Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

Afghanistan Measles Vaccination 2013OK, let’s get this out of the way, right from the start: NJ governor Chris Christie and KY Senator Rand Paul are both running for president in 2016. Yeah, I know neither has formally announced it, but clearly both plan to do so, and both are getting all their ducks in a row, doing all the things they need to do in order to get the Republican nomination. So I’m not going to call them “potential candidates” or “presumed candidates” or include any other weasel words or caveats. I’m going to call them “candidates,” because that’s precisely what they are.

Their candidacies probably explain why, as the Washington Post reports, they’ve both veered into antivax territory (WebCite cached article):

Medical experts reacted with alarm Monday as two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination appeared to question whether child vaccinations should be mandatory — injecting politics into an emotional issue that has taken on new resonance with a recent outbreak of measles in the United States.

First, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while visiting a vaccine laboratory here, called for “some measure of choice” on whether shots guarding against measles and other diseases should be required for children.

Then, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist who is also readying a 2016 campaign, said in two U.S. television interviews that he thinks most vaccines should be voluntary, citing “many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

“The state doesn’t own your children,” Paul said on CNBC, praising vaccines for their health benefits but insisting that the government should not mandate their use in most cases. “Parents own the children. And it is an issue of freedom and public health.”

Both used clearly flawed reasoning. First, Christie employed a fallacy:

Christie, however, said Monday that “there has to be a balance, and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest.”

His appeal to “false balance” — a variety of the more general invalid appeal to moderation — is fallacious because not every issue has two equally valid “sides.” In fact, sometimes, there really is only one “side” to an issue, and all other positions are just flat-out absofuckinglutely wrong — period.

Second, of Sen. Paul’s “parents own the children,” I can only groan. I assume he’s speaking metaphorically and not actually saying parents “own” children, as southern plantation owners once “owned” slaves … but he’s overdramatizing the situation. Parents should rationally be looking out for the welfare of their children. Vaccinating according to prescribed schedules will do that. Refusing to vaccinate kids will not help them. The ability to claim “ownership” of one’s children doesn’t absolve one of the obligation to act in their best interests.

Look, I understand the politics of this. Right now, there’s a large number of Republican voters for whom vaccine opposition has some appeal. They object to “big government” telling them they have to vaccinate their kids, even though it’s usually local school districts telling them to do so. They think, since vaccines are the purview of the CDC, an arm of the federal government, that they’re a tool Barack Hussein Obama is using to implement mind-control over their kids, even though widespread vaccinations predated Obama by decades. Really, I get the appeal to the paranoid wing of the Republican party. But with that said … there’s still no excuse for either of these guys indulging the paranoia. Much better that they just tell people to fucking grow the hell up already and get their kids vaccinated, fercyinoutloud.

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Mark Peterson/Redux, via the Daily BeastAs I blogged a few days ago, Louisiana’s Christianist governor Bobby Jindal has essentially kicked off his campaign for the nation’s Preacher-in-Chief. As part of this campaign, he’s angling for the Neocrusader vote, which is a sizable chunk of the Republican party, and — one assumes — he hopes he can use to win the GOP nomination next year. At least, this is the only explanation for the depths of fact-deprived insanity to which he’s recently stooped.

Caught in a lie about the so-called “no-go zones” in Europe, in which Islamic shari’a law prevails rather than the law of the country, as CNN reports, he not only doubled down on this lie, he added to it by piling on another (WebCite cached article):

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday stood by his controversial comments about “no go zones” in European cities, insisting that some Muslim immigrants are trying to “colonize” European cities and “overtake the culture.”

And the United States could be next, warned Jindal, a Republican who is considering a 2016 presidential run.

“They may be second, third, fourth generation, they don’t consider themselves part of that country. They’re actually going in there to colonize, to overtake the culture,” Jindal said. “If people don’t want to come here to integrate and assimilate, what they’re really trying to do is … overturn our culture.”

Earlier, Jindal had talked about “no-go zones,” which do not, in fact, exist. That whole notion has been thoroughly debunked. Even the man responsible for this myth, Daniel Pipes, has acknowledged his error and said they don’t exist. The Bobster elaborated on his “invasion” lie, Buzzfeed reports, on a radio show run by his fellow Christianists at Focus on the Family (cached):

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential Republican candidate for president, warned in an interview Monday on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio program of the possibility of so-called Muslim “no go zones” coming to America, focusing later on what he called a possible sharia “colonization” and “invasion” of America.

“If we’re not careful the same no-go zones you’re seeing now in Europe will come to America,” said Jindal singling out those in “academic” and “media elite” who he said “don’t want to proclaim American exceptionalism.”

I’m not going to get into the notion that Muslims have launched an “invasion” of the United States in order to overturn its government and force shari’a law on the country. It’s fucking obvious to anyone with half a brain and one working eyeball that it’s not happening. A mature man with integrity, caught in lies, will admit them and apologize — as Pipes and Fox News have already, where this issue is concerned — and move on already. But not the Bobster. He’s far too childish to make any such admission, and too caught up in his own crazy, disingenuous rhetoric to find something else to talk about so he can finally stop embarrassing himself.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Redux, via the Daily Beast.

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal waves with a Bible in his hand, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, via Washington Post)Louisiana’s Republican governor Bobby Jindal — a fierce Religious Rightist, if not an outright Christofascist — led a prayer revival yesterday at Louisiana State University. As the Washington Post explains, it’s a strong indication that he plans to run for president in 2016 (WebCite cached article):

Skipping an Iowa event that drew a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls in favor of a controversial Louisiana prayer rally, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) called for a national spiritual revival and urged event attendees to proselytize on behalf of their Christian beliefs.

Jindal had insisted the day-long evangelical event hosted by the American Family Association on the campus of Louisiana State University was a religious and not political gathering. And, indeed, his 15-minute long remarks to the group consisted entirely of a highly personal testimony about how he had come to his Catholic beliefs. Jindal was raised by Hindu parents but converted to Catholicism in high school.

But Jindal’s keynote address at the event came as he has been courting Christian conservatives in advance of a possible run for president, meeting with pastors in the early battleground states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Former Texas governor Rick Perry hosted the same event, known as “The Response,” in 2011, just before announcing he was running for president.

The Bobster’s revival meeting didn’t go unnoticed by others, as the Post reports:

The event drew protests outside the basketball arena where several hundred were gathered because of accusations that the American Family Association promotes discrimination against gays and is hostile to non-Christians. Jindal briefly referred to the protests in his appearance, asking the rally’s attendees to pray for the demonstrators.

Ah. The old “I’ll pray for you” thing hurled at those who refuse to believe. I’m sure he knows this is an insulting tactic, even if it sounds all compassionate and shit. Well played, Bobby! Well played.

The Bobster even included a gratuitous little story which likely reflects how he intends to inject his fierce, dogmatic religionism into government:

Jindal recalled a girl in high school who said she wanted to grow up to be a Supreme Court justice, so she could “save innocent human lives” from abortion.

He put these words in the mouth of someone else, but this tale illustrates how he views participating in government. And that’s not to uphold the laws that are written, as they’re written, but instead to wrench and manipulate them to coincide with the Almighty’s dictates, whatever he thinks those are, and without regard for what those laws actually say.

Not that the Bobster really cares much, but here’s my response to his “response”:

Gov Jindal, if you think the country needs more God, then start with this one American: Track me down and make me turn to your God. I dare you. If it’s mandatory for all Americans to do so, then what reason would you have not to do it? Go ahead. I invite you to try your best — if you dare. Should you not do this, to me or to any other insolent non-believer, then I must presume that Americans turning to your deity can’t actually be as imperative as you said it is. That would demonstrate your cowardice, not to mention your hypocrisy — which, for supposedly-dutiful Catholics such as yourself, was explicitly forbidden to you by the founder of your own religion.

One last observation: The irony of a Roman Catholic leading a Protestant-style prayer revival — sponsored by a Protestant group — is especially precious. By leading an event of this kind, the Bobster openly admits he needs to curry the favor of devout Protestants, especially of the evangelical variety. But in the end, they’re his ecclesiastical enemies, not his friends. Just as America’s Catholic bishops have done, he’s forging what, ultimately, can only be called an unholy alliance. Should he get elected and start bending the country toward the Christocracy he wants, eventually he and his fellow Catholics will end up in evangelicals’ crosshairs. Many of them consider Jindal’s Church “the Whore of Babylon” mentioned in Revelation. A lot of those evangelicals would happily throw “Mary-worshipping papists” like Jindal into the flames of eternal perdition, if ever given the chance. Just saying.

Photo credit: AP Photo / Jonathan Bachman, via the Washington Post.

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Open BibleGiven what happened in Paris over the past week, it was inevitable, I suppose, that a bunch of angry Christofascists would respond with what amounts to an outcry of “More Jesus! More Bible! More Christianity!” Down in Mississippi, deep in the heart of the Bible Belt Bobble Bay-elt, the AP reports via ABC News, plans are afoot to make the Bible the “state book” (WebCite cached article):

Mississippi is the birthplace of William Faulkner, Richard Wright and recent U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey. However, some lawmakers say they want to look beyond the secular literary world and designate the Bible as the state book.

At least two bills are being filed during this state election year to make the holy book a state symbol.

One is from Republican Rep. Tracy Arnold of Booneville, who is the pastor of a nondenominational Christian church. The other is from Democratic Reps. Tom Miles of Forest and Michael Evans of Preston, who say they have promises of bipartisan support from more than 20 colleagues.

Their intentions, of course, are perfectly noble, and not an effort to proselytize; we know this because … well … they pinky-swear:

Miles told The Associated Press on Monday he’s not trying to force religion — or even reading — on anyone.

“The Bible provides a good role model on how to treat people,” Miles said. “They could read in there about love and compassion.”

Enough already. I have to call bullshit on this. Not that there’s no love or compassion in the Bible … there is, some anyway. A little. Here and there. The problem with the Bible is that it has a far larger amount of cruelty, hatred, and violence. Horrific, cosmic-scale, raging cataclysm-type shit. Let’s have a look at just a small sampling of it, shall we?

  • YHWH drowns every living thing on the planet (Gen 6-7), sparing only 2 of each animal and 8 human beings. All because of “the wickedness of man” (Gen 6:5) … which the reader is led to believe must have been pretty horrific, but since the nature of that “wickedness” is never mentioned, we have no way actually to know what it was. Such is YHWH’s “love,” I guess.
  • YHWH later magically slew Er the son of Judah for (again!) unstated “evil”, then magically slew his brother Onan because “he wasted his seed on the ground” (Gen 38:7-10). Yeah, that’s “compassion” all right. Oh yeah.
  • YHWH also staged one of the worst atrocities since the Great Flood when he afflicted Egypt with a series of devastating plagues, slaughtered all the first-born in the land, and then wiped out one of the largest armies in the ancient world (Gen 3-14). Yup, that’s “love.” No doubt.
  • YHWH then tells the Hebrews to conquer Canaan — as an expression of his love for the Canaanites, I suppose. In the process he orders not just one (Ex 17:8-18:16) but two (1 Sam 15:1-9) genocides of the Amalekites. Definite “compassion” there, no?

OK, enough of this. I can’t take it any more. This is as far as I could get in relating stories of Biblical “love” and “compassion” without vomiting. Note, I left out of the above list the manner in which Sodom and Gomorrah were “loved” (Gen 19:1-29), not to mention Lot’s wife. Someone will, I’m sure, inform me that I left out “context;” for instance, Sodom & Gomorrah deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth and reduced to an ashen ruin because its citizens were “inhospitable,” and that the Amalekites were slaughtered to the last infant because they’d insolently fended off the Hebrew migration into their land. Sorry, but those defenses just don’t stack up to the sheer amount of violence perpetrated; if “inhospitability” were enough to raze cities in fiery holocausts, there would be none left anywhere, and a nation defending its territory is generally not considered a crime worthy of a genocide. And don’t even get me started on why Lot’s wife needed to be changed into a pillar of salt — because that whole thing is just ridiculous bullshit, period. So pardon me if I don’t buy the whole “context” protest. I’m nowhere near stupid enough to fall for any of that.

The only reason representatives Arnold, Miles, and Evans could plausibly say the Bible teaches only “love” and “compassion” is if they never actually read the thing. Which, of course, is probably the case, since as I explained long ago, nearly all Christians have never actually read it and haven’t a fucking clue what it truly says.

Needless to say, getting up in front of a legislature … and a state … to pronounce the Bible the “state book” could be construed as public piety, which is something Jesus clearly, specifically, and unambiguously forbid his followers ever to do. Not that these people are aware of that — even if that injunction is contained within the pages of the very Bible they want their state to venerate (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18)!

Photo credit: Ryk Neethling, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

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The cross that for decades was lit for Christmas at Happy Acres Farm has been moved to private property down the road at Judd's Construction. Sherman officials said it was inappropriate to send a religious message with the cross now that the town owns Happy Acres. Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Photo: Carol Kaliff, via the Connecticut PostChristmas is only a few days away, and as usual, militant Christianists around the country are furiously trying to get Christmas displays onto government property — and where they’re thwarted, they’re angry about it. An example of this is in the western part of my home state of Connecticut, as the Connecticut Post reports, in the little town of Sherman (WebCite cached article):

The Christmas cross that shone for decades atop the main silo at Happy Acres Farm has gone dark this year.

Tony Hapanowich, who owned the farm until his death in 2013, erected and lighted the cross every year during the Christmas season. But after the town’s acquisition of the property earlier this year, town attorney Jeff Sienkiewicz advised the Board of Selectmen that religious symbols like the cross should not be displayed on municipal property.…

Selectwoman Andrea O’Connor said that from a legal point of view, the display raised issues of separation of church and state.

“We felt, given the advice of our town attorney, that we couldn’t put the cross up,” O’Connor said.

For many, that’s just not acceptable:

Resident Gary Albert wondered why it’s acceptable for the town to put up a Christmas tree and other decorations at Mallory Town Hall, and to put candles in the windows at Happy Acres farmhouse, but not acceptable to display the cross.

“People all over town have started putting up their own crosses,” Albert said. “I’ll bet at this time there must be upwards of 25 to 30, including one at my house.”

I applaud Christianists in Sherman, CT who got off their asses and put their own lighted crosses on their own roofs. That’s exactly how this is all supposed to work! If you’re Christian and want to display your Christianity at Christmastime for all to see — despite the injunction against public piety left behind by the founder of your religion — then go right ahead and do it, on your own fucking property. There’s no reason it must be on government property … unless there’s some provision to this effect in scripture that I’m not aware of. I invite anyone out there so inclined, to provide such a citation, if it exists. I would really love to hear what it could be. Honestly.

As for why decorated trees and lighted candles are acceptable in government buildings, but lighted crosses aren’t allowed atop them, I suppose the reasoning is that those things aren’t overtly religious enough to be problematic. Crosses, however, being associated solely with one particular religion — i.e. Christianity — are a different matter. If it were up to me, all of it would have been yanked … but what the hell could this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such things?

P.S. Note, had the town of Sherman gone around to all those lighted-cross-building homeowners and ripped them all down, that might have constituted a “war on Christmas,” and it’s something I’d oppose. But that hasn’t happened here, nor is anything like it happening anywhere else in the country. Hence, no “war on Christmas.”

Photo credit: Carol Kaliff / Connecticut Post.

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'This is America ... founded by White Christians seeking religious liberty. ... Where people know their place. This is YOUR America! Keep it White and Christian!' / Christian Right Propaganda Posters: America as a Christian Nation, America as a White Nation / Photo Credit: Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National ArchivesOne thing you learn about the Religious Right is that they’re consistent … stubbornly, ferociously, and even foolishly so. They remain locked in on ideas, no matter how absurd or idiotic they are, even long after they’ve been debunked or shown to be stupid or wrong. Former US Senator and GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is no exception to this rule. Nearly three years after he railed against separation of church and state, he’s still blustering and fuming moronically against it. As Right Wing Watch explains, he told a Religious Right conference that SOCAS is un-American, and even communist in nature (locally-cached article):

In a conference call with members of right-wing pastor E.W. Jackson’s STAND America that was posted online today, former senator Rick Santorum disputed the existence of the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution, dismissing it as a Communist idea that has no place in America.

A listener on the call told Santorum that “a number of the things that the far left, a.k.a. the Democrat [sic] Party, and the president is pushing for and accomplishing actually accomplishes a number of the tenets of ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ including the amnesty, the elevation of pornography, homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, open borders, mass self-importation of illegal immigrants and things of that nature.” The likely presidential candidate replied that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”

Rick’s Christofascist whine that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ [are] not in the U.S. Constitution” is a very old one, and while it’s literally true — a search of the Constitution and its amendments will in fact never turn up that phrase — it’s not true there’s no Constitutional basis for separation of church and state. The Constitution certainly does support it … e.g. Article VI paragraph 3, and the First Amendment. Moreover, the man who wrote the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment and its establishment clausesaid so, very clearly.

Rickie punctuated his comments later by bitching and whining about Barack Obama and race, mentioning that the president “cavorted with Al Sharpton.” I have no idea what that has to do with anything, but Rickie thought it was relevant. To something. Somehow. I guess. To be clear, I’m no fan of Sharpton myself; he’s a huckster, no doubt. But he is influential, without regard to whether or not he has any right to be, and he’s someone who needs to be dealt with, like it or not. So the president met with him — big fucking deal! The president meets with a lot of people. It doesn’t mean he does their bidding, nor does it mean he “cavorts” with them.

Now, one might ask why Rickie would insist that the U.S. doesn’t have separation of church and state, even after having been pounded for saying so years ago and having been revealed thereby as a moronic, childish buffoon? The answer lies in the psychopathological compulsion the Religious Right has toward “consistency.” The R.R. doesn’t take kindly to any kind of change in expression. They condemn it as “flip-flopping” and frequently turn on people who do it. It’s possible his chance to become the GOP presidential nominee in 2016 could be torpedoed instantly, should he ever say anything that contradicts his now-at-least-3-year-old stance against separation of church and state. So he’s forced to double down on it, rather than admit he was wrong.

P.S. I note the caller whose question triggered Santorum’s stupidity, is even more of an idiot than Rickie is. The Communist Manifesto, however, says nothing about “amnesty,” homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, or any of the other childish hang-ups cited. Like most people who reference that particular book in a negative way, the caller obviously has never actually read it.

Photo credit: Austin Cline, About.Com; Original Poster: National Archives.

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Baphomet.pngAlmost 4 years ago I blogged about Satanists performing their rites in Oklahoma City and about Christians there protesting. It seems they just couldn’t handle Satanists being in their midst. But the Satanists haven’t backed down; as the Christian Post reports, later this month they plan to have a black mass and Satanist exorcism there (WebCite cached article):

The Satanist group that will stage a controversial “black mass” at an Oklahoma City civic center has said that all 88 tickets for its Sept. 21 event are sold out. The co-founder of the group revealed that the ritual will go ahead despite strong Christian protests and will feature a satanic exorcism, but will be “toned down” to comply with state health laws.

“One of the dictates of the church is not only to educate the members but to educate the public, and to debunk the Hollywood-projected image of our beliefs,” Dakhma of Angra Mainyu’s Adam Daniels told ABC News [cached].

He added that the group will comply with state health laws and substitute vinegar for actions involving urine as part of the satanic ceremony.

Daniels said that the ceremony will also feature Dakhma of Angra Mainyu deacons and priest who will stomp, spit on and use explicit language on an unconsecrated host, a wafer presented as a form of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

Christians are upset about this and plan to protest it, because — you see — this is just too insulting for the poor little things to take:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Catholic Archbishop Paul Coakley, and over 80,000 people who have signed an online petition have all condemned the upcoming event.

Fallin called the black mass a “disgusting mockery of the Catholic faith,” saying that it should be “equally repellent to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

“It may be protected by the First Amendment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t condemn it in the strongest terms possible for the moral outrage which it is.

If we’re going to talk about “repellent” behavior that — supposedly — just can’t be tolerated, Governor & Archbishop, then by all means, let’s do so! I mean it. Let’s talk about all of the following “repellent” things said by your own co-religionists:

If we move away from the insensitivity, insults, and viciousness of Catholics and include other Christians, we have the following:

I could post hundreds more examples of similarly “repellent” words and behaviors by Christians, both Catholic and not. Why is it such an intolerable outrage when some Satanists poke fun at Christianity (and yes, that’s all they’re doing), given the horrible words and behaviors of Christians themselves — which other Christians never seem able or willing to correct?

Here’s a thought for Gov. Fallin, Abp. Coakley, and any other Oklahoman Christians who’re pissed off at these insolent, outsider Satanists daring come int their midst to lampoon their religion: Get your own fucking house in order before you go bellyaching about what other people are doing. Grow up, toughen up, and deal with your own, and only then will you have the moral standing to complain about what you find “repellent.” OK? It really is that simple.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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