Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ron Reagan & the angels that saved his life

Ronald Reagan was a B-grade movie actor, an amiable dolt who somehow stumbled into politics and ended up being president. That scenario would probably make a good Hollywood movie, but nobody would believe it!

Supporters of Ron have long pointed to his religious faith as an example of what a nice guy he was.

But that religious faith was not much in evidence during his movie career - which ended rather sadly, as you may recall - with Ron hawking for GE on TeeVee. At the time, nobody knew he had faith in anything except his good looks.

Worldnetdaily, the wingnut "news" source of Joseph Farah, reports on a book written by Mary Beth Brown in 2004 called "Hand of Providence: The Strong and Quiet Faith of Ronald Reagan."

Brown claims that on two occasions, angels interceded to save ol' Ron's life. In 1981 after he had been shot by John Hinckley, Reagan was finding it difficult to breathe, had turned very pale, and things weren't looking too good.

"Reagan later recalled looking up from the gurney and praying. Half-conscious, he realized someone was holding his hand."

"'It was a soft, feminine hand,' he writes in his autobiography, 'An American Life.'"

Reagan's family tried to find out the name of the nurse who held his hand, without success. So his children decided it must have been an angel.

But that wasn't the first time Reagan experienced an angelic presence. Many years before, while working on a move with Shirley Temple, he caught pneumonia and became quite ill. He found it difficult to breathe and told the nurse he was too tired to breathe, but she insisted and he continued breathing through the night to please the nurse.

The family set out to find this nurse, but without success. It must have been an angel, family members concluded.

Yup. Mary Beth Brown believes that the key to Reagan's "astonishingly successful presidency" was his "deep Christian faith." And angels.

Oh, stop laughing. Just because he damn near ruined the country!

Haven't we had enough of presidents who talk to God, believe angels hold their hand, who then proceed to shred the Constitution, and bring us to the brink of financial destruction?

The Worldnetdaily article is here.

Hurricane Katrina God's punishment says new Catholic bishop

In Austria, Gerhard Wagner 54, of Linz, was promoted by his infallibleness, Pope Benedict XVI, to the position of auxiliary bishop.

Wagner, in 2005 said that all the horrible things that happened to the residents of New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina should be attributed to "divine retribution," a consequence of the immorality displayed by the people of that city. Wagner was especially upset at the tolerance of homosexuals and general sexual laxity.

In a parish newsletter, Wagner cited the nightclubs and whore houses and abortion clinics that were destroyed by Katrina.

God got 'em!

Oh, Wagner doesn't much like the Harry Potter books, either. They promote "satanism."

Sheesh! Well, what's one more bishoprick?

h/t to Times OnLine.

Stimulate the Repugnican wingnuts!

[DeMint & other Repugs against the stimulus. Not a brain in the bunch. Photo by Reuters]

It looks like the stimulus bill, minus $100 billion for programs the Repugs didn't like, is a done deal. More or less.

Da Candy Man, Jim DeMint, (R-S.C.), has been leading the opposition, which is really the only thing he does. He tried to get his own bill passed, which consisted of no spending whatsoever, merely tax breaks, but failed.

Da Candy Man didn't like a provision in the Democrat's plan which he claimed would discriminate against religious (read Christian) organizations. Here's the wording, courtesy of Alex Koppelman at Salon:

"No funds awarded under this section may be used for... modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities (i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or (ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission."

Da Candy Man claims that "is an attack on people of faith." You have to remember, of course, that da Candy Man knoweth not our Constitution, nor careth not, for he is a true wingnut from South Carolina.

"Democrats," saith da Candy Man, "are looking for every opportunity to purge faith and prayer from the public square."

Yup. Those damn Democrats walk around Washington all day just trying to figure out ways to purge faith and prayer from the public square. No? Well, we can hope!

So, da Candy Man offered an amendment which would excise this anti-faith provision. But it failed. Notice, please, three Democrats voted for it: Evan Bayh, Byron Dorgan, and Ben Nelson.

Actually, as Koppelman points out, the provision in the bill is standard language and has been upheld in the courts, and doesn't do what da Candy Man thinks it does. "The funding can go to religious schools, and it can be used for buildings in which, say Bible study is held, as long as that's not a 'substantial portion' of what the building is used for."

Nevertheless, the fundy christianist wingnuts are unhappy and at least one group is threatening to sue.


Koppelman's article here.

New christianist approach to evangelism

Evangelism, christianists like to think, is proclaiming the good news of Jesus to the world. Many christianists figure that means confronting people on the street, at work, in their homes, in the subway, at the store, at sporting events, or even at church, to ask them if they've been saved and know they're gonna go to heaven when they die.

The trouble with that approach is that it gets folks really angry. They don't like to be told by some young twerp or some old dork that they need to find Jesus and get saved to make sure they don't spend eternity in hell.

Cranford Blackmon of Wilsonville, Alabama, a christianist, says he has found that "too many times ... an unsolicited offering on the sinful nature of someone's life, or on how someone's troubles could be faced better with Jesus, or even worse - that the person being addressed is already headed straight to hell, doesn't often bring others to Christ. He says, in today's world, that approach commonly creates anger, separation, and rejection, if not outright hostility."

You think?

So Blackmon has come up with a solution - sort of. He's "designed a unique line of Christian products to promote a new avenue of sharing Christ."

But there are so many products out there that focus on the cross, "his products focus on the resurrection and what it means for Christians."

His products contain imagery "that is a little different," the purpose of which is to get your friends, neighbors and strangers to ask you what it means. Then you can hit them with Jesus.

Interested? You can visit Blackmon's website here. Check out the imagery. Not very many products yet, though. Looks like an uphill battle. For all eternity.

Christiannewswire article here.

Republican racism in Florida

Eventually, it comes out; the hidden racism lurking in the corners of the Republican Party. Here's another example.

In Florida, Carol Carter, long-time Repugnican state committeewoman from Hillsborough County, sent an e-mail to a few of her "friends," which included this "joke":

"I'm confused. How can 2,000,000 blacks get into Washington, DC in 1 day in sub zero temps when 200,000 couldn't get out of New Orleans in 85 degree temps with four days notice."

Someone sent the e-mail on to the Republican Party state chairman.

Then the shit hit the fan. The chair of the state Republican Committee wasn't too happy what with a black man taking over the reins of the RNC.

Carter has resigned.

But, before doing so, she issued a non-apologetic apology which included this sentence: "I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor."

Right. That was certainly funny, Carol.

No wonder you're a Repugnican.

More here. And here.

The Devil and Andrew Michael Teneriello

Once in awhile I receive a letter from a reader who feels I am too hard on the fundamentalist christianist wingnuts. I should be more tolerant, I'm told. These people have a right to their beliefs, too.

So, I think about it. Am I really intolerant? Should I let up on my criticism? Are these really decent people?


Here's an example of a damnable, self-righteous, ignorant, stupid, wacko, fundamentalist, wingnut: Andrew Michael Teneriello.

Teneriello calls himself an "ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ," which means absolutely nothing, as these days any fool can "ordain" any other fool. Supposedly, Teneriello is busy up in New Hampshire putting together a "brand new non-denominational" church, where the real "truth" will be preached to as many unsuspecting, ignorant, naive people as he can con into listening to him.

This wingnut supreme has written a book in which he proclaims his ignorance, intolerance, hatred, and general stupidity to the entire world.

Blinded by the Devil is the title. Teneriello believes that everyone who doesn't believe like he does and doesn't interpret his little magic book about his imaginary friend in the sky the same way he does, is blinded by the devil and will suffer eternal torment in his imaginary hell.

The problem for Teneriello is that most people don't believe in his insane ravings. That must have pissed him off so he just had to write this book.

Liberals, for example, or anyone who voted for Obama, are lost; blinded by the devil. Catholic? Lutheran? Member of any mainline denomination? You're all blinded by the devil and are going to hell!

You will, in Teneriello's little book, learn that the Roman Catholic Church is rooted in corruption; that Protestants believe in doctrines of demons. You will learn how Oprah Winfrey "is leading many into an Anti-Christ movement."

There are only two roads you can travel: one leads to God and the other to damnation. Just because you call yourself a Christian and belong to a church doesn't mean you're on the right road!

How does Teneriello know all of this? Well, in December, 2007, he "had a supernatural encounter with God [not surprising; many psychotics claim to have encounters with god] during which he was told to expose the counterfeit churches that have evolved since the deaths of the original apostles of the New Testament Bible.

"In this book you will learn about not only the history of Christianity but you will also see firsthand how Satan is ruling over many so-called Christian churches with his doctrines of demons."

Actually, you won't learn any of that because Teneriello is an ignoramus and has no clue what he's talking about. If you see him, ask him to name the "original" apostles and ask him when each of them died and where. And what the hell is the "New Testament Bible?" There is no such thing, except in his imagination.

There is nothing new in any of this. It's the same old bullshit that freaky fundys have been preaching for years, screwing up lots of good people, unfortunately. So, yeah, I'm a little intolerant of creeps like this who make it their life's work to mess with people's heads. They may have a right to their beliefs, but they better be prepared for severe and sustained criticism when the flaunt their insanity before the entire world.

The video below comes from Teneriello. The audio has been disabled. It will still give you an idea of the depth of the man's sickness.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Fall of man

Another great cartoon from Flea Snobbery. If you haven't yet visited that site, please do so asap.
Andres Diplotti is one very talented human being!

Oh, for heaven's sake

[Image of a new heaven and a new earth from]

If you ever wanted to know what heaven is really like, this is your chance. You'll learn the details, the little things, the big things, and it will warm you heart when you go to your cold, cold grave.

Please click here for a heavenly tour.

One man I know didn't want to click. I asked him why. He said he was afraid. I said, "Oh, for heaven's sake!"

He clicked. And you can too.

I must warn you, though, this is very sick stuff!

[With many thanks to Dan Florien over at Unreasonable Faith.]

Faith-based disappointment

Even as I knew there would be issues on which I and other progressives would disagree with President Obama, I really didn't think that disagreement would revolve around doling out tax money to faith-based groups.

While I think his heart is in the right place, I also think that creating a White House "faith" office is a mistake.

Obama believes that faith-based organizations working in their communities are a precious resource. At the National Prayer Breakfast yesterday, he said "People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them."

And Obama's faith-based czar, Joshua DuBois, said "The government can't do everything. We have to work with the groups that are in the communities."

According to a McClatchy article, Obama's aides "stressed that he wouldn't allow government money to be used in programs that preach one religion or that refuse to hire people who don't share their religion.

That, however, is precisely where the rubber hits the road. Again, from McClatchy: "...Obama left in place five executive orders signed by Bush that allow the groups receiving government funds to proselytize or refuse to hire non-believers. One, signed on Dec. 12, 2002, specifically decreed that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech meant that any group should be able to receive federal taxpayer money 'without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression or religious character.'"

In other words, what Obama's aides said is not true.

Obama learned first-hand that some religiously-based community groups can do good work on behalf of the communities in which they exist. No argument there.

Problems remain, however. First of all, it is certainly questionable whether or not the federal government should use your tax dollars and mine to fund the work of a religious institution. The determining factor is not whether they do good work; it is whether we should abide by the Constitution of the land which forbids the recognition of any religion.

Furthermore, religious institutions are voluntary organizations and are funded by the contibutions or tithes of their members. If they wish to engage in activity that is social in nature and beneficial to the community, more power to them, but it isn't the responsibility of the government to pay for these "sincere" efforts. Religious institutions, no matter how worthy their cause, are not to be adjuncts of the United States government!

Finally, it is the case that the great majority of religious organizations that received federal monies under the Bush administration were of the Christian fundamentalist persuasion. It is also the case that many of these religious organizations that engage in "service" to the community do so under false pretenses. There is not one single, fundamentalist/evangelical organization that operates on a purely social basis. Not one. These groups all are evangelistic in nature and exclusionary in fact. The purpose of their existence is to bring people to a "born again" relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything flows from that. Secondly, most of them require that their employees be born again believers; they are exclusionary.

How Obama is going to deal with that problem is unclear, if he plans to tackle it at all.

My proposal would be to dump the faith-based office. It is nothing more than the wet-dream of fundamentalist/evangelical Christians to siphon money from the government teat anyway.

Let's put our money into secular organizations that exist for the purpose of giving aid and comfort to the physical and mental needs of our under-classes. The churches and their related organizations can provide soul soap and other spiritual necessities, paid for by their members.

The entire McClatchy article is here.

In the video below, Keith Olbermann visits the issue in July 2008, as it arose on the campaign trail. What he said then remains operative today.

Sunset break (Photo)

There are times, in the dead of winter, when one needs to just sit back, look at a warm, inviting picture, and let the stress wash away. This particular photo was taken on a sunset cruise out of Cedar Key, Florida.

The Republican Taliban

[Image from MSNBC]

The State of Texas doth produce some wackos. One such wacko, Pete Sessions, a Repugnican, of course, and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, has a great suggestion for Repugnicans in Congress and everywhere.

Be more like the Taliban!

Yup! You betcha! We Repugnicans can learn some things from the Taliban. We can learn how to obstruct, defeat, terrorize, and totally destroy our opposition - the Democrats.

Well, he didn't use those exact words, but almost. When he was asked to discuss the GOP's opposition to the stimulus bill, he pontificated thusly:

The GOP should "...pitch a 'positive, loyal opposition' to the proposal. The group, he added, should also 'understand insurgency' in implementing efforts to offer alternatives.

"'Insurgency,' said Sessions, 'we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban.'... 'And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."

One wonders why so many Repugnicans are unable to speak in plain English. Perhaps they are afraid people will understand them and expose their nefarious ways?

Tana Ganeva has more here.

Pedophiles' Paradise

This is a story about Alaska. The Roman Catholic Church in Alaska. About Father James Poole, a pedophile priest and, according to some sources, a serial child rapist. James Poole is not in jail today because of the statute of limitations. He is being cared for "in a Jesuit community under an approved safety plan that includes 24-hour supervision."

Yes, he's still a priest. The Roman church is still taking care of him, and hiding him from public view. One of his victims claims the church is hiding him so he doesn't tell the deadly secrets of the Roman Church's chicanery in Alaska.

According to the, out of Seattle, "Father James Poole's story is not an isolated case in Alaska." There has been, say some Alaska natives, "a widespread conspiracy to dump pedophile priests in isolated Native villages where they could abuse children off the radar.

"They did it because there was no money there, no power, no police," said one victim. "It was a pedophile's paradies.

The Alaska Newsreader provides this insight:

"Why did the church keep sending abuse priests, who had come to be such a major liability, back into ministry? 'It's all about keeping the stores open, keeping the revenue rolling,' a former priest working with a plaintiffs' lawyer says. The Alaska provinces in particular, he says, were a source of revenue - not from the Native population living there, but from parishioners in the Lower 48 who were encouraged to donate for the Native ministry up north. 'You could raise thousands to fund a mission that cost very little to run,' he says. 'The profit margin is huge.'"

This is an awful, ugly story. You can read all the dirty details here. It's a long article, but worth the read.

Recession is the devil's work

[Image from Quizilla]

Last month, Ruth Gledhill at Times Online, reported on our old friend, Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican's favorite devil chaser and exorcist. Gabriel lives and breathes the devil. He finds the devil everywhere. Even in the Harry Potter books.

But Gabriel has to keep reminding folks about the devil and the work of the devil because if the devil should be forgotten Gabriel's out of a job!

So Gabriel tends to see the devil in places the rest of us would not think to link with Satan; like the world-wide recession. Here's what he says, in part:

"The Devil also waits on economic experts and investors. He give [sic] the wrong decisions, and thus create [sic] confusion and crisis. It was also the biggest victory of the devil, if his existence is denied."

Most important is to admit the existence of the devil. Then Gabriel can go on exorcising the devil from people bedeviled by the devil. At least for awhile. I think he's 82 or 83 years old.

What I don't understand is why god doesn't do something. Who is the devil? Where did the devil come from? I don't read of the devil in the Torah. I know there are many beliefs about all of this, but one of them must be the correct belief, right?

Is the devil more powerful than god, that he can run loose and demonize people so old Roman exorcists like Amorth have a job?

Has anyone seen the devil?

Why doesn't god just slap down the devil once and for all?

None of this makes much sense.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

True Love Waits (for no one!)

Purity is a very important word and concept among certain christianist organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention.

"True Love Waits, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, has released a gender-appropriate flipbook called Complete: A Life of Purity.

"The release coincides with Valentine's Day, a time in which a large number of True Love Waits abstinence-until-marriage commitment ceremonies are held in churches and other places around the world."

Purity, among these christianists, is defined for young people almost exclusively in terms of abstaining from sexual activity, specifically from sexual intercourse, until they are bound in holy matrimony.

Abstinence is the word christianist youth are to carry with them and live by in a culture saturated with sex, sex, sex, and more sex. 'Tis a problem.

Unfortunately, by tying the word, "purity" exclusively to abstinence from sex implies that sex (outside of marriage, at least) is bad, evil even, and if engaged in, marks one as impure, tainted, spoiled.

From a Christian theological point of view, that creates problems. So far as I recall, Jesus never spoke about pre-marital sex. In fact, he spoke of sex not at all, unless you refer to his reiteration of the Mosaic law having to do with divorce, or include a couple of suspect passages from the Gospel of John, which scholars today treat as a theological tract and not an historical account. But even in those two suspect passages - the woman taken in adultery and the Samaritan woman at the well - Jesus is forgiving and loving and non-condemning.

In fact, the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels was more concerned about other human predelictions such as pride, and avarice and greed and hate; these were what makes one "impure," (although he didn't use that word) but these are the things that make it difficult for a person to experience the kingdom of God.

The people who are involved in the abstinence programs may be well-meaning and truly concerned about the young people in their care. Sexual diseases are a problem. Unwanted pregnancies are another problem. Emotional scars from unhappy sexual experiences at a young age can create yet another problem.

But these abstinence-only approaches are fraught with their own problems. True Love Waits creates two classes of people: those who remain virgins and thus, "pure," and those who are scarred forever by their inability to refrain from sex until marriage. The pure and the unpure.

Not only is that ridiculous on the face of it, but it is hurtful in the extreme. Non-virgins are losers, bad, unable to keep their commitment, failures.

Worse is the fact that abstinence-only programs have been shown over and over again to be ineffective. In September of last year, ScienceDaily reported on studies "that reveal ... abstinence-only-until marriage sex education programs fail to change sexual behavior in teenagers, provide inaccurate information about condoms, and violate human rights principles."

Studies show that "Teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don't make such promises -- and they're less likely to practice safe sex to prevent disease of pregnancy..."

"Abstinence-only programs violate young people's right to accurate information..." Religious groups aren't too worried about that, because their first and major concern is to keep the kids "pure."

Unfortunately, as one researcher said with regard to federally-funded abstinence-only programs, they have failed in their "primary goal of helping young people delay initiation of sex, and actually, withhold... life-saving information from young people."

One might hope that religious groups like the Southern Baptist Convention would take these studies seriously, realize that young people will have sex in spite of their pledges to the contrary, and develop a program to assist young people to be sexually responsible.

That's not going to happen, of course, because they ignore the truth. I guess from the Southern Baptist point of view, it's better to be pure and dead than to be sexually "tainted" and alive.

You can read about the LifeWay program here.

The ScienceDaily report is here.

Another interesting report here. A report on teens who make virginity pledges here.

The video below is a fun spoof - young people making a pledge not to have sex with .... well, you're gonna have to watch it.

Repub stimulus plan costs trillions more than Obama's

Three days ago, at Think Progress, Satyam Khanna reported on a not-so-surprising discovery: the Senate GOP's 'Stimulus Plan' Costs 3.5 Times as Much as Obama's."

Mitch McConnell, an exemplary Repugnican and Senate Minority Leader, said that Obama's plan is just too expensive. $819 billion is too much.

"Most of my members believe that we could pass a very robust stimulus for less than the amount currently before us. We have been throwing figures around like it was paper money. We are already looking at, before we even do this, at over a trillion dollar deficit for this year. We all agree that we need to do something, but I don't think we should not just completely act like the amount is irrelevant."

Fascinating, heh? The Repugs have had no problem throwing billions at the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and billions more to their buddies on Wall Street, but now that some money might actually find it's way into the hands of the hoi polloi, they're screaming about the deficit!

Guess who's pushing the Repugnican plan? Yup. Da Candy Man, DeMint from South Carolina. It's called "American Option: A Jobs Plan That Works."

Heh. Heh. Khanna notes that "A new Wonk Room analysis finds that DeMint's plan will cost $3.1 trillion over ten years, more than 3.5 times the cost of Obama's."

And, as you might also guess, DeMint's plan is comprised mostly of "permanent tax breaks for corporations and lowering income tax for the wealthy."

Khanna's article (with video) is here.

Healthy Christianity (Photo)

Little Dove is a little Baptist church located in a semi-rural area. The believers who worship there are quite concerned about the health of their parishioners. Oh, wait. You're not supposed to actually take Vitamin B-1, you're supposed to BE ONE. One what? A Christian. That's what keeps Christians healthy - being a Christian. That must have made sense to someone at some point. I think.

The USA, France and nuclear power

[Photo of French nuclear power plant cooling towers obtained here.]

During the recent presidential campaign John McCain criticized Barack Obama for not being gaga over the possibilities of nuclear power.

Many politicians, Repugnicans mostly, hype nuclear power as potentially a very effective means of diminishing our dependence on foreign oil. Many of these politicians point to France as an example of a country that has put nuclear power to good use.

Unfortunately for our public debate, these politicians gloss over or ignore the problems of nuclear waste and nuclear accidents, which could have catastrophic consequences.

Currently, France is the leader among nations in terms of electricity generated from nuclear power. Seventy-seven percent of France's electricity comes from 59 reactors spread out across the country. The United States, is fourth on the list, generating 19% of its electricity from 104 reactors.

National Geographic magazine (February 2009) has a brief article discussing "France's Nuclear Family" but fails to disclose the current and recurring problems that have occurred in France's nuclear plants.

The article does, however, quote "a nuclear specialist for Greenpeace France," Frederick Marillier, as saying "The government explains the benefits of nuclear, but they avoid debate about the risks."

That is true also of this country.

But the risks are there and we've experienced them; remember Three Mile Island. Then there's the horrific accident at Chernobyl, in Russia, and another at Bhopal, India.

France has had numerous nuclear incidents with predictably devastating effects, some of which are being ignored and others swept under the rug.

Nuclear power may be one alternative, but it should be, as I recall Obama saying, a "last resort." The potential for disaster is simply too great.

Some time ago, I wrote an article dealing specifically with France's nuclear energy program and the problems that have emanated as a result, which you can read here. A more up-to-date critique from Greenpeace is here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More in honor of Charles Darwin

The video below features David Attenborough speaking about evolution and the biblical book of Genesis.

h/t to Dwindling in Unbelief

The one dollar bill

This is blatantly borrowed from Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist:

Mehta quotes Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson in Vanity Fair.

"The motto 'In God we trust' was added to the dollar bill in 1957. Since then its purchasing power, relative to the consumer price index, has declined by a staggering 87 percent."

Stop laughing! That's terrible!

Joe the economical plumber

This is the stuff of fiction. Bad fiction.

Leaders of the Repugnican Party, bereft of even one, single, simple, sensible idea to help pull our economy out of the Bush dumpster (tax cuts for the rich don't count), have resorted to their usual ploy of manipulating the media to get across their irrational and generally harmful talking points.

What the hell am I talking about?

Joe the plumber. That guy who just happened to accost Obama at a campaign stop; the guy who, with the help of Repugnican nogoodniks has managed to make a career out of being a bumbling nobody; the guy who isn't really what he says he is or what he pretends to be.

According to Faiz Shakir at Think Progress, "House GOP congressional aides decided to invite [Sam aka Joe] Wurzelbacher to a meeting on the stimulus in hopes that it will attract some media attention." Evidently Sam aka Joe told Punxsutawney Phil he didn't much like Obama's stimulus package. Punxsutawney Phil asked him why. Sam aka Joe said plumbers didn't need no Viagra.

Things must be pretty bad for the Repugnicans when even our kiss-ass media aren't taking them seriously.

Steve Benen said, "This is what it's come to for Republican staffers in Congress. In the midst of an economic crisis, after balking at a stimulus package, the GOP is turning to an unlicensed plumber/campaign prop to discuss legislative strategy on economic policy."

He's right, except that I don't think even Republicans are stupid enough to believe that Joe/Sam knows a damn thing about anything, especially economic policy. They are simply hauling his unlicensed ass in front of the cameras to get people to NOTICE them. Few people these days care what Republicans think about anything, and rightfully so, as the pain so many millions of us are suffering is due to the Republicans.

I haven't heard what Wurzelbacher had to say, but I'll bet he doesn't know an economic package from a UPS package.

Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh - GOP models

Joan Walsh, in a Salon article a couple of days ago, noted how Limbaugh and Palin have become "the public faces of the [Republican] party."

Limbaugh and Palin are "emerging from the Republican wilderness," and are "hogging the limelight themselves."

Walsh points out, for example, how Palin trotted down to D.C. to "stalk" President Obama at the "stuffy Alfalfa Dinner," and today [Feb. 2] she's composed an Op-Ed backing (surprise!) drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge."

Limbaugh, on the other hand, wrote an Op-Ed for the WSJ, "with a farcical approach to an "'Obama-Limbaugh' stimulus proposal, and he's continuing to use his radio show to campaign against the Democrats' stimulus bill."

Walsh has much more of interest and importance to say, but my point is simply that nothing reveals the depths to which the Republican Party has sunk than when Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh become Republican role models.

According to a Rasmussen Poll released Feb. 2, a majority of GOP voters believe that the Republican Party should be more like Sarah Palin.

That's just plain scary!

Walsh's entire article is here.

In honor of Charles Darwin

The latest issue of National Geographic (February 2009) includes a special tribute to the great Charles Darwin.

Creationists, those stone-heads whose "truth" is carved from ancient mythological rock hewn by ignorant and superstitious tribesmen, are busy these days conducting "anti-Darwin" festivities, where they applaud their godly delusions and thumb their noses at real science, insisting on a magical creation over six days which so exhausted their too-human deity he had to sit down and rest.

The problem with creationists is simple: they begin with a belief and then attempt to fit the evidence to conform to that belief. They operate in a manner exactly opposite of the scientific method. Creationism, in its several forms, is not science by any stretch of the imagination. It represents fundamentalist Christianity, and starts from a confession of faith: The Christian Bible is to be understood literally, is true in all its aspects, and contains no mistakes or errors. Everything must follow from that confession.

A scientific theory, on the other hand, "is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers." One might say a scientific theory represents the best way to describe and/or understand some thing or some process in our world as it has been tested and found reliable.

The theory of evolution (as well as the theory of relativity, atomic theory and the quantum theory) has been thoroughly tested/documented and proven beyond any reasonable doubt. It has been shown, over and over again, to be the most trustworthy way to understand our world.

As new information comes to light, however, and as that information is put to the test and found reliable, the theory of evolution will be tweaked accordingly.

Darwin's theory of evolution has been modified on a number of occasions. How and why Darwin's theory has been modified is the subject of the National Geographic article. It's one hell of a lot more interesting than the magical machinations of a mythological deity creating the universe in six tiresome days.

National Geographic explains why it is important to honor Charles Darwin:

"This year marks the 150th anniversary of the most incendiary book in the history of science, and coincidentally, the 200th birthday of the mild-mannered Englishman who wrote it. Charles Darwin did not invent the idea of evolution, any more than Abraham Lincoln, who happens to share his birthday on February 12, invented the idea of freedom. What Darwin provided in The Origin of Species was a powerful theory for how evolution could occur through purely natural forces, liberating scientists to explore the glorious complexity of life, rather than merely accept it as an impenetrable mystery. 'Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution,' the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote 36 years ago. That light, which began as a glimmer in the mind of a young naturalist aboard H.M.S. Beagle, today casts a beam so bright we can read the very text of life by it. Darwin would be overjoyed to see how much he did not know, and how much we have yet to learn."

Maybe the creationists should say "Thank God!" for Darwin!

Executive meditation center (Photo)

Stealing your life via RFID

This is just so hard to believe, even though many people have issued warnings about the possibility for several years.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog tells about how one man, Chris Paget, using technology easily accessible to anyone, "drove around San Francisco reading RFID tags [the new computer chips] from passports, driver licenses, and other identity documents. In just 20 minutes, he found and cloned the passports of two very unaware US citizens."

Yikes! Watch and weep.

GOP watched $12 billion in cash disappear in Iraq

[Guarding $12 billion in cash - photo from the

I'd forgotten about this, but was forcefully reminded by Jon Ponder in a post at Pensito Review.

In 2003, it happened. Bush and his GOP cronies took almost "$12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent. The staggering scale of the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve has been graphically laid bare by a US congressional committee."

Why wasn't something done and the culprits hauled off to justice?

The GOP was in charge! You know, the same SOBs that are now fighting the stimulus bill claiming, as usual, that it includes too much wasteful spending. Hah!

Ponder notes further how incredibly stupid it is for the Dems to allow themselves to be put on the defensive about the stimulus bill "by the same Republicans, who, with George Bush, ran the national debt into the trillions in just six short years."

In fact, says Ponder, "this would be a good time to remind Sen. McConnell, Rep. Boehner and the rest that it was they who sat idly by while Bush's men shrink-wrapped $12 billion in U.S. currency -- 363 tons of $100 bills - loaded it onto pallets and flew it on transport planes into the Iraq war zone in mid-2003.

"The money vanished into thin air, and Republicans have stonewalled Democrats' efforts to find out what happened to it ever since."

Ponder's article is here. A more detailed article by the is here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bill Keller, the "leading internet evangelist" and the economy

Bill Keller, since he got out of prison, has made a very good living preaching a lot of nonsense and picking the pockets of a lot of naive folks. Millions are said to listen to him and send him money in spite of the fact he makes no damn sense at all.

In fact, he's got so many nutcases twisting the TV dial his way that he's called the nation's "leading internet evangelist." Heh. Heh.

He's been harping on this subject for a long time now, and you'd think he would have moved on milk another cow, but's the economy, stupid. Back in May, (and we reported on Keller at that time), he said that God would send our economy into the toilet as a punishment for our sins.

Yup. The economic crisis was all about God getting pissed off at Americans. I don't think Keller said too much about all those damn European sinners and Asian sinners and African sinners. I don't think he mentioned Alaska once! (Oh, that's right, Alaska is part of the U.S. Darn!)

Well, why the hell is God so angry? Guess? Abortion is the biggie; we "murder" too many fetuses. Homosexuality is another biggie; there are fags everywhere Keller looks. We've made a "mockery" of family and marriage in this country. Can you blame God for getting pissed?

Not only so, but we are "a nation who has turned away from God to worship a plethora of false gods and idols."

Well, I guess things really are bad then, 'cause when we read Exodus and Leviticus, we know how much God hates false gods and idols!

That's why Keller is insisting that all of Barack Hussein Obama's stimulus plans and every other
attempt to prop up the economy are going to fail, fail, fail! "Instead of getting better, things are getting worse ... " And the reason, says Keller, is that this is not "an economic crisis, but a spiritual crisis, and the only action what will provide any real healing would be for the nation to repent of its sins, ask God's forgiveness, and turn back to God and biblical faith."

What really got Keller mad is that he sent a letter to Prez. Bush, to Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and to Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, back in December asking them to declare a national day of prayer and fasting for the economy.

He got no reply! None of them cared about him enough to even acknowledge his existence! So much for being the nation's "leading internet evangelist."

Heh. Heh.

On your knees, bubblehead! Oh, but first send money. To Bill Keller c/o Lots of money. Hey, even leading internet evangelists have to eat. And drive a BMW or something like it. Mansions cost a lot to maintain too, you know! Might need to buy another jet before long. And mama's gonna need some new clothes.

Here's a video of this idiot claiming Barack Obama is not a Christian but an enemy of God.

Texas atheists attack "godly" moment of school silence

[Image from]

For most teachers, a moment of silence in a classroom is a rare and wonderful thing.

The State of Texas, however, mandates that, in Texas schools, as the school day begins, following the students mumbling their "allegiance" to the flags of the United States and the State of Texas, there be a "moment of silence."

In spite of the fact that said moment of silence is promoted as an opportunity for students to "reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity" that does bother other students, this is moment of silence is but a perverse means by which the christianist right got some sort of "prayer" in the public schools. It's a religious thing, as you shall see.

Other than in professional football, where do you see people come together and have a moment of silence before they get about their business?

Good christianists in Texas are all agog because an "atheist" couple from Carrollton have sued to get the moment of silence tossed from Texas schools.

On the other side, the right wing christianist Liberty Legal Institute, has stepped into the fray and filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing for the maintenance of the moment of silence. Kelly Shackelford, a legal beagle with the LLI, just can't understand why anyone would object.

It's so intolerant, he thinks. "You know," he said, "it's hard to understand these kinds of folks who are so intolerant that they don't want there to be a moment of silence to start the day. ...

"...I hope," whines Shackeford, "we are at a day and age where the idea of striking down times of a moment of silence where every kid gets a right to really pray or not pray or meditate or do whatever they want -- I hope we're at a day and age where we're not that hostile to religion..."

Aha. See! It's all about religion!

A moment of silence is no big deal. It's kind of stupid, though, when a teacher is trying to settle the kiddos down and get to the lesson plan, to have to monitor a moment of silence -- to make sure nobody is talking or whispering or passing notes or listening to their iPod or talking on a cell phone or text messaging or beating up on the person sitting in the seat in front.

What is about these christianists that they just can't keep their grubby little creepily "spiritual" hands off the public schools?

Gideons cannot evangelize at military induction stations

[Gideons handing out bibles at county fair - from mchenrycountyblog.]

Christianist are really something! Representatives from Gideons International have frequently provided bibles at military induction stations for people joining one of the military services. The Gideons also figured they had the right to do a bit of evangelism -- preaching and proselytizing.

Then the ACLU got involved. Thank God for the ACLU.

No more Gideon evangelizing!

According to onenewsnow, "Daniel Trew, public information officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command, says the policy [forbidding Gideon evangelizing] was recently established after concerns were raised by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"'Our legal person went with a representative from the ACLU to one of our stations, and we actually found where the Gideon's individual at that station was getting up and talking to applicants who had just enlisted,' he eplains. 'We could not allow that to go on because the applicants could perceive that this talk was given under the auspices of the Department of Defense."

You think?

Why did it take the ACLU to point out the unconstitutionality of the Gideon's proselytizing to the military poohbahs? And why would the Gideons, being good christianists and all, fail to abide by the Constitution of the United States?

What would the Gideons and other christianists think if Muslims were also there handing out copies of the Koran and preaching to the enlistees? Or members of other religious groups?

Perhaps the larger question is why the hell are the Gideons allowed to hand out bibles to "captives" in induction centers anyway?

Haunted hospital

[Hooded monk ghost photo from]

In Derby, the UK, a new hospital has arisen called the Royal Hospital. It was built on the site of the old Derby City General Hospital.

But there's a problem. Evidently, Derby is "the most haunted place in Britain, with more reports of ghosts, poltergeists, werewolves and other supernatural phenomena than anywhere else in the UK."

And a ghost has been showing up in the new hospital! Some members of the staff have seen " a cloaked figure dressed in black roaming wards and corridors." They are frightened, or more accurately, "scared witless."

What to do?

Well, hell's bells, call the Bishop of Derby. The bishop has to approve exorcisms and the hospital decided they needed an exorcism.

The chaplain's got it all taken care of, and someone from the cathedral will be coming out to exorcise the ghost shortly.

Thank God?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Time for a break (Photo)

It must be time for a break and a cup of joe

The human costs of Bush's invasion of Iraq

[Click here for souce of photo and much more information]

John Tirman, writing for The Nation, provides us with the latest estimates of the human costs related to George W. Bush's ill-advised, illegal and incredibly stupid invasion of Iraq.

He says, "the United Nations estimates that there are about 4.5 million displaced Iraqis -- more than half of them refugees -- or about one in every six citizens." [More perspective: That's about as many people as live in the area of South Florida comprised of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.]

"Only 5 percent [of these displaced Iraqis] have chosen to return to their homes over the past year, a period of reduced violence from the high levels of 2005-2007. The availability of healthcare, clean water, functioning schools, jobs and so forth remains elusive. According to Unicef, many provinces report that less than 40 percent of households have access to clean water. More than 40 percent of children in Basra, and more than 70 percent in Baghdad, cannot attend school.

"The mortality caused by the war is also high. ... we have, at present, between 800,000 and 1.3 million 'excess deaths' as we approach the six-year anniversary of this war."

In summary: "About 1 million killed, 4.5 million displaced, 1-2 million widows, 5 million orphans."

What did they do to deserve us?

Read the entire article here.

Palin prevaricated to Repubs, partied elsewhere

The fact that Palin lied once again should not surprise anyone. (This is the woman who sold the plane on e-Bay, that reads all the newspapers, that sees Russia from her house, that didn't ban Harry Potter but did, that hated earmarks, etc.)

But it did.

Think Progress tells the tale they picked up from The Note.

When the House Republicans (they're the ones who can't be stimulated) planned for their annual retreat (which is held every year - I thought I needed to explain that in case any House Republicans should read this), they sent an invite to the Guv of Alaska, one Ms. Sarah Palin, prevaricator extraordinaire.

It is reported that these unstimulated House Repugs hoped Palin would give a rousing speech so all Repugnicans everywhere would jump up and down and clap their hands and cry out what a wonderful Party was the Repugnican Party.

T'was not to be. Palin pretended she had "pressing state business" and this "made it impossible for her to leave Alaska."

Heh, heh.

The hockey mom liar did it again. She didn't have to stay in Alaska. She had no "pressing business," except to make sure her gown was ironed.

So she snuck out of Alaska and flew off to Washington, D.C. where she attended the extra-special Alfalfa Dinner which is only for certain well-connected and very important people. (Word is she got an invitation from an anonymous donor.)

The Repug poohbahs were not happy. One of the Repugs that actually attended their annual retreat (which is held every year) cried: "She lied to us."


That's what she does best!

Here she is, arriving at Alfalfa. More here.

"You're gonna die!" says high school girl

It all happened at Pelahatchie High School in Pelahatchie, Mississippi.

Kinda figures - you know, what with Mississippi being the land of the devilish Haley Barbour, Trent Lott, and Roger (the dodger) Wicker; oh, we musn't forget the Citizen's Council, a wonderful organization dedicated to keeping the "heritage" of the South alive.

Here's the story: Lashundra Clanton, a student at Pelahatchie High School, all of sudden began speaking in a deep voice, sometimes speaking in "tongues," during which time she told students "about little-known facts in their past and made predictions on how some of them would die."

Some of the students at Lashundra's school were so upset they fled and stayed out of school for days. Others figured a demon had overtaken her, so they brought Bibles to school and held a devotional service, to try to get God to get her to stop with the craziness, I suppose.

That's kinda funny: magic against magic. Who's mojo is gonna be strongest?

Lashundra says it wasn't the devil or an evil spirit. "Some believe," she saith, "some don't. They say it was the devil, but the devil only tells lies. Everything I said was the truth."

It was God speaking through her! Of course!

Here's the proof: "I didn't cuss anyone out," argues Clanton. "If it was a demon, I would have tore that school up. I would have thrown desks and everything. I didn't say no cuss words at all."

See there! No cuss words, and she didn't tore nothing up!

God doth, indeed, move in mysterious ways.

Newspaper article here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Kurt Warner - friends, family, teammates, going to hell

The Super Bowl is over. The Steelers won. The Arizona quarterback, Kurt Warner, appears to be a nice person and is certainly a fine athlete and overall he played a good game, if not quite good enough.

The problem is his religion.

Warner, as you may or may not know, is a fundamentalist Christian who believes that any person who is not "born again" [as he defines "born again"] is going to spend eternity in hell. In this video, he speaks of his deep concern for friends, family members and teammates who have not accepted Jesus in their heart - Warner is convinced they are going to burn forever in hell.

It's an interesting, if brief, commentary on christianist religion.

(I borrowed this video from Dan Florien at Unreasonable Faith. Thanks, Dan!)

Hanging out at the mall (Photo)

Hanging out at the mall on a Super Bowl Sunday afternoon.

The "authentic" Ten Commandment tablets re-created

Heh, heh.

It's amazing what fundamentalists (Jewish or Christian) can do with a little biblical mythology.

Let's start here: The majority of criticial biblical scholars are quite convinced that the stories of Moses, the Exodus, the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, as well as the military conquest of Palestine are mythological, and non-historical. They so believe because there is no evidence - archaeological or otherwise - for any of those stories.

Fundamentalists, who believe everything in the Bible is literally true and is inerrant in all respects don't agree, of course, with the biblical scholars, because they read the Bible through the prism of their theology, and anything in the Bible that appears to contradict their theology is explained away through a series of mental gymnastics that would make Mary Lou Retton proud.

That explains why a little company down in San Antonio "has re-created, as an art form, an authentic and faithful-to-scripture set of the two stone tablets referred to in the Bible," the tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments.

The company, HaShem Artworks, plants to display these "authentic" tablets on Feb. 8 in the Crossroads Mall in San Antonio.

The artist who did the work, A. E. Tracy Potts, well-meaning though he may be, is living in a biblical fantasy world. He claims that "Unlike some mythological artifact from pagan antiquity bearing some ancient curse by some obscure or unknown god, these Two Stone Tablets, like the ones that Moses would have carried off Mt. Sinai, bear the ancient and actual blessing promised in every Bible ever published, whether Jewish or Christians, of the Deity worshiped by its believers."

Actually, the god, who according to the Hebrew myth, "spoke" to Moses, was the tribal god of Moses' father-in-law (according to the Bible!). The Hebrews, in the myth, knew very little about this god, and weren't really too concerned with this god, and immediately ignored the "commandments" Moses had received from this god. That, of course, made the god mad and he proceeded to kill thousands of them zippy-doo! To teach them a lesson, you understand.

The Ten Commandments are the Hebrew revision of other ancient law codes, most importantly the Code of Hammurabi, Hammurabi being the sixth king of Babylon, who extended Babylon's control over all of Mesopotamia. The Code of Hammurabi is likely the first codified set of laws in the ancient world.

Hashem, by the way, is the "name" by which Orthodox Jews reference the deity.

And you might enjoy looking at these stone tablets, but don't be fooled into thinking they are rooted in history. They are not. They are rooted in ancient myths which were recast by Hebrew scholars in the 7th Century BCE in order to strengthen and nation and the temple cult.

The Repubs vote against stimulus because Obama is a partisan

[Photo of House Republicans by Getty Images]


A huge bloc of Repugnican androids in the House of Representatives, 177 to be exact, voted against the stimulus bill. NO Repugnican voted for the bill.

Initially, the Repugnicans cried about the fact the stimulus bill contained funds for family planning, and, as onenewsnow put it, that "the bill would merely advance the liberal social agenda, grow the government, and reward liberal interest groups--all without doing much to help the economy."

Wow, that's quite an indictment, except for the fact it's bullshit.

At any rate, to the dismay of some of us lefties, Obama knuckled under and agreed to one of the Repugnican demands, calling for the family-planning provision to be stripped from the bill.

Didn't do any good.

No Repugnican voted for the bill.

So, here's the uptake: The economy is in the toilet. The President is making a good-faith effort to stimulate the economy and worked hard to bring Repugnicans on board in a bi-partisan effort, which included caving to at least one of their demands.

They still voted NO.

Now the Repugnicans are saying that because Obama didn't agree to every single one of their demands, or rewrite the bill to Repugnican specifications, he is an agent of a partisan agenda.

It's not their fault they voted against the bill, it's Obama's fault. Obama can't seem to understand that bi-partisanship means giving the Repugs everything they want.

Is this a great country, or what?

Who's god will win the Super Bowl?

[Image from]

The Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers - violent engines of physical destruction - both claim a number of players who profess the Christian faith.

For the Cardinals: Kurt Warner, Tim Hightower and Roderick Hood, among others.

For the Steelers: Aaron Smith, Troy Polamalu and Willie Parker, among others.

These guys are not hesitant about speaking of their faith. And they will all invoke the name of their god as they do battle later today. The question is, who's god's gonna win?

Maybe Roderick Hood's god. Hood is said to pray before he heads out on the field, during the game and after the game. But he doesn't ask his god to let his team win. No. He just wants his god to keep everyone "safe."

Think about that a minute: Professional football is designed to be a violent, bone-cracking exercise in brutality. That's what makes it so much fun! Yet Mr. Hood wants his god to intervene to ensure that as these overpaid brutes try to kill each other, no one gets hurt.

But Kurt Warner, the Arizona quarterback, is also a christianist, and his god is perhaps more powerful than Hood's. He's always talking about his god and how wonderful his god is and how he really, really has trust in his god. Kurt carries his Bible with him everywhere (well, maybe not when he's actually out on the playing field). But he did take it to the press conference after Arizona's win over Philadelphia which put them in the Super Bowl. Why he would do that, I dunno. Not much chance to read it. I suppose it's to show everyone what a great and wunnerful christianist he really is.

Back to the important question: Who's god's gonna win?

We just don't know at this point. We've placed several calls to the heavenly area code, but are still waiting for a response from the Lord. One angel told us "off the record," 'cause she wasn't authorized to give this information, that the Lord never, ever announces his future plans. The reason being it would upset the odds the bookies set up who work out of the Heaven's Gate Pub.

The she giggled: "The Lord thinks all those wacky preachers on earth who go around predicting the end-times are soooo funny," she said. "Nobody knows and it may never happen. Then again, he has said he might let it all end the way it began. Sometimes the Lord jogs around heaven singing, 'It all started with a bang, so let it blow, let it blow, let it blow.'"

She became very serious: "Seriously," she said, "the Eastern Med Saints, which includes St. Paul, by the way, have set up a pool for the end-times. They have a big sign on the Golden Plaza Turnpike. It reads 'Jump in the pool for end-times' sake!' And that puts pressure on the Lord not to reveal when the end-times are gonna happen. Some of the saints are pretty feisty, and he could have a saintly brawl on his hands."

Then the angel whispered "Bye, bye." She giggled again, and as she hung up the phone I could hear her singing in a delightful soprano voice, "Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow."