Archive for February, 2012

An Afghan policeman keeps watch as locals inspect the wreckage of a car at the site of a suicide attack in the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, Feb. 27, 2012. (Getty)

An Afghan policeman keeps watch as locals inspect the wreckage of a car at the site of a suicide attack in the city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, Feb. 27, 2012. (Getty)

The people of Afghanistan continue to express their sanctimonious rage over the burnings of some Qur’ans at the Bagram military base. As CBS News reports, nine people were killed at Jalalabad because of it (WebCite cached version):

A suicide car bomber struck early Monday at the gates of Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, killing nine people in an attack insurgents said was revenge for U.S. troops burning Korans. …

The explosion comes after six days of deadly protests in Afghanistan over the disposal of Korans and other Islamic texts in a burn pit last week at a U.S. military base north of the capital. …

More than 30 people have been killed in protests and related attacks since the incident came to light this past Tuesday, including four U.S. soldiers.

As I’ve noted previously, there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight to this violence and little to no effort is being made by the Afghan government to calm their people. If anything, the government seems to be stoking the fires of protest — at the same time that it mouths acceptance of apologies by the US and has sent police in to break up some protests. What a wonderful crew.

Oh, and to any Christians out there who may be feeling smugly superior to the Afghans because you don’t think your fellow Christians can’t handle blasphemy … guess again. Christians have been known to react badly when they think Jesus is being “dissed,” too, and have threatened people who dare to get in their way. So get off your high horses about it. OK?

Photo credit: Getty photo, via CBS News.

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Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Conservative Christian Schools: Training Christian Students to Take Dominion Over America. Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

Like a number of GOP candidates before him that I’ve blogged about, Rick Santorum, current darling of the Religious Right and a contender for the Republican nomination for president, has come out against the principle of separation of church and state. He made these comments on ABC This Week to George Stephanopoulos, who reports on the interview (WebCite cached article):

GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said today that watching John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Baptist ministers in Houston in 1960 made him want to “throw up.”

“To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up. What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?” Santorum said.

Actually, Rickie, we don’t live in a country like that! Like most Religious Rightists, he interprets “freedom of religion” to mean “freedom for religious people to use government as a weapon, to force everyone else to live according to their beliefs.” To the R.R., any effort by anyone to prevent them from pounding their religiosity into other people, is an impermissible impediment to their own religious freedom. He — and they — are also arguing a straw man. No one, to my knowledge, has ever said a religious person cannot run for or hold a political office because s/he is religious. Separation of church and state does not require that at all. There has never been any effort to remove religious people from office or prevent them from running.

It did not happen. It isn’t happening now. And it will never happen. Period. All the whining and bellyaching and railing about it, can never make it happen. To argue against it is foolish, since it’s non-existent. One may as well argue against pixies and unicorns too.

Santorum’s lie places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. I’m sure the former Senator will find himself in good company there.

It’s particularly troubling to see Santorum colorfully disparaging a speech that, arguably, opened the door for him — as the Catholic he is — to run for president. But his ignorance of history and his purposeful misstatement of what “separation of church and state” and “religious freedom” mean are not surprising.

I can’t think of any clearer indication than this, that Santorum is a dominionist, out to refashion the country into a Christocracy. What’s even scarier than a dominionist running for president, is that this particular dominionist is damned close to becoming the Republican nominee; only Mitt Romney stands in his way and the two of them are no longer very far apart.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About.Com; original: National Archives.

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Santorum smiles while recounting a story about his fatherI’ve blogged many times already about the tendency of propagandists and ideologues to use the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum — or comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime — in their so-called arguments. People just can’t seem to stop using it, no matter how invalid it may be. I can understand its appeal; it’s a raw, emotionally-compelling talking-point that’s sure to trigger outrage in an audience. What makes it fallacious is that the comparison is never apt; whatever is being compared to the Nazis, usually has little in common with them.

The Washington Post relates the latest example of this, from the mouth of the furiously Christofascist presidential candidate Rick Santorum (WebCite cached article):

In a speech at a megachurch here Sunday night, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) used some of his direst imagery yet to describe what’s at stake in this year’s presidential election, drawing an extended World War II analogy that seemed to suggest that the United States faces a threat that is on par with what the world faced in the 1940s. …

[Santorum said,] “Your country needs you. It’s not as clear a challenge. Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. But remember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness, where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled, while Japan was spreading its cancer all throughout Southeast Asia. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of ’41, and did almost nothing.

“Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This’ll be okay.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems. Just get our families off to work and our kids off to school, and we’ll be okay.”

Santorum does not state explicitly who the cognate of “this guy over in Europe” is in his analogy, but clearly, he’s implying it’s president Barack Obama. The problem here is that Obama has not so much as come close to doing even one thing that Hitler or the Third Reich did, as I’ve already blogged; I’ll repeat some of those details here:

  1. Among the first things Hitler and his Nazi party did, once he became Chancellor in January 1933, was to outlaw other political parties, beginning with the Communists, then the Social Democrats, then the (Weimar) Democrats, the People’s party, the Centrists etc., eventually banning all parties other than their own. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even begun to make any moves along the lines of abolishing any other political parties.
  2. Hitler and the Nazis nationalized the country, dismissing the elected governments of Germany’s various states, and appointing Nazi operatives to run them. To my knowledge, neither Obama nor the Democrats have absconded with any of the 50 state governments; their elected governors and legislators remain in place.
  3. Prior to their seizure of power, Hitler and the Nazis had a freecorps or militia working for them, the Sturmabteilung (aka the S.A., Brownshirts, or storm troopers), who intimidated the Nazis’ opponents and rivals in the years leading to Hitler’s appointment, and which became their privately-run enforcement arm afterward (eventually spawning the dreaded Schutzstaffel, aka the S.S.). I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have any such militia, at the moment.
  4. Hitler and the Nazis also took control of higher education in Germany, installing loyal Nazis to run the universities and expelling many professors (particularly Jewish) they deemed harmful to the regime or to Nazi ideology. But I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have changed the management or faculty of any university or college.
  5. The Nazis also abolished all labor unions, forcing workers to join, instead, a nationalized agency, known as the German Labor Front (aka the D.A.F.) which essentially placed Germans at the whim of their employers. Not one union, on the other hand, has been outlawed since Obama took office … that I’m aware of, anyway.
  6. The people in charge of organizations that the Nazis abolished — such as rival political parties, the trade unions, etc. — were exiled and/or placed in concentration camps. These imprisonments numbered in the thousands, in the early years of the Nazi regime. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even come close to doing anything like this.

Put bluntly, it’s not correct to imply that someone is a Nazi, if s/he’s never done the things that the Nazis did.

As I’ve also remarked previously, the Left has thrown ad Hitlerums at the Right in the past, especially during the G.W. Bush administration. They were wrong to have done so, because the Bush administration didn’t do any of the above things, either. Still, that the Left used this tactic against them in the past, is why the Right feels entitled to use it, now. Unfortunately for them, though, this is two wrongs make a right thinking, and is fallacious. If it’s wrong to use ad Hitlerums, then it’s always wrong to do so … period.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Santorum would do this, though. As I’ve noted, he’s done this in the past. I can only assume he considers this a valid tactic, and that he’ll continue using it in the future. The really sad part of it, though, is that it will no doubt work for him. The sorts of people that Santorum is trying to reach already think Obama is a Nazi and are going to enjoy hearing him say it. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: IowaPolitics.Com, via Flickr.

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Richard DawkinsThe world’s theists can’t handle the fact that atheists (and other types of non-believers) exist. They’d prefer never to hear, see, or know about them. They view the very existence of non-belief as a direct and imminent threat to their very existence. This means they’re especially incensed whenever a vocal atheist (or other type of non-believer) comes along. They think non-believers are required to be silent and go away … and those who refuse to comply are trying to destroy them utterly.

The so-called “New Atheists” (i.e. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens) have especially invoked their sanctimonious outrage. Because they’ve all been successful authors, ardent theists have cast about for years to find any and all means of discrediting them. Most of the time all they can come up with is a repeated, old, juvenile whine along the lines of, “Why, these people are criticizing religion! How dare they!? They can’t do that! It’s not allowed!!! Religion is just too precious to permit any critique!”

Apparently, as the (UK) Daily Mail reports, Richard Dawkins recently handed militant theists what they perceive as “ammunition” they can use against him (WebCite cached article):

Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist – admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can’t prove God doesn’t exist.

The country’s foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The heart of this matter is a clarification, by Dawkins, about exactly what he believes about God:

But when Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams suggested that Professor Darwin is often described as the world’s most famous atheist, the geneticist responded: ‘Not by me’.

He said: ‘On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn’t, I call myself a six.’

Professor Dawkins went on to say he believed was a ‘6.9’, stating: ‘That doesn’t mean I’m absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don’t.’

I’ll say right now that — while I’d welcome Professor Dawkins to the company of agnostics — I neither know nor care whether or not he actually is one. The degree to which he’s an agnostic as compared to being an atheist is not really relevant to me. I have written elsewhere that there is a clear distinction between agnosticism and atheism, and that atheists have revised the definition of “atheism” over the last few decades so as to enlarge their own company. But in the end, agnostics and atheists have far more in common with each other, than either does with theists. That much is undeniable. They are partners — sisters and brothers, even — in non-belief, who are together under siege by militant believers who, rather childishly, cannot and will not accept them as fellow human beings. Dawkins — and the rest of the New Atheists — are as much spokesmen for non-belief in general, as they are for any specific form of “atheism” they may or may not adhere to. Distinctions like this do nothing to mitigate the validity of their critiques of religion or of religious people.

Ultimately, this means that the Daily Mail‘s attempt to discredit Dawkins is a fucking joke. That Dawkins might also be an agnostic in addition to being an atheist, does nothing to refute anything he’s said or done — even if theists erroneously think it does.

One last thing: I love how the Mail called Dawkins a “career atheist.” What a transparent attempt to slur him! Most of us know that Dawkins is, by contrast, a “career scientist.” That he’s published some books on atheism in addition to being a prominent and respected scientist, doesn’t make him any less of a scientist, and it doesn’t mean he’s no longer part of that profession. All it does mean is what I’ve been saying for ages — which is that theists just can’t handle the existence of non-believers, especially outspoken ones like Dawkins.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Shane Pope, via Flickr.

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If it makes no sense, then it must be God's will ... because I said so! (PsiCop original)You just gotta love the pathetic collection of religionistic dolts known as the slate of GOP presidential candidates. They just don’t give up spewing “God” at every possible moment. No matter how stupid, inspipid, or trite it sounds. They also love to use — and reuse, and re-reuse — the same old tropes. It’s no surprise, then, that Karen Santorum, wife of presidential candidate Rick, echoed the sentiment of former candidate Michele Bachmann, as reported by the Christian Post (WebCite cached version):

Karen Santorum, the wife of GOP presidential front-runner Rick Santorum, told talk show host Glenn Beck on Thursday that it is “God’s will” that her husband is seeking the presidency though she was initially opposed to the idea.

No, Mrs Santorum. Your husband’s candidacy is most certainly not “God’s will.” It is, rather, his will — and his alone.

I’m not sure Mrs Santorum’s declaration bodes well for her husband’s candidacy. After Mrs Bachmann claimed that God would hand her a miraculous victory in the Iowa caucuses, her candidacy imploded and she was forced to give up.

Photo credit: PsiCop original.

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Afghan demonstrators destroy a U.S. flag during a protest against Quran desecration in Helmand province, Feb. 23, 2012. (Getty)Having already displayed their raging, sanctimonious immaturity over some Qur’ans that had been burned at the Bagram military base in their country, Afghans decided to ramp it up even further, and have killed over it. CBS News reports on this murderous childishness (WebCite cached article):

Two U.S. troops have been shot to death and four more wounded by an Afghan solider who turned his gun on his allies in apparent anger over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, an Afghan official tells CBS News.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force – Afghanistan, the international coalition in the country, confirmed that two troops were killed in Eastern Afghanistan on Thursday by “an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform.” …

The source also said the shooting appeared to be motivated by the burning of Qurans at the sprawling U.S. Bagram air base, north of Kabul, but he did not provide additional details as to what led him to that conclusion.

Way to go, Afghans. Congratulations. Well done! I’m impressed. You must all be so proud of your accomplishment!

Update 1: Afghan immaturity continues to impress. As of Saturday, 2/25/2012, the violent protests continue, and more people have died as a result (cached). There doesn’t appear to be any end in sight.

Photo credit: Getty photo, via CBS News.

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The Rev. Franklin Graham said Obama was 'born a Muslim' because his father was Muslim. / AP PhotoI’ve already blogged about the Christianist Franklin Graham, son of famed preacher Billy Graham. He’s a Christofascist of the first order, as one might expect, and certainly much more of a buffoon than his more-famous father … and he proved it this morning while on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show (WebCite cached article):

Graham, the CEO and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, told a Morning Joe panel he couldn’t say for certain that Obama is a Christian. …

Graham told the Morning Joe panel that he and Santorum share the same moral beliefs, and that he’s confident Santorum is a fellow Christian.

So while Franklin claims uncertainty about Obama’s Christianity, he has no such reservations about Santorum’s. So he contradicted himself. He also reiterated his prior claim that Obama may be a Muslim:

But Graham also said he couldn’t “categorically” say Obama wasn’t a Muslim, in part, because Islam has gotten a “free pass” under Obama. Graham also said the Muslim world sees Obama as a “son of Islam,” because the president’s father and grandfather were Muslim.

This is, of course, complete bullshit:

According to Edina Lekovic, director of policy at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, being born in a Muslim family doesn’t make one a Muslim. A person has to make an active choice to become a Muslim, Lekovic said.

However, Graham considers himself an “expert” on Islam and is likely not interested in hearing what real, living Muslims think about it. And Obama is not a Muslim, even if Graham wants people to think he is.

What’s not clear, here, is what Graham meant when he said “Islam has gotten a ‘free pass’ under Obama.” If you ask me, in this country, all believers of all sorts get a “free pass,” because they always expect their religious beliefs — whatever they are, no matter how irrational they may be — must be respected by everyone.

Graham went on to vacillate idiotically on GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s religion:

Graham spoke with a little less confidence about Gingrich’s faith, and cast doubt on whether Romney’s Mormonism is compatible with Christianity.

“I think Newt is a Christian, at least he told me he is,” Graham said. He added that Romney’s Mormon faith is not recognized as part of the Christian faith by most Christians, but he wouldn’t give his own view.

Truthfully, since Mormons honor the teachings of Jesus Christ, this makes them Christians. Period. They may not have exactly the same beliefs about Christ as other Christians, but there are many varieties of Christianity, so they’re no less Christian than other types of Christians.

Here’s video offered by MSNBC of this clown in action:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I have to congratulate Franklin Graham on his achievement. On his own he did a far better job of proving he’s a total idiot, than I ever could have. What a marvelous achievement, Mr Graham. You must be so proud!

Photo credit: AP Photo, via Politico.

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