Saturday, May 15, 2010

To my conservative friends...

This was forwarded to me by a not-so-conservative friend. The original author is unknown, but it is a special and importance piece of writing.

Dear Conservative Friend,

I seem to recall that the current economic disaster began and in fact grew to its monstrous size under your President, whose policies were so short-sighted and reckless that he managed to turn a several billion dollar surplus into a near total economic collapse in eight years. The TARP was his program, a last minute bailout of his buds on the Street who had treated the money entrusted to them by the middle class as their own private casino funds, bet it all again and again in speculative endeavors that even they admit were absurd, and–gee whillikers!–ultimately collapsed under their own artificially propped up weight.

You may certainly disagree with Obama’s Keynesian approach to resolving the problem, but if you examine what is happening in the economy today there is little doubt that it is working. Not as quickly as everyone would like it to work, certainly, but then it took a very long time to create this mess, so fixing it in a little more than a year is and always was highly unlikely.
Still, let’s see what Obama has presided over thus far, shall we?

When he came in, the stock market was in free fall. Today, it has completely recovered and is setting records. When he came in, the American auto business was in danger of becoming extinct.
Today, Detroit may not be thriving, but the Big 3 are alive and well and looking to the future.
When he came in, Bush had paid out $700B in TARP money. Today, all but $100B or so has been repaid. When he came in, the nation was bleeding jobs, losing them at a pace that seemed assured to land us in another Great Depression.

Almost immediately, after passing the Recovery Act, the bleeding lessened. Every month of his administration, it has continued to lessen. Then, in December, the economy began producing jobs. Every month since then it has produced more jobs than the month before, with over 200K produced in April alone. He has managed to accomplish something that Presidents have been trying to do since Teddy Roosevelt: get Congress to adopt a national health care policy that regulates the insurance industry and guarantees coverage without recision. It is not enough, but it is a start.

He has removed the banks as middle men in the student loan industry for the first time since Reagan put them there. Do you know when college education costs started skyrocketing? I’ll tell you: the Reagan administration. Hmmm… Again, it’s not nearly enough, but it’s a step.

Despite being fought tooth and nail by opposition whose only cohesive policy appears to be “say no to everything Obama wants,” he seems to be making headway against most of the big issues that faced him when he came into office. If the GOP would stop playing politics and start (oh, I don’t know) trying to govern, we could be well on our way not only to recovery but to a truly remarkable time in America. But the GOP would rather foster unrest and encourage anger and hatred and doubt than do anything positive at this point in their existence.

Truly, that’s too bad. When I look at the sorry state of the Republican Party right now, I just feel sad. It has been taken over by its worst elements. You ask me to “vote conservative”? I don’t think I could if I even wanted to. True conservatives are hard to come by in this charade of “tea party” extremists. When Bob Bennett gets kicked out of the Senate by his constituents in Utah for not being “conservative” enough, the world is out of whack. When Charlie Crist and Arlen Spector can’t find a place any longer within the GOP, something is seriously wrong with the party of Lincoln. When John McCain has to stoop to picking Sarah Freaking Palin as a running mate to appease the ultra right wing knuckle-draggers in his own party and then agree to allow her to foment vitriol in rally after rally to the extent that things got so out of control that even he had to step in at one rally and set his voters straight, someone has lost all sense of propriety.

When the party becomes the home of bigots and birthers and men who show up to Presidential rallies wearing weapons, sanity has left the building. When the State of Maine, which usually remains somewhat above the lunacy and which has (to its credit) the only two moderate Republicans still allowed to roam free, loses its collective mind and issues a political platform that is so utterly (as one writer put it) “batshit crazy” that at one point it actually demands that the State of Maine officially oppose any attempt to create a one-world government, the whole party has officially come unhinged. Talk about giving in to the conspiracy theorists. Why don’t they just mandate tin-foil hats?

The thing is that conservatism, true conservatism, is needed in this country. Just as yin needs yang, as dark needs light, as up needs down, so liberal needs conservative. Everything requires balance. Bush proved that. When the Dems were rolling over and playing dead, acquiescing to everything he asked for in his first term instead of using the fact that his majorities were slim to negotiate better bills, Bush rode roughshod over the Constitution, deceived us into an immoral and very costly war, became the king of the unfunded mandate, and spent years rewarding the richest people in the land and ignoring everyone else so that, just before everything went to hell, the gap between executive and worker pay was by far the largest it had ever been in history. The rich got richer and richer and the middle class and the poor could not make ends meet.

These were his legacies. His legacies, not Obama’s. Because he was a neocon, not a true conservative. I do not agree with conservatism, as you are well aware. But I respect it. It is honorable and sincere and those who believe in its philosophies truly have the best interests of America in mind when they run for offices under conservative banners. But the neocons? Uh uh. History will record–if they have not started us on an irreparable path to our own national destruction–that they were one of the greediest and most self-righteous groups of leaders ever, that their hypocrisy was matched only by their amorality, and that they presided over the systematic and intentional undermining of a system of checks and balances that had been in place since the Great Depression which, once gone, unleashed a torrent of cash into their coffers and aggressively destroyed the economy for everyone else.

Sadly, there would be no place in today’s GOP for any GOP President in American history save Bush and (maybe) Reagan. Pappy Bush would never make it. Nixon? He’s practically a liberal. Ford? Forget it. Ike? No way in hell. Do you what the taxes were like under Ike? The highest progressive tax rate was 90% for the income in the highest margins. 90%. Imagine that! And what did the poorest pay? Nothing. Communist!

Where is the party of these Presidents? Where is the party of William F. Buckley? Where is the party of Russell Kirk? Hell, Barry Goldwater, who was considered so outrageously conservative in 1964 that Lyndon Johnson’s voters actually believed the “daisy ad,” would be in the Democratic Party today. William Safire defined himself as a “libertarian conservative”; is there even room for that in today’s GOP?

This GOP has earned its “Party of No” moniker. John Boehner’s office actually began circulating templates opposing Obama’s SCOTUS nominee with “INSERT NAME” on them, the templates proclaiming (basically) the downfall of civilization as we know it if this nominee (whoever it happened to be apparently was unimportant) gets through. Despite the fact–the fact–that Obama has, from the outset, reached out to them time after time after time, angering his own constituents in the process by (in the opinion of many on the left) giving away the store before negotiations even start just to show his good faith, the GOP insists on maintaining the lie that he refuses to include them in anything.

The health care bill is chock full of Republican ideas, but all you heard from them was “he’s shoving it down our throats.” The first thing Obama did in the Recovery bill was to agree to tax cuts despite the fact that Keynesian economics tells us that they are utterly counterproductive because it would, he thought, bring the GOP to the table. In the final Stim Bill, there were I think almost $200B in cuts. My taxes were lower this year; were yours? A study just today says that we are being taxed at the lowest rate since Truman. Good Lord! What does anyone have to complain about the job the government is doing with the little we are still giving them?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to give them more. I can’t afford to. But I’ll tell you what: unlike the idiots who took the Washington Metro to anti-government rallies to chant against all taxes and government interference in their daily lives (“but keep your hands off our Medicare!”) and then bitch about the long waits to get back home on the (government-run) trains, saying that someone should have put more cars on duty for the rallies, I understand what I am paying for. I am paying for the infrastructure of this nation. Much of it is old and crumbling and in desperate need of repair, and, yes, in need of our tax dollars to make those repairs happen. But I wouldn’t be driving on interstate highways with excellent police protection to places that won’t burn down because fire codes are strictly enforced where I can eat healthy food that I know won’t kill me because health codes too are enforced (and I could go on) if it were not for those tax dollars. That’s just the truth. And I for one would not wish to do without any of these things. And, seeing the excellent job that the banks and the insurance industries have done of keeping college and health costs down through good old fashioned capitalistic free enterprise, and watching the way Wall Street has consistently screwed the middle class while padding its pockets, even during the current crisis–even while taking taxpayer handouts!–I think I’d rather have the government in charge and take my chances.

(Oh, and before you say “but Medicare is a shambles,” just stop. It’s not. It’s just underfunded. Thank you, Bush tax cuts. There is a reason those tea partiers are holding those “hands off my medicare” signs, and it isn’t because they like crappy health care.)

I don’t usually bother trying to get you to see “my” side of the political argument. Frankly, it’s not worth it. You’ve spent too many hours watching Fox News and believing that you are seeing something that actually is true. Heck, I think Rush Limbaugh has even begun to believe the garbage he spews into the ether, and he was perfectly willing to admit several years ago that he is, first and foremost, an entertainer.

I don’t think that Ann Coulter believes a word she says. I think she is a huge hypocrite saying whatever she thinks will sell books, and she’s found a ready audience on Fox. She’s become such a caricature of herself that she simply cannot be taken seriously and, unlike Rush, she never was an entertainer, so there’s no excuse.)

But anyway, for whatever reason, I just thought I’d give this a shot, even if it falls on the deaf ears I suspect it will. You think I have swallowed Obama’s Kool-Aid and I’m just echoing the party line, but I’m not. It’s the Fox News types, the Tea Partiers, who have swallowed the Kool-Aid, and it really is poison. As for me, well, I question Obama all the time. I’m very unhappy with the fact that Guantanamo is still open, for instance. And I am deeply disturbed by the fact that he has not issued an Executive Order–as would be within his authority–halting execution of DADT until Congress can eliminate it. I think that at least one of these SCOTUS nominees should have been a flaming liberal; Bush did not hesitate to appoint ardent conservatives. I also think he appeases the GOP too much, especially when they have shown again and again that they are utterly unwilling to compromise in any way. My feeling is that he should just say “screw it” and use his Democratic majorities to forge powerful left-leaning legislation, just as Bush did on the other side with far smaller majorities (and even with a Senate tie): if the GOP doesn’t want a part in things, the heck with them. But he continues to be a statesman despite everything. And you know what? After eight years of having a class clown as President, I sort of like that.

And I hate to say this, but the Democrats on the fringe, though clearly outside of the realm of political reality, stood for something morally good. They stood for basic human dignity and welfare, for equal rights for everyone, for helping those in need. What does the fringe of the right today stand for? Hatred and distrust. Hatred of Obama, hatred of gays, bigotry, anger, distrust of government, lack of faith in even the evidence right before their eyes that Obama is in fact a US citizen. I am worried that a party that gives in to this kind of fringe will implode, never to return. A new second party will emerge, perhaps the Libertarians, who are in a good position, but it would be a shame.

Abraham Lincoln is often cited as the standard bearer of the GOP. They like Teddy Roosevelt too. And Ike. But these guys would not recognize the party of today. And they sure as heck would not want to be a part of it. But that’s OK: they wouldn’t be welcome if they did.

A thoroughly modern "faith"

Click on cartoon to enlarge.

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

For Bill McCollum the ends justify the means

[Photo of McCollum from here - great article, too!]

We've written before how, for many Repugnicans and right-wing christianist freaks, the ends justify the means. Anything goes if it helps Repugs keep or obtain political power or if it somehow satisfies the perverted theology of fundamentalist Christians.

George Rekers is a fundamentalist Christian and Southern Baptist minister. He is a right-wing christianist freak and is "rabidly anti-gay." Rekers writes books and gives lectures on the evils of homosexuality and how the "disease" can be overcome with the help of Jesus (and himself).

Rekers, as everyone knows, is also the character who took a male "escort" on a 10-day vacation trip to Europe. Rekers has a bad back or something, and didn't want to lift his own baggage, so he did the "natural" thing and hired a "lifter" from Rentboy.Com. Unfortunately, not only was Rekers was caught on camera lifting his luggage while "rent boy" looked on but "rent boy" ratted him out by describing a variety of "nude sexual massages" he provided for the anti-gay minister.

This is where Bill McCollum comes in. McCollum is Florida's Attorney General. Currently, he is running for governor of the Sunshine State. He is also an unreconstructed Repugnican of the worst kind - the kind that thinks anything goes if it will help the Repugnican Party.

Florida has a law that bans gay couples from adopting children; one of the worst of such laws in the entire country! When McCollum needed to defend this ban in court and was not able to find a "reputable witness," McCollum hired the Rev. Rekers.

Not only so, but he paid Mr. Rekers $120,000 of TAX PAYER money for his "testimony," in spite of the fact that "Rekers is part of a small cadre of homophobes-for-hire that charge top dollar for their bogus 'expert' witness testimony despite the fact that they've been discredited over and over again."

Rekers is just another scummy preacher, hiding his real persona in a closet, while making a mint out of homophobic rants. To hell with him. But McCollum is a paid public servant who is expected to serve all the people of the State of Florida. He doesn't do that. He serves the ultra-right-wing conservative wingnuts most of whom are flat-earth christianists!

Why would he hire a low-life like Rekers. Well, says McCollum, "there wasn't a whole lot of choice." Hah, hah. It gets funnier. Now he says he wouldn't do it again. He just didn't know! Heh, heh!

He shouldn't be elected as the proverbial dog-catcher!

Well, there's much more and you can read Mr. Rogers entire article here.

Jon Stewart on the oil spill

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sam Harris takes on the Vatican

[Pope Bennie praying - for what?]

Sam Harris, the erstwhile atheist trying to bring reason to a demented world that continues to confuse faith with facts, has finally taken on the Vatican.

He can keep quiet no longer. Here's why:

"Just imagine a pious mother and father sending their beloved child to the Church of a Thousand Hands for spiritual instruction, only to have him raped and terrified into silence by threats of hell. And then imagine this occurring to tens of thousands of children in our own time -- and to children beyond reckoning for over a thousand years. The spectacle of faith so utter misplaced, and so fully betrayed, is simply too depressing to think about."

But Harris has decided to think about it anyway. Here's the way he sees it:

"The Catholic Church has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution, declaring the most basic, healthy, mature, and consensual behaviors taboo. Indeed, this organization still opposes the use of contraception, preferring, instead, that the poorest people on earth be blessed with the largest families and the shortest lives. As a consequence of this hallowed and incorrigible stupidity, the Church has condemned generations of decent people to shame and hypocrisy -- or to Neolithic fecundity, poverty, and death by AIDS. Add to this inhumanity the artifice of cloistered celibacy, and you now have an institution -- one of the wealthiest on earth -- that preferentially attracts pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual sadists into its ranks, promotes them to positions of authority, and grants them privileged access to children..."

Mr. Harris continues with a description of the sexual and physical abuse part and parcel of the Roman Church in Ireland as outlined in The Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA), 2009. Horrifying is much too weak a word to categorize the abuses delineated.

As a result, Mr. Harris has joined with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins in an attempt to "end the 'diplomatic immunity' which the Vatican claims protects the Pope from any responsibility."

Personally, I think this is a good idea and a good first step in the right direction. The current pope, as we know, has been for years instrumental in covering up the dastardly abuses by clerical and other members of the Roman Church.

The pope is nothing more than a male human being who wears colorful dresses. And if he is guilty of hiding criminal behavior to protect other males who wear colorful dresses, he should be called to account.

For the full article by Sam Harris, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quiz Show (Bible Contradictions)

Caner the con man from Liberty

[Photo of Ergun Caner from]

Ergun Michael Caner, or E. Michael Caner, or Butch Caner, or Ergun Mehmet Caner is the president of the faux Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, founded by the faux christianist, Jerry Falwell. He has run into a bit of a snag on his way to the top of the "evangelical" heap.

Caner has "aggressively [...] capitalized on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to portray himself as a personal example of the power of Jesus to save even someone raised as a jihadist, which he claimed to be."

How Caner the con man came to be the prez of this so-called institution of "righteousness" is an interesting story. But the thot has plickened and the con man, Caner, is battling numerous "enemies," legions in Satan's army, who are trying to bring him down!

Caner has been called the "Christian Right's Favorite Muslim Convert." The reason for this derives from his claims to know "about the evils of Islam firsthand...[and] his own tale of having been raised in Turkey as the son of a religious leader and trained in a madrassa to wage jihad against Americans."

But...seems like Caner the con man has been conning everyone! According to an article by Peter Montgomery at AlterNet, Caner's "actual life story [my emphasis], as told in some of his books and public appearances and pieced together from public records in recent months by bloggers," is at odds with the "official" version.

"Ergun Caner," writes Montgomery, "was born in 1966 in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Turkish father. His parents settled in Ohio a few years later and were divorced when Caner was 8. Caner lived with his mother and spent time and religious holidays with his father.

"...As a teenager, Caner became a Christian. His father disowned him after his conversion, but his brothers, mother and grandmother also eventually became Christians."

Nothing there about being raised in Turkey and attending a madrassa or waging jihad against Americans.

Liberty University, which has invested a great deal in the Caner's mythical persona, is loathe to admit to any problem with their president. So, typical of the Christian right, Caner's supporters are attacking those who dared uncover Caner's lies. Caner, they say, is being religiously persecuted. And the dean of Liberty's school of religion said Caner has not done anything "theologically inappropriate." He went on to claim that Caner's problem with the truth is neither an ethical nor moral issue."

[Goddamn, these guys are good! Lying, cheating, falsifying records - not ethical or moral issues. Amazing!]

Caner himself has admitted to making "mistakes" and misspeaking, and has apologized for doing so. For many people, though, such a lame comeback just doesn't cut it.

There's so much more information in this article and it's well worth a look because once again it points out the corruption that is endemic and an epidemic in fundamentalist Christianity. Once again, we see the blatant hypocrisy - the lives lived based on the principle that the ends justify the means.

Caner joins a long list that is growing longer daily of master hypocrites claiming to be lovers of Jesus, who dare to stand up in public an exhort others to follow their religious interpretations as the absolute Word of God, only to be exposed as preaching something they neither believe in nor practice.

Read Mr. Montgomery's entire article here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yours and mine

Please click on the cartoon to enlarge.

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Fundamentalist ignorance and arrogance in Texas

[This is not the church mentioned in the article]

In a little town just outside of Houston, Texas, is an independent, fundamentalist "Bible" church which preys on the ignorant and unsuspecting people by preaching a religion based on the notion of an inerrant "Bible" that only they and other like-minded religionists interpret correctly.

They interpret their Bible thus: Human beings are basically sinful and deserve to spend eternity being tortured in hell. But God, who made human beings sinful, loves his sinful human beings so much he sent his son (who was really himself) to earth as a "real" human just like all the rest of us, so he could be killed on a cross or a tree. [The fact that a real "god" can't die seems to have eluded them].

Being killed is the important thing because these fundamentalist Christians believe there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Yes, I know that's a sacrificial system, a form of ancient barbarism, but that's what they believe. So this son who is really god (Jesus) must die in order for God (who is Jesus) to forgive the sins of the humans he created as sinful beings.

What you have to do to be saved is simply "believe" that Jesus died on a cross to save you from your sins.

[This nonsense gets even worse with the Roman Catholics who believe that during the mass, Jesus is killed again on the cross by the magic words of the priest and that's why it's so important to attend mass -- to eat the cracker and drink the wine - 'cause you're really, truly, actually eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood, and thus you share in his "sacrifice" and are saved.]

I am not making this up.

Back to this little town in Texas and the "Bible" church. The pastor of this so-called "Bible" church writes a column in the local paper. I just happened to receive a copy of one of his most recent literary efforts.

Because so many people in this little Texas town are fundamentalist Christians, the pastor assumes that they are in essential agreement with his beliefs. Thus, he begins his article this way:

"When we [my emphasis] lose elections and a Communist, homosexual, or a Muslim gets elected, I want my pastor to tell me how we can elect a Biblically-qualified candidate next time."

Hmm...well...I've heard these types of christianists call Obama a commie and a Muslim, but not a homosexual. Maybe this pastor knows something I don't? Not that he's referring specifically to President Obama. God forbid. But, if people are driven to make that connection...well...

He continues with such drivel although to give him credit he does say that Christians should not "vote for a Christian candidate regardless of experience and capabilities." But then I have to decredit him 'cause he wants us to think that Christianity is a religion unlike any other. Actually, Christianity is not even a religion. "Religion," saith the pastor, "is what mankind does to get to God or to try to make him happy.

"Every other religion that I am aware of does this. On the other hand, Christianity is what God has done for and to us."

Yup! That's why Christianity is not a religion. Then the good pastor quotes some Bible verses to "prove" his point.

And his point ends up being that he won't vote for anyone who doesn't share the same understanding of Christianity that he holds. That doesn't mean "a Christian leader will always do what is glorifying to God" but he's going to "prefer a capable Christian over a candidate who does not have this kind of relationship with God through Jesus."

If I ever meet this guy, I'm going to ask him if he voted for Obama. I mean Obama clearly had a much clearer Christian faith and stance than the other guy and his moronic cohort from Alaska.

Secondly, I'm going to ask him if he has ever read the Constitution of the United States. That document is quite clear that there shall be no religious test applied to those who wish to hold public office in our country. That clause was inserted into our Constitution because our founding fathers knew from bitter experience that government under those who claimed a relationship with God through Jesus could be an horrendous thing!

The third question I would ask this pastor if I were to meet him, has to do with how he can justify such a flagrant rejection of a fundamental American principle. He is very specific - even though he tries to hedge his bets, in the end he does not equivocate - vote for a fundamentalist Christian.

You might be thinking, what's the big deal? He's just a local cleric in a little Texas town. So he swings a few people to his way of thinking.

Except this guy has clones by the thousands in small (and large) towns all over our country who are preaching the same un-American claptrap. Every single Sunday, Biblically-challenged, ignorant people listen to their clergy (who they usually perceive to be their spiritual betters) rant about the importance of electing fundamentalist Christians to public office.

Which is why we've got so many christianist fundys on our city councils, in our state legislatures and on Capitol Hill in Washington!

Not only so, but there isn't a chance in hell that one single person believes their pastors would recommend voting for a Democrat under any circumstances! All this preaching about Jesus-lovers for office is code meaning "vote Republican"!

Which means the pastor in this little Texas town and all the pastors like him throughout the US of A are extremely dangerous! They are a threat to our Constitutional way of life and thus a threat to the ongoing health of our beloved country!

Rachel Maddow skewers George Rekers

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