Archive for June, 2013

Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckI’ve blogged before on the phenomenon of demonstrably-erroneous ideas that just will not die out, no matter how often they’re refuted. And I cited the “birther” delusion … i.e. the idea that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not entitled to hold office … as a prime example of this. His birth certificate from Hawai’i has been checked out and is fully legitimate (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here).

But the Birthers, you see, don’t give a flying fuck about that. They just know, you see, that he’s not really an American. And they intend never to let go of that idea, no matter the facts. (One way they do this is to dismiss all fact-checking Web sites as “biased,” even though neither of the sites I linked to above avoids pointing out Obama’s exaggerations, misstatements, and lies. So they aren’t “biased” in the President’s favor.)

Because of the persistence of the “birther” delusion among their constituents, GOP politicians are constantly dancing around the subject, trying to appeal to “birtherism” without saying something that will make them look like total morons in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unfortunately, despite their wishes, there is no viable way to do that. Any conciliation to “birtherism” is, by definition, moronic.

That said, there are some who simply don’t care that they look like total morons. Among them, as MSNBC’s Maddow blog reports, is Jeff Duncan of the great Biblical state of South Carolina (WebCite cached article):

As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was a guest on Rick Wiles’ unhinged radio show the other day to discuss some of the major issues of the day, including the host’s fears that immigration reform may lead the government to implant biometric scanners in U.S. citizens. Wiles specifically asked Duncan whether lawmakers might “pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers.”

Duncan initially tied to laugh it off, saying that people should have voted against Obama during the last election but Wiles refused to let it go, saying “if we know they are lying about all these other things, why not go back and say ‘well, maybe the first scandal was a lie too?'”

And with that point, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed, saying “there you go; I’m all with you, so let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.”

A recording of Duncan’s comments is provided by Right Wing Watch via Youtube:

Sadly, this is yet another example of GOP insanity. I wonder how long it will take these guys to get over the fact that Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. My guess is, they won’t. Hundreds of years from now there will still be lunatic Right-wingers screaming to high heaven that the US had an ineligible president in office for 8 years.

The best thing for everyone, of course, is for Republican officials, and the “birtherist” masses to whom they’re appealing, to just fucking grow the hell up and get over the fact that someone they despise was elected president. Maturity is the only solution to this mass delusion. Unfortunately, even grown adults tend to resist maturity. More’s the pity.

P.S. I’m well aware that Rachel Maddow and the Right Wing Watch are both ideologically-driven Web sites, and tend to avoid such sources, however, in this case there’s primary-source evidence to back up the report of what Duncan said. I suppose RWW could have faked this recording … but barring evidence to the contrary, I doubt they did so.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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Cry BabyIn my last post I listed some catalogs of the juvenile whining of the Religious Right over the Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. As one would expect, they haven’t stopped pitching fits over it. Their crybaby antics took a new turn when, as WHYY-TV in Philadelphia reports, an openly-gay representative House was forbidden to speak on the Pennsylvania House floor about the decision (WebCite cached article):

Openly gay Pa. Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, was blocked from talking about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday on the floor of the Pennsylvania House.

His comments to his colleagues were ended by a procedural maneuver.

In a part of the house session where members can speak on wide-ranging topics, Sims had just begun his remarks when he was shut down.…

It takes just one legislator to end the impromptu remarks. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe was one of the House Republicans who objected.

“I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law,” said Metcalfe, R-Butler.

Efforts to uncover the names of other legislators who objected to Sims speaking were rebuffed by the House Speaker.

So there you have it, folks. Gay rights can’t be mentioned on the floor of the Pennsylvania House, because it’s against “God’s law” to do so.

Keep it up, guys. Please. I’m begging you. Keep it up. Keep showing your true colors to the world. Keep proving how childish you really are. Keep carrying on like spoiled little children who’ve lost their favorite toy. Keep up the sanctimonious raging and the immature bellyaching.

You couldn’t possibly do a better job of demonstrating what’s wrong with fierce, unthinking religionism, than I could. And I thank you for it! Honestly, I do.

Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.

Photo credit: Chalky Lives, via Flickr.

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Portrait of crying baby girlBy now you already know about the US Supreme Court having declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. You also know the Religious Right is going out of its collective mind over it. Their sanctimonious rage is predictable and entertaining.

In light of this decision, I’ll crib a little from one of my first posts on this blog, addressing some of their misconceptions and lies about marriage:

The R.R. rages and fumes about “Biblical marriage” being solely between one man and one woman, but because they don’t read their own Bibles, they have no fucking clue that this just isn’t the case. The Bible actually presents several different forms of marriage. These forms include polygamy and even concubinage:

These are not the only Biblical figures whose God-approved marriages were decidedly not of the “one man, one woman” variety.

Lest one think polygamy was solely an Old Testament-era phenomenon, the author of 1 Timothy makes a point of declaring that deacons and bishops had to be men married to only one woman (1 Tim 3:2, 12). That this had to be specified, indicates that polygamy wasn’t unheard of in the Greco-Roman world, nor even among Christians. And note, the injunction was only against polygamous men becoming deacons or bishops. They could be, and some of them presumably did, otherwise remain Christians in good standing within their churches.

The “marriage is for procreation only!” claim is belied by the fact that there’s nothing that forces heterosexual couples to have children if they choose not to, nor any way to prevent an infertile heterosexual couple from marrying, if they want to.

The idea that letting gays marry will lead to people marrying their pets, is bullshit of the highest order. A marriage is a contract. Animals can’t enter into contracts. Hence, people can’t “marry” animals. It’s legally impossible.

I particularly love the hypocritical whining and bellyaching over the supposed loss of “religious freedom” for people and churches whose dogma teaches that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens who must be marginalized and ostracized — without acknowledging there are also religions that welcome gays and lesbians and which wish to treat them equally … including marrying them. According to the R.R., it’s OK to deprive those churches of their “religious freedom” to marry gays. Only they — that is, members of gay-hating churches — should have “religious freedom.”

I could continue addressing the R.R.’s claims about marriage, but it would be pointless. They aren’t interested in facts. They’re only interested in being angry about DOMA being invalidated and in venting their pointless, juvenile rage about it. The following Web pages provide useful catalogs of their collective insanity over this:

Keep stamping and fuming, little crybabies. Keep yelling and screaming that you’re not going to stand for it any more. Keep carrying on as though the world just ended when you know damn well it didn’t. Honestly, I find your outrage funny. And the best part is: Your anger over gay marriage no longer matters one iota. You aren’t going to be able to unravel the Supreme Court’s action — your only option is a Constitutional amendment, which everyone knows will never be enacted. So, boo fucking hoo hoo, little babies! Holler and rage all you like over it; I’m laughing at all of you.

Photo credit: Fiery-Phoenix, via Flickr.

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'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth' / Matthew 6:19a, New American Bible / PsiCop original graphicThe Vatican Bank … more formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, which sounds vaguely like some kind of interfaith charity even if it’s not … is the sort of secretive institution that virtually begs to become the target of whispered tales and conspiracy theories of all kinds. And not all of this is totally unreasonable. The Vatican Bank has been the subject of a few scandals over the years. It was, for example, entangled in the failure of Italy’s Banco Ambrosiano in 1982.

For the past few years it’s been the subject of a money-laundering investigation. That inquiry had simmered for a while, then appeared to die down a year ago. But it seems to have ramped up again, as the New York Times reports, with the arrest of a prominent cleric and some other associates (WebCite cached article):

Claiming to have foiled a caper worthy of Hollywood, or at least Cinecittà, the Italian police on Friday arrested a prelate and two others on corruption charges as part of a complex plot last summer in which they say the priest — already suspected of money laundering — plotted to help wealthy friends sneak the money, the equivalent of about $26 million, into Italy while evading financial controls.

Along with the prelate, a financial broker and a military police agent deployed to the Italian Secret Service were arrested and charged with corruption, and the priest also with slander, in an investigation that developed out of a broader three-year inquiry into the Vatican Bank. The case is the latest black mark on the bank, which under Pope Francis and Benedict XVI has been trying to shake its image as a secretive offshore haven and bring itself into compliance with European norms so that it could use the euro.

Rome prosecutors say the three men hired a private plane last July with the intention of bringing the cash into Italy from Locarno, Switzerland. The money was to be carried by the Secret Service agent, who would not be required to declare it at the border. But the scheme fell through, the prosecutors said, as the three began bickering and, eventually, lost their nerve. Cellphones used by the three in arranging the money transfer were later burned, prosecutors said.…

Even before his arrest on Friday, the prelate, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, was no stranger to the authorities. An employee of Deutsche Bank before entering the priesthood, and until recently an accountant in a top Vatican financial office that oversees the Catholic Church’s real estate holdings, Monsignor Scarano was under investigation by magistrates in Salerno on accusations that he had illegally moved $730,000 in cash from his account in the Vatican Bank to Italian banks, his lawyer said.

The Times article explains a little more about the scheme and those behind it. And then there’s this whopper:

[Scarano’s attorney Silverio] Sica said that Monsignor Scarano’s aims were purely altruistic. The money came from a donor, and he wanted to put the apartment up for sale and use the proceeds to finance a hospice for terminally ill patients in Salerno.

Yeah right. As though I buy that.

About the only positive note here, is that Vatican officials appear to have worked with Italian authorities in this particular investigation. That’s unusual. Like most tax-haven financial institutions, in the past the Vatican Bank usually resisted working with government investigators. I have no idea if this means they’ve truly changed their ways, or if they cooperated only in this one case.

I suggest any Catholic prelates involved in high finance crack open their Bibles for the first time since leaving seminary (assuming they read the Bible there … I’m not even sure about that). Have a look at verses like Matthew 6:19-20, Luke 12:33-34, Hebrews 13:5 or James 5:1-3 … among many other verses I could cite … and then tell me this kind of operation is even remotely appropriate for the organization that views itself as God’s Holy Church.

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Matthew 6:19a.

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'PARANOIA ... because we all know that the flying monkeys are coming to get us' / Funny Demotivational PostersWater supplies in the US have been fluoridated for decades. It’s a great way to fight tooth decay. It also happens to be safe and effective, and this has been demonstrated repeatedly since the practice began. The science is in; the matter is settled; and it has been settled for years.

But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been wingnuts, cranks, lunatics and freaks wailing and fuming over it. “It’s a Commie plot!” was a common battle-cry against it, in the 50s, and the Communist conspiracy angle remained a popular facet of the anti-fluoridation movement.

The Cold War has been over for more than two decades, but that doesn’t mean opposition to fluoridation went away. No, it took on other angles. For example, some think it’s a Big Pharma conspiracy to stuff corporate coffers with ill-gotten booty at the expense of public health. That anti-fluoridators make their own profits being anti-fluoridators — selling books, hosting seminars, raking in speakers’ fees — doesn’t seem to matter much to their fans. They refuse to see the contradiction and will not admit their heroes are hypocrites.

Here in Connecticut, it seems anti-fluoridators have found a fan in Republican state Senator Joe Markley. The Hartford Courant reports he recently hosted a fake hearing in the state capitol to roll back a law mandating fluoridation in the Nutmeg State (WebCite cached article):

Saying the practice takes away the right of consumers to make medical choices and possibly inflicts serious harm on children, opponents of adding fluoride to public water argued Wednesday that a glass of water should contain water — and nothing else.

At an informal hearing at the state Capitol called by state Sen. Joe Markley, chemist Paul Connett called on state lawmakers to abolish the state’s flouridation law and forbid communities from putting additives in water supplies to improve public health.

“We should never use the public water supply to deliver medicine,” said Connett, a retired Dartmouth professor and leading fluoridation critic. “No doctor could do to us what the state of Connecticut is doing.”

I have to wonder if Connett is a member of the John Birch Society, since one of the pretenses upon which they opposed fluoridation was that it was an impermissible, involuntary, mass medical treatment.

At any rate, the Courant lays out the background behind Connecticut’s fluoridation mandate, and adds:

But Markley, a Republican from Southington, put forth legislation this year to abolish Connecticut’s policy, saying that it unfairly adds an extra expense to cash-strapped town budgets. The bill failed, but Markley said he’ll bring it back next year. On Wednesday, he said he wanted both sides of the fluoridation debate to make their case.

“As a principle, politically, I try to listen to everybody as much as possible,” Markley said. “I like to hear people who know what they’re talking about differ on a topic.”

Note Markley’s brazen appeal to the false debate (aka “teach the controversy”). What the senator doesn’t know — or perhaps he does know, and he’s just lying about it — is that there is no longer any “debate” about the safety or effectiveness of fluoridation. It is safe, and it is effective. Period. Markley’s suggestion that there is any remaining question about it, is disingenuous.

That article makes a point of mentioning that dentists had been invited, but did not come:

Connecticut State Dental Association President Mark Desrosiers said in an interview that his group had accepted an invitation from Markley. But they backed out when they heard Connett would be there.

The reason why dentists wouldn’t bother coming to Markley’s fake hearing starring Connett should be obvious. It’s the same reason that geophysicists don’t show up to meetings of the Flat Earth Society: There’s no point in going! They wouldn’t be welcome, their input isn’t wanted, and there’s nothing they could say that would have the slightest effect on any of the anti-fluoridators there.

Photo credit: Funny Demotivational Posters (defunct).

P.S. Watch the credentials here. Connett is a scientist, yes … but he’s a chemist, not a physician or dentist. Woops!

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'Most Christians Lack Jesus' Love for Others' / Barna Group / Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees?For many years I’ve been pointing out that Christians largely refuse to think and act in the ways Jesus told them to. I even posted a page on this blog pointing out specific Bible verses they absolutely will not obey, no matter how often they’re told about them. In most cases they’ve cooked up some bizarre rationales to squirm out from under Jesus’ instructions, and for the rest they just fall back on the old (and largely irrelevant) whine, “But you’re taking that verse out of context!”

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s noticed that Christians are consistently un-Christian. The Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling firm, undertook a study to see just how Christ-like America’s Christians are. And their conclusion is, that Christians are more like Pharisees than like Jesus (WebCite cached article):

One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it’s a religion full of hypocritical people.

A new Barna Group study examines the degree to which this perception may be accurate. The study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus in their interactions with others.…

The findings reveal that most self-identified Christians in the U.S. are characterized by having the attitudes and actions researchers identified as Pharisaical. Just over half of the nation’s Christians—using the broadest definition of those who call themselves Christians—qualify for this category (51%). They tend to have attitudes and actions that are characterized by self-righteousness.

On the other end of the spectrum, 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes Barna researchers found to be consistent with those of Jesus.

In the middle are those who have some mix of action and attitude. About one-fifth of Christians are Christ-like in attitude, but often represent Pharisaical actions (21%). Another 14% of respondents tend to be defined as Christ-like in action, but seem to be motivated by self-righteous or hypocritical attitudes.

The folks at Barna are, quite understandably, not going to agree with me that virtually no Christian who’s ever lived, has proven him/herself to be truly Christ-like. Nevertheless, they’ve concluded that the majority of Christians fall short of their supposed goal, and Barna’s use of the term “Pharisaical” to describe some 51% of the Christians they surveyed, is a clear indictment and acknowledgement of a severe problem within the religion of Jesus.

Now, if only the Barna folks can convince their co-religionists to pay attention and do something about it. Somehow I doubt they’ll get very far.

Photo credit: Barna Group.

Hat tip: Hartford FAVS.

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Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care (file photo)Once upon a time, Anabaptist Christians (known mainly as Mennonites or the Amish) had a reputation for being passive and non-violent. Whether or not that reputation was deserved, it seems to be waning. With the arrival of the “reality” TV series Amish Mafia, and the eruption of infighting among them, it’s clear that there’s more to them than meets the eye. Yet another story that forces one to rethink how Mennonites are viewed, is this story, by the Canadian Press via the National Post, about rampant child abuse in one such community in Canada (WebCite cached article):

Children have been removed from an orthodox Mennonite community in southern Manitoba, where more adults have been charged with assaulting youngsters using items such as cattle prods and leather straps.

Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care, or reveal any other details about the case.…

Two adults from the tiny orthodox community were charged in March with various counts of assault and assault with a weapon on several boys and girls between July 2011 and January of this year.

This week, two more adults appeared in court to face similar charges involving 12 alleged victims. The allegations are once again that the assaults were repeated and over roughly the same 18-month time frame. They were released pending their next court appearance.

I suppose leather straps are implements one might find among Mennonites, who eschew modern technology … but cattle prods? Seriously? And using them on children, no less? These are pretty serious allegations, especially with the RCMP involved.

Photo credit: National Post.

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