Archive for the “U.S. Politics” Category

Politics in the United States

????????The election of our Groper-in-Chief has opened the floodgates to even more fruits and loons running for office. I mean, more than just the occasional wingnut gadlfy like Lyndon LaRouche. I mean, they’ve started emerging in droves to run for all sorts of offices around the country. For example, The Hill reports a Congressional candidate in Florida who claims she’s an alien abductee (Archive.Is cached article):

A candidate for a Florida congressional seat claims she was visited by aliens and has communicated with them several times throughout her life.

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera said in a 2009 television appearance that she went up into the spaceship when she was 7 years old, according to McClatchy [cached].

“I went in. There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship — not like airplanes,” Rodriguez Aguilera said in the interview, a video of which was posted to YouTube and first reported on by McClatchy.

She said she was visited by three large, blonde beings at the time. One was male and two were female.

The Hill goes on to give Rodriguez Aguilera’s justification for this outlandish claim: Past presidents have claimed to see UFOs, and scientists say it’s likely there’s life on other planets. I don’t dispute that presidents may have seen flying objects they couldn’t identify, nor do I dispute that life may well have developed elsewhere in our galaxy, or beyond. But even if they’re true, they don’t constitute evidence that extraterrestrials have ever visited humanity at all, let alone that Rodriguez Aguilera met any of them.

In reality, no one has ever been shown — based on compelling, objective, verifiable evidence — to have been abducted by ETs. It simply hasn’t happened.

Yes, I know about what is, perhaps, the original alien-abduction story: That of Betty & Barney Hill, which supposedly took place in 1961, and was famously recorded in The Interrupted Journey by John Fuller. While their story seemed compelling, there are a lot of problems with it, and isn’t a very credible story. Many of the alien-abduction accounts which have been reported since the Hills’ “encounter” have reflected their story … which in turn tends to limit their credibility.

That’s not to say that “nothing” happened to these people. Most of them experienced something … the question is, what could it have been, if not a genuine ET visitation? Among the more likely explanations is the common phenomenon of sleep paralysis.

In any event, given the sorts of people who’ve been elected over the past year or so — including a Congressional candidate who physically attacked a reporter, yet won anyway — it’s by no means certain this particular wing-but can’t get into Congress. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Lucifer, the fallen angel / By Gustave Doré (for Paradise Lost) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsDespite their religiosity — or perhaps, because of it! — American Christianists oppose religious freedom. Oh sure, they stomp around trumpeting how great religious freedom is, and even whine about how they don’t have any (although that’s a fucking lie). The truth is, they have all the religious freedom they want … and the religious freedom they most want, is the “freedom” to impose their religion on everyone and to harass those who insolently defy their dour metaphysics.

Toward that end, they’ve proclaimed limits on others’ religious freedoms. For instance, many Neocrusaders insist Muslims don’t have any religious freedom, on the grounds that Islam isn’t really a religion, it’s a political philosophy instead. That political philosophies, in addition to religions, are also protected by the First Amendment, is something they appear not to understand. They also say this as though their own religion isn’t, itself, political movement, even though it most certainly is.

No, the mantra they love to spew is that the US was founded by Christians, therefore, only Christians have “religious freedom” — even though, quite obviously, the First Amendment doesn’t say a word about Christianity or any other religion specifically.

The latest Christofascist to reel off this lie, as Right Wing Watch reports, is Rick Wiles (Archive.Is cached article):

End Times radio host Rick Wiles appeared on a program hosted by Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com over the weekend, where Wiles declared that people have no right to worship Satan in America and warned that doing so will bring destruction on this nation.

Wiles said that our society “has been sterilized of God” and “Satan is now coming in to fill the vacuum” and is outraged by reports [cached] that city officials in Boca Raton, Florida, are allowing a satanic display to be erected in a city park during the holiday season.…

“What is happening to this country?” Wiles asked. “We’ve lost our mind. And the city council and the mayor say, ‘Well, these satanists have their rights too.’ No, they don’t. They don’t have any rights. You don’t have the right to worship Lucifer. I’m sorry, but this country was founded by Christians, you don’t have the right to worship Lucifer in this country. You’re going to bring damnation and judgment on the nation.”

Note, Wiles’s complaint is pretty much the same as had been hurled a couple years ago by a bunch of militant Christianists in Texas protesting a “Satanist church” there. What none of them understands are two things: First, Satanists have the same “religious freedom” rights as anyone else; and second, they don’t actually worship Satan … they’re just protesting militant Christofascism with an ironic counter-argument of their own. In other words, these Christofascists just aren’t getting the message. It went right over their sniveling, infantile heads.

Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll end this post with a little dig at all the Christofascists out there: Hail Satan!

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

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U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) speaking at the 2015 Reagan Dinner for the Dallas County Republican PartyThe number of sanctimonious Religious Rightists using disasters like hurricanes to promote their dour messages — and framing them as messages from the Almighty — continues to grow. The latest example isn’t exactly the sort of disaster theology I’ve often blogged about, but as the (UK) Independent explains, it’s very, very close to that (Archive.Is cached article):

A Republican congressman has suggested that flooding in certain areas – exacerbated by two massive storms that recently hit the US – is God telling homeowners to move.

“We have these repetitive loss properties,” Representative Jeb Hensarling said. “For example, we have one property outside of Baton Rouge [Louisiana] that has a modest home worth about $60,000 that’s flooded over 40 times. The taxpayers have paid almost half a million dollars for it.”

He added: “At some point, God is telling you to move.”

While Hensarling is from Texas, which was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, he represents its 5th district, which includes a snippet of Dallas and a chunk of the area to its east and southeast. I’m not sure it had many Harvey-related problems. So he’s spewing standard Right-wing “all-government-spending-is-horrific-and-can’t-be-tolerated” rhetoric. Later, though, Hensarling (through a spokesman) tried to swerve out from under the foolishness of what he’d said:

A spokesperson for the House Financial Services Committee, of which Mr Hensarling is a member, told The Independent that the Congressman was not talking about hurricane victims – although he mentioned victims of Texas floods several times.

“The interview was about the committee’s efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program,” spokesman Jeff Emerson said. “…He’s discussing the need to reform the NFIP. He was not discussing disaster assistance.”…

Mr Hensarling’s proposed solution is to privatise flood insurance markets, and even buy out homes in flood-prone areas. Offering federal flood insurance, he said, “is encouraging people to live in harm’s way.”

I’m not sure what God supposedly telling people not to live somewhere has to do with the NFIP … unless it’s a roundabout way of rationalizing terminating the program altogether. (Which I’m sure a lot of Rightists would just love to do.)

As for privatizing flood insurance, that’s already been tried — and it failed. Once upon a time, ordinary property insurance covered flooding. In the 50s and 60s, though, due to the high cost of claims, insurance companies carved it out, making it separate, and then were unable to charge premiums ample enough to reimburse policy owners for flooding events. They started exiting the business altogether. The federal government essentially nationalized flood insurance in 1968, as a consequence. Private-sector insurance is not — contrary to what Hensarling and his fellow Rightists would like — going to re-enter that business. No fucking way. They’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt, and went home. It’s just not going to happen. Ending the NFIP is not an option. Perhaps making it mandatory for more people than are currently required to have it (i.e. mortgage-holders in certain flood zones), is one solution. But ending it? No.

As for getting everyone currently in a flood zone to move, that makes no sense economically. Let’s say the government forbids people living in certain zones. Their current properties — which for many are the bulk of their assets — would instantly cease to have any value. They’d be forced to rent or buy elsewhere, in places which are flood-proof, whose rent or purchase values will naturally shoot up. What’s more, they’d lose their jobs, and businesses in those zones would also be forced to close. They’d be left with no resources to pay for relocation; homeowners would have to scramble for new jobs, and businesses would have to find markets in new places. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea, is a brazen, fucking moron.

Put as simply as possible: Hensarling is a religionist, idiotic douchebag who has no idea what he’s talking about.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: PMeldrum at World Politics forum on Delphi Forums.

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Vintage RCA International 7 Transistor Radio, Model AH-271-S, Holiday Series Radio, 2 Bands, Made In Japan / Joe Haput, via FlickrFormer judge Roy Moore, perhaps the best-known Christofascist in Alabama, is an agnostic blogger’s dream. The man literally cannot stop shooting his mouth off like the militant Christianist he is, and he repeatedly demonstrates everything that’s wrong with religionism — and by extension, religion. He’s running for US Senate, and in a primary runoff for the GOP nomination, which gives him every incentive to spew the most ridiculous Christofascist tripe imaginable. As the Friendly Atheist explains, during last night’s debate, he didn’t disappoint (Archive.Is cached article):

As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Vietnam veteran, I want to work our military strong again. I want it freed from political correctness and social experimentation, like transistor troops in our bathrooms and inclusiveness.

Now, if anyone can explain to me what a “transistor troop” is, I’d love to know … because I haven’t the first fucking clue what that is. Best I can figure is, it’s a vaguely-sinister-sounding expression that Moore conjured up. As the Friendly Atheist put it, he tossed that in along with a reference to bathrooms (which the Religious Right has pitched fits over for more than a year) to create a little R.R. “word salad” that will appeal to Alabama’s Christianists (and there are many).

What makes Moore such a marvelous example of what’s wrong with religion, is that he upends the common trope of militant Christianists like him being merely “the lunatic fringe” and not representative of the wider Christian population. He’s a Decalogue champion who was removed from office as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court back in 2003 after defying a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument (cached). Despite the shame of that, however, the good Christianist folk of Alabama re-elected him to that office in 2012 (cached). That he won a statewide race for an office he’d been thrown out of over his dour Christofascism nearly a decade earlier, tells me he absolutely is not just a “fringe” crank, and that his Christianism definitely is representative of — and approved by — the majority of Alabamans. It’s undeniable!

Of course, Moore proved too extreme a Christianist to stay in his new office (a second time) for long, and was suspended for yet more Jesus-inspired judicial misconduct, then formally resigned in order to run for Senate (cached). If the people of Alabama elect him to the US Senate — which appears very possible — they’ll have proven themselves dour Christofascists twice over. Which will mean it’ll be even harder for them to disown him than it already is.

Photo credit: Joe Haupt, via Flickr.

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WTC smoking on 9-11Update: Since I first posted this, another instance of Moore’s “massacre theology” has come to light; please see below.

I’ve blogged a few times already about Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore, who’s famous for having been thrown off that state’s Supreme Court twice for judicial misconduct, as a result of his dour and angry Christofascism.

Never one to be ashamed of anything he says he does in the name of his Jesus, Moore is running for US Senate this year. So far, he’s doing very well — which shouldn’t be surprising, Alabamans sure love their Christofascists.

During a speech in a church (where else?) earlier this year, as CNN reports, Moore engaged in some disaster theology (Archive.Is cached article):

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested earlier this year that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God.

Moore, a hardline conservative running against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a runoff primary race, made the comments in February during a speech at the Open Door Baptist Church, a video reviewed by CNN’s KFile shows.…

“Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression, and say thereon … therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance,'” Moore said, quoting Isaiah 30:12-13. Then he added: “Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn’t it?”

Moore, continued, “If you think that’s coincidence, if you go to verse 25, ‘there should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”

Later in the same speech, Moore suggested God was upset at the United States because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”

CNN goes on to explain that Moore is hardly the first militant Christianist to play this particular game. Rather famously, the late Jerry Falwell and Marion “Pat” Robertson did so, just a couple days after the attacks (cached). And Moore himself had previously said the same thing.

The tendency of sanctimonious religionists to use catastrophes in this way, claiming they’re God’s way of getting people to do what they (the religionist, that is) wants, is truly hideous. Essentially they’re admitting their deity is nothing more than a cosmic terrorist — no different, really, than the terrorist who struck London earlier today (cached). I’m not sure why people actually want to worship a cosmic terrorist, and not only give in to his/her/its demands themselves, but force the rest of humanity to do so as well — but clearly they do.

And that, I’m afraid, is the problem here. This kind of talk is only going to help Moore’s campaign for Senate. There are a ton of people in Alabama, as well as the rest of the country, who love hearing that their deity is an almighty cosmic terrorist, and who will conclude that Moore is a righteous and holy man for having said so. We live in a dangerous country, folks. Very dangerous!

Update: CNN’s Kfile continued delving into Moore’s past material, and uncovered another example of his raging “massacre theology” (cached):

“We are losing the acknowledgment of God, and I’m standing here talking, to Christians and Pastors, and I’m telling you we’re losing the acknowledgment of God,” Moore said, before reciting several verses from the Old Testament book of Hosea that deal with lack of knowledge of God.

“You wonder why we’re having shootings, and killings here in 2017? Because we’ve asked for it,” Moore said. “We’ve taken God out of everything. We’ve taken prayer out of school, we’ve taken prayer out of council meetings.”

Moore lies, of course, when he says that “we’ve taken God out of everything.” No such thing has happened —
anywhere in the US. There’s still plenty of God all over the country. And he fucking well knows it, too. (Hat tip for this update: Friendly Atheist.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Hurricane Irma satellite photo / United States Navy / Navy Live / Tag archives: Hurricane IrmaI call it “disaster theology.” That’s when some sanctimoniously-enraged militant religionist declares his/her deity either caused something big and terrible to happen — or more passively, merely sat back and allowed it to happen — because said deity is just as furious about something as the religionist him/herself. (Religionists and their deities, you see, always seem to think in lockstep. Convenient, huh?)

It’s something one sees pretty much every time there’s a disaster of some kind. That disaster can be natural, like an earthquake, or man-made, like a massacre. It pretty much doesn’t matter what it is … religionists will always latch onto any kind of widely-reported awful news and use it as “evidence” that their deity is upset, and won’t tolerate any more of humanity’s insolent shit.

Or something like that.

It was inevitable, then, that the second of two back-to-back hurricanes to hit the US triggered just such an outburst. Right Wing Watch reports that a pair of Christianist twins, David & Jason Benham, declared the arrival of Irma to have been due to the expansion of gay rights (Archive.Is cached article):

Religious Right culture warriors David and Jason Benham published a video Monday in which they claimed “God is speaking” through hurricanes to send a message that America should repent for “breaching the boundaries of God” in regard to gender identity, gay marriage and homosexuality in general.…

The twins’ tie-in to the 9/11 terror attacks appears to mirror the playbook of their father, Flip Benham, the former head of the anti-abortion, anti-gay protest group Operation Save America, who has claimed he warned America that legal abortion would result in the 9/11 attacks and continues to use 9/11 as a warning that legal abortion will result in the further wrath of God.

The Benhams must be using a broken calendar, because it didn’t hit the US on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; it made landfall early in the morning of the 10th of September, one day prior. Or, maybe September 11th on our calendar is September 10th on the Almighty’s — because, after all, we know his/her/its sense of time runs different than our own. Or something. I mean, who the fuck knows?

By the way, if you don’t know who the Benham twins are, they’re the pair who’d been slated to host a show on HGTV called Flip It Forward (that can’t have anything to do with their father’s name, could it?) … but it was canceled before it aired, due to their hateful, militant Christianist spew (cached). (I approve of that, not because they’re vile religiofsacist pricks, but because “‘reality’ shows” are as fake as hell and suck in the worst way (cached).

At any rate, it seems odd to me that, if the Almighty is upset about something his creations are doing, s/he/it seems powerless to just fucking say it to our faces and in words that make his/her/its wishes clear. As a supposedly omnipotent creator-deity, s/he/it certainly would be capable of doing so … but if the Benhams, and an enormous number of other sanctimonious wingnuts, are to be believed, that’s somehow beyond his/her/its power.

Or something.

I dunno, maybe this is yet another of those things that cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathens like myself aren’t allowed to understand. Right?

Photo credit: United States Navy / Navy Live blog.

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Auguste Rodin-The Hand of God-Metropolitan Museum of ArtI still haven’t been able to figure why a man who’s been married three times, was a well-known womanizer, and who happily bragged about habitually sexually assaulting women (cached), managed to become the champion of America’s Religious Right … you know, the exact same crowd who tried to run Bill Clinton out of office because he’d had an affair. I mean, assuming they’re sincere about their love for “family values,” one would think they ought to have condemned the Groper-in-Chief instead of electing him.

But I guess it’s too much to ask that they be consistent with their dour moralizing. Maybe their reverence for the Apricot Wonder is another of those things this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen isn’t permitted to understand.

Even so, “reverence” is a good word to describe their feelings for the GiC. Case in point: As AOL News reports, his spiritual adviser, evangelical preacher Paula White, propounded his sanctity (cached):

Paula White, a televangelist and spiritual adviser to Donald Trump, appeared on television Tuesday to defend the president amid recent controversy using an unlikely Biblical comparison.

While speaking on a panel on “The Jim Bakker Show,” White said that Trump’s presidential victory was similar to a story from the Hebrew Bible where a woman named Esther was chosen to be queen, since both parties were unlikely to be selected for their roles.…

On Tuesday, White compared Trump to Queen Esther, saying that he, too, was selected by God to carry out a divine plan.

“They say about our president, ‘Well, he is not presidential.’ Thank goodness. Thank goodness. Thank goodness,” White said. “And I mean that with all due respect. Because, in other words, he is not a polished politician. In other words, he is authentically, whether people like it or not, has been raised up by God.”

So according to White, the Groper-in-Chief is, by definition, “presidential” specifically because he’s not “presidential” at all, and an example of a good Christian specifically because he’s a lousy example of a good Christian.

Or something like that. I think. I mean, that must be another of those impenetrable notions that this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen can never figure out.

Even more than this ridiculous crap, however, White went so far as to equate the Groper with the Almighty himself:

“God says that he raises up and places all people in places of authority,” she continued. “It is God who raises up a king. It is God that sets one down. When you fight against the plan of God, you are fighting against the hand of God.”

She’s saying anyone who opposes the GiC, by definition opposes her deity.

Wow. I mean, just “wow.”

I recall just a few years ago the Religious Right had a very different attitude toward the previous president. Rather than viewing him as an appointed agent of their God, many of them went so far as to pray for their deity to kill him, citing Psalm 109:8. As I said before, consistency isn’t their strongest suit.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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