Posts Tagged “white house”

Secret of my success: I'm going to succeed because I'm crazy enough to think I can …. / Motifake.ComI’ve lived some 5 decades, but have yet to see anything quite like the clusterfuck that is Washington, DC right now. The White House is desperately wrenching itself all over the place in an effort both to back away from, and simultaneously justify, the Groper-in-Chief’s claim that his predecessor had ordered him wiretapped prior to the election.

Yesterday, the GiC’s press secretary went off on reporters at his daily press briefing, still defending his boss’s indefensible — and deceptive — claim that Trump Tower had been wiretapped (cached). In the course of this exercise in derangement, he cited a Fox News pundit’s claim that the previous president used GHCQ, the UK’s equivalent of the NSA, to bug Trump. As one would expect, this (naturally) incensed the Brits, who as one would expect, denied any such thing happened. As the (UK) Telegraph reports, White House functionaries had to apologize for this (cached):

Intelligence sources told The Telegraph that both Mr Spicer and General McMaster, the US National Security Adviser, have apologised over the claims. “The apology came direct from them,” a source said.

General McMaster contacted Sir Mark Lyall Grant, the Prime Minister’s National Security adviser, to apologise for the comments. Mr Spicer conveyed his apology through Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s US ambassador.

Normally that would have been the end of the matter. At least, during previous administrations, it would have. But not this one! Oh no. Instead of being tamped down, as CNN explains, the insanity of this minor debacle was actually amplified, instead (cached):

White House press secretary Sean Spicer flatly denied Friday that the White House apologized to the British government after citing an uncorroborated Fox News report to allege that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

Far from conceding he’d done anything wrong by reading a false report during his press briefing, Spicer actually defended what he’d done:

“I don’t think we regret anything,” Spicer told reporters at a gaggle Friday afternoon. Asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta if there was an apology by the administration to the British government over the matter, Spicer replied, “No, we were just passing on news reports.”

Spicer thinks that he can stand behind the White House podium and read unsupported conjectures by former judge Andrew Napolitano that the previous US president colluded with another country’s intelligence service in order to break the law and bug his opposing party’s presidential nominee, and not be called to account for having done so. Yes, Napolitano’s spew about GCHQ is, by admission of his employer, unsupported conjecture (cached).

There is, of course, no evidence — not a whiff of a hint of a speck of it! — that Obama ordered the Groper-in-Chief’s campaign offices in Trump Tower tapped, which is what the GiC has said occurred. Yesterday, Spicer’s meltdown consisted of him trying to make that claim appear true, using conservative blogs and opinion pieces that don’t actually have anything to do with the specifics of that claim. At best, it appears the FBI had sought FISA warrants … and after an initial rejection, finally got one … to monitor two Russian banks. That was all. It wasn’t (so far as we know) a “wiretap,” but an electronic-records search. Even if this search turned up information about the Apricot Wonder’s minions (which, let’s face it, is quite possible, given their dealings with Russia), this does not in any way support the idea that President Obama had personally ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower. Yet, in the view of the Groper and his minion Spicer, that settles it entirely, and no disagreement is permitted.

Look, let’s cut away all the rest of the bullshit here and lay out the truth of this matter: The Groper-in-Chief and his minions cannot, and will never, admit error or fault. They can’t do it, even in instances where they might wish to. It’s not in their nature. They’re incapable of it.

Normally, such irrational intransigence is psychopathological in nature. In other words, people have to be crazy to go to such lengths. And the Apricot Wonder wouldn’t be the first person to operate that way. Many celebrities, politicians, etc. all proceed in that way. There’s often a rational reason for it, however: Not alienating one’s voters and/or fanbase. You see, public figures accumulate followers who come to identify with them. For the public figure to admit fault or error might offend those followers, because those followers might question why they looked up to the person in the first place and (ironically) become upset with that figure.

It’s possible the Groper-in-Chief thinks he and his people can get by with their petulant defiance on this matter. He and they have done it before. He routinely says false things and never really is meaningfully challenged either to support what he says or concede he was wrong. It just never happens. He gets away with it because he disparages anything contrary as “fake news” and his followers just soak it up and absorb it. They often perpetuate the falsehood for him, even if he drops the matter, himself.

In this case, though, the Apricot Wonder and his staff are risking an international incident. Accusing one of their intelligence agencies of helping his predecessor break the law is not something the UK is likely to sit still for. And tossing it away as “well, I was just reading someone else’s report” isn’t going to cut it. Standing before the national media and using that statement as evidence of a claim, is not simply reading someone else’s material. No, rather, it means one believes that material; it’s an implied assertion the report is true! Not that I think the UK would go to war over something like this, but taking things as far as they have, suggests the Groper and his people are psychopathological liars rather than just unwilling to offend the electorate that put them into the White House.

Photo credit: Motifake.

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White House and the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2009The non-existent “war on Christmas” has been raging (solely in the vacuous minds of militant Christianists) for nearly 15 years now. This ridiculous trope is a complete fiction, as I’ve blogged so many times now, cooked up solely in order to stoke the fires of sanctimonious Christofascist outrage over the putative destruction of their religion.

That there is no effort to abolish Christmas, or to ban Christmas trees or outlaw the saying of “Merry Christmas,” doesn’t matter to these folk. They believe it’s happening anyway, because the psychopathology of their religion encourages them to think they’re “under attack”. This means they like feeling persecuted for their Jesus, and have no qualms about inventing persecution, even if there’s none going on.

Earlier this year, GOP presidential nominee Donald “it’s my own orange hair!” Trump declared himself a Christmas warrior. His son Eric, in an interview with televangelist James Robison, recently doubled down on that. This interview is in two parts (WebCite cached versions here and here), but it’s the second which contains the relevant tidbit:

[Eric’s father, little Donnie] opens up the paper each morning and sees our nation’s leaders giving a hundred billion dollars to Iran, or he opens the paper and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the pledge of allegiance, or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck. Or, he sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed “Holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree.” I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.

So there you have it … among the reasons little Donnie ran for president was because “the [Christmas] tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’.” Thus, Eric hoped to endear the would-be Dear Leader to Religious Rightists who love their whole “war on Christmas” bullshit.

There’s just this one, teeny little problem with that: It never happened! The national Christmas tree is still called “the National Christmas Tree.” It even has its own Web page (cached), which shows its official name as such:

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Cropped screen shot of National Christmas Tree Web page at National Park Service (URL: https://www.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/national-christmas-tree.htm)

Snopes has a page on this particular lie, which dates back to 2009. I don’t doubt that little Donnie’s campaign will not issue any correction of Eric’s claim, even if confronted with unassailable evidence (such as the National Christmas Tree’s official Web page, above) that it’s not true. They’ll probably just stammer about “crooked Hillary,” and — perhaps — mention the “holiday tree” in Rhode Island (which wouldn’t make Eric right, since he specifically complained that the tree on “the White House lawn” had been renamed a “holiday tree”). That will be about it.

Trumpie’s campaign being caught lying is nothing new. The Trumpster has raised lying to an art form since starting up his campaign of endless fury last summer. He and his staffers lie far more often than other presidential candidates … by a very wide margin. And to date, neither he nor they have ever taken anything back. That policy — of ignoring reality in favor of whatever bullshit they spew — will surely continue, even past this election.

Photo credits: Top, Wikimedia Commons; middle, PsiCop screen grab from NPS.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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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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Plan9SaucerShadowIn a move that’s sure to enrage, rather than calm, paranoid extraterrestrial conspiracy-mongers, Universe Today reports that the White House has denied that our planet has been visited by E.T.s (WebCite cached article):

The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the WhiteHouse.gov website [cached]. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

These petitions are predicated on the usual kind of logic that E.T.ers love to employ: Subjective, anecdotal evidence, not to mention the fallacy of argumentum ad populum:

“Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence,” the second petition states. “Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth.”

Unfortunately for these folks, neither personal testimonies nor public-opinion polls constitute objective, verifiable evidence of anything other than that people are willing to believe in crazy notions. That people think we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials, doesn’t mean we actually have been.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Di Tzitung's doctored photo of the White House situation room (Shmarya Rosenberg / Failed Messiah)It’s not just Muslims who think poorly of women and believe they should be neither heard nor seen. Some Jewish sects have a problem looking at women, too. CNN’s belief blog reports on an example of this phenomenon, as noticed by a blogger (WebCite cached article):

Faith has outweighed fact at Di Tzeitung, a Hasidic newspaper based in Brooklyn, New York.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication ran a doctored copy of the iconic “Situation Room Photo” last Friday — you know, the one taken of President Barack Obama and his national security team during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

Scrubbed from the picture: the two women in the room.

It’s as if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with her hand clasped over her mouth, and Audrey Tomason, director of counterterrorism, weren’t there and weren’t part of history.

The blogger in question is Shmarya Rosenberg of Failed Messiah; here’s his article on the matter (cached). Di Tzeitung issued a classic non-apology apology, conceding they shouldn’t have done what they did with that particular photo, but defiantly trumpeting how upstanding and righteous they are:

But in a written statement issued Monday afternoon by Di Tzeitung, the newspaper said that its decision to leave women out of photos is religiously mandated and that the right to do so is protected by the U.S. Constitution. …

“Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging women, which is certainly never our intention,” it continued. “We apologize if this was seen as offensive.”

While they may not “intend” to disparage women, they are doing so, by saying that all photos of women are immodest, while photos of men are not. Sorry, but this cannot logically be seen as anything other than disparaging of women, merely because they are women.

Note to Hasidic Jews, and Wahhabist Muslims, and any other fierce religionists who hate the idea that women exist: Grow up and get over it! There are women in the world — even if you prefer never to hear from or even see them — and they’re just as real — and as human — as you are. You don’t have to like this reality, but you do have to accept it. The Constitution may grant you the legal permission to pull this kind of shit under the aegis of “religious freedom,” but that doesn’t make these stunts anything other than juvenile. Having the ability to do something does not automatically make that action mature or rational.

I wonder how Di Tzeitung, or any other paper run by ultra-orthodox Jews, dealt with the administration of Golda Meir, while she was prime minister of Israel? I can only assume they refused to allow her to be pictured.

Photo credit: Failed Messiah.

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Warning Signs of Fascism (Laurence W. Bries)A contentious lame-duck session of Congress is underway … but its Religious Right members appear not to have anything to do. So they got together and whined sanctimoniously that President Obama isn’t being religious enough for their taste. ABC News reports on their fit of enraged hyperpiety (WebCite cached article):

President Obama doesn’t mention God frequently enough in his speeches, a group of religious House Republicans said in an open letter to the president, chastising him for skipping over mention of the “Creator,” especially in a recent overseas address.

Forty-two members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus complained in a letter sent to the White House Monday that in a speech delivered last month in Indonesia, the president substituted the U.S.’s religious-themed national motto for a more secular alternative.

This caucus of religionists spews the old lie that only Jesus gives Americans their freedoms (cached):

The prayer caucus members say that by failing to mention God, the president is “removing one of the cornerstones of our secure freedom.”

The truth is that God had absolutely nothing to do with making the US into a free country. Ironically, the US would cease to be a free country, if these angry Christofascists get their way … it would instead become an Old Testament-style Christian theocracy.

In any event, these people are claiming that, essentially, it’s every American’s duty — from the President on down — to be a Christian. I dare Michele Bachmann and the rest of the members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus to apply their awesome Congressional power, and force this cynical, godless agnostic heathen to become the dour Christianist they want me to become. Come on. Give it your best shot! You have nothing to lose by trying, so why would you not do so?

Hat tip: Apathetic Agnostic Church.

Photo credit: anarchosyn.

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Hypocrites Are Us (aka Hypocrites R Us)Yet another example of the pot calling the kettle black, can be seen in the Religious Right’s yammering and whining about how the current administration uses its faith-based office. CNN reports on their whining, and on the White House’s reaction (WebCite cached article):

The White House pushed back Friday against allegations that President Barack Obama’s faith office is abusing its power for political gain. …

The White House response came after former Bush aides publicly criticized the conference call, saying it was an example of Obama abusing the office to win political support from religious leaders.

Yeah. As though no Religious Right president — such as George W. Bush was — would ever have done anything of this sort!

“According to the White House website, the faith-based office exists ‘to more effectively serve Americans in need,'” Jim Towey, who directed Bush’s faith office, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month. “I guess that now means Americans in need of Democratic talking points on health care.”

“Do we really want taxpayer-funded bureaucrats mobilizing ministers to go out to all the neighborhoods and spread the good news of universal coverage?” he continued. …

This week, another Bush official – former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson – spoke out against the office under Obama.

“I was involved in the faith-based office at the Bush administration and I think (Obama) has abused that office in political ways,” Gerson told the Christian Broadcasting Network, “doing outreach on healthcare and other federal initiatives instead of focusing on what religious-based charities can do for the poor.”

Towey and Gerson are fucking hypocrites, since they know damned well that the administration they worked for did pretty much the same thing … using churches and clergy to move social issues. Allow me to point out — as I have a million times already, but find I must repeat anyway, since Christians seem not to want to know it — that the founder of Christianity specifically, clearly, unambiguously and explicitly ordered his followers never to be hypocritical … ever, under any conditions. Hypocrisy is forbidden to all Christians. Period.

Yet, they don’t seem to be able to stop being hypocritical. And … in spite of their unwillingness or refusal to live as their own Jesus told them to live … they claim the right to tell everyone else how they should live. That only compounds their hypocrisy.

At any rate, the criticism here merely underscores the inherent problem with presidential administrations using “faith-based” offices to mobilize churches: It’s wrong. Just plain wrong. Let churches be churches, and let the White House be the White House. It’s better for religion, and it’s better for the country, if we do that.

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