The Supreme Court cannot and did not make a law. They only made a ruling on a law. Congress makes the laws. Because Congress has made no law allowing for same sex marriage, Kim does not have the constitutional authority to issue a marriage license to homosexual couples.

First of all, Mikey, Congress doesn’t define marriage one way or the other. Second, when the SCOTUS says a law is unconstitutional, you operate as if it weren’t in place. The SCOTUS says that the 14th Amendment requires equal treatment under the law, which means that you can marry any other person you wish. (No, not your pets, and not your lawnmower, but another person.) Also, when the SCOTUS says a law is unconstitutional, they are not “making law.” They are saying that the law made cannot be allowed to stand because it violates some part of the federal Constitution. (You remember that thing, don’t you, Mikey? You took an oath to support and defend it.)

Kim Davis and her lawyers also say that to comply with her personal religious beliefs (something she was not elected to enforce), the residents of her county, the ones who pay her salary, can just drive to another county to get a license. While it is true that a marriage license given in any county can be used anywhere in the state of KY, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. And since she improperly and unconstitutionally instructed her clerks to not issue licenses to same sex couples, it was no longer a case of her being forced to violate her personal beliefs, it became a case of her forcing her staff to violate her constituents’ civil rights. That is also something no elected official has the authority to do. If the duties of your public sector job conflict with your personal religious beliefs, then your only recourse is to resign from that job. Suppose a Catholic priest was elected President? Does he have the constitutional authority to have all sinners (according to his religious beliefs) jailed? Of course not. It’s no different for Kim Davis.

Lastly, Liberty Counsel lawyers made the delusional claim that by saying “So help me God” when she took her oath (which, BTW, is not and can not be a requirement to hold public office, since it would be imposing an unconstitutional religious test), Davis was swearing to put God’s law above the law of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Bullpuckey! The only thing “So help me God” is supposed to mean is that you really, really meant it when you said it. As many others have pointed out, when she took that oath she put her hand on a Bible and swore to support and defend the Constitution (something all public officials are required to do), she did not put her hand on a copy of the Constitution and swear to uphold the version of the Bible her local church uses. (There is no such thing as THE Bible, since there are hundreds of variations. Why is that, BTW? How can “The Bible” be the “inerrant word of God” when so many denominations of Christianity use slightly different versions of it?)

In the end, Kim Davis and her lawyers have no rational, legal, constitutional argument to make to support her refusal to obey the SCOTUS (and the federal judge who jailed her) just because those orders conflict with her religious beliefs and still keep her job!. She is absolutely free to resign her office and continue practicing her religion. She’s just not free to do it on the public’s dime. And Liberty Counsel lawyers ought to be disbarred (or, at the very least, have their privilege to argue before the SCOTUS revoked) for telling Kim Davis to violate the courts’ rulings (all of them, which have gone against her every step of the way.) This is, as the Conservatives like to say when Hillary Clinton is involved, a nation of laws. Maybe it’s time they started practicing what they preach.

This is our daily open thread, even if it is very late. Feel free to make fun of any of the people mentioned in this post, or discuss any other topic you wish.

The Watering Hole, August 31, 2015: Chris Christie vs. Technology

In order for Governor Chris Christie’s plan to round up people who overstay their visas to work, he would have to invent time travel technology. And even though it’s impossible to know if time travel really has been invented if you’re not the one using it (if history has changed, so have all your memories), looking at his poll numbers it would appear he hasn’t yet. After all, if you started out doing poorly in your effort to become President, and you had the ability to travel back in time, wouldn’t you go back in time and change things so that you had the humongous lead in Republican polls and not some billionaire with an oversize ego and even worse ideas than yours? Actually I shouldn’t say Trump’s ideas are worse since he hasn’t explained how any of them could work except to say “Management.” But I digress. Anyway, without time travel, Christie’s plan to call in FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith to help teach the government how to track people who have overstayed their visas can’t work. At least, not if your plan involves finding any of the estimated eleven million people who are here illegally. Well, listen to him try to explain his plan this past Saturday. [Video via Think Progress.]

Christie’s campaign spokesperson (or “spox” as they’ve come to be called these days) is none other than FedEx CEO Fred Smith’s daughter, Samantha. It’s possible that’s a coincidence, and not at all related to Christie mentioning FedEx as part of his plan. It’s also possible that Ebola-infected monkeys will come flying out of Christie’s butt and nest in Donald Trump’s hair. One can dream, but one should probably seek professional counseling or be more diligent about taking one’s meds. But I digress. Christie said that “at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It’s on the truck. It’s at the station. It’s on the airplane.” But they can’t actually tell you where that package is “at any moment”. In order to do that, each package would have to have something like an RFID tag, which transmits a low-level signal that can be tracked by satellite, and FedEx doesn’t do that for every package they deliver. What they can tell you is where the package was when the bar code label on it was last scanned. And they don’t get scanned all the time. FedEx drivers pick up and deliver hundreds and hundreds of packages each day, so scanning every single package at every stop would be impractical. You can find out when your package got put on the plane, but until it lands and the label is scanned again, all you can find out is that it is in transit. So it is not true that FedEx can tell you where a package is “at any moment.” Christie tried to explain to Chris Wallace that of course he knows people aren’t packages. [Video via Raw Story]

But to use this technology that can find the people who overstayed their visas, you would have to find the people who overstayed their visas and give them some kind of bar code that can be scanned, or a visa with an RFID chip in it. Then you would have to install scanners all over America that can detect these bar codes and RFID tags, and keep their current locations handy so that the microsecond their visas expire, you’ll know exactly where to go pick them up. Assuming that in addition to buying and using all this technology, you also came up with the money to have them picked up, housed while being processed, and transported to a waiting government official in Mexico. Whose taxes are you going to raise to pay for all that? I suggest Donald Trump’s, for starters. Followed by all those millionaires and billionaires who got ginormous tax cuts back in the Reagan days, heralding the beginning of the destruction of the Middle Class in America. The calls for balancing the budget (a completely unnecessary and self-defeating goal) were nothing more than the legalized transfer of wealth to the top 1%, and most of that to the top 0.1%. We were told that the rich people would use their tax cuts to create jobs and the wealth would trickle down to the rest of us. Yes, they actually told us that. And it was complete bullshit and they knew it. Because rich people do not create jobs. Consumer demand creates jobs. A need for a product or service develops, and someone starts up a business to meet the demand for that need. And it isn’t always a rich person doing it. How many times have you heard of the guy who had nothing and started a multi-million dollar business? What rich people often do is give that guy several hundred million for his business and take it over themselves. But no matter how big that business gets, it isn’t the owner that created the jobs, it’s the consumer demand of the Middle Class that created the vast majority of those jobs. Without that demand, there would be no reason for that business owner, either the guy starting out who hasn’t yet made his first million, or that guy with the hilarious Trumpadour hairstyle, to hire people in the first place. But I digress.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Chris Christie, Donald Trump, roadkill you may have personally worn on your head, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 24, 2015: The Rebel Flag Is Not About ‘Patriotism’

So the Weekend Folks at Fox and Friends (say that three times backwards in front of a candle-lit mirror and it will summon them) are having a sad over the decline in acceptability of the Battle Flag of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (hereafter conveniently, if technically inaccurately, known as the Confederate Flag, the Rebel Flag, the Traitor Flag, The Slavery Lover Flag, the Racist Flag, and the White Supremacist Flag II) because they wrongly believe it’s because Liberals are trying to ban all expressions of “patriotism.”

Before going on to hear what an actual documentarian on the Civil War has to say about what it, and the battles flags under which the South fought, represented, let’s clear up a couple of things. First Tucker “This is not about a school district in Tennessee” Carlson. it is about what’s happening in this one county school district in Tennessee. That would be the first thing an actual journalist would make clear to his audience, but I digress. Second, it wasn’t “Liberals” who were “banning the American flag.” it was the county officials in this one school district. Now, FTR, I think they went too far in banning all flags, especially the American Flag. It’s without question a violation of First Amendment rights, but so too is the banning of the Confederate Flag. Don’t misunderstand me. It may sound like I’m agreeing with Tucker Carlson, but I am not. In this instance, he happens to be right about it being wrong for them to ban all flags, but he’s right for entirely the wrong reasons. He wants to turn what is a simple violation of First Amendment rights into a baseless attack on Liberals and Liberalism, by using the tried and true Conservative tactic of the false framing, or straw man argument.

To continue with the Wrongness of Being Tucker, he tried to blame what’s happening in this on, well, you try to make sense of this:

“This is a about a long-term trend where the people who run everything — the elites in Washington, New York and L.A. — despise rural America and its culture, suspect anybody that doesn’t live in their cities of being a bigot, and they’re trying to crush that culture by banning its symbols.”

While it true that Dickson County is represented by a Democrat in the House, he had nothing whatsoever to do with this local policy change. Nor did anyone in New York. Nor did anyone in L.A. Nor do the people in Washington, New York and L.A. “despise rural America and its culture.” In this free society, people who live on the coasts have chosen to live a different lifestyle than those who live in the middle of the country. It’s not an either/or choice, Tucker. It’s not a matter of binary thinking – that if you like one thing you must hate the other. Liberals, whom you despise for the way we think, do not think the way you think we think. You are projecting, and it is showing us how YOU think about the situation. And we don’t think of anyone who doesn’t live in our cities of being a bigot. The explanation is similar to what John Stuart Mill said about Conservatives. “While it true that not all conservative people are stupid, it is most certainly true that most stupid people are conservative.” (Some 300 years later, scientific studies have confirmed this.) It’s not that people in the cities think of the people in rural America as bigots, it’s that bigots tend to prefer not to live in the multi-cultural cities on the coasts. It’s not that everybody in rural America is a bigot, it’s that most bigots prefer to live in rural America. What concerns people like me is how welcome they are to live there. But that’s a topic for another post, as my grandfather used to say before he died in 1959. (He was ahead of his time.)

I’ll get back to why what you said is bullshit, but first let’s make clear about what this “heritage,” this “culture,” you’re referring to really is. I won’t give it away by mentioning “Slavery.” Oops.

It’s not that we want to “crush” that culture (there you go projecting again, believing that we Liberals think of resolving differences of opinion through violent conflicts), it’s that we want people to understand the truth about what that flag represents. It represents a way of life that is no longer American. That heritage, that culture, you so lovingly defend even though you were born and raised in California, was founded on the premise of White Supremacy, and the simple proof of that is the way black people have been treated even 150 years after the war ended. That part of the country has never wanted to accept black people as equals. Not legally, not officially, not formally, but worst of all, not honestly. Tucker blathered on.

“Not just the Confederate flag, but the American flag,” he continued. “They hate expressions of patriotism. It makes them uncomfortable. Let’s be honest.”

If you’re equating a love of the Rebel Flag with patriotism, I’m going to have to ask you which dictionary you’re using because, by definition, the Rebel Flag (the one used by the Traitors) cannot be called a flag of Patriotism equal to that earned by the American Flag (the winning side, I might add.) Like most of the Conservatives we hear on public media (there, I didn’t generalize too much) and the people who think they’re right (no, still not too much), Tucker Carlson engages in too much binary thinking because it’s the easiest kind of low-effort thinking there is. It’s one thing or its opposite. If you don’t support the American Flag 100% and everything she stands for, then you must be a Traitor (like those Rebels who denounced the United States and formed their own country and started a war with us.) If you’re uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean you hate something. We are capable of nuance, of seeing shades of gray. What makes me uncomfortable about the public displays of patriotism I see are the bigoted, racist people doing it. I don’t like being associated with those people. The people who promote the symbols of Slavery are people whose values I do not share. And when you try to pass them off as good American citizens, I have to wonder from which dictionary you found your definition of “good.”

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to say horrible things about Tucker Carlson, or discuss anything else you wish.