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.

Sunday Roast: Democrats do it, too. Neener, neener!!!


As if the GOP “debates” aren’t enough of a clusterfuck, the DNC has decided to put their own brand of screws to the democratic process.  Because Hillary Clinton.  And big money in politics, of course.

*head banging on desk*

This is our daily open thread — Happy Sunday!!

Tsipras, Corbyn, Sanders – Can there be a Rise of a new Left?

The choice between left and right in politics amounts to the choice of different brands of laundry detergent. It’s made up from identical ingredients, more or less diluted and smells differently, according to your olfactory preferences. All brands of politics are, however, brought to you by the same people very much like all the different brands of „Tide“ are brought to you by P&G.

In the years following Thatcherism and Reaganomics, most leftist European parties moved to the right and assimilated to the mainstream consensus of neo-liberal economic policies. Witness the move from Labour to New Labour or the German Social Democratic Party’s Agenda 2010.

Austerity and entitlement reform have become well-accepted concepts and the squeeze on the Middle Class is well under way.

The pendulum has moved to the right and has taken what used to be leftist parties with it, thus reducing the influence of the working class and middle class and increasing the influence of the economic elites.

Are we now at a turning point and will the movement be reversed, at least to some degree? Continue reading

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 7th, 2015: Buzzwords

I ran across the following comment by “Lando Thig” on a recent ThinkProgress thread about Donald Trump. I thought it was a wonderful snarky compilation of Republican/conservative/TeaParty/racist talking points, lies, and general idiocy.

Lando Thig

I am a Black Republican because:

There is Legitimate Rape, California is a state sponsor of terror, Corporations are People, Ban gay marriage, Obama brought Ebola to kill whites, Jews control the liberal media, Evolution is a myth, End birth right citizenship, Obama will run for a 3rd term, The earth is only 6,000 years old, People are only poor because they are lazy, Illegals will self-deport, Hitler was a good man, School teachers need guns, Global Warming is a myth, Abstinence Only Education works, Blacks are the real racists, Harry Potter teaches Satanism, Al Qaeda has camps on Mexican border, Lower the minimum wage, Voter ID laws allow double voting, I can see Russia from my back porch, Benghazi was Hillary’s crime, Liberals declared war against Christianity, I listen to Rush Limbaugh, Reagan is God, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Homosexuality can be cured, Repeal and Replace ObamaCare, Mission Accomplished, Oops!, Birth Control coverage hurt religious freedom, Tax cuts pay for themselves, I’m against Affirmative Action, Welfare equals Communism, We love the NRA, Deport blacks back to Africa, I only watch Fox News, Obummer is a Muslim, Pro-Choice is Pro-Death, NSA spying started under NoBummer, No Pathway to Citizenship, God told me to run for president, US Army plans to invade Texas, Tea Party are patriots, Open Carry by Gun by God, Obama created ISIS, Food Stamps is Fascism, Michelle Obama is a man, ObamaCare will create Death Panels, We need prayer in school, Dems hate the military, Jesus is a Republican, Obummer wants to give Texas to Mexico, Eliminate the EPA, I demand more military spending, NObama was born in Kenya, Democrats are socialists, Obama didn’t kill Osama Bin Laden, We must privatize Public Education, Putin’s a better president than Obama, Stop pensions now, More tax subsidies for the job creators, 47% of Americans are takers, Money is free Speech, Saddam attacked us on 9/11, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,  Ban citizenship for anchor-babies, Unions kill jobs, Bill Clinton caused 9/11, Companies cross-breed humans and animals, God will close the IRS, Shutdown the government, We need a flat tax, Government’s plotting to take your guns, The Confederate Flag is not racist, Build a border fence, Impeach Obama, Joe the Plummer’s one of us, Bailing out GM was wrong, I support Iraq’s invasion, Libturds hate Freedom, The South Shall Rise Again.

I’ll bet that we could add a few more lines/lies to that list!

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about anything you want.

Sunday Roast: Labor Day — More than a sale at the mall

I know it’s a day early, but it’s just a short video on Labor Day, from the History Channel, so take a few minutes to watch it.  I’ll wait!

Hey, isn’t it AWESOME that the State of Oregon was the first to legalize Labor Day as a holiday in 1887?  I’m not sure I’ve said this before, but I love Oregon!!

Labor unions fought hard for the workers, and we can thank them for the eight-hour work day, weekends, better wages, safer working conditions, pensions, and more.

Unfortunately, corporate America/the ruling class/the 1% succeeded in making “union” a dirty word, and pitted workers against one another to help them forget that unions protect the workers themselves, and severely diminished unions in this country.

So enjoy your day off on Monday, even if you have to hit the mall for back to school supplies, but while you’re there, spare a thought for those who worked so hard to get you that day off — and all your other days off.

This is our daily open thread — Talk among yourselves.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015: Watery Tart, Eh?

Hmm…do some of these lines from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” seem familiar?

Woman: Oh. How do you do?

King Arthur:  How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Whose castle is that?

Woman:  King of the who?

King Arthur:  King of the Britons.

Woman: Who are the Britons?

King Arthur:  Well, we all are. We are all Britons. And I am your king.

Woman:  I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

Dennis:  You’re foolin’ yourself! We’re living in a dictatorship. A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working class…

Woman:  Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.

Dennis:  Well, that’s what it’s all about! If only people would…

King Arthur:  Please, please, good people, I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

Woman:  No one lives there.

King Arthur:  Then who is your lord?

Woman:  We don’t have a lord.

Dennis:   I told you, we’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to be a sort of executive officer for the week...

King Arthur:  Yes…

Dennis:   …but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting…

King Arthur:  Yes I see…

Dennis: …by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs…

King Arthur:  Be quiet!

Dennis: …but by a two thirds majority in the case of…

King Arthur:   Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

Woman:  Order, eh? Who does he think he is?

King Arthur:  I am your king.

Woman:  Well, I didn’t vote for you.

King Arthur:  You don’t vote for kings.

Woman:  Well how’d you become king then?

[Angelic music plays… ]

King Arthur:  The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.

Dennis:  [interruptingListen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony…Oh, but you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.  [emphasis mine]

I dunno – right now in these “United” States, it seems as good a system as our own.  So…

watery tart

This is our daily Open Thread – go ahead, sound off!

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

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

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

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

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