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Friday, May 22, 2015

The Canary

 

Are gay people born gay?

Or is sexual orientation a choice?

Well? What do you think? Which one is it?

That question, that one right there, is the first question I want asked of each and every candidate for President of the United States in 2016. I want this question put to every candidate and put to them hard. No evasion, no dissembling, no moving the goalposts, no changing the subject. Look into the lights, face the camera, and answer the question: Is sexual orientation something you’re born with or is it a choice?

Wait. What’s that, Jim? That’s the first question you want put to the candidates? You don’t maybe think there are more pressing issues?

Oh I think there are many significant issues we as a nation and as a people will face in the coming years. Conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere. Civil rights at home. Energy. Resources. Trade. The changing climate. Technology. Immigration. Education. The list of challenges is endless and growing.

And that’s why it is imperative we know exactly what we’re getting in a president.

So why do I think this particular question should be first on the agenda?

Well, take a minute and think about it.

Think about it in the context of rights and liberty, in the context of the ongoing debate over the role of government, in the context of society and individuals and where the line between the two is drawn.

Why?

Why this question?

Because it’s the perfect test.

As an American, an American, how you answer that question tells the rest of us everything we need to know – well, if we’re paying attention, I mean.

That question, that one right there, is the little chirping bird deep in the coal mine.

There is only one correct answer for someone who wants to be president.

As an American, there really is only one correct answer.

Is sexual orientation something you’re born with or is it a choice?

 

Now think carefully before you answer. It might be a trick question.

 

Last week Jeb Bush shot himself in the foot repeatedly when asked the following:

Knowing what we know now, would you have launched the Iraq war?

Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?

That’s a fluff question.

It’s an easy high lob, on the order of “So, what do you read?” 

Any competent politician worth his anonymous Wall Street donor money should have been able to field that with a non-committal “If you’re asking me to second guess a previous president, I’m not going to do that. To answer your question: obviously any person equipped with the infallible benefit of hindsight might have done things differently. Next question.”

Instead, Bush had his own Palin Moment. 

“Yes,” Jeb declared confidently. Knowing the intelligence was wrong, I still would have invaded Iraq.

The nuts don’t fall very far from the bush in this dynasty, do they?

Yes. Knowing the intelligence was wrong, I still would have invaded Iraq.

If you listen to the video of Jeb Bush’s interview, you can actually hear his public relations people soiling their underwear just off camera.

Of course, Bush began to backpedal the same day. Because while there are many correct ways that question could have been answered, “yes” is not one of them.

With the iceberg suddenly before him, Jeb threw the rudder hard over and declared he would have made “different decisions.”

You have to assume his cellphone rang shortly thereafter and Jeb felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up, like it does when Dick Cheney offers to take you quail hunting in some remote Texas cornfield.

So Jeb then tacked hard to port and blamed the US Intelligence community (i.e. people like me) for steering his big brother wrong. 

And if you listen carefully, you can actually hear Jeb’s public relations people whimpering in the background, because blaming the military, as a Republican, might just not be the best strategy – especially when it’s provable bullshit.

It took a week, and no doubt being called onto the plastic in front of the GOP Brain Trust, but eventually Jeb got it right: He blamed Obama.

And that works for Republicans.

And what does that tell you about Jeb Bush? He couldn’t manage a simple fluff question without making a mess of it, without prep and handling.  And in fact, Bush’s first impulse was to cover for his family instead of putting responsibility on The Decider where it belongs.  Then he blamed the military and the intelligence community instead of their Commander In Chief. Despite the very provable fact that the intelligence was anything but definitive and that hundreds of red flags were thrown on it before George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and especially that arrogant little runt Donald Rumsfeld shut out all debate and declared their version of reality absolute. And that tells you exactly what you’d get in president Jeb Bush, a guy that will spend the next four years covering for his family and friends.

But a bigger problem is this: Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?

Seriously? That’s the question?

Say, Mr. Candidate, knowing what we know now about Imperial Japan, would you as Commander in Chief have done anything different on December 6th, 1941?  Knowing what we now know about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, would you have sent America into Vietnam? Tell us, Jeb, knowing what we now know, would you in fact have chased the Iraqi army up the Highway of Death straight back to Baghdad in 1991 and just killed Saddam then instead of wimping out like your pop?

Look, I don’t care what Jeb might have done if he was magically transported into the past like Biff Tannen and his 2015 copy of Grays Sports Almanac.

I don’t care if Jeb Bush might or might not invade Iraq in 2004, I want to know if he’s planning on invading Iran in 2017.

It took Jeb Bush nearly a week to get his answer straight and in the end, what did you really learn?

Bush’s final answer is wrong and idiotic, but leads directly to one obvious follow-up question that the media has so far failed to address.

The interviewer let Bush dig his own hole, and then let him climb out instead of shoveling dirt on his head, instead of asking this:

Governor Bush, you blame incorrect intelligence for your brother’s decision to send Americans into a decade-long war that has actually made things worse and directly created the very enemies we now face.

You blame President Obama for not staying the course, for allowing Iraq to disintegrate into chaos and civil war. 

As such, please tell America how you as president, would yourself not fall into such a trap.

Describe in detail how you personally would ensure accurate, timely, and comprehensive intelligence and exactly how you would keep your own cabinet and advisors from making the same mistakes Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al made. Using Iran as an example, describe in detail and provide verifiable sources that support Republican claims of Iranian nuclear ambitions to a degree that justifies preemptive war (unless of course you don’t agree with the calls for war from your own party, in which case please look directly into the camera and clearly say so). Describe in detail your comprehensive plan for the invasion of Iran, how many lives you expect to lose on both sides, the total cost to the American taxpayer to include post-war reconstruction and the resulting increase in the national debt, the length of time you expect America to be involved in this conflict both in actual combat operations and post-conflict occupation and stabilization, and finally your detailed and fully developed post-war reconstruction plan that will bring Iran to peaceful non-nuclear stable Western style democracy.  Please be specific on all counts.

But no, that’s not what happened. Instead the press let Bush blame Obama. And at this point, as a voter, you know nothing more about President Jeb Bush than you did two weeks ago – other than he needs some serious prep time with his puppet masters.

And it’s important, because this question really isn’t just about past wars or possible future ones.

How a candidate answers the question of “Given what we know now…” tells you how as president they’ll form their strategic and tactical worldview – and whether or not they will take the steps necessary to ensure that worldview approximates reality even if it’s not what they want to hear.

The answer tells you whether the candidate is the dog or the tail.

Bush’s answer puts him right in between the two - and I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what part of the dog that is.

It doesn’t take a political genius to see the big issues in 2016.

War in the Middle East is one of those issues. 

Another is Climate Change.

Every single candidate should be pressed to define their position on Climate Change directly and without equivocation.

Like that first question I asked you to think about, and like the question of Iraq, how a candidate answers the question of Climate Change speaks to a far, far larger issue. 

Combined with the question of war and intelligence, how a candidate answers the question of climate change tells you very, very specifically what kind of person you’re dealing with, one who operates in the real world or one that is motivated by blind doctrine. These two issues, war and climate change, seem like two different things, but from the Oval Office they are simply two aspects of the same issue.

If you tend to dogmatically see what you want in strategic intelligence even though it repeatedly leads to disaster and death on a massive scale, then you are very likely to do exactly the same when it comes to science – with exactly the same results.

This is crucial.

It is crucial because everything else depends from this point.

Energy. Food. Trade. The price of goods. The availability of resources. The Economy. Taxes. Opportunity. Peace. War. Population growth and displacement and the resulting refugee and immigration issues. Education. Crime. Stability. And even religion.

Everything you see in the headlines of your news media every single day depends from this point: whether or not the leader of the largest and most powerful nation on earth operates from pragmatism based reality or from political dogmatism.

And that takes us right back around to where we began.

 

Sexual orientation. Are you born that way or is it a choice?

 

Well, what is your answer?

Careful though, I warned you it might be a trick question.

Don’t know? Not sure? Tempted to answer with dogma and sound bites?

Try this: if you adopt a child are you any less a parent simply because you chose parenthood instead of the child being born to you naturally? How about this: If you’re drafted, are you more of a patriot because you didn’t get a choice than a veteran who volunteered?

Not helping huh?

There is a correct answer to the question, you know. Just as there were correct answers to the questions posed above. And just as with the questions of war and science, this is really about something else.

It’s about freedom.

It’s about liberty.

It’s about the very things that make us Americans.

We Americans used to say this of our country:

I don’t agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.

And that, that right there in no uncertain terms, is the correct answer.

Whether we come to it through the accident of genetics and environment or by choice, the freedom to define who we are, each of us personally, is the only truly inalienable right.

Men can take away your freedom and your guns and your speech and your religion, they can beat you down and lock you away in a deep dark hole, but the only thing that neither gods nor men can take away from you is the ability to define yourself. This is precisely what our ancestors were saying when they declared they were founding a nation based on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This was the entire point of our nation, from the Revolution to the Civil War to Women’s Suffrage to the Civil Rights Movement to same sex marriage and equal protection under the law regardless of race, creed, color, age, ethnicity, origin, or orientation.

Whether we are born the way we are or whether we choose it is a bullshit question.

But the answer does matter.

In the context of rights and liberty, in the context of the ongoing debate over the role of government, in the context of society and individuals and where the line between the two is drawn, among the ongoing issues of war and conflict, energy, climate, education, trade, resources, technology, immigration, it is imperative that we not lose sight of who we are and what our country is supposed to be.

Just like the question put to Jeb Bush up above, how someone answers tells you far more about who they really are than the actual answer itself. It tells you whether they will stand up for liberty, for freedom, for justice, for all Americans, for all human beings, regardless, or if they are slaves to dogma and ideology. 

And if they won’t do that, if they won’t stand for all, even the ones they disagree with, then the rest is irrelevant.

That’s why the question should come first.

Americans today often lament politicians no longer listen to them.

Maybe it’s time for us to start really listening to the politicians.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jade Helm: The Insanity that Ate Texas

Update: Comments on this post are now well over 200. If you want to see all the comments including comments nested under others, then you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the comment queue and click on “load more.” You may have to do this several times. This is a function of the Blogger platform, that’s just how it works.

Note: Comments on Stonekettle Station are moderated. There are commenting rules posted on the bottom of the comments page. I don’t care if you read them or not, but if you don’t comply, then your comment will not post. Additionally: don’t bother screaming conspiracy lunacy at me, I’m not going to debate crazy people. Period. And you can’t double-dog dare me into doing it. Save your threats: I’m a veteran, I’ve been threatened by professionals. If you’re going to take a shot at me, make the first one count because you won’t get a second. 

Welcome to Stonekettle Station // Jim Wright


 

Jade Helm.

Martial Law.

FEMA Death Camps.

Oh, it’s coming, Folks. It’s a comin’.

This is it. This is the big one. Obama is about to make his move. Martial law, you betcha, FEMA death camps and secret tunnels under Wal-Mart. Oh they warned us, they did, the powdered wig wearing Patriots of the Tea Party, they warned us. Grab the wimen’ folk, load yer guns, hoist the Confederate Battle Flag! To the bunkers! To the bunkers!

"Just because you're paranoid," said Ted Cruz, "doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Right.

And just because you have the word "Senator" in front of your name doesn't mean you're sane, rational, qualified to run the country, or have an IQ higher than that of a sea cucumber.

Seriously, somebody help me out here: what the fuck happened to Texas?

What the fuck happened to Texas?

There’s just no polite, no non-profane way to ask. What. The. Fuck. Happened to Texas?

Is it the heat? Is it the water? Did somebody spike the punch bowl with psychotropic drugs? Is it inbreeding? It is, isn’t it?

The entire state has gone bonkers.

The Governor of Texas has mobilized his own personal army and Ted Cruz is demanding answers from the Pentagon.

Because, you know, if there really was a secret plot, the generals would tell him. What? Senator Cruz has asked about our super secret nefarious plot to invade our own country and force Texans into hidden underground FEMA centers where they’ll be disarmed and gay married to Muslims? Drat! He’s on to us! Then they twirl their Snidely Whiplash moustaches,  Curses! Foiled again by that brave Canadian cartoon hero, Dudley Cruz.

Let’s say this really was a thing.

Sure, just for the sake of argument, let’s say Obama really is planning on herding Texans into FEMA death camps disguised as Wal-Marts.

Why would he need the army?

Think about it. Why would you need some secret plot to get Texans into a Wal-Mart?

Announce a Veterans Day sale with 50% off all ammunition, Duck Dynasty camouflage, and frozen chicken nuggets, unlock the doors, and step the hell out of the way before you get trampled.

Honestly, where does the Army come in?

It has finally come down to this.

This, right here, this is just how low the once great party of Lincoln has sunk.

This right here, this drooling lunacy, this mental illness, is the state of America. This is what talk radio and reality TV and Budweiser fueled NASCAR has done to the gene pool.

This, right here.

I've been putting it off, talking about Jade Helm, because it's just so stupid, just so utterly fucking stupid even for the twitching under-medicated paranoia that passes for Republicans nowadays. But now that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have weighed in on the side of booger eating stupidity,  I see I can’t evade it any longer.

Very well.

Let me be blunt, or blunter than I’ve already been: anybody, anybody, who believes President Obama is about to send the United Nations to invade Texas, declare martial law, and herd Texans into FEMA Death Camps Of Death cleverly hidden in a secret network of continent spanning tunnels linking Wal-Marts across the nation, anybody who believes this ridiculous howling bullshit in any way whatsoever should be darted with powerful tranquilizers, netted from black helicopters, pumped full of happy juice before they start eating their own feces, and installed in a dark padded cell where the most dangerous thing they encounter each day is a small plastic cup of institutional butterscotch pudding pushed through a small opening in the bottom of the door with a stick.

Yeah, but, but, but, the Army, Obama, Texas, Jade Helm!

Shut up. Take your medication, in fact double up on it, and just shut the fuck up.

Just, shut up.

image

 

A blubbering paranoid on Facebook managed to get all the drool summed up in one place. My response to her is as follows (edited and expanded):

"How do you explain the Jade Helm law?"

Easy: THERE'S NO SUCH THING.

There is no, repeat no, "Jade Helm Law."

"JADE HELM 15" is standard domestic exercise, same as dozens of others, same as any that have been going on since the country was founded.

Look, maybe you haven't noticed, but we in the military are often called upon to operate in foreign lands, particularly in urban and suburban environments. How in the hell do you think we train for that? What? You think it’s just fucking magic? We get by on our charm and wholesome American looks? Do you have any idea what it takes to do what we do? Coordination, communication, navigation, talking to civilians, security, just finding your way around in a strange city, and a thousand other mundane things you've never thought of. How in the hell do you think we learn that?

You can't exactly send troops to Tehran to practice you know – well, you can, but it’s bound to get you talked about, especially that part involving, you know, military invasion of a foreign country. So we do it here, in our country, where we can concentrate on the skills necessary without being shot at - except given the rise in paranoid droolers here at home, maybe it would be easier to do it in a hostile foreign land. These days, Baghdad is far more sane and friendly than whatever the fuck is going on down there in Texas.

Honest to God, what the hell is wrong with you people?

We do this all of the time. This is what we do when conservatives don’t have us invading other countries. We practice. We practice navigation of navy ships up the coasts of our nation. We practice landing on the beaches of San Diego. The Air Force practices long range bombing runs across thousands of miles of US territory. The deserts of the American Southwest make a good facsimile of Middle Eastern conditions, and it’s a whole lot better to learn how to use a map and compass and a GPS unit there than when you’re trying to find your way out of the Swat Valley. The National Guard practices convoys on US highways – you must have seen those military vehicles out there on the road, what did you think they were doing? Driving shitty lowest bidder trucks two hundred miles for fun?

Yeah, but what about foreign troops on US soil? What about that? Huh? Huh?

What about it?

Listen, how do you think we learn to work together if we never practice together? If the first time we try to work with Belgian troops, or Senegalese, or Chinese, is when we're, oh, you know, TRYING TO FUCKING FEED PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RUINS LEFT BY A NEPALESE EARTHQUAKE? I'm just saying here, you know, for example.

How is it you expect us to work with the Mexican army to reduce drug trafficking, again for example, if we never train together? If we can’t even talk to each other? If we don’t even know what goddamned frequencies each other’s radios are on? If we can’t tell a Mexican General from a private? Do you know? Can you read Mexican Army Rank insignia? Can you?

How do you think the ships of a dozen nations would be able to sail together if they didn't practice? Do you have any idea what it takes to form a fleet and sail in close proximity to each other? To navigate across thousands of miles of open ocean, to patrol coastal waters, to coordinate resupply and personnel transfers and communication and a million other things necessary to, oh, you know, hunt down pirates together in the Indian Ocean, or enforce UN sanctions against Iran in the Arabian Gulf, or search for a missing Japanese sailboat lost in the Pacific? Do you? Do you have any idea what that takes? When’s the last time you worked with the Chinese navy doing SAR for a missing Malaysian airliner in the South China Sea? Well? No, no, don’t be shy, step right up and tell us how to do it, after all you’re no doubt an expert on the Peoples Liberation Army Navy – what’s that? You didn’t even know China’s Navy was part of the Army? Funny, you being such a fucking expert on military exercises and all, I mean.

How do you think the air forces of a dozen different countries with different requirements and different procedures and different equipment and different communication protocols and different languages are able to work together, again for, oh, say, delivering supplies to a disaster zone, if they never talk to each other? If they don’t practice. Do you have any idea what that takes? Any at all? Or are you too busy imagining secret tunnels under Wal-Mart?

Here's another example: every year US troops and foreign forces from dozens of nations gather here in Alaska for NORTHERN EDGE where they work together and practice terrifying liberty destroying horrors such as learning to cross country ski in full military gear with hundred pound backpacks - you know, just in case some conservative jerkoff sends them to invade the snowy mountains of Afghanistan.

And we've done all of this literally for centuries.

"People are stupid and giving the government all the room they need to enact whatever laws they want to."

While I agree that the commenter is an object example of the first three words of that ridiculous sentence, the rest of it is provably wrong. And here's an idea, if you don't like the laws being passed, try electing people that aren't insane paranoids for a change.

America is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people - if you don't like the government, you've got nobody to blame but yourself. Stop acting like a mental defective and grow the hell up.

"While martial law is usually declared under a state of emergency, things are changing and there may come a day when that isn't the case."

May come to.

May.

Right. And the world may be destroyed by impact with the giant invisible planet Nibiru or conquered by naked purple lizard people from the alternate dimension of Crazyfuckistan.

What's next, you gonna tell me about the bogeyman hiding in your closet?

If you think the president can just wave his big Magic Negro Ray of Chocolate Mojo and declare martial law, you really don't understand how your government works - but then again that's not even a little bit surprising given a sitting US senator such as Ted Cruz apparently doesn't understand how the very government he is part of works either.

"Call it what you want, but this is reality now."

No. No it's not.

This is not reality.

It's a paranoid delusion completely divorced from reality and based on a faulty premise manufactured whole cloth by conspiracy mongers such as Alex Jones who make tidy livings preying on gullible mental patients.

"I do my own research."

That's what the commenter said, I do my own research. That’s how she knew the pending invasion of Texas was for reals, man, for reals.

I do my own research.

No. NO. Just … no.

No you don't.

What this crazy little nutter is doing is not research.

She doesn’t even know what that word actually means. Research is a structured formal process complete with checks and balances, multiple points of verification, experimentation, and fault testing. We actually teach classes in research. What these loons are doing is not, repeat not, research.

What it is is masturbation.

It makes them feel good but it's not the kind of thing anybody should be doing in public and you really shouldn't confuse it for actual intimacy.

What they are doing is nothing more than jerking off to conspiracy porn.

Every single part of this idiotic conspiracy theory is taken directly from "alternative news." It's self-reinforcing paranoid gibberish, like mental patients licking butterscotch pudding off of each other, and nothing more.

Now, listen to me and listen good:

This stupid shit isn't worth my time.

It's not worth your time.

It’s not worth any rational person’s time.

It’s certainly not worth a state Governor’s time, or a Senator, both of whom should have demonstrated basic leadership by telling their booger eating constituents to sit down and shut. the. fuck. UP.

You all should have grown out of this silly horseshit around about the time you stopped having your daddy check under your bed for monsters.

Stop it. Stop it right now.

If you can’t, then find an adult: have them slap you across the face, HARD, hard enough to knock out what few rotten teeth you have remaining in your pointy head. Have them slap the drool out of you. Have them keep smacking you up side your goddamned head until they knock some fucking sense into you.

This entire thing is a spook story manufactured whole cloth by people who make money, gobs and gobs of money, by preying on the simpletons and the fearful.

If you believe in any of this crap, then you are either mentally ill OR you are so goddamned stupid you shouldn't be allowed any social interaction of any kind without a court appointed keeper.

Stop it. Stop it right now.

"Just because you're paranoid," said Ted Cruz, "doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

Dude, they’re out to get you because you’re paranoid.

Paranoia is a mental illness, not a super power.

And only a raving lunatic would think otherwise.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Once More, With Feeling

Baltimore

I've gotten a lot of mail on Baltimore.

Why haven't you said anything? When are you going to weigh in on this? Do you not care?

Baltimore is burning and why haven’t I said anything?

You don't think there’s been enough self-serving gratuitous hand wringing, chest beating, and dick waggling on this subject?

Really?

Because every network, every pundit, every politician has managed to find a way to profit from this latest round of violence. Every single one.

Before that, though, not one of them ever mentioned Baltimore. Not even me. Nobody gives a shit about Baltimore – not even Martin O'Malley and he used to run the place. But suddenly every media outlet has a truck in Baltimore, live on the scene and streaming the pictures into every living room in glorious High Definition and there you are, on the bloody mean streets of Baltimore.

Every presidential hopeful has something to say about Baltimore.

Every Senator and every Representative knows who to blame for Baltimore.

Every pundit is an authority on Baltimore.

And every American has picked a side in Baltimore.

And so, what? I should make some hay in Baltimore too? Sure, why shouldn’t I pander for donations and page views and "likes" built on the pain and misery of others?

So, what is it exactly that you'd like me to say?

I mean, what is there left to say?

 

You're maybe expecting some pithy observation? Some special insight, right? Sorry, I'm fresh out.

 

We all, every single one of us whether we admit it or not, we all know what the deal is in Baltimore.

It's the same all over America.

It’s the same all over the world in fact.

When people have nothing left to lose, when rage and hopelessness are the norm, when violence and poverty have become birthrights, when systematic disenfranchisement is the order of the day, then riot and destruction are always only seconds away. Always.

What we forget is this: When people have nothing left to lose, then the only thing left to them is rage.

You've seen this how many times in your life? How many times throughout history? Here and abroad? Opportunists who inevitably turn peaceful protest to violence. Faceless police, machine-like in armor and shields. Riot and mayhem. Soldiers in the streets. Fire, shattered windows, blood, and the air dense with the fog of gas?

And you're surprised, shocked, how?

You look at the images on your screen and you see exactly what you want to see, confirmation of whatever terrors keep you up afraid in the night. The politicians and the media, left and right and lost in the middle, feed you whatever you want to hear.

We’ve seen this same, exact, scenario played out how many times? Frankly, I’m only surprised that it happens as infrequently as it does in America, that’s a luxury unknown for many outside our borders.

But the thing is this: You know how to solve this problem.

You know what the answers are, we all do, even those of us currently determined not to admit it.

Oh we certainly do: equality, justice, liberty, humanity, compassion, education, investment, opportunity, access, community, shared history, shared dreams, shared purpose, belonging, pride, acceptance, self worth, respect.

Those are what make up a stable civilization.

Those are the things that keep people from riot and rage.

Those are the things that hold civilization together and drive it forward.

But those things do not exist in a vacuum.

It’s not enough to tell others to pick themselves up.

It’s not enough to to yell, “get a job, have some pride, stop lighting shit on fire, you stupid lazy fuckers!”

You can not bootstrap from nothing to everything.

Civilization, society, they don't spring whole cloth from parched soil, they require effort. A healthy civilization, one that doesn’t go around lighting itself on fire, well, that requires we make good on the promise of our founders: life, liberty, and justice for all. Along with equality, humanity, compassion, tolerance, solid education, investment, opportunity, access, community, shared history and shared dreams and a shared purpose, a sense of belonging and ownership – only then will you see pride in self and respect for others replace rage.

But civilization is hard.

If it was easy, if those things listed above were easy, then they would be the human condition.

But it is injustice and intolerance and rage that are the norm instead.

Civilization has to be built from the ground up, nurtured, encouraged, protected, watched over, managed.

It's much easier to ignore the problem.

It’s far far easier to blame complex problems on simple things, race, drugs, ideology, religion, money.  It makes for a better sound bite. It tells us that it’s not our fault nor our responsibility. It’s them, those stupid lazy fuckers, if they’d just get a job and stop lighting shit on fire, pull up their pants and take some pride in themselves…

Like New York and Berkeley, like Ferguson, like Brooklyn, like Anaheim, like Oakland, and like a thousand other moments of rage before, Baltimore will soon be forgotten.

And we’ll go on as before. Eyes averted, pretending there’s nothing wrong.

But down underneath? We all know, all of us, what needs to be done.

But we will not do it.

And tomorrow another city will burn.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Truth Abides

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
- Arthur Schopenhauer

The hypocrisy of patriots knows no bounds.

But then again, that’s really nothing new, is it?

“Congress has the ability to remove appellate jurisdiction. What that means is, we can actually take from them their right to rule on marriage before they even rule on marriage.”

It seems religious leaders have demanded certain members of the Supreme Court recuse themselves from hearing a landmark same-sex marriage case which begins today.

Religious leaders are afraid they can’t win with just a simple conservative majority on the bench, they want at least two of the liberals removed completely.

They know what’s likely coming. We all do.

Nothing is certain, of course, not with this court, but history is a river and we can look upstream to see the oncoming flood.

Sooner or later, the only qualification for two people who want to get married in the United States of America will be that they are consenting adults, all else will be irrelevant.

Marriage is a civil right, a human right, it is a relationship and a legal contract between two people and anybody who isn’t one of those two people should not get a vote. Period. End of discussion.

And sooner or later, inch by painful inch, just like every other civil right in this country, we’re going to get there. And that, that right there, is what frightens the bigots more than anything else – just as the end of segregation frightened their parents, just as women’s suffrage frightened their grandparents.

They're scared, these little haters. 

Just as they’ve always been.

They’re terrified of the future, just as small men are always afraid when they know in their heart of hearts they are on the wrong side of history.

"Standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries, told reporters he’s filing a motion with the Supreme Court calling for the recusal of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan."

Abiding Truth Ministries.

Abiding Truth.

The Truth, no less. The Truth. 

Riiiight.

Listen, when religious leaders like Scott Lively speak of Truth, especially when it's capitalized, you can be absolutely certain whatever comes next will be anything but – and it’ll usually be accompanied by a big pile of firewood and a stake, because their form of truth cannot abide honest scrutiny.

Not content with just stacking the court, Christian conservatives are now attempting to remove its constitutional jurisdiction altogether.

Last week in the House, Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced the Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced The Protect Marriage from the Courts Act.

Both of these bills, should they become law, would prevent federal courts, and in particular the Supreme Court, from ruling on marriage in any form.

If such a law had been in place a few decades back it would still be illegal in certain states for people of different races to marry – not that rich white Christian men just exactly like Ted Cruz and Steve King didn’t try then to pass similar laws.

They failed then, they will fail now.

They were on the wrong side of history then and they are on the wrong side of history again.

That’s the one thing you can always count on when it comes to these people.

They are so certain of the Godly "truth" of their bigotry, so proudly righteous in their smug hate and conceited bias, so positive they can turn aside the onrushing tide of history, so filled with love for the American system of law, they know they will carry their cause...

... if they can only stack the court.

Or get rid of it altogether.

Oh, sure, we're right.  We are. We are. We've even got God on our side, God. That’s right, we do. Sure. See, um, but, ur, well, the Supreme Almighty King of Kings and Lord of All Creation just can't prove it in a court of law. God is all powerful, His Truth is Truthful and his mojo is terrible, oh you betcha, but He can't win in court because, you know, sissy liberals and sparkly gay people. So anyway, you'll just have to take our word for what Angry Sky Man wants, okay? Great, so everybody has to do what we say now, that's what freedom of religion means.

It's ironic, isn't it? That their "Truth" can't stand up to the scrutiny of the court?

It’s ironic, isn’t it? That their “Truth” can’t carry the day on its own merits. Funny, isn’t it, that an abiding self-evident Truth can’t sway those who see things differently solely because it is an abiding self-evident truth.  Must not be very powerful, this great Truth.

Unless, you know, it’s not. The Truth, I mean.

But, oh how they love America, these Patriots.

They do, their blood runs red, white, and blue with the love of Jesus. Like Ted Nugent, they clutch tight their guns and weep tears of blood for America, because they love it so much.

They just don't like that part where they have to share America with everybody else.

See, that’s the problem, right there.

For them, for people like Ted Cruz and Steve King and Scott Lively, America is an exclusive country club for Christian white people who look and act and think and hate just like they do.

It’s Heaven in that regard.

And the only people in their heaven who aren't just like them? Those would be the servants, the waiters and the valets and the lawn jockeys. 

Listen to me: If you have to throw out half the court in order to win your case – even though you already have the majority –  if you have to alter our form of government so that you can just bypass the court altogether, solely in order to impose your religious beliefs on all the rest of us, then your truth is a lie.

You are not just.

You are not righteous.

You're not a patriot.

You are the enemy of justice, of liberty, of freedom, and of the onrushing future.

You are the very absolutists, the very religious fanatics, this country was designed to protect its citizens from.

You are, in point of fact, the small men your own prophet spoke so forcefully against and in that story? You’re not the ones who carried the cross, you’re the ones who pounded in the nails.

As such, I fully expect you to try and cheat because those like you cannot win any other way.

But know this: you will not succeed.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting
- Buddha

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Myth of the Moral Compass

“Our country has lost it's morale compass along with it's leadership and if you think Jeb or Hitllary are the solution then you are mistaken.” [sic]
- Anonymous, 4/22 12:36PM, The Romney Strategy, Stonekettle Station

 

Our country has lost its moral compass.

You hear that a lot these days.

Moral compass. Any discussion of crime or patriotism or guns or the current generation or gay rights or women’s health or voting reform or taxes or politics will eventually lead to the moral compass statement. 

Our country has lost its moral compass.

Right.

Listen, as soon as you say to me “the country has lost its moral compass" you and I are done talking.

Because you are engaged in a logical fallacy, a fantasy of your own making, and while that may be your right, it’s my right not to participate in your delusion.

The United States does not now have, nor has it ever had, a "moral compass."

We haven’t lost ours, we Americans, we never had one.

Morality is for people, not nations.

The very notion of a national morality is counter to liberty; it is tyrants and the totalitarianism of theocracies and ideologues which attempt to impose morality on the citizenry by force or threat.

Moral compass?

Who decides what is moral and not moral? The howling mob? Politicians? Celebrities? The media? Pundits? Religion?

Nonsense.

Morality is a human condition.

In a free society, morality must always be an individual choice. Always. Even, and especially, if others chose differently from you.

Free people decide for themselves what is moral and what is not.

Morality is a reflection of civilization, not the other way around. As such, morality will, will, change over time, it will evolve.

Morality is not an absolute, not now, not ever. 

For example, most – not all, but most – Americans consider slavery immoral today, but that was not always so. Most of us would say murder is immoral, but we have a long list of when killing another human being is okay, moral, even if illegal.

Morality is always subjective. Always.

Freedom, liberty, means each of us decides what code we will follow.

 

Having a code of conduct imposed on you by government, by political affiliation, by religion, isn’t morality … it is only obedience.

 

Free nations are governed by law.

In the United States, we are governed by our Constitution, by a social contract created from reason and argument and compromise, updated and modified and amended as necessary.

By definition, each person who agrees to live under that compact must make certain moral compromises and this, this right here, is the definition of a free civilization. If all three hundred and fifty million Americans embraced the same morality, the same ideals, thought and believed the same way, they wouldn't be free human beings, they'd be robots.

Governments are not moral.

Nations are not moral.

Government, nations, may behave ethically or not. They may act within the law or not. And those laws and ethics may or may not be based on generally accepted morality, don't kill, don't steal, don't hurt others, but such is the world we live in that sooner or later a government, a nation, will have to engage in behavior we as individuals find immoral.

A government may have to keep secrets from its people, it may have to lie.

It may have to put human beings to death and force others to live.

It may have to harm individuals for the greater good.

It may have to go to war.  And war is always immoral. There is no just war. War is killing and destruction and horror even when it is for the best of reasons and fought with the noblest of intentions and for all the right reasons. But sometimes even the most moral nation is forced into it, forced to defend itself or others, forced to attack, forced to kill and maim and destroy, forced to take immoral actions.

For a free people, morality is and must always be a personal choice.

For nations, for government, morality is impossible. Government can only act ethically and within the law, adjusting both as necessary for survival.

"The country has lost its moral compass" is a dog whistle.

Here in the United States when you pull the thread on "the country has lost its moral compass" what follows, clanking and banging like a string of tin cans tied to a dog's tail, is thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and nostalgia for the "good old days" when people who looked and thought just like you owned everything.

Every conversation that begins with "The country has lost its moral compass" always and inevitably ends with the only solution being the commenter’s religion. Always. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And every single time you protest and tell me I'm wrong, as soon as you attempt to explain how "the country has lost its moral compass" you always plow through thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and the good old days on the way to your religion. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Folks, today is no better or worse, morally, than any other day. 

We haven’t lost our moral compass as a nation. We never had one to begin with.

And that’s a good thing.

We face problems as a nation, as a civilization, just as we always have.

The world is always going to hell, just ask anybody.

Attempting to impose your morality on the rest of us isn’t the solution.

It’s the whole damned problem.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Romney Strategy

Nine Reasons to Reject Hillary

That was the title of a hit piece in The Hill yesterday.

Dick Morris: 9 Reasons to Reject Hillary

Dick. Dick Morris.

Oh, Dick Morris. Sure.

You remember Dick Morris, right?

Why of course you do. Let’s see, October 31st, 2012, Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor:

DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: […] let me go through the numbers because it's important for people to get it.

[Demonstrates irrefutable mathematical analysis of why Obama will lose to Romney]

O'REILLY: All right. That's pretty much what Rove did on his little board.

[…]

O'REILLY: […] So you are standing by your prediction of a Romney landslide?

MORRIS: Absolutely. Romney will win this election by five to ten points in the popular vote. And will carry more than three hundred electoral votes.

O'REILLY: All right. Now you know, Morris, I have you booked for one week from tonight. One week from tonight [after the election]

MORRIS: I know. But my question is, is my appearance going to be before or after you buy me dinner?

O'REILLY: I'm not buying you anything. I didn't bet anything, Morris. I got your back here.

[…]

MORRIS: In my book "Black Helicopters", I write about how the U.N. is sending inspectors to monitor the voting in the United States. What's going to happen is after Romney wins this in a landslide the Democratic narrative will be how the black vote was down. It was down because of unemployment and disillusionment. They'll say it's down because of voter suppression…

O'REILLY: Suppressed. Right.

MORRIS: And that's how this will go into history.

O'REILLY: No it won't because we're not going to let them get away with that. Morris, thanks very much. We'll see you next Wednesday. That will be high noon.

And it was High Noon, wasn’t it?

If you did happen to tune in the following week, you got to watch Karl Rove losing his shit on Fox News as his and Morris’ predictions of a landslide turned out to be true …

… it’s just that Romney got buried under it.

 

And now Dick Morris Fox News Political Analyst is back with nine reasons why America should reject Hillary Clinton:

1. She is a hawk who will get us into another war

Morris actually said that.

That’s his first complaint.

Clinton is a “hawk” who will get us into another war.

It’s one thing for liberals to consider Clinton’s supposed hawkishness a reason not to vote for her. But Morris is a conservative, and he’s saying it in of all places The Hill – a saber rattling conservative media outlet that has been advocating for war with Iran since it went into business.

At this point, the only way conservatives could be more pro-war is if they showed up for work goose-stepping in uniform toting their AR-15s.

Morris says, “By temperament, [Clinton] has a bias toward sharp, decisive action, is impatient with delay and terrified of appearing weak. She likes to be the tough guy.”

A bias towards sharp, decisive action? Impatient with delay? So now that’s bad, is it?

Somebody explain to me how this squares with the unending complaints from conservatives that Obama isn’t hawkishly decisive enough? That he doesn’t take action quickly enough when America is supposedly threatened?

She’s terrified of appearing weak.

Funny, Morris had a different opinion on the appearance of weakness back in 2008

But in an age of terrorism, weakness is a capital crime. McCain needs to base his campaign on establishing Obama's weakness and his own strong leadership by comparison.

Weakness is a capital crime, said Morris back then. In fact, over the years, Morris, The Hill, the conservative press, and conservative politicians have harped endlessly in fear of appearing weak. Not a day goes by that some conservative pundit doesn’t accuse Barack Obama of appearing weak. In fact, conservatives never shut the fuck up about it.

She likes to be the tough guy.

As opposed to who? As opposed to which historical conservative example? Abraham Lincoln? Teddy Roosevelt? Ronald Reagan? George W. Bush? As opposed to which jingoistic chest-beating potential conservative candidate? Jeb Bush? Ted Cruz? Chris Christie? Marco Rubio? As opposed to which icon of modern conservatism? Ted Nugent? Donald Trump? Sarah Palin?

Rand Paul, perhaps, who can’t seem to decide if he’s the isolationist kind of libertarian or the Aw Shucks Let’s Kill Us Some Brown People For America kind of libertarian.

The hypocritical irony is so thick you could cut it with a bayonet.

A strong opinionate hawk is a good thing when he’s a Republican, but a bad thing when she’s a democrat – and I’m honestly shocked that Morris didn’t work in a “pantsuit” reference or a comment about menstruation.

2. She tends to follow certain advisers slavishly, almost to the exclusion of her own views

Morris opines that Hillary Clinton has no real thoughts of her own, she’s totally dependent on “a guru” to lead her.

Oh, Hillary, you silly lady brain.

If only she’d read more Ayn Rand or had an evangelical holy man for a father to predict her future. If only Karl Rove was there to advise her. And who was her astrologer when she was First Lady? I think we have a right to know! 

I suppose I should be shocked at how fast conservative racism is being updated to misogyny, but I’m really not.

3. She has no knowledge of economics

Morris says Clinton has avoided studying economics and has no theories about it.

According to Morris, Clinton believes economics are “best left to the experts,” which Morris explains is a view common to those “reared in the arrogance of the Keynesians of the ’60s and ’70s.”

You know that line from The Princess Bride? Sure, you know the one.

Arrogance, Morris says. After first pointing out Clinton supposedly admits she doesn’t know anything about a subject so she defers to experts on it instead of just plowing ahead – like a Republican would. Hey, I read Atlas Shrugged, I think I know what I’m doing!

“You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

How horrible, I guess, to live in a nation where massive, fantastically complicated systems might be managed by professionals who actually know something about them.  Where politicians understand the limitations of their interests and expertise and defer to trained experts.  Jesus Trickle Down Christ, think what would happen if instead of amateurs and science deniers and religious fanatics and partisan dogmatists, we actually listened to experts on economics, banking, climate, reproduction, medicine, the military, foreign relations, space exploration, the environment, education, engineering, energy, internet security, electronic media, intellectual property … but I digress.

That would be crazy. Just crazy.

4. She has no deep sense of who she is.

Sorry, who was the arrogant one again?

Goddamn but you’ve just got to love this guy, don’t you? 

Morris says, “Hillary Clinton is endlessly adaptable […] She has no anchor, no real sense of who she really is.”

Hillary Clinton has no sense of who she is, see?

Morris does, of course, he knows. 

But Clinton, silly lady brain, she doesn’t even know who she is.

Ivy league educated attorney. First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States. Senator. Secretary of State. Mother. Grandmother. Sixty-seven years old and she doesn’t know who she is. Biggest complaint from the Right is that she’s a tough, confident, opinionated cast-iron bitch – and in fact Morris himself not three paragraphs back called her a hawk, a tough guy.

But yeah, Hillary Clinton has no sense of self. She doesn’t know who she is.

I looked. I did. But I couldn’t find Morris’ similar assessment of Mitt Flip Flop Romney’s sense of self.  Or Marco Rubio’s fluid position on immigration … or his family history for that matter. Or Scott Walker, who said he didn’t change his positions he’s just listening to the “will of the people.”  But Clinton, who has held the same beliefs and political position for 30 years, who has weathered decades of relentless assaults and faced down her critics from Whitewater to Lewinsky to Benghazi, she has no sense of self.

Riiiiight.

And Romney will win in a landslide. That Morris, what an insight that guy has.

5. Her worldview is shaped by her grudges.

Morris declares, “Nobody has a longer enemies list than Clinton.”

Nobody has a longer list of enemies than Clinton … unless it’s neo-confederate conservatives who are still mad about how the Civil War turned out.

Muslims, atheists, gays, progressives, activists, statists, hippies, the “elites,” big government, the educated, the poor, the uninsured, women, the unemployed, minorities, environmentalists, unions, immigrants, the sick, socialists, vegetarians, the French, and the list of people conservatives hate just goes on and on and fucking on. They’re defined by it, by who they hate, who they hold a grudge against, by who they declare unAmerican and unfit.

Hell, follow John Boehner’s Twitter feed for a day compared to Barack Obama’s. Boehner does nothing but bitch about people he hates and blames for all the ills of the world, Obama talks about hope and optimism and coming together. Have a gander at Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, go on, it won’t take much to compile a long, long list of the people she holds a grudge against – hell, it would be a lot easier to list the people she doesn’t hate.  Listen to one of Ted Cruz’s speeches, any one, pick one at random, it’s a litany of the people conservatives consider enemies. The people Bobby Jindal can’t stand, that Rand Paul detests, that Marco Rubio hates, that Dick Cheney despises is endless and never ever forgotten. It’s how they raise money, it’s what keeps them warm at night.

Morris is afraid a Clinton presidency would implement a “foreign policy by grudge.”

This, this, from the same goddamned people who want war with Iran, who want to murder another hundred thousand Muslims, because they can’t get over the idea Iran has the same exact right to sovereignty as does Israel.

This, this, from the same bitter sulking sons of bitches who just can’t get over Fidel Castro. Who insist on punishing Cuba for defying America, for continuing to exist despite our best efforts to the contrary.

Foreign policy by grudge? What’s Morris afraid of? That Clinton will be better at being a Republican than Republicans are?

6. Her fundraising has totally compromised her freedom of action.

Morris should give up The Hill and take a stab at writing for The Onion.

“Nobody is as bound to the status quo as Clinton, tied down by millions of special-interest donations.”

Seriously? Morris must be a hell of a poker player, no really, because if he can say something like that with a straight face he’s in the wrong business. He could be making a killing on the professional Texas Hold ‘Em circuit.

Again, what is it that Morris is really afraid of here? Because it sure sounds like he’s saying Hillary Clinton is a better Republican than Republicans.

Tell you what, let’s bring up repealing Citizens United, see who runs away first.

Go on, I’ll get the popcorn.

7. She is paranoid and suspicious.

And the conservative hopefuls who just spoke to the NRA, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham, are what exactly if not paranoid and suspicious?

Have you met John McCain?

Paranoid suspicion has essentially defined the Republican Party since September 11th, 2001.  

Morris says, “Presidential historian James David Barber defined presidents based, in part, on whether they enjoyed serving. Bill Clinton did. Hillary Clinton will not. Her sense of enemies closing in on her will overwhelm her. She will feel under siege […] making her dark, sullen, secretive and surly.”

Dark, sullen, secretive, and surly?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Take a look at that list of NRA speakers again. Listen to what they had to say. They’re talking to the very epitome of paranoia and suspicion. Why the hell do you think all those people are armed? They’re terrified of everything, they see enemies behind every bush, in every face.

You don’t get any more paranoid and suspicious then the goddamned NRA. Dark, sullen, secretive, surly? You talk about a siege mentality, that’s the NRA’s very core – and, yet, who’s courting them?  Was it Hillary Clinton? Was it?

Good grief! If the Obama administration has taught us anything, if the previous Clinton administration has taught us anything, it’s that a Democrat has every right to feel under siege and surrounded by enemies.

Because they are under siege and surrounded by enemies.

Republicans have made it absolutely clear, have openly declared it over and over and over again, they consider liberals such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Hillary Clinton to be the enemies of America, worse than Hitler or Stalin they say, worse than ISIS, the literal Anti-Christ of their religion who will usher in the end of the world – and they have said so, in those exact words, openly, publicly, so many times that it’s impossible to make an accurate count.

Hell, that was Obama’s biggest mistake, he thought Republicans were reasonable people who would compromise for the good of the country – and it took him damned near six years to realize they have become bitter raging fanatics, birthers, truthers, gun waving, bible thumping government haters, who were fully willing to burn down the entire nation just to stick it to him.

President Hillary Clinton would have to be nuts not to consider herself besieged by enemies.

8. She approved NSA wiretapping of foreign leaders.

I had to keep checking to make sure Morris wasn’t talking about his own party.

“ As secretary of State, she had to be aware that the U.S. was wiretapping the cellphones of foreign leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel. It is very hard to suppose that we would tap the phone of one of our key allies without the approval of the secretary of State.”

Sure. Why not. I mean,  Morris is living in a fantasyland anyway, so why shouldn’t the National Security Agency be under the authority of Hillary Clinton’s State Department instead of, you know, under cognizance of the Department of Defense like it actually is out here in the real world. Subject to congressional oversight made up of both Democrats and Republicans.  

Foreign intelligence is what NSA does. I know, I used to work there.

If conservatives don’t like NSA doing its job, they should work together with liberals to amend National Intelligence tasking.

Instead, I note The Hill just posted an article gushingly describing how Congress is “closing in on” renewal of the Patriot Act, you know, the law that authorized and vastly expanded NSA’s domestic and foreign collection mission – including removal of oversight and the insertion of backdoors and taps into commercial communications systems.

9. Her contempt for the press is legendary and will lead to more and more secrets.

“Can anyone disagree with this?”

Well, certainly not Sarah Palin. Right?

And certainly not those Republicans who use the phrase “Lamestream Media” and talk endlessly about the media’s supposed “liberal bias” … oh, wait, who was Morris talking about again?

Right.

Morris is in fact saying that Hillary Clinton is a better Republican than Republicans.

That’s exactly what he’s saying.

And he’s saying it because unless something completely unexpected happens in the next few months, Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic  Party’s nominee.  I know it. You know it. Morris knows it. Morris and those like him know they can’t stop it, and they know they don’t have anybody nearly as powerful to rally around.

No, Morris and those like him are right now attempting to paint Hillary Clinton as more Republican than Republican. It’s deliberate and you can tell because Morris specifically didn’t mention certain things, such as: Abortion, Climate Change, Minimum Wage, Income Inequality, Marriage Equality, Education, and etcetera.

Morris and his friends are not trying to make conservatives hate Hillary Clinton, obviously there’s no need for that.

They’re trying to make liberals stay home.

Romney will win this election by 5 to 10 points in the popular vote. And will carry more than 300 electoral votes.

Except Mitt Romney didn’t win that election.

And Romney didn’t win that election because conservatives didn’t like him.

Conservatives didn’t think Romney was conservative enough. He wasn’t a Reagan, he wasn’t even a George H. W. Bush. He was too much like Obama. He wasn’t this and he wasn’t that. Conservatives had a whole list of reasons why they didn’t like Mitt Romney.

But they hated Barack Obama, oh yes they did.

And political analysts like Morris thought that was enough.

Political analysts like Karl Rove and Dick Morris, they thought hate would be enough. They had the math to prove it and everything.

But you see, hate, no matter how strong, doesn’t win elections.

However, apathy certainly can.

Conservatives hated Barack Obama, but they didn’t like Mitt Romney either.

So they stayed home.

Two years later, liberals hated their truculent obstructionist Congress, but they didn’t much care for Obama either.

So they stayed home.

And that, that right there, is exactly what people like Morris are counting on in 2016.

Your apathy.

They’ve got a clown car full of unlikeable nuts. And Hillary Clinton.

And if they can convince liberals, and progressives, and the fickle free-range undecideds to just stay home, they’ll take back the White House.

 

Don’t stay home.

 

Yes, there are plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Real reasons, not the ridiculous nonsense listed above, but real reasons. Sure. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton.

If you look, you can find hundreds of reasons to stay home.

That said, I’ll give you three reasons right now not to:

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Soothsaying 2016

I keep getting asked to predict 2016.

Predicting an election this far out is a sucker's bet.

There are far, far too many variables in play - and at this point in time at least 50% of those variables are unknowable unknowns.

As I said, making a prediction now is a sucker's bet.

But then, I am a sucker for this sort of thing.

At this point, given the skimpy data, the few candidates who've actually declared, the fickle mood of voters, the sullen demeanor of the country, and a roll of the ten sided dice for good measure...

... I suspect the final duel will be: Hillary vs Jeb.

I can’t hazard even the vaguest guess as to who their Seconds will be.

As noted many times: Hillary Clinton is a hawkish corporate social liberal and she brings along a lot of baggage.

However, Clinton’s baggage was acquired by the very experience that makes her such a strong candidate. If she didn't have any baggage, she wouldn't even be in the race. If she and her advisors thought for one second that she couldn't resoundingly overcome her critics and turn her past to her advantage, she wouldn't be running.

Because whatever else Hillary Clinton is, she's a savvy, shrewd, cunning, and experienced politician who relishes being in the ring.

And she tends to eat her enemies kicking and screaming.

Jeb Bush shares a similar background - with the added advantage of his family's political dynasty.

And you should never underestimate the power of family and connections when it comes to politics.

Bush is a hawkish corporate social conservative who has his own load of baggage.

He hasn't declared yet, but a lot of people - including me - think he will once the unelectable fanatics blow their collective wads.

Jeb's best strategy is to let the Tea Partiers and the Libertarians flash loud and crazy – hell, get Ben Carson in the race –  let the traditional GOP establishment begin to panic at the thought of Hillary Clinton (and they are, they are. When you float the idea of Dick Cheney for your party’s candidate, you're panicking) then step in as the "sane," reasonable, proven conservative candidate. 

The conservative press and the NRC are largely ignoring Paul, Cruz, and Rubio, they don't take any of them seriously.

I think they're waiting for Jeb Bush.

As I said, a sucker's bet and there's still plenty of time for a charismatic unknown to emerge on both sides.

But if I was forced to put money on it now, I'd place my bet on Clinton vs Bush.

Whatever else 2016 is, it'll be interesting.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Object Lessons

 

Since the point of this essay largely involves Twitter, 
You can find me there at www.twitter.com/stonekettle
and view the source material for yourself

 


 

Love thy neighbor as thy self
- Jesus

 

It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing that when religious people create a law granting themselves “religious freedom” somehow the rest of us end up with less freedom.

That’s how I began the previous post here on Stonekettle Station.

When those in a position of power create laws to grant themselves the freedom to discriminate against others, justified by arbitrary non-quantifiable nonsense such as  “sincerely held beliefs,” it is absolutely, utterly, inevitable that those others will end up losing their freedoms.

Every single time.

That’s the whole point of the law in the first place.

It’s ironic, since Christians, of all religious Americans, have not been restricted in any way whatsoever. They make up the overwhelming majority of the population. Every single major religious holiday in the US is a Christian one – and when other religions such as Islam request national recognition for a holiday of their own they are resoundingly shouted down by Christians offended at the very idea of any religious holiday not a Christian one. The symbols and fetishes of Christianity are everywhere in America. Caucasian bearded Jesus smiles or frowns from billboards along the highways, next to huge signs supposedly quoting the Christian God. Christian crosses hang prominently, proudly, from the necks of Americans wherever you look, and dot hilltops and sprout like weeds alongside our roads.  Christian churches reside on nearly every street corner. Small towns across America vie for the title of “Most churches per capita” – I grew up in a small Midwestern town that claimed that very mantle for itself. Christianity owns its own schools, and its own radio and TV stations along with hundreds of cable channels, and pulls in billions, billions, tax free.  Christianity even has its own amusement parks in America, but you don’t see any Jewish ones, or Buddhist, or Wiccan, or heaven forbid a Muslim one.

When Christian fanatics such as Westboro Baptist Church stand on a street corner in America and scream hatred at the rest of us, including other Christians, we say, well, you know, we don’t like it but that’s their right.  Let it be group of bearded men in Arab robes waving the Quran and see what happens. Go on, if you dare. When pastors want to make a political statement in America, it’s not the Bible they’re burning in front of the TV cameras, is it?

Christians are hardly discriminated against in America, there’s no public “debate” when Christians legally purchase land and set about building yet another church – but ask to build a mosque in the middle of town, see what happens.

No, Christians are not in any way discriminated against in America.

But religion loves to pretend persecution, even when it basks in power and privilege. Nothing proclaims piety like martyrdom. And nothing threatens religion like having to respect other beliefs, not even when your God and his prophet specifically command you to do so. 

The only reason for “religious freedom restoration” laws, the entire reason for such laws, is to give legal protection to bigots so that they may openly treat others as less than full citizens under the shield of religion.

Religious Freedom laws do not protect liberty, they take it away.

 

Every. Single. Time.

 

Naturally, the bigots who use religion as a shield don’t see it that way.

To them, freedom is a finite resource. If another gets more, they feel cheated, diminished, less.

And that is because to them liberty and freedom aren’t human rights but rather God given.

Given by their God, of course.

They proclaim that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not a manmade contract between citizens, a template for law and government, but rather holy writ handed down by their God.  They say it over and over, rights come from our God, not government, not men, but God. Our God. Ours. Not your god, ours, Jehovah, the angry and petulant and spiteful Old Testament Christian God.  This is a Christian nation. Our nation. Our God. Ours.

This belief shapes how they view the world and in particular America.

Rights, freedom, liberty, belong to the righteous, see?

They believe this gives them leave to hate and despise others who are different, to treat their neighbors as less than human, as less than full citizens. Their God does not love these people, so why should they?

It’s just an excuse, of course – which was the whole point of yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek essay.

Naturally their God hates all the same people they do. Naturally. And conveniently, He always does.

If they didn’t have religion, they’d still find a way to way to hate others. They always do. Skin color, race, origin, accent, weight, sex, social class, and especially religion, the haters gonna hate. They’ll do it openly, smugly pointing to their God as an excuse, if they can. And when laws are created to protect the objects of their derision, when the laws don’t allow them to openly discriminate against race, creed, color, sex, age, or national origin, then they always and inevitably find somebody else to hate.

Every. Single. Time.

And now it’s gay people.

It’s always the same, this smug pious hate.

It’s not discrimination, they say. It’s not bigotry. We just don’t like their kind. It’s not us, it’s our God, see? He doesn’t like their kind. We have a right, they say, a right to refuse service, a right to keep them out of our schools, out of our government, out of our neighborhoods. We have a right to hate them, to despise them. They’re not like us, they’re not saved, not favored by our God, they’re not like real Americans. It’s our right to believe what we want. It’s not discrimination, it’s not!

In fact, said a prominent American Christian politician yesterday, they should be grateful. Yes, grateful. Grateful that we real Americans tolerate them at all. Why, in non-Christian countries they’d be put to death. So, yes, they should be grateful for what they have here in America. Second class is better than nothing and they should be grateful.

Bigots always say that.

They should be grateful.

Yes, they should be grateful. Why do they want to be here anyway? Why, you know, if I was them, if I was them, why I would just go somewhere else. I would. I wouldn’t make a big fuss. If a business refused to serve me, why that’s their right. I’d just take my business elsewhere. Let the free market fix it. I wouldn’t demand that they change their beliefs. Certainly not. That’s freedom. That’s liberty. I’d just go somewhere else.

Sure.

Sure you would.

Let’s just see what happens when when a Christian is refused service, shall we?

I posted this on Twitter earlier in the week and began yesterday’s essay with it:

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I got a lot of feedback.

In yesterdays essay, I used this Twitter response as a lead in:

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Earl was unhappy that I used him as an example. And he wrote a long, long response to yesterday’s post, condescendingly explaining to me how I was wrong about America and religion and the law.

I didn’t like his tone.

So I didn’t let his comment post.

Earl was not happy about that:

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As you can see, I explained to Earl why I didn’t let his comment post.  It was an ad hominem fallacy, he’d made it personal and therefore it didn’t meet my clearly posted commenting rules.

Rewrite the comment, or go somewhere else.

Naturally, Earl, being a Christian and all, understood and gratefully complied.

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Why, it seems Earl was getting angry.

But why?

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I guess Earl was upset about something.

Coward, he called me. Why you sniveling coward! Cry home to mommy! Coward! That’s Earl, threats and insults, rage and anger. How very Christ-like, these Christians.

Jesus, I’m certain, would be so proud of Christians like Earl.

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Madder and madder. Threats and insults.

I guess ol’ Earl didn’t like being mocked and denied his supposed right to comment on my blog.

How odd. How perplexing. Why, why was Earl so angry?  Just because everybody else got to comment, but not him? Because I was being unfair? Because I treated him differently?

Why didn’t he just go to a different blog then?

Why didn’t he just keep his Christianity to himself?

Interesting.

 

I wonder why I was doing that.

Treating an outspoken in-your-face Christian like Earl differently, I mean.

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It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing how when it’s your voice denied, when it’s you being mocked, when the shoe is on the other foot and the foot is on your throat, well, it is curious thing that it is only then the idea of discrimination makes you angry.

Yes, a curious thing indeed.

We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief…
- Crystal O’Connor, owner Memories Pizza, Walkerton, IN
  Explaining why her business refuses to cater gay weddings

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dear Christians: A Modest Proposal

 

It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing that when religious people create a law granting themselves “religious freedom” somehow the rest of us end up with less freedom.

I said as much on Twitter:

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The responses were … instructive.

Here’s a couple from one random internet denizen:

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Everybody got that? Christians don’t pass laws. Politicians do. 

In America, Christians don’t pass religious laws, it’s the politicians, see? And it’s totally coincidental that the laws in question were written and passed entirely by Christians despite protests and pushback from non-Christians (and many, many non-fanatical Christians too, to be entirely fair).

Earl, who as it turns out is Canadian, went on to helpfully explain how “Laws on morality do not tend to come from the religious.”

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Laws on morality don’t come from the religious.

Laws. On Morality. Don’t come from the religious.

Heh heh.

Sure they don’t, Earl. Suuuuure they don’t.

That’s why so many atheists propose morality laws everyday here in America, right?

That’s why the religious spend so much time explaining to the non-religious why there can’t be any morality without a deity in the sky to punish the wicked for doing bad things. Right?

Earl, it seems, lives in the Canadian province of Denial.

I’ve got a pile here of outraged email and direct messages in response to that tweet. Others agreed with Earl’s premise.  Christians, they tell me, are being discriminated against in the United States. Christian values and beliefs are under attack from every quarter. Christians are being persecuted in record numbers, just like in ancient Rome, just like in those Islamic countries we hear so much about.

And so these new laws are simply there to protect religious freedom – for everybody, of course, not just the majority religion who already owns nearly every holiday and tradition and political office in America, tax free.

It’s just a coincidence that the sponsors of Religious Freedom Restoration bills happen to be Christian.

It’s just a coincidence that laws are written and passed by people who believe they must protect Christian beliefs and promote the Christian version of morality and who loudly declare the United States a Christian nation based on Christian values.

It’s just a coincidence that Christian fundamentalists came up with Indiana’s new Religious Freedom bill – and Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill, and eighteen other states with similar religious “freedom” laws. Not to mention the federal law. It’s just a coincidence that those bills had no non-Christian sponsors.

It’s just a coincidence that it was a Christian Arizona state legislator who declared church attendance should be mandatory for every American. Not for religious reasons, of course, oh no. For moral reasons. It’s just a coincidence that she didn’t say Mosque attendance should be mandatory, or Temple attendance, or Pagan Druid Ceremonies, or a non-religious class on ethics and morality. No. Just a coincidence. An oversight. Her evangelical Christian beliefs had nothing to do with her statement that every single American be forced to attend Christian church for moral reasons. 

It’s just a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of those who attempt to limit reproductive freedom and end of life choices are fanatical Christian fundamentalists.

It’s just a coincidence that those currently demanding America go to war with Muslim Iran are, yep, again outspoken Christians hoping to bring about the prophesied Holy Land apocalypse of their Christian bible. Totally coincidental.

And, of course, it’s purely a coincidence that a proposed ballot initiative currently before the California Attorney General, the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” was brought by a vehemently evangelical Christian.

 

I’ll say this, at least that last one, the California Sodomite Suppression Act is honest.

 

At least the proposed law doesn’t whore itself up with bullshit lies about “equal rights” and non-discrimination like the recently passed religious law in Indiana.

The proposed California law makes no bones about it.

It hates gay people and wants them dead.

Right up front the proposed Sodomite Suppression Act says that the Christian God hates gay people and non-Christians, and all true Christians should be allowed to murder anybody not of their faith on sight. Bang, bullet to the head.

 

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In California, anybody can propose a ballot initiative.

If they pay the requisite fee of $200 and submit the proper form, the state Attorney General is required to create an introductory description and allow a ballot petition to be circulated. 

Now, it seems highly unlikely that the initiative’s sponsor, lawyer and Christian conservative Matthew G. McLaughlin, will be able to collect the required 365,880 signatures needed to get the Sodomite Suppression Act on the ballot.

And even if McLaughlin does get the signatures, it’s highly unlikely that California voters would pass the act into law.

And even if they did, it would be unconstitutional. Obviously so. And would be immediately thrown out by a judge – without the necessity of going all the way to the Supreme Court at either the state or federal levels.

A lot of people are outraged that it’s possible for such a bill to become law, no matter how unlikely. They want the Attorney General to find a way to stop it before it can become a petition.

You know what I think?

I think this is as good of place as any to get this hate right out into the open.

I think it’s about time to drag this festering murderous Christian bigotry out of the dark kicking and screaming and spastically clutching its little plastic Jesus, drag it out into the light where we can all see the ugly hunchback pinheaded slobbering monster clearly for what it is.

Go on, get it out in front of the voters.

But – but – instead of the Sodomite Suppression Act, let’s call it The Mandatory Christian Compliance Act.

No more cherry picking Leviticus for Christians.

From now on, for those who identify as Christian fundamentalists, if you insist that the rest of us comply with your religious ideas, if you’re going to demand the right to kill Sodomites as your God commanded, then you have to comply with all of His law, all of it, to the letter, not just the part you like.

Since the primary Christian objections to homosexuality come from the Book of Leviticus, let’s just us see what other requirements that part of the Bible levies on Christians, shall we?

1.       Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)

That’s right, Christians are prohibited from burning honey or anything with yeast in it when they make offerings to God.

Better keep a close eye on those sacramental hosts when they’re in the oven.  Hate to piss off God by burning the holy bread. Of course it’s unleavened, but are you sure, really sure, there’s not a single cell of yeast in there? That stuff, wild yeast, floats around all over the place. That’s where natural sourdough comes from, you know. I’m just saying, you sure? Really sure?

It’s probably not something the average Christian has to worry about, but then again it’s number one on the list and you’d hate to see an entire church damned to hell for a contaminated batch. 

The bible doesn’t give a specific punishment for this transgression, just the standard penalty you get when you make God mad.

Now since the Sodomite Suppression Act updates the killing of Sodomites with the use of modern secular tools (i.e. guns and bullets), and specifically cites the California Penal Code, I think it’s both fair and keeping within the spirit of the original proposal to use California’s sentencing guidelines for those Christians who violate their own holy law. $1000 or 30 days in jail, suspended if nobody gets hurt, should do it for the first offense.

2.       Failing to include salt in offerings to God(2:13)

I’ve been in a lot of churches, never seen any salt in the sanctuary.

Same deal, you offer up prayers to God and forget the salt, $1000 fine or 30 days in jail. For the first offense.

You know, I bet you could make a killing in the Holy Salt Shaker market once this law goes into effect.

3.       No eating fat (3:17)

According to the Bible, this one is “a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”

By God’s law, all fat is to be saved for offerings to God. All fat. All.

Any Christian who eats fat of any kind, but particularly that from “clean” animals, is in violation of the law. And any Christian who fails to offer up fat to God is in violation of the law.

$1000 fine or 30 days in jail. This is big one though, God loves his bacon after all. In accordance with California sentencing guidelines, the second offense gets you a $10,000 fine or a year in jail.  You don’t even want to talk about three strikes and you’re out. Seriously.

Between this and the following items, you’d better stick to salads, Christians – no oil & vinegar dressing either.

4.       No eating blood (3:17)

No traditional English breakfast for Christians. No black pudding or blood sausages.  No Scandinavian pancakes. No French coq au vin or pressed duck. 

I don’t suppose this will be a real hardship, but a lot of Christians are going to miss those rare steaks. 

5.       Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)

Ah, now we’re talking felonies.

Leviticus says that those who fail to testify against ANY wrongdoing, any, “They will be held responsible” for the wrongdoing itself.

Any wrongdoing, no matter how great or small. Any violation of the law. Any transgression. Any bending of the rules in any fashion, and if you don’t speak up, Christians, then you’re just as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

Standard sentencing guidelines apply, you could find yourself facing a minor $65 fine or the electric chair. 

Better step up. Seriously.

6.       Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)

Under secular law that would be hearsay, but under God’s law, you’d better report any alleged violation you hear about, no matter how small. 

God holds you to account for hearsay same as He does for witnessing actual crimes, i.e. “they shall be held responsible.”

7.       No touching an unclean animal (5:2)

No dogs. No pigs. No snakes. No shellfish. No crustaceans. No touching. This isn’t about eating unclean animals, we’ll get to that in a minute. This is about touching them.

Pet a dog? $1000 fine or 30 days in jail. 

8.       Carelessly making an oath (5:4)

Any Christian who “carelessly” makes an oath, even if they have their fingers crossed behind their backs, even if they don’t realize they’re doing it, is in violation of God’s law. $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

Boy, if I was a Christian, I’d be very, very careful about clicking “Agree” on any software update.

Especially from Microsoft. 

That shit could get expensive really fast.

9.       Deceiving a neighbor about something trusted to them (6:2)

God says that if you borrow something from your neighbor and you lie about it, you have to return the item and pay them 20% of the item’s value PLUS the usual penalty of $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

10.   Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3) 

God is not real big on finders-keepers. Any Christian who comes across something somebody else has lost and tries to keep it, is required to return the item to the person who lost it, pay them 20% of item’s value, and be assigned the normal penalty of $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

11.   Bringing unauthorized fire before God (10:1)

This for some reason is a biggie.

If a Christian starts an unauthorized fire, God is supposed to smite him. However, just like the gay thing, since God generally doesn’t go around smiting people who violate Leviticus these days, it’s up to us. So, any Christian starting an “unauthorized fire” should be shot in the head as specified by the Sodomite Suppression Act.

If I was a California Christian, especially in SOCAL, I’d be damned scared, damned scared, come fire season. Shit’s already crazy enough without summary executions.

12.   Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)

God’s law is pretty specific about this: Messy hair? You will die and God will be mad at everybody.

Now, depending on which version of the bible you read, this law might only apply to the priesthood. But better safe than sorry I say. Any Christian with unkempt hair? Bang! Right in the forehead. Get them before God gets us – just like it says in the Sodomite Suppression Act.

13.   Tearing your clothes (10:6)

Again, you’ll die and God will be mad at everybody. You know what to do if a Christian rips his pants.

And remember, it’s the law.

14.   Drinking alcohol in holy places (10:9)

Guess what? “You will die.”

Looks like open season on Catholics and Baptists, eh?

15.   Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (11:8)

16.   Touching the carcass of any of the above (11:8)

17.   Eating or touching the carcass of any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)

18.   Eating or touching the carcass of the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19) 

What the hell is a hoopoe?

19.   Eating or touching the carcass of flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

By the time you figure out what kind of legs the damned thing has, it’s probably too late.

20.   Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (11:27)  

21.   Eating or touching the carcass of the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard,the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)

22.   Eating or touching the carcass of any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)

God really doesn’t like you touching his stuff.

No eating pigs, rabbits, and the bible specifically mentions camels – though I don’t know how common camel BBQ is in California. Nevertheless, don’t do it, or you will be “unclean” yourself.

No eating or touching birds, bugs, lizards, or dead cats.

The bible’s not real clear on what the punishment for being unclean is, so the standard penalty applies, $1000 fine or 30 days in jail for each offense.

Also, note that part about no touching. Especially no touching pigs or pig parts. So, no more football. Nope. No football. Even if the ball is made from synthetics, it’s still called a pigskin. Do you really want to take a chance? With the guy who killed off every firstborn in Egypt and drowned the entire world. Really?

Besides, you’re supposed be praying all day on Sunday, not watching sports and drinking beer. Bad Christian, no salvation.

23.   Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)

Any woman who gives birth to a boy is unclean for a week, and then forbidden from attending church for thirty-three days.

THEN she has to offer up a sacrifice to God.

Otherwise? It’s jail time!

24.   Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5) 

Giving birth to girl is worse. Unclean for a week and forbidden from attending Church for sixty-six days. Then sacrifice and don’t forget the fat and salt, because the cops will be checking.  

25.   Having sex with your mother (18:7)

Now, if it were me, I’d say that the act itself was punishment enough, but God says that if a Christian has sex with his mom, he’s to be “cut off from his people.”

So, I’m guessing that’s either solitary confinement or exile to Alabama.

26.   Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8)

Yeah, that’s a big no no. Plus, Dude, really? Anyway, both are to be put to death.

27.   Having sex with your sister (18:9)

Good news, God says that if you have sex with your sister, you get the choice of marrying her or being put to death.

The bad news is that if you marry her, you’re both to “be removed from your people” and sent to West Virginia.

28.   Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10)

29.   Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)

Standard penalty applies, solitary confinement and major fines.

30.   Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)

This is big deal for Christians. Leviticus mentions it twice.  Standard penalty, solitary and fines, plus in Leviticus 20:19 God specifies that the offender will be held responsible for the dishonor. I’m not real clear on what that means, but we’d better just shoot him.

31.   Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)

32.   Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)

What are you? Woody Allen?

33.   Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)

34.   Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (18:17)

Okay, even Jesus would call you Bro for this one. You did the mother and the daughter and the granddaughter? Hallelujah, Duuuuude! Ever thought about going into the priesthood, you’re a natural! 

35.   Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)

Somehow I doubt you’ll live long enough for God to punish you for this one.

Also, Jesus, man. Are you crazy?

36.   Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)

Hey, I hear it helps with the cramps.

37.   Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20)

Basically, if you’re a Christian and you’re having sex of any kind in any position at any time with anybody, ever, you’re screwed. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

38.   Giving your children to be sacrificed to Moloch (18:21)

Is this a thing? Does this happen nowadays? I mean do we really need a law?

And honestly, was this even a thing back in Biblical times?

It was? 

Moloch sacrifice. Well, then.

Okay, Christians, anybody caught sacrificing your kids to Moloch will be shot in the head. Other people’s kids? That’s okay.

39.   Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22)

Ah, finally!

Wait, thirty-nine?

Gay sex is thirty-nine?  

Gay sex is wedged in between Moloch and making metal gods?

What. The. Fuck?

Thirty-ninth? Thirty-ninth? Gay sex didn’t even make the Ten Commandments. And in Leviticus it’s thirty-nine? Thirty-nine?

Don’t eat Bald Eagles is more important than don’t have gay sex.

Don’t touch bugs with bendy legs is more important than don’t have gay sex. 

No Messy Hair is more important than don’t have gay sex – seriously, go look at your bible. It’s right there. The fact that you own a fucking comb is more important to God than not having gay sex.

I’m just saying here!

Hey, don’t get pissy with me. This is your goofy stone-age religion, not mine. Always carry a comb! Come on

40.   Having sex with an animal (18:23)

You have to shoot them both.

Good thing this is California and not Texas. We’d need a lot more bullets.

41.   Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)

Is anybody else picturing 50 foot tall Robo-Jesus shooting laser bolts from glowing red eyes or is it just me?

We told you not to make a metal god! Now look what you’ve done! No! Spare us, Robo-Jesus! Zap! Zap! Aaaaagh!

It’s just me, isn’t it?

42.   Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9)

Leviticus is pretty specific about this. Christian farmers are to leave the outer edges of their crops as a gift to the poor.

Avocados. Oranges. Grapes (see item number 43). Nuts. Soybeans. Cabbages. Doesn’t matter. You leave the outer rows for the poor.

I’m curious why you don’t see more Christians demanding this. Seems like it would go a lot further towards Jesus’s command to feed the hungry than shooting gay people would – but then I’m not a Christian so what do I know? I’m rooting for Robo-Jesus.

43.   Picking up grapes that have fallen in your  vineyard (19:10)

God says that any grapes that fall in your vineyard are to be given to the poor. He was quite specific about it.

There’s a lot of vineyards in California, aren’t there? And there’s a lot of poor people.

So how come there are raisins?

Nobody ever asks the Pope these questions and you’d really think they would, wouldn’t you?

But again, all things being equal in God’s eyes, He’d probably rather you were out shooting gay people instead of feeding the poor.

44.   Stealing (19:11)

45.   Lying (19:11) 

46.   Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12) 

47.   Defrauding your neighbor (19:13) 

48.   Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13)

God obviously doesn’t understand how Capitalism works. Which is kind of weird, given how much he loves America and all.

49.   Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14)

50.   Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)

Uh oh.

51.   Spreading slander (19:16) 

Bad news for Birthers, Truthers, and Fox.

52.   Doing anything to endanger a neighbor's life (19:16) 

53.   Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18) 

Boy, good thing Christians don’t bear grudges.  God hates that, which is why he’s been mad at the entire human race because some naked chick helped herself to an apple 10,000 years ago.

But I digress.

54.   Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)

55.   Cross-breeding animals (19:19) 

56.   Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19) 

Laws 44 through 56 don’t have specified punishments.  Gay sex, God saw fit to spell out the sentence for that. Because gay sex. But stealing, lying, fraud, perverting justice? Whatever. Use your best judgment. Community service.

57.   Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20)

Christians have to offer up a ram in sacrifice.

What about California Governator Schwarzenegger? How come he didn’t burn a sheep on the front lawn of his mansion when his wife caught him screwing the help? Easy, he was sleeping with his own slave. It’s a technicality, but God’s totally good with it.

58.   Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)

Don’t have this kind of sex. Don’t have that kind of sex. No screwing your mom. No sleeping with your sister. No banging your aunt or you uncle’s second cousin twice removed. No screwing somebody else’s slave or cows. No cheating. No lying.

Also? No fruit.

Anybody else get the feeling that this list is a little arbitrary?

59.   Practicing divination or seeking omens (19:26)

Hmmm. Leviticus mentions this three times.

It only mentions don’t be gay twice.

So, how about all all those Christians with TV shows and all those Christian preachers who keep prophesizing the end of the world? God’s wrath. Poison arrows and toads falling from the sky?

According to Leviticus, those Christians should be shot in the head immediately.

60.   No trimming your beard (19:27)

61.   No cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)

62.   No tattoos (19:28)

Clear rules. Pretty unambiguous. 

It’s gonna be hard to tell the fundamentalist Christians from the fundamentalist Muslims (and the Jews for that matter), but then it already is. They’ve got a hell of a lot more in common than they don’t – probably why they hate each.

Leviticus doesn’t specify a particular punishment for shaving, haircuts, or ink, so I guess we should just apply the standard $1000 fine or 30 days in jail for each offense.

63.   Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)

God says that if you make your daughter prostitute herself, the whole land will turn to prostitution.

Because apparently your daughter is just that goddamned good (But then, the preacher’s daughter usually is).

Seems like an odd punishment, doesn’t it?

What? You made your daughter into a prostitute? Okay, whores for everybody! That’ll teach you!

64.   Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)

Doesn’t Nancy Reagan still live in California?

Get in the car, Nancy. You’re going to jail.

65.   Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)

When I get old, I’m going to spend my days wandering through churches making citizen’s arrests.  No, no, don’t get up … just kidding, you’re under arrest!

66.   Mistreating foreigners (19:33-34)

“the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born”   

Again, pretty specific. The foreigner residing among you MUST BE treated as your native-born.

Must be.

So, how come devout Christians aren’t flooding the California State Attorney General’s office with petitions to get the “Give Jose and Juan full native born citizenship right goddamned NOW” act?

Of course, I have the same question about the “Prostitutes For Everybody Act” too.

67.   Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36) 

68.   Cursing your father or mother (20:9)

This one is a big deal. It’s punishable by death.

Just like man sex.

Curse your mom, you might as well be gay. Creation Science don’t lie, Folks. Because lying would get you shot in the head. Think about it.

69.   No marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21:7,13)

70.   Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11)

Kind of takes all the fun out of the clergy, doesn’t it?

Ah well, there’s always the money.

71.   Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)

72.   Working on the Sabbath (23:3)

73.   Blasphemy (24:14)

Another death sentence and just how certain are you really that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

Are you willing to risk a bullet in the head? Summary execution by any random Christian on the street?

Are you really?

What if somebody shoots you down for blasphemy, but the crowd misunderstands and thinks you’re gay? Do they all go to hell for bearing false witness?

74.   Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)

Wait, what?

If a Christian inflicts an injury, kills somebody else’s animal (even by accident), or kills a person – they must be punished in the same fashion.

So, if you kill a gay person for being gay, you must be killed the same way, then the guy who kills you must be killed, then that guy must be killed…

Okay, it’s just me, right?

75.   Selling land permanently (25:23)

Again, I don’t think God understands capitalism, but who am I to argue?

And finally, 76.   Selling an Israelite as a slave (25:42)

All the way down here at the bottom. Oh, um one other thing, uh, don’t sell any Israelites. That’s bad. Touching a squirrel is worse, sure, right up there with sucking a dick. But after that, well, you know. Also, you can sell anybody else into slavery, that’s cool. But no Israelites. Got it?

Quite the list, isn’t it?

And that’s just one book of the Bible.

How many Christians adhere to these rules?

How many?  

Tell you what, when Christians start living up to their own rules, under penalty of death, maybe they can tell the rest of us what to do.

Until then, their religion is free to take its version of Sharia law and go smite itself.

 

If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
- Leviticus 35:37