The Weekend Watering Hole, December 17th, 2016: Men of a Lesser God

With so many evangelical “Christians” having supported Trump in the election, I was curious to find out how they’re reacting to the intelligence community’s reports of Russia’s interference in the election on Trump’s behalf.

The Christian Post is totally silent on the topic. They’re still more concerned with: abortion; not being allowed to discriminate against gays; abortion; the “War on Christmas” (Bill O’Reilly says it’s over, “we won”, although Franklin Graham seems to disagree); and abortion – not necessarily in that order.

Raw Story had a recent article about Franklin Graham praying for Trump to succeed in ‘bringing back jobs’ (nobody on the right seems to notice that President Obama managed to create a few million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate to [what should be] a fairly acceptable rate, despite the Republican blockade.) The article briefly mentions Vladimir Putin. Two quick excerpts, each of which earns its own separate (but brief) rant:

“During an interview on Tuesday, Graham praised Trump for finding a way to “work with the thugs” like Russian President Vladimir Putin “so that we can have peace in this world.”

First, I realize that, at the time of the interview, Graham may not have heard – or paid attention to – the stories that were coming out about exactly HOW Trump had been “finding a way to ‘work with the thugs’ like…Putin”, BUT, did/does Graham actually think that a Trump/Putin cooperative (or whatever you want to call it) could possibly bring about “peace in this world”?

Second, in the last few years, bigoted conservatives have re-defined the term “thug” to mean “black man.” I certainly haven’t seen any attempt by any conservatives trying to ‘find a way to work with’ those “thugs” – well, except by killing or imprisoning them, which I don’t consider to be ‘working with.’

“That’s the problem with the politicians in Washington,” he said. “They sit down there and they do nothing. Now we’ve got a man who’s coming into the White House who wants to get things done. And I hope and I pray — we all as Americans, we need to pray for the president-elect and vice president-elect.”

Mr. Graham (I refuse to use the honorific “Reverend”, he’s no more reverent than I am), we’ve HAD a man in the White House for eight years who has wanted to “get things done”, but the Republican-controlled Congress forced our entire federal government to “sit down there and…do nothing.” So go pray for your own soul, god-boy, if you have one, and leave the rest of us out of it. Maybe if you start repenting now, your god might forgive you for not listening to his son.

Graham was interviewed by Christian Today on November 13th on his reaction to Trump’s election victory. Some excerpts:

In an interview with Christian Today, Graham said there was “no question” that God had a hand in the election of Trump as the next President of the United States, and predicted a “huge impact” from his nominations to the Supreme Court.

He revealed that Trump had told him personally that he will repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment of 1954, which prevents church leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from the pulpit.

According to polls, white evangelical Christians backed Trump by 81 per cent to 16 per cent – a larger margin of the evangelical vote than was achieved by a Republican candidate in the past three elections.

Graham said Trump is a “changed man” from when he made his notorious lewd comments about women…

“What you see is what you get. Politicians are pretty good at smiling and being one thing in public and then when the doors are closed, they are different people.”

Donald Trump, by contrast, is the same in private as he appears on television, Graham said.

“He’s not polished, like a lot of politicians. He’s a little rough around the edges. But he means what he says. People need to understand that he’s a very powerful person, very strong, he’s got a very good family, great children. He’s going to put together maybe one of the best teams in Washington that we have seen in years.”

Graham said there was no question that God a hand in the election. “The vast majority of the evangelical community supported Donald Trump because he has said he is going to support Christians, not only at home but around the world.

“So when we see Christianity being attacked worldwide, not just by militant Muslims but by secularism, it’s refreshing to have a leader who is willing to defend the Christian faith.”
~~~~~
One aspect of the election result that was truly a surprise to so many was that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians. Some students at Liberty even set up a petition to distance themselves from Trump and the support he received from Falwell. The petition stated: “Associating any politician with Christianity is damaging to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But Donald Trump is not just any politician. He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”

According to Graham, the key to assessing Trump’s character is to look at the people in his team.

“Donald Trump has surrounded himself with strong evangelicals and for me as a Christian, I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

Graham did not say whether he considers Trump to be a Christian or not – “Only God really knows a person’s heart” – but, “You can tell a lot about a person by the people that they surround themselves with. Our current president claimed to be a Christian but you don’t see that in the people around him.

“Trump has strong evangelical Christians surrounding him. I’ve known Ben Carson for many years. He is a wonderful man of God. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas – another fine Christian gentleman. Mike Pence. These are the people that he surrounds himself with.”

Graham also knows Mike Pence and has spent time with him: “He is a man of God, he is a very strong evangelical. Donald Trump has surrounded himself with some strong Christians which is very encouraging.”

Graham said: “He’s [Trump] told me that he’s going to work to have that repealed. It will be huge. I think that the Johnson Amendment was a stupid thing. It was somewhat racial in the sense that Johnson did not want black pastors at that time to speak out against him.”

He and many other evangelicals welcome the prospect of that change which will have a massive impact on the way churches and other religious groups engage in politics.

~~~~~

I can’t even continue reading this hypocritical, delusional, un-American, unconstitutional idealization of an American Theocracy. I glanced further down in the article, and knew I would go ballistic if I continued. As it is, I had to take a 1/2 xanax and lie down for a while before I could finish writing this post.

How can anyone say that “Trump is a changed man”, then say that “what you see is what you get”, when what we see is the same loudmouthed, bigoted, ignorant blowhard that we’ve seen for the past, say, 30 years? How can Graham say that “only god really knows a person’s heart” to gloss over Trump’s obviously un-christian views on the one hand, yet label Obama as not being a christian, without such a caveat?  And the “surprise” “that Trump’s moral character was apparently not a problem for many leading Christians”, that doesn’t trouble these die-hard two-issue – abortion and ‘teh gay’ – “men of god”? Theirs is not a god that our country should go anywhere near, let alone follow.

When this particular interview with Christian Today occurred, it was only a few days after the election. Yet nothing in my searches in the time frame SINCE the election indicates that ANY of the right-wing evangelicals have any public opinion about a foreign government intervening in the U.S. Presidential election on behalf of one candidate. Until Graham or any of these bully-pulpit religious fanatics denounce Trump’s tightly-woven bond with Russia, I can only conclude that they are happy to be associated with any monstrous regime.  As long as they can get their way on those two issues, they’ll bow down to any despot. Fuck them and the four horses of the apocalypse that they rode in on.

This is our very late Open Thread–talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 3rd, 2016: One of These “Christians” is Not Like The Other

Okay, this is going to be a little long, so go ahead and get your favorite beverage/sustenance. Are you sitting comfortably?

I received the following email the other day from Michael Sherrard of Faithful America:

A new group calling itself the “American Evangelical Association”[**] is generating headlines with a letter attacking Faithful America.

Signed by dozens of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters on the religious right, it makes a wild series of accusations against Christian social-justice leaders and organizations.

The letter names Faithful America alongside Sojourners’ Jim Wallis and evangelical creation-care advocate Rich Cizik, and claims that our activism has contributed to “a growth industry trafficking in human baby organs,” “violent inner-city lawlessness,” and “increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs, and terrorism.”

The charges are bizarre, but the letter’s signers – several of whom have been named by the Trump campaign as official advisors and endorsers – have a clear mission: Delegitimizing Christians who dare to challenge Trump’s politics of fear and hatred.

With barely a month left before Election Day, polls show that Trump continues to hold a double-digit lead among white Christians, and too many Christian leaders have been intimidated into silence.

With no buildings, denominations, or charitable tax status to protect, Faithful America is free to take on the Christians who are baptizing Trump’s heinous agenda. But we need your support to do it.  Donate to Faithful America

The full letter is almost eight pages long, but here’s an abridged version and some of the most significant signers:

“An Open Letter to Christian pastors, leaders and believers who assist the anti-Christian Progressive political movement in America”
After years of earnest but less public attempts, it is now with heavy hearts, and a hope for justice and restoration, that we Christian leaders urge ‘progressive’ evangelicals and Catholics to repent of their work that often advances a destructive liberal political agenda. We write as true friends knowing that most believers mean well. We desire the best for you and for the world God loves.

As recent leaked documents confirm, and as Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners eventually admitted, wealthy, anti-Christian foundations, following the lead of billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, fund and “rent” Christian ministers as “mascots” serving as surprising validators for their causes. The consequent realities include injury to countless people, the Church, the family, nation and the global Church including many martyrs.

We must reclaim the Church’s witness in the world. Biblical truth and wisdom are the highest love for human beings. While God loves justice and mercy for all, many “social justice” campaigns are politically crafted and not the true Gospel. Only the truth of our sin, both personal and systemic, and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for our salvation and rebirth, is true hope for persons and nations. The gospel charges all things with hope.

Consider some of the consequences of Progressive political activism over the past eight years:

1. A growth industry trafficking in human baby organs and body parts – funded and defended by the Democratic Party.

2. The abandonment of a biblical view of marriage that protected and liberated children and adults from centuries of pagan slavery, poverty, polygamy and non-life-giving sexuality.

3. The Transgender agenda imposed by Obama-government edict, including gender re-education to be forced on our citizens, businesses, schools, military and churches.

4. Doubling of our national debt, economic stagnation and increased welfare dependency.

5. Increased minority unemployment, poverty and violent inner city lawlessness, with an accompanying loss of opportunity, self-determination and family stability.

6. Heightened racial division and tension, and the growing phenomenon of paid demonstrators being recruited and dispatched to instigate protests that often become riots.

7. Open borders and ‘sanctuary’ cities increasing drugs, disease, crime, gangs and terrorism.

8. Forced refugee resettlement in hundreds of American cities without citizen consent, mandated by the federal government in collusion with the United Nations. “Refugees” are primarily non-assimilating Muslims, while authorities reject persecuted Christians.

9. Hostility towards Judeo-Christian religious liberty in our courts, media and universities including the suppression of conservative speakers, free thought and moral education.

10. The widespread, political use of the IRS to intimidate conservative, patriotic and Christian groups that disagree with the current political establishment.

For many years, Soros’s Open Society and other liberal foundations have funded not only most of the disturbing campaigns mentioned above (1-10) but also the Religious Left, using and creating ostensibly evangelical and Catholic organizations to “message and mobilize” Christians into Progressive causes. They use the Marxist-Alinsky tactic of funding “ministers” who cherry-pick faith language to confuse and divide the Church’s morality, mission and vote.

At a time when many Christian ministries are struggling, a few of the Soros network “faith” and “interfaith” grantees are Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Richard Cizik’s New Evangelical Partnership, Telos, J Street to malign Israel, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faithful America and Gamaliel. Faith in Public Life to “counter” Christians and the Tea Party in the media and, with PICO, advocates for amnesty, mass Islamic migration, and even sought to influence the visit and priorities of Pope Francis himself. Billions of additional dollars to “Christian VOLAGs” for large scale “refugee” and migrant resettlement often comes from the Obama administration.

We urge you to question the true intentions of persons or organizations that receive money from Soros and other billionaire globalists. We must not give their surrogates four more years.

And so we ask again, why do those who claim to share our faith in Christ continue to advocate for politicians who will pass legislation, and appoint justices and judges who will attack Christian liberty and persecute believers? Turning our nation over to the enemies of biblical faith does not honor Christ, promote love of neighbor, or advance God’s kingdom in the world.

We ask those who have intentionally or unwittingly aided the Progressive agenda in the past to look at the actual consequences of their policies. Please stop inviting fellow believers to assist global profiteers and political activists who are determined to de-Christianize America.

Please repent and turn away from those who attack the Church. Say “no” to blood money. Refuse funds from anyone attempting to put the Church and America in chains.

Selected signers:

Lt. Gen. Wm. “Jerry” Boykin (U.S. Army, retired)
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (U.S. Army, retired)
Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr. (High Impact Leadership Coalition)
Dr. Everett Piper (President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University)
Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riano (Executive Vice President, Regent University)
Dr. Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary)
Dr. Jay Richards (The Catholic University of America)
David Barton (author and speaker)
Rep. John Becker (Ohio state representative)
Dr. Jim Garlow (Senior Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego)
Pastor Steve Riggle (Grace Church, Houston TX)
Pastor Steve Smothermon (Legacy Church, Albuquerque NM)
Fr. Frank Pavone (Priests for Life)
Eric Metaxas (author, talk-show host)
Tim Wildmon (American Family Association)
George Barna (Researcher and author)
Mat Staver (Liberty Counsel)

[**Note: A Google search found nothing about this “American Evangelical Association”]

Next, an insane exhortation to his fellow Evangelicals by Paige Patterson, Op-Ed Contributor to the Christian Post, titled “How Evangelicals Should be Like Hitler’s Army on Election Day” [yes, he said “Hitler’s Army”]:

What do April 30, 1945, and Nov. 8, 2016, have in common?

The first date was the culmination of World War II. On that fateful day, Adolf Hitler apparently shot himself in the mouth as Russian soldiers moved in on his compound. But in the midst of all that tragedy, an interesting saga played itself out in Germany.

Before Hitler realized that he had lost the war, almost all other Germans knew it well. The Russians were closing from the East, and the Americans came from the West.

The dilemma of many German troops was relatively simple: “Shall we surrender to the Russians or shall we head west and surrender to the Americans?”

Apparently no small number made every effort to fall into the hands of the Americans.

No one knew for sure what would happen to them if they opted for the American option. But the German army knew well what would happen if they were overtaken by Russian generals. In the end, it was what they knew, not what they did not know, that forced their choice. Having heard and often experienced the kindness of American soldiers, many decided that this was the best hope for the future.

And what about Nov. 8, 2016 — election day in America?

Apparently, there has never been an election quite like it. The two presidential candidates both sport disapproval ratings among the highest of any candidates in history. What on earth shall Christians do? Some have said that they will stay home that November morning and stoke the fire in the fireplace. Others will write in a preferred name — some have even said that this name will be “Jesus.”

There is another interesting aspect to this dilemma. There are actually three different ways to vote for Hillary Clinton. The first is the one that she prefers. Pull the lever for her to be the next president of the United States. But if you cannot bear to do that, then write in the name of a candidate who has no chance of winning or pour another cup of coffee and watch a vacuous TV show at home. Mrs. Clinton will be pleased, because she is confident that the vast majority of Democrats and other liberals WILL vote for her even if they intensely dislike her and do not trust her.

“The sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8).

We know what will happen if the win goes to Mrs. Clinton. Judges throughout the judiciary will be appointed from among those who support the execution of preborns under the dubious rhetoric of caring for the health of women (those who managed to be born, that is). These same judges will continue to attack the religious liberty of evangelical Christians, and the preaching of much that the Bible teaches will be interpreted as “hate crimes,” especially if proclaimed in a public setting.

On the other hand, we have no idea what Donald Trump will do. His record is anything but stellar. But we do know what he has promised, and we are already aware of the docket of judges from which he promises to name those charged with the protection of constitutional rights. Should he keep his promises on only half of these issues, Americans will have a chance to save the lives of infants still protected in the wombs of their mothers and the sanctity of religious liberty. The first freedom that alone gives meaning to all of the others will be maintained in a world that desperately needs this witness.

A presidential election is not about whether you like someone. Neither is it about whether you agree with him on everything. When was the last time you voted for a president with whom you agreed at every point?

Like the Germans and their surrender, the question is simple: Do you cast a ballot, in any one of three ways, that you know for sure will be devastating to preborn infants and to religious liberty, or do you cast a vote for a candidate who offers some hope?

We must hear the warning of Christ and see to it that the children of this world will not be wiser than the children of light. Every infant must be the recipient of a voting parent or grandparent who wishes to give that child a chance to live. And our religious liberty must be preserved!

Choose the candidate who offers hope, not the candidate who guarantees disaster. And you will make that decisive choice!

There’s just too much delusion, and too many lies, buzzwords, and dog-whistles here for one person to pick apart. So…

…This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, everyone, have at it!

The Watering Hole; Thursday December 31 2015; Gay Marriage, a Flashback

Fifteen years ago this last July, Vermont became the first state in the country to allow and accept civil unions as a legal entity, an arrangement which no doubt served as a prime motivator in the movement to ‘legalize’ gay marriage once and for all. Then this year — fifteen years almost to the day down the road — the Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage was legal everywhere and had to be accepted, at which time the vast bulk of the religious/evangelical right wing found itself in dire need of a diaper change. Apparently that’s what happens when secularists sneak in right under god’s nose and start the destruction of Amurka by being, you know, tolerant and stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, while taking a peek at some old floppy-disk backup files from way back when, I ran across the transcript of a chat room (email) “discussion” I’d had back in 2002 with, of all people, an Evangelical Christianista from, of all places, Vermont. He had responded to some things that I and a couple other fair-minded folks (screen names ‘Herb’ and ‘Gillian’) had previously written while discussing same-sex civil unions and marriage. The end result, I think, quite well presents the polar perspectives on the matter — ie. the hyper- vs the non- religious viewpoints — and the judgments that are implicit when the discussion’s principle religious motivator is the interpretation of a word or two — phrase maybe — from that bestselling fictional work some call The Bible.

What follows is the transcription of my own email response to that post written by “Jim in Vermont;” it wasn’t a ‘live’ discussion, obviously, so if “Jim in Vermont” had a response to anything I wrote, it would not show here. Still, the conversation is, I think, interesting and, if compared with current day viewpoints, it demonstrates that, indeed, some things NEVER change.

******

At 0151 PM 11/1/02 -0500, Jim in Vermont wrote:
DOGMATIC CHRISTIAN HORSE PUCKEY

Frugal wrote: “Not all of the dogmatic Christian horse puckey in the world is enough to logically condemn and warrant legal discrimination against that roughly ten percent of the earth’s human population which generally believes it had no choice in the matter of sexual preference but is condemned anyway. To maintain otherwise is to pretend that dogmatic bigotry represents the high moral ground.”

Who’s been talking about condemning homosexuals, Frugal? I know that I haven’t.

You might try this site, GodHatesFags. It pretty much answers your question.

If their sexual behavior condemns them, that’s God’s business, not mine.

Then further argument is basically moot, so why worry?

But if we are interested in sustaining civilization . . .

Oh, yes, now I see.

. . . I think that we should not give legal or moral sanction to any immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior.

I’m starting to lose count of the fallacies — have run out of fingers. “Sustaining civilization” is not an issue. Ten percent who do not reproduce do not doom society; they probably don’t even make a blip on the population increase scale. “Immoral behavior, including homosexual behavior” is a straw man argument; there is no basis other than Biblical upon which to ‘define’ homosexual behavior as “immoral”, and the Bible does not enjoy universal acceptance or privilege. Nor should it.

Is it begging the question to argue that homosexual behavior is immoral?

Of course it is. “Morality” is peripheral, not absolute; nor is it secularly mandated, far as I know. What was it the Scottish Bard wrote about Morality?

“Morality, thou deadly bane,
Thy tens o’ thousands thou hast slain
Vain is his hope, whase stay an’ trust is
In moral mercy, truth, and justice!”

Ah, yes. Thank you Robert.

I don’t see how. How can two mutually exclusive sexual behaviors
both be right?

“Mutually exclusive sexual behaviors”?? First of all, I don’t know what you mean by ‘both be right’, although I assume you’re referring to more than simply the procedural? In any case, and as far as I’m concerned, the only ‘right’ that’s on the table is the ‘right’ to equal treatment under secular law. Christian “law” (or whatever you choose to call it) may, in your view, apply, but it doesn’t – or certainly shouldn’t — be applied to the nation as a whole.

If homosexual coupling is “right,” it logically follows that its opposite (i.e., heterosexual marriage) is “wrong.”

Good grief. That one about takes the cake, so far at least. The most sophistic argument in several days, in fact. It’s also just plain silly.

Yet the former, if taken as the norm, would lead to the end of the human race . . .

It would only lead to the end of the race if it was the ONLY norm. As it stands, “it’s” the norm for only about ten percent of the population, and has little or no impact on population growth. (I think I probably said that already).

. . . while the latter, which has traditionally and universally been taken as the norm, has been the building block of civilization.

“Appeal to Tradition” fallacy — ‘the latter’ which has certainly at least been the cause of a globe grossly overpopulated with humans. If you want to call that a “building block” I guess I won’t quibble.

It is a perilous enterprise to abandon the norm in favor of an “anything goes” attitude towards human sexuality.

There is no ‘norm’ being abandoned, Jim. No one is saying that you have to marry a man. The single issue is simply to extend the same legal rights to a homosexual relationship as a hetero relationship already enjoys. That’s ALL.

Social innovators – such as those who think that marriage should be redefined to include homosexual couplings – never know how close to the tap root of civilization they are hacking with their innovations. I see no reason to trust their judgment about human sexuality over the lessons taught by thousands of years of civilization.

Sophistry. There is no “innovation”, for BGate’s sake! The relationships already exist, have always existed, and will always exist.

The essence of my argument, Frugal, has been that abandoning moral standards (sexual or otherwise) in obedience to the zeitgeist of postmodern relativism is no way to perpetuate civilization.

“Appeal to fear” fallacy. And once again, you assume a single ‘governing’ morality which, if it exists at all, remains mixed in the same pot with all the other ‘moralities’. Because the Bible says something does not make it a universal standard except in opinion.

Homosexuality (the sexual preference) may not be a conscious choice, but homosexual behavior (acting on the preference) is.

Really? And that particular “behavior” is somehow your business? Jim, you’re wandering further and further into the realms of sophistic hyperbole.

Recognizing that does not obligate us to pass laws against homosexual behavior, but neither does it obligate us to pass laws granting homosexual couplings legitimacy on a par with heterosexual marriages.

You’re right, it doesn’t obligate either of those. The only obligation is to insist on legal fair play. Name one good reason why a homosexual partner should have any less right to accumulate and inherit an estate with his/her partner than you.

As Phillip Johnson wrote: “A rational society will be generous in recognizing exceptions, but it will emphatically define the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future.”

I don’t know who Phillip Johnson is, and I don’t necessarily disagree with that statement. What I do find disagreeable is the implicit pronouncement that a homosexual couple has less ‘values’ than any other couple, that they are any less interested in or capable of building the future. Not everyone begats, you know, thank all gods. Some heterosexual couples make the choice not to, some are biologically unable. And whatever shall we do with the sot who gets a vasectomy? Or the woman who undergoes a tubal ligation? Birth control? Should we relegate all of those ‘sinners’ to the same dirt pile as homosexual couples simply because they, too, violate “the norm around the values of the stable families that build the future” by not spinning off begats??

Homosexuality is viewed in different ways by different people . . .

By golly, we finally agree on something! Let me take a brief respite and
‘carpe momentum’ (or however the Latin works there).

. . . but it is most emphatically NOT the norm that builds the future. In a rational society, then, the definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage) should not be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships – which is the goal of homosexual activists.

That was, indeed, a brief respite. There you go again with your standard “Appeal to Fear” fallacy. Who has suggested that the “definition of the norm (i.e., monogamous heterosexual marriage)” be changed in any way? It doesn’t have to be changed to accommodate homosexual relationships, they already exist. The “definition of the norm” might come into play if the proposition on the table were to put the shoe on the other foot and allow full legal benefit to homosexual ‘marriage’ only and to take it away from heterosexual couples, but last I looked that had not been suggested. As Burns noted:

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
an’ foolish notion
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
an’ ev’n devotion!

At any rate, Frugal, your characterization of the traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral as “dogmatic bigotry” is evidence of, well, dogmatic bigotry.

Well, yes, perhaps from the Christian point-of-view it could be so seen. I should note, however, that my ‘dogmatic bigotry’ has its basis in a phrase that goes something like this (from memory): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now I know as well as anyone that the DOI’s thesis statement is not legal basis or legal authority for anything, that it’s simply a statement of elevated understanding, of elevated purpose, and of elevated goal. And (especially) in that regard it stands as if a beacon of light when alongside the relative darkness which so often is poured forth from the Bible. Perhaps I’m not alone when I say that I care less about the “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is “immoral;” my concern is with the secular practice of denying a group of people a ‘right’ granted others, denied a few only because of that “traditional Christian view that homosexual behavior is immoral.” Ridiculous. And, in fact, not all Christian denominations believe in or preach that BS. Most are not, in fact and THANKFULLY!!! not of the fundamentalist and/or evangelical mold, and that fact sometimes is VERY comforting.

Frugal asked: “Have any of you Christians ever heard the word LOVE when used to describe interpersonal relationship?” Of course we have, Frugal. As Christ said, love is God’s “greatest commandment.” But we Christians have also listened to God’s descriptions of sinful (i.e., immoral) behavior and to His desire that we not condone sinful behavior – in our own lives or in the lives of others. Love does not grant us a license for immorality.

“Immorality” in your eyes, Jim. Somewhere I thought you said that was God’s business, not yours. Maybe I was mistaken. Jim, you can “listen to God” all you want — and if you’d just keep it all between yourself and whatever you envision “God” to be, no one would ever argue with you about it. But using your belief as a basis upon which to justify the denial of others a very simple ‘right’ is a bit much.

Your avoidance of the topic of Love between two people (regardless of gender) as opposed to ‘sex’ between two people (regardless of gender) has been noted, btw. I’m disappointed, but not surprised.

Meanwhile, the list of fallacies grows like Pinnochio’s nose.

Herb wrote: “Marriage is actually a contract. A contract that allows two people to live together and act as one financial entity.”

If that’s all that marriage means to you, Herb, then you’ll never understand the argument I’ve been making.

I’ll never understand the argument you’ve been making, Jim. The issue has nothing at all to do with what YOU might think marriage means, it has to do ONLY with, as Herb says, allowing “two people to live together and act as one [legal] financial entity.” How in the heck you can equate that simple premise with the demise of civilization is beyond me, but if civilization has truly sunk so low that it’s demise will be brought forth by that dot over that ‘i’, I guess it’s high time to demise away and start over.

As I’ve repeatedly explained, I think that homosexual marriages should not be legalized because doing so fosters the dangerous notion that all sexual relationships build for the future in equal measure. In my view, it is utterly foolhardy to redefine marriage to accommodate the sexual preferences of homosexuals. Let them have their sex, but don’t let them undermine the institution of marriage and the (dare I say it?) traditional family values that sustain civilization.

Let’s see. Appeal to Fear, Appeal to Belief, Appeal to Spite, Appeal to Emotion, Appeal to Common Practice, Appeal to Consequences of Belief, Appeal to Ridicule, Appeal to Popularity, Questionable Cause — have I missed any?

Do I believe in separation of church and state? Yes – in the sense that we should not have a theocracy and in the sense that the state should not interfere in religion. No – if separation means that religious beliefs have no place in deciding social policy. The First Amendment does not require people of faith to leave their faith behind when they enter the public arena.

Nor does it allow ‘them’ to overlay ‘their’ belief on others. “Congress shall make no law respecting establishment of religion . . .” about covers it, I think. We are a society based on secular law, not on religious law. Thank all gods.

If it did, the institution of slavery (to cite only one example) might still be alive – given that Christians, informed by their faith, were the leaders in ending that institution.

Of course, Christians, informed by that same faith, were pretty good at
participating as well. When was it that God decided slavery was evil, I wonder?

I doubt that Christ regards my defense of biblical morality as “bad.” He spoke at great length about the evils of sin – which made his mission to Earth necessary. Among other things, He said that “the things that come out of the heart…make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19) Is there any doubt, given Christ’s full acceptance of “the Law,” that the phrase “sexual immorality” referred to the sexual sins (including homosexual behavior) described by “the Law?” Is there any doubt that Christ hates sin? Following Christ’s lead, I think that we are to love all people, but that we are to hate all sin.  I also have no doubt that Christ would not approve of those “who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality…” (Jude 14)

All of that is very nice, I’m sure. It’s also irrelevant, with its generally inferred but unspoken conclusions. “Appeals to the Consequences of a Belief” is probably close enough.

Gillian wrote: “…the problem is that some people are hate-filled.”

I quite agree. Given a choice between “hate-filled” and
“respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of
homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt. The problem with some people that you’ve identified has been repeatedly demonstrated on this very forum, and I’m not afraid to let the lurkers decide for themselves just whose writings have been filled with hateful vitriol.

Jim, I have to hand it to you. You have the most amazing gift of re-spinning the yarn that I’ve ever encountered.

Given a choice between “hate-filled” and “respectful” to describe the replies to my thoughts on the issue of homosexuality, I think that a fair-minded reader would pick “hate-filled” as being the most apt.

Or maybe rather than ‘hate-filled’ or ‘respectful’, how about calling it what it is — ‘a direct, no nonsense, no BS refutation of the assumed privilege of public meddling in private lives because the Bible so instructs’?? Whichever words you care to use, ‘it’ all comes down to one thing: the US legal system and canon of law and jurisprudence are NOT legally referent to the King James (or any other) version of the Bible; that notion is, in fact, specifically refuted by the very clear language of The Bill of Rights, Article I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .” Works for me.

******

So that was it, that’s where it apparently ended — thirteen years ago last month, at least. Problem is, ‘it’ is back in force now that the SCOTUS has ruled that homosexual marriage is legal in all states. I recently read where Ted Cruz’s daddy Rafael, in his new book titled ‘A Time For Action’ wrote, “. . . the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual marriage is one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” Apparently Rafael’s preferred method of solving that “problem” is to do all he can to see to the election of his son Ted as President. Some of us think differently, however. Meanwhile, I still gotta wonder — how come so many folks who profess to be ‘Christians’ and ‘driven by Love’ of others are so filled with so much hate and fear of everything in the world that’s not spoken highly of in their favorite fictional manuscript? I mean, what’s it to them, anyway?

If I should ever stumble upon the answer to that one, I promise I’ll post it here the same day. Don’t hold your breath, however; ain’t no margin in suffocating.

OPEN THREAD

Oh, and Feliz Año Nuevo!

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 21st, 2015: GOP Pander-dates

In yet another example of GOP Presidential hopefuls pandering to the right-wing evangelical “christians”, six (so far) of them have signed a “pledge” being pushed by several conservative groups. The “pledge” concerns support of what’s now being called the “First Amendment Defense Act“, which was originally introduced in June as the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act” – I’m guessing that the name was changed to make it sound more “constitutional” and less “screw the other Amendments, religion’s in #1! ”

The pledge states:  “If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President.”

From ThinkProgress:

“It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP,” Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, said in the group’s statement announcing the pledge. “Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA.”

Gallagher added that a Republican win in 2016 could mean that FADA becomes reality. “Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away,” she said.

Ms. Gallagher, I think that using the term “gay marriage dissenters” is a tad disingenuous, don’t you?  “Gay marriage dissenters” can “dissent” all they want, what they CAN’T do is discriminate against gays/gay marriage.

For another slant on the “pledge” and FADA, here’s part of the Christian Post’s reporting:

Conservative groups including the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and the Family Research Council affiliate FRC Action created a pledge for candidates to support.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have signed onto the Project’s pledge in support of FADA.

GOP candidates Donald Trump, former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky have expressed support for FADA but did not sign the pledge.

In a letter sent to each candidate regarding the FADA pledge, the conservative groups stressed the possible threat to religious liberty from the legalization of gay marriage.”

Here’s the text of the letter:

[T]he gathering concern around whether or not the Left will succeed in its ongoing efforts to force those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, prompts us to write to you and ask: will you commit to making it a top priority for you to ensure passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in the first 100 days of your administration?

FADA protects supporters of natural marriage from punishment by the Federal government or its regulatory arms, including the IRS: “the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

It prevents the IRS from issuing regulations denying tax-exempt status to charities or schools that support natural marriage, and forbids the Federal government from discriminating against them in contracts, loans, licensing, accreditation or employment. It prevents Federal discrimination against individuals, employers and other organizations that continue to act in accordance with a belief in natural marriage, while specifically guaranteeing conscience protections will not also be used to disrupt benefits to which people are legally entitled.

Serious scholars suggest [I love that sort of phrase, it’s like commercials that say “some studies suggest” that consuming their product will do whatever” – but I digress] religious schools should expect to be punished by the withholding of federal funds under current law if they do not treat same-sex unions as marriages. “It seems to me very likely that, in the coming years, schools and universities that accept public funds and support will be required—as a condition of those funds—to have nondiscrimination rules that forbid discrimination on sexual-orientation grounds,” One such scholar, a professor who oversees the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame’s law school, told The Atlantic. “And, these rules will not distinguish between sexual-orientation discrimination and non-recognition of same-sex marriages.”

The second most powerful Democratic Senator has publicly stated he’s not sure whether such schools should be stripped of their tax-exempt status. When the Weekly Standard asked, “should religious protections extend beyond houses of worship to, say, religious schools that require employees to affirm their faith’s teaching about marriage?” Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois responded: “Getting into a challenging area, and I don’t have a quick answer to you. I’ll have to think about it long and hard.” Many Americans, particularly African-American Christians like Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, are losing their livelihoods, at least in part because they privately support natural marriage.

When no less a distinguished legal expert than the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts, has pointed to the serious religious liberty consequences that may stem from the Court’s redefinition of marriage, it is time to take the need for new conscience protections seriously. “Today’s decision . . . creates serious questions about religious liberty . . . Indeed the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage,” wrote Chief Justice Roberts. Millions of Americans can disagree over the definition of marriage, however, it is essential that the millions of Americans who support natural marriage are not punished by the Federal government for their support for marriage as it has been understood for millennia.

We ask, therefore, for your public assurance that you would prioritize passing the First Amendment Defense Act in the first 100 days of your administration.”

I know that this post is a bit lengthy, but I wanted to point out The American Principles Project (APP)’s Mission and Purpose:

“American Principles Project recognizes the dignity of the person as the basis of the founding principles of the United States. We are committed to the declaration made by the Founding Fathers, that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

APP believes that local and national policies that respect the dignity of the person will lead to a flourishing society. As such, we educate and advocate for public policy solutions that respect and affirm: human life from conception to natural death; the union of one man and one woman as the definition of marriage; the freedom to practice and proclaim religion; authentic economic progress for working Americans; education in service of the comprehensive development of the person; and, the legacy of immigrants in contributing to the American story.”  [emphasis mine]

I have a few bones to pick with this, but it will have to wait for another time – but you can go ahead and start without me.

Bonus Track: More pointless investigations into Planned Parenthood! [Warning: the countless lies and demonstrations of ignorance contained in this article may be harmful to your mental health.]

This is your daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

 

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”

 

“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”

 

“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, April 25th, 2015: Just Say No to FRC

Yesterday I received an email from Faithful America, an organization of what I would consider to be ‘true’ Christians, who speak out against social injustices perpetrated and perpetuated in the name of Christianity. The email said that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council – or NAMBLA, er, FRC – is supposed to be a guest on Face The Nation tomorrow. The email said, in part:

“With the Supreme Court about to issue a historic decision, CBS News is turning to an anti-gay hate group leader to speak for Christians.
This Sunday, Face the Nation is scheduled to feature Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Perkins has repeatedly accused gay men of molesting children, causing the Southern Poverty Law Center to formally name FRC to its list of hate groups.

Perkins was once a regular on CNN and MSNBC, but those networks have increasingly abandoned him as mainstream Christians have challenged his decades-long record of spreading ugly misinformation about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people…Tell CBS News: Cancel Tony Perkins. He doesn’t speak for Christians.”

If Bob Schieffer would take a few minutes to just check out the FRC’s website, I’m sure that he would understand that this is a group that should NOT have a voice in the same-sex-marriage debate.

First, an excerpt from FRC’s “Washington Update” from Thursday, under the heading “What About Bobby?”:

“If liberals want to pick a fight over religious liberty, they’ll have their hands full with my home state: Louisiana. Unlike other governors who have been quick to raise a white flag, Bobby Jindal is leading the charge for his state’s Marriage and Conscience Act, warning that he won’t back down. “In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty. As the fight… moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.”

“Although corporations are already turning up the heat on Jindal, the Governor says, “They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.” Realizing that this is a watershed moment for religious liberty, Jindal writes, “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s time for corporate America to make a decision. Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all.” With the Left’s attack dogs on the loose in Louisiana and elsewhere, religious liberty is almost certainly going to be a major issue in 2016 — in more ways than one.

While conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys, leaders like Speaker Boehner have their eyes on the global crisis. Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm, as dozens of innocents are slaughtered for the faith our country is so reluctant to protect. In a new blog post, the Speaker’s office catalogues the latest horrors, and asks: Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?”

There’s just so many things wrong with that last paragraph alone, my irony-meter went past 11, then shattered.

1) “Conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys”? What they are scratching and clawing for is their right to exercise INTOLERANCE.

2) “Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm…” ISIS’s brutal acts have nothing to do with “religious liberty”, and if these conservatives had an honest bone in their collective bodies, they’d admit it.

3) “Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world?” Why on earth should the Obama administration, or any other president’s administration, have to “protect Christians all over the world”? The U.S. government cannot feasibly protect U.S.citizens “all over the world”, how could it be expected – no, demanded – to protect all “Christians”? More importantly, how would using the U.S. government to favor the lives of one religious group possibly be Constitutional? Not to mention that it would certainly require “big government”!

Under “HOMOSEXUALITY”:

“Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects. While the origins of same-sex attractions may be complex, there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn. We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools.”

What the FRC believes doesn’t mean squat when it comes down to science and biology. Just because there is no evidence that will convince the FRC “that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn” doesn’t mean that there isn’t evidence in medical science. And just how does FRC separate the “homosexual identity” from the person? It would appear that, since they do not look upon homosexuals as individual human beings, they would not accept homosexual people, U.S. citizens, “as equivalent to heterosexual[people] in law, in the media, and in schools.” So what class of citizen would these braying amoral charlatans demote homosexual Americans to?

“Sympathy must be extended to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, and every effort should be made to assist such persons to overcome those attractions, as many already have.”

I haven’t noticed anyone from FRC, or any other anti-gay faux-religious group, extending “sympathy” to gays – maybe they just extend sympathy to gay people who don’t want to face the fact that they’re gay? And hasn’t FRC heard that there’s no scientific or medical evidence that “praying away Teh Gay”, or any other “treatment” purporting to turn gay people “straight”, is actually effective. They should just ask Marcus Bachmann about that.

And take a look at the titles of some of their “Policy Publications”:

“Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality – Some Thoughts on Honest Interpretation” They wouldn’t know “honest interpretation” of any part of the bible even if Jesus appeared and called a convention of alleged “Christians” to set them straight. So-to-speak.

“The Other Side of Tolerance – How Homosexual Activism Threatens Liberty” Goddammit, will someone, any one of these people who glibly (and probably incorrectly) spout words like “freedom” and “liberty” please tell the rest of us exactly how they define those words? I hear them used with regularity by people who seem to want to limit others’ freedoms, so I’m pretty sure that such people don’t consult the OED, they just make up their own definitions.

Okay, enough ranting from me. For now, anyway.

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 9th, 2015: Monday Morning Morons

I know that we do a lot of Right-Wing-Nut-Job (RWNJ) bashing here, much of it about the more Rabid Religious amongst them (RRRWNJ) but…well, both (often overlapping) groups just come up with so many things that invite ridicule, they’re their own worst enemy. Just look at last week alone (in case you missed some of these):

Being gay is worse than Murder and Genocide. Yes, now, according to “Pastor” Scott Lively, homosexuality is the Number One sin against God. An excerpt from Right Wing Watch’s article:

“Last month, rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively warned that if the Supreme Court strikes down state bans on same-sex marriage, it could lead to the rise of the Antichrist by the end of the year.”

In an interview with Bryan Fischer on Friday, “Lively told Fischer that America is about to cross “a line with God that hasn’t occurred in the entire history of the world since Noah’s flood” – which Lively claims was caused by god because god apparently hates gays. Back in January of 2013, Lively had stated:

“We need to remember that in the time leading up to the Flood what the rabbis teach about the last straw for God before He brought the Flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the End Times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the Flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end.”

(Snip)

“I think this is the issue of the End Times, homosexuality. It’s present, if you do a careful investigation of all the scriptures dealing with this from the beginning and all the way to the end, God is painting a very clear picture that this represents the outer extent of rebellion against Him in a society and the last thing that happens before wrath comes.”

Okay…first, I thought that President Barack “Hussein” Obama was the AntiChrist in RWNJ eyes. So there’s another one? Second, I don’t know what religious sect/cult Lively is the “Pastor” of, but if it’s based on Christianity in any way, then I must have been dozing throughout my 13 years of Catholic schools.

Anyhoo…today, “Pastor” Lively is urging his followers and other groups to, according to his “Open Letter to America”

“…band together in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to promote and conduct a continual prayer vigil and stand-out for marriage at SCOTUS (or any Federal Courthouse for those who can’t get there) from now until the ruling comes out, probably in June…”
“This is a general call to all believers to go to SCOTUS alone or in groups to pray and hold signs. Churches and other organizations can choose dates or times to rally their own troops if they like and/or hold press conferences etc., but let’s all just put out the word to whatever circle of influence we have and let the Holy Spirit stir hearts.

I am asking every Christian and pro-family radio talk host to promote this vigil, and perhaps do a broadcast from the site. Large organizations could provide logistical support…”

(snip)

“Only God can save us from the calamity and disgrace of defiling His institution of marriage in our official national policy.

Let us take the authority we have in Him, and the freedom we have as Americans, to join together to surround the federal judges with such a hedge of prayer that they will be forced to bow their knee to the one who created marriage as the foundation of all human civilization — one man and one woman.”

Hmm, “god created marriage as the foundation of all civilization”? I don’t remember any wedding performed by god himself–you’d think that the bible would have mentioned that, huh? And now Scott Lively thinks that the entire Supreme Court of the United States should get on their knees for something other than sucking Koch and refer all decisions to Lively’s god? I realize that one or two of the Justices would be happy to do so, but all nine? Rather unconstitutional, don’tcha think?

Back to Lively’s call for a prayer vigil: from BibleGateway, the 1599 Geneva Bible version, here’s 2 Chronicles 7:14:

14 If my people, among whom my Name is called upon, do humble themselves, and pray and seek my presence, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear in heaven and be merciful to their sin, and will heal their land”
Footnotes: 2 Chronicles 7:14 I will cause the pestilence to cease and destroy the beasts that hurt the fruits of the earth, and send rain in due season.

I’m not sure how Lively uses this as an anti-gay call to march/pray, as neither 2 Chronicles 6, nor the remainder of 2 Chronicles 7, makes any reference to homosexuality. But I’m sure that Lively’s twisted interpretation is a masterpiece of pulling it out of his ass, so to speak. Considering how many whoppers he produces, one could probably drive an SUV up his asshole–well, a 4WD SUV, anyway.

Well, let’s leave “Pastor” Lively to his unChristian vigil, and go on to:

OMG, Christians are being persecuted – again! Poor embattled Ken Ham (“Answers In Genesis”, Creation Museum) is whining about being denied $18 million in tax breaks for his planned Noah’s Ark park by the State of Kentucky’s Tourism Board. The Board “cited AIG’s stated intention to discriminate based on religion in its hiring of theme park employees and to use the taxpayer-subsidized park for religious evangelism…” On a RW radio program last week, Ham stated:

“If Christians just keep accommodating and allowing this to happen more and more, we will lose that free exercise of religion.”

“It’s more and more of that trying to eliminate the Christian freedom that we have in this nation,” he said.

Yes, of course…those poor, poor Christians having to cave to the Constitution. I just don’t know how they’ll manage to keep practicing their faith, what with all their churches being shut down and religious leaders arrested, and…oh, wait, that never happens. But, but…tax breaks!

And lastly, in a switch away from the RRRWNJs to the “normal” RWNJs, Fox News’ pet climate change denier, Mark Morano of climatedepot.com, is very upset. According to RawStory, he does NOT like the idea that “Google’s popular web-search engine is being re-engineered to direct users to more “trustworthy” websites, saying “Let the public decide what’s the truth…” The article goes on to say:

“The proposed changes at Google would move websites up in the rankings based upon truth and not popularity.

Morano, who previously worked for Rush Limbaugh and climate change-denying Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), says this would be[sic] put him at a disadvantage.

Well, fucking DUH.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

Sunday Roast: Until we could

Poem by Richard Blanco

I knew it then, in that room where we found for the first time our eyes, and everything— even the din and smoke of the city around us— disappeared, leaving us alone as if we stood the last two in the world left capable of love, or as if two mirrors face-to-face with no end to the light our eyes could bend into infinity.

I knew since I knew you—but we couldn’t…

I caught the sunlight pining through the shears, traveling millions of dark miles simply to graze your skin as I did that first dawn I studied you sleeping beside me: Yes, I counted your eyelashes, read your dreams like butterflies flitting underneath your eyelids, ready to flutter into the room. Yes, I praised you like a majestic creature my god forgot to create, till that morning of you suddenly tamed in my arms, first for me to see, name you mine. Yes to the rise and fall of your body breathing, your every exhale a breath I took in as my own wanting to keep even the air between us as one.

Yes to all of you. Yes I knew, but still we couldn’t…

I taught you how to dance Salsa by looking into my Caribbean eyes, you learned to speak in my tongue, while teaching me how to catch a snowflake in my palms and love the grey clouds of your grey hometown. Our years began collecting in glossy photos time-lining our lives across shelves and walls glancing back at us: Us embracing in some sunset, more captivated by each other than the sky brushed plum and rose. Us claiming some mountain that didn’t matter as much our climbing it, together. Us leaning against columns of ruins as ancient as our love was new, or leaning into our dreams at a table flickering candlelight in our full-mooned eyes.

I knew me as much as us, and yet we couldn’t….

Though I forgave your blue eyes turning green each time you lied, but kept believing you, though we learned to say good morning after long nights of silence in the same bed, though every door slam taught me to hold on by letting us go, and saying you’re right became as true as saying I’m right, till there was nothing a long walk couldn’t resolve: holding hands and hope under the street lights lustering like a string of pearls guiding us home, or a stroll along the beach with our dog, the sea washed out by our smiles, our laughter roaring louder than the waves, though we understood our love was the same as our parents, though we dared to tell them so, and they understood.

Though we knew, we couldn’t—no one could.

When the fiery kick lines and fires were set for us by our founding mother-fathers at Stonewall, we first spoke defiance. When we paraded glitter, leather, and rainbows made human, our word became pride down every city street, saying: Just let us be. But that wasn’t enough. Parades became rallies—bold words on signs and mouths until a man claimed freedom as another word for marriage and he said: Let us in, we said: love is love, proclaimed it into all eyes that would listen at every door that would open, until noes and maybes turned into yeses, town by town, city by city, state by state, understanding us and the woman who dared say enough until the gravel struck into law what we always knew:

Love is the right to say: I do and I do and I do…

and I do want us to see every tulip we’ve planted come up spring after spring, a hundred more years of dinners cooked over a shared glass of wine, and a thousand more movies in bed. I do until our eyes become voices speaking without speaking, until like a cloud meshed into a cloud, there’s no more you, me—our names useless. I do want you to be the last face I see—your breath my last breath,

I do, I do and will and will for those who still can’t vow it yet, but know love’s exact reason as much as they know how a sail keeps the wind without breaking, or how roots dig a way into the earth, or how the stars open their eyes to the night, or how a vine becomes one with the wall it loves, or how, when I hold you, you are rain in my hands.

Stunning.

If I’d loved like this, I wouldn’t have done my part in the destruction of the “sanctity of marriage.”  Although, I guess it’s okay to inflict all manner of destruction on the institution of marriage, as long as you’re in a marriage with someone of the opposite sex — which is really idiotic, if you think about it.

This is our daily open threadMarriage equality now!

The Watering Hole, Monday, April 21st, 2014: SCALIA: JUSTice REVOLTing

Why does Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia keep giving us more reasons to question his fitness for his job?

It’s not like he hasn’t provided ample evidence of judicial bias over the years, the most fateful of which being his participation in the Selection of George W. Bush as President in Bush v Gore. Scalia’s later spinning of that decision, along with his callous exhortations to Gore voters to “get over it!”, calls into question both the decision and his more recent mental competence. One commenter on the linked article, which is from 2012, succinctly put it:

“Since Supreme Court decisions are intended to set legal precedent going forward (although in this bizarre instance the court stated this decision was meant to be sui generis, an abrogation of its function) then it is literally impossible to “get over” a Supreme Court decision. Maybe this swaggering jerk should step down if he doesn’t get that.”

justice scalia being rude
From a 2012 article in The Daily Beast, some info about the most infamous photo of Scalia:

“Vaffanculo”
Scalia didn’t appreciate a reporter from the Boston Herald asking him in 2006 how he responds to critics who say his religion impairs his fairness in rulings. “To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’” Scalia reportedly said, flicking his right hand from under his chin. In Italian, this not-so subtle phrase means “f–k off” and the accompanying hand flick is equally rude. “You’re not going to print that are you?” he apparently asked in an interaction that occurred, it’s worth noting, inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross at Sunday mass.”

[emphasis mine]

Scalia has no love for LGBT Americans, as discussed in a 2013 Mother Jones article. One example:

“In his dissent in Lawrence [Lawrence v Texas], Scalia argued that moral objections to homosexuality were sufficient justification for criminalizing gay sex. “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home,” he wrote. “They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”

And in this Mother Jones article from February of 2012, sarcastically entitled “Supreme Court Poised to Declare Racism Over”, the [dis]honarable Justice Scalia displays his views on racial discrimination during Shelby County, Alabama’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act. From the article:

That’s not to say all discrimination is a thing of the past. In the eyes of the high court’s conservatives, America has transcended its tragic history of disenfranchising minorities, but there’s still one kind of discrimination that matters: Discrimination against the states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Justice Antonin Scalia said that it was “sort of extraordinary to say” that “Congress can just pick out…these eight states,” referring to the states covered by Section 5.

Later, Scalia telegraphed his reasoning for what will almost certainly be a vote to strike down part of the law. Explaining overwhelming support for the Voting Rights Act reauthorization in Congress in 2006, Scalia called Section 5 the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement” that legislators would never have the courage to overturn. “In the House there are practically black districts by law now,” Scalia complained.

[Makes ya wonder how Scalia’s Siamese twin, Clarence Thomas, REALLY feels about discrimination against other American citizens of color.]

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine

When Supreme Court Justices are connected at the spine


Conan O'Brien hits the nail on the head

Conan O’Brien hits the nail on the head

And then there’s these:
scalia court not political

Delusions of grandeur?

Delusions of grandeur?

Last week, Justice Scalia came out with another disturbing notion. From yesterday’s Think Progress thread:

“During an event at the University of Tennessee’s law school on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia suggested to the capacity crowd that perhaps they should revolt against the U.S government if their taxes ever get too high.

During a question and answer part of the event, a student asked Scalia about the constitutionality of a federal income tax. Scalia assured the questioner that the tax was in fact permissible by the constitution, but added that if it ever became too high, “perhaps you should revolt.” … Supreme Court justices have largely refrained from such rhetoric. Still, in recent years, Scalia has shifted even further to the right than when he was first appointed.

Days later, at a joint appearance with fellow Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia offered a bit of ironic commentary on inflammatory rhetoric. “It sometimes annoys me when somebody has made outrageous statements that are hateful,” he told the audience at the National Press Club. “Sometimes the press will say, ‘well, he was just exercising his first amendment rights’…You can be using your first amendment rights and it can be abominable that you are using your first amendment rights. I’ll defend your right to use it, but I will not defend the appropriateness of the manner in which you are using it.”

[Right back atcha, Antonin.]

And all of this from someone who was once a regular on the PBS series “Ethics In America”. The series was produced by the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society and was hosted by Fred Friendly; individual episodes can be viewed here. I recommend checking out some of the episodes; the ones with Scalia show a younger, more reasonable and slightly more jovial Antonin Scalia.

These days, I don’t believe that Antonin Scalia knows the meaning of the word “ethics.”

This is our daily open thread–what’s on YOUR mind?

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, January 30 – Mad Men

Cool. Makes you wish for the good old days. Or not? How was it really in the 1960s for:

Women

One in 5 women with children under 6 and nearly one fourth of women whose children were over 16 held paid jobs in the Sixties. Their pay, however, was 60 percent of the male rate.

I guess we are still fighting over that equal pay thing.

Gays

Police activity against gay men was rife throughout the 1950s. Many homosexuals were blackmailed, although only a fraction came to the attention of the police. The film Victim of 1961 brought these issues to a mainstream audience. It starred Dirk Bogarde as a repressed, married homosexual taking on the blackmailers who drove his partner to suicide.

African Americans

On May 2, 1964, Dee and Moore were hitchhiking from Meadville, Miss. and were picked up by James Seale. Seale and other Klansmen took the two men into the surrounding Homochitto National Forest and tortured and interrogated them about a possible influx of guns in Franklin County meant to arm blacks against their white attackers. Later the same day, several of the Klansmen put Dee and Moore in the trunk of a car and hauled them across the Louisiana state line, 100 miles north to a spot on the Mississippi River. Then they dumped the men into the river, weighting their bodies down with a jeep engine block and pieces of railroad track.

Environment

Despite many efforts to keep the environment clean, some 200 million tons of pollutants were filling the air each year, and clean air in many cities had been replaced by smog. The earth, air, and water were deteriorating as construction of highways, malls, and housing developments caused the destruction of fertile, irreplaceable farmland. Disposal of wastes was another dilemma to be dealt with. Burning could release poisonous gases into the air, and burial could cause harmful decay.

People with Disabilities ?

[…]In the mid-1960s, most of the developmentally disabled patients admitted to large state facilities were children under the age of 12. States offered virtually no support to families hoping to keep their sons and daughters at home and no education for those children living outside institutions.

So Mrs. Burns handed over her son to an institution in Gainesville, Fla., two hours from Daytona Beach, where she and her husband were living at the time. He was screaming and crying and clinging to her legs. She was crying, too. He was just 8 years old.

 

We have come a long way since I was growing up in rural Bavaria.To me it was not paradise. I welcome the changes that happened since and am glad that I do not have to refight the battles that got us here and which were only started then. Color me paranoid, but I think shows like “Mad Men” set the atmosphere for taking us back where we do not want to go. I enjoy watching, but sometimes I shudder at the thought.

This is our Open Thread. Add your thoughts!

This is My Body, Not Yours

Transcript:

This is my body.
I do what I want with it.
This is my body.
I make my own choices.
This is my body.
I use it as a canvas, tattoo it, decorate it, and pierce it.
I take medicine if I want to and only undergo medical procedures I choose.
I eat what I want, exercise for my health, and wear what I like.
I fall in love with whomever, fuck/sleep with whomever and marry whomever I choose.
I decide when and how to become a mother.
This is my body, not yours

These decisions have nothing to do with you. If I’m not hurting you or stopping you from pursuing your inherent right to happiness, it’s none of your business. This is my body, not yours.

Almost one in eight women in the United States will have breast cancer, the most invasive cancer for women worldwide. If I am black or white, rich or poor, married or single, gay or straight, formally educated or not, I have the right to be screened for this killer of women, whether I go to my doctor or rely on the services of clinics like those run by Planned Parenthood. Your desire to stop the funding of abortions has nothing to do with my right to defend myself against cancer. This is my body, not yours.

If I choose to have sex, I have the right to birth control and to be spared your demeaning insults you’d never want leveled against your daughter or mother. My pursuit of orgasm is neither unnatural nor dangerous nor scary nor an infringement of your religious liberty. My sexual activity is for my benefit, not your pleasure. And it’s never my fault if you rape me. I am done being excluded from decisions about my sexual and reproductive health. This is my body, not yours.

I determine who or what goes inside of my vagina and when. I make all decisions regarding my pregnancy. I will access prenatal care whether or not you agree with the choices made resulting from that care. I have the right to an abortion without facing intimidation, harassment, burdensome parental consent laws, or prejudicial taxes. If I decide to have an abortion, I will not undergo unnecessary, invasive medical procedures for the purposes of your moralizing and personal edification. I’m entitled to all health information from my doctor. And allowing myself to be penetrated once doesn’t assume your right to do it again on your own prerogative, for your own reasons. This is my body, not yours.

It is time for you to accept that I am fully aware, capable, and accountable for myself. I don’t need a hero or saving because I’m not in distress. I’m not defined by my need of a man or partner, but I have the right to be made happy by one, in a safe and supportive relationship. I’m not defined by my weight, hair, make up, skin color, or breast size. I do not exist to be your play toy. I won’t wait my turn nor be quiet nor heed you. I know my physical and mental strength and I do not fear you. I’m beautiful, despite what you think, with or without your approval. This is my body, not yours.

This is my body.
I’m through with legislators telling me what to do with it.
This is my body.
Keep your salacious, aggressive, sexist insults to yourself. I’m not listening.
This is my body.
I have the right to marry my partner, woman or man.
To equal pay
To health care
To education
To divorce
To safety
To protection of the law
To respect and dignity
To complete equality
This is my body, not yours.

Do not be afraid of a world in which women know themselves, their voice, and their power. That world has arrived.

————

Don’t like it?  We aren’t asking you if you like it; we’re telling you how things are.

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

The Watering Hole, Thursday, February 23rd, 2012: I Have a Thesis. And It’s Mine.

Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Virginia) is currently in the process of reviewing the Commonwealth’s restrictive new “personhood” law prior to potentially signing it into law. This is the bill (SB484) that contains the “informed consent” language, which (translated from the legalese) “[R]equires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging and be given an opportunity to view the ultrasound image of her fetus prior to the abortion.” I’m sure that pregnant women of Virginia will be ever-so-thankful if Bob grants them a free poke-and-a-prod prior to having an abortion. (Yes, that was snark.)

You may remember Bob McDonnell as the newly-minted and previously unknown Governor who provided the Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s first State of the Union speech. (Or you may not – he was not impressive.)

Well before Bob McDonnell acquired the power to possibly make a lot of women more unhappy than they already are, he had ditched his job and decided to attend Regents University. His recently resurrected 1989 thesis, titled “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade”, is a frightening vision indeed. I’ll just give you the introductory “Abstract”, and let you read the entire work for yourselves:

“The traditional family is the cornerstone upon which Western civilization has been built, but changes in demographics, ideology, and political philosophy during this century have resulted in the decline in the strength of the family institution. The model relationship among church, state, and family, based on history, law, and scripture, is presented as a framework in which legitimate public policy decisions must be made to facilitate family restoration.

“Fundamental Republican Party principles concerning the family and the role of government are articulated, and recent federal legislative initiatives are analyzed for consistency. Political factors affecting family policy development are examined to determine why Republicans are not more successful. The paper concludes that Republicans must stay consistently committed to their principles, communicate more effectively with the American public, and take bold action to restore the family to a position of strength in modern society.”

Between the Abstract and the Introduction, McDonnell includes a quote from, inevitably, Saint Ronnie Reagan.

(Sigh) I’ll leave you to it, then.

This is our Open Thread: have at it, folks.

Oh, and my apologies to John Cleese’s character Ann Elk and her theory.

Sunday Roast, February 19th, 2012: I Couldn’t Have Ranted Better Myself

Our old friend Jurassic Pork posted a fantastic rant at his blog, as a response to the following GOProud tweet:

JP’s post, if it were a TV show, would be rated “TV-M: L/S” – “contains adult language and sexual situations” – but here’s a bit of his lead-in to probably the single most comprehensive commentary EVER concerning gay Republicans:

“GOProud, the conservative gay rights organization…decided at their soiree today in between privately making fun of the busboy uniforms and hotel decor, that we and not the right they try to represent are the enemy, the “we” being “teh Left.”

Read the rest here – this one is a keeper.

GOProud's Headquarters ("Not meant to be a factual Statement")

This is our Open Thread: feel free to discuss this issue, or whatever else is on your mind.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 15th, 2011: THIS EARTH IS NOT FLAT

Published in the Pawling Press, Pawling, NY, Friday, September 9th, 2011, under the title “Not So Flat Earth”

Note: I wrote the following in response to an opinion piece by the Pawling Press‘s conservative columnist, Mr. Paul Keyishian. Mr. Keyishian’s piece was entitled “Achieving Ideological Balance at the Federal Level”; it should be available in full at http://www.pawlingpress.com next week.

I found it aptly ironic that both Frank Matheis [liberal columnist] and Paul Keyishian, in their opinion pieces of September 2nd, referred to the idea that no sane person these days believes that the world is flat. However, while Mr. Matheis went on to discuss the dismissal of science by climate change deniers, including many of today’s prominent Republicans and Tea Partiers, Mr. Keyishian took a different route. Mr. Keyishian’s column centered around the idea that, while “established scientific facts” are either right or wrong, opposing political philosophies are “not so cut and dried.” While this is true to a certain degree, some political philosophies are readily proven to be wrong, simply by looking at history.

I am compelled to dismiss Mr. Keyishian’s base premise where he “assume[s] that each side of the political spectrum has something meaningful to contribute…” or “that we all possess the sincere desire to ‘even things out’ politically.” Anyone who has paid attention to the political arena in the last few years since President Obama was elected has to realize that, even before the 2010 mid-terms, the majority of sitting Republicans became the party of Obstruction, the party of “No!” and even “Hell, NO!” Senior Republican Mitch McConnell outright stated that the party’s goal was to “make President Obama a one-term President”, which doesn’t exactly sound like meaningful contribution in my view. The only solution that the Republicans offered to mitigate the effects of the recession and the rampant, increasing unemployment rate were tax cuts, especially for the wealthy and big corporations.

Here’s where we go back to the ‘flat-earth/established science’ idea: Republicans, and I mean every single Republican Congressperson and Senator, still pronounce that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations actually create jobs and must be continued, some believe permanently. This flies completely in the face of established historical fact. Historical facts tell us that, when President Clinton raised taxes, including on the wealthy and corporations, the country gained millions of jobs (and provided his successor with a budget surplus); historical facts also tell us that, when George W. Bush reduced taxes on the wealthy and big corporations, the country LOST millions of jobs. Republicans paid no attention to the burgeoning deficit during the Bush years, but suddenly it became the number one priority when a Democrat, President Obama, took office. (Sorry, that one should be filed under “Hypocrisy”, not “Established Science”.)

Mr. Keyishian’s dream scenario that having a Republican President, a majority Democratic House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate would help to make Congress, and therefore the country, work better together to accomplish ideologically central, moderate legislation, is just that: a dream scenario. First, this idea is totally dependent on the premise that the members of the House and Senate are all reality-based, competent and honest public servants. Unfortunately, there are very few of those to be found, in this age of big-money-influenced politics. Take the big money out of politics with real, effective campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, and this scenario may become slightly less dreamlike. Second, let’s turn Mr. Keyishian’s scenario on its head and look at the current makeup of the legislative and executive branches: we have a Democratic President, a majority Republican House, and a more-or-less evenly split Senate. If Mr. Keyishian’s hypothesis held true, wouldn’t one have to believe that there would be more cooperation, compromise, and resulting ideologically central, moderate legislation, instead of what is actually happening in today’s Congress?

Lastly, the scenario that Mr. Keyishian proposes has Michele Bachmann as his choice for the Presidency. Like most of the Republican candidates, Ms. Bachmann is a climate-science denier and doesn’t believe in evolution. She has also signed the Grover Norquist pledge (compulsory for Republicans, although one Congressman just recently disavowed the pledge) of no additional taxes, not for anyone, not ever. This past weekend, Ms. Bachman went as far as saying that she ‘would consider’ the idea of ZERO taxes on corporations. Ms. Bachmann has also signed a ‘no abortions for any reason’ pledge, and is anti-homosexual: she and her husband truly believe that one can “pray away the gay.” To sum up, Michele Bachmann is a “Flat-Earther”, and not someone who is qualified to lead the United States of America, especially not in this century.

By Jane E. Schneider

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

Sunday Roast: Hey, have you heard the news…?

(image: Newseum)

In an action that brings this country one step closer to equal rights for all citizens, the New York state Senate passed their marriage equality bill Friday night, 33-29. Celebrations abound!

Oh look…the sun came up this morning, plagues of locusts nowhere to be seen (at least in my neighborhood), and I haven’t been forced to get “gay married.”  Maybe tomorrow…

Congratulations, New York!  We’re proud of you!

This is our daily open thread — Grab a mimosa and have a chat

Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

Marriage Equality for New Yorkers?

The New York State Senate could be voting on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act as early as today. The State Assembly, which is led by Democrats, has already passed the legislation – in fact, this is the fourth time that the Assembly has passed similar legislation, but it has never passed in the State Senate. It now goes to the State Senate, which is led by Republicans (32-30.) The proposed MEA, while it would legalize same-sex marriage, contains some exemptions which would protect any religious organizations or churches from lawsuits if they refuse to marry a same-sex couple (which, in my mind, somewhat negates the “equality” part of it.) Two of the Republican State Senators have said that they will vote for the legislation. One, Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, is one of the few Republicans in the chamber to consistently vote in favor of same-sex marriage. I like what Senator Miller had to say in The Journal-News article.

“I have no problem with people who talk to God. I have problems with people who think God is talking to them,” Miller said, adding, “It is basic to America when we talk about land of the free and home of the brave. You can’t say land of the free and home of the brave except for one group I don’t particularly like.”

As of now it appears that one more ‘yes’ vote will be need to get it passed. Attention is now being focused on Republican State Senator Greg Ball, who represents District 40 (Putnam County, where Wayne and I both grew up and where we work.) Wayne spoke to Senator Ball regarding the same-sex marriage issue recently outside of our local supermarket in Patterson, Putnam County:

“I had a chance to talk to Greg Ball in person at one of his Senate on Your Corner events…I was trying to avoid speaking to him at all but I got funneled into a channel and he stepped up to shake my hand and introduce himself. I told him I knew who he was. So, not having anything prepared to say to him, I thought I would ask, “Where do you stand on gay marriage.” (A mistake, I know, and had I pre-planned the discussion, I would have used the words “marriage equality.)”

“He told me he was against it and I asked him why and he said that he thought it was “wrong.” He had concerns that churches might be forced to participate (or conduct) same-sex marriages against their will. I said that shouldn’t be a concern and that if they didn’t want to, they shouldn’t be forced to. (I honestly do not know the specifics of the Marriage Equality Bill, so I do not know how concerns like this are addressed.) I said gay people should be allowed to get married by a Justice of the Peace just like my wife and I were. (We were married in the restaurant where the reception was held.) He also said he thought most people were against it. Sensing, I guess, that he wasn’t going to convince me that he was right (based on the non-argument he gave), he blurted out that the Marriage Equality Bill “didn’t have the votes.” He said that somebody told him (I don’t know if it was the Governor or the Senate Majority Leader) that they didn’t have the votes to pass it. Keep in mind that this was about a week and a half ago and things have (apparently) changed since then. He then called over a friend of his (staffer? I don’t know) and asked him what he thought of it. The man said that he was Catholic and that he was against it. I said that if he was against it because of his own religious views that that was not a valid reason. Not everybody practices his religion and that no religious views should even be considered. That’s what separation of church and state was about.”

“He did tell me that he supported civil unions “fully” and that he favored letting voters decide on the marriage part itself. I reminded him “marriage” was not something owned strictly by religious people. I also said that the civil unions idea was relegating gay people to second class citizenship status that it was wrong. (I wish I thought to mention that you shouldn’t put Rights up to a popular vote, since the majority will all-too-frequently – and wrongly – deny a minority the same rights they have.) I said that civil unions weren’t the same thing at all. At the end of our discussion he remained unpersuaded, so I was surprised to hear people mention that he was “on the fence.” It did not appear that way to me.”

Ball is still holding out, arguing that the exemptions don’t go far enough to hold harmless the afore-mentioned religious organizations. Unfortunately for Ball, attention is also being focused on one of his staffers, who improperly used a constituent’s thank-you letter to Ball by altering it and sending it to media outlets, including the New York Daily News, via a false email address that the staffer created.

We will have to wait and see if New York, “The Empire State”, finally becomes the tenth ‘enlightened state.’ Expect an update on this story in the next day or two.

6/20, 9:55pm UPDATE: No vote yet. See articles from The Journal News here and here.

6/21, 9:55pm UPDATE: GOP-led NY State Senate still holding out, see today’s Journal News article here. See Greg Ball on CNN, via the Journal News’s “Politics on the Hudson” blog, here.

How sweet it is–UPDATED 5/7

Nothing is quite so wonderful as the uncovering of the hypocrisy of a moralistic “champion” of “family values.” The pattern has become so familiar over the years, with the most rabid Bible-thumpers, those who most publicly chastise others for immoral behavior suddenly caught–in a sleazy motel, a public toilet or on a rap sheet–embracing exactly the behavior they’ve been excoriating. The latest hypocrite to be outed is Christian Right leader George Rekers, one of the founders of the Family Research Council, caught returning from a 10-day European vacation with a gay hooker. Miami New Times:

On April 13, the “rent boy” (whom we’ll call Lucien) arrived at Miami International Airport on Iberian Airlines Flight 6123, after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was soon followed out of customs by an old man with an atavistic mustache and a desperate blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart. Continue reading

School District Teaches Teenager a Lesson for Life

The  Itawamba County School District in Mississippi taught a teenage girl a lesson for life recently: intolerance rules.

She wanted to go to her prom with another girl.  Since the District couldn’t prevent that, as a governmental entity, without running afoul of the 14th Amendment, it chose to ban the prom alltogether, and hand it over to a private group of parents who could legally discriminate.

And discriminate they did.  Constance McMillion received her prom invitation, all right. So did six other students.  And it was a special invitation, to a special prom, just for them. The rest of the school attended their prom in a different, undisclosed location.

As if that wasn’t enough to humiliate her, a facebook page has sprung up where annonymous posters can spout their venom against the girl who dared to be herself.

Her reaction? “I just want the negativity to stop because I try to be respectful and positive.”

Too bad the grown-ups didn’t feel the same way.