Wednesday, April 30, 2014

We built...........oops NO. You didn't.

Breaking news - and this should be no surprise - Donald Sterling, the for-now-owner of the Clippers basketball team is apparently a registered Republican voter in L.A. county. Of course, the radical right has tried to pretend otherwise, but we know they are not a factual bunch. (That claim appears to be based on only two political donations, small ones at that, one for $2,000, twelve years ago, and one 25 years ago for $5k. The radical right extremist propaganda machine was working overtime trying to tar Sterling as a racist Democrat - not true! His politics are right wing to the core!

From the Daily Beast:

Donald Sterling and the Neverending Fantasy of ‘Democrat’ Racism

Oh, how eager the conservative press is to call Donald Sterling a Democrat! It’s all part of their larger fantasy narrative about conservatism and race.

Update: Now comes the utterly shocking news that despite his campaign donations to the contrary, Sterling is—sit down—a registered Republican. The Los Angeles Times's Michael Hiltzik tweeted as much this morning, and I confirmed through a source that a Donald T. Sterling who lives in Beverly Hills and was born on April 26, 1934 is indeed a registered Republican voter in L.A. County.
And here we have his own words, echoing the 2012 GOP national convention theme:

Donald Sterling repeated the same false claims made by the supporters of loser Mitt Romney at the Republican convention in 2012 with the theme "We built that".
“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? … Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?”
Apparently 'this Donald', as distinct from the other right wing lunatic with the same first name who makes prominent gaffes like 'the blacks love me' (they don't) thinks that when he makes money, he earns it, he 'makes it', but when the players do so, he is giving them a gift, there is no 'earning[' involved, only 'taking'. Nothing about that thought process is consistent or rational or fair or honest. Here's the thing -- simply starting a league does not make money; if we are to believe that Donald Sterling rather than his players made the team, and by extension, the players as an aggregate did not make the league a success, then we have to embrace that sports movie mantra 'follow the money'. Donald Sterling has not been much of a success.  It has been the relatively recent performance by mostly black players, coaches and managers who have made that difference.  The most Donald Sterling can claim is dumb luck.  He did not do the overwhelming majority of the hard work.  He was not some brilliant executive owner.  He has in fact been something of an epic failure, in some cases an actual obstruction to the success of his own team. As noted in 2012 coverage by NPR:
This summer, the controversy over "you didn't build that" has been a far more sustained phenomenon, even before this convention. While primarily limited to the conservative media, it has taken on a life of its own. The refusal of more mainstream media to take it as seriously has only made it catnip for those who do. And at the Tampa convention, this line of attack, legitimate or not, all but took over the proceedings.
And it is no surprise that the team plays basketball in a facility with the name Staples on it, who also can't admit that - as the Bible puts it - the laborer is worthy of their hire, or that other people's efforts EARN their compensation, it is not a 'gift' (same source).  (The Staples arena is privately owned, but it got a special deal from the city of Los Angeles in order for it to be built and benefits from the services of the city of L.A.):
Tom Stemberg, founder of the office supply store Staples, gave one of several testimonials for Romney on the final night. But he spent much of his time raking the White House for its supposed attitude toward business: "They just don't get it. They don't get it because they don't believe in the spirit of the entrepreneur. They don't understand what it means to risk money to create something new. They don't understand the hard work it takes to get a business off the ground."
It is reminiscent of the rhetoric heard about socialism and the New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s and reprised a generation later in reaction to the Great Society. In those days, the phrase was "running government more like a business." Such talk had faded in recent years, at least temporarily, after the meltdown that began in late 2007 shook many people's faith in the wisdom of markets.
But here in Tampa, the centrality of business and its needs and wants were front and center. Foreign policy was an afterthought in most of the presentations, including Romney's acceptance speech. Social issues were scarcely mentioned, rating a passing reference of less than a minute's duration in the nominee's finale. Yet Romney used the word business 17 times in that same speech. One of them was a reference to the "freedom to build a business." One more use of the most reliable applause line of this convention. If the economy is the top issue and jobs are the key measurement of the economy, the Romney Republicans believe they can win by convincing the public that the current president simply doesn't understand where jobs come from. The central theme of this week in Tampa is about to become the party's mantra for the fall."
To make a play on words, it was the mantra in the fall for the fall - for the fall and fail of Mitt Romney, and now for the fall from grace and power, the epic fail, of Donald Sterling.

Fake gun quotes.

You know how I keep saying that if you actually have a brain, can do research, and go and cite check those pro-gun quotes out there, that they usually are inaccurate and misleading.

Gawker has a few of these, but I particularly like this one:

"Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny or private self defense."

TRUTH: A version of this was even used by the NRA for several years. Because what Adams—federalist, signer of the Sedition Acts, and perennial pessimist about human nature—really liked was armed mobs. In fact, this is a bastardization of a longer quote in defense of the Constitution, which says something very different—namely, that armed untrained citizens in mass posed a threat to liberty and constitutional government:
To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.

I've already posted a link that showed most people were appalled by the anarchy which followed the War for American Independence (with a few exceptions, such as Jefferson).  Things like Samuel Adams  statement that "the man who dares rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."

Abigail Adams wrote about her anxieties for Massachusetts and her disappointment in the behavior of some of its inhabitants n a letter to Thomas Jefferson from 29 January 1787:
With regard to the tumults in my Native State which you inquire about, I wish I could say that report had exaggerated them, it is too true Sir that they have been carried to so allarming a Height as to stop the courts of justice in several Counties. Ignorant, restless desperadoes, without conscience or principals, have led a deluded multitude to follow their standard, under pretence of grievances which have no existence but in their own imaginations. (3)
According to Abigail Adams, the grievances of those closing the courts in Massachusetts

Abigail snappishly dismissed the demands and grievances of these "mobish insurgents" who were "sapping the foundation, and destroying the whole fabrick" of the state:
Some of them were crying out for a paper currency, some for an equal distribution of property, some were for annihilating all debts, others complained that the Court of common pleas was unnecessary that the sitting of the general court in Boston was a grievance. By this list you will see the materials which compose this rebellion and the necessity there is of the wisest and more vigorus measures to quell & suppress it…(4)
She firmly believed that "these people make[?] only a small part of the State." Time and attention to the true causes of the problems by "the more Sensible and judicious" residents would resolve the situation.

Benjamin Franklin had no sympathy for "the mad attempts to overthrow" the Massachusetts Constitution or "the wickedness and ignorance of a few, who, while they enjoy it, are insensible of its excellence." Franklin, like Samuel Adams, had little patience for those who he believed sought to undermine or overthrow a government constituted by and for the people.

I've also mentioned that James Madison said:
 "There never was a government without force. What is the meaning of government? An institution to make people do their duty. A government leaving it to a man to do his duty, or not, as he pleases, would be a new species of government, or rather no government at all."
Additionally, the Constitution makes it pretty clear in Article III, Section iii what it thinks of waging war against the United States.  And despite your bullshit to the contrary, the Second Amendment really doesn't explicitly repeal that section of the Constitution.

I know at least one of you doesn't understand the meaning of this passage, but I will quote it again anyway:
Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.–Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951)
I think Abagail Adams pretty much sums up the situation in regard to using the Second Amendment to justify insurrection:
Ignorant, restless desperadoes, without conscience or principals, have led a deluded multitude to follow their standard, under pretence of grievances which have no existence but in their own imaginations.

Conservatives in elected office DO NOT SERVE THE PEOPLE OF THE U.S.A.

Via FB/Occupy Wall Street

Conservatives, especially by way of ALEC and other corrupt groups

Why the NRA and the Gun Huggers are DANGEROUSLY MENTALLY ILL

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is the NRA really pro-hunter?

OK, I am politically green.  In other words, if I go for a single issue:  it's the environment.  I have been active in environmentalism since I was a kid.  I love the outdoors, but does the NRA really love the outdoors as much as they claim?

The National Rifle Association has long claimed to represent America’s hunters and shooters in the fight to protect one of America’s oldest traditions as the self-proclaimed "largest pro-hunting organization in the world"  The NRA’s bylaws even include an article setting a core goal "to promote and defend hunting…as a viable and necessary method of fostering the propagation, growth and conservation…of our renewable wildlife resources". But it turns out that its by-laws are just empty rhetoric.

A report by the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) showed that  the NRA gave much more money to and gave much higher ratings to politicians who:
  • In 2001, opposed the Roadless Area Conservation Act, which was defeated even though it would have protected millions of acres of our best hunting land.
  • In 2005, tried to sell off hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to “corporate interests at prices far below market value,” as stated in the report. “While conservation groups across America came out against the (sale of public land), the NRA stayed silent.”
  • In 2007, opposed the so-called “Katrina Amendment” proposed to prevent future catastrophic flooding and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat threatened by climate change.
An annual survey conducted by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the best source we have to judge the NRA's political leanings   It was the primarily source used by ASHA to come to its conclusions. On the front page of the report, in fact, AHSA states that the NRA gave campaign contributions to 52 of the 53 members of Congress who received a zero rating from LCV for their conservation voting records. 

Two new reports published from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the Gun Truth Project and Corporate Accountability International, show that the NRA following contributions from oil and gas companies, the NRA lent its support to legislation that would open up more federal public lands to fossil-fuel extraction, compromising the wilderness that many hunters value.

In 2012, six oil and gas companies contributed a total of between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the NRA, according to CAP. (The companies are Clayton Williams Energy, J.L. Davis Gas Consulting, Kamps Propane, Barrett Brothers Oil and Gas, Saulsbury Energy Services, and KS Industries.)

The NRA's heftiest energy contributor by far is Clayton Williams Energy. CWE is the NRA's largest corporate donor outside of the firearm industry, and one of its six largest overall donors. The publicly owned Texas energy company has donated no less than $2 million to the NRA in the past four years: at least $1 million in 2010, according to an SEC filing, and at least $1 million in 2012, according to the NRA. In 2010, CEO, president, director, and board chairman Clayton Williams Jr. told a meeting of oil drillers that he'd given more than $3 million to the NRA. In 2013, Williams and his wife Modesta were inducted into the NRA's Golden Ring of Freedom, a small circle of major donors. The couple was celebrated in a 10-page feature story in a 2011 issue of the NRA's Ring of Freedom magazine.

The reality is that the NRA is out of line with America’s dedicated conservation organizations.  The nation’s biggest gun lobby gave $4,085,277 to support the 193 members of Congress who received poor conservation ratings from the LCV and only $390,897, 10 times less, to the 245 members of Congress who have received high conservation ratings.

Additionally,  the NRA's lobbying on bills detrimental to the environment contradicts the express commitment of of its lobbying arm to "be involved in any issue that directly or indirectly affects firearms ownership and use. These involve such topics as hunting and access to hunting lands [and] wilderness and wildlife conservation." CAP's report also cites several polls showing that preservation of wildlife is important to most sportsmen: A 2012 poll found that two-thirds of sportsmen want to maintain current conservation levels and oppose "allowing private companies to develop public lands when it would limit the public's enjoyment of—or access to—these lands."

Additionally, a 2013 survey of hunters and anglers, nearly 75 percent of respondents opposed selling public lands to help reduce the deficit.  On the other hand, there is a big push to sell public lands from the Libertarian segment of the republican party.

It would seem that the NRA is working against the interest of hunters and sportsmens despite its by-laws to the contrary.   In fact, I would say that the NRA works against the interests of responsible gun owners--if there are still very many left.

Actually, I haven't seen the NRA point to any actual legislation they have supported which would give any credence to their claim of being "pro-conservation".   In fact, I have seen more destruction of the US countryside in the past 40 odd years.  It seems to me that if the NRA were as "pro-environment" as it is "pro-gun" that there wouldn't be a problem with development and the US would not have decaying cities in the same way that guns have become an epidemic health crisis.


    Please explain to me: If mass shootings only happen in gun free zones...

    why have there been at least two mass shootings and a lockdown at a University in Kennesaw,

    Come on, you know Kennesaw, GA--it's the Melanie Hain of US cities for gun loons since all citizens are required to own guns.

    And, like Meleanie--it hasn't made anyone safer.

    On 12 January 2010, Three people were killed and two others critically injured in a workplace shooting at the Penske truck rental business located near the city of Kennesaw, Georgia.

    Another mass shooting happened today at a Fedex facility with one person rushed into surgery for serious injuries and five others with less critical injuries.  I guess this will only be a blip on the radar despite the fact that the shooter was described as having an assault-style rifle, knife and bullets strapped across his chest "like Rambo".

    It also seems that Kennesaw State University has a campus lockdown last month.

    While people such as Glenn Harland Reynolds have pointed to Kennesaw's law as having a significant effect on crime, the actual data shows that any change in crime was insignificant .  Kennesaw's law was purely symbolic and was never enforced so is unlikely to have had any effect on gun ownership in Kennesaw.

    Of course, if we listen to the "pro-gun" side, we should want to see more people carrying weapons and not have the police pay any attention to them until after they have killed someone.

    They are good guys with guns until they start killing people.

    In the case of the Fedex mass shooter, he actually was a good guy with a gun since he ended up killing himself.

    A cartoon on racism - truth sugar-coated in humor, or maybe just truth straight up.

    Monday, April 28, 2014

    How Authoritarian ARE YOU?

    new style, above:
    old style, below:

    Take the Altmeyer Authoritarian Quiz here. (reputed to be the latest version).

    It should be pretty obvious that fascists and other authoritarians tend to reflect a conservative bias, as you read below, or if you take the quiz above.

    And if you are unfamiliar with authoritarian personalities, or with right wing authoritarianism, it is defined by the as:


    a distinct personality pattern that is characterized by (a) a preoccupation with power and status, (b) strict adherence to simplified conventional values, (c) an attitude of great deference to authority figures while demanding subservience from those regarded as lower in status, and (d) hostility toward minorities or other outgroups and to people who deviate from conventional moral prescriptions.
    AUTHORITARIAN PERSONALITY: "An authoritarian personality is characterized by the need for power and subservience from others. "

    You can read about it and Robert Altmeyer here, and  here; and then more here, which explains and demonstrates some of the work which preceded Altmeyer:

    Authoritarian Personality

    Adorno et al. (1950) proposed that prejudice is the results of an individual’s personality type.
    They piloted and developed a questionnaire, which they called the F-scale (F for fascism). Adorno argued that deep-seated personality traits predisposed some individuals to be highly sensitive to totalitarian and antidemocratic ideas and therefore were prone to be highly prejudicial.  The evidence they gave to support this conclusion included:
      Case studies, e.g. Nazis
      Psychometric testing (use of the F-scale)
      Clinical interviews revealed situational aspects of their childhood, such as the fact that they had been brought up by very strict parents or guardians, which were found of participants who scored highly on the F-scale not always found in the backgrounds of low scorers.
    Those with an authoritarian personality tended to be:
    • Hostile to those who are of inferior status, but obedient of people with high status
    • Fairly rigid in their opinions and beliefs
    • Conventional, upholding traditional values
    Adorno concluded that people with authoritarian personalities where likely to categories people into “us” and “them” groups, seeing their own group as superior. Therefore, the study indicated that individuals with a very strict upbringing by critical and harsh parents were most likely to develop an authoritarian personality. 
    Adorno believed that this was because the individual in question was not able to express hostility towards their parents (for being strict and critical).  Consequently, the person would then displace this aggression / hostility onto safer targets, namely those who are weaker, such as ethnic minorities.
    Adorno et al. felt that authoritarian traits, as identified by the F-Scale, predispose some individuals towards 'fascistic' characteristics such as:
    • Ethnocentrism, i.e. the tendency to favor one's own ethnic group:
    • Obsession with rank and status
    • Respect for and submissiveness to authority figures
    • Preoccupation with power and toughness.
    In other words, according to Adorno, the Eichmanns of this world are there because the have authoritarian personalities and therefore are predisposed cruelty, as a result of their upbringing.
    There is evidence that the authoritarian personality exists. This might help to explain why some people are more resistant to changing their prejudiced views.
    Go ahead, take the test; I bet you will find the results coordinate strongly with the political ideology you favor.

    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    Both political parties are NOT THE SAME

    Mitch "Turtleman" McConnell's number one job, in his own words, was to keep Obama to a one term presidency.

    Even by his own assessment, he's a failure, and should go.

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    Born in the USA

    I often think of Ambrose Bierce's definition of Patriotism from the Devil's Dictionary when ever I see someone who "wraps himself in the flag":

    “Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name. In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit it is the first.”

    There are a few reasons I would mention this, but this comes from the NRA's using the song at their national convention not realising the actual significance of the song.

    It is one of the most misinterpreted songs ever. Most people think it is a patriotic song about American pride, when it actually cast a shameful eye on how America treated its Vietnam veterans. Springsteen considers it one of his best songs, but it bothers him that it is so widely misinterpreted. With the rollicking rhythm, enthusiastic chorus, and patriotic album cover, it is easy to think this has more to do with American pride than Vietnam shame.

    Springsteen talked about this in a 2005 interview with National Public Radio. Said Bruce: "This was when the Republicans first mastered the art of co-opting anything and everything that seemed fundamentally American, and if you were on the other side, you were somehow unpatriotic. I make American music, and I write about the place I live and who I am in my lifetime. Those are the things I'm going to struggle for and fight for."
    Speaking of how the song was misinterpreted, he added: "In my songs, the spiritual part, the hope part is in the choruses. The blues, and your daily realities are in the details of the verses. The spiritual comes out in the choruses, which I got from Gospel music and the church."

    Of course, if one listens the words, one finds that this is hardly the patriotic standard the right would like to present it as being.  Once again, I wonder if the irony is lost on those who would like to portray this as being "patriotic" while they talk about acts of insurrection which are clearly unconstitutional and illegal.

    The thing is that the Right sees the gun control issue as a means to divert workers from voting according to their economic interests and that of their families. The Right sees it as a particularly clever way to prevent workers from following the candidate endorsements of their union, which are made based on economic interests of the members. Neal Knox, a former head of the National Rife Association (NRA), said as much:

    "[The gun issue] is the one thing that will spin the blue-collar union member away from his union."

    The NRA conducted a massive get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of George W. Bush. Chuck Cunningham, a former director of voter education for the Christian Coalition, led that effort for the NRA. Before working for the Christian Coalition, Cunningham was executive director of the anti-union New England Citizens for Right-to-Work.

    Charlton Heston, former president of the NRA, supported the National Right-to-Work Committee in 1994 when it lobbied Congress to defeat S.55 / H.R.5 Anti-Strikebreaker Bill. This would have prohibited employers from permanently replacing striking workers (an act which is illegal in other industrialized countries). Heston appealed to union members to "put freedom first" and support NRA-endorsed candidates, and yet the right to strike is a most basic and essential freedom. Heston personally appealed to members of Congress to defeat pro-worker legislation that would prohibit strikebreakers and produced a video on behalf of the National Right-to-Work Committee, which called him their "world famous ally."

    In 1996, Charlton Heston championed the most serious threat to the very existence of labor unions. He assisted the National Right-to-Work Committee in a $260,000 ad campaign to lobby Congress to pass a National Right-to-Work Bill which had been introduced. Right-to-Work legislation would prohibit unions from negotiating any union security clause in their contracts. Union membership would be totally voluntary, though all workers must receive the wages and benefits negotiated in the union contract and they must be legally represented in any grievances. It has nothing to do with a right to work, but is part of a larger corporate strategy to financially weaken and eventually eliminate unions. Now deceased, Heston was a very effective spokesman for the NRA in distracting workers from the Right’s real agenda.

    Of course, one thing that propaganda does is short-circuit the reason.  Take things out of context and use them to stir up people who cannot think for themselves all the while calling those who do examine and question "sheeple".

    Remove the right to keep an bear arms from the stated purpose of a well-regulated militia (and the actual constitutional framework that fits into) and something which makes sense suddenly becomes a black and white issue.  Those who are opposed to the fictional concept of gun rights are somehow "unAmerican" and against the Constitution, while those who believe in it and would wage war against the United States despite what Article III, Section iii says are "patriots".  What could be more nonsensical?

     But, what really sums this up is what Critic Greil Marcus wrote about the Song "Born in the USA": "Clearly the key to the enormous explosion of Bruce's popularity is the misunderstanding… He is a tribute to the fact that people hear what they want to hear." 

    Tell 'em what they want to hear and fuck the truth.

    BTW, thanks to the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and their book "The Right Wing" for the bit about the NRA and workers' issues.

    Clearer: "We want more gun fights."

    Not Taking YOUR Word for It

    Happy Friday


    So.......who, exactly is it that YOU think are the "takers" again, you conservative morons and hypocrites?

    A little more Dubya humor via social media

    Grumpy Cat poses an excellent question......

    Dear Sean Hannity (and other whiney Conservatives)

    The Fallacy of Homosexual 'Sin' and the Dishonesty of the Religious Right

    In 2013, Minnesota and other states legalized the recognition of same sex marriage.  Other countries legalized the recognition of same sex marriage.  In state after state, same sex marriage bans, and bans on recognizing same sex marriages from other states are being overturned by the courts.  A recent poll by KSTP, arguably of a too few people to be very representative shows a majority of Minnesotans are pro-same-sex marriage, with a significant minority of those polled opposing.  A poll last month by Pew Research showed 61% of young Republicans (defined as under the age of 30) favor same sex marriage.  The old bigots of the Radical Right are threatening to try to reverse the progress in LGBT civil rights, in Minnesota, and nationwide.

    In comments on same sex marriage on this blog, and in pretty much every locality where the topic has been raised, we hear from those who oppose same-sex equality of all kinds - marriage equality, as well as approving other forms of discrimination, is justified by religious belief, by citing the Bible as authority.

    In comment after comment, speech after speech, we hear how SINCERELY this is believed, as if intensity or sincerity made any difference to the inherent unfairness of the opposition in making a group of Americans second class citizens for the sexual orientation with which they are born. (It does not.)  That is wrong, that is bigoted, that is engaging in hate, no matter how you try to spin it as being about loving the sinner, but not the sin.  This is LYING, and deception, which IS an actual sin.

    I have long contended that conservatives consistently and persistently believe things which are not true or factually accurate.  The views of conservatives on same-sex marriage are just one further example.

    Briefly, there are serious questions of accuracy and validity of both the interpretation and the translation of the texts in question.  And there are inaccuracies in the way that religious fundamentalists represent the events supposedly linked to homosexuality in the Bible that are also inaccurate.
    For example, in the events surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah,  God is reported to have sent two angels, disguised as men, to destroy the city, not because of gay sex being rampant, but because (as recounted in Ezekiel 16:49-50)
    "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were full of pride and arrogance, overfed, and idle: they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

    Is there any indication that ALL strangers visiting either Sodom or Gomorrah are gay-raped? No. Clearly, the townspeople in the Bible account who show up to Lot's house are deeply enraged that these two strangers propose to destroy their city, their families and friends, and themselves. They are seen, so to speak, as foreign terrorists. The form of anger attributed to the townspeople is they want to humiliate, hurt and demean them through rape, an act not of sex or sexual attraction, but of violence, domination and a desire to cause pain and maximum humiliation and helplessness.  The involvement of the genitalia of the rapist is not even necessarily involved.

    We see consistently, in our modern examples of same-sex rape of men in our armed forces, that these are not crimes of lust, they are crimes of revenge or intimidation. There is no indicator in those actions of sexual orientation; to believe so is to fail to understand the violent, criminal act and who commits it, and why they do so. Referring specifically to male rape in the military by other men:
    The acts are rarely homosexual in nature but rather an effort to feel powerful or dominant over others.

    That this was the case with Lot and his disguised angel-guests is supported by the offer by Lot of his two virgin daughters to be gang-raped by the angry men of the town; clearly his expectation with that offer was that these were heterosexual oriented men.

    If you look at the parts of Leviticus that reference same-sex acts, which may or may not reflect primary sexual orientation, these apply exclusively to the tribe of the Levites, from whom the priestly classes were drawn, and then only in very specific religious ritual contexts.

    Why should we care about what might otherwise seem to be splitting hairs?  Currently of the 12 milion Jews in the world, there are four divisions, or distinct groups of religious sectarian practice.  Three of the four, comprising some 85% of all Jews worldwide, permit same-sex marriage; only Orthodox Jews, of which there are roughly 2 million world-wide, and which are arguably the most restrictive and traditional, prohibit same sex marriage.  The Old Testament in Christianity reflects the adoption of the Torah, the quintessential foundational text of Judaism.

    Israel, which clearly identifies itself as a Jewish state, is a unique democracy/theocracy hybrid, currently governed by a conservative coalition.  That conservative coalition last year proposed legally recognizing same sex marriage last year.  It is being recognized as a civil relationship, but it also acknowledge the right of  the various denominations within Judaism to perform same-sex marriage.

    So we have scripture specific to only one of the tribes of Israel, and then only to those who held religious office, regarding Jewish religious practice, being extrapolated in a way clearly unintended in the original texts by Christians co-opting these texts - and co-opting them rather sloppily - and then applying those texts in a false and extremely draconian, hateful manner that results in the creation of an ostracized group of second-class citizens who are demeaned and even physically harmed, using a false claim of God and the Bible and sin.

    That these sections of the book of Leviticus do NOT refer to ALL male-male relationships, or to them in any context other than relating to religious ceremonies is outlined below, from Religious
    The word "homosexual" was first used in the very late in 19th century CE. There was no Hebrew word that meant "homosexual." Thus, whenever the word is seen in an English translation of the Bible, one should be wary that the translators might be inserting their own prejudices into the text.

    Many would regard "abomination," "enormous sin", etc. as particularly poor translations of the original Hebrew word which really means "ritually unclean" within an ancient Israelite era. The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (circa 3rd century BCE) translated "to'ebah " into Greek as "bdelygma," which meant ritual impurity. If the writer(s) of Leviticus had wished to refer to a moral violation, a sin, he would have used the Hebrew word "zimah."

    This passage does not refer to gay sex generally, but only to a specific form of homosexual prostitution in Pagan temples. Much of Leviticus deals with the Holiness Code which outlined ways in which the ancient Hebrews were to be set apart to God. Some fertility worship practices found in early Pagan cultures were specifically prohibited; ritual same-sex behavior in Pagan temples was one such practice.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Is a criminal defence attorney a bad thing?

    I have been asked to write about why criminal defence attorneys are important to the US legal system because it seems that the right wing is unaware of this fact.  This is because it has been brought to my attention that Debo Adegbile was adamantly and vocally opposed by conservatives due to his participation in an appeal filed on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    While many people hide behind the US Constitution, few seem to have any actual knowledge of what it says, or even understanding of what it says.  If they did, they would know that The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
    There are actually FIVE rights that this covers:
    • the right to counsel of choice
    • the right to appointed counsel
    • the right to conflict-free counsel
    • the effective assistance of counsel
    • and the right to represent oneself
    I'm not going to address those specific aspects of the right to counsel, but I will say that the Constitutional right is limited to CRIMINAL cases.

    The right to counsel is generally regarded as an important part of the right to a fair trial and legal due process. Thus, a criminal defence attorney is a vital part of the criminal justice system if one wants to have one which is seen as fair and just.

    It was a part of Magna Carta which established the principle of due process in clause 29:
    NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.
    While not specifically quoted in the US Constitution (it is in some state Constitutions: in particular Florida's), it is embodied in the Fifth Amendment: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

    I would also add that the US Constitution spends a fair amount of space on criminal procedure with the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, among other articles in that document, addressing common issues in criminal justice matters. Obviously, the founders wanted a Federal Criminal Justice system that was seen as fair, yet the right to counsel is far from being strongly implemented in practise.

    A defendant's need for a lawyer is nowhere better stated than in the words of Justice Sutherland in Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932):
    The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel. Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law. If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. He is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence. Left without the aid of counsel, he may be put on trial without a proper charge, and convicted upon incompetent evidence, or evidence irrelevant to the issue or otherwise inadmissible. He lacks both the skill and knowledge adequately to prepare his defense, even though he have a perfect one. He requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him. Without it, though he be not guilty, he faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence.
    John Adams, took the task of defending the British Soldiers accused of carrying out what would be known as the Boston Massacre. Adams took the case to ensure that justice was served. Adams, an outspoken critic of the British occupation, recognized the importance of a fair trial for the accused and agreed to represent them. Adams later wrote that he risked infamy and even death, and incurred much popular suspicion and prejudice, for the sense of duty he felt to offer the British soldiers an adequate defence.

    Adams wrote in his diary:
    "The part I took in defense of captain Preston and the soldiers, procured me anxiety, and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently.”
    John Adams recognised that even unpopular client deserve a defence if one wants to have a legal system which is fair.  We may not like a defendant, but they are still entitled to the best defence legally possible.  The fact that Debo Adegbile represented an unpopular client is not something which should be discouraged or disparaged.  In fact, it is something which is vitally important if people want a functional legal system.

    The right to counsel is an important part of the US concept of due process and legal fairness.  I would question those who would condemn someone for having played the part of defence counsel as to what sort of legal system would they like to see implemented?

    I know one thing, that the people who wrote the US Constitution would disagree with them if they want to demonise the criminal defence bar: especially John Adams.

    See also:
    History of the Right to Counsel
    Findlaw: Right to Counsel
    Right to Counsel Clause

    Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    'Blue energy' for the 'Blue Marble'?

    Earth is the 'blue marble', also a term for a series of photos of the planet taken from space by NASA, first in 1972, taken from Apollo 17, and then for subsequent images (like these, left).

    Most of us are familiar with the term 'green energy'. It is an umbrella term for sustainable / renewable energy. That includes a huge range of tech, including but not limited to solar and wind energy, bio fuels and others.

    There is also something called 'blue energy'.

    As noted by the Mother Nature Network:

    Saltwater power
    It has been called saltwater power, osmotic power or blue energy, and it is one of the most promising new sources of renewable power not yet fully tapped. Just as it takes huge amounts of energy to desalinate water, energy is generated when the reverse happens and saltwater is added to freshwater. Through a process called reverse electrodialysis, blue energy powerplants could capture this energy as it is released naturally in estuaries around the world.
    As we have seen from the attempts at locating the missing aircraft in the Indian Ocean, in some regards we know more about space than we do about the ocean on our own planet.

    If we can stop polluting the seas and oceans on earth long enough to explore our options to make use of it for clean energy, there are some other forms of aquatic, or 'blue' power that show potential.

    Continuing from MNN:
    Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
    Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC for short, is a hydro energy conversion system that uses the tempurature difference between deep and shallow waters to power a heat engine. This energy could be tapped by building platforms or barges out at sea, taking advantage of thermal layers found between the ocean depths.

    and one more possible form of 'blue power':

    Vortex-induced vibrations
    This form of renewable energy, which draws power from slow water currents, was inspired by the movement of fish. The energy can be captured as water flows past a network of rods. Eddies, or swirls, form in an alternating pattern, pushing and pulling an object up or down or side to side to create mechanical energy. It works in the same way that fish curve their bodies to glide between the vortices shed by the bodies of the fish in front of them, essentially riding in each other's wake.
    We live in the 'land of 10,000 lakes'; we border one of the enormously valuable sources of clean fresh water, lake Superior. So long as we live on the blue marble, we need to be mindful of the benefits of clean water, of not polluting it, and of safeguarding everything from preventing pollution, to the possibilities of our water as a source of clean, renewable energy.

    The next time you hear a conservative insist that we cannot have regulation to ensure clean water, that we can not end our dependence on fossil fuels without economic collapse, think of this: since the founding of the EPA, we have made a 70% improvement to our air quality, while doubling our GDP. It is not either /or; that is a false choice presented by conservatives. Repudiate it. Keep our blue marble shiny blue - and green. Preserve our land, our air and our water. We CAN do it; it is a choice.

    It is a choice we make by doing things like funding effective regulation and innovation.

    From the EPA web site:
    ...between 1980 and 2012, gross domestic product increased 133 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 92 percent, energy consumption increased 27 percent, and U.S. population grew by 38 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent.

    Sunny Green : Playing the Angles

    Happy Earth Day.

    The need for energy drives global warming, as well as wars and pollution.

    Clean, inexpensive, accessible energy would go a long way towards not only a healthier and cleaner planet, but towards global peace.

    So, naturally conservatives HATE it, in any form, but most notably at the moment in the renewable energy of solar power.

    The radical right - Grover Norquist, the Koch Brothers (of big oil fame) and the other fossil fuel special interests that OWN conservatives through the tentacles of ALEC - are attacking the expansion of solar energy.

    Who else could hate clean, readily accessible, renewable solar energy? It goes back a long ways. Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House when he was president. Ronald "Ray-gun", who only loved science and tech when it was weapon-izable - took them down.

    They've come a LONG long way since the third quarter of the 20th century. NOW solar energy is becoming more high tech, more viable, MORE COMPETITIVE.

    As Truth-out noted
    Solar, once almost universally regarded as a virtuous, if perhaps over-hyped, energy alternative, has now grown big enough to have enemies.
    The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.
    Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray.
    At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates.
    Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive.
    The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.
    "State governments are starting to wake up," Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources.
    "These green energy mandates are bad policy," said Hanson, adding that the group was hopeful Kansas would be the first of many dominoes to fall.
    The group's campaign in that state compared the green energy mandate to Obamacare, featuring ominous images of Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services, who was Kansas' governor when the state adopted the requirement.

    Kansas, home of Koch Industries, failed to push through anti-solar legislation. But they spent a LOT of money trying. A grass roots movement thwarted them - a REAL grass movement, not one of the Koch funded astro-turfed versions of populism.

    But Oklahoma DID pass that kind of anti-solar legislation described above, and the governor signed it. Not surprising really; Oklahoma is a backward very red state pretty much owned and operated by the fossil fuel industry.

    We have a battle to fight; the benefits of winning it are huge, even life itself on this planet. The enemy is conservatives, the enemy is big oil, the enemy is the fossil fuel industry.

    Or maybe we should just abbreviate that to 'the dinosaurs and the old fossils' who hate and fear change, and who are stuck years in the past, even millennia.

    And let us not forget the fools, including this one below, who made the incredibly stupid and factually inaccurate statements below, a little over a year ago. He is as big if not a bigger shame to the state than Michele Bachmann.

    And sadly - OURS.

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

    Happy Easter to Penigma readers

    Ukranian Easter Eggs

    Today is the 15th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre


    An armed guard was in the school; that was ineffective in stopping the shooters.

    It is STILL far too easy for people with evil and violent intentions to get their hands on firearms.

    We need to do more, to make a greater difference.

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    courtesy of ReaganBushDebt.0rg

    Welcome to

    This site tracks the current Reagan Bush Debt.
    The Reagan-Bush Debt is how much of the national debt of the United States is attributable to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and
    the Republican fiscal policy of Borrow-And-Spend.

    As of Friday, April 18, 2014 at 4:25:36PM CT,
    The Current ReaganBush Debt is:
    which means that in a total of 20 years,
    these three presidents have led to the creation of
    of the entire national debt
    in only 8.4034% of the 238 years of the existence of the United States of America.

    Fossil fuel is obsolete, time to move on to clean energy without big oil and big coal

    Friday is fun day - and a 'conversational intervention' for the coming Holiday

    Good Friday is the day which commemorates the death of Jesus on the cross, leading to the resurrection.  The technical term for that period is the Paschal Triduum, something you can trot out at the water cooler (if you feel like showing off). The Paschal Triduum was not always celebrated the way we do now; it used to be different by half a day, but that changed in 1955 under Pope Pius XII.

     The official Easter season does not end on Sunday, but goes through Pentecost, 50 days later.  The Sunday a week after Easter is called Ember Sunday, except in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, and appears to be another one of those pagan holidays co-opted by Christianity.

    So we all pretty much know that Easter celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, and that before that, Jesus was attributed with the act of raising Lazarus from the dead.   But in Christianity, that used to be pretty common; some 400 saints, according to their specific history or hagiography, became saints in part because they supposedly also raised the dead.  The gospels command believers to raise the dead ( Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.” ) and St. Paul is credited in the book of Acts with raising Eutychus in Acts 20:12.   Eutychus was a man who dozed off because Paul's preaching was boring, and Eutychus fell asleep, and then fell out of a window where he was sitting.

    So, for those who like to be able to trot out religious trivia - you have the Triduum, Ember Sunday, and Eutychus / dead raising. But if you still feel the need for a little 'conversational intervention' topic to tuck into your mental pockets in case things get tense, there are still fringe Christian groups that do so -- or claim to do so - today. 

    YUP, in the U.S. we have crazy fundamentalists, or as some of us refer to them more colloquially, 'fundies' who are part of a world-wide movement that believes they can raise the dead -- and they run around trying to raise 21st century corpses.

    As the Freethinker noted, in the U.S., in Washington state, there is a group called the Dead Raising Team; they claim to have raised 11 people from the dead, but of course, they can't produce any of them.  In the U.K., the BBC did a news piece on the global evangelical movement; there is a documentary about them called "the Deadraisers", and of course, youtube videos.

    They actually complain about a lack of available corpses to practice on.  Although some of these fundies reject modern medical care in favor of exclusive reliance on prayer, which does seem to provide them with dead people on a regular basis.

    Personally, I see this as nothing more than more groups of religious charlatans, giving religion a bad name, and embracing superstition rather than spirituality. But what the heck, it might just be the thing you need to change the subject if your crazy conservative uncle starts ranting about Obamacare, nazis, or domestic terrorists like Cliven Bundy and the dangerous militia groups out in Nevada.

    If dead raising doesn't change-up the mood, there is always creating vaginas in the laboratory to fall back on.  If you get one of those transplanted in, is a woman a virgin again?

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    The Nevada 'Taker', 'Moooooh-cher' and his terrorist miilitia buddies should be in jail - and pobably will be

    Like believing in gravity, 'belief', sincere or otherwise, is not a requisite for the federal government to exist and to be effective.

    Like gravity, ignoring the federal government could both surprise and hurt.

    Shoot the cattle, not the protesters, then take away the land; if anyone starts shooting, lock 'em up. Bunch of right wing domestic terrorists. The right wing nuts are hypocrites. The militia crowd that showed up armed are no better than any other criminals, bent on insurrection and violence. There is no difference between these guys and the two Boston marathon bombers; both were bent on violence, both were anti-U.S. government.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Latest update on Craig Cobb, Conservative/White Supremacist, friend of alleged shooter in KS

    As the news comes out about the shooting in Kansas of an old man, a boy, and a woman, allegedly carried out by an angry old white supremacist, we learn that while he targeted Jewish institutions, none of the three he killed were actually of that faith or ethnicity.  He appears to have assumed they were, based on the location, although he was caught at what appears to be a public elementary school.  It is unknown if he intended to shoot anyone there as well.

    Craig Cobb is facing sentencing in North Dakota for threatening people in that town.  He claims the shooter (alleged) was a long-time friend of his, and that he was in contact with him quite recently.

    Cobb got a sweet plea deal, with sentencing set for April 29th, according to this No Dak news source, but that might still fall through, as the locals are seeking to have the prosecutor replaced and an actual trial held - with stiffer penalties.
    BISMARCK – A sentencing date is set for April 29 for a white supremacist accused of terrorizing people in Leith, the small southwestern North Dakota town he targeted for a takeover last year.
    Craig Cobb entered guilty pleas Feb. 27 to one charge of felony terrorizing and five counts of misdemeanor menacing as part of a plea deal with Grant County State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz that would require Cobb to serve four years of supervised probation but no additional jail time.
    Judge David Reich said he wanted more information before accepting the plea agreement and sentencing Cobb, and he ordered a pre-sentence investigation, including a psychological evaluation.
    The investigator’s sealed report was filed in Grant County District Court late last week.
    Cobb’s sentencing is set for 11 a.m. April 29 at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck. A July 15 jury trial has been canceled.
    Cobb, who is wanted on a hate-crime charge in Canada, moved to Leith a year ago and bought up property there with hopes of creating an all-white enclave.
    Last week, Leith Mayor Ryan Schock, City Councilman Lee Cook and New Leipzig resident Gregory Bruce, the city’s website developer, filed a complaint with the North Dakota Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board alleging unprofessional conduct and possible unethical practices by Schwarz. They’re asking the board to censure Schwarz, remove him from the Cobb case and appoint a special prosecutor to bring Cobb to trial.
    Cobbs relationship with the other violent right winger is detailed here, and since this was written it is my understanding that Eric Holder has directed this be taken to court as a federal hate crime - and rightly so.
    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - White supremacist Craig Cobb is friends with a man jailed in the killing of three people at a Jewish community center and Jewish retirement complex near Kansas City on Sunday.
    Cobb says he last spoke with Frazier Glenn Cross on Thursday and that Cross gave no indication that he might be planning an attack.
    Cobb says the allegations against Cross have nothing to do with him and so he isn't commenting. But he says he hopes Cross didn't do it.
    Cobb is jailed in North Dakota while he awaits an April 29 sentencing for terrorizing residents of Leith.
    Cross, of Aurora, Mo., hasn't been formally charged in the Kansas City killings, but U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says there's enough evidence to justify submitting a hate-crimes case to a grand jury.

    The latest Tim Scannell news

    Tim Scannell should resign.  This man has behaved so badly, including himself being a scofflaw by ignoring a restraining order against him, and has behaved so badly in his inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, that he cannot credibly do his job.

    When Scannell was shot by a man he prosecuted and convicted - for the same thing - the man accused him of exactly that, of himself doing what he prosecuted others for doing.

    There is a sad, sick culture of much older men, guns, and underage girls, of exploitation and of intimidation in this part of Minnesota.

    Scannell needs to go, and if it takes going to jail to get rid of him, then a conviction cannot come too soon.  He has discredited his office, himself, and he has abused his authority and the trust that was placed in him.

    Scannell apparently began this 'romantic' relationship when the girl was much younger than 17, although he claims he did not have sex with her until then.

    From NBC:
    updated 4/11/2014 6:20:10 PM ET
    Duluth, MN ( St. Louis County District Court judge Shaun Floerke has decided not to dismiss the indictment against the Cook County Attorney accused of criminal sexual misconduct.
    Judge Floerke ruled Friday that there was enough evidence for a grand jury to indict Tim Scannell on two counts of fourth degree sexual misconduct for an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old girl.
    Scannell's attorney also argued that Scannell's position of authority over the girl shouldn't have been allowed into evidence saying the grand jury was confused by it...but Floerke ruled that there was enough evidence presented to the grand jury showing Scannell held a parental role in the victim's life.
    Scannell has been on medical leave from his job as Cook County Attorney since October of 2013.
    A pretrial date will now be set for his case.

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    You might be a New Republican if.. (Installment 1043)

    From our friend J.O.B.

    1- If you believe that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Liberal oppressors in order to take your guns away, you may be a new Republican.

    2- If you will do anything within your power to defend the rights of an eight week old fetus, then fight to put an end to programs that may feed a three year old child, you may be a new Republican.

    3- If you compare gay marriage to zoophilia and use that as an excuse to trample basic civil rights of homosexuals, you may be a new Republican.

    4- If you believe the Koch brothers are true American freedom fighters spending hundreds of millions of dollars tirelessly fighting for your liberty, you may be a new Republican. And an idiot!

    5- If you argue that an ex-convict in Chicago should not have the right to vote, but an ex-convict in Chattanooga should be able to exercise his/her second amendment rights, you may be a new Republican.

    6- If you argue against marijuana legalization while finding nothing wrong with opium based pain killers, you may be a new Republican. And if you find no link to these pain killers and the sudden surge in heroin usage, you may be blind.

    7- If you are anti abortion and pro death penalty, you may be a new Republican. Not too mention a hypocrite. According to your own "good book", both souls are filled with sin.

    A couple of my own thrown in for good measure:

    1. If you believe in atomic energy, but deny atomic decay can be used to determine the age of ancient artifacts, you might be a New Republican

    2. If you deny that animals with more useful traits are more likely to survive and breed (that's the essence of natural selection), you might be a New Republican (e.g. if you deny evolution, you might be a New Republican).

    3. If you deny there is sufficient scientific research confirming the relatively simply concept of natural selection, but then believe in things like irreducible complexability (a concept disproven at the Dover Trial on Evolution), or any of the other crack-pot ideas for which there is nearly zero scientific research, you might be a New Republican.

    and one from me - our first 'you might be a New Republican' visual:

    1. If you would actually have this in your yard, and use it with pride, you might be a New Republican.

    2.  You might be a new Republican if you superstitiously believe that the lunar eclipse / blood moon tomorrow night signals the end of the world.  You might also be really poorly educated, and exceedingly stupid.

    Here is radical religious righties contradictory comments, via USA Today:
    He cites Acts 2:19-20 as a sign: "And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."
    In extensive remarks available online on his interpretation of the Blood Moons, Hagee says, "I believe that the heavens are God's billboard, that He has been sending signals to planet Earth, and we just haven't been picking them up."
    He adds: "God is literally screaming at the world: 'I'm coming soon.'"
    A spokesman for the televangelist said tells USA TODAY on Monday that Hagee "has not associated the blood moons with the end of days."

    3. You might be a New Republican, if you obsess over reproductive body parts: