Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
March 1, 2016 by James Croft from Patheos.
A Peter Wehner Opinion Piece in the New York Times today laments the ascension of Donald Trump as the anointed candidate of American Evangelicals, expressing amazement that Trump “won a plurality of evangelical votes in each of the last three Republican contests” and has gained the endorsement of prominent evangelical leaders. “If this embrace strikes you as discordant, it should,” Wehner writes, before outlining all the ways in which Trump should be unacceptable to evangelicals.
As an English atheist I’m an outsider both to American politics and to Christianity. Perhaps that’s why I see things differently: Trump is not a perversion of American Christianity, but its apotheosis. What Wehner calls “inexplicable” – the appeal of Trump among evangelical Christians – I see as totally predictable, even inevitable: Trump is the creation of a fetid political culture which has been fostered, for decades, by the religious right.
Mr. Trump’s character is antithetical to many of the qualities evangelicals should prize in a political leader: integrity, compassion and reasoned convictions, wisdom and prudence, trustworthiness, a commitment to the moral good.
He is half right. Trump is antithetical to these qualities. Yet American evangelicals – for decades the most prominent face of American Christianity – have long eschewed them. That they do so now by supporting Donald Trump should come as no surprise: they are merely continuing their sordid tradition. It feels strange to say it, but not supporting Trump would, for the religious right, be the hypocritical move.
Why do I say this? Because the religious right in America has always been a political philosophy based on bullying, pandering, projecting strength to hide fear and weakness, and proud, aggressive ignorance. That’s what it’s been about from the beginning. Trump has merely distilled those elements into a decoction so deadly that even some evangelicals are starting to recognize the venom they have injected into American culture.
American evangelicalism has never supported “reasoned convictions”: the religious right has long supported the teaching of anti-scientific material in public schools, alongside the imposition of their religious views on others using the power of the government (the popular campaign to emblazon “In God We Trust” on police cars being the most obvious current example).
Neither wisdom nor prudence are served by evangelicals’ insistence on abstinence-only sex education, which unwisely and imprudently increases rates of teen pregnancy while effectively lying to children about their own bodies.
The purported evangelical value of compassion is poorly evidenced in their decades-long campaign against the rights of LGBTQ people: organized homophobia in the USA is an essentially religious activity, with evangelicals leading the charge to deny us equal rights. At every step on the journey to LGBTQ equality evangelicals have formed our primary opposition, mounting well-organized, well-funded, and often viciously personal campaigns against our rights. Compassion, indeed!
And nowhere in the constant alarmism of the religious right – “America is under threat from godless progressives who wish to destroy our freedoms!” – do we find anything approaching “a commitment to the moral good.” The religious right wants an America that is good for them and to hell – literally and metaphorically – with everybody else.
Where is Jesus in this? Nowhere. Jesus never was and never has been the focus of politicized US evangelicalism. It is transparent to anyone who views the megachurch spectacles of a Rick Warren or a Joel Osteen that the story of Jesus is useful only insofar as it offers a vehicle for the regressive right-wing politics these pastors prefer. Jesus has become the ultimate fig leaf, a flimsy shroud to drape over social views which would otherwise be revealed as nakedly evil. That the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Trump makes perfect sense: they are shamelessly self-promoting bigots who, to give just one sample from a lifetime of grotesqueries, blamed the 9/11 attacks in part on feminists and gays. These are precisely the sort of people Trump should appeal to. I’m surprised by Wehner’s surprise.
What appalls more genteel conservative evangelicals about Trump, this outsider suspects, is not his views or his character, but that he is saying so blatantly what their movement has always believed, ripping off the fig leaf to display the tortured form beneath. They are looking in a Trump-shaped mirror, and don’t like what they see.
See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/templeofthefuture/2016/03/trump-is-evangelical-christianity/?
Posted by Jacob at 9:04 PM
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
We'll begin first with a few of the Republican candidates for president, the dumbest and most ignorant of which is probably Ben Carson.
Ben Carson has said so many stupid things in the course of his candidacy that they would fill a book.
He’s still out there, pretending he can become president because…well, he’s really a black man and president Obama is not. You see, says Carson, Obama was raised “white” and therefore does not understand the black experience.
Ben Carson is dumb as a stump about too many things. He may be 64 years of age, but he’s still a child.
Marco Rubio is a child also. He’s lied consistently about his background and how his family came to the U.S. from Cuba. He is a non-entity in the Senate to which he should never have been elected in the first place.
Rubio is not very bright. As Paul Krugman says, “His notions on foreign policy seem to boil down to the belief that American can bully everyone into doing its bidding, and that engaging in diplomacy is a sign of weakness. His ideas on domestic policy are deeply ignorant and irresponsible, and would be disastrous if put into effect.
In other words, he’s a George W. Bush clone but not quite as bright as Bushki.
Now consider D. Trump. Yesterday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast he put a couple pieces of bacon - a banned food for Muslims - inside the Quran.
He said he was “just fooling around.”
That’s our not-so-presidential presidential candidate, D. Trump.
He probably wasn't happy with the news that he really doesn’t have much pull in the city of New York. According to those in the "know," he’s not one of the players although he pretends to be. He’s 2nd-rate when it comes to New York in that his holdings and businesses there don't compare with the real powers in Gotham. Some of the banks don’t want to do business with him because he can’t be trusted to do what he says and he doesn’t pay his bills.
Then there’s this little tidbit which I discovered, that so far has stayed under the radar, but I think speaks volumes as to Trump's character. In John Feinstein’s book, “A Good Walk Spoiled,” which details life on the PGA Tour back in the early 90s, Feinstein says that at the 1994 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Trump was paired with Paul Goydos. Goydos, a relatively unknown on the Tour, was surprised and wondered why. He was told, “‘This way it will be Donald Trump’s group. If we put him with a big name, then he would be shoved into the background."
Trump is a decent golfer and he actually shot a hole-in-one during the tournament. He told his friends there were 5,000 people who saw him accomplish that feat. Goydos said it might not have been more than 50. Also, while out on the course, Trump talked to Goydos about a sponsorship deal which was music to the struggling pro's ears, but Trump never followed through.
A sponsorship deal did happen the next year when Goydos was paired with Jack Olsen, Hertz’s chairman of the board. Goydos and Olsen worked out a deal where Goydos got $50,000 for wearing a Hertz hat and carrying a Hertz bag for the rest of the year.
As Feinstein put it: “Trump talked. Olsen produced.”
Ted Cruz. He’s the darling of the far-right evangelicalistas. He’s the one anointed by the Dominionists to take over the U.S. and then the world. God wants him to be president. Just ask his crazy father!
Ted has no morals, no ethics, does not believe in the American system of government and by his words and actions demonizes the United States Constitution. He would break down the wall separating church and state. He has no empathy with people, either, recently stating he would eliminate the serving of gluten-free meals in the military. On this issue he is also either totally uncaring or just plain ignorant. He seem to think gluten-free is some kind of liberal plot having to do with political correctness when in fact, for many people, to eat gluten means sickness and death!
He’s a child-man.
One of those stumping for Cruz is the Duck Dynasty dumbass, Phil Robertson, who is a racist, a misogynist, and homophobic scumbag but thinks Cruz is the right person for the White House. And Cruz, who will pander to any moron who will vote for him suggested if he’s elected he’ll appoint the Duck Dynasty fool as ambassador to the United Nations!
Not to be outdone by the temper-tantrum child, D. Trump, Cruz also wants to build a BEEG fence to keep all the Mescans out of our fine country. Heh, heh. Nobody told him that more Mescans are going back to Mexico than are coming here. It ain’t so hot here anymore for the folks who do the crap labor nobody else wants to do.
The Republican children in Idaho are mostly rightwing Christianists so it's not too surprising they want the Bible to take center stage in our public schools.
To ensure this happens the Senate’s education committee has put forth Senate Bill No.1232 which “expressly” permits the Bible to be used to “further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, United States and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topes of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant.”
Unfortunately, the Bible is not a good source for information on any of these topics but more to the point, it is unconstitutional! This bill would be laughed out of town by adult legislators. But we have too few of those these days to make much of a difference.
The Republican members of the Oklahoma legislature, also children, are dealing with a piece of legislative crap which would basically drop all regulations and rules for the public schools.
Now, because these stupid childish legislators have had their way before, private and charter schools in Oklahoma are already exempt from the normal regulations.
Here is what this bill means for the public schools: (from Daily Kos)
Elimination of the teacher's minimum salary schedule.
Elimination of the requirement for school districts to participate in the Oklahoma Teacher's Retirement System (OTRS).
Elimination of school district provided health insurance.
Elimination of criminal background checks on school employees.
Elimination of teacher evaluation and due process protections.
Elimination of payroll deduction.
Elimination of due process protections for support staff.
Elimination of all certification requirements for all school district positions.
Elimination of negotiations between a school district and employees.
Elimination of student curriculum requirements.
Elimination of required continuing education for local board of education members.
Those of us who are adults should also be aware that his is part of the Koch-inspired attempt to rid our nation of all public schools. The above is just one way of achieving that goal.
And then down in Iowa, Republican children in the legislature are considering a bill which would allow children of any age to shoot guns. This bill, they say, puts the power back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.
Okay, but why stop there. Let's give the people all power. Let’s no longer have any speed limits; let’s no longer have any laws at all. The people can decide what is best for them and their families and their neighbors.
This is all so sad. The children who lead us say over and over again, because they are children, “You can’t tell us what to do!”
Or, as so many Republicans put it today, “We don’t need no damn guv’mint!”
Posted by Jacob at 2:31 PM
Sunday, February 21, 2016
The following was sent to me by a friend. It tells a tale that we need to heed. Instead, the people who govern us currently are doing everything they can to destroy our public schools.
This map shows how states could be renamed based on education levels within them. Americans like to think they are #1 in everything, but when it comes to education, the U.S. quickly loses boasting rights. Math and science are particularly rough: U.S. ranks 28th in the world for those subjects. Although we may be a developed nation, when education is broken down by state, we aren't all that different from countries that are more economically challenged.
HomeSnacks.com used information from the U.S. high school graduation rates from the U.S. Census and compared them against the education index of each country from the United Nations Development Program. The result? A map of the U.S. with each state renamed as the country that resembles their level of education.
h/t to Lou Cardamone
Posted by Jacob at 1:48 PM
Friday, February 19, 2016
Scalia's Black Beemer By Greg Palast | for OpEdNews
It was one of our team’s weirder investigative discoveries: The recently departed Justice Antonin Scalia – aleha hashalom – in 2011, was ticketed for recklessly driving his black BMW. To his family, I offer condolences. To my readers, I offer the facts. A man's soul must be laid to rest, but history must not be buried as well, especially now that the Justice's passing has become grounds for stories that border on historical obscenity, cf. the New York Times "Liberal Love for Antonin Scalia". Love?? Well, if you want a Valentine, this ain't it.
There's been a lot of gleeful chuckling, for example, about Scalia's courtroom bench "humor." But behind his jokey comments lay a cruelty aimed at the poor, the injured, the Beemer-less class that turns to the Court as the last hope for protection against corporate and state violence.
Here’s a telling example of Scalia’s humor from a crucial voting rights case. In 2005, Indiana's Republican legislature passed a law barring the vote to anyone without current state photo ID. The excuse: an official ID would prevent voter fraud – despite the fact that the state had not found, in over 100 years, even one case of a voter illegally impersonating another.
The media did get a laugh out of the ten nuns who were turned away from an Indiana polling station because the sisters' driver’s licenses had expired. The nuns were in their eighties and nineties. Their licenses had expired, though they had not. Tough luck ladies, you lose your vote.
Bobby Kennedy and I covered the cute story of the nuns; but we also wrote about the unnoticed 78,000 African-Americans in Indiana who lost their right to vote because they did not have the right ID to vote. A disproportionate number of African-Americans lack cars, and therefore driver’s licenses; and only a few, apparently have passports for weekends in Paris.
Get a free copy of the investigative report – in comic book form, Steal Back Your Vote
Civil rights groups sued, stating the obvious: that the Indiana law is racist in its operation, a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Black folk, the elderly, students, and poor whites – were all blocked from registering and voting. Federal Justice Terence Evans threw out the biased ID law, writing, “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”
But Indiana argued before the Supreme Court that anyone could get an ID – they just had to get a non-driver ID from a county office. Experts pointed out that the average poor person in Indiana – a poor person likely to be Black – lived an average 17 miles from a county seat. That’s when Justice Scalia rode, recklessly, to Indiana’s rescue. Scalia chortled that “Seventeen miles is seventeen miles for the rich and the poor,”
Black or white. How cute. How droll, Mr. Justice. And it's true, at 65 miles per hour, 17 miles is just a 15 minute cruise, whether your BMW is black or white. But the experts I spoke with told me they calculated that travel required two bus rides, cost a day of work, and included fees that amount to a poll tax. In the non-BMW world, 17 miles is just another long, obstacle-choked road to the ballot for voters of color.
All week I’ve heard Scalia praised as an "originalist," that is, sticking with the intent of the writers of the Constitution. Really? The right to vote without regard to race, the 15th Amendment, grew from the ground watered by the blood of Abraham Lincoln’s warriors. "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state.”
Was it the original intent of these words to enable the creation of new Jim Crow obstacles to citizen rights? Since when does an "originalist" so insouciantly ignore the clearly marked signposts of the law?
My suggestion: The President should not nominate a replacement for Scalia. Let's make this election a referendum: make Americans choose our Court. Let Americans decide if our Court will defeat or cuddle up to Jim Crow, whether our government may dictate whom you love and marry, whether the Bill of Rights is just a porous veil covering an unfettered and brutal spy state. Let's put the soul of America to a vote.
We are completing our film on the latest, hidden tactics of racially poisonous vote suppression which has grown like a mold from the 2013 decision by Scalia and his Court comrades to gut the Voting Rights Act. As John Pilger kindly said of my work, "The information is a hand grenade."
This film is the peaceable weapon for the new civil rights movement. Right now, support the completion of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: a Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, with a $100 donation and I'll list you in the film credits as a supporter and I'll send you the signed DVD once the film wraps.
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In 2016 Greg Palast will be releasing his new feature film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy—A Tale of Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, which includes his award-winning investigation Jim Crow Returns. Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic.
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Posted by Jacob at 1:26 PM