Saturday, May 21, 2011

Noah has landed on the taxpayers in Kentucky!

There was no great flood.  There was no Noah's Ark.  There was no Tower of Babel.

These stories drifted down through centuries of mythological waters and ended up in the Hebrew Bible.  They are not factual.  They are, and always have been, myths promoted by ancient people to try to better understand the world in which they lived or their god who made life so damn miserable!

In the 21st century, millions of people all over the world continue to cling to the notion that these biblical tales represent real events from away back when.  And in the USA such ignorance is endemic to fundamentalist Christian culture.  Especially in the south.  Some southerners, usually fundy christianists, still can't get over the fact they lost the Civil War.  They can't even grasp the fundamental concept that the Civil War was about the enslavement of human beings.  And the Civil War happened a mere 150 years ago.  Thus, to believe in mythologies that go back about three or four thousand years, is no problem whatsoever.

In the US of A, you can believe such silliness if you so desire.  You have that right.  Neither the government nor any other human agency can force you to give up your beliefs no matter how stupid or unrelated to reality they are.

But it's unfortunate that so many live in an intellectual and historical void where darkness and ignorance reign.  These are the same people who refuse to accept the scientific theory of evolution even though all of science is built upon it.  These are the same people who disavow global warming even though the earth is already feeling its effects.  As one woman from Tennessee told me, people in Tennessee don't like Al Gore!  Why?  Because he's stirring up a lot of unnecessary trouble complaining about global warming.  Plus, he's a "librul."

It is no secret that our state legislatures are infested with christianist fundamentalists who think evolution is of the "devil," who refuse to accept the fact of global warming, who want to toss our Constitution and allow christianist prayers in public schools and the right to post their religious beliefs on courthouse walls and disallow abortions and stem-cell research because their christianist god, they think, opposes such things.  These are the people who trample our Constitution giving away taxpayer monies to various religious groups including parochial schools.

Most unfortunate is that the state of Kentucky has succumbed big time to their influence.  A group of christianist fundamentalists got together awhile back and decided they could make a lot of money by building an amusement park featuring "a full-size 500-foot-by-75 foot reproduction of Noah's Ark, a Tower of Babel, and other biblical exhibits on a 800-acre campus outside of Williamstown, KY.

They floated this idea around and suggested it would be much easier to do if the state of Kentucky gave them some financial incentives.

The state of Kentucky should have told them to go to hell!

But, noooo.  The state of Kentucky, rife with christianist fundamentalists who hold very weird beliefs, and actually think there was a great big ark a long time ago on which a guy named Noah collected two of each species so that life would be preserved while a loving god who was thoroughly pissed off at his creation went about the process of destroying most every person and critter on earth in order to get revenge on the people who had failed to heed his warnings about how to live, whatever they were.  Why all the animals had to die, too, was not explained.  I mean, really, what the hell did they do wrong?

The guv of Tennessee, Steve Beshear, who happens to be a Democrat (damn it!) thinks this biblical amusement park is a great idea.  The reason for that is because he believes the park will create a few jobs for which he can take credit.  Needless to say, he sees no constitutional issues whatsoever in the use of taxpayer money to help fund the park.

So on May 19, the State of Kentucky approved $43 million in tax credits for the park.  Not only so, but it is likely the people of Kentucky will also have to pony up another $11 million to "improve a highway interchange near the site."

The people of Kentucky are getting screwed!  Alex Seitz-Wald, writing at Think Progress, says that these "tax breaks for an amusement park come at a time when state leaders are asking residents to sacrifice as they cut important social programs.  'The state has gone through eight rounds of budget cuts over the past three years, [including cuts] to "education at all levels" and a pay freeze for all teachers and state workers."

Not only so, but Kentucky has cut funding for Medicaid by sending recipients to managed care plans which creates a bigger bureaucracy and makes it more difficult to obtain care and which will also increase costs by some 20 percent.

Many leaders in the scientific community are dismayed.  Dan Phelps, a geologist, said Gov. Beshear's support of this park "embarrassing for the state."  Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is threatening to sue Kentucky.  The Rev. Barry Lynn, who heads up Americans United says, rightly, that "The state of Kentucky should not be promoting the spread of fundamentalist Christianity or any other religious viewpoint.  Let these folks build their fundamentalist Disneyland without government help."

And all the smart people said "Amen"!

At the amusement park

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Florida - sinking in a swamp of greed under Rick Scott

[Rick Scott cartoon from here.]

Rick Scott is known for shady dealings.  Most people are aware of the fact that he should be in jail for his involvement in the most massive Medicare fraud in history.  Most of us are also aware that he used a portion of his ill-gotten gains ($73 million) to buy the governor's office in the state of Florida.

It is likely, I believe, that at some point this nogoodnik will overreach and the short arm of the law will catch up to him and he'll be indicted and convicted and impeached.

Another option would be a recall petition, but there is currently no mechanism to achieve this.  One of Florida's Democratic legislators has introduced a bill that would allow elected officials to be recalled but whether this will ever become law is problematic what with a Repugnican-controlled state house.

His amorality, however, as I suggest above, may ultimately prove his undoing.  One of his pet projects is to have all state employees and welfare beneficiaries in the state of Florida tested for illegal drug use.  One can't help but wonder why this suddenly has become an issue.  The reason is clear.  Scott was co-owner of Solantic, a company involved in drug-testing, among other things.  But when two conflict-of-interest complaints were lodged against him, he transferred his stake in Solantic to his wife's revocable trust and finally sold his interest.  Of interest, though, is that the Florida Ethics Commission threw out the two complaints saying there was not enough evidence against him.

There is a pattern here.  It appears he frequently operates on the edge of legality.  He claims authority that less worthy people lack.  He personifies the amoral corporate mindset in which profit is god and that the end justifies the means.

How many of the common folk of Florida are able to devote money and time to lobby the state legislature for laws favorable to their interests?  I don't know, but it doesn't take a genius to conclude that the number would be very few.

The corporations, however, along with the rich and powerful, spend big bucks to lobby the state legislature.  Kathleen Haughney and Aaran Deslatte, writing for, note that "Florida utilities, casino operators, local governments and a host of other interests spent more than $55.1 million to lobby Tallahassee lawmakers and the governor during the first three months of the year [2011]..."

Specifically, $1.28 million of that total was spent by AT&T.  "For the past several years, the company has pushed for a bill that would deregulate land-line telephones, meaning AT&T and other telecoms that offer land lines could raise their rates without approval from the state.

"This year the bill passed."  Read that again.  And again.  Here's what the Florida legislature is telling us common folks:  "Screw you!  We don't give a damn about you!  You can't help us stay in office where we will become rich!"

The efforts of another lobbying group, this one dedicated to establishing Vegas-style casinos in Florida, came up short but they'll be back!

As we shall see, the Florida legislature is all about ensuring the rich get richer and the middle-class and poor  in Florida get screwed!  Jeb Bush was bad enough.  Rick Scott is a disaster!

If you are old and unwell in the state of Florida, the state legislature has made certain that your life will become a living hell!  Scott Maxwell, also writing for, says "Florida is stepping back into the dark ages when it comes to nursing-home abuse and neglect.

"The industry is facing fewer regulations.  Staffing requirements are being lowered.  The watchdog program is being neutered.  The state is even trying to muzzle the watchdogs who dare speak up for the elderly.  And all of this is happening while cases of horrid abuse - the likes of which you would barely believe in a Stephen King novel - are on the rise.

Maxwell gives several examples such as the case of  a 71-year old South Florida "man with schizophrenia [who] died from burns he received in a bathtub.  At the same [nursing] home, staff failed to stop residents beating one another with 2-by-4s."

Maxwell notes that "Homes throughout the state are regularly caught using illegal restraints" and the elderly are "actually dying at a rate of nearly once [sic] a month as a result of abuse and neglect."

Since Scott took office, he threw out Brian Lee who led the state's watch-dog program who had also pissed-off the nursing home industry!

It's an incredible mess led by Scott and the Repugnicans!  Why?  To increase the profits of the nursing-home industry.  Anything goes in the name of the corporate god:  profit!

The above relates to what the St. Petersburg Times calls "Devaluing the lives of poor, elderly."  The Florida legislature passed "four bills that would it harder to bring personal injury cases and cap the damages that courts can award."  This means that "lawmakers have closed or curtailed access to the courts for thousands of injured Floridians ... [and] makes it far more likely that the cost of catastrophic injuries due to medical malpractice or a faulty vehicle design will shift to taxpayers."

The bad guys, in other words, get a pass and the rest of us get screwed!

Furthermore...the poorest among us will "no longer have their injuries due to medical malpractice compensated to the same extent as others."  In addition a cap of $300,000 on "pain-and-suffering damages" means that few attorneys will be willing to take malpractice cases as they are very expensive to litigate!

Another piece of stupidity is a bill (SB 1676) which gives "medical faculty at the University of Miami the same 'sovereign immunity' - or protection from major malpractice judgements - when teaching at Miami's public Jackson Memorial Health System."  The University of Miami, though, is a private institution and should not be shielded in such a manner.

The bozos in Tallahassee also passed a law that would, according to (Tampa Bay Online), write "taxpayer-funded religious discrimination into our state constitution by incorporating an exemption to anti-discrimination laws ... for example, a house of worship hiring a cook for a taxpayer-funded shelter could advertise 'Catholics, Jews, Protestants or Muslims Need Not Apply.'"

Even scarier, under Joint Resolution 1471, "Florida could not bar funding to a religious group based on its anti-Semitic, racist or other extreme religious views.  Why?  Because 1471's affirmative language provides the unfettered constitutional rights to taxpayer dollars for all religious groups, including religious extremists, of which there is no shortage in Florida."

This Joint Resolution has not yet become law.  But it is part and parcel of a larger attempt, funded largely by ultra extremist right-wing christianists.  One of their dreams is to destroy public education and bills that they have written and underwritten are finding their way into state legislatures around the country, often reading the same, word-for-word.  We can expect a huge assault on our traditional values by these christianist extremists who are working day and night to get Creationism taught in our classrooms instead of real science; to push for  christianist prayer at public school events; and to press for an expansion of the "voucher" system would be a wonderful boon for all the wacky christianist fundamentalist schools in our state.  They could continue their nefarious education with taxpayer money!

Here's how things are already working out.  In November, thanks to the christianist fundamentalists in the Florida legislature and Rick Scott, "Voters will have a chance to repeal Florida's ban on state aid to churches and other religious organizations. ...

"The proposal would lift the threat of legal challenges to voucher programs that send disabled and low-income children to parochial and other private schools at taxpayer expense.

As to Medicaid, the elderly got screwed again.  Big time!  HB 7109 "makes major changes to the Medicaid program, putting the care of nearly 3 million beneficiaries into the hands of private companies and hospital networks."  If anyone should know how to screw the people and the government at the same time, it's Rick Scott.  He's had lots of experience.  HB 7109 is in the pipeline in spite of the fact that a pilot program was determined to provide "providers with big profits by scrimping on patient care."

Hello?  Is anybody listening?  Are the people of Florida going to rise up and throw these christianist bastards out of office?

The unemployed got hit hard.  Their maximum state benefits were cut from 26 to 23 weeks.

The teachers really got screwed.  Teacher pay would be based on "merit."  Hah.  As a former teacher I know from experience there is no way to do this!  Every classroom is different.  Every subject is different.  Most administrators know very little about what makes a good teacher.  This is a horrible assault on the teaching profession.

Not only so, but the tenure system has been abolished for new hires.  Well, good luck with that.  Anyone agreeing to teach in the state of Florida without some sense of security has got to be crazy.  Teachers are constantly under the gun by people who know nothing about education and if it wasn't for teacher unions and the tenure system our educational system would be even worse than it is now!

The Senate's budget cut $1 billion from our schools!  In Marion County, Florida, the superintendent is "demanding" a 4-day week under the threat of teacher layoffs.

Teachers and other public employees, for the first time, must pay three percent of their wages into their retirement fund.  What is so nasty about this is that public employees "gave up pay raises decades ago in exchange for full public funding of the [pension] plan.  Also, state workers now are going into a fifth straight year without an across-the-board pay raise."

Scott is pushing for more charter schools, even though there is no evidence these are in any way superior to the regular school system and some evidence they are worse!

Did you know that Eric Smith, Florida's education commissioner has resigned.  Scott has not found the time to meet with him.

The legislature did a reverse and over-rode former Governor Charlie Crist's veto to pass a law allowing our "legislative leaders to raise unlimited special-interest money and funnel it to the campaigns of their hand-picked candidates."

The legislature also made it much harder for women to have an abortion.

The gave cops the authority to ask for a person's "immigration documents" if the cop suspected he or she was in the country illegally!

A rather large deregulation bill was reworked because of consumer complaints, but it still deregulates moving companies and auto mechanics.  Another example of exactly how your elected officials work for - no, not you - their corporate owners!

Let's see how Gov. Scott and the legislature did on job creation.  You will remember that Scott ran for office saying he would see that Florida created a massive number of jobs.

He was lying.  Again.

What he's done is cut jobs!  Twenty-nine people are being let go in the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

According to (Panama City, Florida), 650,000 state employees will find their paychecks cut in order to balance the budget.  The legislature didn't raise taxes.  They cut employees and wages.  In other words the people got screwed again!

"The budget will eliminate nearly 4,500 state positions, about 2,000 of which are vacant, while 1,700 jobs are in prisons slated to be privatized.  Schools districts also are anticipating layoffs and furloughs due to state spending cuts.

"Some private sector employees who depend on state funding, such as road builders and nursing home workers, also may get the ax."

Now, listen to this.  Corporate taxes were cut!!!  Also, "...lawmakers ... found enough money to cut taxes by $308 million -- mostly at the expense of water management districts - and pay for dozens of their pet projects.

Another bill, HB "7207 would make sweeping changes to the state's 25-year-old management system, substantially reducing state oversight of local land use decisions.  The bill shifts the burden of proof to citizens who file legal challenges and lift requirements that developers pay for needed roads and schools."

Scott, you understand, thinks regulations are bad because they keep companies from creating jobs.  It's a laughable position, and tragic, for it has been debunked over and over ever since Reagan the clown started our country on the road to financial ruin!

But for Scott, it's all a game.  The people are the pawns and the corporations manipulate them through their fully-funded legislators!  You see, "Scott threatened to veto the entire budget if lawmakers failed to cut Florida's corporate income tax."  They finally agreed on a $30 million cut, which Scott said was a "first step."

Perhaps Brad Ashwell, a spokesman for the consumer group, PIRG, said it best:  "The majority party, emboldened by a two-thirds majority, aggressively went after the courts, voters, labor groups, trial lawyers and anyone else they deemed a threat to their power.  Middle class Floridians will see higher insurance rates, higher phone rates, more sprawl, and more obstacles to having a voice in their elections."

Which reminds me we haven't even begun to discuss our return to the days of Jim Crow in Florida when it comes to voting.  But that's another article.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Evidence for an invisible sky friend

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Harold Camping is crazy and the world is not going to end on May 21!

[Photo of Harold Camping from here.]

If our media would refuse to give free publicity to the assholes in our midst, we'd all be a lot better off.

There's an ignorant and stupid old man by name of Harold Camping who resides in California and promotes his peculiar christianist nonsense and ignorance over the radio to a variety of poor souls who know even less than he does!

He considers himself a student of the Bible which is wildly inaccurate.  He has no clue what the Bible is all about.  Nevertheless, he has written a bunch of books on the so-called "Rapture," one of which predicted it would happen about the middle of September in 1994.

Obviously, his Jesus did not return to earth and there was no Rapture, and he is a failed prophet.  But that didn't stop the old fool from promising that now it will take place on May 21 of this year.  Yup, and you'd better believe it, 'cause it's gonna happen.  He won't brook any questions as to the authenticity of his prediction - "...God is not playing games," says this moldy old coot, as if he has a pipeline to some deity!

All of this crapola is based upon Camping's campy interpretations of obscure biblical passages which are almost impossible for anyone to decipher - even real biblical scholars - but none of them have anything to say about our time.

The Bible was written by men who were even more ignorant than 89-year old Camping; men who knew very little about the world, almost nothing about medicine, philosophy, the human mind, or the universe, and were  throwing sacrifices to their god(s) in order to influence these deities to be benevolent toward them because they believed their fate rested in the hands of what were inscrutable, horrible, and arbitrary gods living above the firmament which they "knew" to be a hard place high in the sky!

If you believe that there really was a Jesus such as reported in the Synoptic Gospels, then you ought to know enough to keep your damn mouth shut about when the world is going to end.  This Jesus is reported to have said that no one knows.  He didn't even know.  And he's the son of man.  Of course, in the Gospel of John he's God hisself!  So even God doesn't know when the end is coming.

But Camping does?

This is all really too silly.  Yet our newspapers pretend that Camping is saying something that people need to know about.  He's interviewed by our magazines.  Other christianist goofballs like Tim LaHaye are consulted as to whether they think Camping is onto something.

What a world we live in!  There is no evidence whatsoever for the old biblical tales of Abraham and Moses, etc.  The men who wrote the Bible lacked any scientific understanding of the world and the stories they concocted reflect that lack.  How can anyone still believe a great fish swallowed a man and then spewed him up to go preach to sinners in this day and age?  How can anyone believe in talking serpents?  How can anyone believe that a virgin had a baby after being impregnated by a spirit!  These kinds of things happen only in the realm of mythology.

Unfortunately, people who believe in all this nonsense and more are running our country.  The problem of Harold Camping goes far beyond Harold Camping.  Camping is not any crazier than most of our leaders, religious and otherwise.  He's just a different kind of crazy.  The Mormons believe the unbelievable and one of them wants to be president.  Catholics think that little cracker actually becomes the flesh of the mythical Christ (a spiritual being to begin with!) when the priest says the magic words!

But it might help if our media representatives didn't scratch and claw to best one another with an ever more sensational story.

Let Harold Camping and others of his ilk sulk in the cave of their ignorance.  Let the rest of us ignore them!

Now, if I had heeded my own admonition, I wouldn't have written this rant.  But I had to write the rant.  Someone needed to say these things!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mike Huckabee's "friend," Janet Porter, and why you should never vote for old Huck

This is from an article by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones.

We've got some really weird Repugnicans running about this country:  Newt Gingrich, who doesn't seem to know what he believes but every time he opens his mouth vileness spews forth; Mitt Romney, a seemingly "nice" guy who believes all that Mormon religious crap; Michele Bachmann who gives stupidity a good name; Sarah Palin the quitter who loves money and god, and Mike Huckabee, among others.

Most of the above want to become president and actually believe they could handle the job.  Most of them can't handle folding the laundry!

Mike Huckabee had the presidential itch and he scratched it up until a couple of days ago when he said he would not be a Repugnican candidate in 2012.  (I think he's making too much money and having too much fun being a FAUX News 'celebrity!)

Huckabee is a Baptist preacher would ought to immediately disqualify him in the minds of most people even if it doesn't disqualify him so far as our Constitution goes.  But his religious views are so extreme, so strange, so other-worldly that to see him in the Oval Office is mind-boggling!

I've written about the religious kook, Janet Porter, before.  It turns out that Janet Porter is a close friend and confidant and adviser to Mike Huckabee!  At one time she was "co-chair of Huckabee's Faith and Values Coalition."   Old Huck calls her "his 'prophetic voice.'"

Here's a few or the things this "prophetic voice" has said, according to Tim Murphy:

1)  "Obama represents an 'inhumane, sick, and sinister evil."

2)  "...she has warned that Democrats want to throw Christians in jail merely for practicing their faith.

3)  "She's attributed Haiti's high poverty rate to the fact that the country is 'dedicated to Satan.'"

4)  "...she suggested that gay marriage caused Noah's Flood."

5)  "And there's this:  In a 2009 column for conservative news site WorldNetDaily, Porter asserted that President Barack Obama is a Soviet secret agent, groomed since birth to destroy the United States from within."

Where the hell do these fruitcakes come from?  How do they get so crazy?

There's more.  According to Murphy, Porter doesn't much like the people who she saw as Huckabee's competition for the 2012 Repugnican nomination.

"She publicly suggested that former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson might be the anit-Christ."  Now I think Thompson is a scumbag but the anti-Christ?  Please!

In a TV ad, Porter has attacked Mitt Romney and John McCain.

More recently, Porter seems to have outdone herself.  "Last summer, she lost her syndicated radio show after organizing a rally at the Lincoln Memorial to urge Christians to take over the United States government.  And this spring, she made headlines by summoning a fetus to testify on behalf of an Ohio measure banning abortions after a heartbeat has become detectable."

Huckabee, according to Murphy, endorsed that bill!

It's fortunate that Huckabee has declined to run for the office of president of the United States.  He's so utterly ill-equipped to handle the job.  Having a Janet Porter as an adviser should, in a just world, disqualify him immediately!

It's unfortunate that many of the current "candidates" are just as bad or worse than Huckabee.

He's got you covered

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Texas, God and Insanity

[Photo of the clown, Gov. Rick Perry]

The Texas governor believes in a god.  Not one of the ancient gods; his god is only a few thousand years old. The Texas governor is a clown.  Or one could say that his actions give reason to question his sanity.  One could say the same thing about the Repugnicans in the Texas legislature.

Bill McKibben, in an article at AlterNet, notes that Texas governor Rick Perry has called for the people of Texas to pray to his god that the deity might ease the drought that is of historic proportions; worse, even, "than at the height of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s."

McKibben says the drought is no "great mystery."  We've got trouble all over the world because "We're heating the planet:  the CO2 we've poured into the atmosphere means that we now trap about 3/4 of a watt extra solar energy on each square meter of the earth's surface.  That's enough to throw our planet out of balance.  The science is simple:  as a NASA team put it three years ago, above 350 parts per million CO2 we can't have a planet 'similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.'  And right now that number is 390 and rising two parts per million per year, simply because we're burning so much coal and gas and oil.

"A lot of that fossil fuel gets burned in Texas.  In fact, its carbon emissions are higher than the next two states (California and Pennsylvania) combined."  One might think this would make the guv of Texas and his Repugnican cohorts take a closer look at the situation, but Perry, being an "evangelical" christian of the fundamentalist ilk, thinks global warming is a laughing matter.  God wouldn't let us destroy the earth and all this global warming talk is liberal goofiness.  Ha, ha, ha!

When Perry took office "he signed legislation to try and speed construction of 11 new coal plants for the state.  As recently as January--in the middle of the drought--his attorney general argued in federal court against even the most modest EPA restrictions on greenhouse gases.  Perry's GOP holds 23 of Texas's House seats, and 22 of those Representatives voted earlier this month [April 2011] to deny the fact of global warming (the 23rd abstained)."

To deny something for which there is incontrovertible scientific evidence is further evidence of insanity!

So, Perry, not caring to understand why this terrible drought, tells his people to pray.  But he did not specify which god.  Doubtless it was his god of fundy christian understanding but it ultimately doesn't matter.  They could pray to Zeus or Buddha - no one's listening!  And even if there was a god who had his hearing aids in, he or she is paying no attention.

As we've noted on several previous occasions, scientists and clergy have studied the problem of prayer and have found it does not work.  In fact, sick people who were prayed over and knew they were the subject of prayer became sicker!

That won't stop the stoopids in Texas.  And the drought will continue.  And things will get worse.

When the Repugnicans get control, the world goes to hell.  Always has and always will!  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There is no hell!

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Stephen Hawking and really weird news!

AOL, in its inimitable manner, has a home page section called "Weird News."

Yesterday, in that section, appeared an article about the theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.  Evidently, Hawking has said that there is no god and no heaven or afterlife and AOL, in its inimitable manner, thinks this is "weird."

In Hawking's view, the human brain is a computer and when it breaks down it's all over!  The notion of a heaven or afterlife is "a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark."

What's weird about that?

What IS really weird, which AOL neglected to mention, is the fact there are billions of people around the world who believe in heavenly fairy tales!  Many are so convinced that these fairy tales are true they discount this life in the hope that the next one will be better.  Some fundamentalist christianists are further convinced that only those people who have "accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior" will go to heaven or experience an afterlife.  

It doesn't get much weirder than that, because there is absolutely NO evidence of any kind to justify believing in any kind of afterlife or heaven.  NO EVIDENCE!  NONE!

Hawking isn't weird, it's belief in heavenly nonsense that's weird!