Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

Embers 01I suppose this is one of those stories that could only have come from a militantly religionist state like Alabama, where fundamentalist Christianity reigns supreme. As AL.Com reports, an agency of “the Yellowhammer State” recently invoked the Lord as the reason Alabamans must defy federal environmental regulations (WebCite cached article):

Alabama’s coal industry will lose jobs and consumers will see their utility bills increase should the EPA implement proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants, Alabama regulators said at a press conference in which they invoked the name of God in the fight over fossil fuels.

Two members of the Alabama Public Service Commission, a member-elect and an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee said proposed EPA regulations that aim to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent represent “an assault on our way of life” and are a purposeful attempt by the Obama administration to kill coal-related jobs.

“We will not stand for what they are doing to our way of life in Alabama,” said PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. “We will take our fight to the EPA.”

These officials laid out their rationale for defying the Feds rather plainly:

At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.

“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” he said.

Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God’s intervention.

“I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done,” she said.

The upshot of this, as far as I can see, goes something like this: “The Lord gave us coal; his plan is for us to burn it; therefore we must burn it all; and it’s profane for the Feds to tell us not to.” Or something like that. And Alabamans are being ordered to pray doom down on the EPA. Or something like that. (Their call for imprecatory prayer reminds me of all the “pray for Obama Psalm 109″ talk that went around a few years ago. How fucking mature.)

Alabamans largely won’t see this kind of idiocy for what it is, and I’m guessing they actually like hearing this sort of talk from state officials. They must … because otherwise they wouldn’t allow these people to run their state. All the more reason for me never to set foot there!

Hat tip: RationalWiki.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate (PsiCop original graphic)Given the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, released this morning, which exempts corporations from the ACA’s contraception mandate if they have religious objections to doing so (WebCite cached article), I expect corporations’ religious objections to just about everything to expand immensely.

Just think: If a corporation has a religious objection to paying minimum wages (for example), by the Court’s reasoning, they should be exempted from that. If they religiously object to having to provide a safe workplace, they can be exempted from OSHA regulations. If they religiously object to registering vehicles, they should be allowed to skip going to their state’s DMV. And so on.

“But wait!” you, Dear Reader, are no doubt objecting. “There’s no religion that objects to any of those things!” That may be so … but that problem can be easily fixed. All one needs to do is create a new religion which does object to them.

Let’s create a “Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate.” Its main tenet is that, since the Lord called his followers together to join as a Church, likewise people join together to form Corporations. As such, each and every Corporation is a reflection of the Lord God’s holiness. Each is inviolate and sacrosanct.

This new corporatist church could easily teach that Corporations should never be constrained or limited in any way. Government regulations would not apply to any UCotLGI-following Corporation. They can’t be taxed — taxation reduces profits, you see, and because profits are the reason Corporations exist, forcing them to pay taxes would violate their sanctity. Even things like simple liability would go right out the window for a UCotLGI-following Corporation. Too bad for you, if you’re hurt or killed by some defect in a UCotLGI-following Corporation’s products!

So let’s get moving on this new Universal Church of the Lord God, Incorporate! Make all CEOs its clergy. Have them all get together (hey, those rotten little anti-trust laws that would normally prevent such conferences are an unacceptable limitation on Corporate behavior!) and figure out how best to exploit all the possibilities. And those possibilities might even include things like the restoration of slavery!

Of course, there’s just one little problem here: Does anyone know precisely how it is that a corporation can have religious beliefs? I’m still not clear on that. Just wondering. Anyone care to fill me in on that?

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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Columbo facepalm, via ButterfunkThe line between ideological ferocity and childishness is a thin one. It might even be so thin as to be non-existent. Consider that the very reason a lot of people cling to arbitrarily-assembled packages of notions is that they’re desperate for easy, simple answers to problems they find incredibly vexing. They can’t emotionally handle that they’re vexed, so they latch onto whatever they think explains why they’re vexed and grants them the right to tell everyone what to do about it … and to rage and fume at whoever it is they decide is vexing them.

After having spent about a decade as a Republican activist, I can tell you that a lot of these folks are very immature. But for those who haven’t dealt with these people as much as I have, it can be hard to see just how pervasive this immaturity is. Well, here’s an example that turns out to be very public. Time magazine reports on what someone did in the urinals at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference this weekend (WebCite cached article):

President Barack Obama made a cameo at a conservative conference in Washington on Friday—in the restroom.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, which draws some of the biggest conservative icons and presidential hopefuls looking to make inroads with the grassroots, was heavy on criticism of Obama’s domestic and foreign policy agenda. And small figurines of Obama’s head, first spotted by the Huffington Post‘s Igor Bobic, were placed inside the urinals in the mens’ restroom outside the conference hall where the likes of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were addressing a crowd of several hundred.

Here’s the photo Bobic tweeted (cached):

'Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014' / posted by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

‘Scene from a Faith & Freedom restroom #RTM2014′ / by Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) of Huffington Post, via Twitter

Well done, guys. Really. I mean that. Thanks for putting your childishness on display for all to see. Now we truly know what sort of character you have … which is to say, you have none. You must be so proud!

Note, this example and discussion of Rightist immaturity shouldn’t be taken as an assertion that Leftists can’t be juvenile. Of course they can! A lot of them are. I don’t deny that at all. It’s just that, in this case, it’s Rightist childishness we’re talking about. And we’re talking about it in the context of a conference run by a religious organization, where one would expect attendees to behave with far more maturity than one would find elsewhere … since we all know that religion automatically makes adherents upright and moral.

Or does it … ? Hmm.

Not to mention, the fact that there are some immature Leftists doesn’t grant Rightists license also to be childish. To believe so is to fall for the “two wrongs make a right” fallacy.

Photo credit, top: Butterfunk; middle: Igor Bobic of HuffPo, via Twitter.

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Dinesh D'SouzaPoor Dinesh D’Souza. Just a couple years ago he rode the crest of a Right-wing wave, when he released a paranoid Christofascist video based on own his paranoid Christofascist diatribe against Satan Barack HUSSEIN Obama. The Religious Right worshipped the guy, and viewed his documentary and book as an indictment of the president and grounds to have him removed from office. D’Souza incessantly pumped both the video and the book on television, and had speaking engagements up the wazoo. He basked in the adoration of the Right and stood on top of the Right-wing world.

But oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Since then, as I blogged, he took up with another woman and was engaged to her, while still married to his wife (whom he later divorced). When he was caught doing so, and was mildly criticized for it, he promptly — and very publicly — threw his soon-to-be-ex-wife under the bus and denied having the slightest clue that it wasn’t a good idea to get engaged to another woman while still married to someone else.

To make matters worse, early this year he was indicted for campaign-finance fraud. As Politico reports today, D’Souza suddenly pled guilty in court (WebCite cached article):

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza entered a guilty plea Tuesday to a charge that he used straw donors to make $20,000 in illegal contributions to Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long in 2012, officials said.

The unexpected guilty plea came on the same day the trial for the strident critic of President Barack Obama was set to open in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

I’m surprised at this myself, because I was sure D’Souza wouldn’t plead out. To date he’s insisted he did nothing wrong, and has been unjustly persecuted by Obama because of his book and video. So, too, have his defenders, as Politico explains:

“Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the president, is now being prosecuted by this Administration,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a portion of a January CBS interview edited out by the network but posted online by Cruz’s office. “Can you image the reaction if the Bush administration had went, gone and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?”

Cruz’s statement is a sterling example of the screaming illogic of Rightist thinking: Because Cruz imagines there’d be an uproar had Bush gone after Leftist documentarians critical of him, he concludes that Obama prosecuting D’Souza is utterly unacceptable. That’s right, Cruz has made decisions about reality, based solely on things he imagines might have happened. For him, imagination and reality are blended. If that’s not a recipe for delusion, I don’t know what is.

Moreover, one ramification of this notion is that no Rightist can ever be prosecuted for anything, ever, by a Leftist administration. In other words, Rightists must automatically be viewed as totally incapable of committing any crime. I’m not so sure I buy that.

In any event, these whiny crybaby claims of innocence-&-persecution now ring hollow, given what D’Souza admitted in court:

At the court hearing Tuesday, D’Souza admitted he knew what he did was against the law.

“I knew that causing a campaign contribution to be made in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza said, according to Newsday [cached]. “I deeply regret my conduct.”

D’Souza had also objected to the charges on the basis of “selective prosecution.” This is the idea that he, and he alone, was being singled out for something that others are doing, but weren’t charged with crimes over. I’m not sure how well this looks for him, though. It’s a kind of “two wrongs make a right” thinking; it’s fallacious and it contradicts the kind of absolute morality that guys like him demand of everyone.

Despite D’Souza’s clear and unambiguous admission of wrongdoing and the fact that the old “but everyone’s doing it!” excuse is asinine and childish, my guess is, he and his defenders will continue to pronounce him totally innocent, and the victim of a president who won’t tolerate anyone saying the slightest thing bad about him. (If that were really the way Obama worked, tens of thousands of “birthers” around the country would have been jailed years ago and would still be rotting in prison.)

P.S. I note that campaign-finance fraud seems to be something Rightists have a lot of difficulty with, over the past couple of years. I know they dislike such laws because they think they think it infringes on “freedom of speech,” but that only makes sense if one accepts the premise that “money” equals “speech.” I don’t, because the last I knew, poor people could generally talk as much as the wealthy.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.

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Note: There’s been some news in this case; see below.

INSANITY is the ability to convince yourself that of all the people you know you alone are the only one who bears no responsibility for the horrible mess that is your life. / Motifake.ComLiving in Connecticut, I can’t help but hear “Sandy Hook” mentioned now and again. Nearly all such references, of course, are to the Sandy Hook massacre on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, CT. I’ve blogged about the sometimes-crazy aftermath of that atrocity, and while it took place nearly a year and a half ago, it appears still to drive a wedge between certain people (aka “Sandy Hook truthers“) and reality.

The latest example of “Sandy Hook truther” insanity, as reported by the New London Day, took place last week in Mystic, CT (WebCite cached article):

The 50-pound vinyl peace sign that marked the entrance of the new playground built in memory of Grace McDonnell, one of the 20 first-graders who died in the December 2012 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was stolen Tuesday.

Then someone claiming to have taken the sign called McDonnell’s mother and told her the sign was gone, said William Lavin, founder of the “Where Angels Play Foundation,” which is building playgrounds to commemorate each of the 20 children and six adults killed at the school.

“There’s still a lot of ignorance and evil out there that someone could do something like that,” Lavin said Wednesday.

He said the caller was a man who claimed the shooting at Sandy Hook was a hoax.

What a mature action on the part of some NRA-deluded gun-toting wingnut! Because we all just know the Sandy Hook massacre was staged, perpetrated by Barack HUSSEIN Obama in order to take away everyone’s guns. That this isn’t what has happened since then, doesn’t appear to have sunk into their thick, sanctimoniously-enraged skulls.

Yes, folks, the country is full of children … many of them well over 21 years old. Keep it up, guys. You have no idea how impressed I am by your maturity. Really!

Photo credit: Motifake.Com/Demotivationalposters.Org.

Update: An arrest has been made in this and another Sandy Hook-related theft. The Washington Post has the improbable story of what led police to a sanctimoniously-enraged Virginia man named Andrew Truelove (cached). It includes some truly disturbing elements (cached).

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“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” / Matthew 6:6 (NASB) / PsiCop original graphicLast year, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the Town of Greece v. Galloway. Today they released their ruling, and given that it’s a majority-conservative (and, maybe more importantly, majority-Religious-Right) court, they ruled in favor of government agencies leading people in sectarian prayers. CNN reports on the case and the Court’s decision (WebCite cached article):

The Supreme Court gave limited approval on Monday to public prayers at a New York town’s board meetings, citing the country’s history of religious acknowledgment in the legislature.

The 5-4 ruling [cached] came in yet another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena. It was confined to the specific circumstances and offered few bright-line rules on how other communities should offer civic prayers without violating the Constitution.…

The conservative majority offered varying interpretations of when such “ceremonial” prayers would be permissible. Kennedy, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, focused on the specifics of the Greece case and did not offer a broad expansion of legislative prayer.

This mention that the ruling is specific only to Greece, NY is belied by the fact that it is very typical of towns around the country that also open town-council sessions with prayers. I don’t see any way this ruling won’t be expanded to just about every locality and every government agency in the country. At least, I’m not stupid enough to think the nation’s Christofascists aren’t going to use this as a wedge to get prayers into just about every public venue possible, and that they won’t succeed at it.

The really bizarre part of this case is that Christians are explicitly forbidden — by Jesus, the founder of their religion — to pray in public in the first place! The gospels report that he said:

“(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.… When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1,5-6)

I’ve blogged before about Christians’ tendency to disobey Jesus and happily engage in the practice of pubic piety, and even created a static page on the subject, which may be useful if you need more details. In any event, the result is that a lot of Christians went to court to establish a right to government prayers, and the Catholics on the Supreme Court granted them that right … all in very clear violation of what their own Jesus taught! They also love to litigate over Decalogue monuments, which is likewise exceedingly un-Christian. In fact, as I explain at length, there are a lot of Jesus’ instructions that Christians historically have refused to follow.

I note that Justice Kennedy relies upon an appeal to tradition in order to support what the town of Greece was doing. The US was historically Christian, he’s saying, therefore it’s fine to ram Christianity down all Americans’ throats. The problem with this is that appeals to tradition are fallacious. Just because something was done in the past, doesn’t make it a great idea forevermore. For instance, humanity had a long history of slavery, which was even legal for the first decades of this country; that long tradition, however, doesn’t mean we should reinstitute slavery. I’m not sure Justice Kennedy realizes he’s following this line of reasoning, but in fact, he is.

The bottom line here, is that America’s Christianists have finally won the right to force everyone … Christian and non-Christian alike … to pray to their own deity. I wish them the best of luck forcing me to pray with them. I invite them to track me down and give it their best shot! It won’t work, but they’re certainly welcome to try. Obviously they feel it’s important that every American pray to their Jesus; thus they have no rational reason not to do their utmost to make this American do so. So have at it, Christianists! Do your worst! What are you waiting for?

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic, based on Mt 6:6, NASB.

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Bible-openThe nation’s Christofascists continue relentlessly using government to promote their dour religionism. It’s a tired refrain, but it’s a campaign these people simply will not let go of, no matter what happens and no matter how illegal it may be. The latest example comes from the Bible Belt (er, Bobble Bay-elt) state of Louisiana. As the Associated Press reports via WWL-TV in New Orleans, a bill naming the Bible Louisiana’s state book is moving through the legislature’s machinery (WebCite cached article):

Lawmakers are moving ahead with a proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana’s official state book, despite concerns the bill would land the Legislature in court.

A House municipal committee advanced the bill Thursday with an 8-5 vote, sending it to the full House for debate.

Rep. Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport, said he sponsored the proposal after a constituent made the request. But Carmody insisted the bill wasn’t designed to be a state-endorsement of Christianity or a specific religion.

“It’s not to the exclusion of anyone else’s sacred literature,” he told the House committee. Again, later he said, “This is not about establishing an official religion of the state of Louisiana.”

The illogic of Carmody’s claim is hilariously laughable. He actually thinks people are going to believe him when he says that making the Bible Louisiana’s state book can’t possibly be construed as an “exclusion” of other holy works. To the contrary … of course it’s exclusionary! Of course it promotes Christianity over other religions! What else can possibly be the result of such a pronouncement?

Deciding that “the Bible” is Louisiana’s “state book” leads inevitably to the question, “Which Bible?” There are many Bibles to choose from. The original bill specified that the official “state book” was to have been a particular copy of the Bible in the Louisiana State Museum, one which happens to be a King James translation (cached). But that specification was removed from the bill, I assume because it would have opened up a sectarian can of worms. After all, the King James Version was first written for the Anglican Church in order to help sever it from Catholicism. So selecting that particular Bible as Louisiana’s “state book” could have been offensive to Catholics, not to mention Orthodox or other kinds of non-Protestant Christians. Gee, how nice of Carmody to have been that accommodating, no?

Given that Louisiana is a religionist state with a fiercely religionist governor, I expect this bill will pass and become law. There are lots of Bible-worshippers there who’re desperate to use their state government to promote more Bible worship.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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