Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

KENS-TV / 'Pray for Obama' sign stirs controversy over Biblical verseI blogged almost 3 years ago about Christians using a scriptural curse against President Obama. Their use of “imprecatory prayer” against the President died down a little, after that, but with the 2012 election heating up, it was bound to be used again. And it has been, this time in Victoria, TX, and as KENS-TV reports, the Secret Service is taking an interest in it (WebCite cached article):

The Secret Service is looking into a sign posted in Victoria, Texas.

The sign says “Pray for Obama”, but it’s the scripture quoted below those words that is raising eyebrows: Psalms 109:8.

Psalms 109:8 reads, “Let his days be few, and let another take his office.”

Milton Neitsch Jr., who has lived in Victoria since 1961, says he didn’t intend for people to pick up on the hateful wishes of death and pain surrounding the tiny verse.

I’m not sure how or why Neitsch didn’t think anyone would pick up on his hateful wishes. They’re right there, as plain as day, for anyone to see. Here’s the station’s video report:

As I did the last time this came up, I’ll provide the context of verse 109:8 so the reader can see how vicious this entire passage is:

Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
Let his children wander about and beg;
And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him,
Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children
Let his posterity be cut off;
In a following generation let their name be blotted out.
(Psalm 109:8-13)

Aren’t Christians wonderful? They’re just so loving and everything … no?

I close this by predicting that, in the end, the Secret Service will take no action. Unless they find that Neitsch was a direct, imminent threat to the President, they’ll chalk this up as just another disgruntled Christian hick bellyaching about a president he doesn’t happen to like, and leave it at that.

Photo credit: KENS-TV.

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God is a Republican & Conservative: If You Love God, You Must Be Conservative and Vote Republican, God's Own Party | Image © Austin Cline; Original Poster: Nazi PropagandaAccording to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, faith in a Creator is a requirement for all Americans. At least, that’s what he very clearly implied last night in his speech to the Republican National Convention (WebCite cached article):

Our national motto is “In God we Trust,” reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.

That might be your motto, Senator, but it’s not mine. Using the fact that your kind (i.e. militant theists) have named it the national motto, is certainly not enough to coerce me into following that instruction.

As for values that are important, I can think of many that are far more helpful in creating a productive and harmonious society than “faith in our Creator.” Among them are: Compassion, honesty, responsibility, charity, empathy, patience, courage, industriousness, perseverance, loyalty, generosity, and … well, need I go on? The list would be endless!

In the course of spewing his Christofascism, the Senator also factually lied about the founding of the country:

But America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights.

Uh, no. In truth, America was founded on the principle that “We the People” — via the Constitution that they, not God, enacted — grant all “rights” that anyone has. “God” has nothing to do with it, and plays absolutely no role in giving anyone “rights,” at least not in the United States. What’s more, the only government which has ever been instituted directly by the Abrahamic God — at least according to Abrahamic legend — was the ancient monarchy of Israel, whose first anointed king was Saul. As a monarchy, that state bore no resemblance to the United States, which is a representative republic. It’s inconceivable that YHWH could possibly have had any interest in creating a country such as we live in. And according to the gospels, Jesus Christ was clearly apolitical, uninterested in any kind of statecraft or polity.

The Senator’s lie grants him free admission into my “lying liars for Jesus” club. He’ll find himself in good company there.

I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate my challenge to Sen. Rubio — or any other militant religionist — that, if you think I’m required to believe what you wish me to believe, then you’re just going to have to make me believe it. Go ahead, I dare you. If it’s important for me as an American to believe in your deity, then you have no reason not to make an attempt. I invite you to try.

Photo credit: Austin Cline / About Atheism.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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Yez I wuz caught bean stooped. Nao leef me alone bout it! / Courtesy of LOL Builder, http://builder.cheezburger.com/builder/In various posts, I’ve tangentially mentioned the phenomenon of the non-apology apology. This is when someone who’s done something wrong, tries to take it back, but without really admitting wrongdoing, without really explaining what s/he did, and/or by cluttering the matter up with deflections. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri, about whom I blogged yesterday, thoughtfully provides us with a sterling example of what a “non-apology apology” is. Talking Points Memo reports what he had to say (WebCite cached article). I will parse this “apology” out and demonstrate how, point by point, Akin actually failed to apologize:

As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault.

The trouble with this sentence is, his comments had nothing whatever to do with “protecting” any “victims of sexual assault.” By talking about “legitimate rape” (as opposed to “illegitimate rape,” I guess) he was suggesting that some rapes are not actually “rapes.” I don’t see how that could “protect” any woman at all.

In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.

This is failure point two: Akin did not “misspeak.” Rather, he blathered on about something in detail, even mentioning that doctors had told him women’s reproductive systems shut down and prevent pregnancy during rape. That’s not misuse of a word or phrase. That’s a specific, purposeful invention … and it’s likely a fiction (since I doubt any doctor ever told him such a thing).

Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.

Failure point three: It’s all well and good that he can say rapists “are the lowest of the low in our society,” but when he gave away the fact that he thinks not all rapes are true “rapes,” what good is it for him to say this?

I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue.

This is perhaps the one honest statement Akin makes: Yes, indeed, abortion is emotionally-charged. It’s the emotionally-charged nature of the pro-life movement that Akin has latched onto and is trying to appeal to for votes. Emotion is indeed the main fuel of the pro-life movement.

But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.

Failure point four: This is a deflection. Here he diverts attention from his asinine comments, and toward his pro-life stance. Repeating that he’s pro-life … which by now everyone already knows, anyway … does nothing to convey the slightest contrition over the comments he’s supposedly trying to apologize for.

I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.

Failure point five: Akin is playing the “martyr” card. Poor me, he’s saying, there are people whose votes I can never get, because <sniff> they hate me for being pro-life <sniff> and I can’t get them to <sniff> change their minds about me. All I can say to that is — Boo fucking hoo, Rep. Akin.

But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren.

This is failure point six, and another deflection. Akin is saying, Stop whining about me, let’s bellyache about the economy instead. Unfortunately his original comments had nothing to do with the economy, therefore his apology cannot have anything to do with the economy.

We’ve had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs.

Failure point seven, and yet another deflection. Once again, Akin brings up something that has absolutely nothing to do with the comments he’s ostensibly apologizing for.

That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats’ failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead.

Failure point eight, and for the exact same reason.

Note what Rep. Akin did not include in his so-called “apology”: An explanation for how and why he thought women’s reproductive systems disable themselves during a rape. He specifically mentioned that doctors (plural!) had told him about it, but in his “apology” he doesn’t mention this at all. He doesn’t tell us which doctors told him this, nor does he say where else he might have gotten this idea from. It’s a significant component of the original remarks he claims to be apologizing for, yet he glosses them over as though he’d never said them.

Oh, and the icing on the cake of Akin’s putative “apology”? He put up a Web page on his site mentioning that he’s sorry (cached) … and right below it, a solicitation for campaign donations! How much more fucking mercenary could the man get!? He can’t even manage to apologize — if one can call it that (and as I’ve shown, one can’t) — without also putting his hand out for more money.

I close this by thanking Rep. Akin for offering this lesson in non-apology apologies. Public relations folks will no doubt look to this as an exemplar they can work from in the future.

Update: Politico reports Akin is doubling-down on his playing of the “martyr card” (cached). The “liberal media,” it seems, are out to get the poor little thing. Of course, he’s forgetting that a lot of his critics — including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his VP choice Paul Ryan — can hardly be called part of “the liberal media.” There there, little Toddie, everything will be OK. Quick, someone give the little crybaby a pacifier … !

Photo credit: Courtesy of LOL Builder.

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Jesus Facepalm: He gave up too so please stop this foolishness (Demotivators; defunct)For a number of years now the Religious Right has been casting about for ways to cloak their opposition to abortion behind a veneer of rationality and/or practicality. It’s very common, for example, for them to claim abortion must be outlawed because of its supposed adverse effect on women’s mental health. (As if the fact that an event can be stressful is a valid reason to outlaw it — lots of things are psychologically stressful, such as watching one’s child learn to drive for the first time, and I can’t see any reason to prohibit that.)

Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin from Missouri, attempted another such rationale, as reported by the New York Times, and the result was a colossal faceplant of the first order (WebCite cached article):

In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy. …

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

If you’re like me, you may have a hard time believing a Senate candidate actually spoke these words. But I assure you, he did. He said them during an interview on KTVI-TV, and you can read about it on their own Web site (cached).

First, there’s no such thing as a “‘legitimate’ rape.” It’s a contradiction in terms. All rapes are criminal acts. There is never anything “legitimate” about any kind of criminal act. There’s literally no way that any “rape” can ever have any “legitimacy.”

Second, I’ve never heard that, during the course of a rape, a woman’s reproductive system turns itself off. Of course, I’m no doctor, and I can’t really know that for sure. If Akin cares to disclose which doctors told him this, I’d love to review their work. But until he substantiates this claim, I have to assume it’s just Religious Rightist bullshit.

Now, I’m sure folks in the R.R. will nonetheless defend these indefensible comments. They’ll say he meant to talk about “‘true’ rape” and not “‘legitimate’ rape.” There are some folks who believe — and I assume Akin is one of them? — that some rapes are not “really” rapes (e.g. “date” or “acquaintance rape”). But even this intended meaning is problematic, because in the end, there is no difference: A rape is a rape is a rape — period. End of discussion!

As for the part about women’s reproductive systems resisting pregnancy while they’re being raped, I can’t think of any way that might be defended … but that doesn’t mean some vehement Rightist won’t come up with some asinine, irrational justification for it.

As far as I can see, any Rightists who are upset over Akin’s comments are not upset over their content, but over the fact that they will be used against him in the election and they’re risking not acquiring a Senate seat.

At any rate, this is another post I’m tagging “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” for obvious reasons.

Note: It turns out Akin’s outrageousness is, in fact, being actively defended by at least one influential Religious Rightist and his organization. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council apparently approves of the idea that some rapes are “legitimate” and that women’s reproductive systems prevent pregnancies when they’re raped (cached). I knew I could count on at least one of these mindless goons to defend the indefensible. Let’s see how many more do so over the next couple days.

Update: As the Friendly Atheist points out, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is also defending Akin … in particular, the medical part of his asinine remarks.

Photo credit: Demotivators blog (defunct).

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Thomas Jefferson MemorialI’ve already blogged about the militant Christofascist pseudohistorian David Barton … whom the Right continues to call a “historian,” even though he is absolutely no such thing. That’s to be expected; Rightists generally have only a very loose grasp of history in the first place, so they’re hardly able to tell the difference.

But Barton was drawn up short today — by his own publisher — because, as NPR reports, his most recent book contains demonstrable fabrications and lies (WebCite cached article):

Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday [cached]. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that “basic truths just were not there.” …

“Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,” historian Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. “The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right.”

The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.

Religious Rightists have had more than a little difficulty, over the past few years, with Jefferson. He’s one of the best-recognized Founding Fathers, but was also openly disdainful of religiosity and dogmatism. While they revere the Founding Fathers, Jefferson’s decided lack of piety is something the R.R. apparently can no longer stomach. Rightists in Texas, for example, have purposely skewed the public-school curriculum so has to downplay Jefferson and the Enlightenment as a movement. Barton’s book appears to be a reverse of that effort, intended to make Jefferson’s impiety and irreverence go away.

I expect Barton and his fans to portray him as a martyr to the faith and complain that Thomas Nelson caved in to “political correctness.” They will refuse to believe that Barton’s books are full of lies, and will instead convince themselves that everyone who tells them so, is the real liar. That Thomas Nelson is a Christian publisher, and that critics like Throckmorton are evangelicals themselves, will not matter to them one iota. They will still refuse to believe Barton has lied to them. Communal reinforcement is a powerful thing and it can lead to delusional thinking; Barton’s popularity is proof of that.

I should conclude this post by giving Thomas Nelson credit for this action; it surely has cost them a great deal. I also have to give props to Barton’s evangelical critics like Throckmorton; I’m sure their flocks will be none too happy they’ve sided with “the Enemy” against the great “historian” Barton.

Photo credit: chadh, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

P.S. You gotta love the irony of the title of Barton’s book. He obviously intended it to refer to “lies” being told about Jefferson by other folks … particularly those evil “secular humanists” … but in truth, the “lies” are Barton’s own, and they’re contained within the pages of the very book that pretends to debunk them. How contemptible!

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Police are seen outside a Century 16 movie theater where as many as 12 people were killed and dozens more injured in a shooting during a midnight showing of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' in Aurora, Colo., July 20, 2012. Author: Edecio Martinez. Credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski. Via CBS News.By now you’ve heard about the shooting last night/early this morning in Aurora CO. I knew some sanctimoniously-enraged Religious Rightist would find a way to blame it on irreligion, but I honestly didn’t think it would take only a few hours. But as CBS News reports, Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert did precisely that (WebCite cached article):

In a radio interview Friday morning, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas associated the Colorado mass shooting that’s left at least 12 people dead to “attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”…

Host Ernest Istook asked Gohmert, “What is your experience with the way that we have too many twisted minds in our society?”…

The congressman continued, “And what really gets me as a Christian is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place.”

There you have it. According to Gohmert, this shooting happened because “Judeo-Christian beliefs” have somehow been “attacked.” At the moment, no one really knows what drove the accused killer to do it … but Louie-boy is unaware of that. He — and he alone — in all the universe has managed to determine accused killer James Holmes’s motive! Oh, and he added this militant little quip:

Gohmert also wondered during the interview, “With all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”

Apparently Louie-boy thinks many more bullets flying in many more directions in the crowded setting of a theater complex packed to the gills with Dark Knight Rises premiere moviegoers, would have been a good idea. I honestly don’t know how that works … but apparently Gohmert does.

What a fucking moron this guy is. Louie-boy’s militant religiosity has robbed him of his brains. Not that it’s entirely surprising … the Religious Right long ago lost its collective mind, and has been wallowing in insanity and idiocy for years.

Update: Yesterday’s incident near the Empire State Building in New York City should serve as a warning to Gohmert and the many other Wild West-loving gun-freaks who think a shootout would have been a good idea: All nine of the people wounded there, were hit by police firing back at the gunman (cached). During the Aurora shooting, Holmes had body armor on, which means the number of bystanders endangered would have been that much higher. What a fucking moron Gohmert is.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, via CBS News.

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Crusaders at ConstantinopleNote: A minor update on the CT-5 primaries is below.

With primaries underway for both parties in Connecticut’s hotly contested 5th Congressional District, it almost goes without saying that the Republican candidates are falling all over themselves trying to present themselves as dutifully sanctimonious Rightists. They’ve been advertising themselves as “job creators” and as wanting to promote “freedom” (even though, if any of them are elected to Congress, they will never hire anyone, and will only reduce people’s freedom rather than enhance it). They’ve mostly steered clear of religion, but I knew it wouldn’t be long before their urge to express their piety and sanctity would overpower them. The Hartford Courant reports that the first of them to do this, is Mark Greenberg (WebCite cached article):

Republican congressional candidate Mark Greenberg questioned whether Islam was a peaceful religion Thursday and said he believed it was “a cult in many respects.”

His remarks were made in a radio interview on WNPR’s “Where We Live” program. …

When [host John] Dankosky asked Greenberg if people who don’t share those beliefs also change the country and help make it great, Greenberg said, “perhaps, to a certain extent” and went on to talk about aspects related to the religion that he found objectionable. For example, he said he doesn’t believe a mosque should be built near Ground Zero in New York City, and he questioned whether Islam was a religion of peace. …

“I think it’s more a blueprint for living one’s life — a cult in many respects,” he said of Islam. “It’s a religion, but it’s also a way of living.”

Although agreeing with Dankosky that Judaism and Christianity are also ways of living, Greenberg said there is a difference.

“Judaism and Christianity are very peaceful religions,” he said. “I think they are more peaceful than Islam.”

First, I need to begin by commenting that the word “cult” has more or less become useless. It’s a pejorative term, a label slapped on any other religion one happens to dislike. The word itself has long since lost any specific meaning. That Greenberg used it of Islam, just tells me he doesn’t like Islam — it doesn’t mean anything else.

Second, his claim that Islam is not a “religion of peace” but Judaism and Christianity are, is absurd on its face. All three religions have violent pasts and they have adherents willing to resort to violence in the names of their faiths. The scriptures revered by Judaism and Christianity are chock full of violence. Some of that violence was supposedly committed by God himself, and the rest was done by his human followers. Those revered texts tell of the many bloody wars Israel supposedly fought while it was a tribal confederation and then a kingdom, including massacres and genocides. Christians have marched to war in the name of their god Jesus and took part in atrocities of their own. As recently as the late 20th century, Catholics and Protestants in Ireland were killing each other to prove which church was more Christlike. Christians have even engaged in terror campaigns of their own. And modern Judaism isn’t free of the stain of violence either; they are one side of a decades-old conflict in the Middle East, and there are some violent extremists among Jews, too.

As far as I’m concerned, any religion that carries an entitlement to impose itself on other human beings and on reality, can lead to violence in some of its adherents. That’s as true of Islam as it is of Christianity, Judaism, and a whole host of others.

I’m dreading this primary season here in the Nutmeg State. I’m sure things are going to get even weirder, very soon (the primaries are less than a month away).

Update: Things have, indeed, ramped up a bit in the twin primaries for CT’s 5th District, as I predicted they would. Dankosky’s interview with Greenberg was part of a series of planned interviews with all of the CT-5 candidates from both parties. It turns out, as the Torrington Register-Citizen reports (cached), none of the rest of them did any better than Greenberg — and one declined the interview out of fear of being asked a question she’s successfully avoided answering. The 5th District is doomed, folks … not one of these slippery creatures deserves a place in Congress, however, one of them is guaranteed to end up there. Ouch.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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