LIVE-BLOGGING: First 2016 Presidential Debate — Clinton vs Trump

Okay, this thing starts at 6:00 PT (9:00 ET), and it’s only 90 minutes long — or the longest 90 minutes in the history of the universe — we’ll know by 7:30.

Feel free to live-blog, twitter, weep in despair, laugh hysterically, make catty comments about wardrobe and hair (either candidate), but no drinking games, I beg you.   Because you will die…quickly.

Let the Great Emasculation begin…

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 26, 2016: Look Who’s Talking About Trying To Get Away With Lying?

Well, the moment many of us have been waiting for to be over is nearly upon us. The first of the Election 2016 Presidential Debates between a well-qualified, well-experienced woman and an unqualified, inexperienced man-child will be held 9:00 PM EDT tonight at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, NY. (For those unfamiliar with New York, it’s out on what we call, “The Island.”) The format, as determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates, will call for lirpas in the first round. If both survive, battle continues with the Ahn’woon. The moderator for the first debate will be NBC News’ Anchor and Keith Olbermann-sound alike Lester Holt, who took over for the much ridiculed Brian Williams after the latter made claims about his first-hand experiences that could not be verified by other people who were actually there, some whom of also claimed Williams wasn’t. The final straw for Williams came when he boasted he was the first “on the scene” to interview Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the moon. Alert fact-checkers noted Williams was only ten years old at the time, and raised considerable doubt about the possibility the Williams family could afford to send Young Brian to astronaut school. The story was later deemed by the majority of fact-checkers as “Mostly False” and Williams was suspended for six months.

The media’s practically prepared to name Donald Trump the winner tonight if he doesn’t trip on the way out to the podium and mess his adult diapers. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, will be declared to be “hiding something” if she can’t answer questions based on false premises, or adequately (to the Republican side) explain why she hasn’t mitigated their outrage over Benghazi, when the facts and the evidence showed the Republicans did more to kill Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, than Secretary Clinton ever did. She asked Republicans for more funding for security specifically at Benghazi, among other places, and was turned down. There was never any order by her or anyone else to “stand down” and not send a rescue team. Every lie they’ve told about her has been debunked. But since people aren’t convinced by facts (it’s a problem we all have), it’s hard to convince these people that everything they want to do as a result of the Benghazi lies they believe is no longer justifiable. They’ll say to do it anyway because it’s what they want to do to her.

It should come as no surprise that the Trump Campaign is calling for moderators not to be allowed to fact-check the candidates. Newt Gingrich, a Terran-based life form with aspirations of invading and colonizing the Moon, actually defended this by tweeting

Gingrich has defended the theory that the way to a Republican voter’s heart was through the emotional door of his psyche, not the rational, fact-based, reasoning part of his brain.

Former CBS News Anchor Bob Schieffer, a personal friend of the Bush family and a former presidential debate moderator himself, had a suggestion. He said to let the candidates have the first crack at fact-checking in their responses, and if they don’t correct the record then the moderator should before moving on. And this infuriates Conservatives because they don’t believe important decisions should be based on a calm, rational review of the facts of the situation. They feel reaction to a crisis, especially an attack of some kind, should be swift (even if not all the facts are in), decisive (even if decided wrongly, because that honestly doesn’t matter to them), and over-powering (even if excessive). What matters, they’ll tell you, is that it felt like it was the right thing to do. Because that’s how they think you should govern, by doing what feels like the right thing to do, not by doing what actually is the right thing to do. You can expect Trump to Gish Gallop and spew one lie (or false premise, or extreme exaggeration of a technically true point) after another, inundating Clinton with so many false premises, straw man arguments, rambling fragmented sentences, innuendo and meaningless gobbledygook that a coherent yet accurate response will be impossible. And they’ll make a big deal out of the fact that she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, address the question asked of her even though the “question asked of her” was based on the fantasy worldview of someone so frightened by the truth that he’ll stop at nothing to prevent being exposed. Trump is a liar and a con-man, and his entire income structure is based on maintaining a completely false image as a shrewd businessman, unafraid to take on a political system he personally bragged about exploiting. And that’s why he wants no fact-checkers. He won’t be bringing any to the debate.

This is our daily open thread and may also possibly serve as our live-blogging of the debate itself. Come join us.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 19th. 2016: The Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment refers to a change in the U.S. tax code made in 1954 which prohibited certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

The Internal Revenue Service website elaborates upon this prohibition as follows:

[4] Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.

The Internal Revenue Service provides resources to exempt organizations and the public to help them understand the prohibition. As part of its examination program, the IRS also monitors whether organizations are complying with the prohibition.

[4] “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations”. 2012-08-14. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-09.

Keeping this in mind, let’s turn to the main “Politics” page of The Christian Post. I noticed two articles there regarding the tax-exempt status of certain religious organizations. However, since one of them purports to prove through Biblical scriptures that churches are supposed to get involved in politics – “Preaching on Politics Is Biblical”, By Rev. Mark H. Creech: “To argue that pastors should avoid all politicking and just stick to preaching, I suggest, is not only unbiblical but un-American” – which is a ridiculous pile of horse manure, I’ll focus on the other one.

The article by Samuel Smith discusses a survey which found that the vast majority of Americans (79%) feel that “pastors should not endorse political candidates.

Nearly eight out of 10 Americans believe it’s inappropriate for pastors to endorse political candidates at church, while over seven in 10 Americans feel it’s inappropriate for churches to endorse political candidates.
As part of a LifeWay Research survey released last week, 1,000 randomly selected Americans were asked over the phone about their views on whether or not it’s appropriate for clergy and churches to endorse politicians for political office.

The survey comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exempt status if they endorse political candidates or if their pastors endorse political candidates in church.

According to the survey, which has a plus-or-minus 3.6 percentage point margin of error, 79 percent of the respondents either somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with the sentence: “I believe it is appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse candidates for public office during a church service.”

Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents said they somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches endorsing political candidates for public office. Additionally, 81 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with churches using their resources to campaign for political candidates.

As it does not violate the Johnson Amendment for a pastor to endorse a political candidate outside church as a citizen, 53 percent of respondents somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with pastors endorsing candidates outside of their role in the church. Only 43 percent somewhat agreed or strongly agreed with it being appropriate for a pastor to endorse a candidate for public office outside of the church.

Although many Americans might not think it’s appropriate for pastors or churches to endorse political candidates, 52 percent of respondents felt that churches should not be stripped of their tax-exempt status for endorsing candidates.

“I don’t think pastors should endorse candidates and I don’t think churches should endorse candidates,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, to The Christian Post on Tuesday.

“They should be looking for candidates who endorse them, but I believe that should be a decision that is left to the churches, not dictated by the government,” added Land, who is also CP’s executive editor. “I favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment but at the same time, I don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates. That ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government. To me, that is a violation of the First Amendment. How does that fit with the free** exercise of religion?”

Dr. Richard Land is “President of Southern Evangelical Seminary and a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board“, as well as being the Christian Post’s executive editor.  To quote The Church Lady, “How conVEENient!”  Of course you favor the repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  I find it highly unlikely, however, that you “don’t think that churches ought to endorse political candidates.”  Your idea that it “ought to be a decision made by the individual church, not dictated to them by the government”, and that it’s “a violation of the First Amendment”, is totally ludicrous.

Left up to the individual churches, how long will it be before (at least) thousands of dioceses gleefully dive into the political cesspool?  And how would this NOT be a religious entity’s version of Citizens United – rather than a corporation, it’s a “church” that is now a “person” with the same expansive “free speech” rights, (i.e., to take up a special collection during Mass or its equivalent, a ritual which can be used to shame any who do not contribute towards influencing political outcomes and policies.)

The survey data was broken down into religious demographics and found that Protestants (20 percent) are more likely than Catholics (13 percent) to agree with it being appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates. About 27 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants feel it’s appropriate for pastors to endorse candidates.

About 33 percent of self-identified evangelical Protestants said it’s appropriate for churches to endorse political candidates, while only 27 percent of Protestants and 18 percent of Catholics agree.

“My main concern would be that churches would end up being embarrassed by the later behavior of politicians they have endorsed. Richard Nixon comes to mind,” Land said. “When Billy Graham heard the Watergate tapes, he went into the bathroom and vomited because he was so upset that Nixon was so different than the person he had presented himself to be.”

So, Dr. Land, when was the first time that Donald Trump’s shady dealings, incessant lying and boasting, badly-cloaked hints to his Trumpkins to exercise their Second Amendment rights to “stop Crooked Hillary”, etc., etc. – when was the first time all of that made YOU run into the bathroom and vomit? I’m willing to bet NEVER. And I can’t even (don’t want to) imagine just what it will finally take, what ever-more-hideous and dangerous idiocies, pronouncements or behaviors, will finally open your eyes to the fact that you are supporting a monster who is lying through his teeth about being a Christian in any sense of the word. FFS, Trump actually says that he doesn’t ask god for forgiveness, because he doesn’t feel that he has done anything that needs divine forgiveness! The arrogance and ignorance of Charlatan Trump make a well-deserved mockery of your craven acceptance of all of Trump’s evil, decidedly un-Christian “moral values.” You sold your soul to play a fool for Trump, and I hope that you puke your rotten guts out when the realization hits you.

Land added that when churches and pastors get involved in endorsing candidates, that can “turn off people we are trying to reach.”

“If you endorse Republican candidates, you are going to seemingly make it more difficult to reach Democrats with the Gospel,” he said.

Another thing that Dr. Land doesn’t realize is that many of the religious folk who actually try to follow Christ’s teachings are Democrats. But you’d never reach them with the kind of “Gospel” that Evangelicals preach. Don’t forget that “gospel” meant “good news”, which is something that, IMO, Evangelicals don’t talk about much – too busy trying to frighten their flocks of sheep.

Land concluded that the church’s role is to make sure that their congregants understand the biblical positions on political issues. However, it is up to each voter to “connect the dots” at the voting booth.

“I think that the church, we are commanded to be salt and light, so we can get involved on issues and we make it clear where the Bible stands on issues,” Land said. “But, we have to leave it to the people to connect** their own dots.”

**The word “free” was highlighted as a link in this story at CP’s site, as was the word “connect” noted below. Instead of providing further enlightenment of what defines the ‘”free” exercise of religion, it actually links to a Pizza Hut(TM) coupon/deal offer. How sacred!

Hey, don’t forget to check out the Christian Post’s “Most Popular” threads (lower right sidebar), the subjects of which do NOT do anything to disabuse me of the conclusion that “Evangelical” “Christians” are ghoulish nosy perverts.

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

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 12th, 2016: False Choices, False Christians

Last month, the Christian Post editors published this assessment of the Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald J. Trump, aka “Scam Artist Trump”, and the Democratic Presidential Candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, aka “Crooked Hillary”, focusing on which candidate would most benefit the Evangelical Christian agenda.

I characterize the article that way quite deliberately. Not once, either in the discussion on Trump or the discussion on Clinton, is there any mention of, for instance:

– which one would be better for Americans as a whole?
– which one would be better for America’s status and reputation in the world?
– which one is more likely to, in a fit of pique, do or say something to start a war or provoke another terrorist attack?

And so on – you get the picture. The point being that, at the very least, Evangelical Christians – whose voices are purportedly represented by the Christian Post – consider themselves “Christian” first and foremost, and “American” a very distant second (if that high.)

Since I’m writing this at 1:30am Eastern Time, I’m not going through it point-by-point, there’s way too much that I could rant about. So I’ll just throw out one of the most egregious lies in the “Hillary” section. An excerpt (emphasis mine):

“While we will not endorse any candidate in this election, here are several factors we believe Evangelicals should prayerfully consider when thinking about what to do on Election Day.
First, Evangelicals should not vote for Hillary Clinton.

She supports taxpayer-funded abortion for any reason until the moment of birth. Given the importance of valuing life, this position alone is sufficient for an Evangelical Christian to disqualify her for the presidency.

Yeah, well “this position” is a total lie, and if the CP had any integrity, they’d print a written retraction. Neither Candidate Clinton nor any other person on the pro-choice side has EVER supported “taxpayer-funded abortion for any reason until the moment of birth.” [I am going to adapt this post and try to get it published at CP–wish me luck!)

I’ve been checking off and on for the last month to see if CP prints any sort of update to this piece, without success. I have to wonder, though, if anything such as the C-in-C “debate”, other Trump (or his spokemokeys’) insanities, or incriminating revelations about Trump’s shady business and political dealings, would sway the “Evangelical Christians” to lean a little more toward the saner candidate, Hillary Clinton? I sure as hell hope so.

For other CP content that doesn’t really encourage my “sure as hell hope”, please see their Politics page – I dare ya, some of the headlines/authors alone are, to borrow a phrase from a Raw Story commenter, “basket-worthy.”

This is our daily Open Thread–talk about the above, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Sunday Roast: 9/11, Fifteen Years On


It’s been fifteen years since that terrible day, September 11, 2001.  Almost 3000 people died, over 6000 people were injured, and untold trauma to millions of people worldwide, who were glued to their televisions, radios, computers — trying to comprehend what it was we were seeing and hearing.  Anyone over 20 years of age probably holds vivid memories of the heinous events of the day, what they were doing, and the feelings of shock, horror, grief, fear, anger…I know I do.

A chance for unity in this country — and possibly worldwide — was squandered by a President with an agenda of his own, resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of thousands of service members and innocent civilians in the countries he attacked in our name, and under false pretenses.  Lives that are being lost and ruined even today.

Could we ever have imagined on that horrendous day, fifteen years ago, that today, September 11, 2016, we would be enduring a hotly contested presidential election wherein the GOP nominee is a narcissistic, race baiting, hypocritical, misogynist, fear-mongering, Islam-hating, bigoted liar, with delusions of grandeur?  Who talks non-stop while saying precisely nothing, absolutely does not care about the damage he’s causing?  Personally, I am gobsmacked at the very thought.

If such a thing is possible, Osama bin Laden is smiling from his watery grave.

I’m sorry.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 5, 2016: Happy Labor Day

This year will mark 134 years since the first Labor Day parade was held. In New York City, on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched from City Hall to Union Station. It was no paid holiday, but they did it to honor their fellow workers and to air some grievances with employers. Though more states held these parades over the coming years, it wasn’t until 1894 that Congress established Labor Day as a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it took blood being spilled to get them to do this. Continue reading

The Cheat Goes On – A Song Parody

Today’s open thread is going to be a song parody suggested to me by Alert Reader houseofroberts. (Thanks, house.) It’s a parody of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” and it’s about (insert favorite insult here) Donald J. Trump.

The Cheat Goes On
Original words and music, “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny Bono, 1967
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2016

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Commodore was once the rage, uh-oh
Boastfully he turned a page, uh-oh
The branding crap’s the current thing, uh-oh
Tinyhander is their newborn king, uh-oh

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Democracy more’s the super sport, uh-oh
Listen, girls still make their marks, uh-oh
And troops will keep on marching off to war
Electorally they keep a dismal score

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Koch boys sit in chairs and moan and piss
Trump keeps chasing blacks to get a kiss
The lies keep a-coming faster all the time
Some folks cry, “Hey, Donny, did you do a crime?”

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on
And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on

That’s it for our show. You’ve been a great audience. Don’t forget to tip the veal and try the waitresses. Talk about what you wish.