The Watering Hole, Monday, June 27th, 2016: “You Keep Using That Word…”

To paraphrase Inigo Montoya, with the word in question being “Liberal” instead of “Inconceivable!” (you have to read “Inconceivable!” in Wallace Shawn’s voice, of course): “You [conservatives] keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

The premise of the following three Christian Post articles is a discussion of recent books about the various authors’ [mistaken] ideas regarding liberals. I started out trying to keep this somewhat brief, but in the interests of keeping the salient points in context, it took on a life of its own. I’ll just share a excerpt of each.

In the earliest of the three articles, “Is Free Speech Just for Liberals?” CP guest contributor Susan Stamper Brown sez:

In the biography, “Churchill: A Life,” author Martin Gilbert writes how Winston Churchill loudly voiced his grave concerns about the apathy shared by those seemingly impervious to the malevolent National Socialist Movement’s intention to steam through Europe like volcanic lava, destroying everything in its way, including free speech.
In direct response, Hitler began warning Germans about the “dangers of free speech” and said, “If Mr. Churchill had less to do with traitors … he would see how mad his talk is …”

History revealed whose talk was really mad.

Truth is, Churchill’s words touched a nerve the annoying way truth always does. Hitler was incapable of engaging in intelligent debate, so he changed the subject, lied, and attacked Churchill’s character. Hitler knew his movement couldn’t stand on its own for what it really was, so the only alternative was to silence opposing views.

Throughout Germany books were banned and ceremoniously cast into blazing bonfires intended to squash divergence of thought and stifle man’s God-instilled unquenchable thirst for truth.

Historical accountings provide a glimpse into the warped psyche of those behind a movement that wrongheadedly believed they could build something worthwhile by shutting down debate, then dividing a nation by race and ethnicity.

They coldly chose their target, the Jewish race, and purged some of the greatest minds in history from all levels of teaching. Schools and universities suffered.

Before the movement decided to burn bodies as well as books, Historyplace.com cites that “Jewish instructors and anyone deemed politically suspect regardless of their proven teaching abilities or achievements including 20 past (and future) Nobel Prize winners” were removed from their professions, among them Albert Einstein.

I would’ve been one of those “purged professionals,” based on what I’ve heard lately from some disgruntled left-leaning readers. Because of my personal opinion about the president, one reader called me “a racist,” a “religious bigot,” and “a political terrorist.” While calling me a “political terrorist” is noteworthy at least, most telling is this poor man’s statement that my column, as offensive as it was to him, “was permitted” in his newspaper.

Apparently, free speech is just for leftists.

After that, the author continued to talk more about herself, so I tuned her out. I probably should have done so when she first mentioned Hitler, but her description of Hitler’s reaction, which I highlighted above, sounded so much like Trump that I had to share it with you.

In the next article, “If Intolerant Liberals Succeed, ‘Conservatives Should Be Very Afraid,’ Expert Says”, by CP’s Napp Nazworth, the breaking point came after this bullshit:

Conservatives would have much to fear if intolerant liberals succeed in their goal of transforming America, says Kim R. Holmes, author of “The Closing of the Liberal Mind: How Groupthink and Intolerance Define the Left.”
The illiberal, or intolerant, Left has come to define liberalism in the United States today, Holmes told The Christian Post, and if these liberals gain control of the Supreme Court and other levers of government, conservatives will be punished for their views.

Then these portions of the interview with the author:

CP: Why did you want to write this book?
Holmes: Like a lot of people I saw how closed-minded and intolerant progressivism had become. Whether it was speech codes or “safe spaces” on campuses, or attorneys general issuing subpoenas against so-called climate change “deniers,” abuses in the name of progressivism were getting worse.

I wanted to understand why. I wanted to tell the story of how a liberalism that had once accepted freedom of speech and dissent had become its opposite — a close-minded ideology intent on denying people their freedoms and their constitutionally protected rights.

CP: Liberalism was once defined by tolerance and open-mindedness, but liberals have become increasingly intolerant and closed-minded. We are beginning to see this phrase “illiberal liberal” more often, which gets confusing. How are we to make sense of what liberal means today?

Holmes: A classic liberal is someone who believes in open inquiry, freedom of expression and a competition of ideas. Its founders were people like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Among its most important ideas are freedom of conscience and speech; individual (as opposed to group) rights; and checks and balances in government.

Although progressives are sometimes referred to as “liberals,” they are not classic liberals in this sense. They are philosophically more akin to socialists or social democrats. Classic liberalism as defined here is actually closer to the views of American conservatives and libertarians than to progressives and leftists.

The term “illiberalism” is the opposite of this classic style of liberalism; it represents a political mindset that is closed-minded, intolerant and authoritarian. Although illiberalism can be historically found on the right (fascism) and the left (communism), it is today not commonly associated with American progressives. Nevertheless, it should be.

Progressives are becoming increasingly illiberal not only in their mindset but in the authoritarian methods they use to impose their views on others.

~~ and ~~

CP: Last week, President Barack Obama sent a letter to all public schools threatening to withhold federal funds if they don’t change their bathroom and locker room policies to allow use based upon gender identity rather than biological sex. Does the Left’s new intolerance help us understand Obama’s actions?

Holmes: Yes. Obama comes out of this illiberal strain of the left.

Last, this misleadingly-named piece of utter drivel written by CP’s Brandon Showalter, “Liberals Use Gov’t Power, Intimidation, to Silence Christians, Author Says.” It doesn’t take long to realize that by “Christians”, both the author of the article and the author of the book actually mean “conservatives”, and the complaint is about the fight against “Citizens United”:

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and Christians are being intimidated by the Left and an increasingly abusive government, says Kimberly Strassel, author of The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Waging War of Free Speech.
In a Thursday presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Strassel told The Christian Post that overt hostility and harassment of people of faith “is clearly a big issue.”

In light of the 2013 IRS scandal where it was discovered that conservative and Christian groups were unfairly targeted, CP asked Strassel how many people she interviewed had experienced an overt assault on their faith.

While “the people that I talked to generally felt as though all their views were under attack,” Strassel said, “they certainly felt as though one aspect of them, was in fact their faith.”

“We are seeing this a lot, obviously, in the war on faith out there that we have had with the battles over Obamacare and contraception,” she added.

In her book Strassel examines the Left’s penchant, particularly in the Obama years, for bullying their opponents and their use of government agencies to silence citizens from participating in the political process.

Although she touched on several facets of the Left’s intimidation game in her presentation, the core issue she covered was the right of Americans to form associations and participate in representative government. This the Left cannot abide when conservatives do it successfully, she argued.

“The reality is that money is a proxy for speech,” Strassel contended, and Americans have always formed groups to get their message out. To the incredulity of the Left, she argued we we need more money, not less, in politics. More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.

Let me repeat those last two lines: More money means more speech. More free speech yields a more vigorous debate and a healthier democracy.”  What happened to the “FREE” part of “FREE SPEECH”?

Money CANNOT equal speech – the poorest man can still speak and vote – well, vote ONCE; on the other hand, the richest man can buy as many votes as he wants.  The whole argument of Citizens United was and is specious, and the Supremes fucked us over real good when they decided on that piece of shit.

Here’s a pretty picture to give your mind a break.
GLORY10

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday March 1, 2016 – Super Tuesday

We interrupt our regular programs to bring you up to the minute commentary by posters of this blog on the Super Tuesday primary event. As a way of introduction and background, here is a snippet from Raw Story:

Democrat Hillary Clinton aims to build an impregnable lead on “Super Tuesday,” the most consequential day of the presidential nominations calendar, while Republicans struggle to derail their insurgent and controversial front-runner Donald Trump.

With barely 24 hours before the big day, Clinton and Trump are well positioned to secure the lion’s share of the delegate bonanza in the 11 states voting in each party’s primaries.

Trump and Hillary? Let the voters decide.

Follow the money (per NBC News):

 

 

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday January 7 2016; Religion v. Tolerance, and v.v.

My only objection to ANY religion is when its patrons
attempt to insert it into the balance of society which is not
a subscriber, and especially when ‘they’ try to insert ‘it’ into
science which considers the search for the unknowable to be
a waste of time.

Those were my words, written way back on November 23, 2002. I was, at the time, having an online (email) discussion with an evangelical Christian whose undercurrent philosophy was essentially theocratic in nature. The EC’s stated position was a common one back then, that Intelligent Design should be taught alongside Evolution in H.S. science classes because evolution pretty much ignored the Creator concept. As I put it at the time,

Science doesn’t ‘need’ (and certainly doesn’t employ) a “story” of creation,  that option more the purview of those who prefer to employ the ‘magic’ of the supernatural. Science employs, on the other hand, “reason”, research, facts, etc. from which it attempts to derive a fair and — shall we say — ‘uncontrived’ explanation of reality and of origins.

And of course, I was labelled as “anti-Christian” and “intolerant” in result. Why? Because of my stated objection to the insertion of theological/dogmatic ‘Belief’ in the place of scientific ‘Fact’ — a position to which I still, this day, adhere, but one which most certainly should NOT be considered in any quarter as a sign of ‘intolerance.’ Non-Belief, yes, definitely. Intolerant? No.

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

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

Case in point: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently said,

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech. Today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.”

There is a very logical explanation as to why so many of those who “do not support same-sex marriage . . . are labeled . . .” ‘homophobes’ and ‘haters.’ It’s because they are. There’s also a very good reason why so many are so ready to willingly acknowledge that sometimes Christian teaching is hate speech. Because it either has that capacity, or because it IS hate speech. And while it’s true that such epithets can be accurately directed at the Christian religious foundationals, it’s no less accurate to direct them at any other god-based religion or belief system, a point made and exemplified in the following Salon.com post, written by Jeffrey Tayler — Religious delusions are destroying us . . .

The year just past was, for rationalists, an unremitting annus horribilis. It leaves us with little reason to think 2016 will be much better. . . .

Yet attempt to disabuse aficionados of the brain-warping faiths in the name of which so much blood has been and is being spilled, and so much unnecessary anguish forced on so many innocents, and they will quite likely shower you with abuse, calling you an agent of Satan, morally deficient, intolerant, or just plain disrespectful. Worse, If Islam is the faith in question, a contingent of witless liberals (themselves not believers) would join in, crowing about “Islamophobia” and racism, though Islam is not a race, but a hallowed ideology with universal pretensions and followers of every skin color. The result: Religion – which is to say, a construct of comprehensive, evidence-free propositions about our universe and mankind, entertained with often fanatical certitude – enjoys, even in 2016, undeserved respect, tax exemptions costing government coffers $71 billion annually, and even a place of honor on our currency. In the world’s first secular republic, this is an outrage.

All religions are nothing more than man-made contrivances of domination and submission, exploited by humans for mundane ends, and accoutered with sundry superstitious rituals meant to ensure tribal loyalty and generate animosity toward outsiders. Long before we in the West knew of faith-sanctioned female genital mutilation or the hurling of gays from rooftops, Shakespeare declared, “What damned error but some sober brow/will bless it and approve it with a text/hiding the grossness with fair ornament.” And remember: the “damned errors” and “grossness” are all for naught. Religion is a lie, and those who profess it, dupes of the lie.

Tayler continues toward his summation.

We need to stress the indignity of religion. Superstitions ordaining us to submit to God are the enemies of human dignity. That God is wholly imaginary only compounds this indignity. Coddling the religiously deluded by showing “respect” for the undignified shams to which they are attached (denouncers of “Islamophobia” take note!) drags out the misery they impose on themselves and on the rest of us. In contrast to religious folk, we nonbelievers know how to live free and should never hesitate to point this out. Religion and freedom are incompatible. In fact, religion and true adulthood can’t coexist. One who shies away from bleak facts surrounding our time on Earth is really a child, no matter his or her age.

“No gods, no masters,” declared early feminist Margaret Sanger. Such is the slogan for human dignity and reason, whether we are male or female.

Tayler definitely makes his point, although I must say he seems also to have employed a fair amount of ‘religious intolerance’ in the process, a practice with which I continue to disagree. Personally, I’ve known a great many people of solid religious belief — Christian, Jewish, Islamic, even Native American — who neither hold nor ever express any level of dogmatic ‘hatred’ concerning anyone of ANY belief (or non-belief). To people such as them, hate and intolerance are alien processes and can never glean even a shred of intellectual justification. Their credo: Tolerance. Always.

I freely admit that I see neither the Bible, the Quran, or any other ‘Holy Book’ as being an authority on anything at all, but once again it’s surely not my decision as to how someone else might feel about that same book. On the other hand, sometimes I do wonder how the ‘moralists’ among us might feel were the pendulum to swing to its opposite margin, and there soon appeared proposals afoot and legislation pending that would disallow any and all public displays and utterances of religious concepts, that churches would be taxed exactly the same as any other business or corporation, depending on size and income etc., that the only legal place to pray would be — staying with Biblical principle — in one’s own closet.

That’s not likely to ever occur, of course, but it is something to ponder in the sense that were any ‘assault’ on religion ever to be proposed, even indirect in the forms of public prohibitions or taxation, it would immediately bring forward cries of Constitutional violation, and more. Yet, here we are in a situation where religious leaders and their respective flocks not only demand the imposition of religion-based laws, but also press for so-called “faith-based initiatives” (the transfer of public funds to religious organizations, presumably for specified tasks) as well as the rewriting of public school science textbooks as a means to substitute Biblical creationism for legitimate and well-researched scientific theory.

And lest we forget, there has been, over the course of history, more hatred and intolerance between believers of various faiths than between the vast bulk of non-believers towards each other. Descriptive words such as ‘Crusades’ and ‘Inquisition’ come quickly to mind, as do images of today’s hatred and intolerance on the part of Christians (and many non-believers) toward Muslims — Islamists of any denomination anywhere on the globe. And v.v., of course.

And sadly, the more one might dare hope for reprieve from or outright rejection of Intolerance by ‘leaders’ everywhere, the less the chance seems to become. One might almost conclude that intolerance and hate are factors that greatly assist the definition of the entire of the human species.

But still, this is America after all, the country where “All men are created equal” and where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . .” so it follows that Tolerance WILL prevail amongst all her people. Right?

Cruz campaign official says Christians must take over public schools to stop ‘deception of the seed’

“We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda
that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith
more and more in jeopardy . . . If we allow nonbelievers to elect our
leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government
doesn’t reflect our values.”
(Ted Cruz)

“We need a Christian supremacist society or else these things are
going to continue to happen. God willing, if Donald Trump wins,
and I think he will win, he will put a cap on things like this.”
(Theodore Shoebat, Extremist Christian Activist)

Or maybe not?

😡

OPEN THREAD

 

Sunday Roast: Another year gone; what have we learned?

I know I’ve posted this video a few times over the years, in one form or another, but I’m posting it again.

Why?  That’s a good question.  I’m glad you asked.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling especially pessimistic or cynical these days, but I’m thinking that we haven’t learned anything over the past year.  Maybe it’s just that the United States is absolutely fucking bonkers right now, and I’m having trouble seeing the good in the world; or maybe we’re at a critical turning point, and, much like correcting a naughty child, the behavior gets much worse before it starts getting better.

I hope it’s both, and I hope the “getting better” part starts happening soon.

This is the last Sunday Roast of the year — What do you think?

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
purple_glossy_starling
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:
waterfall-godafoss-iceland

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday November 17, 2015.

I can’t bring myself to post about the environment or food politics.

The events in France just overwhelm. Can’t think of one fundamentalist religion that has ever done the world one bit of good, ever. It’s the 21st Century. You would think people would be beyond this now. It has been quite evident for some time that people can act morally and humanistic-ally without religion. I just don’t see the draw.

Open thread

The Watering Hole; Thursday September 10 2015; “Marriage” and “Truth”

The Truth, is Bald, and Cold —
But that will hold —
If any are not sure —
We show them — prayer —
But we, who know,
Stop hoping, now —
(Emily Dickinson)

The recent gay marriage flap in Rowan County, Kentucky, has proven itself to be the generator of  incoherent rant after incoherent rant after incoherent rant, each and all of which spout completely nonsensical premises — aka LIES — concerning imaginary (dire) consequences of the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The fourteenth amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” applies to gay marriage, the Court ruled on June 26.  Enter RAGE! along with the obvious question: what the hell are *they* so so mad about, so frightened of? Why the irrational anger? Why do so many “believers” have (and ably demonstrate) the ability to fear, to hate people simply because their lifestyle differs from what some consider “normal”? Whatever happened to the concept of Tolerance?

I first became genuinely aware of the gay marriage “controversy” and the boiling pot that has come to define those opposed back in 2004 — mid-May. I think it was — when Massachusetts became the first state to allow/sanction same sex marriages. I remember the uproar, the outcry, the religious rage, and was puzzled as to why anyone should care about how others choose to live their non-intrusive lives. The enabling statute didn’t mandate same-sex marriage, after all. But still, an unbridled rage persists, firmly embedded in just the concept alone. And too, the fact remains that early in 2004 and several months prior to Massachusetts, President George W. Bush did nothing to civilize the debate when he called for a Constitutional amendment to *define* marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Hard to figure the essence of such motivation. Sometimes, at least.

It was a bit more than eleven years ago when, in response to a comment on an internet discussion group, I wrote and posted the following mini-essay on the  topic of “Marriage.” I can honestly say that today, even though my baseline views on the matter have not changed, I now find — more than ever before — the antics of fundamentalist “Christians” (so called) to be totally and completely disgusting and without so much as a thread of merit. And though their anti-gay marriage fixation is shameful, their irrational fear-based hatred of their fellow human citizens has at least one valid consequence — it exposes the vapid hollowness of themselves, of their “cause,” and particularly of their “religion.”

So. This. From late June, 2004:

Near as I can fathom, “marriage” is more a semantics issue than anything else — save for those who find gay unions as some sort of heavenly abomination. My advice to the latter group is simple: if it bothers you, then don’t partake. There are those who find some or all religious dogma to be smothering, an “abomination”, if you will, and choose to not partake. But very few such non-partakers ever demand that those who do choose to practice religious dogma be ruled legal outcasts, nor should they.

The issue, really, is in the legal, not religious, sanctioning of a union, in the sense that to withhold equality before the law for a legally bound (by mutual consent, of course) couple based on gender, or skin color, or eye color/shape, or first language, or religious belief/practice is just plain wrong. Absolute equality of legal rights should be the rule, period. I suppose some might find it more palatable to reserve the word “marriage” for either religious or civil *hetero* union, although I have to wonder — what’s in a word?

The essence of equality before the law IS equality and all that equality entails. I suppose that if a particular church or religious group prefers to believe that marriage is, in their eyes, a hetero union, that’s fine. Let all believe as they wish, but please allow others that same privilege. And, of course, the same applies to the ‘other’ side(s) as well, always. There must be behavioral standards in virtually any society no matter how simple or complex it is or becomes, but I’ve yet to sense that there is, in this world, a dangerously heightened level of human love and devotion to either others or another; tyrants may see things differently I suppose, but they ARE wrong.

I hardly think the human race’s success or failure depends upon the denial, to some, of what are, to others, guaranteed legal rights and privilege. I seriously doubt the species’ numbers will decline because of homosexual union (although if that would happen it’s a pretty good argument in favor of gay union! Six billions of ‘us’ should be enough to maintain an adequate gene pool to ensure a diverse future).

I couldn’t help but notice, on newscasts which detailed Massachusetts’ first day of officially sanctioned gay marriage, the joy on the faces and in the voices of a pair of older women who had been together for 33 years and finally were allowed to officially confirm their union. There is no sane or solid argument that I’ve heard or can imagine which stands tall enough to disallow their moment, their happiness. The day a society officially proclaims there is something awry in a loving relationship between consenting adults is a dark day for ALL concerned.

I am patently against Bush’s proposed amendment to the US Constitution which would disallow gay marriage. IMO, his proposal is nothing but a political appeal to a major segment of his voter base, and that’s a fleeting reason, at best, to permanently and officially codify a level of discrimination which effects far more people than are parcel to a particular voting/support base. Thomas Jefferson once said that “If my neighbor believes in twenty gods or no gods, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” I submit that his idea can easily be rearranged to accommodate any number of behavioral concepts and still reach the same enlightened conclusion. “If my neighbors believe in or practice homosexual marriage, it does not pick my pocket or break my leg and therefore it’s no harm to me.” And that’s simply the practicality of the matter; it does not insist anyone celebrate, only that ‘we’ tolerate.

Tolerance. Love. There’s not enough of either and far too much of their opposites. Enough of that.

And here we are today, more than eleven years down the road . . . and though I wouldn’t change a change a single word, I do wonder exactly how a hate/fear-advocate such as Huckabee, Cruz, (et al.), might react, how he/they would likely dismiss each and every non-hate concept, how he/they would dismiss the concept of “Tolerance” as being (at least) anti-God. Their only ‘perception tools’ are, of course, Lies, Innuendo, and the “God Said” opinionated nonsense they regularly spout. But Truth?  NEVER!

Truth v. Opinion — a thesis Emily Dickinson recognized long long ago, when she wrote:

Opinion is a flitting thing,
But Truth, outlasts the Sun —
If then we cannot own them both —
Possess the oldest one –
(Emily Dickinson)

Amen.

OPEN THREAD