Posts Tagged “obama administration”

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), Crusades Celestial Phenomena on Wikimedia CommonsNeocrusading Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas is one really angry fellow. That in itself is not news. He’s been outraged for years that there are actually non-Christians in his precious “Christian Nation” and he’s incensed that they dare actually stay in this country. (How rude of them!). He recently used time on the floor of the House, as Mediaite reports, to launch into an accusation that the Obama administration has conspired with Muslims to destroy his “Christian Nation” (WebCite cached article):

On the House floor on Friday, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert accused various federal agencies of aiding Islamic terrorists organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America in their attempts to enact Sharia Law.

“We need to address the political correctness that is blinding our agencies and blinding our military of its ability to see who the enemy is, because it’s getting people killed,” Gohmert said. “When you refuse to acknowledge that the Afghans you’re training, may be willing to turn their guns you’re training them on and kill you … until you recognize that and who our enemy is, and that our enemy can be among us, and that our enemy can be in uniforms that we’re supposed to be friendly with, then more Americans are going to be killed needlessly.”

Gohmert accused the Obama administration of changing policy so that the FBI, State Department, and others had to “partner with” CAIR and ISNA, rather than treat mosques as terrorist recruitment centers.

He actually thinks CAIR and ISNA together will repeal the Constitution:

“Any time CAIR says, ‘This offends us,’ the FBI says, ‘Oh, gee, we’d better change it,’” Gohmert claimed. “When you’ve had the Fifth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals confirm that, yes, the evidence shows that CAIR, Islamic Society of North America—those are front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood. They want Sharia law to be the law of the land, not our Constitution. And that is what we did not take an oath to allow to happen.”

Note that Louie-boy isn’t the first militant Christianist to posit that the Muslim Brotherhood is being set up to take over the country and establish shari’a law here; Franklin Graham has been saying this for a few years now, as have his friends in the American Family Association.

The idea that CAIR and are “fronts” for the Muslim Brotherhood is an old one, but so far has not held up to scrutiny. It’s true that a board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter was involved with the Holy Land Foundation, which did, in turn, have connections with Hamas. But that was shut down by 2008 — before Obama was elected. And the board member in question was convicted in 2009 — under the Obama administration — of having funneled money to Hamas via his connection with the HLF.

So little crybaby Louie missed his mark. Not only did he point to the wrong Islamist bogeyman group (the Muslim Brotherhood vs. Hamas), he accused the administration that got a CAIR chapter board member sentenced to 65 years in prison of conspiring with them. I suppose that makes sense to Louie-boy, but to the rest of us, it doesn’t.

The Religious Right has been complaining for years about the existence CAIR and ISNA. They’d rather these groups disbanded and their members drifted off into silence. Well, too bad for them … this is a free country, where we have these pesky little things known as “freedom of speech” and “freedom of association.” CAIR and ISNA are allowed to get together and to say what they want to say and advocate on behalf of their membership, all they want — so long as they don’t break the law in the process (as one of them found out). And they get to do it in the same way that militant Christianist outfits like Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, Operation Rescue, the American Family Association, etc. can. Gohmert is being hypocritical when he whines and cries about CAIR and ISNA doing precisely what all of those groups — with which he’s allied — do. Curiously, though, his own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid him ever to be hypocritical.

As far as I’m concerned, as an objective observer, CAIR, ISNA, the AFA, FotF, etc. are all advocates for fervent religionism. At best, they’re two sides of the same coin. At worst, they’re all playing the same game, trying to promote unreasoning religionism. One form of religiofascist irrationality is no better than any other.

In any event, Gohmert’s absurd conspiratorial tirade places Louie-boy in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

One last thing about Louie-baby’s tirade: He says neither the Obama administration nor the Pentagon are concerned about “green on blue” attacks. But that’s not true at all. Of course they’re concerned about this vile phenomenon, and it’s slanderous for him to suggest otherwise. Since last year they’ve been taking steps to deal with it (cached). So that makes Gohmert a liar on yet another count. Well done, Louie. You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: IowaPolitics.Com, via Flickr.

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a flickr christmas cardIt’s that time of year again, folks. The time when the Religious Right gets its knickers twisted into knots over their delusion that Christmas either has been, or soon will be, outlawed in the U.S. This “war on Christmas” trope is usually good for about a dozen blog posts each year, and likely will continue to be … because the R.R. is so predictably outraged over this manufactured controversy.

The Aledo (IL) Times Record reports that Congressman Joe Walsh has proffered what he calls the “Save Christmas Act” in an effort to “defend” his supposedly-beleaguered holiday (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) introduced the ‘Save Christmas Act’ to permanently end the Obama Administration’s new tax on Christmas trees. This tax was established to fund yet another unnecessary government board, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is clearly the most ridiculous in a long list of new taxes and regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

Walsh stated: “The sheer audacity of a tax on Christmas trees is ridiculous. Are we going to start taxing Halloween candy and pumpkins or turkey and apple pie? Are we going to tax the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too? Are we going to tax hotdogs and hamburgers and American flags for the Fourth of July?

There are actually several problems with this. Yes, the proposal to levy a 15¢ fee per tree sold on sellers of live Christmas trees was a genuine one. And it was announced by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recently. However, as Snopes makes clear (cached), it is not a “tax.” Rather, it’s a cooperative program — first requested by the Christmas-tree-growing industry, I might add! — intended to promote the sale of live Christmas trees.

Of course, these little facts didn’t get in the way of the Right-wing flaring up with sanctimonious outrage. In light of this shitstorm, the White House quickly put the kibosh on this idea … even though those who raged and railed against it were angry for all the wrong reasons. If the Right-wing fury over this supposed “Christmas tree tax” was predictable, so too was the Obama administration’s eagerness to cave into it.

But beyond the problem of the Right’s outrage over this being counter-factual, is that even the scenario they were telling themselves was in play — i.e. that Obama and his evil cohorts were taxing Christmas trees in order to hinder the celebration of Christmas by Christians around the country — makes absolutely no sense! A 15¢ tax is nowhere near enough to put a dent into sales of Christmas trees, which normally cost upwards of $20; and it wouldn’t have been limited just to real trees, artificial ones would have been “taxed” too.

Time to get over yourselves, Christians, and grow the fuck up. Not everything is intended to abolish your religion and/or its trappings. Really. Moreover, if you guys are really fans of the private sector and want to help industry, you’d have supported this 15¢-per-tree fee, because it was the Christmas tree industry itself that originally came up with it!

P.S. There’s almost nothing truly or genuinely “Christian” about Christmas trees, as I explain in my page on the myths about Christmas that the R.R. clings to so irrationally.

Photo credit: julian.

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Muslim Brotherhood EmblemAccording to Franklin Graham, son of the world-famous preacher Billy Graham, the Obama administration is in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood and has saturated the US government with its vile Islam-loving and Christian-hating agents. We know this is true, because … well, he says so, and because his media outlet of choice, Newsmax, is reporting it (WebCite cached article):

The Muslim Brotherhood, with the complicity of the Obama administration, has infiltrated the U.S. government at the highest levels and is influencing American policy that leaves the world’s Christians in grave danger, warns internationally known evangelist Franklin Graham.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is very strong and active here in our country,” Graham tells Newsmax. “We have these people advising our military and State Department. We’ve brought in Muslims to tell us how to make policy toward Muslim countries.

Note that this isn’t really a new allegation; the American Family Association made a similar claim about a year ago — about the US military — after the Pentagon disinvited the younger Graham from its National Day of Prayer event.

Graham’s “evidence” for this, is the following:

A new report from the Roman Catholic aid agency Aid to the Church in Need supports Graham’s contention that the persecution of Christians world­wide has worsened exponentially in the past few years.

According to the report, Christians face increased suffering in 22 countries around the world, with Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Nigeria being among the worst countries to be a Christian in today.

Even if this report were true, it still does not prove that Barack Obama has allowed a cabal of Muslim Brotherhood adherents to infiltrate the US government and ceded control to them. What I can say is that Christians are guilty of no small amount of persecution, themselves, so Graham hardly has the “moral high ground” to stand on.

Generally speaking, I find paranoid conspiracy theories like this one amusing … if only because so many people buy into them, in spite of such little evidence that they’re true. In some cases the lack of evidence is, perversely, viewed as being evidence itself; i.e. “If this conspiracy existed, of course, they’d make sure no evidence of it was available, so a lack of evidence is precisely what we’d expect!” The illogic of this just shows how abysmally ignorant people are. It’s as though they walked around with neon signs that say “Idiot”!

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum at Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Hochzeitstorte mit Herzen und Rosen vor Kuchenbuffet in Deutschland / Claus AbleiterIn a development which arguably has been a long time coming, the Obama administration has finally decided it will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996. The New York Times reports on this announcement (WebCite cached article):

President Obama, in a striking legal and political shift, has determined that the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages — is unconstitutional, and has directed the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court, the administration said Wednesday.

The announcement was not made in person, and not by the president, as the Times explains:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the decision in a letter to members of Congress. In it, he said the administration was taking the extraordinary step of refusing to defend the law, despite having done so during Mr. Obama’s first two years in the White House.

“The president and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation” should be subjected to a strict legal test intended to block unfair discrimination, Mr. Holder wrote. As a result, he said, a crucial provision of the Defense of Marriage Act “is unconstitutional.”

The Religious Right, of course, is not happy about this:

“It is a transparent attempt to shirk the department’s duty to defend the laws passed by Congress,” Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “This is the real politicization of the Justice Department — when the personal views of the president override the government’s duty to defend the law of the land.”

I’m not sure any Republican has any kind of moral standing to complain about the “politicization of the Justice Department,” given what the Bush Jr administration had done with it. Fucking hypocrites.

At any rate, this bodes well for my home state of Connecticut, which has permitted gay marriage since the Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health decision was handed down by the state Supreme Court in late 2008.

All I can say is, good riddance to this law. The idea that marriage is something that needs to be “defended” is logically absurd. Marriage is something that people willingly enter into. Their ability to do so need not be “defended,” since they can do so whenever they wish. The idea that allowing gay marriage somehow prevents heterosexual couples from marrying, is likewise absurd. It does no such thing!

Lastly, the Religious Right’s assertion that, according to Judeo-Christian principles, marriage can ONLY be between one man and one woman, is factually incorrect, as I’ve blogged previously. There have been several different kinds of marriage during the history of the Abrahamic faiths; there is no “one” definition of it.

It’s time for the Right — which, especially during the Obama administration, has argued that government meddles too frequently in people’s lives — to put its money where its mouth is, and stop getting in the way of gay couples marrying, if they wish to. Freedom is a good thing; we should have more of it, not less.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Claus Ableiter.

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This is one of those stories I have not seen mentioned in any major, independent mass-media outlets, and it’s not for lack of searching (using tools such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and AOL News, and other online journalism searches). The one exception to this has been an op-ed piece by Jonathan Turley, which appeared in USA Today. Otherwise, this news has only appeared in Right-wing oulets such as the Weekly Standard. I’m not sure why this has gone unreported, but it has.

At any rate, Turley writes in the USA Today On Religion blog:

Perhaps in an effort to rehabilitate the United States’ image in the Muslim world, the Obama administration has joined a U.N. effort to restrict religious speech. …

Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.

While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians.

In the process, the Obama administration has found an unlikely ally … the repressive Egyptian regime:

In the resolution, the administration aligned itself with Egypt, which has long been criticized for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam. For example, Egypt recently banned a journal that published respected poet Helmi Salem merely because one of his poems compared God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows. The Egyptian ambassador to the U.N., Hisham Badr, wasted no time in heralding the new consensus with the U.S. that “freedom of expression has been sometimes misused” and showing that the “true nature of this right” must yield government limitations.

Turley goes on to cite a litany of recent cases of “blasphemous” speech that has been repressed in many otherwise-enlightened places, including Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK. I offered the following comment appended to this USA Today blog entry:

“The only purpose that laws against blasphemy serve, is to propagate immaturity on the part of believers. These laws give them the illusion that their beliefs are impervious to criticism … which is simply not rational. Rather than infantilizing believers by shielding religions from critique, we should instead send the message that believers ought to grow up, accept that there are people in the world who do not believe as they do, and steel them for that reality.

“If the Islamic world … or any other … is not mature enough to withstand criticism, the solution is not to abolish the criticism, but instead, for it to grow up. This will, no doubt, be a challenge, but it is one that is for the best. Continuing to infantilize Muslims, or any other kind of believer, serves no useful purpose. Encouraging them to grow up, will.

“Personal note: As a non-believer, I consider ALL religions and viewpoints about religion to be ‘fair game’ for critique. This includes even secular notions such as atheism and agnosticism, not to mention other recent metaphysical ideas such as New Age, neopaganism, and so on. All alike should be open to critique. We can ill afford to give the upper hand to those who aren’t mature enough to endure critique.”

I find it unconscionable that the Obama administration would actively work to continue infantilizing the Muslim world — along with all other religionists — by condoning this kind of policy. I had thought he would be a more enlightened president than this … but I guess I was wrong.

Finally, I honestly have to wonder why so many mass media outlets ignored this story. That also is unconscionable.

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It’s possible that the forces of Antivax have two more advocates in the mass media … Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. I say “possible” because at the moment the only source I can find for this, is an outfit called Media Matters, which is ideologically Leftist and cannot always be trusted. Media Matters reports they’re making some bizarre claims (the following is just a light sampling):

Beck: Vaccine may turn out to be “deadly.” …

Beck: “You don’t know if this is gonna cause neurological damage like it did in the 1970s.” …

Limbaugh: “You’ll be healthier” if you don’t listen to the government. …

Beck suggests government will say “everybody” has to take the flu shot, may “line up” people to get mandatory flu shot.

I’m not sure — despite Beck’s allusion to “neurological damage” — that their objection is even the least bit scientific. They just don’t think people should get the H1N1 vaccine, because the Obama administration thinks people should. It’s just juvenile “my enemy says I should so I won’t!” thinking. So I’m not sure I can put them into the same category as people like Jenny McCarthy, whose objection is to the thimerosol (which is no longer in most vaccines). If John McCain had won the election and his administration were now promoting the H1N1 vaccine, Beck and Limbaugh would no doubt be among the first to line up for a jab.

Just goes to show the lengths of immaturity that ideologues will stoop to, in order to rationalize their views.

Hat tip: Bad Astronomy blog.

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