Recent ‘Toon Gnuz from Paul Jamiol

Our good friend and honorary Critter Paul Jamiol has been busy lately: illustrating a children’s book; working on a new collection of his excellent editorial cartoons to come out in early 2020; plus, most days, putting out new, grimly accurate observations on these terrible times.  (All images are copyrighted by Paul Jamiol.)

jamiol banger the sausage dog book cover

pauls new book

jamiol 051719

jamiol 052819

jamiol 061919

jamiol 062619

jamiol 062819

jamiol 07012019

jamiol 07042019

jamiol vileness

jamiol 07062019

jamoil detention

jamiol racist rant

That’s just a sampling.  For more, and to see how talented Paul’s wife, Lin, is with her green thumb [and who knew that Paul is an amazing photographer!], visit Jamiol’s World.

Paul has been chronicling political/current events since September 2000.  His encouragement and kindness to us Critters when we left ThinkProgress to start TheZoo, as well as our longstanding friendship, will always be appreciated – hell, I still LOVE our personalized header ‘toon.  I know that we here at TheZoo became pretty burnt out trying to do our part – it’s so damned hard to keep covering this shitshow, when day after day, even hour after hour, horrors upon horrors unfold.  Thank you, Paul, for your dedication to illustrating  what could well become America’s downfall.  It’s a grim task, and I don’t envy you.  Please carry on for as long as you can stand it, and we’ll try to keep up.

 

Open Thread – Come and get it!

Daily Gnuz

Evangelical Christians’ reactions/non-reactions to Charlottesville, via The Christian Post:

First, there are actually a couple of articles where pastors, etal, are finally allowing their collective conscience to break through. Here’s one, and here’s another

Of course, those voices are few, and they’ve got competition, i.e.:

Here’s an opinion piece from “guest contributor” Brad Huddleston, the title of which I thought promising, until I actually read it: “Charlottesville: Jesus Commands Us to ‘Tell The Truth’, So Why Aren’t We?” A few excerpts:

“I was in Charlottesville, Virginia, during the riots and what I observed and what I saw in the media’s coverage are, for the most part, two very different narratives.

Although the atmosphere was volatile everywhere I walked, I have to believe that it was Sovereignty that kept me away from the physical confrontations. I did, however, observe verbal ones. I saw various white supremacist groups filled with hate and evil intentions. They were armed with weapons and ready for a fight. I also watched members of Black Lives Matter as well as Communists/Marxists, carrying their hammer and sickle flags. They were also filled with hate and evil intentions.”

Sounds to me as though it wasn’t “Sovereignty” that kept him away from the physical confrontations, it was his own cowardice. So all he did was “observe” certain things, verbal interactions, certain flags, and interpret them in the light of his own prejudices [“during the RIOTS”.]  How dare he automatically credit BLM with “evil intentions”, when they were protesting against NAZIS and WHITE SUPREMACISTS! And if BLM were involved in extremely heated arguments defending their right to exist as equals in the face of horrifying insults, threats, violence, etc., who would blame them for hating everything that these armed, sometimes uniformed, Confederate-and-Nazi-flag-waving un-American RACISTS do, say, and stand for. The hammer-and-sickle flag-waving “Communists/Marxists”? The author ‘identifies’ them in a later section as the Antifa. I call bullshit. Apparently the author was so terrified he couldn’t even verify what these people were marching for/against.

“The media was slamming the various white supremacist groups (and they should). But I immediately noticed something very perplexing. Very little if any coverage was being given to the various Communist and Marxist groups and violent Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists. It was as if the white supremacists were the only ones who were filled with hate. I kept waiting and waiting for someone to show images of the reality that we, who were actually there, observed.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Let’s never forget that the Communists and Marxists have killed far more people than Hitler. Nevertheless, they are all equal in their evil, and all should be equally condemned. If they are participating in the same riot, they should share the same headline. Because white supremacists’ numbers are small, we should be far more concerned about their Marxist and their Socialist cousins. Our American universities have been cranking them out for years, and we’re now seeing the results.

Both extremes were represented in Charlottesville on that scary day. To give the extreme left a pass, and even affirm them, would make Hitler proud.”

I can’t even comment, I’m so gobsmacked by this. But I would like to ask Mr. Huddleston if any of the BLM or Antifa drove a car at speed into a crowd of human beings, killing one and injuring more than a dozen others; and how many BLM or Antifa were “ARMED WITH WEAPONS and ready to fight” as the Nazi/KKK and white supremacist pseudomilitary actually were?

And then we have conservative black pastors and others defending trump’s abhorrent remarks in “Black Christian Leaders Detest Claim That Trump Is the ‘Driver’ of Racial Division in America.” Here’s just one little slice of this twisted, surreal pie:

“Corrogan Vaughn, a political activist who ran against Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland in the 2016 election, argued that those in the media who blame Trump for the racial tension in the United States are trying to turn Trump into a “villain.”

“Don’t make our commander in chief a villain when in actuality it is more the villainess of the media in terms of making something where nothing is,” Vaughn stated.

Oh, joy, keep screaming that the “media” is to blame, and this imaginary ‘alt-left’, ffs – like who’re you gonna believe, trump and the evangelicals, or your lying eyes?

For more, here’s the Christian Post’s Political page. Have fun.

This is our Open Thread – enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, February 15th, 2017: First Hypocrisy, Now Treachery

It’s been well known for a long time that the GOP is the party of hypocrisy–hence the acronym IOKIYAR. Now, with all of the trump cabal’s innumerable Russian connections, it appears that the GOP is also the party of treachery.

Despite the fact that several U.S. Intelligence agencies have already been investigating key trump personnel, none of the pertinent House and Senate committees want to do a damn thing about it, with the minor exception of Kellyanne Conway’s “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. No, instead, GOP leaders are either silent on the subject, or say that we should just “move on” now that Flynn has resigned. Apparently they do NOT give a damn that trump knew all about Flynn’s conversations with Russian contacts, in particular the call that Flynn made, on the day that Obama announced sanctions against Russia for interfering with our elections, to let Russia know that president trump would lift those sanctions.

Would ANY Democrat, even one not running for the Presidency, get away with something like this? FFS, the GOP held, what, seven or eight hearings on Benghazi, and went fucking nuts over Hillary Clinton’s emails, none of which in any way, shape or form, endangered the security of the United States. Yet the fact that trump has surrounded himself with people who have, in many cases, had longtime relationships with Russian officials doesn’t seem to worry our ever-so-patriotic Republican majority “leaders.” “Move along, nothing to see here, looky-loos” and “but what about Hillary and her emails” are the typical responses from the GOP.

Well, FUCK YOU, GOP, fuck you hard with something sharp. You are all useless pieces of shit, and I hope that not only does trump go down in flames, I hope he drags you all to hell with him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, just for laughs, here’s an article from the Christian Post that I know you’ll find amusing. I mean, just the title alone is hysterical: “God Delivered US from ‘Spirit of Witchcraft Through Trump”. Here’s an excerpt:

Appearing on “The Jim Bakker Show” on Tuesday, Christian thought leader Lance Wallnau spoke about President Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington that followed, saying God used Trump to deliver “the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office.”

“What I believe is happening is there was a deliverance of the nation from the spirit of witchcraft in the Oval Office,” said Wallnau, an evangelical business strategist and leader of the Lance Learning Group consulting firm in Dallas.

“The spirit of witchcraft was in the Oval Office, it was about to intensify to a higher level demon principality, and God came along with a wrecking ball, shocked everyone, the church cried out for mercy and bam—God knocked that spirit out, and what you’re looking at is the manifestation of an enraged demon through the populace,” he added.

“This is biblical,” Wallnau, author of God’s Chaos Candidate, added. “Many of the disruptions we are gonna see are going to be the evidence that we are seeing the awakening already began.”

Wallnau, who holds an M.A. from South Western Theological Seminary in Texas, predicted before the election that Trump was the “prophesied president.” He earlier explained that he came to this conclusion after attending a widely-publicized meeting between Donald Trump and evangelical leaders at the Trump Tower last year.

Giving an address at the 3rd Christian Inaugural Gala hosted by Women for a Great America at the Washington Hilton along with prominent Christian speakers and authors last month, Wallnau claimed that when he returned home to Dallas following the meeting with Trump, the Lord put the biblical passage of Isaiah 45 on his heart and told him that “the 45th president is Isaiah 45.”

[He actually had to use Google to confirm that trump would be the 45th president – and these evangelicals are demanding the right to preach politics from the pulpit?]

This is our Open Thread – have at it!

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, Tuesday, November 29th, 2016: God vs Country

ICYMI, yesterday the Huffington Post had a story about a Republican member of the Electoral College from Texas, Art Sisneros, and his agonizing over how to cast his vote on December 19th. Apparently, Mr. Sisneros refuses to cast his vote for Trump, but also refuses to do what’s best for the country because, well, GOD.

Torn between voting his conscience and dutifully casting his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump, a Republican member of the Electoral College said over the weekend that he would resign his post.

“I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district,” Texas elector Art Sisneros wrote in a blog post. “Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector.”

Sisneros’ decision to step aside comes as some members of the Electoral College face mounting pressure from voters and advocacy groups to flip their votes against Trump, even if he won the popular vote in their states.

In his post, Sisneros argued that casting his vote for Trump would “bring dishonor to God,” and said that political parties and “winner-take-all” states destroyed the original intention of the Electoral College. Sisneros said in August that he was considering voting against Trump if the real estate mogul were to win the popular vote in Texas. But he told Politico Monday that he would instead resign.

The rest of the country’s 538 electors will choose Sisneros’ replacement when they convene on Dec. 19 to officially elect Trump as the next president. All of Texas’ 38 electoral votes are expected to go to Trump, who beat Hillary Clinton in the state by more than 800,000 votes.

“The people will get their vote,” Sisneros wrote. “I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.”

[emphasis mine]

I have no idea how ANYONE could “sleep well at night” and at the same time “mourn the loss of our republic.” The idea that someone could view this horrendously important Electoral vote as a choice of “conscience” between serving his god or serving his country is totally beyond me. But obviously Mr. Sisneros strongly believes that, because he took what he now calls a “sinful” pledge to the GOP that he now regrets, he can only make himself right with his god by abdicating all civic responsibility.

From Sisneros’ blog post:

“The heart of this issue now is, does honoring the pledge cause me to sin?…
“…Aren’t Electors elected to represent the people? Yes, they absolutely are. That only begs the question, what does it mean to represent the people? This is where our understanding or lack thereof of a representative form of government comes into play. As an elected representative head, I am to speak on behalf of and in the interest of the CD36. It is my conviction that the greatest danger to my district is not a Hillary or Trump Presidency, but it is the judgement of God. If we continue to disobey His clear commands, we can expect to receive His judgement. If being a “Faithless Elector” means standing alone on principle in the hopes that God would continue to grant patience on our district, then it is worth any political future, threats to my safety, and whatever else may come my way.”

This isn’t just about YOU, Mr. Sisneros–what comes your way is nothing compared to what will happen to our nation. Get it through your head: God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your district, Mr. Sisneros, any more than he gives a rat’s ass about our country – which should be obvious based on the fact that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. And your resignation, Mr. Sisneros, is just one more step in greasing the wheels on that handbasket we’re all going to hell in. I hope that you never “sleep well” again, you chickenshit.

This is our Open Thread–have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, November, 21st, 2016: Pseudo-Religious Jackassery

A few odds and ends from the Christian Post to start the week.

Here we go again: Since Republicans cannot accept all of the other investigations that proved Planned Parenthood innocent of whatever wrongdoing du jour they’ve been charged with, now they’re trying again.

As noted Wednesday by USA Today**, the U.S. House Committee on House Administration voted to approve $800,000 in additional funds for the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives[sic*] for their investigation of Planned Parenthood. The 14-member panel, headed by Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, was formed last summer after the Center for Medical Progress released a series of gut-wrenching videos*** showing senior Planned Parenthood officials negotiating over the prices of fetal body parts from aborted babies.

*”Infant Lives” is, obviously, a complete and deliberately misleading misnomer.

**Excerpt from the USA Today article:

“Over the objection of Democrats, the House Committee on Administration voted Wednesday to approve an additional $800,000 for the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. The money is in addition to the panel’s previously approved $790,000 budget and puts it on track to spend more than $1.5 million by the end of the year.”

***Investigations which arose out of the videos, which purportedly showed PP to be illegally selling fetal tissue, consistently ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood. The investigation in Texas not only cleared PP, but charged the filmmakers with criminal activity, including a felony, although one misdemeanor charge was later dropped. Annoyingly, the felony charge was also later dismissed, more-or-less due to a court technicality. Despite that:

“Officials in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Georgia and nine other states investigated the claims made in the videos that Planned Parenthood had profited illegally from sales of fetal tissue, and cleared the group of any wrongdoing. Officials in eight other states, including California and Colorado, declined to investigate, according to Planned Parenthood.”

So, just another example of Republicans wasting money and time on yet another investigation of something that has been investigated, in this instance by at least thirteen States, including several conservative southern ones.

In a lighter, nay, more ridiculous vein, enjoy – or be nauseated by – “What Was the Role of Prophecy in 2016 Election?”:

“…Franklin Graham said the media in particular missed the “God-factor” regarding the outcome of the election.

“Hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the United States have been praying. This year they came out to every state capitol to pray for this election and for the future of America. Prayer groups were started. Families prayed. Churches prayed. Then Christians went to the polls, and God showed up,” Graham said.”

Pastor Paula White also reveled that she fasted and prayed, and had concluded that Trump would win, CP reported last week.

Last year, a man named Jeremiah Johnson of Behold the Man Ministries in Lakeland, Florida, said that God had shown him during prayer that Trump was raised up like a Cyrus and would be “[God’s] trumpet to the American people.”

Last, in the “laughable if it weren’t real” category, we’ve got…wait for it…alt-right racist Steve Bannon’s first interview with that bastion of political reporting, the Hollywood Reporter. How’s that for a serious, dignified start for one who is (gulp) going to be whispering evil nothings like Wormtongue into Trump’s ear? Just one brief excerpt:

“Bannon praised Trump. “You have probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan, coupled with an economic populist message…”

BWAHAHAHAHA!

This is our Open Thread – feel free to discuss what you wish.

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; Friday August 19 2016; ‘Godman and Skeptic’ Revisited in “Light” of Donald Trump

“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus,
by the supreme being as his father, in the womb of a virgin,
will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in
the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason
and freedom of thought in these United States will do away
with this artificial scaffolding . . .”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

“The Godman And The Skeptic” (A Discourse Dedicated to Creationists everywhere /
And their adversaries) is a tome I wrote damn near thirty years ago, back in the days following the Reagan years that had effectively brought evangelical wingnuts forward — as vocal Republicans — into the Public Square. It didn’t take me long, back then, to get sick of nutcase crooks such as Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts (and his brother Anal?), Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart,  et al. et al. But what really puzzled me was how SO MANY ordinary folks bought into their nonsense and wasted so much time and energy in the process, over what basically amounted to little more than criminal peddling of religious horse hockey for something other than an honorable purpose.

Sadly, it still goes on today — amplified and more widespread than ever before. So I thought in view of that, I’d pull up “The Godman and the Skeptic” for another look and compare it with some of today’s headlines, see if anything’s changed over the years.

Here’s how I put the conflict way back then:

A godman and a skeptic met
To promulgate their views,
With godman’s premise, Genesis,
And skeptic’s, more the muse.

“God made the heavens and the Earth,”
The passioned godman says,
“And, furthermore, He did all this,
In only seven days.”

“But whence came God?” the skeptic asked,
With some temerity,
The godman said, “Don’t question that,
For such is blasphemy! “

The skeptic glowered for a time,
Then asked, “How old’ s the Earth?”
“Six thousand years,” the godman said,
“Including day of birth.

“With firmaments united, then,
The Earth was paradise,
Where beasts and fields, and finally men,
Enjoyed all without vice.

“And God made Adam first, then Eve,
Who were, as you shall see,
Progenitors of all mankind,
Kin of humanity.

“For from their loins came many sons,
Who married, then produced,
Our father’s father’s ancestors,
As, biblically, deduced.

“Thus, all the Earth is born of God,
And man’s the child of Eve,
So, lie thee down in prostrate form
And hail the Lord! Believe!”

Then godman smiled, smug, and secure
His theses were correct,
For Genesis came straight from God,
In veritas, direct. (. . .)

Today we have Donald J. Trump running on the Republican ticket in hopes of becoming the next President of the United States. But in spite of the fact that Trump’s evangelical “history” is effectively a non-entity, right wing evangelicals have accepted him as being one of them. I have no idea as to why that might be, but so far so good — for him — as evidenced by this:

Twenty-five Religious Right Justifications For Supporting Donald Trump

1. God is using Trump to pave the way for the Second Coming
2. God is using Trump to get pastors to fight for religious freedom
3. Trump could make America worthy of God’s blessing
4. Trump would make America friendlier to Israel
5. Trump will make Christianity more powerful
6. God likes ‘strongman’ rulers
7. Trump has a ‘mantle of government’ anointing
8. Trump has an ‘Elijah mantle’
9. Trump has a Cyrus anointing
10. Trump has a ‘breaker anointing’
11. Trump is a divine ‘wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness’
12. God has picked Trump to ‘beat down the walls of the New World Order’
13. Trump is fulfilling a 2011 prophecy that he will fight Satan
14. Trump is fulfilling a 2012 prophecy that he will bulldoze the White House
15. Trump is a ‘baby Christian’
16. Trump is like Jesus (and Martin Luther King and Jerry Falwell)
17. Trump is like King David
18. Trump is like Saul/Paul
19. Trump is like Samson
20. Trump is like Churchill and Lincoln
21. Trump is like George Washington
22. Trump is like Oscar Schindler
23. 2016 is a battle between good and evil
24. Hillary Clinton is motivated by the spirit of the Antichrist
25. God doesn’t want a woman president

Yeah, right. OK. Sure. Me, I remain a skeptic . . .

“Oh, I believe,” the skeptic said,
“Though not the way you think,
From what I’ve heard, the Universe
Arrived in just a wink.

“A coalescing, then a flash,
And galaxies were cleaved
From ether, dust, and energy,
If science be believed.

“Five billion years, or ten, or twelve
Had passed, when life arrived,
And finally men, though not like us,
From lower forms derived.

“And, furthermore, a question, sir,
About the sons of Eve,
Whence came the daughters, for her sons,
Mankind, therefrom, conceived?”

The godman cringed and raised his hand
Toward heaven, in disgust,
“If those are your beliefs, my friend,
You’ll burn in hell, please trust. (. . .)

“Burn in hell” — Hmmm. The concept reminds me, for some odd reason, of convicted, jailed, and released Christer Crookster Shylock Jimmy Bakker:

Pro-Trump Televangelist Jim Bakker: America Could ‘Blaspheme God’ In The Presidential Election

Oh heaven forbid! Not THAT!! “Blaspheme”? No way!

“For God, I know, has no rapport
With those who pray to see
The wisdom He withholds from men
For all eternity.”

“Your last remark makes little sense,”
Said skeptic, feigning dread,
“If you are asking we believe
God deems our brains be dead.

“For, if somewhere in endless space
A Creator exists
Who gave us minds to seek out truth,
Then why should we resist?”

The godman’s face showed beads of sweat,
He offered no reply,
He simply stared toward heaven’ s void
As wispy clouds rolled by. (. . .)

Poor godman. So sad. Maybe this will help:

Lance Wallnau: Trump Can Help Stop Satan From Taking Control Of The Seven Mountains

Yep, we gotta get them mountains away from Satan. No doubt. After that, god will really be happy and all us stubborn heathens will be forced to pay the bill!

May heathen burn, the godman prayed,
They’re evil, stubborn men,
And Lord, as why you sent them here?
Well, that’s beyond my ken.

Perhaps to try me, for a time,
Before I’m laid to rest?
Convert some souls to heaven’s song?
Yes, likely that’s my test.

But sure it is now’s not the time
To use the Holy See
As evidence, Your true intent,
Thy Word’s inerrancy.

Then godman turned toward skeptic, sad,
This man, his nemesis,
Would not accept such grand design,
God’ s apotheosis.

“We’ll meet again, my wayward friend,
By then, perhaps, you’ll learn,
That only through the Word of God,
In hell’s fire, you won’t burn.” (. . .)

Three decades ago I was still the eternal optimist, and I actually thought that it wouldn’t/shouldn’t take more than a couple of years, five or ten at the most, for all that nonsensical evangelical crapola to sink, once and for all, back into the muck from which it came.

Turns out I was wrong. For some really weird reason, evangelical nutcases still seem to have a much louder shouting voice than those of us who have evolved mentally to the point where we can actually understand reality.

“Lahk fer example”:

David Barton Explains Why ‘You Just Don’t Find Atheists’ Living Out In The Country

Barton is most typically known, amongst those whose minds have not yet died, as a bogus “Historian.” He even has, according to himself, a PhD in history. But not even that (bogus) claim is apparently enough to stop him from spreading non-historical baloney. Atheists only live in cities? Not in “the country”? I mean hey, Bartoni, I live “in the country,” in a little tiny town in rural Colorado. I admit I’m not a genuine atheist; I’m a step beyond atheism; nontheist. Big difference. Atheists don’t believe in god; nontheists note that there’s not even a god out there to NOT believe in. But cities only? What you been smoking?

In any case, all of us A- Non- theists are, however and in spite of specific labels, “Skeptics,” and for good reason. We’re tired of listening to church-speak, especially when its message is little more than the plot line in a 1960’s Charlton Heston movie. Can we move forward? Please?

“I doubt it, sir,” the skeptic said,
“For you’ve confirmed my choice,
That words beyond the biblical
Can speak with reasoned voice.

“And, too, you see, I have no need
To live in metaphor,
I’d rather seek, expand my mind,
Maintain an open door.

“To blindly mimic premises
Is not what God has deemed;
It seems more likely He mandates
That light, from dark, be gleaned, (. . .)

Speaker Paul Ryan apparently doesn’t buy into common sense either (big surprise, right?):

House Speaker Paul Ryan Reportedly Listens To Hack Historian David Barton ‘All The Time’

Speaker Ryan is an avid fan of historian David Barton. “I listen to him all the time, even in my car while driving,” he said. Because of Barton’s teachings, Speaker Ryan is very knowledgeable . . .

And therein lies the rub. Why the constant and steady downhill slope? Why were our Founders (aka vocal skeptics) so far more advanced 200+ years ago? Is there a solution to all of that, or must we continue to fight the never-ending battle against Dominionists and their bogus notions of government and population control and manipulation? Thirty years ago I thought maybe just looking the other way might be the solution; apparently not.

******

“And so, my friend, while I suggest
That your beliefs you keep,
Recall God sees us all as lambs,
Though not, I think, as sheep.”

Then skeptic turned and walked away,
Face bent as if to smile,
Safe Genesis was put to bed,
If but for just awhile.

Amen.

Or, stated another way,

“Religious institutions that use government power in support
of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths,
or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights.”
(Thomas Jefferson)

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Friday July 22 2016; Proposal For An Amendment To The Constitution

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .

Earlier this week, Congressman Steve King (Repugnant, IA) opened his pie hole on MSNBC, and this putridity fell out in response to Esquire writer Charles P. Pierce, who criticized the role of “old white people” in the Republican party:

“This whole ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie. I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?” King asked.

“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes prompted.

“Than Western civilization itself that’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world,” King responded. “That’s all of Western civilization.”

OK, so there it is: the ‘root’ of Western civilization  is every place where the footprint of Christianity kicked ass and became the dominant culture. The entire rest of the world essentially defines inferiority.

Later on ABC, King reiterated his asininity by saying this:

“What I really said was ‘Western civilization’ and when you describe Western civilization that can mean much of Western civilization happens to be Caucasians. But we should not apologize for our culture or our civilization,” King said, according to the network. “The contributions that were made by Western civilization itself, and by Americans, by Americans of all races stand far above the rest of the world. The Western civilization and the American civilization are a superior culture.”

King said he was open to criticism because it leads to “dialogue.”

“But what we have is people who are trying to parse something, to hyperventilate about that,” King told ABC. “I’m OK if they do that because it starts the dialogue so we can open up more minds so people can think about what’s right for America.”

In brief, it’s Caucasians who did it. who brought forth the culture of Western civilization, apparently aided by Americans of all races (including, I suppose, those that were brought here as slaves, plus alladem uncivilized aboriginal injuns, the Chinks that built railroads for white Christian businessmen, also them Japs, Spics, Kikes, Wops, Chewies) . . . how sad that in spite of our Western Civ’s whiteness and accomplishments, what we have is people who are trying to parse something, to hyperventilate about that.

Hyperventilate: to breathe very quickly and deeply

Parse: to analyze (something, as a speech or behavior) to
discover its implications or uncover a deeper meaning

OK, we can start there. I will hyperventilate, then parse.

(Puff puff pant pant) Let me begin by simply saying that the one human condition that I absolutely and fundamentally ABHOR is the tendency for one segment of the overall species to consider itself superior to all other “different” segments of the same species. In that scenario, “different” is foolishly defined — it can be “race,”  the scientifically invalid taxonomic phenotype based mainly on skin color; it can be religion-based; nationality; language — take your pick, devise a new one, no science required, only irrational fear-based hate.

Steve King’s nonsense is nothing more than directed hatred, fueled by ignorance and fear. He and his hate-filled ilk remind me, for some really “odd” reason, of TS Eliot’s definition of “Hollow Men,” esp. the lines that read,

Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Must have been the Hyperventilation.

Time now to parse. Steve King has revealed himself to be (in case anyone ever had any doubt) the quintessential Supremacist of the White-(faux)-Christian variety. He effectively, in the process, has diminished or dismissed everyone on the planet who is not white, not a (faux) Christian, as being of that inferior ilk that has never and can never accomplish anything useful. The big question that has haunted me since I first read King’s nonsensical diatribe is a simple one: How dumb and/or mis/uninformed must one be to imply that only “white Christians” are responsible for accomplishment (whatever that is) and for civilization?

I’ll not try to analyze King, or any of his ilk — never liked hyperventilating all that much. Suffice to say that he and his bubbas are perfectly willing and able to deny the accomplishments of all but white (faux) Christians. That list would include (but not be limited to) black people (of course), Asians (Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thais, Indonesians, Philippinos, people from India, Nepal, Mongolia — the Himalayas), also Aboriginal Peoples (Eskimos, N. and S. American “Indians”), and of course, Polynesians; add to all of them anyone who’s not Christian, i.e. all Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, atheists (the latter including, of course, moi along with plenty of other old — and young — white guys), and then work to dodge the hate and fear directed toward each and all.

In a word, King’s thesis is DISGUSTING!

I’d like to prove him wrong, of course. I also realize that trying to convince any loudmouthed and stupid (faux) Christian-white-guy is not something one might hope to accomplish in a lifetime. Therefore, I came up with an idea – – an amendment to the US Constitution, one that will serve to either prove or DISprove King’s thesis. And it’s so simple, so logical, and will probably serve to endear “us” to broad-minded people the world over, regardless of race, belief . . . well, you know.

I’ve not fine-tuned the wording yet, but here’s my rough draft for:

Article XXVIII.

Section 1.

All persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof — with the exception of all white males of any religious persuasion — shall be, for a period of 100 years following the date of ratification of this amendment, eligible to become President of the United States. The Presidency will be thus limited to people of any race – any color – other than white male; any religion (including atheism); and with no restrictions on gender expressed or implied other than the one noted above, so women of any and all groups are eligible.

Section 2.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who does not believe in the absolute equality of every person on the planet regardless of race, skin color, or religious belief (including atheism).

There. It’s a little lengthy, I know, but the wording remains wide open to suggestion from any legitimate quarter — so long as it puts Steve King and ALL like him in their subservient place. But only for a hundred years, not permanently.

I expect that millions of data gatherers will gather data on a daily basis, and that after one hundred years, I’m betting the data will show that in “the greatest country the world has ever known,” one hundred straight years of multi-racial leadership will simply show that white supremacists bring nothing special to the table, and that Steve King and ALL bigots like him are the creatively inferior and insurrectionist IDIOTS they have, over the centuries, demonstrated themselves to be!

******

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side
of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a
radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the
shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’
society. When machines and computers, profit motives and
property rights are considered more important than people,
the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are
incapable of being conquered.”
(Martin Luther King, Jr.; April 4, 1967)

******

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole, Monday, July 11th, 2016: “Christians” vs “Critters”

If you’d like more proof that at least some “Christian Evangelical” megachurch “leaders”, along with the “Prosperity” Jeebus hucksters and their varied brethren, should be under the microscope of the IRS, there’s a few articles on the Christian Post’s “Politics” page. (Also see RawStory’s recent thread about “Pastor” Jeffress.)

Or, if you prefer to start your day/week with some ‘critters’, here’s the official “Watering Hole”:
watering hole
bear cubs boxing cutefunnyanimalz blogspot com
belly up pups
black kitten
leaping lemurs
sea_lion a to z animals
upclose kitty amolife com
fucking love this stick animal animal animal blgspt

This is our daily Open Thread–say whatever you want.

The Watering Hole; Thursday June 23 2016; Radical (American) Christian Extremism/Radicalism

It’s common knowledge these days that the words “radical Islamic extremism/terrorism” are spoken daily by Republicans even as more rational voices such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and most if not all Democrats, choose to not use those words on the inarguable basis that it is clearly WRONG to essentially castigate an entire religion — some 1.6 billion people, worldwide — when the perpetrators of ‘extremism’ and ‘terrorism’ are nothing but radical spinoffs: the few thousands who embrace the concept of radical extremism/terrorism.

Curiously, however, those same domestic voices that constantly (and sometimes horrifically) condemn the voices of all who disagree with them will invariably refuse to call out our (their?) own ‘Radical American _____ Extremists/terrorists”– those clusters of American citizens which have long proven themselves equally capable of spreading hate, fear, and even wanton mass murder. Why is that? Death by AR-15 gunfire is the same no matter who pulls the trigger, is it not? And those who use hate and fear to describe a particular entity — race, religion, national origin, LGBT, gender, abortion providers, to name but a few — seem to NEVER stoop to calling perpetrators “radical,” or “extremists,” or even, in the aftermath of mass murder, “terrorists.” Why is that?

A closer look at events of just the last few days brings forth several examples of what is, one might think,  clearly definable as Radical American Christian Extremism (presented sans unnecessary comment):

Family Research Council Tries To Stop Bill Helping Vets Access Fertility Services

The Family Research Council, which routinely maligns gay military service members, is now attacking a bill to make it easier for veterans to access fertility services if they have been wounded in combat, claiming that it undermines “pro-life” principles.

Falwell: ‘Every Terrorist In The World Will Crawl Under A Rock’ When Trump Becomes President

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. hailed Donald Trump as a “bold and fearless leader” ready to fight America’s enemies and bad trade partners.

Falwell, speaking at the Religious Right meeting with the presumptive GOP nominee, said that just as Ronald Reagan freed the hostages in Iran upon taking office (he didn’t), Trump will similarly scare terrorism out of existence: “In my opinion, the day after Trump becomes president, every terrorist in the world will crawl under a rock in similar fashion.”

Donald Trump Taps Michele Bachmann, James Dobson & Other Far-Right Leaders For Advisory Board

[Trump said] “We can’t be politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes, selling the evangelicals down the tubes, and it’s a very, very bad thing that’s happening.”

Pat Robertson: God Will Punish Us For Satanic Abortion Rights

[Pat] Robertson said that “we have to look at the spiritual roots” of abortion rights, blaming the right to abortion on Satan: “The enemy of our soul is Satan and he hates people, he hates human beings, and the idea is if humans can kill other humans, the devil wants to do everything to help it.”

Bryan Fischer: Democratic Gun Control Efforts Are ‘Exactly How Satan Works’

[Bryan] Fischer said that Democrats are lying when they claim that they are trying to protect Americans because what they really want to do is allow government bureaucrats to take away constitutional rights and destroy the Second Amendment.

“That’s exactly how Satan works,” Fischer said. “That’s how he deceives us. He never tells us, ‘Look, if you do this thing I’m dangling in front of you, it’ll destroy you.’ He never says that because he knows we wouldn’t go for it.”

“And that’s what the left is trying to do with this ‘no fly, no buy’ thing,” he said. “It’s just Satan — I’m not accusing them of being Satan, but this is how Satan works; [he] tries to get us to take a bite out of the apple without realizing the consequences of what we’re doing.”

Next, a pair of examples that seem to demonstrate an evolving Radical American  Christian Terrorism (again sans comment):

Oklahoma Lawmaker Shares Article Arguing Islam Isn’t A Religion, Calls For ‘Final Solution’

On Sunday, Oklahoma State Rep. Pat Ownbey re-published an article to his Facebook page entitled “Radical Islam – The Final Solution.” The article was originally published on the personal blog of Paul R. Hollrah, an Oklahoman who touts himself as a “retired government relations executive,” but Ownbey appears to have copy-pasted the piece and reposted it in its entirety, citing Hollrah.

Pat Ownbey

on Sunday

Radical Islam – the Final Solution

by Paul R. Hollrah
June 18, 2016 … See More

. . . the article Ownbey shared purports that in light of the recent massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando by an ISIS-affiliated shooter, Islam should no longer be categorized as a religion in the United States — or in any western nation.

[. . .]

“…if we in the west are to protect our children and grandchildren from the horrors of a worldwide Islamic caliphate, we must first dispense with the cruel fiction that Islam is just another religious denomination, subject to all of the legal protections afforded legitimate religious sects,” Hollrah argues. “Islam is not a religion, subject to First Amendment protections, as we in western cultures understand the term. Rather, it is a complete political, legal, economic, military, social, and cultural system with a religious component.”

[. . .]

“Look at your dollar bill,” Ownbey told local news station KXII-TV. “It says In God We Trust.”

Donald Trump Courts Activist Who Wants Abortion Providers Put To Death

[Troy Newman] and [Cheryl] Sullenger once wrote at length about why it is a government responsibility to execute abortion providers:

“In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty. This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.

[. . .]

“Rejecting that innocent blood is to reject the only standard that is effective against innocent bloodshed, excluding the lawful execution of the murderers, which is commanded by God in Scripture.”

Clearly, Radical Extremism and Radical Terrorism are NOT, as so many would have us believe, part and parcel solely of Islam. We here in “the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” don’t appear to differ much from the rest of the world as far as production of radical thugs is concerned. But we are different — we refuse to use the same epithets with which we brand others, to brand ourselves. Here, the words “Black Lives Matter,” or “illegal (‘Hispanic’) immigrants,” or ‘Syrian refugees’ are likely to bring forth far more vicious vitriol than are any of our OWN home grown offenders (as quoted or referred to above), i.e. those who hate and detest LGBT people, or gay marriage, or reproductive rights, or abortion rights, or anyone who stands forth as being ‘ungodly’ in the Christian sense of the word. Why is that?

Now don’t get me wrong — I am in no way advocating that we expand the vitriol to include everyone with whom we might disagree. My personal choice remains as it always has been, to simply speak of things as they genuinely are, and NOT in the process paint with a wide brush, thereby denigrating the vast majority who do not deserve any sort of denigration. If I should choose to use, for example, the words “Radical American Christian Extremist/Terrorist,” I would use them only to describe an individual, maybe a small group — but never to describe the entire of the nation’s Christian population. Anyone who chooses to paint with that particular-sized brush would be no better than, say, our current crop of Republican politicos and their loyalists.

That’s a depth to which I will not sink. So when I say Trump is a sleazy lying racist bigot fascist wannabe, I’m speaking only of one individual, not everyone on the planet whose name might happen to be Trump. And for all of those noted and quoted in the above links, the words ‘Radical American Christian Extremists/Terrorists’ apply only to each, as indicated, and never to all Christians everywhere. Never.

But I do remain puzzled: Why the disparity? Why do some choose to insult or vilify everyone everywhere who might answer to a particular label? What is to be gained? And why are those who practice that sort of universal vitriol not called out and resolutely vilified by this country’s so-called ‘Free Press’? The Press does have that guaranteed right, after all, the judicious use of which might well elevate the level of political dialogue to currently unimaginable levels.

I miss Edward R. Murrow, that much is certain.

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 19 2016; Religious Liberty: The Scourge

“God? . . . who the hell is He? . . . Why confuse the issue
by dragging in a superfluous entity? Occam’s razor. Beyond
atheism, nontheism. I am not an atheist but an
eartheist. Be true to the earth.”
(Edward Abbey; Desert Solitaire, 1968)

I honestly don’t recall how long ago it was that I first read Abbey’s little masterpiece, “Desert Solitaire” — had to be somewhere within the last five decades, though, based on the book’s publication date. No matter. By the time I read it, I was already an atheist. Have since converted to a ‘nontheist’ and an ‘eartheist,’ however, thanks to Abbey’s clarification of concept. “Conversion” is also, I think, the word used in religious circles to describe what they consider to be ‘appropriate’ changes in religious belief. I presume, therefore, that my “conversion” from routine atheism to nontheism/eartheism is a consequence of the merger of commons sense with Religious Liberty, and is, therefore, one of those “unalienable rights” which we all share. Right?

Unlike a great many folks, however, I have no “faith,” no “belief,” no religious “practice” whatsoever; I consider “God” to be nothing more than an ancient myth, a ‘creation’ of the human mind to help explain the unknown, perhaps also as a useful means of controlling the minds and actions of the masses. I see no need in any of that; I’ve long felt that science and a cognitive mind should be sufficient to explain the origin(s) of everything that exists, if not today then surely by tomorrow maybe, or next week/year, etc. But none of that contributes to any sort of intolerance toward any and all who choose to believe differently. I will not tread on anyone’s belief(s) that differ from mine, nor will I ever make an effort to impose my “beliefs” on others. Belief should always be personal, never mandated. By anyone, by any entity. Period.

I’m constantly puzzled, however, by the fact that so many of the God-Religion inclined do not think (much less act) that same way. Intrusion with the intent to impose, to convert, or simply to induce fear has seemingly become a religious “standard” these days, and religious labels don’t seem to offer any significant differences, at least amongst the fundamentalists and their comrades. Islam (Shia, Wahhabi, Sunni), Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, et al.) — many participants are wonderfully tolerant, but far too many are the exact opposite. “Religious Liberty” has become a catch-phrase used by many to explain their intolerance for, essentially, any and all beliefs/attitudes/practices which differ from their own. Religious liberty is presumed to, in effect, allow any “believer” the right to impose, even discriminate, against any and all non-believers, and any subterfuge including lies, fear, and even induced hatred is considered legitimate under the wide umbrella of religious freedom. Why is that? Why should such practices be tolerated by/in a civil society?

Here are a handful of examples of such, each randomly  gathered in just the last day or two, that amply demonstrate — to my mind, at least — the absolute fallacy implicit in “Religious Liberty”:

1. Rev. John Hagee on how God will hold people accountable if they don’t vote for Donald Trump

“I’m going to vote for the candidate that’s going to make the U.S. military great. I’m going to vote for the party that is going to solve the immigration problem, not the one that has created the immigration problem. I’m going to support the party that brings jobs back from China … I’m not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years.”

He’s not demanding that everyone vote as he intends, but most likely that’s only because he knows he can’t. He knows he can, however, use fear and lies to convince those who respond to such that they’d better do as he says or face God’s retribution.

2. Trunews Host Rick Wiles: Obama And Satan Will ‘Rape Your Children’

“We’re living in a funhouse. In a house of horrors. The president — the fake president, he’s a fake president, he’s not a legitimate American president, he’s a fake and he’s been allowed to do these wicked things for eight years because there’s been no resistance to him, and now he’s going for it, he’s got the pedal to the metal. He’s coming into the schools to rape your children. Let’s be honest about it. Satan wants to rape your children. I’m telling you, there’s going to be confrontation in the country. There will be a group of people who just say, ‘This is it, I’m done, at this point, we resist and we’re pushing back.’”

I guess if one lives only on lies, they might as well be really big ones, since folks who believe such nonsense have no limits on the nonsense they’re inclined to believe — and then impose on everyone else because as we all know, LGBT people do NOT share the “Liberty” the rest of “us” are blessed with! God said!

3. American Family Association host Sandy Rios explains how the Lesbian Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy imaginable

“Hillary Clinton embraces every sexual deviancy you can imagine,” she said, before once again suggesting that the former secretary of state is a lesbian because “there have been more than rumors swirling about her own sexual proclivities since before she became first lady.”

“She’s an advocate of gay marriage, and I mean a strong advocate. She’s been endorsed by every radical homosexual activist group in the country, all the major ones, Human Rights Campaign and others, especially in New York. She gets that endorsement for a reason, you know, she gets it for a reason.”

Lies and accusations seem to have no limits whatsoever when directed at LGBT people, and/or anyone who publicly supports their implicit right to live as they wish.

4. Far-Right Pundit Steve Quayle notes that ‘God is using Donald Trump’ to ‘show the political sins of this country’

Steve Quayle declared that God is using Trump to reveal the sins of America, and that the Bible may even speak about the business mogul when it mentions the word “trumpet.”

“I believe God is using Donald Trump, whether you like him or hate him, I believe God is using him to trumpet the nature of what America believes and, in essence, we believe a lie,” he said. “‘Trump’ [sic] is in two times in the New Testament, ‘the last trump [sic] of God.’ The thing that’s fascinating for me is that God has used him as a prosecuting attorney to show the political sins of this country.”

Makes perfect sense, if you don’t think about it. Good reason to vote for Trump though, right? Right.

5. Then there’s Rep. Steve King R-IA) on school prayer

“Well, I was sitting [as] a freshman in high school when Murray vs. Curlett came down that ordered that there be no more prayer in the public schools. And I thought then, that was 1963, and I thought then, how are they going to stop us from praying in our schools? They could tape our mouths shut, that doesn’t do it. The only way they could stop us would be to empty the schools out. And in my mind’s eye, I can still see the images that were conjured up: two U.S. Army personnel standing there guarding the doors that were chained shut on our high school. … It was the image that came to mind, the only way to stop us from praying in public schools was to empty the schools out and guard them so we couldn’t sneak in and pray.”

Seems to me that no one has EVER said students are not allowed to pray in public schools. They can, in fact, pray whenever they wish to so long as they do it in silence and don’t disturb anyone in the process. The only restriction the law mandates is that prayer of any kind can not be imposed on the entire student body, a mandate that allows each and every student to worship (or not) as he or she wishes, not as any particular school administrator or teacher might prefer.

6. Finally, there’s this one. Rand Paul has a great idea, a clever way to halt once and for all the ‘right’ of a woman to enjoy any level of reproductive freedom. Paul’s plan: FETAL PERSONHOOD by Congressional mandate.

Here are some excerpts from Paul’s email on the matter:

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling forced abortion-on-demand down our nation’s throat. . . .

The time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over.

Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it. . . .

A Life at Conception Act declares unborn children “persons” as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.

This is the one thing the Supreme Court admitted in Roe v. Wade that would cause the case for legal abortion to “collapse.” . . .

If you and other pro-life activists pour on enough pressure, pro-lifers can force politicians from both parties who were elected on pro-life platforms to make good on their promises and ultimately win passage of this bill.

But even if a Life at Conception Act doesn’t pass immediately, the public attention will send another crew of radical abortionists down to defeat in the 2016 elections.

No need to ‘grovel before the Supreme Court,’ in other words, since the fourteenth amendment legitimizes the concept of legislating ‘personhood’ to the fertilized egg. No more abortion, and probably no more birth control. Got to protect the fetus. Period. Of course, after the child is born, well, then to hell with health care, food, shelter, all that stuff. Some kids will be OK because their parents are well-off, but those poor kids, well, you know, lazy bums and all.

What puzzles me most on that issue is why the government thinks it needs to take action of any kind. I mean, there are no demands that a woman MUST take contraceptives, or that she MUST have an abortion. Nope, it’s strictly a matter of choice — unless or until some religiously over-wrought ‘movement’ demands the government protect THEIR “Religious Liberty.” As for the ‘liberty’ of others who believe differently? Nah. They don’t count.

“If a man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired,
if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon
forever such fantasies of the supernal. He would learn to
perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of
the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him
for the loss of the ancient dreams.”
(Edward Abbey; Desert Solitaire, 1968)

Ah, the virtues of “Eartheism”! Fantastic Contrast! Thanks for that, Edward Abbey.

OPEN THREAD

 

The Watering Hole; Thursday March 10 2016; “Religious Liberty”(?)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
Bill of Rights, Article I.

The so-called ‘Establishment Clause’ of the Constitution’s First Amendment seems, to minds unburdened by doctrinaire religion, to disallow the government from either aiding or prohibiting the free exercise of any religion. Period. Religious bias, pro and/or con, is not an option. And while it’s true that the (oft-cited/criticized) ‘Separation of Church and State’ words are not used anywhere in the Constitution, the words make no law are crystal clear in meaning. It does seem, however, that the words free exercise inspire, in some, thoughts and attitudes which, to the rational mind, are in complete conflict with the Constitution’s stated “hands off” premise in re religion.

Recently, for example, (retired) Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin addressed an event sponsored by Liberty Counsel and the Freedom Federation wherein he went to some length to elaborate his views regarding the Constitution’s stated and presumably implicit positions in re his own religious biases. Boykin claims, for example (highlights mine), that the Founders must have understood there to be a major difference between “worship” and “religion” and the “freedom(s)” therein implicit, when he says:

Folks, if you accept the concept of freedom of worship you are going down a dangerous path. They [Founders] didn’t just give us freedom of worship, they gave us freedom of religion. What they said was you can believe what you want to believe, and you can live your faith.

In other words, to Boykin’s mind the difference is clear: freedom of worship imposes limits that freedom of religion does not. Freedom of religion apparently permits believers to do whatever they perceive their religion demands, even when doing so requires discrimination against those who believe differently. Freedom of worship, meanwhile, presumably denies to believers their ‘right’ to impose.

Boykin then continues to make his point:

Today, that constitutional freedom is in the greatest jeopardy of any of our constitutional liberties. It is the freedom of religion and it is based on a radical agenda to tell you that you can believe what you want to believe but you cannot live your faith in the public square. . . .

“If America accepts what Hitler forced the church in Germany to accept, which was freedom to worship, we’re going to wind up being just like Germany. We’re in the same situation today. We’re being told that we can have freedom of worship but we cannot have freedom of religion and we’re going to have to pay a price. . . . We’ve got to stand up to evil.”

Not sure I comprehend Boykin’s point. In his Nazi Germany ‘metaphor,’ is he suggesting that Jews were allowed the freedom of worship but not freedom of religion, i.e. “you can believe what you want to believe but you cannot live your faith in the public square” ergo the gas chambers and crematoria? Is Boykin implying that if he and others who share his religious beliefs are allowed only the freedom of worship and not the freedom of religion — the right to discriminate against others because religion allows — that death camps therefore await?

Seems like quite a reach. Boykin ignores the fact that the word “worship” is nowhere in the Constitution; that the words “freedom of” are found only in the ‘freedom of speech’ context of the first amendment; that the word “religion” is found solely in the Establishment Clause cited above, and that the word “religious” appears in one place only, in Article VI of the main body as “no religious Test shall ever be required . . .”; the words “religious liberty” are never used anywhere.

Speaking of “religious liberty,” Ted Cruz recently suggested that

“We are one liberal justice away from the Supreme Court ruling that government can take our religious liberty away and force every one of us to violate our faith on penalty of prison or fine.”

Cruz, supposedly a Constitutional lawyer, seems to presume that somewhere in that document is a guarantee of “religious liberty” that matches his opinion of what that might mean, but yet nowhere is there even a mention of the concept — with the possible exception of  the first amendment’s establishment clause closing phrase: prohibiting the free exercise thereof. But is it legally realistic to interpret those words to mean that believers of a particular religion have Constitutional permission, via the words free exercise . . . of religion in the first amendment’s Establishment Clause, to demand that everyone else submit to their beliefs because they believe that’s what their god instructs? Is the balance of the non-discriminatory and equality language in the Constitution as amended rendered meaningless by the concept of religion, by the free exercise thereof phrase? Do only the practitioners of a particular religion have absolute Constitutional rights?

Apparently not.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed
to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Bill of Rights, Article IX.

Seems clear to me, but then I’m not a retired Lt. General, not a constitutional lawyer, not a presidential candidate, not a religious zealot. Thank all gods (sotospeak).

OPEN THREAD

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, Monday, February 15th, 2016: “It’s In Revelations (sic), People!”

While I was trying to research more on the recent story accusing several Republicans of directly trying to convince Iran to hold off releasing American hostages until our Presidential election is over – and I DO hope that we learn more about who these (R) bastards are – I ran into the following article, and just had to go for the ludicrously funny instead.

When I googled info on the Iran story, I was rather surprised to find that two of the three most recent articles about it were from “Christian” sites: the Christian Times, and the Christian Post. Of course, it was when I got to the Christian Post that I got distracted by what I am presenting today. I’m not sure what writing style author David is attempting to use, but I’m thinking it could be tongue-in-cheek/snark? Maybe you can tell.

Also, keep in mind that I do not remember being taught anything about the Book of Revelation in all my thirteen years of Catholic schooling. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t taught something, simply that I do not remember – which, in high school, could have been understandable (if you catch my drift.)

“10 Things You Gotta Know About Revelation”

“You gotta know these 10 things about Revelation. You just gotta!

1. It’s the book of Revelation not Revelations.

Don’t say “I iz reading Revelations whilst Ma is cooks up some possum pie. It’s pertnear my favrit book. I think I’ll go read it by the cement pond.” That sounds ignorant all because you made Revelation plural. Don’t be ignorant!”

And that’s just for openers. I seriously wonder at what target audience this is being aimed. Ruzicka continues:

“It’s also not the Revelation of John. It’s the Revelation of Jesus Christ.”

This line is, confusingly, set next to a photo of a book opened to a page titled “The Revelation of St.John the Divine.”

2. John is the writer of Revelation and a MUCH bigger deal than you. Or me.

John had left the fishing business to follow Jesus. He followed Jesus for three years of ministry. He saw people raised from the dead, and saw Jesus walk on the water. John was at the last supper, there when Jesus was arrested, there as Jesus died on the cross — in fact the ONLY disciple there — all the others fled. Jesus told John to take care of Mary (Jesus’ mother). He was there at the empty tomb; he was among the first to believe. Nobody has lived a life like John lived.

So, John was a roadie?

3. He was known as the “beloved disciple” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20).”

It would not be an overstatement to say that John considered Jesus to be his “best friend.”

Is the author trying to hint at something here?

4. John wrote John, 1st, 2nd and 3rd John.

Well, jeez, I should hope he didn’t have a ghostwriter.

5. John is about 100 years old.

In god dog years?

6. John is banished on an island for criminals — Isle of Patmos — by the Emperor Domitian.

Why? Because he wouldn’t shut up about Jesus. This is where he writes Revelation.

Hmmm…he writes Revelation while on an island for criminals. Must’ve been inspired?

7. John survived martyrdom.

He was boiled in a huge basin of oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. The apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

WTF? Did his miraculous delivery from death heal the boiling-oil scars? Seriously, how does one manage to be almost boiled to death in oil and not incur even second-degree burns over a large part of his body? Burns which would – in those times – likely become festering infected sores that would possibly be fatal?

8. He pastors the seven churches he’s writing to in Revelation 1.

Ooo-kay, so John was a multi-tasker, fine, this is important how?

9. John didn’t fail.

100 years old, boiled in oil, banished to an island for criminals, still a faithful witness for King Jesus, his best friend. John lived a life far beyond anything we can imagine. For all the base jumping, cliff diving, ice climbing and BMXing out there — it’s nothing compared to the life John lived.

Seriously, dude? Dismissing the crappy examples of, I’m guessing, youthful adventure like ‘cliff diving’ and ‘BMXing’, there are plenty of people who have led long, interesting, worthwhile humanitarian lives without all of the torture or all the Jesus.

10. You’ll never find out when it all ends by studying numerology or Bible codes or counting cards in Vegas (just in case you were wondering).

And that’s not the point of the book. Jesus says Himself that no one but the Father knows (Matthew 24:36). [Which, as you know, is one of Wayne’s pet peeves, since so many charlatans are raking in the $ predicting the End Times ETA.]

The point of the book is to encourage persecuted believers, that in spite of any emperor’s hatred and even murder of Christians, King Jesus wins in the end. The Christian life is not trial free, but trial proof, not persecution free, but persecution proof, not tribulation free, but tribulation proof.

This is somehow supposed to sound attractive, or hopeful, or what? And somehow this version of the Book of Revelation that Ruvick CliffNotes does not sound like the strange, Heironomous Bosch

The point of the book is this: King Jesus gets the last word, He wins in the end, and so take heart! He will draw all of His to Himself to live with Him forever. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega — the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come — the Almighty One.”
Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

Somehow none of this is inspiring me to “take heart.”

This is our daily Open Thread – talk amongst yourselves.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 6, 2016: Stumbling Bloc

When catching up on recent political issues yesterday (after having been focused a bit too much on that goddamned Bundy clan and their terrorist cohorts), I ran across this piece on ThinkProgress about the House “Freedom” Caucus. One of my first thoughts while reading it was “the term  ‘Freedom’ has absolutely no connection with the group’s raison d’etre“; after reading it, I grokked that ‘raison’ – reason – didn’t enter into the equation either. An excerpt:

[House Speaker Paul] Ryan spoke about the divisions in the Republican Party at a policy forum hosted by Heritage Action in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, pointing to groups within the party which demand things that are unachievable and refuse to work across the aisle in any way.
“When voices in the conservative movement demand things that they know we can’t achieve with a Democrat in the White House, all that does is depress our base and in turn help Democrats stay in the White House,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that anymore.”

Just a few hours later, four members of the roughly 40-person House Freedom Caucus, a faction of hardline Republicans, said that they will not work with the president and that realism and compromise will cause Republicans to lose elections.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) directly addressed Ryan’s comments, saying that the measures the Speaker thinks are “unachievable” are actually just practical, “small things.”

“On the omnibus, the big spending legislation that happened at the end of last calendar year, our group went to leadership and we asked for a couple small things,” he said. “We said do something on this pro-life issue — after all we have this organization that gets your tax dollars and does all kinds of disgusting things. We said it doesn’t have to be defunded completely, but let’s just do something that’s going to protect the sanctity of life.”

According to a Roll Call piece from September 10th, 2015:

“The House Freedom Caucus has spoken.
On Thursday, the conservative HFC took their seventh official position: They will oppose any spending bill that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood.

“Given the appalling revelations surrounding Planned Parenthood, we cannot in good moral conscience vote to send taxpayer money to this organization while still fulfilling our duty to represent our constituents. We must therefore oppose any spending measure that contains funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Apparently Rep. Jordan and his group are unaware – or willfully ignorant – of the fact that every investigation into the alleged “disgusting things” Planned Parenthood has been wrongfully accused of have found absolutely no evidence to back up those allegations. FFS, even Texas, after exonerating PP, is now prosecuting the criminals who produced the doctored video “proof” that Planned Parenthood was ‘selling baby parts for fun and profit.’ We all know that Texas HATES Planned Parenthood, so one would think that the turn of events there would give the Caucus pause. But, again, ‘reason’ doesn’t seem to enter into the collective mind of the Freedumb Caucus. But I digress…

The ThinkProgress excerpt continues:

“Another “small thing” Jordan pointed to was a request that legislation to reject Syrian refugees be tucked inside the must-pass omnibus spending measure. The bill would have temporarily halted Obama’s plan to bring roughly 10,000 refugees to the United States because of the persistent threats they face in Syria…
…Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) also implied Wednesday that he is not willing to compromise with others in his party, let alone with Democrats. He said that while he knows he has to be realistic with his expectations, “when you have the will of the people and their voice behind you, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.”

I love the way these (in reality) extreme policy shifts are described as “small things.” And it’s particularly ironic that what the House Freedom Caucus considers to be “small things”, which Speaker Ryan called “unrealistic”, are the same things that the current Republican Presidential candidates are running their campaigns on: overturning Roe v Wade, immigration – along with their favorite hopeless cause, repealing Obamacare. Yes, they’re still wasting time trying to overturn Obamacare, now for the 63rd time. I guess that the Repubican’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and the hell with real governing.”

Pew Research has an interesting piece from October of 2015 on Congress’s “Freedom Caucus.” Here’s a snippet that I found insightful:

“…the Freedom Caucus does not officially disclose who belongs to it (aside from its nine founding members)[**], though various unofficial lists have circulated. Membership is by invitation only, and meetings are not public.”
What most distinguishes the Freedom Caucus from other House Republicans has been their willingness to defy the wishes of leadership…and to band together with like-minded Republicans who threaten to block any temporary measure to fund the government that didn’t also defund Planned Parenthood.”

**Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ) issued a “press release” on January 26th, 2015, announcing the formation of the House Freedom Caucus and its mission statement:

“The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.
The HFC’s founding members are Rep. Scott Garrett, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Matt Salmon, Rep. Justin Amash, Rep. Raúl Labrador, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Mark Meadows.”

Along with another 30-odd (very odd!) hard-right Republicans who joined the HFC, after John Boehner decided to give up the position (I suspect mainly so that he could just go home and get drunk,) this small bloc of ultra-conservatives nearly derailed their own party’s contest for the House Speakership by issuing a list of demands questions for Speaker hopefuls. A couple of their “questions” include:

“Would you ensure that the House-passed appropriations bill do not contain funding for Planned Parenthood, unconstitutional amnesty, the Iran deal, and Obamacare?”

~ and ~

“Would you commit to impeach IRS commissioner John Koskisen and pressure the Senate to take it up?”

So they also still believe that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative groups, despite investigations showing that both religious-right AND non-religious left tax-exempt organizations were audited by the IRS? Paul Ryan is right, they DO need to be “realistic.”

This “freedumb” caucus apparently has zero interest in actual freedom, or governing, or anything beyond their own pseudo-christian-induced tunnel vision. And they’re more than happy to not only fuck with their own party, they’re delighted to fuck with the entire country. As many parents have said to erring children, “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it!

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

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

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

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

******

November 06, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The (Conservative) Smear Campaign Against The Mosque Obama Visited

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

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

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

******

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

OPEN THREAD

 

 

The Watering Hole, Tuesday February 2, 2016 Groundhog Day Special – The Iowa Caucus

From the Washington Post as of 8:30 PM PST on2/1/16.

“DES MOINES — Supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz delivered a hard-fought upset win over businessman Donald Trump in the Iowa Republican caucuses Monday night, making good on his bet that a methodical campaign organization would eclipse the New Yorker’s media dominance in the first test of GOP voters.

Live results: Track the Democratic caucus vote

Live results: Track the Republican caucus vote

With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz (Tex.) was besting Trump by more than 5,100 votes, with fellow senator Marco Rubio of Florida a close third. Cruz appeared to capitalize on deep support from religious and social conservatives and showed that old-fashioned retail politicking could overcome Trump’s massive political rallies in the Hawkeye state.

On the Democratic side, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were virtually deadlocked with 91 percent of the precincts reporting, as months of heated rhetoric and fierce jockeying in the 2016 race for the White House was finally put to the test on both sides.

What it looks like on the ground in Iowa for the caucuses

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley had negligible support and was expected to suspend his campaign Monday night, according to a person close to his campaign.”

The Washington Post

iowa caucus

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!

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, October 19th, 2015: Word of Life Christian Church of Death

Last week, a young man of 19 was beaten to death, and his 17-year-old brother was beaten senseless, in the sanctuary of the Word of Life Christian Church in a small town in upstate New York. Lucas Leonard, the 19-year-old, and his brother Christopher Leonard, were beaten during an “intervention” by their parents and several other church members, in an effort to get the boys to ‘confess their sins and beg forgiveness.’

Yes, there’s lots wrong with those sentences. But then, everything I’ve read about this killing is so very wrong. Here are several examples from various reports on this heinous beating marathon:

From the Olean Times-Herald, a local newspaper in Oneida county, where the killing took place:

“An attorney for the mother, Deborah Leonard, said she felt helpless to stop an “intervention” that spiraled into severe punishment by others at the Word of Life Christian Church. But a lawyer for the father, Bruce Leonard, said the incident stemmed from a family meeting that had nothing to do with the church.”

[It has been said that at least the older son wanted to leave the church/wanted to join the Army; and/or that he (or both boys, still unclear) had attended a pro-choice rally.]

“A timid Deborah Leonard “went along with” others in a church where she had worshipped for years, not anticipating how harsh the intervention would become, said her lawyer, Devin Garramone.

“She didn’t have the temerity to stand up to them and say, ‘You’re not punishing my kid,'” said Garramone, adding that he believed she didn’t cause the fatal injuries.”

Sure, a “timid Deborah Leonard” “didn’t have the temerity” to try to stop the fatal beating. But apparently [read further below] she was not so timid about joining in the flogging, kicking and punching that comprised the approximately 12-hour-long “intervention.” But it just gets weirder and more horrible.

“Bruce Leonard’s lawyer, Donald Gerace, said the episode “could just as well have taken place outside the church.” He said the Leonards had no intention of seriously injuring their son.”

WTF? Other than the fact that it is hideously fucked-up that this happened inside the SANCTUARY of a (so-called) church, what difference does it make where the parents helped to kill their son? Is the father thinking that saying it could have taken place anywhere somehow exonerates him or mitigates his crime?

“Devoted to the church, spiritual leader Traci Irwin and pastor Tiffanie Irwin, members often “wait to be told what to do,” [New Hartford Police Chief Michael] Inserra said. After the attack, the beating victims’ relatives wouldn’t tell officers where to find the injured Christopher Leonard, who ultimately was located on the church’s second floor, the chief said.”

[Emphasis mine.]

If “the beating victims’ relatives” don’t get an “Obstruction of Justice” or “Obstruction of an Investigation” charge added to the other charges, I’ll be very disappointed.

Then we have these bits from the New York Times’ article about the killing:

The teenagers’ parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, who live in nearby Clayville, have been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in their son’s death. Four other church members, including the teenagers’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, 33, were also arrested and face felony assault charges.

[This was the first that I heard that Ms. Ferguson was a half-sister; another article says she’s the teens’ stepsister.]

Lawyers entered pleas of not guilty for all six suspects on Tuesday. A lawyer for Ms. Leonard, Devin Garramone, said she had belonged to the church for several decades…“I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of guilt,” Mr. Garramone said on Wednesday. “At first it might look like that, but you have a mother — I don’t think she inflicted these injuries on her son. There were other people involved.”

Could the lawyer get a little more incoherent? Not a thing that he said made any sense. And if “there were other people involved”, it does not make the mother guilt-free.

Of course, being a “church”, this cult is tax-exempt, according to the NYT:

“Word of Life Church, which owns the building it occupies, was incorporated in the 1990s in Oneida County, naming four officers but giving little indication of its mission. A certificate of incorporation filed in 1995 lists Bruce Leonard as a trustee. The church property — valued at $210,843, and sitting on 1.86 acres — is tax-exempt as a religious organization, according to a 2015 assessment roll.”

CNN’s report on the killing includes some weird shit, too:

“Another witness, State Police Sgt. Todd Grant, said Bruce Leonard made admissions about what happened to his son and agreed to write a statement. The interrogation was videotaped. At no point did Bruce Leonard ask about his son, Irwin says.”

Nice concern for your son there, Bruce. What a loving Christian family.

Later, the sergeant said, Deborah Leonard said she had struck Lucas with a cord. When Grant removed a cord from the back of a computer and asked her to demonstrate how she hit him, the investigator said, Deborah Leonard struck a table violently.
Deborah Leonard’s attorney, Devin Garramone, said his client had a stent put in due to a heart condition and requires constant medical attention.

“I cannot imagine my client had anything to do with these injuries, especially in the condition she is in,” he said.

Yes, well, Mr. Garramone, perhaps you should talk to your client again, it seems that her heart condition did not inhibit her, as she demonstrated to Sergeant Grant.

Yet more horror, from an NBC News article:

“A mother and father whipped their 19-year-old son in church with an electrical cord and what appeared to be a belt during a deadly, all-night spiritual counseling session triggered by his desire to leave the fold, according to witness testimony and police Friday.

Church deacon Daniel Irwin testified that he peered through a doorway window in the sanctuary at one point during the more than 12-hour ordeal at the Word of Life Christian Church, and saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony.

[Emphasis mine.]

“Lucas was rolling himself back and forth on the floor and making a sustained, monotone moaning,” Irwin said.

Within hours, the young man would be dead — killed by blows inflicted by his parents, sister and fellow church members, authorities said. His mother told police the group took turns hitting him and holding him down, state police investigator Jason Nellis testified. Irwin, the church deacon, testified that he got a text message after services ended around 8 p.m. Sunday saying the Leonard family would be part of a counseling session with the church’s pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, who is Irwin’s sister. Irwin said he wasn’t told what the session was about.”

Yet when Irwin “peered through a doorway window” and “saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony”, he never thought to report it to any ‘secular’ authorities? He didn’t think to intervene himself? Does this type of “spiritual counseling” happen often at this so-called “church”? WTF kind of “Christian” deacon is he? WTF kind of HUMAN BEING is he, FFS?!

This is from the Word of Life Christian Church’s website:

Under “This Is Us”:

”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Word of Life is mission! Mission is not just something we do, it is something we are. The Great Commission is of highest priority, we sense its urgency and therefore reach out into many countries and cultures across the world. Nations filled with precious individuals are waiting for the Good News. We have decided – they shall not wait in vain! We want to reach them, equip them and send them forth. The harvest is great and the number of workers will grow! – Christian Åkerhielm, Missions Director

Huh? Sounds like they took word-salad lessons from Sarah Palin. So, what exactly is their “mission”, and/or their “Great Commission”? To “make disciples of all nations”?

One creepy detail, from the Syracuse.com website might have the ‘answer’ – or an ‘answer’, anyway:

“One stitched textile was framed and hung on the wall that said, in part, “We have been commissioned through the written word of God to reach out to those who have not experienced the love of Jesus Christ in their lives … Through the systematic training up of saints, our goal is for them to reach out confidently, sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ…”

“[S]ystematic training up of saints…”? I don’t think that this “church” knows the definition of either “saints” or ‘sainthood’ – nor that of “love” or “compassion”, for that matter. None of those words has ever had anything to do with physically beating anyone to death. I think that Word of Life Christian Church, with fewer than 10,000 members, has some serious delusions of grandeur issues. Hopefully, a thorough investigation into last week’s horrifying beatings will help shine a light on this particular cult of mutant hominids that call themselves “Christians.”

Oh, just to be “fair and balanced,” here’s the Fox News website’s write-up on the beatings. You’ll have to read it for yourselves. Surprisingly – or not, perhaps – it’s almost as poorly written and content-free as the Word of Life “Christian” Church’s “Mission.”

This is our daily Open Thread – “I Report, You Decide Discuss.”

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 28th, 2015: It’s Autumn, Isn’t It?

It’s week 3 of football season, baseball only has another week in the “regular” season, both of which are normal clues that we’re into fall. Normally, by the end of August, we have at least some trees starting to change their leaves as the first harbingers of the spectacular foliage show to come, but…

With a very few exceptions (certain vines, etc.), our tree-covered hillsides are as green as ever.
31370013

According to the official “I Love NY” foliage report,

“Hudson Valley foliage change will remain minimal this weekend, according to foliage spotters. Look for up to 25 percent change in Rockland County, where green still predominates, but some purple, orange and red leaves are beginning to emerge. Dutchess County spotters in Poughkeepsie expect 15 percent color change, with more bright yellow leaves coming into play. Spotters in Columbia, Westchester and Orange counties expect just about 10 percent color change this weekend.”

For some reason, Putnam County, where Wayne and I grew up, is never mentioned, even though there’s plenty of scenic and historic areas in Putnam. And Dutchess County, where we live now, has the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, the Walkway Over the Hudson.

So, where’s our fall foliage? I think I’ll blame Pat Robertson and the religious right for screwing with our seasons. Damned end-timers!

This is our daily Open Thread–whom do you want to blame for something?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 14th, 2015: ICYMI Grab Bag

While the “Christian” flavor of the right-wing-religious-nut-jobs have been hogging the limelight lately, there’s been more of ‘teh crazy’ happening over in the Mormon corner. According to an article by Peggy Fletcher Stack in last Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune, many Mormons, in the belief that the signs are about right for doomsday to arrive, are starting preparations (these Mormons are referred to as “preppers.) Here’s a couple of excerpts from the article, titled “Some Mormons stocking up amid fears that doomsday could come this month”:

“Jordan Jensen, a salesman at Emergency Essentials, said his Bountiful store has been “crazy busy, sales up by definitely a large amount.”
Those 72-hour emergency kits are “almost impossible to keep on the shelves,” Jensen says, “and we get a shipment every day.” A lot of customers, he says, believe “this is the month it will all happen — with a ‘blood moon’ and a currency collapse and everything.”

Here’s how the doomsday scenario plays out: History, some preppers believe, is divided into seven-year periods…In 2008, seven years after 9/11, the stock market crashed, a harbinger of a devastating recession. It’s been seven years since then, and Wall Street has fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in the wake of China devaluing its currency. Thus, they believe, starting Sept. 13, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, there will be another, even larger financial crisis, based on the United States’ “wickedness.” That would launch the “days of tribulation” — as described in the Bible. They say Sept. 28 will see a full, red or “blood moon” and a major earthquake in or near Utah. Some anticipate an invasion by U.N. troops, technological disruptions and decline, chaos and hysteria.

Some of these speculations stem from Julie Rowe’s books, “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” and “The Time Is Now.” Rowe, a Mormon mother of three, published the books in 2014 to detail a “near-death experience” in 2004, when the author says she visited the afterlife and was shown visions of the past and future. Though Rowe rarely gives specific dates for predicted events, she did describe in a Fox News Radio interview “cities of light,” including scores of white tents where people will live in the mountains and sometimes be fed heavenly “manna.” She saw a “bomb from Libya landing in Israel, but Iran will take credit.” And “Gadianton robbers” of Book of Mormon infamy, meaning secret and corrupt leaders, are “already here.”

Okay, that’s the crazy part–now for the scary-crazy part:

Her purpose in speaking out, Rowe told interviewer Kate Dalley, was “to wake more of us up. … We need each other as we unify in righteousness and continue to build a righteous army. When we need to defend the [U.S.] Constitution, we will be ready.”

Oh, great, another right-wing-religious-nut-job cult that doesn’t understand that the Constitution proscribes the very idea of their “righteous” religious rule. Then again, this particular zealot who is trying to build her “righteous army” may not have a whole army of followers:

“For the past year, the popular writer has been sharing her experience and visions at Mormon venues nationwide, drawing crowds of eager — and worried — listeners. Her two books have sold more than 20,000 copies apiece.”

Uh-huh, and probably all 40,000 books are sitting in a Newsmax warehouse or its religious-literature equivalent.

Next, from TheWeatherChannel, cool photos of volcanic ‘blue’ lava, taken by photographer Reuben Wu in East Java, Indonesia.

Last, NASA has some new photos of Pluto to share from New Horizons’ flyby of the “dwarf planet.” Photos of Pluto’s moons will be coming along soon.

This is our daily Open Thread–enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 12th, 2015: Chuck Should Listen to George (Bonus: Birds!)

I started this post (a few days ago) thinking that I would rebut Senator Chuck Schumer’s reasoning, as reported in this NY Times article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman, for his opposition to the Iran Nuclear Agreement.  But that would have taken too long and wouldn’t have been good for my mental and physical health.  Suffice it to say that Chuck’s ‘arguments’ against the deal are specious and unfounded, and the final quote in the article is, quite literally, nonsensical:  “To me, after 10 years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.”

Then I got distracted (once again) by President Washington’s Farewell Address, with his  warning against aligning the Nation with any particular nation(s) at the expense and enmity of any other nation(s), and at the expense of our country’s interests.  (If you’re interested, the pertinent discussion starts at “Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”)  I wanted to scold Schumer with these two sections in particular:

“Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.

~ and ~

“Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

Then, for a bit of crazy, there were a couple of stories on RightWingWatch about Michele Bachman “predictions” and/or supposed validation of previous “predictions.” 

Finally, I ran across something to wash the bad taste out of your minds: a story about birds from DailyKos.

This is our daily open thread, so talk about ‘such and stuff’ (as my mum used to say.)