It’s Good to See That NASCAR Was Serious About Embracing Diversity

Remember this?

Calling the Confederate flag an “insensitive symbol” that he finds offensive, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sport will be aggressive in disassociating it from its events.

……..

“We want everybody in this country to be a NASCAR fan, and you can’t do that by being insensitive in any one area.

How brave.  Good for you, Mr. France.  I’m glad to see you are standing up to the bigots who are fans of your sport. (I was planning on putting “sport” in quotes in that sentence, but then I remember how difficult it is to drive a race car at those speeds surrounded by other cars inches away.  Yeah, as much as I detest the sport, “yawn, did they turn left again?”, it is a sport.)  I wonder if he has blasted North Carolina yet for their bigot bill?  It is so great when someone “gets it.”

What?

Why are you looking at me like that?  What happened at the latest race in Texas?  It couldn’t be that bad.  It’s not like they’d have the Duck Commander give the invocation or anything, right?

Right?

A “Duck Dynasty” star delivered an unusual invocation before a NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend, praying that “we put a Jesus man in the White House.”

Goddammit.

Phil Robertson, who stars in the reality TV show along with other members of his family, has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination for president while his son, Willie, has spoken out in support of Donald Trump.

“All right, Texas, we got here via Bibles and guns, I’m fixin’ to pray to the one who made that possible,” the Duck Commander prayed before the Duck Commander 500. “Father, thank you for founding our nation. I pray, Father, that we don’t forget who brought us — You. Our faith in the blood of Jesus and his resurrection. Help us, Father, to get back to that. Help us, dear God, to understand that the men and women on my right are the U.S. military. On my right and on my left. Our faith in the U.S. military is the reason we are still here. I pray, Father, that we put a Jesus man in the White House. Help us do that and help us all to repent, to do what is right, to love you more and to love each other. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”

Well, at the end he did say that we should all love each other.  That’s a plus, right?  The president of the Texas Motor Speedway was quick to defend Mr. Robertson’s right to be a bigot and tell everyone about it, comparing his invocation to The Boss canceling a concert:

TMS President Eddie Gossage defended Robertson on Saturday, pointing out that Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in North Carolina to protest the state’s new law banning anti-discrimination ordinances. “He said what he felt and believed and there are a lot of people that agree with him and a lot that disagree with him,” Gossage said (via Star-Telegram.com). “Nowadays, you cannot say what you think because of political correctness. So I guess everyone has a right to free speech or nobody does.

“Bruce Springsteen cancels his show in North Carolina on his viewpoints and a lot of people agreed with him and a lot of people disagree with him. I defend Bruce Springsteen’s rights to take his position and, if you do that, then you’ve got to defend everybody else’s, too.”

I’ll take “missing the point” for 1000$, Alex.  No one (rational) is arguing against Mr. Robertson’s right to say whatever he wants to say.  NASCAR is a private entity, so a prayer before the race doesn’t carry with it the disturbing church/state issues that prayers before, say, high school football games does.  If Phil wants to spend the entire invocation explaining how he got the idea for his first duck call while he was fellating a Fulvous whistling duck, and how he never intended anyone to ever kill the ducks they called with his products, how he was just trying to make it easier for fellow duck fetishists to get that sweet, sweet duck semen (allegedly), then that is perfectly fine.  Three cheers, speak your mind, tell us all what you believe to be the truth!

The point is something the religious right seems to have a very difficult time with:  freedom of speech doesn’t protect you from criticism.  He can say whatever he wants, we can call him a bigot and give NASCAR the old side-eye for providing him the stage to air his outdated, historically inaccurate opinions.

I get the position Brian France is in here.  NASCAR is probably the only major sport (okay, men’s golf I guess as well) where appeasing the bigots at the expense of everyone else may be in the sports best interest.  After the pro-bigot flag backlash he suffered after his earlier attempt at inclusivity, I would hate to see the shit-storm he would face if he spoke out against the Robertson’s religious inspired bigotry. Add in the fact that I kinda think he would be lying if he did speak out against it, and I’m just left completely confused as to why he even made the bigot flag comments.  Remember when you read people criticizing NASCAR and Robertson that NASCAR is the one that went with the “We want everybody in this country to be a NASCAR fan, and you can’t do that by being insensitive in any one area” line.  They weren’t pushed into it, the bigot flag was a battle they chose themselves.   It seems like Brian France really thinks he is ushering a new era of diversity to NASCAR.  I just don’t get it.

The France family, which owns the series, has long welcomed political candidates at their events and has a history of making public endorsements. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. endorsed George Wallace for president. Brian France last month endorsed Trump, and even recruited a handful of drivers to attend a Trump rally in Georgia.

The Trump endorsement was met with significant backlash and France said he was disappointed that his record on promoting diversity had suddenly been called into question. He has spent at least the last decade trying to help his family business shed its image as a sport for intolerant rednecks, but there is no away around it: His Trump endorsement put those efforts at risk.

Then came the Robertson commentary on Saturday night, which Texas Motor Speedway officials said Monday they did not know was coming.

“I can’t believe you!  Jews are always welcome in my theater and I have several Jewish friends, why should it matter that I endorsed Adolf?”  *rolls eyes*

Seriously, what is going on in this guys head?  I would love to hear any thoughts on his strategic thinking.

 

Meet the Newest Person Ted Cruz is “Honored” to Have Support Him.

Its Gordon Klingenschmitt.  You know, Dr. Chaps!  From those tireless folks over at Right Wing Watch:

We have noted several times before that there seems to be no activist who is too extreme to be embraced by Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, so we were not particularly surprised when the Texas senator recently announced that infamous demon-hunting, anti-gay exorcist/state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt would be part of his Colorado leadership team.

“I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado,” Cruz said in a press release celebrating the formation of “his Colorado Leadership Team with the endorsement of 25 current and former elected officials and key grassroots leaders,” including Klingenschmitt.

How extreme is good ole Dr. Chaps? Well….

Klingenschmitt is a viciously anti-gay theocrat who brags of having once tried to rid a woman of the “foul spirit of lesbianism” through an exorcism and believes that gay people “want your soul” and may sexually abuse their own children, which is why he says that they should face government discrimination since only people who are going to heaven are entitled to equal treatment by the government.
….

Klingenschmitt is a man who wrote a book arguing that President Obama is ruled by multiple “demonic spirits” and once even tried to exorcise the White House, claims that “Obamacare causes cancer,” that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to “defend themselves against left wing crazies” and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to “molest and visually rape your children“.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Instead, go on over to Right Wing Watch, read some more of his bigotry and watch the videos of him saying this shit, proudly, out loud.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it often at least until the convention, but the only two words that scare me more than “President Trump” are “President Cruz.”

Guess Who Won a Term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

The answer isn’t good news for rational minded Wisconsin residents, that’s for sure.  Rebecca Bradley earned herself a 10 year term on the bench yesterday, more than likely thanks to the extra 100,000 or so Republicans who turned out for the hotly contested GOP primary.  As to why a state Supreme Court election was held during the primary election instead of at later date when all Wisconsin citizens would have equal incentive to make it to the polls, say, in November perhaps, during the general election?  (Seriously.  I mean, I vote in every election held in Pennsylvania, but everyone knows we don’t have the best history with voter turnout in this nation.  Why elect a judge to the Supreme Court in April, during the presidential primary?)

So why is Bradley so objectionable?  How about her earlier published viewpoints?

In a column that appeared soon after Clinton was elected, she wrote: “Either you condone drug use, homosexuality, AIDS-producing sex, adultery and murder and are therefore a bad person, or you didn’t know that he supports abortion on demand and socialism, which means you are dumb. Have I offended anyone? Good — some of you really need to wake up.”

Calling Clinton a murderer because of his support for abortion rights, she wrote that anyone who voted for him was “obviously immoral.”

…..

The column and letters to the editor include these statements:

■ “Perhaps AIDS Awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”

■ “But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy.”

■ “This brings me to my next point — why is a student government on a Catholic campus attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference?”

■ “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving martial relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills.”

■ “I will certainly characterize whomever transferred their infected blood (to a transfusion recipient) a homosexual or drug-addicted degenerate and a murderer.”

■ “We’ve just had an election (in 1992) which proves the majority of voters are either totally stupid or entirely evil.”

■ Clinton “supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which will allow women to mutilate and dismember their helpless children through their ninth month of pregnancy. Anyone who could consciously vote for such a murderer is obviously immoral.”

Now I know that all looks bad, but I’m sure she doesn’t have the same opinions now.  I mean, Scott Walker says she obviously has changed her views.  And she has been apologizing for her past writings as well.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” her statement said. “These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.”

See!  Nothing to worry about.  She’s totally redeemed.  Forgiven.  I’m sure she will be a fair, impartial jurist.  Moving on...

In another article by Bradley, she argued in favor of personhood and compared abortion to slavery and to the Holocaust:

“I recall a time in history when blacks were treated as something less than human for convenience and financial reasons. I recall a time in history when Jews were treated as non-humans and tortured and murdered. Now, at this point in our sad history, we are perpetrating similar slaughter, only we are killing babies,” Bradley wrote in a 1992 column for the Marquette Tribune.

Unlike her comments regarding homosexuals and drug addicts, she cannot back peddle from this. She wrote another column in 2006 repeating similar arguments in favor of allowing pharmacists to deny birth control pills.

It was also revealed this week that Bradley sympathized with Camille Paglia, who had blamed rape victims for the crimes committed against them. On top of that, Bradley had a few choice words about feminists which revealed just how deep her hate goes:

“I intend to expose the feminist movement as largely composed of angry, militant, man-hating lesbians who abhor the traditional family,” Bradley wrote, arguing that the feminist movement had been hijacked by the political left, abandoning its role as a defender of women’s rights.

Well, gee, isn’t that the writing of a well-balanced, impartial judge to be?

Ick.  And defending a pharmacist’s “right” to refuse to fill a woman’s birth control prescription because it is murder in 2006?  Damn.  But she apologized, right?!?

Still, these columns were written decades ago. Unlike some, I don’t think her hate speech from 1992 is an automatic disqualifier. I believe people deserve second chances, former felons and former letter-to-the-editor zealots alike. What bugs me today is the hollowness of Bradley’s apologies.

“I wrote opinion pieces 24 years ago on a variety of issues, and they are opinions that some people may agree with, some people might disagree with,” said Bradley in an interview with The Capital Times.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” said Bradley in a press statement.

I cannot judge what is in Rebecca Bradley’s heart, but these read to me like the apologies of someone who feels bad their past caught up with them, not the apologies of someone truly regretful. ‘To those offended’ makes it sound like she feels bad for offending potential voters, not for having written the column in the first place.

Even her best defense thus far has some problems.

“As a judge on the Milwaukee children’s court, I presided over adoptions for gay couples who were adopting children and providing loving, safe homes for them,” said Bradley.

While this is a good statement on its surface, it just means she no longer thinks that all homosexuals are bad people. That’s not exactly an apology for her statements on HIV and AIDS. She is okay with monogamous couples adopting children. That’s not even saying she accepts LGBT people; she’s saying she accepts LGBT couples who have adopted a lifestyle she approves of.

She further dilutes her own apology by saying her own views are not relevant.

“At the end of the day, I am called upon to apply the law regardless of how I feel about the law. It is our job to apply the law and follow the law regardless of how we feel about the outcome,” Bradley said.

Those sound like the words of someone who wants to minimize her transgressions, not atone for them. 1992’s Rebecca Bradley isn’t up for election, but 2016’s Rebecca Bradley is — and her wishy-washy apologies don’t reflect the traits I want to see on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

But see her on the Supreme Court is the fate we are all stuck with, for at least the next ten years.

And people wonder why politics has started to depress me.
Sigh.

The Honesty Was Nice While It Lasted

So here is the title of the original post I was writing about this:

Trump Says Something Anti-Abortion Activists Have Been Drooling for Decades to Hear a Politician Say, Anti-Abortionists Promptly Do What They Do Best: Lie.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful.  But since this is Foster Disbelief and not The Daily Mail, I decided to scrap it and start over.

For some reason Donald Trump, the(gag) front running candidate for the Republican presidential (I just threw up a little) nomination, had a sit down interview with Chris Matthews the other day.  I didn’t watch it.  I actually stayed as far away from the television as I possibly could when MSNBC aired the interview.  No thank you.  I can suffer through a Trump interview to see if anything is newsworthy.  I can tolerate watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC because I respect the other voices that make up MSNBC’s political coverage.  Matthews interviewing Trump is just a black hole of idiocy that I won’t even pretend I would willingly put myself through.    (Seriously, listening to Matthews go on about the possibility of a Clinton/Kasich unity ticket during one night of MSNBC’s primary coverage had me contemplating either switching to Fox News or puncturing my ear drums with an ice pick.  He’s the liberal answer to Bill O’Reilly.  Something that, along with the ideological purity police, is something we really don’t need.)

And seemingly for no reason but to punish me and force my poor ears to hear clips of the interview all week, Trump decided to show anti-abortion activists that he really was one of them, honestly, scout’s honor, no take backs, no crossed fingers, he swears.

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall that will air later, host Chris Matthews pressed the Republican presidential front-runner Trump for his thoughts on abortion policy. Trump said he’s in favor of an abortion ban, explaining, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it,” according to a partial transcript from Bloomberg Politics.

Matthews asked if there would be a punishment for women who received abortions if they were made illegal. Trump responded, “There has to be some form of punishment.” He elaborated that the punishment would have “to be determined” and the law will depend on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle and the 2016 election.

Matthews, to his credit (I feel dirty for typing that), was all over Trump like a bad toupee rather than allowing the reality show star to word salad his way out of the question.  Progressives immediately held it up as yet another extremist view held by Trump,  Wow, that’s a surprise.  Liberals were going to disagree with Trump’s position on abortion no matter what he said.  Trump’s running as a Republican, which means he has to be “pro-life.”  (What a great political system we’ve built on the corpses of the founding fathers.  Sigh.)  What was surprising was the response by anti-abortion activists as they rushed to distance themselves from Trump.

The central goal of the pro-life movement may be to eliminate abortion, but to the vast majority, the responsibility doesn’t lie with the woman getting an abortion, but the doctor who is providing it.

Even the most staunch pro-life groups were quick to express their disappointment with Trump’s initial statements. Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life, two of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups, tweeted that women who have abortions need “healing and compassion” and that punishment is “solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of life.”

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and a long-time pro-lifer, says that the responsibility of an illegal abortion “should fall on abortion providers, not the women who turn to them in desperation.”

“If Donald Trump is going to run successfully as a pro-life candidate, it’s time he started listening to the pro-life movement,” he says.

Trump’s Republican rivals said much of the same.

“But of course women shouldn’t be punished,” Republican candidate John Kasich said. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate response. It’s a difficult enough situation.”

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz echoed Scheidler’s sentiments, saying in a statement that being pro-life isn’t just about the “unborn child,” but the mother as well – something that is “far too often neglected.” The movement, he said in a statement, is about “creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.”

“Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world,” he said.

Me thinks the activists doth protest too much.  The only reason pro-life people claim they don’t want the woman punished is because that is a horrifically unpopular position in the larger population.  I am sure some anti-abortion activists honestly do not want the woman punished beyond being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, just as I’m also sure some of them really want to reduce the amount of abortions and would support proven programs such as Colorado’s IUD program,  and some of them think those who shoot abortion providers are murderers.

And if the majority of anti-abortion activists share those beliefs, if they truly want to end abortion and not punish women for being sexually active, if they’re “pro-life” position prohibits the assassination of providers and the bombing of clinics, then those people need to make that clear and stop providing cover for the more extreme members of their movement.

It is the same argument I make to “moderate” Christians.  Shrugging your shoulders and saying that the gay haters aren’t “real Christians” doesn’t cut it.  In fact, going from the Bible, most of the time the fundamentalists have more textual support for their position.  Hey “moderate pro-lifer?”  When you call abortion “murder” and insist it is the “American Holocaust,” you are giving coverage to the clinic bombers and doctor killers, just as the moderate Christian who argues for the infallibility of the Bible protects the anti-gay bigots.

Watching Ted Cruz attack Trump over this issue is even more rich.  The “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition that Ted loves pointing out, is co-chaired by the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.  Newman wrote the book “Their Blood Cries Out,” which was written before anti-abortionists began softening their language to find more support.  Here’s a telling passage (and I urge you to read the whole article from Right Wing Watch.)

While Newman never explicitly calls for the execution of women who have had abortions, as he does abortion providers, he makes very clear that he sees these women as equally culpable for the supposed crime.

He tells the story of a woman in California accused of paying two men $1,000 and some “sexual favors” to murder her husband. Both the woman and the men who executed the hit, he reports, received the same sentence. How, Newman asks, is this different from abortion?

There was no outpouring of public concern from the community declaring her a victim of society. There were no help centers set up to give aid to all future contract killers so that they might find alternatives to murdering their husbands. The churches did not welcome her on the condition that neither of the parties would discuss the crime. There was no legislation brought forward by the National Organization for Women to pardon her and all future murderesses. There was no sympathy publicly expressed for her — only the satisfaction that comes from witnessing justice.

Why, then, do we consider any differently the women who seek to hire killers to murder their pre-born children? Why the hesitancy to say that not only the mothers, but also the fathers who willfully abort their babies, are guilty of murder? Why is there such outrage expressed at the notion that those who know of the crime but do not intervene, like most of the churches in America, share a portion of the guilt?

Who holds the fathers, the mothers, the neighbors, the pastors, and the bystanders guilty? Who would dare?

God can! God does!

By comparing abortion directly to any other act of premeditated contract killing, it is easy to see that there is no difference in principle. However, in our society, a mother of an aborted baby is considered untouchable where as any other mother, killing any other family member, would be called what she is: a murderer.

..

When Newman endorsed Cruz, Ted was quick to play up the endorsement on his campaign website.
“I am grateful to receive the endorsement of Troy Newman,” Cruz said. “He has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years, and works tirelessly every day for the pro-life cause. We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”
How extreme is Newman?

“Today’s scheduled execution of Paul Hill is not justice, but is another example of the judicial tyranny that is gripping our nation. A Florida judge denied Rev. Hill his right to present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day. Our system of justice is based upon ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but in Rev. Hill’s case, there was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.

“There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law. Paul Hill should have been given the opportunity to defend himself with the defense of his choosing in a court of law. [Operation Rescue West press release, 9/3/03, via Media Matters]

How about banned from Australia extreme?

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, had been scheduled to begin a speaking tour in Australia on Friday. But immigration officials canceled his visa before he left the United States after Australian politicians raised concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedure.

He managed to board a flight from Los Angeles despite not having a valid visa but was detained by immigration officers at Melbourne Airport while trying to enter the country on Thursday.

[…]

Terri Butler, a Labor member of the Australian Parliament, had called for the government to revoke Mr. Newman’s visa this week. In a letter to Mr. Dutton, she cited passages from a book that Mr. Newman co-wrote that called for abortion doctors to be executed. [New York Times10/2/15]

Anti-abortion activists may spend the whole week screaming that they don’t want women punished for having an abortion.  Just like they claim they aren’t against contraception when it serves their purposes, just like they claim they are against violence in the aftermath of each clinic bombing or doctor assassination.

What matters is their language when no one is watching.  The stuff they say when they are surrounded by only true believers.  As they continue to escalate the debate with inflammatory language.  As they publish the names and home addresses of providers.  As they unscientifically claim one contraception method after another is actually abortion.

It is about ending abortion.  It is also about taking reproductive control away from women and forcing them back into the kitchen.  If it was honestly all about abortion we live in a nation that is rich enough to practically eliminate elective abortions.  Abortion could be nothing but a procedure that occurs only during the current “exceptions.”  Rape, incest and the life of the mother or non-viable pregnancy.  We could provide every woman of reproductive age contraception.  We could turn abortion into an incredibly rare procedure, rather than one that is more common than anyone realizes.  But there’s no slut shaming involved there, and it doesn’t serve to reinforce the patriarchy.

Trump says some insane shit.  Trump takes some extreme positions.  Don’t buy the lie that this (even though he did walk it back later) is one of them.  This is a mainstream belief in the GOP.  It just isn’t one they like outsiders to know about.

 

Pro-Life Honesty

From the Altoona Mirror’s Letters to the Editor section comes this surprising bit of honesty from  “pro-life” activist Richard A. Ruth:

Pro-life – what does that mean? It seems to mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Some think it means to be concerned for the poor.

Others think it means to do away with the death penalty. Others think it means to be civil with people at all times.

But when anyone active in the pro-life movement, including myself, uses the term, it means one thing, and one thing only, namely, anti-abortion.

We are against murdering a baby in its mother’s womb.

So, if anyone uses the term “pro-life,” but does not mean anti-abortion, please do not use that term, but rather coin your own phrase.

Much of the confusion was caused years ago by a cardinal in Chicago, whose name I am happy to forget. His concept of pro-life included many things, like the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and almost any good deed one can think of. This concept is called “the seamless garment.”

It did much to weaken the pro-life movement and caused much confusion.

Rarely have I seen an anti-abortionist state it so bluntly.  It isn’t about women’s health.  It isn’t about what is best for the child.  It isn’t about the sanctity of human life, it’s about the sanctity of the life of the fetus, nothing more.  After they are born?  Fuck ’em.  Dare suggest that “pro-lifers” care about more than the embryo?  Your name will be gladly forgotten.

Of course, embryos are much easier to care about apparently.  Especially if your world view includes this:

Those who are in sympathy with the poor should research the abuses in the welfare system. One that I am familiar with is this: Women are encouraged to have many children. The more children they have, the more money they get. Often a woman will have three to five children to three to five different fathers.

Ahem.  Citation fucking needed.  Also, wait.  If a few poor people play the system, then fuck ’em all?  What about those that are not abusing the welfare system?  Do they not exist?  Oh, I know, they just need to work harder, is that it?  You know, I understand people who are anti-abortion.  I don’t agree with them, but I understand where they are coming from.  But the above quote?  That’s just ignorance.  And prejudice.  And unless I have the Karl Marx version of the Bible, it’s pretty far from the teachings of Jesus.

If Richard Ruth takes requests, I would love to read his thoughts on #blacklivesmatter.  I’m sure they are well thought out and enlightening.

I have to admit however, that Mr. Ruth defeats me with his closing paragraph.

The Democrats are not concerned whether their clients lose their souls or not. They are more interested in getting their votes and their children’s future votes. The more kids they have the more votes they will eventually get.

Wait, what?!?  If that was true, wouldn’t they be anti-abortion then?  Let me see if I can break it down sentence by sentence and see what I am missing.

The Democrats are not concerned whether their clients lose their souls or not.

Good?  The Democratic party is a political entity, not a religion.  The United States is not a Christian nation.  We do not have a Biblical government.  The Democrats shouldn’t care about their members, voters, or “clients” imaginary ghost spirits anymore than they are concerned if their auras are out of wack or if the feng shui of their homes is out of alignment.  (Do political parties have clients?  Does he think Democratic field offices also provide abortion services?)  Maybe the Republican party would find a more receptive audience for their fiscally conservative platform if they stopped worrying about their “client’s” souls?  Pandering to members of a religion tends to turn off those who are not members of that religion.  As much as the GOP would love to pretend “Christianity” is one monolithic religion, it is really a diverse collection of sects, all with contradictory beliefs.  Some Christians are pro-choice.  Some Christians are for LGBTQ rights.  Wait, they aren’t real Christians?  Maybe you aren’t the real Christian.  How about we just stop trying to force others to follow our religious beliefs?  Just an idea.

They are more interested in getting their votes and their children’s future votes.

That’s a bad thing?  Once again, I would hope a political party cares more about votes than religion.  *shrug*

The more kids they have the more votes they will eventually get.

Nope.  Even sentence by sentence, my head explodes at this point.  Did Mr. Ruth write a different letter raging against the Quiverfull movement and somehow edit them together?  Can someone explain this to me?


While we’re on the subject of Altoona Mirror anti-abortion letters, I give you one from Arnie Calaba:

My question/writing here is “How can we, as one nation under God, our United States, expect to prosper/have blessings when we are destroying our little ones in the womb by abortion?”

1954.  That’s when “one nation under God” was added.  That’s all for now, because that is a nonsensical question, along the lines of “How can we, as one town infested with unicorns, expect to prosper when we insist on locking gnomes into their hovels at night?”

There are so many telling signs of the downward, slippery slope we are on as a nation. Our economy’s $19 trillion deficit and so much bickering and upheaval in Washington, D.C.

Wait.  That’s not “so many.”  That is two.  Both caused by pro-life Republicans, I might add.

How can we stand by and allow Planned Parenthood to sell aborted baby parts (lungs, brains, etc.) for a profit?

Lying is a sin.  If you would have written this letter the day those deceptively edited videos came out, I would give you the benefit of the doubt.  But it is March.  Everyone who cares about the facts knows that those videos were cut to make it appear the Planned Parenthood representatives were saying things that they were not.  All you had to do to prove that fact is watch the uncut videos.  Add to that the investigations launched by various states into Planned Parenthood’s practices, all of which cleared the organization from any wrong-doing.

The Bible doesn’t say “the ends justify the means.”  I’m sorry.  No matter how badly you feel it should, it doesn’t.  Lying is still a sin.

And you are a liar.

How can we remain a United States, one nation under God, if abortion – the destruction of “little ones” in the womb continues?

I’ll give you this Arnie, repeating the nonsensical question you opened with to close is better than whatever the fuck type of closing Mr. Ruth went with.

You’re still a liar.

(Edited to fix two three typos.)

 

 

A “Wait, What?!?” That Caused Me To Cover My Monitor In Coffee.

There is so many delusional people in the United States today that it is difficult to pick a most delusional faction of the populace.  Is it members of the GOP who insist they had nothing to do with the rise of Trump?  Members of the GOP who still think Marco Rubio will become the GOP nominee?  Voters who believe Ted Cruz wouldn’t strangle a puppy on camera if it got him the nomination?  Progressives who apparently think the Tea Party and the House Freedom Caucus are on to something and claim they will sit out the election if HRC wins the nomination, refusing to acknowledge that another Clinton in the White House would be better than the modern GOP having control of every branch of government for a few years?  Pro-lifers who honestly believe Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts out of the trunk of their car to the highest bidder?  Gun owners who seriously believe the authors of the Bill of Rights would agree that the private ownership of an assault rifle is a right, not a privilege?  Citizens that truly believe we are living in a post-racial society, even after being smacked in the face with the crime that is the poisoning of Flint?

Just when I think it is impossible to choose a winner, Ed Brayton rescues me, drawing my attention to indeed, the most delusion segment of the population, hands down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your hysterical overreaction of the day. In an article on Pat Robertson’s CBN website, unhinged anti-gay bigot Brian Camenker of MassResistance says that Christians today are being treated just like the Jews were in Nazi Germany because they’re being “demonized.”

 

Some say American Christians are paranoid, that they’re feeling targeted and persecuted. But is it possible America is facing a growing anti-Christian agenda?

Some on the frontline of the culture wars have responded with a resounding “yes.” They feel it up close and personal – right in their faces.

“I’m particularly sensitive to that because I’m Jewish,” Brian Camenker, with Mass Resistance, told CBN News.

“I saw what happened to Jews in the 1930s and 40s and much of that same thing is happening to Christians now,” he said. “There’s an organized movement to demonize Christians.”

Maggie Gallagher, with the American Principles Project, agreed.

“What we’re seeing very clearly is an effort to target them [Christians] legally when possible and then to humiliate or deprive them of social respect,” she said.

I’m honestly speechless.  Thanks Ed.

A Realization as the Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Hits Altoona

Embattled Attorney General of Pennsylvania Kathleen Kane (D-Suspended) took a break this week from taking as many people down with her as possible to do Attorney General type things, suspended law license be damned.  About a mile and a half from my front door, AG Kane spoke at the Blair County Convention Center and tore the local Catholic diocese to shreds.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane said Tuesday that hundreds of children were sexually abused by about 50 priests over more than 40 years in the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese, and some bishops attempted to cover up the crimes.

While a grand total of zero charges will be filed as a result of this investigation due to statute of limitation issues, the information contained in the report is worse than any prison sentence.  This report has it all.  Police collusion, Bishops wielding enough political power to chose police and fire chiefs, a standardized settlement list detailing how much “hush money” victims would get for each grope or thrust, and a Church so lost that it was fighting vicious legal battles against victims they knew full well had actually been abused by priests, calling them “liars” mercilessly and taking victory laps in the press after each rotten victory.  The report contains at least 100 posts worth of information, and with no charges being able to be filed, I feel it is an ethical imperative to amplify some of this information, to make sure people don’t forget and to try and see how deep this rot runs through the Church.

But this is not that post.  This is not any of those posts.

For those of you who do not know, I was sort of raised Catholic.  To avoid telling the whole story again, until I was 11 or so I was raised as a totally lapsed Catholic.  I knew who Jesus and Mary were, and I celebrated Christmas and Easter, but we never went to church or anything.  God was just something that was, it wasn’t a huge part of your life.  When I was 11, in some order my mother’s mother died and my mom was diagnosed with rather serious breast cancer.  This combination was my mother’s “come to Jesus” moment and I suddenly found myself not only at church every Sunday, but expected to take the Sacraments and get Confirmed in time.  While my mom found Jesus, I went in a differing direction.  Having just seen my oldest sister convert to Judaism for her wedding, I was much less inclined to believe there was a particular “right” way to worship, especially after having avoided the indoctrination of youth so many of my friends experienced.  I spent Sundays learning the arcane teachings of Cathol.  I had to study to earn my first Communion and there was some that wanted me to join the First Communion class.  See, not just anyone is supposed to eat the flesh of Jesus, then wash it down with some delicious fruit of the vein.  You’re supposed to attend classes to learn the significance of ritualized cannibalism.  The problem was one of age.  I was 11 or 12, while the First Communion class was first or second graders.  The decision was made to allow me to “test out” of the class.  As long as I showed the parish priest that I had grasped the material, I would be permitted Communion and spared the embarrassment of joining a class full of 7 year olds.

My mother drove me to the church in the early afternoon.  I know it was not on a Sunday, but my memory doesn’t help past that reconstructing a time frame.  I thought I would meet the priest in the church, but was surprised when my mom dropped me off at the old dilapidated house just before the church’s driveway that served as the rectory.  I remember her telling me to call her when I was ready to be picked up, and then she must have driven away, leaving me there.  The inside of the house was dark, cluttered, and old.  The knick-knacks brought to mind my grandparents house in the dead coal graveyard their town had become.  It smelled a lot like their house as well.  The old priest and I sat in a living room that my mind has decorated with a piano, with me sitting on its bench.  We used an old copy of the Catholic Catechism and we spent 30 to 40 minutes talking about the Catholic faith.  I could tell you how he would touch my arm while pointing out something in the book, or how he would rest a hand on my shoulder when making an important point, but both could be memories born in my mind rather than honest recollections.  I do remember him inviting me to stop over anytime I had a question, or even if I just needed to talk.  His door would always be open.

I remember that the visit upset me a great deal.  No, not because he did anything improper towards me sexually, but rather the indoctrination aspect of it all.  At 11 and 12, before I had suicide bombed any of my brain cells with idiotic teenage drug use, I was testing at genius IQ levels and loved listening to adults talk, let alone talk to them myself.  I didn’t have the “from the cradle” brainwashing most of the kids he spoke with had experienced, which allowed me to understand as he tried to convince me of the reality of hellfire and the saving, simple truth of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  It sickened me and slammed the door to Christianity, a door that had previously been looking invitingly like the obvious choice, firmly shut for decades (until the 12 Steps found me sniffing around the rotting corpse of Christianity once again much later.  But that as well is a different post.).  My mother was struggling to work full time at a high stress job while suffer through seemingly endless courses of chemotherapy, treatment that only had a coin flips chance of succeeding.  To prepare her for this fight, God saw fit to kill her mother as a “good luck” gift.  It was the first time I thought “wait. how is this God omnibenevolent then? I didn’t understand that I had stumbled upon the problem of evil at that point, but I did realize that if this so-called God did in fact exist, that I could not worship it.  It wasn’t deserving of worship.

I haven’t thought of that day in decades.  When I examine the building blocks of my current world view, there are many days during high school that involve the church and have had a much greater lasting impact on me.  Priests who would have a much stronger influence, considering the priest of this story passed away before my Confirmation classes began, making this time spent together the only time I was ever alone with him.

Today the Altoona Mirror printed some of the names of priests accused by the grand jury.  Page A4.

www.mynewsonthego.com

I remember the house.

I remember my mom telling me to call when I was done.

I remember sitting across from Father Regis Myers.  Alone.

If the existence of this story didn’t call it’s worth into so much question, this is when I would say “There but for the grace of God go I.”

I’m angry.  I used to be angry at him and religion, for the indoctrination of children, for brain washing and for teaching the unforgivable concept of Hellfire.  Now I’m angry for a different reason.

I’m angry at the Church for giving him access to children.  I’m angry at my mother for leaving me alone with him, trusting him for no other reason than he pretends to talk to God.  I’m angry at him because now I have his request that I become an altar boy after my communion in my head and no idea of his intentions.  I’m angry at the police for the protection they gave these predators.  I’m angry at the bishops for  abusing their political power and at the mayor’s for allowing them to do it.  I’m angry at the bishops for callously moving child abusers from parish to parish with no thoughts about the victims other than as a number on some pay out chart.  Strangely enough, for someone who considers themselves an anti-theist, I’m angry at the embarrassment they brought to the priesthood.  The priest I was confirmed by was a good man who does not deserve the shame this brings down on the whole priesthood.

I was not abused by Father Regis Myers.

Don’t thank anyone for that joyous outcome.  No one stopped it.  No one prevented it.  I just hit the “please don’t sexually abuse me” lottery.

Yeah.  I’m angry.

Move Over Todd Akin, It’s Pete Nielsen Time!

Remember Todd Akin?  Remember how he said that abortion restrictions didn’t need exceptions for rape because “legitimate rape” doesn’t result in pregnancy?  Remember how he lost a senate race that should have been a cake walk mainly due to that comment?

After the amazing crash and burn Akin performed for the nation back in 2012, you would think that Republicans would learn a lesson from the whole fiasco.  You’d be wrong, of course.  Why?  Damned if I know.  Maybe it’s because some of them really believe, with zero evidence, that, ahem, “legitimate” rape is too traumatic to result in conception.  Or maybe it is an “ends justify the means” situation, where as long as it results in punishing women for being sexual beings.  What, you thought I was going to strike that out and end the sentence with “less abortions?”  Why?  When has the so-called “pro-life” movement ever supported something with an actual chance of lowering the number of abortions?  They can say they care about the unborn child all they want, but until they stop opposing common sense measures, like Colorado’s long term contraception initiative for an example, measures that are actually effective at lowering the rate of abortion, why should any of us give them the benefit of the doubt as to their motives?  They aren’t just protesting Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities; they want it all shut down, because this has much more to do with women’s sexuality than the fate of some fetuses.  Nothing should prove that faster than the speed at which they cease caring about the child upon birth.

Whatever their reasons may be, they keep beating that same old drum.  Today’s “Wait, What?!?” is brought to you by the Idaho legislature.  “I da Ho?  Well then close your damn legs, ya slut!”

From The Spokesman-Review:

During the hearing Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”

….

Nielsen stood by his remarks after the hearing, saying pregnancy “doesn’t happen as often as it does with consensual sex, because of the trauma involved.”

Asked how he knew that, he said, “That’s information that I’ve had through the years. Whether it’s totally accurate or not, I don’t know.”

He added, “I read a lot of information. I have read it several times. … Being a father of five girls, I’ve explored this a lot.”

Why, may I ask, has this man “explored this a lot”?  Hopefully it is for work, and not an attempt to figure out how likely his daughters would be to get pregnant if he…….

Moving on….

The scientific consensus on the issue is that rape is as likely to result in pregnancy as consensual sex, and some studies suggest the rate of pregnancy is higher in rape. A 2003 study that appeared in the scientific journal “Human Nature,” for instance, found that the rate of pregnancy from rape exceeded the rate of pregnancy from consensual sex by a “sizable margin.”

Is it any wonder if a percentage of the anti-choice brigade decides to ignore scientific consensus?  Members of the GOP already freely ignore the scientific consensus when it comes to evolution and global warming, what would make this a bridge too far?  Of course, in those cases the only people being called “liars” are scientists and biology teachers.  I wonder if they stop and think that by holding on to the “legitimate rape doesn’t cause pregnancy” thing that they are directly calling every rape victim who got pregnant from her attack a liar?

Something tells me they just don’t care.

Can I Haz Lawsuit Plz?

From Dispatches from the Culture War:

Apparently pulling a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Saudi Arabia is now threatening to sue anyone who compares their “justice” system to the extreme form of Sharia law practiced by ISIS in the territory they control. The threat was aimed at someone on Twitter, but they say they’ll go after anyone who makes such a comparison. Okay, I’m game. Your legal system is, if anything, even worse than ISIS.

Saudi Arabia will sue any Twitter user who compares the Kingdom’s recent decision to execute a poet to punishments handed down by Isis…

“The justice ministry will sue the person who described … the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like’,” a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh…

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity”, the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom”.

I’ll bite.  Hey Saudi Arabia?  Your system of justice is very ISIS-like.

 

School is Now in Session

Greetings, students.  Please find your seat.  I’m not going to call roll today, but I will insist on enforcing our usual “no cross talk” policy.  Today’s lesson will be quick and hopefully, easy to understand.  Ready?

For arguments sake, let’s say that you run an establishment that hosts weddings.  To really crank up the realism in this scenario, let’s also say that you are a horrible bigot.  Now as a horrible bigot who runs a wedding hosting establishment, I am sure you are asking yourself who you are legally allowed to discriminate against.  You know how it is, life is short and you only get so many chances to ruin someone else’s day for no reason other than your own prejudice or outdated cultural beliefs.  The damn government already pissed in your Cheerios by forcing you to open your establishment to black weddings, and it was only by the grace of god that the resulting lingering odor of fried chicken and watermelon stained table cloths that you were positive would be the end result never materialized.  Thanks again, Jesus, for that small blessing.  Then that damn government went and forced you to open your doors to those unbiblical heathen sinners who were engaging in the abomination of miscegenation.

While you were certain god had a lightening bolt with your name on it for allowing that blasphemy to occur, Jesus apparently understood that you were forced by the evil, mean jack-booted federal thugs to permit these weddings, and approved of your little acts of protest (cranking the AC in the winter and the heat in the summer while claiming the system was broken) enough to spare you and your family.  Even though you managed to escape the fires of hell in that instance, when you saw those two carpet-munching man-haters trying to mock god himself by pretending their demon-possessed souls and father-abused bodies could feel love, god’s perfect gift to the world, you had to put your foot down.  After all, it was Adam and Eve, not Audra and Eve, and didn’t god send Aids down from heaven to deal with dykes like this?  And while Jesus himself may not have said anything about homosexuals, the Old Testament and Saul of Tarsus, who most definitely was not a sexually repressed closet case, both condemned the beast like act.

Imagine your surprise when, after honoring your hateful god and turning those sinners away, you found yourselves the proud owners of a 13 thousand dollar fine for discrimination.  You almost swear, before catching yourself of course, wondering what happened to this great nation when god-fearing Christians can’t even discriminate against a couple of queers anymore.  I mean, you weren’t going to stone them to death, even though, biblically, that’s exactly what you should have done.  You just didn’t want their icky gay germs to contaminate your beautiful wedding location.  What’s worse is that if you catch the Aids from breathing the same air as these god haters, the government probably won’t even let you sue them.  How is that fair?  Having not taken this class yet, you call up your lawyer to see if you can do anything about this horrible infringement on your religious liberty.  Your lawyer, after performing a ton of research on your bank account balance, assures you that you should give him a lot of money.  He definitely, without a doubt, is not telling his friends about the unwinnable case he just took on for a couple of rich religious idiots and how, counting appeals, he just paid for his first house, that sports car he always wanted, and an engagement ring for his soon to be trophy wife.  I promise that, after a couple of lines and beers, he never once said to his friends, “Hey, some people hit the lottery, some people inherit, and some people find well-off religious bigots; we all get rich in different ways.”

Now I totally admit that I made our hypothetical business owning bigots into a pair of ridiculous strawmen.  Yet cases such as this one are currently taking place, as students who clicked the above link now know.  Let’s look at that non-hypothetical case, shall we?  Once again, here is the link.

Owners of a New York wedding venue who were fined $US13,000 for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law are arguing Monday that they should be legally allowed to follow their Christian faith.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their own religious beliefs. Now the business, owned by Robert and Cynthia Gifford, is appealing a ruling from the state’s Division of Human Rights that it violated New York law and is seeking to have the fine reversed.

Now note first of all that the owners of this particular venue were fined for violating the New York state anti-discrimination law.  Why is this important?  Because if you take a look at that law you will notice that it applies to the following: “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability.”  Well, will you look at that?  Sexual orientation is included.  Unfortunately that is not always the case in the United States, but in New York state it is part of the law.  So let us see what the bigot’s Gifford’s lawyer is going to argue in this case.

“It would violate the Giffords’s faith to facilitate this union,” attorney Caleb Dalton told a five-judge supreme court appeals panel.

But Dalton, counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Giffords’s faith did not allow them to participate in a marriage other than between one man and one woman.

So it seems that Dalton is arguing that this case sees two rights in conflict:  the McCarthy’s right to access versus the bigot’s Gifford’s right to religious freedom.  Or as the bigot Cynthia Gifford melodramatically puts it:

Cynthia Gifford told reporters they are asking the court to respect the freedoms upon which the United States was built.

“When the government tells you what to say and punishes you if you don’t, it’s very frightening,” she said. “And all of us Americans should be scared about this, no matter where we stand on the issue.”

Now churches, as far as I know, are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.  It would be kind of heavy handed after all to force a church to hire an atheist pastor.  I believe that exemption ends once the employees no longer have any pastoral duties.  My uncertainty on the matter is irrelevant, of course, because the homophobe’s Gifford’s business is not a church.  Their argument is absurd, which you can discover by substituting any of the other protected classes in place of homosexuals and see how long it would take their case to be thrown out of court.  If the Gifford’s bigoted viewpoint became law, you would immediately have various businesses not only refusing service to homosexuals, but also to blacks, interracial couples, women not accompanied by a man, Muslims, Jews, women, Catholics, the disabled, and white males over 50 (that would be my store.  Hey, they may be a Trump supporter, and I’m not taking that chance.), to name a few.  Perhaps the Giffords feel it should only be a narrow exemption allowing the discrimination against homosexuals, but there is not only no logical reason to limit the religious freedom exemption to only that group, it would also be ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, especially after this year’s ruling on marriage equality.

Now I am sure I have some libertarian students who feel a business owner should be able to serve who ever they want, with the only possible punishment for open bigotry being from the free market.  To those students I kindly say, “Fuck off.”  (I have tenure.)  While they are kindly fucking off, they can remove their cars from the tax funded roads.  Every single business, no matter how small or large, benefits from the public coffers.  Be it the publicly funded roads that their customers travel on, to the publicly funded police force that protects their business, we all depend on public money at some time.  New York state has decided that one of the concessions they demand from people who wish to operate a business in their state is is adherence to the state’s anti-discrimination law.  If you are not willing to obey that law, then you are perfectly free to move your business to a different state or country with laws more to your likings.

We keep hearing people in these situations complain that their religious liberties have been violated.  Bull.  We have freedom of religion in this country, as we have freedom of speech, yet neither freedom is absolute.  I hate the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example, so instead I will suggest you visit the nearest airport and joke about how long it took you to hide all the bombs in your suitcase.  From your jail cell, please write me and let me know what they said when you played your “freedom of speech” trump card.  Religious freedom has limits as well.  Even if I sincerely believe that the only way to please Jesus and get into heaven is by using copious amounts of heroin, the drug task force is not going to allow me to freely practice my religion.  Child sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, marrying multiple 12 year olds, and the withholding of medical care from minor children are just some of the “sincerely held religious beliefs” we have decided, as a society, are not to be protected.  Your religious freedom stops when it begins to affect the freedoms of other people.

You can march in bigot parades every weekend.  You can attend and tithe a church that preaches that Starbucks includes human semen in their lattes.  You can write internet post after internet post about how all homosexuals are going to burn in everlasting hell.  You can even preach that the bible calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, at an event with presidential candidates in attendance.

What you can not do, assuming you are in a state that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, is deny them the same services you offer to everybody else.  It really isn’t that difficult of a concept.

Quiz on Friday.  Enjoy the rest of your day.