Thursday, May 31, 2012

Daily Blend: Thursday, May 31, 2012

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Anti-Islamic protest
Totally not bigotry
  • Bigots in Murfreesboro, TN strike temporary legal victory against planned mosque. [pictured]
    (via @radleybalko)

  • Revised criminal sentencing laws in Ohio result in less crowded prisons, linked to lower recidivism rates.
    (via @RightOnCrime)

  • Ed Brayton debunksMen in Black 3 supports Creationism!” nonsense, nicely explains the concept (which Creationists never grasp) of contingency.

  • Why in the world is the FBI including Bill Donohue’s Catholic League in its list of anti-bias organizations?

  • Seriously evil book.
    (via The Agitator)

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Catholic clergy bribed accused clerical child molesters to go away

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    Cardinal Timothy Dolan (NY, USA)
    Card. Timothy Dolan

    It’s just more of the same (not that it’s any less revolting):

    Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.

    Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”

    But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.

    A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as “laicization,” is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.

    I wonder, does any other organization on the planet reward members accused of raping children with cash bribes?

    At any rate, that makes two scandalized squawks I’m awaiting from Bill Donohue, especially now that his BFF Dolan is under attack. Actually, I wonder whether he’s ill; it’s been nearly a whole week since Catholic groups were oppressed shown their place in Ontario, Canada and he hasn’t yet said one word about how it’s symptomatic of ever-growing anti-Catholic prejudice and whatnot.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Yet another court rules against DOMA

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    Same-sex marriage

    It’s hard to say how many it’s been by now, but yet another court has ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional:

    A federal appeals court Thursday declared that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married gay couples, a groundbreaking ruling all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman deprives gay couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples.

    The court didn't rule on the law's more politically combustible provision, which said states without same-sex marriage cannot be forced to recognize gay unions performed in states where it's legal. It also wasn't asked to address whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

    Who knows, maybe this dreadful law for government-sanctioned discrimination will actually die in court before the end of the year. It’ll presumably soon be up to the Supreme Court to decide its fate.

    (via @todayspolitics)

    Fail Quote: Political tribalism on display (Cato/Libertarian Derangement Syndrome edition)

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    Cato Institute logo
    Commence hating!

    Everything I’ve come to loathe about modern political discourse, perfectly encapsulated in this single quote:

    The Cato Institute is a collection of Koch family lickspittles – who cares if they occasionally say something that’s accurate?

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. “Sure, they might right about stuff, but they’re associated with these people I don’t like, so screw ’em and all they do!” Such blindly partisan, childishly ideological, benightedly mindless tribalism. This is the sort of stupidly simplistic horseshit that gets my goat like little else and makes me yearn for the day when anyone caught espousing it can be thrown into a dark hole (perhaps à la 300) where they can never again taint grown-ups’ conversations with their reactionary prejudice.

    This whole comments thread over at Ed Brayton’s Dispatches from the Culture Wars post on how the crucial National Police Misconduct Reporting Project will now be supported by the Libertarian think-tank Cato Institute is both hilarious and depressing, if not at times enraging. I’m not exactly a fan of Cato or Libertarians in general, as they lean a little too far Right on numerous key issues to be considered general allies, but the constant hatred being poured their way by people too smugly self-satisfied to know any better is an ideal representation of why it’s so mind-numbingly painful to talk about policy issues these days. And the fact that all these Libertarian-haters claim to defend rationality whilst being utterly blind to their own blatant overuse of the genetic fallacy is just the jizzy icing on top of the shit sundae.

    Yes, the Cato Institute is funded and partially directed by the odious Koch Brothers (who’ve been made into as big a boogeyman among the Left as George Soros is with the Right), which perhaps calls their alliances into question. And yes, numerous Cato scholars are wrong about many issues, notably their anthropogenic global warming “skepticism”, their fantasies about a magically all-healing “free market”, and various other issues I have varying levels of (dis)interest about. But they also do tremendous amounts of critically important work when it comes to issues that liberals and progressive ought to rally around, such as the trampling of civil liberties, the expansion of government and executive powers, the broken criminal justice system, rampant police abuses and protectionism, and far too many others to list. In fact, I daresay that in the grand scheme of things, Cato (if not Libertarianism as a whole) is a force for good, regardless of the number of regressive ideals and policies it promotes. And it’s simply lazy and sloppy thinking to dismiss all of that on the grounds that, “but they’re wrong about some stuff!”.

    Everyone’s wrong about some stuff, some more than others. But everyone is capable of doing good and important work, and to that end, Cato is a stellar ally to have when it comes to many, if not even most, of the issues that are near and dear to liberalism’s heart. Those who prefer twerpish sniping over any attempt at reasoned debate only demonstrate their own lack of intellectual integrity.

    (via @radleybalko)

    Headline of the day (and Darwin Awards honorable mention)

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    Washington Post headline: “Serpent-handling pastor profiled earlier in Washington Post dies from rattlesnake bite”

    (Not that I’m the habit of mocking the deceased unless they truly deserve it, but … come on.)

    (via Rob F)

    Subsidized discrimination for dummies: a handy guide

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    There appears to be a lot of confusion lately over whether religious groups should be allowed to discriminate against various segments of the population in accordance with their “deeply held beliefs”. Ever the helpful fellow, I’ve gone ahead and illustrated the solution in the form of this enlightening little flowchart:

    Flowchart: “Subsidized Discrimination for Dummies” (If you’re a religious institution who receives government funding, you may not discriminate)

    Now, go forth and ignore any religious whining about wanting to have their cake and eat it, too. Only they have the nerve to demand special and thoroughly undeserved exemptions from rules that everyone else must follow.

    Partially inspired by this post (via Rob F).


    Wednesday, May 30, 2012

    Ontario, CA orders all schools to allow gay-straight alliances

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    Gay-straight alliance

    That wonderful sound you just heard was the shrieks of Catholic groups everywhere as the Canadian province of Ontario has just ordered that every school, religious or otherwise, must allow students to form gay-straight alliance clubs if they wish:

    Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten said there would be no compromises.

    “Schools need to be safe places for kids to be themselves — and for some kids, that means being able to name a club a gay-straight alliance,” Ms. Broten said. “I don’t think there’s anything radical about allowing students to name a club.”

    Church sources said they were blindsided and disappointed by the announcement. Cardinal Thomas Collins, the head of the Archdiocese of Toronto, is expected to make a statement on Monday.

    The change in the provincial Liberals’ new anti-bullying bill — the Accepting Schools Act — is part of a government initiative to create a “safe and accepting climate” in schools, including Catholic schools, Ms. Broten said.

    It’s important to note (as the article doesn’t appear to make clear) that this government rule only applies to publicly funded schools, regardless of religious orientation. Private schools are still more than welcome (so to speak) to be as discriminatory as their bigoted administrators see fit. But it’s always amusing to see religious apologists’ hypocritical privilege exposed whenever they rail against being forced to follow the government’s non-discrimination policies while at the same time happily accepting government funds.

    Now counting how long before a fresh howl of outrage from Bill Donohue lands in my inbox.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Another pastor calls for the extermination of LGBT people

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    Pastor Curtis Knapp (New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas)
    Rev. Curtis Knapp

    Yet another Hater for Jesus drops any pretense when it comes to his desire to see LGBT people exterminated:

    [Seneca, Kansas’s New Hope Baptist Church pastor Curtis] Knapp went on to read from Leviticus 20: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.”

    “They should be put to death,” Knapp declared. “‘Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

    “You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person.’ Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.”

    “He said put them to death,” he continued. “Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?”

    Once again, it’s so nice (only, not so much) when leaders of Yahweh’s flock don’t shy away from revealing their true colors to the world. But yes, I certainly do have a better idea than that horrible little sky-tyrant; it’s called secular humanism … or at the very least, not revealing yourself as a brazen bigot whose Bible-fueled hatred is exactly the sort of thing that’s driving the rapidly growing exodus from the church.

    Oh, wait – that’s a good thing.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Bigots’ fears about gay marriage apocalypse debunked (yet again)

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    Two brides kissing

    Slate takes a look at the facts surrounding the LGBT marriage equality debate and points out the obvious: U.S. states that have legalized same-sex marriage aren’t crumbling into oblivion, nor are they host to any more drug-fueled gay orgies than before (as far as we know, anyway). The article starts with overall marriage rates:

    Start with Massachusetts, which endorsed gay marriage in May 2004. That year, the state saw a 16 percent increase in marriage. The reason is, obviously, that gay couples who had been waiting for years to get married were finally able to tie the knot. In the years that followed, the marriage rate normalized but remained higher than it was in the years preceding the legalization. So all in all, there’s no reason to worry that gay marriage is destroying marriage in Massachusetts.

    The other four states that have legalized gay marriage—New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire—have done it more recently, somewhere between 2008 and 2011. But from the little data we have, it looks as if the pattern will be more or less the same—a temporary jump in marriage followed by a return to virtually the same marriage rates as before gay marriage became legal. Washington, D.C., which started accepting same-sex marriages in March 2010, saw a huge 61.7 percent increase in marriage that year, though it’s too soon to see where it will settle. Again, no signs of the coming apocalypse.

    Another shocker: Straight couples in those same states aren’t seeing their heteronormative unions magically dissolved, either:

    Another measure of the health of marriage is a state’s divorce rate. Have those changed since gay marriage was introduced? Not really. In each of the five states, divorce rates following legalization have been lower on average than the years preceding it, even as the national divorce rate grew. In 2010, four of the five states had a divorce rate that was lower than both the national divorce rate and the divorce rate of the average state.

    Of course, no amount of real evidence will ever dissuade anyone of the idea that allowing gays and lesbians to marry won’t somehow contaminate or weaken heterosexual unions (much less society as a whole) if they’re stupid or delusional enough to believe that in the first place. But there’s always hope for more reasonable individuals and fence-sitters to see reality for what it is and come down on the rational side of the issue.

    (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

    How to turn away pain patients: the game

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    Dr. Danielle McCarthy (right) testing “drug abuse detection” videogame
    Dr. McCarthy (r) testing “drug abuse detection” videogame

    As if policies regarding prescription painkillers weren’t draconian enough already, there’s a new educational videogame on the way that would purportedly teach physicians how to recognize drug abusers posing as pain patients and turn them away, presumably with no risk whatsoever of actual pain sufferers being labeled as junkies and denied their medication:

    As Dr. Danielle McCarthy listens to a man beg for a prescription for painkillers, she weighs her possible responses.

    A 31-year-old emergency room physician, she listens patiently as the man tells her that “every morning I wake up in pain,” describing the agony he continues to endure, three years after being injured in a car wreck.

    He has tried physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, he says. Nothing works except pills, he insists, as his voice grows louder and more demanding.

    Their exchange is similar to conversations that take place on almost every shift at Northwestern Memorial Hospital here, Dr. McCarthy said. But it is fiction — part of an interactive video game designed to train doctors to identify deceptive behavior by people likely to abuse prescription painkillers. The patient is an actor whose statements and responses are generated by the program.

    The video game was designed based on research by Dr. Michael F. Fleming at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and draws on technology used by the F.B.I. to train agents in interrogation tactics. It teaches doctors to look for warning signs of drug abuse, like a history of family problems, and to observe nonverbal signs of nervousness, like breaking eye contact, fidgeting and finger-tapping.

    The game, which is in its final phase of testing, is aimed at primary care and family doctors, who often feel uncomfortable and unqualified assessing their patients in this regard.

    Anyone who can’t immediately identify about two hundred problems with just about every aspect of this idea is categorically unfit to debate drug policy, much less craft it. Though, to be fair, I suppose the only option left for drug warriors who wanted to make the whole situation even more ridiculous and restrictive was to literally make a game of it.

    The government seriously needs to get the hell out of the relationship between doctors and their patients. The only thing resulting from threatening medical workers with harassment and prosecution for doing their jobs is more and more victims of injury and malady being denied access to medicine. Chalk it up to yet more casualties in the blindly ideological and transparently futile war on human nature itself.

    (via @jacobsullum)

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Daily Blend: Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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    U.S. President Barack Obama
    Pres. Barack Obama
  • Nobel Peace Prize laureate and “leader of the free world” [pictured] declares that “all military-age males in a strike zone” are “militants” and can be slaughtered with impunity. I’ve been gradually souring on the President for a long time, but this is just sick. Even Bush & Cheney were never this brazen about their bloodlust.

  • Ed Brayton provides some clarification – and mild reassurance – about the recent Gallup poll about abortion rights attitudes.

  • Some hope for Oklahoma as the state legislature shitcans three Creationist and anti-global warming education bills.
    (via @BadAstronomer)

  • WorldNetDaily “exclusive”: Kooks declare that “miracles” in Men in Black 3 make the case for Creationism!
    (via Joe. My. God.)

  • Great write-up about the decline and refitting of churches in Québec, Canada.

  • Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham to star in upcoming TV series, while Clarice Starling gets slotted on Lifetime (blech). I am perplexed.
    (via Fark)

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Gawker’s Nolan on punditry’s pro-military platitudes

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    “UNQUESTIONABLY PATRIOTIC”: U.S. soldiers carrying a coffin

    In response to what shall henceforth be known as HeroGate, Hamilton Nolan at Gawker has penned what I’d say is the end-all be-all of write-ups concerning the transparently vacuous outrage over MSNBC’s Chris Hayes’s meek statement about how U.S. soldiers are inherently sanctified as “heroes” of unquestionable valor as a tactic for crushing any possible nuanced discussion about the role the U.S. Military is being made to play around the world. The entire thing is a must-read, but I thought these closing paragraphs were worth highlighting all on their own:

    "I contribute nothing of consequence to this country, yet I reap tremendous financial benefits from it. Therefore I must pay the emptiest sort of lip service to those in the military, and childishly insult anyone who questions the kindergarten version of 'patriotism,' lest the public turn its attention to me," say the terrified, self-serving and ultimately useless pundit class of America, in a single voice.

    Patriotism is not the act of mouthing platitudes about Heroes and God and Country as politicians go and start wars for money and send off young men and women to die. If the media can do anything patriotic, it is to loudly question the many varieties of bullshit that are used to pave the way for public support of wars. The 6,472 Americans who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan might have appreciated that more than being praised as "heroes" by the same members of the media that did nothing to stop them from being killed.

    Isn’t it interesting how the most strident supporters of endless war and its participants are consistently those who actually have the least of importance or relevance to say about it? Or how those most eager to defend and uphold the childish deification of U.S. soldiers never falter as their government continually ships them off to get shot and blown apart overseas on an increasingly thin platter of excuses?

    As has been said (least of all by me), there is certainly nothing wrong with holding a healthy respect for members of the armed forces, both for their personal sacrifices and whatever causes drive them to enlist in the first place. And it’s obvious that a great many of them truly do qualify as “heroes” under any definition. But the problem arises when this reasonable appreciation is heightened to levels of pure worship and propaganda, particularly by military cultists who make sure to stay clear from the very hardships they’re so eager to put their beloved soldiers through.

    (via @ggreenwald)

    This school bulletin board notice needs to spread

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    I can only hope this is genuine:

    “Dear kid bullying the openly gay boy in class, I dare you to lay a finger on him. Sincerely, the linebacker with two amazing dads.”

    Some twerps just don’t learn until faced with the thought of being forced to eat their underpants.

    (via Joe. My. God.)


    Monday, May 28, 2012

    Doggycide in Forth Worth, Texas

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    Lily Girl the border collie
    Lily Girl

    I think I should consider renaming this joint Doggycide Central. I only wish it weren’t so important to raise awareness about these incidents. Here’s yet another one, this time the result of a wrongful dispatch in Fort Worth:

    On Saturday, dispatchers sent the officer to the 4900 block of Norma Street to investigate copper thefts. But an officer showed up at Mark and Cindy Boling's house at the 4700 block of Norma Street as they unloaded groceries outside their home.

    The couple said the officer shot the dog when it came out of the garage. The officer said it lunged at him. The couple said the animal was just being friendly.

    "[The officer] showed up at our house where he wasn't supposed to be and didn't care what we were saying," Cindy Boling said. "He surprised us. Our 'Lily Girl' runs up on the porch like she would anybody... and he pulls out a gun and shoots her."

    Details are sparse, including whether Lily Girl survived or not. I’ll assume – ie. hope – that she did.

    (via @radleybalko)

    Doggycide Bingo card
    [full size (514×625)]

    Doggycide Bingo Index

    Confirmed hits:

  • Lily Girl presumably survived
  • Cop shot first
  • Dog was being her usual playful self
  • Cops show up at wrong address
  • Cops & owners disagree on dog’s behavior
  • Total: 5/25
    Uncertain outcome. No bingo.

    In which I poke the beast of far-Right ad-hominem!

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    Demotivational poster: “It’s OUTRAGEOUS!”

    (NOTE: This post is quite long and JavaScript-heavy, so it may take a few moments to load.)

    Well, well. It appears I’ve finally realized my sorta-dream of becoming a brief pseudo-celebrity on Twitter, at least in the sights of the far-Right wingnuttia. I don’t get why people complain about how difficult and painful it is to suffer the onslaught of neo-conservatism’s finest – this is awesome.

    (… Okay, so perhaps I’m a tad masochistic. Bear with me.)

    Firstly, some obligatory background: So today is Memorial Day, and there’s apparently quite a bit of brouhaha on Twitter over comments made by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes implying that merely enlisting in the armed forces, and even dying in battle, doesn’t inherently make one a “hero”. He took a cautious and measured approach, and I completely agree. Yes, many soldiers are undeniably heroic; no reasonable individual could say otherwise. But it’s also true that many aren’t. Soldiers are human, and thus, are prone to any vice that non-combatants may exhibit (which WikiLeaks has done an exceptional, if supremely uncomfortable, job of revealing). To treat members of the military as if they were infallible and sacred by mere virtue of their employment demeans both linguistics and reason itself, in addition to stripping the humanity from the actual heroes in the military.

    Naturally, never a fan of nuanced discussion or divergent opinions, the Right immediately went into all-out manufactroversy mode, with all the usual suspects unleashing all the usual barbs against Hayes for having the sheer gall to question the sanctity of their fetishized armed forces. I won’t mention it much here; simply take the typically measured words of Ann Coulter as a template for a decent idea of the substance of the response. These children really don’t play well with others.

    Kurt Schlichter
    Kurt Schlichter

    Then again, perhaps calling these people “children” is just mean to actual young’uns, as I doubt even a third-grader would pen something as puerile and idiotic as this column by Kurt Schlichter, which can be adequately summarized thus: “Waugh, ‘leftist twerp’ and ‘MSNBC drone’ sounds like a ‘commie grad student’ for saying that not all members of a chosen profession I really like are automatically ‘heroes’!” (You have now been spared any need to actually click that link. You’re welcome.)

    And so, as is customary whenever I come across something worth mentioning, I casually scribbled a brief response for the next Daily Blend and tweeted it, along with some supplemental thoughts:

    Doggycide in Hartford, Connecticut

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    Dog chalk outline

    Fitting that I’d wake up early and groggy just to find myself reading another infuriating report of police murdering a beloved household pet because of their own screw-up:

    On Dec. 20, 2006, according to the memorandum, [John] O'Hare and [Anthony] Pia walked into the Harris' backyard at 297 Enfield St. without a warrant. As they rounded the back corner of the house, they saw a St. Bernard, Seven, begin to move toward them. They turned and ran back the way they came, along the north side of the house, toward the front yard, the document states.

    The [12yo] girl ran around the other side of the house "in an effort to head off Seven's path through the front yard," it states. The girl heard two shots before she got to the front yard.

    When she arrived, she saw O'Hare standing over Seven, who had fallen to the ground. The dog was breathing heavily and his tail was wagging weakly, the document states. She screamed, "Don't shoot my dog."

    According to the document, "O'Hare looked at K.H., then back to the dog, and shot the dog in the head." The girl ran to the dog, screaming and crying, after which O'Hare told her, "Sorry, miss, but your dog isn't going to make it," it states.

    The third bullet caused the dog's death, the memorandum states. The document states that the girl had suicidal thoughts after the shooting and was hospitalized.

    The suit accuses the officers of conducting an "illegal search," calling their presence a "warrantless invasion." With the exception of the driveway, the entire property is enclosed by fences or gates, and there were three "Beware of Dog" signs posted on the property, it states.

    And the police’s version, complete with threatening St. Bernard:

    But according to a nine-page incident report filed by police, O'Hare and Pia had received a tip from a reliable source that two handguns were stashed in an abandoned vehicle in the backyard of 297 Enfield St. They went into the yard about 3:20 p.m., and a large, full-grown St. Bernard "immediately began to bark and snarl," the report states.

    Both officers ran toward the front of the house with the dog in pursuit. Pia was able to get to a sidewalk on the other side of a fence, but O'Hare ended up in the front yard "with the dog running directly at him," it states.

    O'Hare was unable to elude the dog, the report states, which was "showing its teeth." He pointed his gun at it and yelled for it to get back, but the dog only hesitated momentarily before advancing again, it states.

    Sunday, May 27, 2012

    Doggycide in Hope Mills, North Carolina

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    Gizmo the pekingese-dachshund mix

    Impending lawsuit over the kicking and shooting death of a pekingese mix in Cumberland County, North Carolina:

    Gizmo, a 17.6-pound Pekingese-dachshund mix, was shot Wednesday by Deputy Barbara Siau, a nine-year veteran who works in the Child Support Enforcement division, said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.

    The department's Internal Affairs is investigating the shooting, Tanna said Friday.

    Siau was looking for [Dana] Anderson's brother when she came to the home on the 5600 block of Dalenna Drive in the Colonial Heights neighborhood, Anderson said.

    When she went outside to speak with Siau, Anderson said Gizmo followed her.

    The dog has no history of biting, Anderson said, but Gizmo began running toward the deputy and barking.

    Anderson said she told the deputy the dog would not bite.

    Siau kicked Gizmo in the head, Anderson said, which antagonized the dog.

    "I was in the process of getting him," Anderson said, "if she would have given me 10 seconds."

    Anderson said she heard the shot.

    "There was no warning whatsoever," she said. "I heard a 'pop,' and when I looked up, I said, 'You shot my dog.' "

    Gizmo still was moving, Anderson said, but fell on the ground.

    "It didn't really dawn on me until I walked over to him and saw blood coming out of his head," Anderson said.

    "He was wagging his tail as he was dying."

    And to show how Officer Siau had chosen the right course of action given the grave threat she had faced:

    Siau then showed Anderson the leg of her uniform pants, which had two small holes in them.

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Tweet of the Day: @LOLGOP on unnatural marriage

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    About time I started following @LOLGOP:

    Some tweeps are replying that some social bonds do exist amongst animals that vaguely resemble human marriage, which I think misses the point. All social species are able to form and uphold various kinds of alliances and partnerships for all sorts of reasons, but none of them come close to the level of cultural significance and even outright consecration that we attach to that uniquely human bond called ‘marriage’, be it social, political or religious. Nor do animals panic at imaginary threats to their unions and, by some fevered extension, to their society in general.

    Frankly, all that means is that animals have their priorities in check.

    Maine churches plan to illegally campaign against gay marriage

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    Separation of church and state

    It appears that U.S. churches have become a little too comfortable with the preferential tax-exempt status the federal government already (undeservedly and unconstitutionally) affords them, as hundreds of Maine parishes are preparing to launch a fundraising campaign with the explicit goal of shooting down a same-sex marriage ballot proposal in November:

    Scores of Maine churches will pass the collection plate a second time at Sunday services on Father's Day to kick off a fundraising campaign for the lead opposition group to November's ballot question asking voters to legalize same-sex "marriages."

    Between 150 and 200 churches are expected to raise money for the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee, said Carroll Conley Jr., executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine evangelical organization and a member of the PAC. Conley is also trying to drum up support for the Maine campaign from religious leaders from around the country.

    It's unusual, but not unheard of, for churches to take up collections for political causes. Maine's Catholic diocese says it raised about $80,000 with a designated collection in 2009 in its effort to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law, which was passed by the Legislature that year and later rejected by voters. The Catholic Church isn't actively campaigning this time, instead focusing on teaching parishioners about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

    How in the hell can they possibly convince themselves that this isn’t the most blatant kind of violation of separation of church and state imaginable? I admit, I’m not as well-read on the laws regarding U.S. churches’ tax-exempt status as I should be, but from what I could find, the rules appear to be that churches can preach all they want about social and political issues as long as they take no part in advocating for or against specific candidates or legislation. So while they can demonize gays and urge their congregants to fight against marriage equality to their hearts’ content, I’m struggling to figure out how it’s supposedly acceptable to use church services to raise money with the overt and specific goal of funding an anti-gay political group in order to block a legislative proposal on the ballot.

    In an ideal world, lawmakers who know anything about the Establishment Clause would only laugh at the idea of privileging religious institutions with tax exemptions. There have been countless cases so far where parishes around the U.S. have violated the law by actively campaigning in political issues without any sign of having their tax-exempt status penalized. But this is by far the most obvious and egregious transgression I’ve heard of yet. That these Christians think they can go ahead with this plan without any fear of repercussion – and that they’re probably right – is truly sobering.

    If no-one in the government either notices this rampant abuse of privilege or even cares about it, it’ll be one sad day for the supposed wall between religion and politics, such as it is.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Maher hits on Birthers with Romney “wiferism” parody

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    Well howdy-ho, it’s yet another awesome Bill Maher segment, this time wherein he uses Mitt Romney’s Mormonism to crack on the far-Right crazies who still refuse to believe that the President wasn’t born on Neptune:

    Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

    Original transcript via Crooks and Liars [slightly edited]:

    BILL MAHER: Birtherism has […] we mentioned it last week and I thought maybe it would go away – it didn’t; it came back even worse. Donald Trump, having a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, came out yesterday, full-bore, said, “No, look in Kenya, that’s where you’ll find him.” There was a congressman named Mike Coffman, Republic[an] of Colorado, Republican from Douchebagville. […] This is what he [said], he said, “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the U.S. of A., but I do know this: that in his heart, he’s not an American.” And who would know that better than Mike Coffman?

    So, you know what? The media can keep giving this story oxygen, but I think they're neglecting a much bigger scandal, which is wiferism. Mitt Romney comes from a Mormon background. I don't know how many wives he has. I'm not saying I believe in that. I just say he was born in a Mormon compound, I'm not a wifer, but for some reason he has never shown his original marriage certificate and we'd like to show it to you now.

    Now I'm getting a lot of my information, I must say from a book called Me So Romney, the Secret Love Life of the World's Horniest Mormon. Again, I'm not a wifer, I'm just saying that he has the blood of a nomadic polygamist tribesman, and I think that has shaped his world view.

    Now this is a copy of Mitt Romney's marriage license. I specifically asked for the original. I even offered to go to the Romney house and take it out of Ann Romney's wedding scrap book, but for some reason they frowned upon that idea and instead sent me this obvious photocopy, and isn't it a little weird that they chose to only send the short form license?

    And why next to Ann Romney does it say spouse and not only spouse? I'm just asking the hard questions that the lame stream media won't ask about Mitt's unholy harem of obedient sister-wives, which I really hope I'm wrong about.

    But, now look at this. This I'm told is the Romney tooth brush holder. And think about that strained look on Mitt's face. That's the look of a man who has not been able to get into the bathroom since 1988.

    Plus, how is it that Ann and Mitt Romney have five kids and they're all thirty years old? And here, what is Mitt pointing to in this picture? The Olympic symbol. What is it? Five rings and what else has five rings? Five wives.

    And why did Mitt Romney strap his dog to the roof of his car? Could it have been because the station wagon was full of wives? I'm not saying I believe this wifer stuff. I take Mitt Romney at his word. But how do you explain this video?

    MITT ROMNEY: I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was Governor and that I’ve expressed many times; I believe marriage is the relationship between a man and a woman […] and a woman […] and a woman […] and a woman […] and a woman.

    MAHER: All right – we did a little doctoring, there.

    (via @todayspolitics)

    The Path to War Soundtrack | James’s Theme

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    This entry has been removed from Preliator and can now be found over at Creativitas. (See here for more info.)

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    Daily Blend: Friday, May 25, 2012

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    Michael Rudi (17)
    Michael Rudi (17)
  • A third federal judge rules that the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) is unconstitutional.
    (via @WTFcooner)

  • “Look, we understand that your asthmatic son [pictured] is dying, but we have rules, you know.”
    (via @radleybalko)

  • Hemant Mehta at The Washington Post: How the Web is killing faith.

  • $9.95 for an online “Demon Test” from a renown Christianist fraud? You gotta be possessed.

  • Today’s unthinkable threat: Bullying alcoholic cows.
    (via The Agitator)

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Insane Quote: Roger Ailes claims Fox News is liberal stronghold

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    Roger Ailes (President, Fox News Channel)
    Roger Ailes

    Of all the attempts to whitewash Fox News’s far-Right bias, these quotes by chairman Roger Ailes take the take – and then blast it into orbit:

    Ailes made the head-scratching pronouncement during two recent campus lectures. The first came at the University of North Carolina [emphasis added]:

    Well, first, I separate out news from programming. If you're talking about programming, we noticed that all the talk shows on the other networks basically had progressive or liberal talk show hosts. We have one conservative on FOX News, Sean Hannity. Quite open about it, that's what he is, that's what he does, that's his framework, that's where he comes from. Others tend to be libertarians or populists or you can't really tell.

    Last week, according to reports from Ailes' lecture at Ohio University, the Fox chairman boasted about the array of progressives he employs:

    Ailes defended his network, saying he was not politically biased compared with competitors MSNBC and CNN. Ailes said he employs 24 "liberals," which distinguishes him from those networks who feature fewer dissenting opinions.

    To be fair, it’s possible he’s entirely honest about this – assuming his definition of “liberal” means anything to the left of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    Then again, could it be that Ailes may be passing from one alternate universe to the other without realizing it, à la Fringe? I don’t think anything else could explain why he’d say something so utterly disconnected from reality, or why he apparently believes it wouldn’t be debunked within a femtosecond on Google. Unless, of course, he’s just as dishonest as he is delusional.

    Scarlett Johannson and the undercurrent of sexism

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    Scarlett Johannson
    Scarlett Johannson

    It’s so brilliant (albeit for sad reasons) that this actually happened:

    Reporter: I have a question to Robert and to Scarlett. Firstly to Robert, throughout Iron Man 1 and 2, Tony Stark started off as a very egotistical character but learns how to fight as a team. And so how did you approach this role, bearing in mind that kind of maturity as a human being when it comes to the Tony Stark character, and did you learn anything throughout the three movies that you made?

    And to Scarlett, to get into shape for Black Widow did you have anything special to do in terms of the diet, like did you have to eat any specific food, or that sort of thing?

    Scarlett: How come you get the really interesting existential question, and I get the like, “rabbit food” question?

    The respect given to you if you’re a man in the entertainment business, and the respect given to you if you’re a woman in the entertainment business: all perfectly summed up in one idiotically thought out line of questioning.

    Also perfect is this:

    Scarlett Johannson glancing askance at Robert Downey Jones, Jr. at an ‘Avengers’ press conference

    Of course, it’s important to note that the reporter presumably wasn’t being deliberately sexist; in fact, I don’t even think he’s as dumb as his question makes him sound. Rather, it just reflects the latent undercurrent of sexism that runs through our culture and which is particularly evident in the glab-fab world of stardom. No-one cares what men look like, even in the entertainment industry (unless their selling point is specifically their Adonis-like body image, such as with various action stars), as long as they can play their roles and occasionally promote the popular social cause du jour. But for female stars, it’s all invariably about body image and genderal norms both physical and behavioral. Thus, we get to the point where men are asked about their characters’ psychology and philosophy, whereas women get to talk about achieving that perfect waist-hip ratio.

    Thankfully, this isn’t an ironclad prison of thought, and more and more celebrities are starting to rise above it, such as alluded to in Ms. Johannson’s comment. Progress may come frustratingly slow at times, but the more people speak out, women and men alike, the better for all of us.

    (via @BadAstronomer)

    Edit (05/25/12 5:27 PM ET) – Fixed a couple of typos.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Daily Blend: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

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  • Ohio does the right thing, declassifies pitbulls [pictured] as inherently “vicious”. More of this elsewhere, please.
    (via @michaelbd)

  • A record low of 41% of Americans call themselves “pro-choice”. I wonder if that number would change minus the mistaken “pro-abortion” connotation given by lying anti-choice assholes.
    (via ThinkProgress)

  • On the other hand, a record high of 56% of Americans support legalizing and regulating marijuana.
    (via ThinkProgress)

  • Researchers update last year’s study showing how Fox News viewers are the least informed (even compared to people who don’t watch any news at all), increase the sample pool from New Jersey to nationwide. Same results.
    (via @todayspolitics)

  • This “article” (read: collection of bratty tweets) from Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy only shows why you should, in fact, avoid anything related to Michelle Malkin.
    (via @radleybalko)

  • Today’s winner for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Being So Ridiculous to the Point of Possible Satire.

  • What is it with Vox Day’s obsession with President Obama’s IQ?

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Pastor Tom tries to explain how the Bible isn’t sexist

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    Bible verse: “And I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent” - 1 Timothy 2:12
    Equality: It’s Biblical
    [full size (250×210)]

    Pastor Tom Estes of Hard Truth attempts to show how the Bible really teaches that men and women are equally important and worthy in God’s eye. He doesn’t do a very good job of it:

    God loves women every bit as much as he loves men. Bible-practicing Christians show women the same amount of respect they show men. The difference between Bible-believers and the lost world is that we acknowledge that God has given men and women different roles. Our society mistakenly places all the blame and gives all the credit to the leader of a given situation, and since the Bible declares men are the ones to be the leaders, the world thinks the Bible elevates men above women because of the afore mentioned mistake. The truth, however, is that leaders only go as far as their followers go, and followers only go as far as their leaders go. A leader with no followers is just a guy taking a walk, and followers with no leaders is a group that is going nowhere. We need both to succeed. A home needs a man who leads and a women who helps to be a successful home. This is why Christ-honoring men love their wives more, and treat them with more respect than those who do not. Because a man who follows the Scriptures knows full well that being the leader doesn't make him wiser, smarter, better, or any other adjective you could think of, it just means that he's following God's design. And following God's design makes everyone, male or female, happy, and that is the Hard Truth.

    Sure, God loves everyone equally. He just thinks men should lead and women should follow, playing the doting housewife who makes sure the kitchen tile is always sparkling under the patriarch’s feet. And that’s why Christians love and respect their wives so much more than those dirty, sinning secularists and their bizarre, ungodly ideals about female independence and autonomy and whatnot. Such heresy, that.

    See, Pastor Estes, there’s one thing you seem to be missing, here. (Well, okay, there’s an ocean’s worth of things you’re missing, but for time constraints, I’ll stick to one.) The way to judge someone’s true nature is not by their words, but by their actions. Sure, the Bible says that women are important and equally loved and whatnot, but immediately afterwards, it’s declaring that women can only ever be fit to follow in men’s footsteps, that they should abandon any and all dreams and aspirations, and resign themselves to staying at home, slaving after a bunch of kids they may not even desire in the first place and forever taking orders from their man until their bodies are as old and broken as their spirits. And there’s truly no amount of weaseling you can do about how this half-life “blesses” women with God’s grace or whatever that will make up for the fact that, by any objective standard, this is absolutely and transparently contradictory to any claims about how men and women are supposedly treated with equal love and respect. Last I checked, ‘equality’ wasn’t defined as “a relationship in which one is just a bit more equal than the other”.

    There’s also the amusingly ludicrous notion that “following God’s design makes everyone, male or female, happy”. Because that’s the general theme that emerges from studying the ever-pious Dark Ages, for instance, or the centuries of women being stripped of even the most basic civil rights (ownership of property, voting, divorce, etc.), or the continuation of regressive and often barbaric ritualistic practices across the world that disproportionately target women and young girls, all done under the cover of religiosity and the Christian faith in particular … that adhering to God’s word makes people “happy”.