Sunday, September 27, 2015

Silly Signs and Puny Portents: the dread 'Blood Moon' and radical right wing nuts

Yup. There it is. The big bad scary "Blood Moon". I walked out and took a look at it this evening (Sunday), and at the lunar eclipse. There were even a few bats flying around -- whoooo, scary! (NOT)

The dread 'blood moon'
(from Richard Heathcote,
Getty Images)
Now I can check that off the back page of my bucket list, if my bucket list was as long as War and Peace, which it is not. It was a passing minor novelty, an event of interest so long as I had nothing more pressing or interesting to do.

Hale - Bopp
that's it, there aprox.
in the middle
Too be fair, one of these blood moon eclipses came through in 1982;  I also got a good look at Halley's comet when it came through in 1984, and Hale-Bopp in 1997 as well, out in a rural area relatively clear of light pollution, and that was interesting, but not something to produce an adrenaline rush.  Even with exceedingly modest visual enhancement, it was not exciting, although I admit that having had access to a serious telescope for astronomy classes spoils one for some forms of naked-eye celestial observation.

There has been a lot of silly anti-science-based hype about the blood moon, the 'super' moon, and the eclipse.  It is prevalent in the crazy fringe religious righties who have hijacked the GOP via the Tea Party.  It appeals to the "end days is comin'!" anti-science ignorati, those who constitute the base for the likes of Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Rick  Perry, Ben Carson or Mike Huckster-bee. They are defined by superstition passing as religion.

They thrive on scaring the crap out of people, mostly by making up things which have no significant or substantive foundation in objective reality.

It's time we stop letting the superstitious and ignorant anywhere near authority above the level of making the potato salad for small gatherings. When fact differs from faith, faith is wrong, and fact and reason should supersede stupid or fantasy based, no matter how often or loudly someone is tossing around the word Jesus.  If you read that last sentence as dripping with scorn, you would be correct.

As noted in the Inquisitr:
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Super Moon won't be that super
There’s a lot of excitement about the “super blood moon” on Sunday night — a total lunar eclipse that will give the moon a reddish appearance. The excitement centers on a few different ideas. One is the notion expressed by some religious groups that a blood moon is tied to Biblical prophecy. More widespread is simply the anticipation of seeing a really amazing celestial sight.

Unfortunately, those who are hoping for a spectacular once-in-a-lifetime view may find themselves disappointed.
What’s more special about this moon than the appearance is timing, or rather, the frequency with which the type of lunar eclipses we refer to as a blood moon are currently occurring. Specifically, when four blood moons occur at approximately six-month intervals. According to NASA, while lunar eclipses of one type or another occur about twice a year, a tetrad of blood moons is much rarer. There will be a total of eight this century.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and science promoter, discussed the blood moon on Twitter today, explaining that while it will appear larger than usual, it won’t be much larger, and that the color won’t be as deep and bloody red as many may expect from the name. [tweet below]
11h11 hours ago
Resist the Hype: The size of today’s “Super” moon is to next month’s full moon as a 16.07 inch pizza is to a 16.00 inch pizza
For some believers, the event is even more special, as they connect it to biblical prophecy. The Red Moon Rapture website lays out some of these prophecies, and how one group of believers feels that they connect to current events. Specifically, all four of the blood moon events in this tetrad fall on or quite near important events in the Jewish calendar, and the group believes it could be a sign that the Rapture is imminent. As with most rapture predictions, though, this largely comes from a few outlying groups, not from any mainstream belief systems.
I would remind our wise and gentle readers of the unfortunate prediction of religious leader Harold Egbert Camping that the world was going to end in spring of 2011, and fall of 2011, a prediction he had also incorrectly made in 1994.

I would argue that both the groups of religious leaders and followers, and the politicians they support are nothing more than the worst of scam artists, who make a lot of money off their sincerely smug gullible believers.  People like John Hagee, leader of a mega-church empire, has gotten quite wealthy and powerful in the religion con, and people like Bachmann came far too close to power working the same scam.

From Wikipedia:
Harold Egbert Camping (July 19, 1921 – December 15, 2013) was an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist. Beginning in 1958, he served as president of Family Radio, a California-based radio station group that broadcasts to more than 150 markets in the United States. In October 2011, he retired from active broadcasting following a stroke, but still maintained a role at Family Radio until his death. Camping is notable for issuing multiple failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations.
Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, whereupon the saved would be taken up to heaven in the rapture, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world. He had previously predicted that Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994.
His prediction for May 21, 2011, was widely reported, in part because of a large-scale publicity campaign by Family Radio, and it prompted ridicule from atheist organizations and rebuttals from Christian organizations. After May 21 passed without the predicted incidents, Camping said he believed that a "spiritual" judgment had occurred on that date, and that the physical Rapture would occur on October 21, 2011, simultaneously with the final destruction of the universe by God.
This time around, the Mormons had to back off the 'end of days' / blood moon / end of the world rubbish as well.  I would argue that the official position of the Mormon church is getting pretty mainstream; prominent faithful Mitt Romney was the presidential candidate last presidential cycle.
"For it to filter up to that level and for them to decide to send out a policy letter means that they felt there was something they needed to tamp down," Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California told the Associated Press.
Clearly, we are still here, and no end of the world occurred - nor will it any time soon.

Or, in the immortal words of the iconic second city tv talent Joe Flaherty as Count Floyd, host of Monster Horror Chiller Theater,  "aah woooooooooooh!  Thats scary, Kids!":

Rather the blood moon hype, the end of days hype, the "God is going to punish us all with destruction, because of abortion, "the gays", and other crap is more on a par with Count Floyd and the Monster Horror Chiller Theater production about the scary House of Pancakes.  You have to admit, the late great actor John Candy DOES have a certain uncanny resemblance to blood moon scam artist (in my opinion) John Hagee, both in appearance and delivery:

John Hagee, running his scary Blood Moon scam

John Candy as "Dr. Tongue" on
Monster Horror Chiller Theater, SCTV
Time to close with Count Floyd's Monster Chiller Horror Theater, and their trailer for the not-scary-at-all-really "Blood Moon", er, I mean "  EVIL House of Pancakes" video:

The scariest thing about the crazy blood moon nonsense is that when embarrassed, as they consistently are by this rubbish they promote, instead of owning they were wrong, they double down and push it the propaganda even harder.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Republican Econommic Policies DO NOT WORK

The right wing policies have aggravated the wealth and income inequality gap, and have been largely responsible for crashes and recessions.

Yet they never learn, they continue to repeat their mistakes, to adhere to their failed ideology in the face of overwhelming evidence to the failure.  Objective reality is discounted, denied and ignored.

This is one of the best contrasts we could have as to those failures and to liberal policy successes.

While looking at the graphic below, remember that dire predictions were made as well about the economic consequences of Obamacare. NONE of the conservative-predicted negatives have come to pass.

In arguably the most pure ideological example of right wing economic policies applied, Kansas has been swirling faster and faster in that wet, stinky downward cycle of the economic toilet.  The economy has not done well, and the government has consistently been in the hole. Basic government functions have not been met, and there has been a steady decrease in real freedom.

From Meme GOP on FB.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Photographic PROOF of the Obama 'Imperial' Presidency

Tiara, Crown.............same difference?  All hail emperor Obama!


From Instagram / aol:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

From the pointed and clever pen of Minnesota talent, Steve Sack

Buh bye, Walker. You couldn't carry your own state, in a presidential election, much less win a national election. Your policies are epic failures. It has taken a while for the toxic ideology addicted to realize just how badly you have led Wisconsin, but everyone is catching on. And sadly, it is unlikely, given your failures, that the Koch brothers who own you will have much futher use for you -- in view of those epic, EPIC failures.

The Koch brothers prefer to buy winners; my guess is they will next focus their big big bigot bucks on Rubio, but he has only minimal more chance of success than Walker.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Toxic Conservative Ideology - Religion and Fossil Fuel big money,
taking precedence over fact,
over science,
over objective reality

Religion is NOT required to 'interpret' science.  REASON is required, and the intellectual honesty to adhere to facts, not faith or belief that runs counter to facts.  No religion worthy of adherence requires belief in the factually false.
“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson
Below is a graphic that defines the foundational difference in thought and politics of the right and of the left. 

Those of us who are more cynical note that those who promote religion against science consistently take money from those who profit in the fossil fuel industries from their position, which certainly calls into question the validity of their statements and beliefs as being for sale. 

In the upper part of the graphic is Ben Carson, token black Republican candidate who has abandoned his knowledge of science to pander to the religious right for the next chapter of his life and career.

He will fail.

In the lower section of the graphic is the renowned and respected Neil de Grasse Tyson, scientist and science presenter.  He seeks fact and truth, not power; he does not promote a theocracy as does Carson.  He continues to be one of the most influential figures in our country and around the world. 

He is a success.

He is a success, because he is reality based, and because he has two goals that define his life's accomplishments, and also his politics.:

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”

Other quotes from  de Grasse Tyson that apply here:
“God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance.”
       ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“I want to put on the table, not why 85% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences reject God, I want to know why 15% of the National Academy don’t.”
      ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.”
    ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
The pope has arrived in the U.S.A.

He is being boycotted in his address to congress by idiot right wingers who duped their ignorant constituency into representing them -- and embarrassing all of the rest of us.  Climate change, and the adverse effects from it, like drought and famine, is of serious concern to all of us, not only because of the direct effects of natural disasters, but because of the destabilizing effects of indirect results like food shortages and lack of drinking water.  California is a practical case in point.

From the Phoenix Times:

Arizona U.S. Representative Paul Gosar Insists Others in Congress Will Join His Papal Boycott

Citing climate change as a “socialist talking point,” Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar announced that he will boycott Pope Francis' speech to a joint session of Congress later this week.
His office claimed he won't be the only one.
“Several House colleagues spoke to Congressman Gosar last Friday in support of his stance and told him that they, too, would not be attending,” Gosar's press secretary, Steven Smith, wrote to New Times  in an e-mail .
But anyone hoping to learn which members of Congress is out of luck: “Out of respect to those members, Congressman Gosar will not publicly name who they are because he feels that they can speak for themselves if they choose to,” Smith's e-mail went on to say.
Recently, Gosar has received a lot of attention for a op-ed in which explained that initially, as a “proud Catholic,” he was really excited to hear that the Pope would be [addressing] Congress but that his view changed after he learned what the Pope might say.
“Media reports indicate His Holiness...intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change,” Gosar wrote. “If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend."
Gosar goes on to say that he finds the possibility of the Pope discussing climate change “troubling” because “this climate-change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into 'climate justice' and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies...If the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one."
Gosar should know better; he is a dentist when he is not a tin-foil hat wearing tea partier.   A little more about Rep. Paul Gosar, from, which would further put him in conflict with the principles of Christianity and his faith, and in the positions of the pope, as well as anti-science positions:
Rep. Gosar's Conservative Action Score: 67
The Conservative Action Score is calculated by compiling a series of observably conservative roll call votes and bill cosponsorships in the 113th Congress and comparing Paul Gosar's behavior against that conservative standard:
  • Disregard for constitutional protections of American civil liberty
  • Secrecy and exclusion of citizens from government
  • Support for discriminatory policy
  • The symbolic denigration and practical undermining of science and education in America
  • Active harm to the environment or passive allowance for environmental destruction
  • Pursuit of further advantage for those in America who are already its richest
  • Dismissal of peaceful possibilities and obeiscance to the military-industrial complex
A score of 67 means that Representative Gosar has taken 67% of the possible conservative actions identified on the That's My Congress scorecard.
And in a piece on opposition to solar energy from the Center for Investigative Journalism, we find Gosar and other conservatives happily signing a letter against solar energy written by.......wait for it...not a congressional staffer who has the duty to research issues and serve constituents, but by a big money donor to Gosar, a large utility company in competition with solar energy.  It certainly appears that Gosar will think and believe whatever he is paid to think or believe when it comes to energy - or climate change.:

Aps Drafted Anti-Solar Letter Signed By Congressmen

...sent by six Arizona congressmen in letters to the Federal Trade Commission and the recently created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But one of those letters was originally drafted by an employee of Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility and one of the largest campaign donors for the group of lawmakers.
The APS-authored, congressmen-signed letter comes as the latest in an ongoing effort to stymie third-party solar panel companies, whose business has grown tenfold over the past half-decade, presenting a challenge to the long-term business model of utilities like APS.
The high-profile fight between the traditional utility and newer rooftop solar panel companies is not unique to Arizona.
Similar struggles have emerged in other states as rooftop solar installations have increased since 2009.
...Thomas Van Flein, Gosar’s chief of staff, said the Dec. 12 letter sprang from a draft provided to his office by APS.
Van Flein said the draft letter was one of numerous documents provided by APS on the topic.
“I think this is not unusual, to even have a draft provided to you by other stakeholders,” Van Flein said. “Sometimes you have the opportunity to make changes, sometimes you don’t.”
Van Flein estimated that he changed 30 or 40 percent of the letter APS provided letter.
“We read it, we revised it, we reviewed it. It was our letter at this point. We adapted it, we changed it, we vetted it,” Van Flein said.
A comparative analysis shows four sentences of APS’ draft were completely or mostly changed, along with a handful of other words and phrases.
Metadata encoded into the digital file provided by APS and edited by Van Flein lists David Peterson, Energy Innovation Program Consultant for APS, as the author of the letter. It also lists Pinnacle West, the parent company of APS, as the company that owns the computer it was created on.
APS spokesman Jim McDonald would not answer specific questions about why Peterson wrote the letter, which purports to spring from constituent complaints.
Gosar aide Van Flein said signing a letter drafted by APS was not a quid pro quo for campaign contributions.
Over the past three election cycles, the political action committee and employees of Pinnacle West Capital Corporation have given a combined $99,675 to Arizona Republicans Franks, Gosar and Salmon, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Pinnacle West has been the single largest campaign contributor for Gosar during his entire political career and has been the second largest campaign contributor for Salmon.
The political action committee and employees of Pinnacle West spent more than twice in 2014 than they did in 2012 on the campaigns.
Peterson said he could not comment on why he was asked to write the letter. He also declined to provide details about the consumer complaints cited in it.
In Peterson’s draft, however, he explained, “many reports are surfacing that homeowners who have signed these zero-money-down leases are struggling to sell their homes.”
That was changed to read, “numerous reports have found that homeowners who have signed these zero-money-down leases are struggling to sell their homes.”
Van Flein said he did not actually review any consumer complaints.

What Conservatism looks like..

In the Pennsylvania statehouse yesterday, the ranking Republican on a committee hearing a proposal to make English the "official" language was unwilling to allow a member to ask a question because she had the radical idea that she could frame her question in a review of the constitutionality of the bill, before asking her question.  She had 2 minutes to ask, she got about 30 seconds before the Republican leader cut off her microphone.

America, when a party has to win by silencing dissent, it is not an American party, it is a party of brutes, bent on winning at any cost and bent on forcing it's opposition into the corner, if not into the shadow. 

That is what the face of modern conservatism looks like, and it's appalling.

Kim Davis: Conservatives usually support theocracy - part 4

When citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as a members of one faith or another. And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines." - Associate Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissenting opinion
The Kim Davis controversy is like other right-wing efforts to support theocracy and to undo the decisions of the SCOTUS which are mandated by our Constitution as the ultimate arbiters of what is and is not constitutional.  We saw it in the Hobby Lobby decision, we have seen it in other attempts at challenging marriage equality.  When conservatives dislike a ruling, they attempt a do-over and use the litigation as a delay to social justice.

The dissenting decision quoted above came from a court case where the conservative Christian majority on the Supreme Court upheld specifically Christian prayer in city council meetings, asserting that they could open council meetings in the name of Jesus. Previously the town council had a long tradition of opening with a simple moment of respectful silence, prior to 1999.  Further, before making it to the SCOTUS, lower courts found the prayer to be preferential treatment violating the establishment clause. From CNN:
"The faith of the prayer giver does not matter at all," said John Auberger, Greece's board supervisor, who began the practice shortly after taking office. "We accept anyone who wants to come in and volunteer to give the prayer to open up our town meetings."
A federal appeals court in New York found the board's policy to be a violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion. Those judges said it had the effect of "affiliating the town with Christianity."
What should be concerning to ALL citizens however is the larger push against secularism that seeks to install a radical religious control of government.  Kentucky is not the only location with such a conflict.  It is a truism that all politics are local - and in equally if not more conservative Arizona, a local city council just did this, more of the same kind of action as Kim Davis effectively interfering with same sex couples getting married, under the name of individual freedom of religious expression, from If You Only News:

Arizona City Council Passes Resolution To Discriminate Against Non-Christians During City Prayer

...On Monday, a resolution that would allow all religious groups the ability to open city council meetings with prayer was put before the city council of Coolidge, Arizona.
This wasn’t good enough for Councilman Rob Hudelson, though. The Baptist pastor, either oblivious to the SCOTUS ruling or deliberately ignoring it, asked for a change to the resolution, restricting the right to pray before city council meetings to Christians only.
The modified resolution, discriminating against other religions, passed by a 4-2 vote.
So the solution is not to have any prayers at all, regardless of religion. But that never set in with the city council, even though they’re being warned that this will lead to lawsuits if approved.
City Attorney Denis Fitzgibbons said of the resolution, “As long as they all have a fair opportunity to come and give an invocation, then it’s going to be legal.” But that’s not the case here, and when Fitzgibbons warned of the inevitable lawsuit, Hudelson bunkered down, telling Fitzgibbons the city paid him “to avoid us getting into these problems.”
Hudelson insisted that it was our “heritage” and that we shouldn’t “be ashamed:”
That’s our heritage, we should not be ashamed of it, nor should we be pushed into a corner because Supreme Court decisions. The first prayer in Congress ended by saying thy son, our savior, based on the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior Amen.
The Arizona ALCU has already stepped into the fight, sending the city a letter warning that it was in violation of the First Amendment if it approved the rule.
The legal director, Victoria Lopez, told AZCentral, “There isn’t a legal question. It’s problematic on First Amendment grounds, certainly, and it seems like a really bad policy position to take” and “They are creating a policy that will advocate for a particular religion” which sends the message that other religions aren’t welcome in government affairs.
We are not Christian or non-Christian; we are all Americans.  We should not be giving preferential treatment in or by government to any sect or faith to act against the civil rights of others, or to be otherwise discriminated against in government.

Ask yourself, if you held a different faith than the city council member here, Hudelson, do YOU feel you could expect fair treatment?  Consider if for example, you had previously disagreed with Hudelson about the location of a fundamentalist church parking lot.......or some other petty local issue.  Would you expect an unbiased vote from this man? I would not.  If you are a known Muslim or Jewish, or Hindu or Buddhist, or atheist? How about if you are openly gay? Then I think it would be even worse for you in that Arizona town in front of that city council.  You could not expect fair treatment, free from religious prejudice and creeping theocracy.  THIS is the real issue, one that is being fought on many fronts at many levels of government, fair and equal treatment.

And THAT is the essential battle being waged over Kim Davis, that has been cynically used by the radical religious right to try to take over the state of Kentucky.  They DO want such preferential treatment, they DO want the authority to strip you of YOUR religious AND civil rights if you DARE to disagree with them -- and they are usually wrong, so you should be expecting to disagree with them.  But to disagree effectively, you have to learn to think independently and to look at the issues pragmatically, rather than taking them as defined at face value.

A little history of the right wing war on women - it is NOT only recent

Of course, the conservative war on women goes back further than these examples.

Conservatives also opposed women gaining the right to vote, for example, earlier in the 20th century.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ben Carson and Donald Trump, "We have a Muslim problem.."

Ben Carson, currently the 2nd leading GOP candidate for the nomination for the Presidency, said yesterday that, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that."  Donald Trump, the LEADING candidate for the nomination, said that the U.S. has "a Muslim problem."

Carson further said that he felt Muslims, not one of them, should be president because their faith was not in alignment with the U.S. Constitution when he was asked if he felt the Islam consistent with the Constitution, he said, "No I don't, I do not."

Now, I won't, not for 10 words, not for one, will I defend Islam from this kind of hate, this kind of ignorance, this kind of stupidity, this kind of bigotry.   How ironic it was said by a man who has almost certainly experienced bigotry in his own life aimed toward him.  No religion owns the origin of our Constitution, no religion is void of moral structure just as none is free from histories of hatred and intolerance.  If reacting to economic disenfranchisement, in one part of the world, means their religion is somehow indicted, then every religion in is ineligible to lead.  The U.S. sank the U.S.S. Maine as a pre-text to attack the Spanish and take Cuba and other holdings in the Caribbean and to take the Philippines, does that mean all Christians are accountable for the acts of the Christian President who lead the country at the time?

The question, though, for those who support Carson's (and Trump's) worldview is this, if the word had been "Jew" instead of Muslim, how patient would they have been, how restrained would have been their response?  I suspect it would not have been.  I think it would be front-page, world-stopping news.  Had the word been "Christian", saying no Christian should be President, and that there is an endemic problem with Christianity, manifested by "some" Christians, as Trump has said about Islam.  He has said that the faith itself fosters, if that were said about Christianity, how would they have reacted?  I suspect their would have been calls for impeachment of the person who said it were they a public figure, and their would have been dismissal and ostracizing acts against the person through private means.   I suspect the radical right would have cried long and loud about the "attacks on Christianity", in ways that would make their bogus claims of "wars on Christianity" because we don't allow for school lead prayer, seem like whispers.  They would have demanded action, they would have demanded change and they rightly would have gotten it.

In contrast, though, nothing will change in the radical right's worldview based on these comments or the reaction to them.  They feel they are both right and these comments are justified, but the question for everyone else is, how many times does their bigotry have to slap you in the face for you to understand they blame EVERYONE else, hate that which is different, and seek to divide the world into the privileged (them) and the rest quite simply because they think the world is a hateful place where you have to be strong/violent/divisive to secure your own otherwise it will be taken from you?  Their policies are those which divide, not unite.  They do not seek to help all, to "be their brother's keeper."  They violate their own faith, they persecute.  The question is, will you follow?

Kim Davis: Wedge issues and Obamacare, and the race for governor in Kentucky - Part 3

Another intersection of conservative politics
and religion

The Kim Davis fight has been timed and located carefully to provide one last wedge-issue boost to conservative voter turn out in an off-year election in Kentucky.  It's not about same-sex marriage or individual rights of religious expression, that is a red herring.  Kim Davis is a pawn and a stooge trustingly serving the larger aims and agenda of the radical right.  She might as well appear in public in a dunce cap, (as well as a scarlet letter).

It is always wise not to let the opposition define - or name - the debate, the argument, the issue, but to look at what is involved without their labels.  That might sound cynical, and maybe it is -- but it is also realistic.

The governor's race to replace term-limited popular Democratic governor Steve Beshear takes place in a low turnout year that has neither a presidential race, nor any races for the House of Representatives or Senate.  Even the state legislature elections take place in even numbered years.

not an image of the real Kim Davis
but VERY very similar
If the liberal candidate wins, then BOTH Obamacare/Kynect AND same sex marriage will have a strong supporter in the executive branch; if not, if the tea party extremist candidate wins, then there will be continued organized opposition to both, and continued encroaching theocracy in Kentucky government.

The first of several debates by the candidates for governor takes place Tuesday:
"It will be an opportunity to hear from the three candidates on a range of issues," said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant is among the panelists questioning the candidates. "I suspect everything from the controversy involving Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to underfunded pensions will come up during the debate."
Going into the race, Conway was well-known for his recent high-profile, headline-grabbing failed battle against now Sen. Rand Paul and his emotional decision to not appeal a judge's order for Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries while Bevin most recently tangled with Sen. Mitch McConnell who defeated him in the 2014 Republican primary.
The latest Bluegrass Poll from July 30 showed Conway with a slight lead over Bevin.
In a two-person governor's race, Bevin suffered because 15 percent of those polled said they are "very conservative" but would cross-over and vote for the Democrat Conway. Bevin needs every one of these "very conservative" votes to win, according to SurveyUSA which conducted the poll which found 13 percent of likely voters remain undecided.
When all registered voters were asked which of the two is better qualified to deal with the state worker pension system, voters split: 37 percent named Conway, 36 percent named Bevin. When registered voters were asked who is better qualified to manage the state's budget, voters split: 38 percent said Conway, 38 percent said Bevin.
Conservatives do well in low-turnout elections; they do not do well when voters participate in representative government.  To accomplish this, conservatives use wedge issues to turn out their voters, and they those wedge issues tend to be most effective with their most extreme and fringe voters. This is CENTRAL to the Kim Davis issue.

The legal battle of Kim Davis is nominally about individual religious freedom to persecute others citing sincere beliefs.  Nominally, according to the reference site, means "by or as regards name; in name; ostensibly".  To name the Kim Davis legal fight 'individual freedom' is false; even to name it a fight about gay marriage is deceptive.

The Kim Davis issue is really about larger conservative control of government through the Kentucky 2015 election cycle, especially the election of the next governor; and 2016 election cycle.  It is really about issues like Obamacare, and the most successful state version of Obamacare in Kentucky, called Kynect, and attempts to replace a liberal governor with an extremist conservative successor who is campaigning on repeal of both Obamacare and the extremely popular Kynect.  Candidate Conway is part of the Bashear administration

So HOW Governor Steve Bashear, a supporter of same-sex marriage in spite of his 'primitive Baptist' family background handles the Kim Davis controversy is important to far more than the rule of law and the decision of the SCOTUS, in Kentucky.  While liberals call for Kim Davis to be impeached, the Kentucky governor with the Middle Eastern Muslim sounding name understands that is NOT the most effective way to promote justice and civil rights, as a practical matter.

Bashear knows that while in a rational society appreciates why government is and must remain secular, his legislature containing a 9 member Republican majority in the state senate and an 8 member Republican majority in the state House, won't do their job to ensure secularism.  Bashear is correct when he refers to calling a special election as a waste of money; it would also be politically stupid in the extreme.  Bashear is correct in relying on the courts to slowly and laboriously ensure civil rights for all adults seeking to marry legally in the state of Kentucky.

SHOULD the legislative branch do their job, and impeach Kim Davis. Yes. HELL yes. This should not have to go through the courts, but it is precisely because we have a belt-and-suspenders provision in our government not to rely on only one branch of government built into the system that it works.  And a person who understands the system, the intentionally designed features of our government, like Steve Bashear, uses them to govern effectively. 

The legislature at best would do nothing if called into special session; but at worst the legislature could very likely, in view of the current elections in progress, OBSTRUCT same sex marriage in Kentucky further, or at the very least make political hay for the right by attempting to do so and by turning this into more of a wedge issue than it currently is in the governor's race.

As of recent polls, the two leading candidates for governor were in a statistical tie.  Bashear is smart enough not to tip the boat in favor of the tea party candidate, but rather to let the provisions of government that keeps the Kim Davis issue safely in the hands of the court take it's course.... which will likely not be resolved until well after the 2015 elections for governor.

Given what he has done in Kentucky, democrats could do worse than put Bashear on the short lists for a possible VP running mate, especially if his successor in this election is another liberal.  He is a man who understands the practical function of government for good, which is I would argue the highest praise one can give a person in elected office.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kim Davis: What's Wrong with the Intersection of God and Government - part 2

This is a long post, but if you don't have the time or interest to read all of it, I encourage you to at least skim the shocking examples from current events news of religion enforced by government officials intruding into the lives of people who should be protected from that by our constitution. I believe the examples below are significant to the arguments of freedom of religion being practiced on the job by people who are also exercising the authority of government at the same time.

Kim Davis, Rowan County Clerk, Kentucky doesn't want to do her job serving the public -- the WHOLE public, and now is not serving the public much at all.  She wants her bigotry to supersede the rights of others on the faulty premise of the exercise of religious freedom.

Kim Davis got out of jail and went back to her office this week, beginning the week with a big bang, and ending it with a whimper and another loss in court.

To the religious right, this does not seem like such a big deal; people can get served elsewhere, so what if religion by a government employee is disrupting the function of government, so what if people are suffering very real discrimination in having to go outside their home area to get married.  The inconvenience, cost, and difficulty are exactly what they WANT, the chance to stick their finger in the eye of people with whom they disagree. 

That is the most they can hope for as public consensus continues to grow AGAINST their bias and hatred, including conservative opinion locally  but also nationally,

So why should we NOT allow anyone in the capacity of a government official or exercising the authority and legal force of government to also exercise their religious preferences (or preferences they try to justify on the pretext of religion)?

Let's look at a few of the more egregious examples from the news.
From the Free Thinker, reporting on a part of America outside the 50 states.  This applies as an example because Puerto Rico is a part of the US, subject to the same freedom of religion provision of our own Constitution AND the Constitution of Puerto Rico, which mandates even more specifically the separation of church and state.  And this STILL happened.  It is significant because of two points - that a roadblock for reasons other than police purposes is a really serious intrusion on individual freedom to go about one's life and business, an intrusion that most people would resent; and secondly because it demonstrates that intruding one's religion into how government is conducted amounts not only to giving preferential treatment of one religion over others, but to an unfair subsidizing of the practice and promotion of that religion with tax payer funds and government authority.

You should not have to make the choice to refuse to be proselytized to someone wearing a uniform and badge, and carrying a gun and handcuffs.  That is intimidating.

It is also the same argument against Kim Davis (minus guns and handcuffs).

‘In the name of Jesus, step out of your car’

An atheist group in Puerto Rico has lodged a formal complaint against police who subjected motorists to a ‘faith’ blitz on July 1.

‘In the name of Jesus, step out of your car’

In a statement issued yesterday, Elisaul Rodriguez, Vice-President of Ateístas de Puerto Rico (Atheists of Puerto Rico) alleged that a “faith road block” had been set up by Barceloneta City police.
Officers stopped people on the road for the purpose of preaching, distributing written religious propaganda and praying for drivers.
Rodriguez added:
It was a religious activity in which the Christian faith was professed, particularly of an Evangelical variant.
We understand that the Police Department of Barceloneta City has incurred violations to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico …

Article II, Section III says: ‘No law related to the establishment of any religion will be approved and the free exercise of religion will not be prohibited. There will be complete separation of church and state’.
We must also point out that Puerto Rico, as a territory, is under the protection of the Federal Constitution of the United States of America, which also provides a clause for the separation of church and state.
Acts carried out during the “faith road-block” reflected the officers’ personal religious interests and were outside the police departments scope of duty, Rodriguez pointed out. The officers wore their uniforms and badges and:
Used resources provided by the Government of Puerto Rico that should only be used for the purpose of fighting crime, not for personal religious benefits.
This sends the message that the State is Christianizing its citizens, which corresponds to a canonical government and impairs the integrity and impartiality of the State.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Equal mix of rampant hypocrisy and the fanatic desire to control other people's life choices...

Right Wing Revisionist History - 1st, in an ongoing series

The photo to the left appeared on facebook, on a liberal page. It is factually correct, although it has a serious omission. Part of what led John Newton to write Amazing Grace was in fact his deep regret over his abuse of his fellow human beings and selling people into horrific conditions for profit, after his faith in Christianity deepened. Newton not only wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, he worked very effectively towards the voluntary ending of slavery in and by the UK, during the same century as our American Revolution. 

The rape and torture of slaves is not a contradiction or hypocrisy on the part of Newton, but rather represents a cause and effect relationship in the creation of a very famous piece of religious music. 
Slave trade in England was big business and initially the church supported it. A preacher named John Newton was one of the first clergymen to attack slavery after becoming a “changed man”. John Newton was a slave trader in the mid 1700’s. He had considered his trade to be honorable as did most Europeans of the time. He shared in the common practice of sexually abusing slave women and using torture devices such as thumb screws to control them.
 “  Newton shared in the brutality against his fellow creatures. If naval, life had been brutal it was for a high cause. The Slave Trade was for gain, and in 1745 not a pen nor a tongue had questioned or condemned it. In old age John Newton revealed what it had done to his character as a young man when he told a Committee of the Privy Council, from his own experience, that he knew no method of getting money which had so direct a tendency to efface the moral sense, to rob the heart of every gentle and humane disposition and to harden it like steel."
  "About a third of the cargo was female. As black women and girls came on board, naked, trembling, terrified, almost exhausted with cold, fatigue and hunger, they were exposed to the wanton rudeness of the crew. The poor creatures could not understand English, but looks and manner were sufficiently  intelligible as in imagination  the prey was divided upon the spot for future use... John Newton let lust run unchecked. His heart lay with Polly but his body refused to be denied. Since the women were kept on deck at liberty in daytime, a seaman’s opportunity came easily and he need ask no consent, since resistance or refusal would be in vain. Sometimes, he might take one at night while on duty, for owing to the heat and filth the crew went naked in the holds where the women lay, especially before the holds grew crowded. Any consequence would be born far away in the sugar islands, perhaps adding to the profit of the voyage. It is a curious fact that there may be American or Caribbean blacks in whose veins runs the blood of John Newton.”
That the UK, and other old and new world countries like Mexico, VOLUNTARILY opted to end slavery, without a civil war is key here.

One of the comments on the graphic included this phrase, which I take to be from a conservative of the variety who tout American exceptionalism and who tend to ignore, deny or at least minimize American faults or failures with revisionist history:
"...BTW Barack Obama's family owned slaves and slavery is still practiced today in Africa. This is the only country that fought a war ending slavery."
It is true that on his mother's side of Obama's family tree, there were slave owners.  It does not in some way excuse or legitimize slave ownership.  And it has nothing to do with Barack Obama, since he shares no responsibility for those actions.  This is a classic 'straw man' argument, that attempts to wrongly define the terms of the argument or discussion.

But the real FACTUALLY FALSE conservative revisionist history is the notion that the United States fought a war TO END SLAVERY.  The United States fought a civil war that INCIDENTALLY ended slavery in this nation, but that was not why the United States fought that war.

These tend to be the same crackpot conservatives who fantasize about new treasonous modern secession.

The Union side of the civil war went to war AFTER the Confederate side declared war on the USA by attacking Fort Sumter.  That war was to preserve the Union, NOT to end slavery.  In fact in the early years of the war, President Lincoln was not in fact in favor of ending slavery, in the vain hope that not pursuing that change would help end the war, and because even when he thought it was wrong, Lincoln upheld the provisions of the Constitution, as he had sworn an oath to do.  His political position was to restrict slavery expansion, not to end slavery.

From wikipedia:
In the 1850s, Lincoln was politically attacked as an abolitionist, but he did not consider himself one; he did not call for the immediate end of slavery everywhere in the U.S. until the proposed 13th Amendment became part of his party platform for the 1864 election.
In 1842, Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd, who was a daughter of a slave-owning family from Kentucky.

...During the American Civil War, Lincoln used the war powers of the presidency to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared "all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free" but exempted border states and those areas of slave states already under Union control. As a practical matter, at first the Proclamation could only be enforced to free those slaves who had already escaped to the Union side. However, millions more were freed as more areas of the South came under Union control. Lincoln pursued various plans to colonize free Blacks outside the United States, but none of these had a major effect.
At the beginning of the war, Lincoln prohibited his generals from freeing slaves even in captured territories. On August 30, 1861, Major General John C. Frémont, the commander of the Union Army in St. Louis, proclaimed that all slaves owned by Confederates in Missouri were free. Lincoln opposed allowing military leaders to take executive actions that were not authorized by the government, and realized that such actions could induce slaveowners in border states to oppose the Union or even start supporting the enemy. Lincoln demanded Frémont modify his order and free only slaves owned by Missourians working for the South. When Frémont refused, he was replaced by the conservative General Henry Wager Halleck.
The situation was repeated in May 1862, when General David Hunter began enlisting black soldiers in the occupied district under his control. Soon afterwards Hunter issued a statement that all slaves owned by Confederates in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina were free. Despite the pleas of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln ordered Hunter to disband the black 1st South Carolina Regiment and to retract his proclamation. At all times Lincoln insisted that he controlled the issue—only he had the war powers. Lincoln's view was that in order for freedmen to effectively and legally rely on the promise and declaration of freedom it had to be grounded in the president's constitutional authority.

On August 22, 1862, just a few weeks before signing the Proclamation and after he had already discussed a draft of it with his cabinet in July, he wrote a letter in response to an editorial by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune which had urged complete abolition. Lincoln differentiates between "my view of official duty"—that is, what he can do in his official capacity as President—and his personal views. Officially he must save the Union above all else; personally he wanted to free all the slaves:
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
We did NOT, in the good old US of A, fight a war to end slavery.  We fought a war to preserve the U of U-S-A, and to do so, we had to kill many confederate slave proponents who would not otherwise give up their treasonous secession in order to continue slavery (as distinct from attempting a legal secession) and pretty much grind the remaining confederate slavery proponents into the dirt to stop their death hold on owning, raping, and torturing a significant population of human beings they held in slavery.

If you doubt that the core, central cause of the civil war was the continuation and expansion of slavery, I refer you to the primary documents that show otherwise.  Even when there were secondary issues, like tariffs, they were about tarrifs on products produced by slave labor, like cotton.  The argument about states rights was an argument that the federal government could not stop states from continuing SLAVERY, specifically.  In every argument of the Christian Conservative Confederacy, CONTINUING AND EXPANDING SLAVERY WAS PROMINENT AND FUNDAMENTAL TO THEIR REBELLION.

In more humane nations, including those with a more genuinely Christian conscience like Newton and the UK, NO WAR TO END SLAVERY WAS REQUIRED.  Basic human decency and conscience was sufficient.

This notion that we deserve some sort of credit as the "ONLY NATION TO FIGHT A WAR TO END SLAVERY" is nothing more nor less than pure, total, unmitigated bull crap.

I would argue to you, our good readers, that if you cannot look at the failures of your nation squarely, and without flinching, AND STILL LOVE YOUR COUNTRY, you lack individual integrity of intellect and you are a damn poor patriot.  Every country has a checkered history of good and bad.  It is imperative to know both, honestly and factually, in order to be a good citizen.

Using such guidelines, conservatives are not patriots at all, they are just liars and fools.  They do not love their actual country, they are in love with and loyal to a non-existent ideology-drunk fantasy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kim Davis: What is Wrong with Her 'Rights', Part 1

This is the first of a multi-part series. The point of the series is to connect the dots of why this is NOT about personal liberty, but is entirely about the religious right attempting to impose their will and beliefs on others who do not share them, violating the fundamental concepts of actual religious freedom and representative government. The right needs the extremist religious fanatics, so they refuse to reign in their excesses, seeking power instead of the freedom to which they give so much lip service. Kim Davis is seeking to obstruct the legitimate marriage of other people, and to force them to conform to her beliefs in order to exercise their civil rights; she is NOT simply expressing her religious freedom of conscience.

Kim Davis apparently has no problem with any number of marriages and divorces by heterosexual people, but in her zeal to obstruct the civil right to marry, she is now refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses, including to heterosexual couples.  Underlining that she herself has been free to marry - so far - four times, but she feels entitled to prevent ANY other couples from enjoying the same liberty, in order to try to get her way.
The bad old days of puritans, religious police,
and an official (or unofficial) state religion.
Not an actual rendering of the image of Kim Davis,
although there are distinct similarities.

"There's nothing more self-righteous than a reformed whore." - aphorism

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Matthew 7:1-3  

"You shall not commit adultery."  Exodus 20:14

"If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die." Deuteronomy 22:22

"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."
Leviticus 20:10
"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.  And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." Mark 10:11-12

"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Luke 16:18

There is nothing in the Bible, old or new testament, about conversion exceptions or exclusions for adultery. And from Wikipedia about Ms. Davis:
"Davis has been married four times to three different men. The first three marriages ended in divorce in 1994, 2006, and 2008. She is the mother of twins, who were born five months after her divorce from her first husband. Her third husband is the biological father of the twins, who were adopted by her second husband, Joe, who is also her fourth and current husband. Joe supports her stance against same-sex marriage. One of Davis's twin sons, Nathan, works in her office as a deputy clerk and has taken the same position of denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

Kim Davis, county clerk of Rowan county, Kentucky, is a sincere but "cafeteria" (selective Christian) born-again Apostolic Christian.  The Bible has  a lot to say condemning adultery, but very little that addresses monogamy (marriage to only one woman) or same-sex relationships.  The few quotations interpreted against the LGBT and same sex relationships are far fewer and of far more dubious authenticity and significance than those against adultery, which are better established, frequent and unequivocal in interpretation. 

Goody for her.  Given the chaos of her past personal life, and her inability to conform to ethical and moral decision making on her own, I can see why she might have needed the crutch of religion, and sought out an extreme version of religion to counter her own extreme poor behavior in her private life. 

However, while I was shocked the first time I heard the lead quotation of this post; since then I've come to appreciate the validity of the observation that those who are religiously reformed, like Kim Davis, are too-often the most zealously excessive and extreme in their views, and all too eager and willing to enforce those beliefs on others, willing or otherwise, through persuasion or coercion.  Kim Davis, those like her, those who support her, are all too eager and too willing to 'save' other people from exercising their right to make a possible mistake in determining their own lives, including who they love and marry, which is the very ESSENCE of freedom.

Instead they seek to impose a narrow, puritanical, theocratic religious nanny state on them, denying them their constitutionally guaranteed civil rights.  I strongly doubt that Ms. Davis would have accepted the interference of a county bureaucrat telling her she could not seek a divorce, or a license to remarry because she would be committing adultery, for example, even though her conversion came while working in the county office as a deputy clerk where this was a real issue, a frequent occurrence - divorces for adultery, and subsequent marriages, including her own. 

As a self-styled supporter of so-called Biblical marriage, Ms. Davis has a lot of catching up to do, and it appears she hopes to do so by denying the civil and religious freedoms of others, and instead imposing her own.

Given how badly she screwed up without religion, it is perhaps understandable she now seeks to save everyone else by forcing her new-found (4 years) religion on them to save them from exercising their own freedom of choice and action - and religion. Or maybe she thinks it makes up for her own adultery. 

I can't really see that Davis is a deep thinker, but rather she comes across as a right wing religious fanatic who has become the willing stooge, the compliant pawn, of the radical religious right.   Given how quickly bigot bucks dry up after the first flush of notoriety, it seems far more likely that Ms. Davis is headed for more real life sorrow and catastrophe, not some sort of happy martyrdom that translates into subsequent success, and that her religious conversion and subsequent attempts at anti-LGBT martyrdom will be just one more bad choice in a long line of bad choices. 

In her 2014 election, Davis won over her opponent by approx. 6.4% of the vote, and won over her primary challenger by only 0.6% of the primary vote.  With the exception of her son, her employees in the clerk's office do not support her, and only complied out of fear. From Think Progress:
In an editorial note accompanying its reporting, the Trial Court Review paints a grim picture of life in the Rowan County courthouse after Davis began a symbol of anti-gay defiance. “The takeaways from the Watkins interview are clear. Davis is acting alone in her zealous mission. Her conduct has terrorized not just her staff but everyone that works in the courthouse. And all for a foolish mission aided by out of state charlatan lawyers trying to raise money for their ‘religious liberty’ mission.”

The county seat, per the AP, doesn't seem to be happy with Davis and the attention it has brought to their county either.  That seems to be far more the action and wishes of outside agitators.  I would argue strongly that it is a mistake for Davis to give greater emphasis to these outside exploiters of her position, over the wishes of her community, given her election numbers just last year.  More than most, her politics need to be local.  The 2014 election was Davis' first term; I don't see her getting a second term with her stunt, however piously sincere.   Per the AP this morning:

Residents of Rowan County want things to return to normal

MOREHEAD, Ky. (AP) -- Residents of the eastern Kentucky town where a county clerk was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples say they want things back to normal. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for five days for refusing a federal judge's order. Her resistance attracted news media and protesters from all over the country and forced residents of this eastern Kentucky community to confront each other with deeply held beliefs they hadn't been talking about that much. The Rowan County Rights Organization suspended all protests against Davis on Wednesday. Spokeswoman Nashia Fife said it has been a difficult time since most of the groups' members know Davis and her family. Local pastor Randy Smith said the situation will embolden Christians and gay rights activists alike. But he said both sides can live together in peace.

Plague: patience - and patients

Hopefully our dear readers have noticed an absence of content, but have not become too discouraged to continue to check our blog.

I regret that I have been laid low these past few weeks with what I jokingly referred to as 'plague' between fits of coughing.  That was funny up until I read some poor soul out in Utah had actually died of the real plague, fourth death from it this year, of 12 cases.

However, I am back and now content will resume.  Fortunately there is no chance of any residual contagion across the connections of cyberspace.