The Weekend Watering Hole, December 10th/11th, 2016: Good-ish? News

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To start this weekend off, here’s a few stories that I found a bit heartening. Or perhaps I should say ‘less disheartening than most news.’

First, a story by Jen Hayden from Thursday’s Daily Kos says that General Barry McCaffrey no longer supports Trump’s choice for national security advisor. Quite the opposite, in fact. An excerpt:

General Barry McCaffrey tells NBC News that he was initially supportive of Donald Trump’s decision to name Lt. General Michael Flynn as his national security advisor. But, a closer look at Flynn’s social media use shows that he sent out at least 16 different fake (propaganda) news stories via social media and General McCaffrey pulled no punches, bluntly calling the tweets and stories “demented.”

The Trump transition team is also rightly getting criticism for allowing Lt. General Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, to not only take part in the transition team, but to seek out security clearance for him when his own social media has shown him to be prolifically disseminating utterly false and outrageous politically motivated news. (You can watch a smarmy Mike Pence evade Jake Tapper’s pointed questions about Flynn, Jr.’s security clearance six different times by clicking here.) One of those fake stories prompted a man to walk into a pizza place and fire his high-powered gun to personally “investigate” the child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton that Flynn was tweeting about to his followers. Which, of course, wasn’t happening.

General Barry McCaffrey went on to say that “we need to aggressively examine what was going on” with Lt. General Michael Flynn and his son.

Next, Trump’s “Ego Trip Tour” brings him to Maryland, and he’s attending today’s iconic Army-Navy football game in Annapolis,  He will also be visiting Baltimore, and the Baltimore City Council made it clear that they are not exactly laying out the “Welcome” mat for him.  According to the Baltimore Sun:

In its first official act Thursday, the new Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to condemn statements made by Donald J. Trump, days before the president-elect is expected to visit the city.

The resolution formally opposed Trump’s “divisive and scapegoating rhetoric, rooted in hate and prejudice,” a measure political scientists say flies in the face of new Mayor Catherine E. Pugh‘s goal of persuading the next president to funnel federal investment to the cash-strapped city.

Some Baltimore officials think that the City Council’s resolution will work against efforts by Mayor Pugh to wheedle funds out of Trump, and believe it was a stupid – one said “boneheaded” – thing to do. I strongly disagree: I want to see more cities like this stand up for character values like ethics, integrity, civil rights, and compassion. (According to the article, San Francisco is the only other city to put out a message like this against ‘Trumpland.’) I agree with this last part of the Sun article:

Veteran Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, of North Baltimore, said the action sets a tone for the new council and sends a signal to residents.
“I am very proud that we are one of the very first city councils in the United States of America to push back and say, ‘Time for respect, again, in America,'” Clarke said. The resolution is “a great way to start off this new term of office in that manner by pushing back, ‘Ain’t gonna do it that way. We’ll do it our way: respect, justice, fairness, balance.'”

And finally: FINALLY, President Obama is ordering an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Of course, while the Washington Post “Breaking News Alert” that I received said “Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking During Presidential Campaign”, obviously various investigations and studies had been going on for several months.  Just one brief excerpt (but you really should read the entire article, there’s lots more):

“The CIA shared its latest assessment with key senators in a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill last week, in which agency officials cited a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources. Agency briefers told the senators it was now “quite clear” that electing Trump was Russia’s goal, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.”

Although the Obama Administration and several Senators and Congressmen from both parties had some of these reports by “mid-September”, according to the Washington Post article, they had trepidations about announcing it publicly and/or officially ordering an investigation so close to the Election. IMHO, their concerns over the likelihood of being accused of using an investigation as a political ploy on behalf of the Clinton campaign should have been swept aside by the undeniable fact that ANY foreign country, and especially one with whom we have historically had a tenuous and cautious relationship, actively worked to influence the United States Presidential Election. In addition, if they thought that the Trumplanders would have been really pissed off if they brought this out BEFORE the election, didn’t any of them realize how much worse the “deplorables” would react AFTER their Fuhrer won the election? But at least now the Russian elephant in the room is getting official attention, and that’s a good thing, regardless of the timing. This Washington Post article discusses some of the GOP reaction, as well as reaction (more idiotic conspiracy-theory BS) from Trump and his ilk.  Trump can deny it all he wants, but all of the research so far shows that Russia put a ‘YUGE’ thumb on the election scale for Trump

I realize that these little “good news” tidbits are set in the context of the new, horror/sci-fi reality of an upcoming Trump presidency, at least they’re more positive than negative. And right now, that’s all that I find I can hope for.

This is our Open Thread – what’s on your minds?

The Weekend Watering Hole, December 3rd-4th, 2016

As George W. Bush so eloquently stated all those years ago, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

There are countless numbers of people who should have taken to heart even Dubya’s garbled version (perhaps he had been listening to The Who on his way to that day’s event) of the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, during this past Presidential campaign and election. The vast majority of those people belong in that huge conglomeration known as “The Media”. Subgroups include, but are not limited to: cable and other news channels, their corporate owners and news division heads, “journalists”, “reporters”, newspundits aka talking heads, political strategists, and official spokeswhores for political candidates. I’m not even going to bother going into the internet “media”, that would be like peeling away every layer of the world’s largest onion (and would bring tears to your eyes, too.) Better to focus on the main offenders.

On Thursday, a “postmortem session” was held at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, attended by representatives of several of the above subgroups. Apparently this is a traditional event that’s held following Presidential elections. As described in general in this article in The Washington Post, this year’s event quickly devolved into a “shouting match.”

A lot of lies were told, and false narratives put forward; too many for me to address all at once, so I’ll limit myself for now and add further commentary as the weekend progresses and time allows.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned [Steve] Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a news site popular with the alt-right, a small movement known for espousing racist views.

“If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?”

“You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri…”

Yes, you did, Kellyanne. Trump’s rants freed the voices and actions of a legion of bigots, including and especially white supremacists. But you and other Trump campaign spokeszombies denied, deflected and disowned reports of rising anti-Muslim anti-immigrant, anti-minorities threats and violence, along with Nazi-related graffiti, etc., often in Trump’s name; you did everything but denounce it in the strongest of terms. Forfuckssake, your candidate actually gained ground when he refused to tone down his violence-condoning rhetoric.

“Do you think you could have just had a decent message for white, working-class voters?” Conway asked. “How about, it’s Hillary Clinton, she doesn’t connect with people? How about, they have nothing in common with her? How about, she doesn’t have an economic message?”

Well, Kellyanne, Secretary Clinton DID have a “decent message for white, working-class voters” – the problem was that Trump’s unsubtle dog-whistle message stripped away the veneer of decency from certain segments of “white, working-class voters.” Maybe if Clinton had couched her economic message and policies in lurid hyperbole instead of measured, factual terms, the “media” would have given her more coverage, and more “white, working-class voters” might have paid attention. Or not. I think that once Trump opened his campaign with his lying anti-Mexican slurs, the inner xenophobe in too many Americans sat up and proclaimed “now, that guy speaks MY language.” (Yes, when your language is ‘limited vocabulary/poor grammar’ Americanese.) Trump’s angry shouting drowned out any more mundane, pragmatic offerings from Hillary Clinton. And “the media” simply ran with the loudest “monster-shouter” (H/T Stephen King’s “The Stand.”)

Trump officials said Clinton’s problems went beyond tactics to her weaknesses as a candidate and the deficits of a message that consisted largely of trying to make Trump unacceptable.

[Clinton campaign manager Robby] Mook posited that the media did not scrutinize Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns as intensively as the issue of Clinton’s private email server.

Conway retorted: “Oh, my God, that question was vomited to me every day on TV.”

First the only weaknesses candidate Clinton had were that she’s center-right (which means dangerously left to the impaired judgment of the right-wing), her name is Hillary Clinton, and she’s a woman. She was not “the most crooked politician ever to run for President”, or anything even close to it. She did not murder anyone, despite all of the “body count” conspiracies. And, despite millions of dollars and thousands of hours of fruitless investigations, she did not cause the deaths in Benghazi. Hillary stayed on message the majority of the time, but how could she NOT point out all of the myriad reasons why Trump made HIMSELF unacceptable? Especially since “the media” wasn’t doing a damn thing to inform voters of those reasons?

Second, yes, Kellyanne, you were asked about Trump’s tax returns every day, because neither you nor Trump ever answered the fucking question. As with so many other important questions, you were the one who was projectile-vomiting nonsensical talking points, redirecting the interview right back to Hillary and her emails, or Benghazi, or whatever the current Clinton faux-scandal was on your agenda.

“Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said. “Hashtag he’s your president. How’s that? Will you ever accept the election results? Will you tell your protesters that he’s their president, too?”

Well, ‘hashtag’ FUCK YOU, Kellyanne, would Trump have accepted the election results if he had lost? You know the answer to that one, you slimy harpy twat. And fuck every goddamned Republican who dares to demand that we kowtow to Donald Trump and his minions, after every word and deed from the right wing for the last eight years were meant solely to stop duly-elected President Obama from actually acting as the American President. Donald Trump is incapable of giving any dignity or credence to the Office of the President of the United States; IMO, he doesn’t even aspire to do so. “Sad.”

Kellyanne, you’re a paid professional liar, and you sold your shriveled, empty soul to an amoral selfish greedy disgusting excuse for a human being. If there really is a Hell, I’m sure that you’ll eventually end up being the spokeswhore for Satan.

There was so much more that I hope to address eventually. Plus, there’s a more detailed account of the discussions at the Harvard event here.

“The media” seemed to feel that its job was to sit back and let Trump be his deplorable self, almost idly marveling in wonder as to how Trump got away with telling the out-and-out lies that he did. It took until the last month or so before the election for “the media” to, to a small degree, come out of its collective catatonic state and finally challenge some of the lies, but there were too many and it was too late. “The media” owns a yuge chunk of the blame for this election’s horrific outcome. But that’s a topic that also needs more time than I have at this moment. But an important part of that discussion involves both Jeff Zucker and CNN’s endless and usually uncritical coverage of all things Trump, along with the insidious, duplicitious role of Trump campaign advisor/CNN political “pundit” Corey Lewandowski and his current role in the Trump transition.

This is our Weekend Open Thread – discuss whatever you’d like.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 29th, 2016: Lighten Up!

Let’s start the weekend with a few lighter political stories that shouldn’t raise anyone’s blood pressure.

President Obama is enjoying himself at the expense of several Republicans in “Barack Obama’s Sweet Revenge Tour” by Tim Murphy of Mother Jones. Here’s an example, regarding the Darrell Issa campaign mailer shown below:

issa_obama-mailerAccording to the Mother Jones article:

“At a fundraiser in La Jolla on Sunday, Obama trashed the California Republican for his mailer. “Issa’s primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollars on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere,” he said. “This is now a guy who, because poll numbers are bad, has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me. Now that is the definition of chutzpah.”

Next, The Yale Record has the best non-endorsement-endorsement ever. An excerpt:

“…Because of unambiguous tax law, we do not encourage you to support the most qualified presidential candidate in modern American history…”

The brief piece ends with:

The Yale Record has no opinion whatsoever on Dr. Jill Stein.
—The Editorial Board of The Yale Record

Last, today’s Washington Post has some encouraging news about Trump’s chances in Pennsylvania. Even better, though, the article is accompanied by a photo of Trump talking with Rudy “n.v.9/11” Ghouliani Guiliani – I know, you’re thinking, “why is a photo of two of the most despicable men that NYC ever spawned BETTER than Trump slipping in PA?” – well, you’ll have to see it (it could be worse, at least Rudy’s facing away from the camera, more-or-less.) I commented to Wayne that, knowing Trump, he’d probably try to sue the photographer for taking an unflattering picture when Trump’s combover wasn’t ready for its close-up. Then, of course, Trump would likely accuse Secretary Clinton of hiring the photographer as part of a worldwide conspiracy to expose what lies underneath Trump’s “hair” – and what lies beneath is a large expanse of bare-naked Trump-scalp. “Sad.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

This is our daily Open Thread – relax, enjoy the weekend!

Sunday Roast: With Friends Like These…

Obviously presidential candidates can’t appear on every TV show to defend their own idiotic comments, so they have surrogates to do that for them. International con-artist and flamboyant jack-o’-lantern Donald J. Trump (who also happens to be the GOP Presidential nominee) has several of these surrogates going around the various TV shows trying to explain what Trump really meant when he said some of the things he said, even when he denied saying them. And we know he said them because we saw video of him saying them. He would say them, the media would report that he said them, there would be proper outrage over the things he said (or supposedly said, or supposedly did), and the surrogates would be out in the next few days telling us the media has distorted the whole situation and it’s not what everybody says it is. I can only think of one time when they were actually right about that. The crying baby. The New York Daily News, Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, Salon, Wired, Baltimore Sun, and even Fox News all reported that Trump had ordered a crying baby removed from one of his rallies. Trump and his spokesjacks (spokespeople for the jack-o’-lantern) said the media was distorting what actually happened and for once they were right. Trump did say all the words you heard in the quotes, but what most of the media didn’t point out was that the woman was already packing up and leaving when Trump insultingly told her “Actually I was only kidding, you can get the baby out of here.” That was just Trump being a dick. The mother herself, Devan Ebert, said through a Facebook post that she wasn’t kicked out of the rally at all, that she was leaving anyway so her baby wouldn’t disrupt the rally, and that she still supports Trump. Okay, so Trump was right about that one. But it was one of the only ones. Trump has said many, many other even more horrible things and when he has, his campaign sent people out to talk to the media. And considering the way they have chosen to defend him, maybe he should rethink using them in the future.

Former Reagan Administration official Jeffrey Lord is a perfect example of the kind of friend Trump doesn’t need if he really wants to win this election, and there’s ample reason to believe he doesn’t. (For example, he picked Jeffrey Lord to be one of his spokesjacks early on. Lord was on CNN recently after Trump claimed, multiple times, that President Obama “founded ISIS.” Trump tried to say later that he was just being sarcastic, “but not really.” It took retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling to straighten Lord out on the facts and history of ISIS. But if you think this was one of Trump’s harmless diversions from reality, think again. Hassan Nazrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, has been using Trump’s comments to say that “there are admissions by US officials that they created ISIS.” He doesn’t understand that Trump is not a “U.S. official” and never will be.

Katrina Campins is a successful real estate agent and a participant on Season 1 of The Apprentice. She was sent to CNN to debate Trump’s economic policies with that network’s own economics analyst, Ali Velshi. Suffice to say Trump needs to pick better economic spokesjacks. Campins was unable to come up with a premise that made any sense, which made Velshi’s head spin. Trump’s economic policy includes, as you might have guessed, more tax cuts, as if that’s going to solve anything. It won’t. Tax cuts do nothing but hurt poorer people and help rich people get even richer. Trickle Down Economics (Supply Side Economics) has been proven to be a disastrous way to govern.

BTW, all these stupid things that Trump has been saying are not his fault at all, according to Kimberly Guilfoyle. She says that they’re President Obama’s and Sec Hillary Clinton’s fault. “It’s like the most unholy partnership of all time between the Obama Administration, Hillary Clinton, constantly making comments trying to bait Trump into saying something that will sidetrack him.” Of course they are. These people need to get it through their clearly addled minds that Trump doesn’t need any baiting to say stupid things. “Proceed, Mr. Trump.”

Kellyanne Conway, not one to shy away from making a false equivalence, tried to counter Trump’s famous “Second Amendment” remarks with the attendance of a certain person at one of Clinton’s rallies.

Where would you feel more safe? Would you feel more safe in at a rally where the speaker who is running for president says you have a right to protect yourself under your Second Amendment constitutional rights? Or would you feel more safe at a rally where the man who perpetrated the worst mass murder since 9/11 in America’s history was standing right behind the candidate?

First of all, nobody but you can make you “feel safe.” It’s not the president’s job to do that, either. Because this is a free country and you are allowed to go where you want and do what you want as long as you don’t break any laws. But if you decide you do want to break some laws, like shooting people, you’ll probably be able to do it. Instead of a police state where people need the government’s permission to do things, we have a system of justice based on deterrence. It’s assumed you don’t want to go to jail, so the threat of losing your freedom is usually enough to keep 99% of people from breaking the law. But some people don’t care about that because they expect to die doing the crime they’re doing, and that’s how you get people like Omar Mateen shooting up the Pulse nightclub. Which brings me to the second point: “the man who perpetrated the worst mass murder since 9/11 in America’s history” is dead. He wasn’t sitting behind Clinton at that rally. It was his father, Seddique Mateen, and he has every legal reason to be there (despite what you’ll hear some RWers say.)

Even Dr. Ben Carson took time away from his busy schedule of public napping to defend Trump after the Republican nominee started disparaging the whole election process. Despite the fact that Democrats have won Pennsylvania the last few election cycles, and despite the fact that Clinton is leading Trump there by a significant margin, Trump told his audience that if he loses PA (and he will), it could only be because of cheating by the Democrats. These is a dangerous thing to say, and an especially irresponsible one because there’s no proof that the Democrats plan to cheat. There is, however, proof that the Republicans tried to cheat by passing their own version of a Voter ID bill (all of which are designed to prevent groups of likely Democratic voters from voting.) Carson started his rebuttal by referencing “voting irregularities” in the 2012 election in Philadelphia. The irregularities to which he refers are the fact that Romney got 0 votes in 59 voting districts in Philadelphia. To anyone who has paid attention to voting patterns in Philadelphia since the FDR administration, this came as no surprise, as Snopes points out. The districts are in areas with a heavy black population, and there are only about 300-500 people in each district. And while there are a handful of registered republicans in those districts according to voter registration records, attempts to locate them were mostly fruitless. Besides, the same thing happened to McCain in 2008 when he got 0 votes in 57 districts. Carson tried to justify Voter ID laws by claiming it’s the only way to prevent voter fraud. This is another favorite tactic of the right, to distort the meanings of words. They like to claim that every election irregularity is “voter fraud.” Voter fraud happens when someone tries to cast a vote posing as someone they aren’t, and it’s not in the least bit a serious problem no matter how many times the right says it is. So the Voter ID laws they like to pass, which by design disproportionately harm black people, college students from another state, and senior citizens, are passed to fix a problem that simply does not exist. Out of a billion votes cast, do you know how many cases of in-person voter fraud there have been? Thirty-one. That is hardly justification to make people travel many miles to get a specific form of ID just to cast a vote, when they had no problem voting before. Many times these laws don’t allow for college IDs to be used (even though they have pictures on them and can be used for every other state requirement of identification), but do allow for hunting licenses to be used (which often DON’T have a photo of the person on them, and are more likely to be obtained by conservatives rather than liberals. I base that on the fact that liberals tend to be more sympathetic to animals than conservatives, who aren’t sympathetic to anyone but conservatives.) But in the end, Carson wouldn’t come out and say that Trump was right, which means he wasn’t helping Trump, either.

Which brings us to perhaps the worst spokesjack a candidate could have, Katrina Pierson. In case you don’t recognize her by name, she’s the one who likes to show up on TV wearing a necklace made of bullets. Pierson was among those trying to defend Trump’s remarks about Obama being the founder of ISIS. When asked if Trump was being sarcastic, she tried to answer, “Yes and no.” She then tried to say that while it was true that Obama “didn’t fill out the paperwork to create ISIS” (note to readers, neither did ISIS because there is no form you fill out to create an organization of assholes hell-bent on murder), that he and Clinton did create the policies that led to the formation of ISIS (which is also not true as that would have been the Bush Administration’s policies; their policies led to the creation of al Qaeda in Iraq, which was the precursor of ISIL, also known as ISIS in some areas.) On another CNN program Pierson tried to re-write history by saying, “Remember, we weren’t even in Afghanistan by this time. Barack Obama went into Afghanistan, creating another problem.” Does it even need to be pointed out that Bush took us into Afghanistan before he illegally took us into Iraq? In addition to wanting to know how someone like this could possibly be helpful to Trump, I would also like to know why CNN keep having her on at all? Virtually nothing she says can be connected to Reality in any way.

Finally, lest you think I’m just picking and choosing a few incidents going all the way back to a year ago when Trump famously launched his campaign by saying Mexico was sending us rapists, I’m not. All of these stories are from within just the past few days. Trump used to brag that he only hired the best people to work for him. Either he hasn’t actually met them, or he was just lying again.

This is our daily open thread. Eat up.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 3, 2015: Backward, Christian Soldiers

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

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

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

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

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, August 17th, 2015: Grab Bag

Just a few odds and ends to get your Monday started.

(R) Presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson has already proven that he “don’t know much about biology” when it comes to homosexuality, women’s reproductive and overall health, and where the fetal brain tissue came from on which he used to experiment. He’s also shown that he “don’t know much about” #BlackLivesMatter, or about prisons. Now Carson shows that he “don’t know much about history” when it comes to foreign policy, the Middle East, or the meaning of “anti-semitism.” In particular, he shows in an op-ed piece in The Jerusalem Post that he “don’t know much about” the Iran Nuclear Deal either.

A few items from Daily Kos: one oldie that makes a nice palate-cleanser; and a recent one that ends with an eloquent message [some of the comments afterwards are excellent as well.]

And for the funny, ICYMI (as I did), John Oliver and friends teach Sex Education.

This is our daily Open Thread–pick a topic, any topic.

Sunday Roast: Rhymes with Bucket List

The President having fun at just about everyone’s expense at Sunday’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner.  I love how much fun he’s having with his Fuck It List, and you can definitely tell he has no more campaigns to run.

“Luther the Anger Translator” is up at 14:35, but he gets scared off four minutes later — by the President I wish we’d had for all this time.  :)

This is our daily open thread — Enjoy!