Nel's New Day

October 3, 2022

New Supreme Court Term:   Repeal the 20th Century, Part II

The launching of the new Supreme Court term began with a case about the Clean Water Act, whether it covers connections such as creeks and ditches between bodies of water. Two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, had already joined Chief Justice John Roberts in backing a stringent test requiring wetlands to have a “continuous surface water connection.” Another justice, Neil Gorsuch, appeared in favor of building a house on wetlands in Idaho, in opposition to retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked. In her questioning, new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson appeared to have joined other progressive justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in favor of federal regulation of wetlands under the law. In concern about the “vagueness” of the law, six conservative justices could “shrink” the Clean Water Act, as Ian Millheiser wrote.

In a second SCOTUS case on its first day, the Supremes need to define “money order” in Delaware v. Pennsylvania. States can take possession of unclaimed or abandoned property within their borders, but states argue about “intangible property,” such as uncashed states. In Delaware, MoneyGram is one of its many incorporated businesses providing 8 percent of state revenue in 2021. People buy “official checks” used to transmit funds; if no one cashes the check, it becomes unclaimed property. Similar products such as money orders and traveler’s checks to the state where the item was purchased, according to a 1974 law. Thirty states argue that Moneygram checks are a money order, but Delaware has a narrower definition of money order. Conservative justices seemed to lean toward Delaware.

The Supreme Court also declined to hear three major cases:

The $1.3 billion civil defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell can go forward after he continues to falsely claim that the voting equipment was used to help give the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.

The DOJ can continue its practice of using “filter teams” not assigned to a given case to determine whether classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago are privileged. The 11th Circuit Court had permitted the DOJ use of this process in other situations. At least eight federal circuits had permitted the DOJ to use these teams, also called “taint teams,” but the 4th Circuit Court finally ruled against the DOJ in 2019.

Two challenges to the 2017 federal ban on bump stocks that transform semi-automatic rifles into the ability of machine guns lost as both the 6th and 10th Circuit Courts upholding the ban.

Almost 60 percent of people think the Supreme Court is out of touch with the values and beliefs of most individuals, and 66 percent want term limits on judges including over half the Republicans. A current House bill puts an 18-year term on Supreme Court justices and requires appointments of new justices in the first and third year of every president’s term. After their 18-year term, justices hear cases only if the number of justices falls below nine. With this law, Thomas would immediately lose his active status, and Alito would be retired in another year.

While destroying democracy law year, the Supremes decided the fewest number of cases after oral argument in over 150 years. By early June, justices had issued opinions in only half of these 62 cases, resulting in the least productive court in history. The lack of cases cannot be an avoidance of interference. The Roberts court has created more chaos in the U.S. with rulings across a broad number of issues than most of the courts in the past century.  [visual – Supreme Court unproductive]

 

The court is also the most conservative in 90 years, when Franklin D. Roosevelt considered taking action, and at the same time overly aggressive. Congressional gridlock with the GOP unwilling to compromise has exacerbated the serious problems.

In addition, the Roberts court has also ruled in favor of religious groups over 80 percent in its cases—the most pro-religion since the 1950s—and has the six most pro-religion justices since at least World War II. Taxpayers are increasingly being forced to pay for Christian activities while churches pay no taxes. Two of the most notoriously far-right judges—Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett—took the seats of justices most advocating religious liberty and human rights when Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were gone.

The U.S. is only 22 percent Catholic, but six of nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic—two-thirds of the total—making decisions for 100 percent of the nation. Episcopalian Neil Gorsuch, raised and educated a Catholic, joins his five Catholic colleagues to make the Catholic majority 78 percent. The other two justices are Jewish and Protestant. The Catholic Church elevates virginity, requires female subservience in marriage, restricts women from controlling their own bodies, and damns LGBTQ people. Evangelical Christians follow the same philosophies.

These personal beliefs will guide the Supreme Court majority decisions of the Supreme Court after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Republicans put three highly conservatives on the court to join two others. Chief Justice John Roberts looks almost moderate compared to those five although he frequently votes with them as in banning abortion. Heresy to Catholics is freedom of conscience, general human rights, and the belief that sacredness cannot be found outside organized religion, especially Catholicism.

Amy Davidson Sorkin writes about “a feeling with this Court that the conservative Justices could make a landmark ruling out of almost any case.” Roberts’ denial of court problems bodes poorly for this term as the conservative Supremes try to make their mark with these landmark cases.

Addressing Roberts’ whining about how SCOTUS is legitimate, former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said GOP senators “destroyed the legitimacy of the court” when they stole two seats—using a fake rule to ignore Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and then ignoring their own rule by putting Amy Coney Barrett onto the court days before a presidential election.

Dahlia Lithwick, who has reported on the Supreme Court for almost 25 years, wrote, “In the matter of the Supreme Court v. the Supreme Court, it’s safe to say the Supreme Court is most assuredly losing.” She cited some of its disasters: overturning Roe v. Wade, expanding gun ownership in a nation overwhelmed by sheer numbers of them, fetishizing “religious liberty” over basic equality and other freedoms, and a multitude of other problems such as conflicts of interest, internal leaks, and inappropriate speeches.  She left out climate change.  

The court is so anti-disability rights that lawyers don’t file lawsuits that would give the justices the chance to set back rights for disabled people. Twenty-three years ago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion for Olmstead v. L.C. revolutionary ruling that unjustified segregation of people with disabilities violated the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clarence Thomas, the only remaining justice from that 1999 court, wrote the dissent. At that time, Amy Coney Barrett clerked for another dissenter, Antonin Scalia. While on the D.C. Circuit Court, Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the District of Columbia could improperly authorize elective surgeries for women in their care because they “lack …” the mental capacity to make medical decisions.” On the 10th Circuit Court, Neil Gorsuch ruled against a professor receiving six months of paid leave after a cancer diagnosis because it “would turn employers into safety net providers.”

Marc Ash issued the most dire warning: “This Court is dead forever. A new Court must rise.”

The conservative Supremes claim they follow the Founding Fathers statements, their own version of originalism, but Sotomayor pointed out that the Constitution doesn’t allow the Supreme Court having “the last word,” as conservative justices have claimed. Their claims come, not from the Constitution, but from Marbury v. Madison (1803) when the court declared legislative and executive actions unconstitutional. True originalism erases the high court’s superiority over the other two branches of government. In 1868, the court decided that the court’s jurisdiction was subject to congressional limitation, and other justices have agreed in the past century. Even Warren Burger, appointed by Richard Nixon, wrote that Congress could pass simple legislation “limiting or prohibiting judicial review of its directives.”

The Constitution states that the “judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Article III, Section 2 limits original jurisdiction to “all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party.” Otherwise, “the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” Additional writings clarity the opinions of some Founding Fathers, but the court has already negated their value as in cases of the separation of church and state.

Thus Congress could deny Supreme Court jurisdiction over a new voting rights act, the right to privacy such as abortion, and other measures. The legislative and executive branches could leave the Supreme Court to adjudicate only insignificant minor matters. Not a good idea for stability but neither is the present court’s majority claim of unchecked power.

Or maybe the new court won’t proceed with its past heedlessness, ignoring its real-world consequences on all minorities and democracy itself. We can only dream.

September 5, 2022

News – September 4, 2022

A few catchups from the past week:

While Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) raves about a rigged election in a Pennsylvania rally, one of his own was convicted for trying to rig a siphoning scam to take votes from a Democratic candidate. The Seminole County (FL) GOP chair was found guilty of using his cousin as a “ghost” candidate,” an increasingly common practice in Florida, through putting a fake candidate on the ballot advertised as a progressive to take votes from the legitimate Democrat candidate. Floridian Republicans have also changed voter registrations from Democratic voters to the GOP without consent, and several Republicans in the retirement Villages voted twice. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has created state election police, but they are not investigating these election frauds. 

DeSantis’ election force has also not investigated him for another voter fraud, arresting 20 people with one of them dragged to jail in his underwear at 6:00 am. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported the right of released felons to vote, but GOP legislators said they had to first pay all their fees and fines. Chaos reigned with no system to let people know if they were ineligible to cast a ballot. DeSantis’ appointees approved the completed registration cards for felons so the duly registered ex-felons didn’t know they were disenfranchised. To convict those charged, prosecutors must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the arrested people knew their votes were illegal. DeSantis just want to make eligible voters afraid to cast ballots, destroying democracy.

At least 150,000 Jackson (MS) residents continue to lack safe drinking water, and the mayor said they face “a much longer road ahead” before services are fully restored. Relying on bottled water, they can’t take baths, wash dishes, etc. The city said that “all of Jackson should now have pressure,” useless for most personal needs except flushing toilets. After decades of neglect, the Pearl River flooding set off problems at one of two water treatment plants, but residents had already been under a boil-water order when the pumps failed. The crisis is a combination of poor infrastructure, climate change, and systemic racism as a Democratic city government tried to deal with a Republican governor and state legislature.

The governor accused the city of mismanagement two months after the federal EPA system violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In March 2020, the EPA found the potential for bacteria such as E.Coli and issued an emergency order to fix the deficiencies. Jackson residents lost access to clean water for weeks in 2021 when the pipes froze. A fire knocked all five pumps at one treatment plant out of service, and last October lawyers sued for “hundreds if not thousands” of children being poisoned by lead in the water. As white people fled the city, 20,000 between 2000 and 2010, Jackson lost both tax revenue and institutional support as In 40 years, the population of Jackson dropped from 200,000 in 1980 and over from 50 percent white to 80 percent Black.    

The long tentacles of health care provided by the Catholic Church reaches farther than hospitals, as students at Ohio’s Oberlin College discovered last week. Campus student health services would provide contraception only for health problems other than preventing pregnancy, and only victims of sexual assault can receive emergency contraception. Oberlin outsourced the student health services to a Catholic health agency which follows religious directives prohibiting contraception to prevent pregnancy—and blocking gender-affirming care. The college developed an alternative plan to offer reproductive health services to students on campus, but some states’ guidelines are similar to the Catholic Church. About 40 percent of reproductive age women live “in areas with high or dominant Catholic hospital market share,” according to a researcher of data in 2020. Many people don’t realize that the Catholic Church controls their health care because the information is concealed. Options of patients, especially low-income ones, can be disproportionately restricted.

Texas spent $12.7 million to bus migrants to the East Coast–$1,400 per person. A one-way, same-day ticket from El Paso costs $291 to New York City and $324 to Washington, D.C., and same-day flights are under $400. Gov. Greg Abbott is asking for private donations for his project but received only $167,828 as of August 17. His goal is to “incite fear among Americans,” a typical Republican strategy, but busing saves migrants money by taking them closer to their destinations.

After DDT spent months attacking House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), warfare is breaking out between McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm. Like many other Republicans privately express, McConnell doubts the “quality” of DDT-picked candidates winning primaries, fearing both the Senate and House this year will be lost—again. Scott attacked McConnell in an op-ed for the conservative Washington Examiner, accusing “the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle” of “trash-talking our Republican candidates.” Without giving McConnell’s name, Scott’s message was clear, coming two weeks after McConnell expressed concern about the GOP taking back the Senate in 2022. Some of DDT’s infamous candidates for Senate are Blake Masters (AZ), Herschel Walker (GA), and Mehmet Oz (PA). Earlier this year, Scott irritated McConnell by releasing the radically-right “Plan to Rescue America” which alienated many affiliated voters.

Scott is also in trouble for the lack of money in the GOP Senate campaign arm. By the end of July, the committee collected a record $181.5 million but spent over 95 percent of it, $26 million just on texting people to donate. The remaining $23.2 million is less than half of the Democratic committee stash leading up to the November election in two months. Scott is getting blamed for not bringing in money, and his group is canceling bookings for advertising, ones they can’t get back even if they manage to raise the money.

The Senate funding committee decided to not pick anyone in the primaries after DDT’s endorsements. In the past decade, it avoided out-of-the mainstream nominees who might lose in the general election; this year many GOP candidates winning the primaries haven’t run for office before. Their negative, expensive primaries left favorable ratings underwater, and they trail in many battlegrounds with well-funded Democratic opponents. By mid-August, Dems outspent their opponents by four-to-one in Ohio, over double in Arizona, and almost two-to-one in Nevada as well as by $14 million in Georgia.  

Scott gained more notoriety by criticizing President Joe Biden’s Delaware “staycation” while on a luxury yacht in Italy during the Florida primaries. He claimed he had planned his trip to Italy long ago because of a wedding anniversary, but the primaries were also planned well in advance. Presidents typically take off a few weeks in August because of the annual congressional recess for the month, and Scott defrauded the government out of Medicare funds while CEO of a large Florida health system.

After 28 months, litigation about DDT’s financial records going to a House committee has reached a settlement: DDT’s former accounting firm Mazurs must turn over some records to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Records are narrowed to financial ties between DDT or his businesses with foreign countries for 2017-2018 and documents between November 2016 and 2018 for DDT’s company holding the lease with the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel. Earlier this year, Mazurs said it had fired DDT and that the firm’s financial statements prepared to DDT “should no longer be relied upon” because it used DDT’s figures.

Last month, despite DDT’s legal opposition, a three-judge appellate court agreed with a lower court decision that the Treasury Department should provide DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. DDT’s DOJ allowed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to block the committee from obtaining the returns with the excuse that Democrats wanted them for partisan reason. The committee successfully renewed the request after Biden’s inauguration, seeking DDT’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. 

A Virginia state judge dismissed two cases attempting to bar the public display and sale of two books the plaintiff alleged obscene under an obscure state law. By taking this action, the judge also struck down the law, finding it unconstitutional. Filing by lawyers, presently a GOP state assembly delegate and a former GOP congressional candidate, assert the award-winning graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and well-reviewed A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas were “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” The statute does not allow for a work to be “obscene for minors” and failed to prove that the books are obscene at all. The plaintiffs’ declaration violated both the U.S. and the Virginia constitutions. One of the lawyers, who lost his June 21 primary for Congress by 40 points, tried to build a case for “parental rights.” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, said that the plaintiffs tried to weaponize the use of obscenity laws against books that don’t “fit their worldview.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing abortions for beneficiaries if the person is endangered by pregnancy or the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. The VA has made this medical procedure available before but amended its regulations for safety reasons after the Supreme Court and states overturned Roe v. Wade. The rule will be available for a 30-day comment after being published on September 1.

March 23, 2022

SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing

The latest confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court justice began last Monday, and Republicans promised a “respectful” back and forth. From the first GOP speaker on Monday regarding President Joe Biden’s nominee through 13 hours of GOP electioneering and ugly questions on Tuesday, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the only “respect” was on Jackson’s side; the Republicans acted like a bunch of “mean girls” in their verbal attacks on the candidate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opened his questioning of Jackson with the unconstitutional question, “what faith are you, by the way?” (A person isn’t a faith; a person sometimes has a faith.) He continued the illegal badgering by asking if she regularly attends church and “on a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?” Graham used these questions as revenge for questions for Amy Coney Barrett, but Barrett had written that her religion should influence her judicial opinions. Jackson said the reverse. About Jackson’s response that she is a nondenominational protest, he asked her if she could “fairly judge a Catholic.” No one ever asked the six Catholics now on the Supreme Court how they could deal with non-Catholics.

Following that, he attacked her for her defense of Guantánamo Bay prisoners during her employment with a private firm. To Jackson’s response that she was working for her clients, he pretty much called her a liar. In whining about Michele Childs, his preferred nominee from South Carolina, not being chosen, Graham seemed to accuse her of working with groups asking Biden to not nominate Childs. The preference of several GOP senators, Childs defended large corporations in race and gender discrimination cases, including a beachwear retailer charged with near-daily sexual assault at work.

After Graham used almost all his time to complain and cut off Jackson’s answers, he promised more “questions” about Jackson’s judicial philosophy during the four-day hearing. He also denigrated Jackson’s supporters by calling them wanting to “pack the court,” believing “this court is a bunch of right-wing nuts who are going to destroy America,” and considering “the Constitution trash.” He added that “these right-wing radical groups” will “destroy the law.” He took up extra time not allotted and then stomped off in a huff. Ten months ago, Graham was one of three GOP senators to vote for Jackson when Biden nominated for the D.C. Circuit Court.

After Graham, each senator presidential wannabe carved out his subject: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – the so-called “critical race theory”; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), like Cruz under ethics investigation for supporting the January 6 insurrectionists – pornography; and Sen. Tom Cotton  (R-AR) – drugs, rape, and murder.  Cruz already drew national media attention for his temper tantrum in the Bozeman (MT) airport that required police intervention; he had arrived too late to check in on his scheduled flight. He was rescheduled and arrived in time for the hearing.

In his speech on Monday, Cruz bemoaned the lengthy process of confirming Supreme Court justices—skipping over former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) refusal to address President Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland for the president’s last ten months in office. Cruz praised the confirmation of Bushrod Washington as justice the day after appointment. Washington had been serving on a temporary basis for over a month, and the slave-owner was confirmed by a Senate in which 58 percent of the members also owned slaves. Cruz also brought up Brett Kanvaugh’s hearing by saying no one would ask Jackson, “Do you like beer?” In fact, Kavanaugh asked that question of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that question.  [visual – Kavanaugh beer cartoon]

Cruz tried to start a conspiracy theory with his claim that the White House not giving Republicans the same documents as Democrats. Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) told him “we completed discovery before we started the hearing” and said Republicans had access to all the information. Yet Cruz kept saying that Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) had information that Republicans didn’t have until Durbin shut him down.

According to a Washington Post factcheck:

“Hawley is still leaving out significant context in his thread. He uses snippets of quotes, pretends a bipartisan recommendation is Jackson’s alone and then ignores a variety of factors—such as probation recommendations and out-of-date guidelines—that might result in lower sentences. In his zeal, he also ignores a long debate within the legal community about whether the current guidelines are appropriate.”

Andrew McCarthy wrote an essay about Hawley’s attempt to smear Jackson for the conservative National Review

“For now, I want to discuss the claim by Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) that Judge Jackson is appallingly soft on child-pornography offenders. The allegation appears meritless to the point of demagoguery….  (Contrary to Hawley’s suggestion, however, she appears to have followed the guidelines, at the low end of the sentencing range, as most judges do.)”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) falsely accused Jackson of calling George W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “war criminals” when she was “representing a member of the Taliban.” In fact, Jackson, then a public defender, filed a habeas petition on behalf of a Guantánamo Bay detainee alleging that he had been tortured in violation of international law. Bush and Rumsfeld were respondents, required by procedural rules.

Sen. Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) used all the other attack topics before she launched into a transphobic diatribe. She asked Jackson about a definition of a woman and then blocked her answer after Jackson said, “I can’t …” When she could finish, Jackson said, “I’m not a biologist,” and Blackburn continued her verbal assaults. As in many of her other answers, Jackson reminded the questioners that her job would be to interpret the law. Blackburn forgot about Texas law that could declare parents of transgender children guilty of child abuse for their healthcare of the minor when she said:

“And parents want to have a Supreme Court justice who is committed to preserving parental autonomy and protecting our nation’s children.”

On Monday, Blackburn asked Jackson about a “personal hidden agenda” to bring critical race theory into “our legal system” and referred to transgender girls as “biological males.” Two years ago, Jackson had spoken about Nikole Hannah Jones’ “provocative thesis that the American that was born in 1776 was not the perfect union that it purported to be, and that it is actually only through the hard work, struggles, and sacrifices of African Americans over the past two centuries that the United States has finally become the free nation that the Framers initially touted.” About girls sharing locker rooms with transgender girls, Blackburn said, “They’re being treated like second-class citizens.”

Women who want contraception might also be concerned that Blackburn’s rejection of Jackson included her rejection of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 SCOTUS ruling that legalized birth control, as “constitutionally unsound.” If she wants it overturned, she has five conservative justices who might do it.  

Despite Republicans repeatedly repeating questions, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanding an answer to his question about what Supreme Court justice Jackson would emulate, Jackson kept her cool and stuck to her first answer to the question—in this case, that she already has a history of 570 cases while on the bench.

Former Republican Charlie Sykes made two points about the first day of questioning for Jackson’s confirmation.

“(1) The confirmation process is no longer about judicial qualifications, because (2) it’s now all about payback and ideology.”

Jackson’s manner and credentials are so impeccable that all Republicans have are vicious statements and hypocrisy. It’s all theater to attract QAnon followers for the 2024 election. 

Garland wasn’t nominated because Republicans said eight months was too close to an election. Barrett went from appointment to justice in only 31 days—just one week before the election.

A major false charge from the Republicans concerns “dark money” groups supporting Jackson. McConnell has been pushing dark money into politics for decades, and that includes money supporting Barrett. Fox’s Laura Ingraham complained about “the left’s dark money trolls” but didn’t mention her involvement with Independent Women’s Forum, the Koch network dark-money group evolving from the committee defending Clarence Thomas from sexual harassment accusations in his 1991 confirmation hearings. Dark-money propaganda partially comes from the Judicial Crisis network, the conservative nonprofit hiding its donors. Its president clerked for Thomas, and the group, also receiving money from the Koch network, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. JCN also spends millions to elect their state judicial and attorney general candidates and pledge at least $10 million backing Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. An undisclosed donor gave them $17 million.

The conservative Gallup poll found 58 percent approval for Jackson’s approval. Only John Roberts had a higher approval, and that was only one point higher in the past 35 years. Jackson is seven points higher than Amy Coney Barrett, 13 points higher than Neil Gorsuch, and 17 points higher than Brett Kavanaugh who came in at 41 points approval and 37 percent opposed. Barrett was the most controversial with 46 percent in opposition and only three percent having no opinion. 

Wednesday continues the questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson with much more mud thrown at her.

November 27, 2020

DDT: Week 201 – A Time of Contrasts

In a CNN op-ed on Thanksgiving Day, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill, in a CNN op-ed, thanked people who keep the nation functioning during the pandemic:

“We are grateful for the frontline workers who have never stopped showing up over these long and confusing months, making sure our food is harvested and shipped, keeping our grocery stores stocked, picking up our trash, and keeping our cities and towns safe.

“We are grateful for the health care workers who put in long shifts and isolate themselves from their loved ones, the nurses who comfort and help people say one last goodbye, and the doctors who fight for every breath.

“We are grateful for the educators who learned to teach in virtual classrooms almost overnight, who did extra work to reach families without technology, or who took late-night phone calls from parents on the verge of tears.

“We are grateful for the parents who have carried their families through the chaos, working or searching for a job, navigating childcare and remote learning.

“We are grateful for the researchers and scientists who have spent this year learning everything they can to understand how to fight this pandemic and working tirelessly to find a vaccine and therapeutics.”

On Thanksgiving Day, in the midst of ranting tweets, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held a press conference, the first time he has taken questions since his defeat. He claimed proof for election fraud is people voting for Biden. Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked DDT if he would concede to Biden, and DDT shouted, “Don’t talk to me that way! I’m the president of the United States.” For the first time, he declared he would leave the White House if the Electoral College selects Biden.

DDT paid Wisconsin $3 million for recounts in two counties. One of them, Milwaukee, announced Biden picked up another 132 votes in the recount. About 65 percent finished, Dane County will be done by the state’s certification of ten electoral votes for Biden on Tuesday. DDT still wants to throw out over 238,000 ballots in the two counties.

Unable to win lawsuits to stop voting and certification, DDT tries to decertify existing certifications. He failed in Pennsylvania this morning when a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court rejected the case, writing, “Calling an election unfair does not make it so.” Like the other almost 40 rejections to DDT’s arguments, the ruling determined lawyers had no “specific allegations and … proof.” A DDT-appointed judge wrote the opinion. Jenna Ellis, DDT’s lawyer, wrote, “On to SCOTUS!” Biden won the state’s 20 electoral votes by an 80,000 majority.

A Commonwealth court uncertified Pennsylvania’s certified votes until an evidentiary hearing in the case. The same court has rejected GOP arguments two other times. GOP Rep. Mike Kelly challenged 2.5 million mail-in ballots, accusing the state legislature of constitutionally expanding the process. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman pointed out that lack of certification would eliminate “down-ballot elections”:  

“If [votes are] not certified, we don’t have a House or have our state Senate, and those are controlled by Republicans. So they’re literally trying to make the argument that there was fraud with Joe Biden’s race but my race, there was no fraud in that race. So there’s absolutely no basis in reality, but that’s never stopped them from lying.”

Fetterman said Pennsylvania found only two cases of voter fraud, both from Republicans who tried “to vote for Trump with their relatives, whether they were dead or living.” The Pennsylvania GOP legislature approved mail-in voting over a year ago, but no one objected because they thought it could favor the Republicans.

With QAnon queen Sidney Powell as lawyer, Michigan electors and local GOP officials are using her conspiracy theories against Biden in a federal court case. On Monday, Michigan certified the win for Biden. and Powell’s arguments have already been ruled “not credible” by a Wayne County judge. The lawsuit also demands voting machine and software be impounded for inspection. Powell, dropped by DDT’s campaign, also filed a wacko lawsuit in Georgia with both filings marked by inaccurate spelling. Losing in Pennsylvania, she’s heading to Arizona with allegations already rejected in a court case there.  

Rudy Giuliani receives $20,000 a day for his inept lawyering, but Powell asks for the checks to be made out to her personally. She set up her website on November 11, the day after she appeared on Fox’s Lou Dobbs Show.

DDT had a busy week, at least for him, with two major appearances last Tuesday—each about a minute. One of them was the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkeys, this year named Corn and Cob. Hailing from Iowa, the turkeys are returning to their home state after a time in a luxury hotel. He was kinder to these than Carrot two years ago when he ridiculed Carrots for losing the count and refusing to “concede.” Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman have a great piece on how DDT had expected his time in the Oval Office to be “a rolling turkey pardon.”

DDT’s bad relationship with birds doesn’t seem to have improved since before his inauguration. Over five years ago, Time’s cover story, “The Donald Has Landed,” featured a photo of him and “Uncle Sam” who evidently didn’t approve of bigots and demagogues. Footage for the photo shoot.

Before Michael Flynn’s ruling, DDT pardoned him. DDT fired Flynn for lying to VP Mike Pence, and Flynn pled guilty to lying twice to the FBI about promising Russia in secret conversations before the inauguration that DDT would remove Russian sanctions. Flynn also secretly worked with Turkey. QAnon members are upset because the pardon means “guilt” when they want “exoneration.”

Still struggling to win by disenfranchising millions of voters, DDT called an informal meeting of Pennsylvania legislators at Gettysburg (PA) despite the state’s formal certification of 20 electoral votes. DDT originally meant to appear in person, but his legal team leader, Rudy Giuliani has again been exposed to COVID-19. Giuliani appeared with the group, most of them not wearing masks.

DDT’s conservative Supreme Court increased the rate of infections and deaths from COVID-19 by agreeing with New York religious organizations claiming they were illegally targeted by virus restrictions. In the 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts joined the three progressive justices, writing:

“It is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic.”

Roberts also noted restrictions were already eased, eliminating the need for court intervention. When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was alive, Roberts’ vote created a majority to treat religious groups the same as others. Justice Sonia Sotomayor added the state treated churches equally or more favorably when compared with other groups; thus it did not discriminate. Cuomo increased restrictions because some religious groups turned areas into “hot spots” of spiking coronavirus cases. Changes were temporary, based on numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In a tweet, Joyce Vance, a federal prosecutor for 25 years, addressed the majority of justices who elevated Christian and Jewish beliefs over public health officials and state laws for other groups:

“Your religious views now give you the right to withhold the services of your business from people whose ‘lifestyle’ you disagree with, withhold healthcare from women & attend superspreader events that let you infect your neighbors with a deadly virus.”

After DDT demanded churches open last summer, the virus surged across areas in which religious groups refused to take precautions. The disease hits not only the people within the church but also others throughout the community as church members become superspreaders. For example, 12 deaths and 213 cases are connected to events at the Charlotte (NC) United House of Prayer for All People earlier this year, and 11 buses brought people for another superspreader event two weeks ago to further spread disease. 

War in the Middle East could add to DDT’s death toll. For the third time in 18 months, he sent several heavy bombers to the Middle East threatening Iran after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed ben Salam. Pompeo was supposedly on a diplomatic mission. The last threat was when DDT used an airstrike to assassinate top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. DDT’s “maximum pressure” against Iran led to more nuclear material at higher levels of enrichment. Within the next 54 days before he leaves the Oval Office, DDT plans far more sanctions and “covert actions” against Iran to sabotage Biden’s efforts to rejoin the anti-nuclear deal.

DDT may have killed 33 unaccompanied Guatemalan children by deporting them after a judge ordered them to stop a deportation. Agency officials claimed they didn’t know about the order until the plane landed in Guatemala, but they didn’t bring them back. DDT’s administration claims it’s protecting the public during the pandemic, but the permission for unlimited church gatherings shows no protection from the virus. Coronavirus cases and deaths per capita in Guatemala are far fewer than in the U.S.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has lost another member, Lamar Alexander (TN) to a COVID-19 infection, but McConnell keeps punishing people. He plans a pay freeze for all civilian federal workers in the spending package required to keep the government open after December 11.

August 8, 2020

DDT’s Desperate Attempts at Reelection

As the election comes closer and polls for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep dropping, the stories surrounding around him get more and more bizarre.

One episode was when DDT spent days bragging about passing a cognitive test identifying dementia in people. One of the questions required repeating five words. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), proud of DDT for his ability to repeat the words, has come up with three words for a messaging strategy: Renew, Restore, and Rebuild the country after DDT’s four years. It’s debatable whether this goal is any better than DDT not being able to think of anything he would accomplish if he were reelected. The phrase is not even original: it’s a commonly used phrase in Christianity from Isaiah 61:4.  

DDT lacks any personal sense of religion but loves to ridicule that of others—Pope Francis is “disgraceful” for his negative reference to DDT’s obsession about walls, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was a liar for saying “I pray for the president.” DDT always accused President Obama, a Christian, of being a Muslim and questioned Mitt Romney following the Mormon faith. Doubting Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) religion, DDT said, “Not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, okay?”

About Joe Biden, DDT said he will “hurt God, hurt the Bible.” DDT accused Biden will disappear all religions from the U.S. because he is “against God.” In the same speech, DDT said Biden puts China first and America last. According to DDT, Biden’s “against energy. Our kind of energy.” All Democrats are “against religion, Bible, God,” in DDT’s mind. The speech was two days after DDT’s campaign photoshopped three photos to make Biden appear he was “hiding” in a basement. Biden’s campaign pointed out:

“Donald Trump is the only president in our history to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out of his church just so he could profane it—and a Bible—for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain.”

Both DDT and Dr. Deborah Birx praised Arizona’s GOP Gov. Doug Ducey for doing “an incredible job” controlling COVID-19. Birx said they were “very encouraged by what’s happened in Phoenix and Tucson.” Arizona still averages 14,000 to 16,000 cases a week and has over 27,000 cases per one million—second highest of any state and more than any other country in the world except Qatar and French Guiana. Ducey didn’t lift his ban on mayors’ requiring social distancing and mask wearing until June 17, despite those in several cities, including Phoenix and Tucson, begging him to allow them to require these restrictions.

On July 23, infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park for MLB’s opening day between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees. Not to be bested, DDT announced he was invited to throw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on August 25. Four days later, he said he had something else to do that day and was very busy saving the U.S. from the virus and a bad economy. And of course, DDT is never too busy to make himself look important, and leaks from the White House revealed he had never been invited. He did have time to tell Pennsylvania voters they should not vote for Joe Biden.

Jared Kushner is blocking DDT’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee from giving any money to GOP House candidates because he assumes Republicans will lose the House.

Although DDT still has the ability to tell the difference between a camel and a lion, his ability to correct simple words continues to fail.  When he was claiming to be the greatest conservation president after Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, he could not manage to pronounce Yosemite. Instead of “Yoh-sem-it-ee,” he started with “YO-se-MIGHT” and added a syllable, “YO-se-min-NIGHT” for the second try. The law was introduced by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) who died last month, but DDT gave credit to GOP Sens. Corey Gardner (R-CO) and Steve Daines (R-MT), trying to get them reelected. DDT wants to see himself as superior to Theodore Roosevelt, but he made deep cuts in conservation plans, built up fossil fuel extraction, and reversed at least 100 environmental protections. 

DDT also has a history of struggling with correctly pronouncing names of countries; i.e., Nepal (Nipple) and Bhutan (Button). The latest problem was with Thailand, although he did correct himself in the speech, when he referred to the country as “Thigh-land.” DDT’s sycophant Dinesh D’Souza tried to convince people “thighland” is correct in English but got totally annihilated.

DDT campaigned for president as a businessman, and he kept using his skills when he considered selling Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017. He asked DHS acting secretary Elaine Duke if the U.S. could “divest of that asset.” Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and the island’s three million people are American citizens.

VP Mike Pence is also struggling these days. In defense of DDT, Pence supported the claims of voter fraud by citing an Indiana case in 2016 with a group of people in a super PAC prosecuted for falsifying ballots. The fact-checker state the case in 2012 was about former secretary of state Charlie White convicted of six Class D felony charges including voter fraud, perjury, and theft. In 2016, state police raided an office of the Indiana Voter Registration Project, associated with Patriot Majority USA—not a super PAC—that registered 45,000 people, many of them Black. Officials said ten of the voter applications appeared to be wrong and shut down the project. When a case was filed, officials could not find any voter fraud or fraudulent ballots cast. The media did not publish anything about the case after the filing of charges. “Voter fraud” is “the illegal behavior of individual voters,” not faulty registration, and the situation does not meet Pence’s description of “people that were prosecuted for falsifying ballots.” Pence got four Pinocchios. 

While campaigning in Pennsylvania, Pence literally crashed—twice. DDT has dropped his campaign in Michigan after disastrous polling for him and decided to concentrate on Pennsylvania. Pence’s campaign bus backed into a dump truck. Or side-swiped it; reports differ. Pence moved into a limo, but two of his motorcycle escorts crashed after one of the officers lost control of his vehicle. Although ambulances were called, no serious injuries were reported. Pence was on his way to speak at a “Cops for Trump” event.

A few weeks ago, rapper Kanye West announced he was breaking from DDT and running for president. There were a few mutters about his taking the Black vote from Joe Biden, but no one made much of a fuss until he showed evidence of being emotionally disturbed. In his first campaign appearance, he broke down crying and later tweeted his wife, Kim Kardashian, made attempts to “lock me up.” West’s wife talked about her husband’s struggles with mental illness, and he later apologized to his wife for some of his comments.

West’s emotional disturbance seemed to have killed the idea of West’s presidential run until GOP operatives started to run around the country in an attempt to get West on the ballots in different states. Rather than hiding its latest desperate move to take votes from Biden, the operation has been transparent. These are some of the players who are working to elect both West and DDT:

Lane Ruhland: a lawyer who represented DDT’s campaign in a lawsuit against a small Wisconsin television station for an advertisement about DDT’s coronavirus response. (Wisconsin is an important swing state for DDT.)

Mark Jacoby: an executive at Let the Voters Decide who was arrested on voter fraud charges in 2008 when he worked for the California GOP. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor.

Rachel George: a GOP operative in Colorado.

Gregg Keller: former executive director of the American Conservative Union and campaign contact in Arkansas.

Chuck Wilton: convention delegate for DDT from Vermont who could cast an Electoral College vote for West and husband of DDT’s USDA appointee.

West’s running mate, Michelle Tidball, is a self-described “biblical life coach” based in Cody (WY) where the Wests have a ranch. She once recommended making beds and doing dishes for treating mental illness.

August 7: Even with DDT’s frantic efforts to hide the number of COVID-19 cases, they rose to over five million in the U.S. with over 63,000 just today. The total number of deaths since February is 164,094. The number of cases in the world will hit over 20 million in a couple of days although the rate is only one-sixth of that in the U.S.

June 2, 2020

(Pro)Fascism, Not ‘Fools’

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his speech in the Rose Garden yesterday about sending the military against protesters throughout the United States without permission from the states, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) tweeted:

“The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.”

Wyden is known for careful speech, and he didn’t use the F word carelessly. Before DDT’s election in 2016, John McNeill, professor of history, described characteristics of fascism: hyper-nationalism, militarism, glorification of violence, fetishization of masculinity, leader cult, lost-golden-age syndrome, purges of the disloyal, and theatricality. In this article, McNeill tried to prove that DDT was not a fascist, but the past three years have proved differently. In his book The Anatomy of Fascism,  Robert Paxton, an expert in the subject, has more characteristics such as scapegoating, demonizing, playing the victim, and males as leaders. Major parts of fascism are also controlling the media, manipulation through the most common religion, and suppressing labor rights to protect corporate power.

Wyden is right: DDT fulfilled fascist expectations—many yesterday afternoon between his Rose Garden speech threatening to send the military against U.S. people and then clearing peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets for a photo-op at a church. An official said he wanted to look strong by gassing people after being called “Bunker Boy” for hiding out two days earlier. At least one Episcopal priest, Rev. Gini Gerbasi (right), and a seminarian were expelled from the church’s patio, and both were affected by tear gas. Gerbasi was wearing clerical garb. [visual pastor]

The blame game for DDT’s poorly-orchestrated photo-op, where he held the Bible upside down, has flown fast and furious but keeps coming back to DDT. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley supposedly thought that they were in Lafayette Square “to review efforts to quell the protests,” but Milley followed the photo-op by stalking the streets of Washington in combat fatigues as if it was he were planning a military assault in a war zone. DDT seems to be at fault, and the White House ordered military helicopters to fly low over peaceful protesters in Washington to incite fear and physically hurt them. 

About DDT’s photo-op, the outraged bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Mariann Budde, said:

“The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for.”

This morning, DDT, down in the polls by 12 points with white Catholics, had a photo-op at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. Like Budde, Catholic Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory was angry. He made this statement:  

“I find it baffling that and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.”

DDT also held up a bible so that everyone could identify it. Evan Osnos called DDT’s show “an unholy production” and described the scene in Layfayette Park before police attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets, one of the victims a pastor from the church for the photo-op:

“Men and women, along the sunny edge of Lafayette Park, chanted and knelt. A young boy and girl, flanking their father, held protest signs. A vender touted coronavirus masks bearing the grim slogan of our time: ‘I Can’t Breathe…’’

“The scene was quieter than it had been for hours. Holding aloft a yellow sign reading ‘Trump Coward,’ Anita, a Virginia woman with long blond hair, told me, ‘I am a registered Republican. This man has disgraced my political party. I will be changing political parties after this.’ She wore black capri pants and a white T-shirt with the American flag on it. For a while, she explained, she had credited Trump with a strong economy. For more than three years, she stayed loyal; she liked to imagine that he was best for business. She said, ‘I gave him that much time. And, as the days have gone by, the insult from this President is just too much to take….’

“’Yesterday was it,” she said. She had watched the video of Floyd’s death, and it left her shaken. ‘Any one of us with even a little bit of humanity, it absolutely broke our hearts.’ Her voice cracked. “Every police department in this country needs to change. They should never be allowed to touch a person’s head or neck. Why would they even need to do that?’

“She went on, ‘It makes you question—what have they done in the past that we don’t know about, that’s not on video? All of the complaints from the black community now become just real complaints that have been happening. The reality of what they’ve been living in for years just becomes that much more real…’”

Osnos continued with a description of DDT’s speech and the aftermath:

“At 6:40, twenty minutes before a curfew was to go into effect, police with riot shields on their arms pressed toward the crowd, driving it back, as some people held their hands in the air. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as men and women scattered. Officers swung batons at reporters holding cameras and microphones.

“In the Rose Garden, reporters could hear flash grenades detonating on the streets outside. Trump, looking tense and reading from a teleprompter… Declaring himself a ‘President of law and order,’ he called the looting and violent demonstrations ‘acts of domestic terror.’ He vowed to ‘dominate the streets’ and promised an ‘overwhelming law-enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.’ He added, ‘If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them…’

“CNN carried the President’s remarks on a split screen with images of police advancing through the crowds. A moment later, a chyron noted, ‘Trump says he’s an “ally of peaceful protesters” as police fire tear gas, rubber bullets on peaceful protesters near WH…’

“Trump stalked across the park, weaving past the monuments, with his security detail skittering around him. When he reached the sanctuary, he did not go inside. Instead, he turned toward the camera, and members of his entourage assembled into a tableau so bizarre that it took a moment to understand what was unfolding. He held up a Bible and posed with it for the cameras, clasping it to his chest, bouncing it in his hand, turning it to and fro, like a product on QVC. He did not offer a prayer or read from scripture. On either side of him, his aides fidgeted awkwardly; there was the droopy, basset-hound visage of his enabling Attorney General, William Barr; his unrelenting cheerleader Mark Meadows, the chief of staff; his spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany, who grinned madly. Apart from Ivanka Trump, none wore masks…

“For now, as his people pleaded for leadership, a President with no personal understanding of strength or spirit offered a crude simulation of them. He assembled a pageant of symbols that he knows have power over others—the Bible, the gun, and the shield. And he tossed them together in a cruel jumble of nonsense.”

The protesting lessened because one of George Floyd’s killers was arrested, but DDT took personal credit in his tweet:

“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination. Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!).”

DDT’s repeated use of “terrorists” about the far-left people he blames for violent protest, most likely a lie, can be a part of his determination to invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act. Since the act was last invoked in 1992 for Los Angeles riots, Congress expanded the law in 2006 to include “a natural disaster or terrorist attack.” California’s GOP governor, Pete Wilson, had asked for military help after four white police officers were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King, a black man. To invoke the act, a president “must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, 10 U.S.C. § 334.4. If the situation does not resolve itself, the President may issue an executive order to send in troops.” DDT, however, is not known for following the law.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch wrote:

“[Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden represented] the moment we’ve been dreading since that escalator ride down Trump Tower five years ago this month—that’s been slowly building brick by brick as Donald Trump tore down the rule of law, abused the presidency to enrich himself, and grabbed the bully pulpit of the White House to divide America with racism, sexism and xenophobia.”

DDT told governors yesterday that they looked like “fools.” He looks like a Fascist.

February 25, 2018

Billy Graham Leaves a Devastating Legacy

Billy Graham, evangelical advisor to presidents for over a half century, died at the age of 99 this past week and will be buried on March 2. People are showering the dead Christian evangelist with tributes, but some of his beliefs are far from what Jesus preached.

Women: Graham criticized feminism and created the Mike Pence rule which advocates men avoid meeting, travelling or eating with a woman, other than one’s wife, alone, to prevent infidelity. At Boston Garden, he told women not to nag their husbands, keep their houses clean, and read a great deal to keep up with their husbands. Graham said that women should wear enough makeup to be pretty and not so much that husbands notice.

Graham’s Wife: When Graham’s wife felt the call to proselytize in Tibet, he told her that the Bible makes the husband the head of the wife: “Then I’ll do the leading and you do the following.” He moved on to harvest fields “more white” while she stayed in the U.S. to get pregnant and raise children according to a dog-training manual before they were sent off to boarding schools.

Civil Rights: Activists, not laws, should change hearts because personal conversions, not federal policies, change behaviors. His 1971 book, The Jesus Generation, praises people who reject government as a way to correct injustices. Of the 1963 March on Washington speech, “I Have a Dream,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Graham said, “Only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” “There wasn’t a major Protestant leader in America who obstructed King’s Beloved Community more than Billy Graham did,” says Michael E. Long, author of Billy Graham and the Beloved Community: America’s Evangelist and the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/22/us/billy-graham-mlk-civil-rights/index.html

Global Warming: In his 1992 book about signs that the end of the world was near, Graham suggested that businesses reduce pollution, but his 2010 version eliminated the term “global warming.” Government had no right passing laws to save the world for posterity, he claimed.

New Deal: Graham believed that helping people through government, a godless competition for churches, was going to take Christians’ rights and liberties.

Wealth: With a net worth of $25 million, Graham normalized ultra-rich pastors and the focus on riches earth for the clergy.

Pro-War: Graham urged President Richard Nixon to use nuclear weapons that would destroy the dikes managing North Vietnam’s flooding and kill over one million people. Even Henry Kissinger considered this war crime “just too much.” George H.W. Bush said that Graham’s presence on the eve of the Persian Gulf War helped him avoid doubt, “even for a second … (about) the moral clarity of our mission that January night.” With the next Bush, Graham blessed the next Christian “crusade” into the Middle East.

Anti-LGBTQ: Graham preached that AIDS is the judgment of God. Saying later that he didn’t believe that statement didn’t stop other pastors from repeating it. He claimed that homosexuality is a “sinister form of perversion” that contributes to the decay of civilization. He promoted conversion therapy that uses Graham’s rhetoric. In 2012, he paid for 14 full-page ads in newspapers across North Carolina to support the state’s Amendment 1 prohibiting marriage equality. In the ads, Graham wrote, “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage. The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Anti-Semitism: Jews control the media and that was dangerous, Graham told Nixon. “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” In White House audio tapes released in 2002, Graham also refers to Jews as pornographers.

Graham was used as a pawn by both business and conservative government leaders:

Publishing magnates William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce helped make him famous, and financial and business leaders used him to fight the “socialistic” politics of Franklin D. Roosevelt that brought people out of poverty and starvation.

To elect Richard Nixon, Graham promised President Lyndon B. Johnson that Nixon, if elected, would give Johnson “a major share of the credit” for Nixon’s ending the war and “do everything to make you … a place in history.” Johnson promised Nixon full cooperation if he took the White House. Johnson’s Defense Secretary Clark Clifford thought that LBJ wanted Nixon to become president. Nixon sent Graham as an emissary to Johnson because he knew about their closeness. Graham didn’t know that Nixon was undermining a peace initiative during the last days of Johnson’s presidency.

About his anti-Semitic comments with Nixon, Graham said, “If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it. I guess I was trying to please.” He always gave Nixon a pass, saying that “mistakes and blunders have been made.” The disclosure of Nixon’s wealth, however, and especially the small amount he donated to charity “surprised” Graham. The racist, foul, maniacal rantings on tape that made Graham physically ill, according to Marshall Frady’s 2006 biography of Graham, but Graham continued to make excuses for Nixon and claimed that he had become “deeply religious.” Graham blamed Nixon’s advisers because he was “just trying to protect” them. Frady reported that Graham eventually blamed “all those sleeping pills [that] just let a demon-power come in and play over him.”

Cecil Bothwell wrote about Graham as the father of modern evangelism:

“Graham’s message was principally one of fear: fear of a wrathful god; fear of temptation; fear of communists and socialists; fear of unions; fear of Catholics; fear of homosexuals; fear of racial integration and above all, fear of death. But as a balm for such fears, he promised listeners eternal life, which he said was readily claimed through acceptance of Jesus Christ as one’s savior.”

Theolorigan Dorothee Sölle called white evangelical religion “Christofascism.”  Rev. Broderick Greer’s definition:

 “The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a ‘personal relationship with Jesus Christ’ and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.”

Greer added that the religion “has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity” instead of a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Almost 20 years ago, Graham wrote:

“If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… there have been times when I undoubtedly stepped over the line between politics and my calling as an evangelist.”

He was too late in this decision. His son Franklin Graham, who controls the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the group legitimizing Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to evangelicals, has moved to the far right of Billy Graham. About DDT, Franklin tells his 6.3 million followers to “hold your nose and go vote.” He ridicules rights for non-Christians and LGBTQ people, spews hate speech, and calls for discrimination while raising funds for “persecuted Christians.” Franklin Graham claims to “love Muslim people” but adds that Islam “can’t keep you from the doors of hell.”

Sarah Jones described how Franklin changed Billy’s evangelicalism:

“As the father waned, the son waxed: first as a spokesman for his elder, then as an evangelical figure in his own right. Franklin, using the platform he inherited from his father, has defended Trump’s Muslim bans, promoted Russia’s campaign to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda,’ and once accused gay people of trying to ‘recruit children.’ Franklin, not Billy, represents the evangelical mainstream now.”

The father wanted change by “politeness”; the son follows the style of DDT who “offended everybody! And he became president of the United States.” Franklin crowed, “Only God could do that.” Or maybe Vladimir Putin.

Billy Graham was a handsome man with a powerful voice who was said to have brought more people to Jesus than any other evangelist, a Jesus and a population filled with hatred, bigotry, war-mongering, and domination.

 

April 11, 2016

April 12: Equal Pay Day

Pay women less for doing the same job? There must be good reasons. Charge men more for cupcakes at a bake sale? Outrageous! That was the response to a fund-raiser at the University of Queensland of Australia for the women’s charity Share the Dignity to the point of death threats. The hosting organizations, Women’s Collective and women’s department of the student union, announced:

“Each baked good will only cost you the proportion of $1.00 that you earn comparative to men (or, if you identify as a man, all baked goods [will] cost you $1.00!).”

Facebook posts included missing the “good ole days” when you could “beat a woman with a stick.” Reading the vile statements, some students responded, “I didn’t believe feminism was still relevant until I started reading all the comments.”

Australian women make 17.3 percent less than their male peers for the same work; in the U.S. women are paid about 22 percent less than men. Each year, Equal Pay Day, this year April 12, commemorates the gender gap to demonstrate how much longer women must work in the year to make as much as men do in the former year. The event is always on a Tuesday because that day represents how far into the next work week that women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.

The GOP and Fox network deny any pay disparity between the genders, claiming that women are not as smart or hardworking and that women are too emotional. Researchers, however, have discovered a cultural factor that shapes workplace gender roles—and gender salaries: religiosity. A three-percent increase in a state’s religiosity relates to a one-percent increase in gender wage-gap. In traditional Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—women are the family caregivers, meaning that they should be in the home, giving care. Religion conditions employers to believe that women should not work outside the home, affecting hiring, layoffs, and wages.

Presidential candidates follow the conservative pattern of gender pay gap. The “religiosity” test holds true for presidential candidate campaign workers. Joanna Rothkopf published an analysis of pay and discovered significant gender wage disparities in four of them. Bernie Sanders’ campaign had no women among the top highest-paid staffers during her research. Rothkopf used year-end finance reports for the last quarter of 2015 to answer these questions:

  • Do presidential campaigns employ a comparable number of women to men?
  • Do they pay female employees equitably?
  • Are an equal number of women given leadership roles and salaries to match?

She included only employees who received at least four paychecks and made a minimum projected annual salary of $24,000 during the quarter.

Hillary Clinton is the only presidential candidate who provides equal gender pay for equal work. The Cruz campaign pays men an average of $20,000 more than women. John Kasich had one woman among the top ten staffers. He paid men about $5,000 more on the overall average and $15,000 more on a median salary. Trump’s male employees receive an average of $3,000 more than the women. Details are available here.

A large diversity between male and female pay hit the news on April Fool’s Day, the day after five members of the U.S. national women’s soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s national governing body, of wage discrimination. The team earned $23.5 million in U.S. games during the first quarter, more than the men’s national soccer team earned in the same time period, and the Federation projects a $5 million profit for women and a $1 million loss for the men’s games. Yet the Federation pays female players almost four times less than male players.

The women soccer team’s players aren’t really equal to men—they’re superior. Entering their third year without a major trophy, men are ranked #30. The women’s win in the 2015 World Cup set the television record for the highest rated soccer match in U.S. history and the most-watched soccer event U.S. people ever watched. Yet they also earn less than men for sponsorship appearances, have a smaller per diem while with the national team, and get a smaller share of ticket revenue bonuses. On top of that, they have substandard working conditions, forced to play on physically-damaging artificial turf while men get natural grass.

Jim Tankersley pointed out that this disparity exists throughout culture in the nation, hurting the economy:

“If talented women are paid arbitrarily less than similarly talented or less-talented men, the market is telling those women to work less than they optimally would….  Fewer women are working, as a share of the workforce, than they used to, even though women are more likely than men to graduate college and gain the skills that are in the highest demand in our increasingly service-based economy. At the same time, American productivity growth has slowed. One way to speed it up would be encouraging more highly productive women to do the work they’re best at.”

An analysis debunks the excuse that the pay gap is from comparing different jobs. In a new study of 505,000 salaries, women still make less even if they work for the same company and have the same job title: men make 5.4 percent more in base pay and get 7.4 percent more in overall compensation. These gaps are less than the almost 25 percent more that men make than women, but they are still significant especially because they are controlled for several variables, including age, education, years of experience, industry, occupation, state, and company size.

Glassdoor will host a 60-minute roundtable on pay equality featuring Hillary Clinton and other leaders, experts and advocates tomorrow, April 12, 2016, to be broadcast live at 6:30 PDT on Glassdoor.com.

New research has found that women are paid less because employers value their work less. A study from Cornell University shows that the pay drops significantly—an average of 20 percent—when women enter male-dominated fields. The field of recreation went from predominantly male to female in the second half of the 20th century, and median hourly wages dropped 57 percent. When many ticket agents were changed from male to female, the decrease in wages was 43 percent. In fields where men comprise the majority, the media pay is 21 percent higher than in occupations with a majority of women. Differences in the type of work that men and women account for 51 percent of the pay gap, greater than in 1980. Of the 30 highest-paying jobs, 26 are male-dominated.

Younger women may not notice the gender pay gap because they are paid $.88 for every dollar man is paid. Women over 65, however, are paid only $.40 for a man’s dollar, a reason that twice as many older women as men live in poverty. The inequality for women leads to lower pensions and lower Social Security, according to a new report released by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). She said:

“We’ve moved twenty cents in the right direction since 1963, but we have 21 cents more to go, and at the rate we’re going, the pay gap will not close until the year 2059. That’s a long time to wait, so I feel that we should get serious about this.”

GOP women in Congress front the party’s failure to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced almost two decades ago, that would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It includes preventing employers from retaliating against workers who discuss pay, requiring employers to explain why wage gaps between their male and female employees exist, and strengthening penalties for equal pay violations. Two years ago, two GOP women were the face of a committee that accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue, and a year ago, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), facing a tough election this year, cast her fourth vote against the bill.

Both Democratic candidates and GOP candidate Donald Trump support equal pay for women. Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act three separate times, and Sanders co-sponsored it. Throughout her campaign, Hillary Clinton has argued that paying women an equal wage for equal work would give an economic boost to the nation. Last October she sent this tweet when a GOP senator blocked a measure urging equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.

“Whether you’re a teacher, an executive, or a world-champion soccer player, you deserve equal pay.”

John Kasich has not taken a clear stance on equal pay, but he talked about the relationship of gender wage gap to skill and experience before he backpedalled by saying, “I understand that if you exclude women, you’re not as effective.” Ted Cruz’ website does not address the issue, but he voted against the act three times during his one term as senator.

Women comprise two-thirds of the nation’s 20 million low-wage workers. Nearly one-fourth of the low-wage workforce are female; only 12 percent of men are in the same category.

Working full-time, year-round, a woman earns $10,800 less per year than a man according to the Pay Inequality report. That’s a difference of almost one-half million dollars for a lifetime that also affect Social Security and any other pensions. The gender pay gap is larger in the U.S. than 22 of 34 developed countries. Equal pay would cut the number of women who live in poverty by one-half and boost the GDP by 2.9 percent.

Happy (Un)Equal Pay Day!

February 8, 2015

President Obama Calls for Humility, Gets Slammed

The National Prayer Breakfast, organized by the far-right congressional religious group called the Fellowship Foundation usually passes by with little notice from mainstream media. When prominent evangelical members from “The Family” supporting this annual event connected with people who pushed the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill to criminalize homosexuality, mainstream media said almost nothing. This year, however, legislators and media figures across the country are atwitter after President Obama tried to explain that violence in the name of religion is a global problem across all religions.

Syria’s war, Nigeria’s killings, Europe’s resurgence of anti-Semitism, India’s violence were some of the issues that he brought up. Where Christians in the United States objected, however, was his comparison of the Muslims’ attacks to “terrible deeds in the name of Christ,” including the Crusades. He explained, “In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Jonah Goldberg’s attack on the president in the National Review was inelegantly entitled “Horse Pucky from Obama.” According to Goldberg, the Crusades were justified because of Muslim aggression: it was a “defensive war.” In reality, the Roman Catholic Church paid people from Europe to try to take over Jerusalem—900 years before the United States paid people to take over the Middle East for its own selfish gain. To Goldberg, the Inquisition was a way to stop lynchings. He missed the point that anyone who didn’t declare themselves part of mainstream Christianity, usually after extreme torture, were killed—frequently burned.

In the past, the U.S. has used Christianity as an excuse for colonizing, slavery, discrimination, and cultural destruction. African slaves in the United States were murdered, lynched, burned, and beheaded, and the practice went on for a large part of a century after their emancipation. In the present, the name of Christ is still being used to torment, torture, and kill people in the United States and around the world.

A bizarre part of the argument is that only the Crusades have been referenced, perhaps because the current Christian bigotry in the U.S. is too uncomfortable to discuss. On Meet the Press, conservative Jon Meacham stated that the Crusades was an exception to the rule, as if Christians have not used religion to persecute others outside the eleventh century. Sometimes liberal, but less so as time passes, Andrea Mitchell said that the prayer breakfast was not a place to bring up the issue. To her, “the word Crusade” is “too fraught.” Because “you have to deal with issues that are in front of you,” mentioning anything else is too “nuanced.”

Even more bizarre, however, was David Brooks’ defense of Obama on the same program.

“I am pro Obama. I am totally pro Obama on this. I think he said the right thing. It was a gospel of humility. What sorts of people need a little gospel of humility? People in Washington, pundits, religious believers, — I happen to be all three of those things — and so we are told to walk humbly in the path, that the Lord’s paths are mysterious. And so he was saying we are prone to zealotry. As Jon said we are fallen. So to underline that, that’s useful in Washington today. That’s useful always.”

Earlier this week, the Fox network used the president’s religious speech to attack him by claiming that President Obama is attacking Christianity. According to Eric Bolling, only Muslims kill people in the name of religion:

“Reports say radical Muslim jihadists killed thousands of people in the past few months alone. And yet when you take Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, whatever, their combined killings in the name of religion––well, that would be zero.”

If al-Quaeda had sent death threats to a Christian doctor and then killed him, far-right Christians would be outraged. Yet Dr. George Tiller was killed in his church by anti-abortionist terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009 after decades of threats and an earlier shooting. Far-right Christians cheered at their victory.

Middle East historian Juan Cole determined that Muslims had killed about 2 million people in the 20th century. His 2013 study revealed that during the same time Christians killed almost 100 million people in the name of Christ. Adolf Hitler’s killings were done in the name of Christianity as were the colonial wars in Southeast Asia and Africa. Although some claim that this violence was not Christian-based, combatants used their religion as part of the military campaigns just as today’s Islamist militants organize around groups sharing a common religious and cultural background.

The 1990 sectarian warfare in the Balkans culminated in genocide against Muslim Bosnians by Serbian Orthodox Christians. Balkans researcher Keith Doubt explained in a 2007 paper that the “role of the Church as protector of the Serbian nation gave the Church increasing social control, and with this power clergy fermented a xenophobic and bigoted attitude towards Muslims in former-Yugoslavia.” The Church dispatched Orthodox chaplains to bless “Serbian forces, such as the elite Panthers commando unit, which has been accused of committing numerous atrocities, before they set off on operations.” The Church would offer “Serb warriors communion without requiring confession,” giving them absolution for the crimes they were committing to create a “Greater Serbia.”

During Rwanda’s genocide, “Churches became sites of slaughter, carried out even at the altar.” Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka wore a gun and colluded with a Hutu militia who massacred hundreds of people seeking shelter in his church. After the genocide, Catholic clergy helped church ministers who were guilty of murder flee the country and re-settle elsewhere.

A Christian militia in the Central African Republic beheaded a young Muslim man, the same thing that ISIL is doing to groups determined to be the enemy. Christian-led Mexican cartels had beheaded and killed journalists in other ways. The cartel organizations have deep financial links to Mexican churches.

After the Fox network had its worst ratings last year in 13 years, it changed a policy of not airing violent propaganda videos from terrorists. It is the only U.S. news organization to air the entire video of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaebeth who was burned in his cage. Fox anchor Bret Baier claimed that the reason was to show “the reality of Islamic terrorism.” Even Fox’s national security reporter, Catherine Herridge, admitted that the video is a recruiting tool for ISIL. Malcolm Nance, an expert on counter-terrorism and radical extremism, said, “[Fox News] are literally – literally – working for al-Qaida and ISIS’ media arm.” Before President Obama was elected, Fox frequently criticized other media outlets for airing “terrorist propaganda” because it would threaten national security and U.S. troops. They were right then; they’re wrong now. Nance said, “The whole value of terror is using the media to spread terror.”

Less than 100 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan lynched and burned a young black man, 18-year-old Jesse Washington. Afterward the body was torn into parts that were sold for souvenirs. A photograph shows white farmers, shopkeepers, and laborers from local churches in and near Waco (TX) standing behind the body. The crowd may have been as large as 15,000. A witness who sent home the photo on a postcard wrote, “This is the barbeque we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe.” Between 1882 and 1968 were 4,743 recorded lynchings in the U.S., one-fourth of them white people who sympathized with blacks. No one knows how many recorded lynchings happened.

Kid-Setting-Barack-Obama-on-Fire-84399-e1423171421131Some of the people enraged by the president’s statement that religious people can use their beliefs in a “twisted” manner may be the same people who pass along this photo of the President of the United States. Or this lynching on the lawn of Terry Jones’ church. He is the Florida pastor who burned the Quran.

obama lynch

In his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama decried ISIL’s actions and celebrated U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae’s release from North Korea. He talked about faith as a force for good, giving as an example Kent Brantly, the doctor who lived after contracting Ebola in Liberia and donated plasma to fight the virus. He praised former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip as an example of people who speak freely about the role of faith in their lives. Referring to his personal faith,  President Obama said he has sought God’s guidance “not just in my own life but in the life of our nation.” The mainstream media, however, is only concerned about his talking about the Crusades. Maybe it was because he concentrated on humility.

March 16, 2014

Religion Turning People Off

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:14 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Over one-fifth of the people in the United States report that religion does not play an important role in their lives. The 21 percent is up 50 percent from the 14 percent in 1997, the first year that the poll asked this question. Least religious people tend to be males under the age of 35 with an income over $75,000 and living in the Northeast or West. Millennials, those born between 1977 and 1992, are the least religious, possibly because they are better at looking through the problems perceive around them.

Maybe some of the following stories turn younger, more thoughtful people off the religious fanaticism throughout the country. For example, religious fundamentalists have long fought popular culture for youths. The latest rant is the accusation that the new movie Frozen will cause young girls to be lesbian.

The film is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen about Anna, who tries to rescue the kingdom, and her sister, Queen Elsa, from a freeze. Catholic film blogger Steven Greydanus found a “gay” message because Elsa has no romantic longings. The blogger also found bestiality because the song Fixer-Upper lyrics state: “His [Kristoff’s] thing with the reindeer, that’s a little outside of nature’s laws!”  Greydanus also called the abominable snowman Marshmallow a transvestite because he put on Elsa’s tiara.  Kevin Swanson, a religious right talk show host, is convinced that Satan is using Frozen “to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian.” He also claims not to be a “tinfoil hat conspiratorialist.”

[I never cease to be amused by people who think that becoming LGBT can be done that easily!]

Criticizing children’s media is not unusual for conservatives. Fox network Eric Bolling was upset about the Muppets, Lou Dobbs was bothered by The Lorax, and Jerry Falwell hated Tinky Winky the Teletubby. Other groups attacked Shrek, Shark Tale, SpongeBob SquarePants, Happy Feet, and, of course, all the Harry Potter books and movies.

The same religion that thinks Satan causes lesbianism believes that God deliberately responds to people who believe in climate change. According to televangelist Pat Robertson, the high wind that shut down the exterior lights on the U.S. Capitol was to ridicule Democrats for their late night talk about climate change on the floor of the Senate.

In a belief that it is punishing LGBT people, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is purposely blocking funding to one charitable organization.  to punish LGBT people. As a result, Sunrise Children’s Services, which shelters and feeds more than 2,000 abused and neglected children every year, has a $7-million budget shortfall after Sunrise CEO Bill Smithwick suggested hiring LGBT people. He knew that discrimination could lose public funding, about 85 percent of Sunrise’s budget. In a fit of pique, the state’s Baptist community encouraged its affiliates to blacklist Sunrise until it re-established its policy of LGBT discrimination.

The board caved and shamed Smithwick into resigning after 17 years leading the organization. He has devoted his life to helping abused and neglected children. The Baptists told affiliate churches to once again donate, but it may be a case of too little, too late. And then there’s that taxpayer funding that requires no discrimination.

While Kentucky Baptists are willing to allow child abuse in the name of religion, Idaho lawmakers are willing to let religious groups kill their children, again in the name of religion. House Speaker Scott Bedke has refused to allow a bill on the floor that would protect children from deaths from faith healing. Oregon removed this protection after it found that the infant mortality in the religious groups was 26 times higher than in the general population. Children will continue to die in Idaho, however, because the state’s law permits Followers of Christ to reject medical assistance for their children. Idaho law sends people guilty of felony injury to a child—great bodily harm of death—to prison for about a decade, but believers in faith healing get a walk.  Oregon has a state law that removes religious belief as an affirmative defense for homicide. The United States needs the same law.

One way to get religious news out is through the New York Times bestseller list. That’s what Mark Driscoll, founding pastor of The Mars Hill Church in Seattle wants to do. Church funds of at least $210,000 in 2011 and 2012 went to getting Real Marriage, authored by Driscoll and his wife Grace, onto the list. It does make me look differently at the books considered “best sellers.”

Another form of Christian publicity is posting the Ten Commandments at state capitols, even if it’s unconstitutional. The latest state to order this is Georgia. I’m convinced that conservative legislators lie awake at night trying to figure out ways to waste taxpayer money through building the coffers of lawyers.

No matter how often religious conservatives are told that the constitution includes separation of church and state, they forget, ignore, or reject the facts.

 

  • Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay claims that God, instead of James Madison, wrote the U.S. Constitution.
  • David Barton, pseudo-historian revisionist, claims that the three branches of U.S. government were created in the Old Testament. That’s the document full of kings. The passage that Barton quotes as proof?  Isaiah 33:22: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us.”
  • Bryan Fischer wants to limit voting to property owners like the U.S. did in the 18th century. He claims that renters don’t care about their community.
  • Pat Robertson, like many others who want this country to be a theocracy under fundamentalist Christian control, says that there’s nothing in the Constitution about separation of church and state. With a law degree from Yale, Robertson claims that this concept comes from “the constitution of the communist Soviet Union.” He compares the “wall of separation between church and state”—a metaphor used by Thomas Jefferson—to the Berlin Wall.
  • Jay Sekulow, Robertson’s attorney, claims that the Ten Commandments symbolize American law, including the one that forbids worshipping “false gods,” to Sekulow any except the Trinity. There’s also no attempt by most people—even religious ones—to “keep holy the Sabbath. In a 2003 Alabama case, scholars provided that the Founding Fathers relied on English common and statutory law, Roman law, the civil law of continental Europe, and strains of international law. Nothing about the Ten Commandments.
  • Ben Carson, a surgeon who has shown a yen for being a presidential candidate, claims that divine intervention created America. Like most fundamentalist, Carson believes that God loves the United States best and will protect it against any other country. Like former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Carson tells the false story of Benjamin Franklin leading the delegates in prayer.

 

The most bizarre religion story this month comes out of Edmond (OK). Dr. John Michael Lonergan, a former federal prison inmate convicted of mail fraud, tax evasion and insurance fraud in Ohio and debarred by that state, is now permitted to practice medicine under Oklahoma supervision, thanks to the Oklahoma Medical Board. According to a receptionist at the clinic where he works, Dr. Lonergan is injecting people with the “Jesus shot.” His employer, Barbie Schrick, doesn’t know what’s in the $300 injection which will supposedly take away pain for life.

One Oklahoma resident reported that Lonergan claims to be a Former Special Forces Doctor and developed a serum for the military called Jesus Juice that “cures any ailment.” She also stated that oilfield companies have allowed Lonergan to explain the shot to their workers and then charge them for injections. There’s no new news about Lonergan within the last ten days which may mean that he’s still shooting people up with Jesus Juice.

When it comes to religion, comments and actions from the faithful are stranger than fiction.

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