Nel's New Day

June 18, 2016

Orlando Shooting, Not the First Hate Crime

Last night Bill Maher talked about the Orlando killing being the only act of violence against LGBT people. I’m always amazed at the ignorance of self-proclaimed liberals about the subject of homophobia.

We expect this behavior from conservatives. They refuse to mention anything about the LGBT community since the Orlando shooting as they cry crocodile tears about the deaths of 50 people. They send “thoughts and prayers” and hold a “moment of silence” before voting down rights for LGBT people. Two days after the Orlando shooting, Rep. Pete Sessions blocked a bill that would have permanently banned discrimination against workers by federal contractors, President Obama’s executive order that covered 20 percent of the nation’s workers. This is the third time that the House has stopped the LGBT protections bill. Sessions also even insisted that Pulse was not a gay nightclub; he called it “a young person’s nightclub” with “some [LGBT people], but it was mostly Latinos.”

Most people don’t try to persuade conservatives to vote for equal LGBT rights in employment, housing, lodging, and other issues that greatly impact everyone’s lives. But liberals and independents who think that the shooting in Orlando is the first time and place that LGBT people have faced violence need some education.

LGBT people suffer from more hate crimes than any other minority group in the United States. Almost one-fifth of the 5,462 so-called single-bias hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. in 2014 occurred because of the target’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Hate crimes against LGBT people in the U.S. Americans are 8.3 times the expected rate based on the size of LGBT population—higher than the rate for Jews (at 3.5) and black people (at 3.2). Crimes against LGBT people increased after same-gender people gained marriage rights.

These statistics may be the tip of the iceberg because most hate crimes are not reported to the police and local jurisdictions frequently fail to classify those reported as hate crimes. Thousands of city police and county sheriff’s departments filed not one hate crime to the FBI between 2009 and 2014. Mississippi reported only one hate crime throughout the state in 2014. Data in just 12 states shows 88 homicides of LGBT people from 2012 to 2015, and homicides are almost surely much higher for the entire country.

Early reports from the Orlando shooting stated that the Orlando killer called 911 and claimed his crime supported ISIS. Since then, the investigation thinks that this might have been for attention, but conservatives cannot let go of what makes them the most comfortable. South Florida criminal defense attorney Khurrum Wahid, who has represented several defendants accused of terrorist-related activities such as supporting Islamic radicals, said, “It’s a lot easier to call it Islamic terrorism because we’re all united against that. But it’s not as easy to call it homophobia because we’re not all united against that.” The conservative belief also allows them to continue their hateful rhetoric toward the president. For example, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on the campaign trail that “Barack Obama is directly responsible” for the deaths of 50 people last Sunday morning.

Investigations into the crime reveal that the killer was a mentally unstable, self-loathing, bigoted, violent man who abused his first wife and hated himself for being gay. Southern Poverty Law Center Mark Potok describes three strands:  “he hates gays, … he doesn’t like his life at all, … [and] Islamist ideology, which is the weakest of the three. It’s almost like an afterthought.”

The motivations behind attacks against LGBT people “have always been, and continue to be, [about] seemingly religious rhetoric,” says Kaila Story, a professor of women’s and gender studies at University of Louisville. Like politicians, conservative religion avoids mentioning that most, if not all, the people killed in Orlando are LGBT. The Vatican’s statement referred only to “innocent victims, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolution read, “We regard those affected by this tragedy as fellow image-bearers of God and our neighbors.” The religious group then passed Resolution 3 that supports the overturn of marriage equality, enables religion-based discrimination against LGBT people, and opposes inclusion and respect for transgender people.

Conservative religious leaders who openly recognize that LGBT people were killed in the gay bar are gleeful about their deaths. Television evangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson responded toward the tragedy in which a Muslim “gentleman” killed 49 LGBT people: “The best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”

Sacramento pastor Roger Jimenez went farther than Robertson in his sermon to the members of the Verity Baptist Church, posted the day after the horrific event:

“I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job—because these people are predators. They are abusers….

“I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against a firing wall, put the firing squad in front of them and blow their brains out.”

YouTube removed the video the day after Jimenez posted it.

Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church (Tempe, AZ) released this venom, again in a video uploaded to YouTube:

“The good news is that there’s 50 less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles. That’s who was a victim here, are a bunch of, just, disgusting homosexuals at a gay bar, okay?”

The acceleration of hate toward LGBT people in the past year is shown by the 200 bills introduced in state legislatures and localities that would strip LGBT people of equal rights. These bills are accompanied by lies such as the danger of washing hands in a bathroom next to a transgender person. In the conservative tradition of controlling through fear, Republican lawmakers are claiming that they can protect LGBT people because of the falsehood that Muslims want to kill all “homosexuals.” Those who make that claim haven’t looked at their own Christian religion. Most Christians don’t want to “kill homosexuals,” but there are enough that LGBT people are in danger. You might want to do a little reading in that department, Bill Maher.

Donald Trump calls himself the only candidate who will protect LGBT people from Muslims—who are not a serious problem for LGBT people considering all the other issues faced in that community, including violence from so-called Christians. Although some of the 20 percent of the LGBT community who vote Republican have said that they will support Trump, the conservative gay group Log Cabin Republicans has not yet endorsed Trump for president. As with all other Trump statements, he changes his mind frequently on LGBT rights but did announce that he would select Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality.

Dominique Hernandez holds up her fist painted in the colors of a rainbow, with a heart on her pulse, attends a vigil in memory of victims one day after a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Dominique Hernandez holds up her fist painted in the colors of a rainbow, with a heart on her pulse, attends a vigil in memory of victims one day after a mass shooting at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

What does homophobia feel like? James Michael Nichols writes that homophobia means that he is “living in constant fear of violence.” In this piece he describes his feelings as he arrives in his “home state of North Carolina”:

“But what does it mean to feel unsafe as you walk down the street, through the airport, on the subway, at the grocery store? How do you communicate that feeling to people who have never had to feel uncomfortable and regulated because of their gender presentation or self-expressions of queerness?”

He wrote about always having to assess the level of threat no matter where he is, being careful of where he goes and how he dresses, checking out places before travel, not getting a job because of being “too gay,” watching older people return to the closet to survive in nursing homes where they may die alone because families have already declared them dead, and being unable to show any affection for a loved one in public. Bill Maher should not declare that LGBT people when he has no idea that we go through in our daily lives.

Hopefully, some people can change. As a young adult, Jeremy Todd Addawy was a part of the racist skinhead movement who hated everyone except white straight people. According to an interview with Erin Nanasi, he decided that he could not live in a life “filled with rage and bigotry. This video shows his belief—in a comedic way—about his belief that “marriage is not a religious issue, it’s a freedom issue.” If he can learn, maybe others can too.

January 25, 2015

Don’t Force the Actions of a Few to Represent All

Aftershocks of the recent 17 killings in France starting at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris have reverberated throughout the world. People are still claiming that cartoonists should realize that they could be killed if they displeased someone, sending the similar message that women are raped because of what they wear and how they behave. Conservative Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said that Carbonnier might still be alive if he had not been “so narcissistic.”

The media has escalated the fury toward Muslims through its extensive messaging about the tragedy. Hours before the tragedy, a car bomb killed almost 50 people in the Yemni capital, Sanaa, as men lined up to enroll at the police academy. There may have been ties between the two disasters, but only one of them was highlighted. Yemen almost silently suffers through the Western media while millions of people in the U.S. blame all Muslims for the Paris event.

Howard Dean has taken a lot of heat for asking that these killers not be called “Muslim terrorists” because they are only thugs who don’t follow Mohammad’s philosophy as identified in the Koran. As with 9/11, conservatives abstract the actions of a very few to an entire group and use the killings for personal gain by fomenting greater fear in the United States. For example, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “It’s not an attack on our homeland, but it’s definitely an attack on our way of life. There’s a perfect storm brewing to have this country hit again.” He called on the president to “admit” that the attack was motivated by religion.

In The New Yorker, George Packer denied that the killings had a relationship with the ethnic tensions and poverty in parts of Paris. He wrote that the entire reason was the support of “Islamist ideology.” As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote, however:

“Poverty, political oppression, systemic corruption, lack of education, lack of critical thinking, and general hopelessness in these countries is the spark.”

Abdul-Jabbar pointed out that the reason for this violence is always money. These attacks never change the behavior considered undesirable by that attackers: people keep writing, publishers keep publishing, and ideology just becomes more defiant, as in the case of 9/11. According to Abdul-Jabbar:

“[Attacks are] about swaggering into a room, flexing a muscle, and hoping to elicit some admiring sighs …  more recruits and more donations to keep their organization alive. They have to keep proving they are more relevant than their competing terrorist groups. It’s just business.”

Bill Maher is now using his show to promote hatred toward Muslims. Once noted for being anti-religious, he has moved to attacks primarily on the Islam faith, ignoring Christian terrorists. During one show, Maher could not come up with any Christian violence since the 16th century. Last December, however, Larry McQuilliams fired more than 100 rounds in downtown Austin (TX) and tried to burn down the Mexican consulate because law enforcement killed him. He had a map pinpointing 34 other buildings, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and several weapons as well as a copy of Vigilantes of Christendom, a book connected with the Christian-focused white supremacist group Phineas Priesthood. McQuilliams had left a note in the book describing himself as a “priest in the fight against anti-God people.”

McQuilliams’ Christian terrorist attack follows many others in the name of Christianity. Ku Klux Klan crimes are against not only minorities but also Catholics and Jews because of the KKK’s Christian fundamentalism. Members of The Order, a militant Mormon group, murdered Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984. Members of the Christian group Army of God have been responsible for bombings at clinics where women can get abortions and for the explosion at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (GA). Scott Roeder, the Christian killer of Dr. George Tiller, said that his faith was the reason for shooting Tiller in the head in 2009 while the doctor was ushering at his church. Christian Wade Michael Page killed seven people at the Milwaukee Sikh Gurdwara in 2012 in an effort to stop non-white non-Christians from having an equal role in society.

Northern Ireland and Northern India have extensive histories of Christian-on-Christian violence while the Lord’s Resistance Army in Western Africa uses Christianity to recruit child soldiers and force them to terrorize local villages. In 2011, Norweigian Anders Behring Breivik used bombs and guns to kill 77 people, many of them teenagers, in his goal to preserve “Christian Europe.” Even he has not been recognized as a Christian terrorist: a piece in The Guardian claimed that “his ideology had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on an atavistic horror of Muslims.”

In the eight years during George W. Bush’s reign, the number of hate groups, many of them with Christian roots, increased 54 percent. While people in the U.S. fear Islam attacks within the country, the Hutaree, an extremist militia group in Michigan that touts Christian inspiration, has more weapons that all the Muslims charged with terrorism in the United States since the 2001 attacks. Yet no one has asked Christian leaders such as Billy Graham or Rick Warren to openly oppose violence committed in the name of Christ, and the media has largely ignored any possibility of Christian terrorism.

These “lone wolf” attacks by lonely alienated people of all religions use religious ideas for excuses rather than reasons for violence. Despite a claim from an al-Qaeda official, there is no evidence that a higher religious authority sent the Paris killers to commit their crimes. Said and Cherif Kouachi were raised in a secular household, and the latter man described himself as “an occasional Muslim.” The cartoons in Charlie Hebdo ridicule entire races or cultures.

Defending religion is an excuse for committing horrible deeds to express rage and show power and glory. The KKK rides around in white sheets and burn crosses to intimidate people. Anti-abortionists harass women on the sidewalks in front of women’s clinics whether the women are there for a surgical procedure or just an examination.

Abdul-Jabbar wrote:

“When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings. That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising Mohammed or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time.”

Conservatives complained that Muslims are not condemning the actions of the Charlie Hebdo killers. Check here for statements from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim; Muslim Council of Britain; French Muslim Council (CFCM); Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF); Arab League, an organization representing 22 Arab countries; Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association; Muslim Advisory Council to the NYPD; Birmingham (AL) Islamic Society; Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris’s Seine-Saint-Denis suburb; Muslim Canadian Congress; United Arab Emirates Foreign Ministry; and others.

An entire religion cannot be blamed for the actions of a few. If that were true, the United States should turn against the Christian religion. Just as Fox owner, Rupert Murdoch, wants all blacks to take responsibility for the actions of a few, so does he want the two billion Muslims in the world to be blamed for the Charlie Hebdo murders. Yet he didn’t expect the Tea Party or whites to take responsibility for the actions of Jerad and Amanda Miller when they killed five people, including two police officers, in Las Vegas. Never has the right-wing media called on the white race to expel its “cancers.”

Several people in the Paris Kosher grocery store Hyper Cacher are still alive because of a Muslim. When Amedy Coulibaly opened fire in and killed four people, Lassana Bathily, a Muslim employee, hid people in the walk-in freezer. Should we say that the bravery of Bathily represents all Muslims?

March 23, 2014

Religion Tied to Contraception, Missing Aircraft, Teaching, Parades

Two big religious stories are in the news this week. One is the question of whether private businesses who declare themselves as “religious persons” have the right to deny employees equal health care to that from other businesses. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga maintain that they shouldn’t have to allow their insurance to cover free contraception because they are opposed to contraception. The case goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The 2,000 sisters of the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) oppose the denial of contraception. Their position is that any group denying contraception in insurance is equivalent to holding women hostage.

In support of the Affordable Care Act provision that mandates birth control coverage, NCAN wrote:

“NCAN is dismayed that the Little Sisters of the Poor, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic organizations are challenging the Affordable Care Act. Spurred on by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops these organizations are attempting to hold hostage all women by refusing insurance to them for contraceptives.”

Sister Donna Quinn, head of NCAN, said:

“This has gotten out of hand. It isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women… It isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.”

The nuns aren’t just writing about the problem. They are circulating an online petition to the U.S. Supreme Court and holding a Faith Rally in front of the Supreme Court building on March 25. The petition states:  “The sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families.” Fourteen religious denominations support free access to birth control as well as the women who are not affiliated with religions.

The second issue is the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.CNN and Fox are determined to connect the disaster with religious beliefs. CNN’s anchor Don Lemon has possible answers for the disappearance. One was a “supernatural” event in which God took it (maybe that it like the rapture! Another was the possibility of a “black hole.”

Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter, blogged that this disappearance is a “small snapshot” of what will happen with the Rapture when millions of Christians miraculously disappear. At least, CNN didn’t use this “information” as “news.”

Fox “News” Bill Hemmer used historic comparisons to discuss the long time it may take to find the aircraft. “It took us what 100 years to find the Titanic? It took us 2,000 years to find Noah’s Ark. Do we ever find Flight 370?” The first is true; the second highly questionable and totally inappropriate when announcing the news. Joe Coscarelli explained that Hemmer was referring to Evangelical Christian explorers, who claimed to have uncovered evidence of the boat’s existence—claims determined to be a hoax even by Fox News.

Bill Maher gave his own version of Noah’s Ark, calling God a “psychotic mass murderer” and the United States a “stupid country” for their belief that the biblical story is factual. Fundamental Christians took offense. Bryan Fischer argued that the story of Noah’s Ark is true and shows human free will choices that forced God to kill very living thing. Maher can say these things and live, said Fischer, because God is merciful, compassionate, and loving. God is patiently giving Maher a chance to repent and ask forgiveness, according to Fischer.

Other people who accept myths as facts are incensed about Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the television sequel to Carl Sagan’s 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted and narrated by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The creationist Answers in Genesis complained that Cosmos is not balanced because it doesn’t give airtime for creationism. Cosmos covers a wide range of scientific topics from Earth’s place in the universe to the origin of life. Tyson explained his concept of scientific balance: “You don’t talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let’s give equal time to the flat-earthers.”

A Buddhist student and his parents have won a lawsuit against Negreet High School in Louisiana after the court found that the school violated the student’s religious liberty. According to the decision, sixth-grade science teacher Rita Roark violated the First Amendment when she demanded biblical answers from science questions and called the student “stupid” because he didn’t know religious answers to questions such as the age of the earth. She also maintained in class that evolution is a “stupid theory made up by stupid people who don’t want to believe in God.” When the student’s parents complained, Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebab told them to change their faith to fit “the Bible Belt” or go to another school where “there are more Asians.”

Louisiana District Judge Elizabeth Foote ordered the school to remove all of the Christian propaganda—pictures of Jesus, posters, Bible verses, official prayers, etc.  from the premises. School officials cannot initiate prayers, use class work to promote religion, sponsor a religious belief, or hold religious services at the school. Students are still permitted to pray in school and participate in religious clubs. Further:

“The District and School Board are permanently enjoined from permitting School Officials at any school within the School District to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in class or during or in conjunction with a School Event… School Officials shall not denigrate any particular faith, or lack thereof, or single out any student for disfavor or criticism because of his or her particular faith or religious belief, or lack thereof.”

The ruling demanded that the school pay $4,000 in damages to the student’s parents as well as $40,000 in court costs, a large sum for a school of a little over 500 in a district with about 4,300 students.

In another story from Louisiana, Randy Dill wants to see the Holy Bible made the “official state book,” and he persuaded Rep. Thomas Carmody to file a bill that would make this law. They both think they can succeed because the bible is Alabama’s state bible. Do I sense more lawsuits?

Murfreesboro (TN) has already spent $343,000 in a losing lawsuit to keep the Muslims from building a mosque. Now plaintiffs have gone back to court to stop the “construction and improvement of the cemetery.” The ad at the top of the article reads: “Nobody cares for you like a neighbor.”

Parade bigots who refuse to let LGBT people openly march could take a lesson from NYC Pride, the organization behind New York City’s gay pride parade. The Catholic League, led by bigot Bill Donohue applied for a float in this year’s parade with the banner, “Straight Is Great.” No problem, said the parade coordinators. “Straight is great—as long as there’s no hate.” As NYC Pride’s managing director, Chris Frederick, said:

“Straight allies are great. We have thousands of straight people participating in the Pride March, including Catholic groups, who support LGBT youth, families and married couples.”

Meanwhile Donohue has called on Catholics to boycott Guinness, Sam Adams, and Heineken because he thinks that the LGBT community bullied them to drop their sponsorship for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston. According to religious people, the First Amendment only works when it’s in their favor.

January 11, 2013

Wacky Friday – January 11, 2013

Here’s a sampling of craziness during the past week. Reading these, you might ask yourselves how many of these people should be added to the national list of mentally ill people that NRA thinks will solve all our guns problems.

The “We the People” petition system requires a White House response to any petition that gets at least 25,000 signatures. There were several states that achieved over that number to secede from the United States, and over 25,000 signed the one to deport Piers Morgan because he advocated gun control. A remarkable petition with 34,435 signatures was a request for the country to build a Death Star. According to Wikipedia, “the Death Star (officially the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station) is a fictional moon-sized spacestation and superweapon appearing in the Star Wars movies and expanded universe … capable of destroying a planet with a single destructive energy beam.”

death-star-510

The White House, because of its promise, issued a response from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, entitled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.” One reason is that a Death Star would cost $852,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s $852 quadrillion). He also noted that ”the Administration does not support blowing up planets” and pointed out that it would be foolhardy to build a space station “with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.” He also explained what the country is actually doing right now.

This past week Fox News host Eric Bolling explained that schools are “pushing the liberal agenda” by teaching an algebra about the distributive property as it applies to multiplication. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that the algebra worksheet had put her on “high alert” for the liberal agenda in her 6-year-old son’s curriculum. According to algebra.help, “The Distributive Property is an algebra property which is used to multiply a single term and two or more terms inside a set of parentheses.”

Co-host Greg Gutfeld added to the myth of liberal education: “I think the only way leftism can survive is through indoctrination because its number one adversary is reality. So you got to get them young and it’s perfect for kids. Paul Krugman’s logic is child’s play: Share your stuff… A lot of this comes from the teachers. They get their news from The Huffington Post and their antiperspirant from a health food store. This is the way they live.”

Bolling complained about the liberal bias in his son’s textbook: “George Bush went in there [Iraq] because he heard there were weapons of mass destruction and they were never found.” Almost a decade after Bush declared war, Fox News still hasn’t gotten the news. Then Gutfeld said, “There are science teachers that if they hear that if a student is questioning, like, any kind of climate change thing, they just, like, think you’re an idiot.” It’s encouraging that their children may grow up smarter than their parents because of education.

Gutfeld has other misconceptions, for example, “The biggest myth of all time is that sweatshops are bad. Sweatshops for an emerging economy are for workers with no skills. And then over time, the country moves away from it.” Fox is known for repeating “the biggest myth”: an excellent example comes from Bill O’Reilly in 2005 when he said that “the biggest myth in the world” was that the U.S. lost the Vietnam War. But O’Reilly is known for his offensive comments, for example:  “Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.”

When rumors that Susan Rice might be appointed to President Obama’s cabinet hit Washington, the GOP went ballistic. After the dust settled and the president appointed men for three open positions, he was criticized for selecting all white men. Mike Huckabee is really making hay of the situation, accusing the president of waging his own “war on women” by not appointing more women to top administration posts. According to Huckabee, Obama used charges of a Republican “war on women” and promises of “contraceptives and free abortions” to get women to vote for him, but “never promised women would have seats of significance at the table of power.” The New York Times reported that 43 percent of the president’s appointees have been women, more than George W. Bush appointed.

Huckabee might have a point, but we also need to consider the source. This is the man who stood by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) who defined “legitimate rape.” This is the man who opposes abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. This is the man who justified the deaths of six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School with 20 six- and seven-year-olds by saying, “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability?”  This is the man who fought Obamacare with its provisions for women’s reproductive care.

And Huckabee is the person who falsely claimed that President Obama grew up in Kenya: “If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau Revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.”

Akin may be gone, but Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) is carrying his “legitimate rape” banner in the 113th Congress. Gingrey said that when Akin said that the woman’s body had a way of shutting down in a “legitimate rape,” that he’s partly right on that.” He continued with her fertility advice: “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.” He also pointed out that he had been an OB-GYN since 1975. When he was approached about his comments, he retracted them: “I do not defend, nor do I stand by, the remarks made by Rep. Akin and Mr. Mourdock.” I just hope that couples didn’t pay a lot of money for his fertility expertise.

I’m guessing that Donald Trump is just looking for publicity when he threatens to sue Bill Maher. When Maher appeared on Jay Leno last Monday, he said he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that the guy with all the hair wasn’t the son of an orangutan. The sum is the same that Trump offered to the president to show his college records. Trump sent his birth certificate and wants his money. He said, “If he doesn’t give me the money, we’ll probably sue him.”

My favorite wacky idea of the week is the platinum coin. The GOP claims that it will let the country default on its payments at the end of February if the Dems don’t take money away from the poor and middle class, particularly the elderly. The Dems say they won’t. In the middle is an obscure law that allows the Treasury to issue platinum coins of any denomination. Floating in the blogosphere is the idea that a $1 trillion platinum coin could finance the budget for the coming year. The GOP is so panicky that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) wants a law to prohibit this.

Even sane people, such as writers for The Economist, like the idea. Unlike bank notes, coins are liabilities of the Treasury and don’t become part of the monetary base until they are spent. The expansion would then be gradual while the Fed retains control of interest rates and therefore of inflation. The political problem would violate the Congressional debt ceiling.

As The Economist concludes, “In any case, the idea is just too weird to be taken seriously. When the answer to America’s debt problems is something that could be lost down the back of a sofa, it’s no answer at all.” That doesn’t stop Walden from trying to pass a law against it!

October 28, 2012

Perverted Perspectives from So-Called Christians

“When you elect Mitt you’re electing every right wing nut he’s pandered to in the last 10 years. If the Mitt-mobile does roll into Washington it’ll be towing behind it the whole anti-intellectual, anti-science freakshow.”—Bill Maher

The vast majority of Romney supporters identify as white and Christian, nearly eight in ten (79%), including 37% who identify as white evangelical, 19% who identify as white mainline Protestant, and 19% who identify as white Catholic. Not all these people can be classified as belonging to the “right wing nut” category, but there are many of them. Here’s a recent sample:

Gary Cass, a former leader of the San Diego Republican Party and current leader of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, has usually spent his time attacking the president, Muslims, LGBT people, and Mormons. According to Cass, Harvard is now “animated by the spirit of Antichrist.” His latest rant claims that people without guns cannot be Christians. He uses the Bible for his rationale:

“You have not just a right not bear arms, you have a duty. How can you protect yourself, your family or your neighbor if you don’t have a gun? If I’m supposed to love my neighbor and I can’t protect him, what good am I?”

Evangelist Cindy Jacobs has called for prayer against Hurricane Sandy and “rebuke this storm in Jesus’ name.” She claims that “the authority of the believer is powerful enough to shift weather patterns.”

The theory that President Obama is a Muslim because of the ring he wears has been confirmed by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. When “Chip in Fitzgerald, Georgia” asked Fischer on his radio show why no one in the mainstream media is reporting on this fact, Fischer responded that there are no reports because President Obama “may in fact be a closeted Muslim.”

In his strong support of fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck has a new reason behind his claim that the Obama administration lied about the attack in Benghazi, Libya: it’s an attempt to cover up the president’s arming Syrian rebels for the benefit of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

After her attempt to literally follow the Bible for a year, evangelical Rachel Held Evans wrote and published a book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. LifeWay Christian Resources, operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, has refused to stock the book. Although they gave no reason, Evans assumes that the problem is that she left the word “vagina” in the book despite the fact that she removed a few mild profanities.

The same white Christians are trying to remove what is left of the separation of church and state in the United States. An example is the initiative on the ballot to allow public funding of religious ministries. Amendment 8 would remove century-old language in the State Constitution that bars religious or sectarian institutions, or people, from receiving state money. Religious groups in Florida already receive state money, but they are barred from using the money to proselytize. Typically, the money is used for social services and health programs run through organizations like Catholic Charities. Passing this amendment would allow the state to funnel taxpayer funds to religious schools through the use of vouchers.

A basic premise of the religion known as Jehovah’s Witnesses is a separation from state, such a deep separation that they don’t even vote in political elections. Yet the city of Raleigh (NC) is providing $150,000 so the Jehovah’s Witnesses can hold a major event locally. And it’s not the first time. Once again, taxpayers are funding a religion.

So many evangelicals are upset with voting for either a Mormon or someone they believe to be a Muslim, that they are pledging to write in another name for president—Jesus. Evangelist Bill Keller, founder of the Internet ministry liveprayer.com, has set up a website where people can do this pledging, at the rate of 1000 names an hour during Eastern daytime hours. By now, Keller has harvested between 1.5 million and 2 million pledges. Keller describes his reasons for opposing both candidates:

“If President Obama is re-elected, his anti-American, socialist policies will continue, as will his attacks on Christianity and Christian churches. He will continue to support abortion, homosexuality, the enemies of Israel. How can a true follower of Christ vote in good conscience for a man who has proven to be a true enemy of God and His Word and will continue to be so in his next term?

“If Mitt Romney is elected, he will be the fulfillment of his cult’s polygamist, pedophile, racist, con artist, murdering founder Joseph Smith’s ‘White Horse’ prophecy that Romney and all Mormon’s believe. That prophecy says that the United States will facing great economic and social unrest, a Mormon will be elected President, declare a national emergency and set aside the US Constitution and enact a Mormon theocracy.”

Mormons who displease the church leadership, or commit “apostasy,” can be excommunicated from the LDS Church. When Mormon blogger David Twede found himself in this position, he resigned his church membership. His sin was writing critical essays about LDS history, temple worship and contemporary issues. Those who take this path can belong to the Exmormon Foundation, a group that provides support for those leaving and/or questioning the Mormon faith.

LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy has vehemently denied that any Mormon would be disciplined “for having questions or for expressing a political view,” and the faith claims that they are neutral in political affairs. This is the same church that admitted to spending almost $200,000 to pass California’s Proposition 8, that stopped marriage equality in the state. Some people guess the church was behind 70 percent of the almost $44 million raised to pass the initiative that has now been blocked by courts.

I’m still pondering what kind of government we would have it Jesus Christ got elected in a write-in. Maybe less money on defense and more to help people?

October 10, 2012

One Last View of Romney during the First Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM
Tags: , , ,

Much has been said about the Mitt Romney performance (such an accurate word) at the first debate a week ago. In one of his columns, Will Durst described this performance best:

“With an aggressive energy reminiscent of a well- groomed rescue Terrier, the Republican challenger immediately charged into the Oval ringship, steamrolling both the President and the moderator. He didn’t just dominate the debate; he twisted it into a logical Mobius strip.

“Contradicting almost every one of his previously stated core beliefs, the former Governor of Massachusetts claimed to have no plan for tax cuts, said good things about portions of Obama Care and demonstrated concern over the bailout of big banks. Don’t know who it was that blitzed onstage in Denver, but that guy could have done pretty well in Democratic primaries.

“In the 38 minutes Romney spoke, he put on a verbal gymnastics exhibition worthy of an Olympics final. Obscuring. Dissembling. Whitewashing. Changing positions. Twisting facts. Denying assertions. Just making stuff up. Doubling down on his own personal Etch-a-Sketch. Candidate Gumby. Only less green. Marginally. Let the bendy shaking begin. Next thing you know he’ll deny his 47% statement. What? Already? Wow.

“One possible excuse for Obama’s shocking passivity is he was stunned by the audacity of Romney’s mendacity. There were traces of “I can’t believe he just said that in front of people” smirks. It seemed all he could to keep from falling into the much- warned eye- rolling Al Gore Sigh Trap.

“Maybe watching Obama sleepwalking was responsible for time slowing down, but the debate went on forever. At least way past Jim Lehrer’s bedtime, who morphed from deferential to obsequious to invisible. Made the NFL replacement refs look effective.

“There’s plenty of time for both sides to retool messages for the next two confrontations. The White House can be expected to encourage the President to more energetically nail Romney to his own words. And despite renewed confidence, Romney will surely run intensive rehearsals to practice a different listening face that doesn’t reflect an annoyed patience, slight smugness, and just a disconcerting pinch of Sling Blade.”

[We have six more days before the next presidential debate, but tomorrow sturdy debate-watchers can see what kind of performance Paul Ryan will provide during the vice-presidential debate. My question is whether Ryan will just walk out if the questions get difficult in the same way that he has twice done within the past two days.]

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