The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

An Absence of Fairness

Good Monday, all, and I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.  In the spirit of that holiday, I’d like to thank my favorite Preznit, Ronnie Dearest, for making it possible for our politicos to attack other politicians and institutions with impunity. Yes, I’m talking about the Raygun Administration’s revocation of the Fairness Doctrine.

n 1985, under FCC Chairman Mark S. Fowler, a communications attorney who had served on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign staff in 1976 and 1980, the FCC released a report stating that the doctrine hurt the public interest and violated free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

In August 1987, under FCC Chairman Dennis R. Patrick, the FCC abolished the doctrine by a 4-0 vote, in the Syracuse Peace Council decision, which was upheld by a panel of the Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit in February 1989, though the Court stated in their decision that they made “that determination without reaching the constitutional issue.”[16]

[snip]

Fowler said in February 2009 that his work toward revoking the Fairness Doctrine under the Reagan Administration had been a matter of principle (his belief that the Doctrine impinged upon the First Amendment), not partisanship. Fowler described the White House staff raising concerns, at a time before the prominence of conservative talk radio and during the preeminence of the Big Three television networks and PBS in political discourse, that repealing the policy would be politically unwise. He described the staff’s position as saying to Reagan:

The only thing that really protects you from the savageness of the three networks—every day they would savage Ronald Reagan—is the Fairness Doctrine, and Fowler is proposing to repeal it![22]

Instead, Reagan supported the effort and later vetoed the Democratic-controlled Congress’s effort to make the doctrine law.

Since the Fairness Doctrine was revoked, we’ve seen the rise of infotainment, complete with “he-said/she-said” opinion journalism, and the empowerment of the right-wing noise machine, including “think tanks” whose sole purpose is to twist the public discourse away from reality (which as we know, has a liberal bias) to the skewed, black-is-white worldview of the top 1%.

I draw a bright line between this revocation and the rise of delusional movements like modern conservatism, whose members hold beliefs that, despite their unshakeability, lack any basis in reality. One of these beliefs, disgustingly promoted by some of the top Republican contenders for President, is the alleged propensity of Planned Parenthood to sell baby parts. There were videos, which were since proven to be deceptively edited, which were used to “prove” the accusation and sow outrage in the Republican base. As usual, none of these brainless f*cktards gave a thought to the way this would affect people who, by definition, are only loosely tethered to the world as we know it. Predictably, some RWNJ with a gun decided to avenge those alleged murdering psychos at Planned Parenthood by…becoming a murdering psycho at Planned Parenthood.

Robert Lewis Dear allegedly killed three people and injured 9 others yesterday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In the hours after the shooting little was known about Dear or his motivations.

Saturday evening, those motivations began to come into focus. NBC News and the Washington Post reported that, after the shooting, Dear told law enforcement officials “no more baby parts.”

The phrase clearly references a series of videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion advocacy group. The videos alleged that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling body parts from fetuses for profit. These allegations were untrue and the videos relied on deceptive editing.

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Peace for Paris

As we all mourn the terrible attacks in Paris over the weekend, and the 129 victims who senselessly lost their lives, I know that I am wondering what we will do now. What is the answer to how to stop ISIS, aka “The Islamic State,” from doing this again? How can we stop the terrorist group from taking over Iraq and Syria, and extending its reach throughout the Middle East in the long-awaited radical Muslim “caliphate” called for by the group’s leaders? Can it happen here, again? Will New York, or some other American city, be the next target? Will it be Great Britain? ISIS has already spat in Putin’s face (I think they will come to regret that soon), and now Hollande’s. This can’t be allowed to stand.

And so far, the response of the US and France has been to counterattack. Twenty bombs were dropped on an ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, Syria yesterday.

The French defense ministry has said the “massive” airstrikes which hit Raqqa on Sunday night, was carried out in coordination with US forces. Twenty bombs were dropped, destroying a command center, jihadi recruitment center, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, the defense ministry said in a statement.

This approach does make sense. Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS is trying to take over state governments and became a “state actor.”  While Al Qaeda’s strongholds and leadership were hidden for protection, ISIS shows its hand boldly and proudly. This leaves the terrorist group open to traditional-style warfare.

As an aspiring government authority, ISIS is also committed to providing public and social services to the population, activities in which it is already deeply engaged. These many public goods include power and water services, law enforcement, health care, dispute resolution, employment, education and public outreach. These responsibilities cost money, which in ISIS’ case comes from extortion (or taxation, as it were), control of energy and water resources, and plunder.

These sources are of course vulnerable to physical attack and disruption. Strategic assets such as oil facilities and utilities infrastructure are highly visible and vulnerable to air strikes. ISIS also makes little effort to disguise governing facilities, political headquarters and policy and security installations. As a self-appointed state, ISIS sees little reason to keep a low profile in its own territory. Remarkably, its rivals have made little to no effort to target these assets, which are essential pillars of ISIS’ political authority and governance. For those very reasons, however, destroying these facilities without empowering moderate Sunni groups to govern in ISIS’ place would only lead to state collapse in ISIS-held areas. International efforts continue to focus on foreign terrorist finances such as donations. ISIS – a self-funded organization – remains wealthy.

The question is, what else is going to happen? How will the governments of France, the United States and other sympathetic countries react?

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Photo credit: The Associated Press

Good Monday, all! As a Noo Yawkah, I am experiencing some trepidation about what will happen this week when the Pope, the President and the United Nations all converge upon the City that Never Sleeps. Now, I’m not a Catholic, nor do I play one on the Interwebz; but many of my closest friends are believers, and so I have been following Pope Francis’ career with some interest.

Those of you who have been reading my writings for a while know that I am not a fan of the Catholic church. I have pointed out in the past that Catholicism, much to its detriment, has not experienced a modern, liberalizing Reform movement. Its focus on celibacy has, rather predictably, attracted priests who have major sexual dysfunctions, and the Church is still recovering from the horrible revelations of the widespread child abuse practiced by so many clerics in the fold. By contrast, Reform Judaism and many Protestant forms of Christianity have embraced married, female and openly gay rabbis/priests, and by and large, these awful crimes are not committed in Reform temples and churches. I’m not even mentioning the retrograde views of birth control that are embraced as part of the Catholic church’s doctrine, which, per a Guttmacher institute report in 2011, are not even practiced by the majority of those who call themselves Catholic. As for American Catholic women who have had abortions, that is a much lower number (27%), but it’s certainly not as low as the Church would want it (0%).

Fast-forward to this week’s visit. There’s been a lot of excitement about Pope Francis and his statements on the environment, helping the poor, and seeming embrace of tolerance of LGBT. So today I ask the question: Is Francis a harbinger of liberal reform?

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Mangled metaphors don’t make much sense upon first reading them, but I always particularly enjoy rereading them where they make even less sense.  This post is an example of not believing a situation even after re-rereading it.Church and State

On these pages I have previously mentioned Liberty Law School in Lynchburg, Virginia.  It is part of the Falwell Liberty University family business empire.  The Bushes and Pauls have politics as a family business, the Falwells have Liberty University.  Liberty Law School costs about $60,000 a year and is a third or fourth tier law school, but don’t worry, it is a solid third or fourth tier school since there’s nothing lower.

Liberty churns out lawyers to defend against the unwarranted and oppressive discrimination against the religion practices of a mere 83% of Americans — with 13% being non-believers, that leaves a mere 4% for all the other religions.  Remember that the next time some blowhard starts talking about Muslim Americans taking over the country, but I digress.

According to a world view consistent with Liberty Law School, at every turn in modern-day America the vast majority, 83% to be exact, of practicing Christians are being harassed in some form or fashion.

Lay back and allow the satire to wash over you, but this is one such story of unconscionable intolerance of religion and the unwarranted harassment of practicing Christians.

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has an anti-discrimination policy requiring “fair and equal treatment without bias” for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex juveniles.”  Under the policy, detention center staff and volunteers cannot tell the juveniles “that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Funny how this works both ways...

Funny how this works both ways…

A gentleman named David Wells is a Baptist minister who volunteers at one regional juvenile detention center.  He was asked to leave the detention center on July 7th because he couldn’t or wouldn’t comply with the anti-discrimination policy.

Enter Liberty Counsel to the rescue – the same Liberty Counsel that has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  A lawyer with Liberty Counsel wrote a letter to the Kentucky Juvenile Justice Commissioner stating, “This policy needs to be revoked by Friday, August 1st, or face litigation.”  By the way, that is tomorrow.

So I’m being perfectly clear, Liberty Counsel, under some twisted, convoluted, backasswards reading of the U.S. and state Constitutions believes there is some protected right to enter into a state facility and proceed to proselytize to vulnerable juveniles that they are “sinful, abnormal, and deviant.”

Just so happens, Liberty Counsel is also representing a County Clerk refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone wanting to be married – straight or gay.  Her solution and that of Liberty Counsel is exactly what you would expect from a third or fourth tier legal mind.  Their remedy:  Get in your car and drive until you come to a county where they are issuing marriage licenses – no harm, no foul.  Forget about the clerk resigning.  Forget about the clerk allowing her assistants to issue the licenses.  Forget about everything, every last thing, other than this particular clerk’s avowed religious practices.Tolerance

The outrageous nature of this situation demonstrates something that is forgotten in these days of ever-heightening personal megaphone wattage:  The First Amendment may give the right to scream your ever-living lungs out, but that does not entitle you to free rein over someone else’s ears.

Perpetual victimhood is embraced by organizations like Liberty Counsel.  The symbiotic relationship of fundraising and patently bogus notions pad their bank accounts affording the handsome salaries paid to those who promote the perpetual victimhood.  There you have the circle of life for groups like Liberty Counsel.  It is in this world that somehow it makes sense that the religion espoused by 83% of the population is being victimized when people exhibit some modicum of discernment at what their ears usher into their brain.

To advance yet another tortured metaphor:  You can scream, but I can run and hide.

Take the conversation to any topic you might like to explore.

Afternoon Widdershins.

As a genetically inferior Appalachian, my vocabulary is pretty good – a little above average, but I find myself searching for the words today.  You see, I don’t have the words to describe someone who, like Pamela Geller, represents an utter lack of ethics.  Absolute abhorrence, beneath contempt, plain old hatred — no words seem sufficient.  You’re asking, who is Pamela Geller and why is she someone about whom we should spend even one minute considering?  Allow me to once again digress.Pamela Geller

This weekend in Garland, Texas, there was the latest installment in an anti-Muslim campaign promoted by Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America.  Both groups have been labeled hate groups by various watchdog organizations.

Geller was quick to clad herself in the American flag, the Constitution, the Paris tragedy of Charlie Hebdo, and anything else to disguise the true intent of the event.  That intent had nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with the most perverse form of self-promotion.  Here’s what really happened Sunday night.

Called a Muhammad Art and Cartoon Contest where $10,000.00 was to be awarded for the most outrageous and vulgar cartoon of the Prophet, the couple of hundred attendees were greeted with a keynote harangue by Geert Wilders, the head of a far, far-right Dutch political party.  Wilders has called for banning the Koran, comparing it to Mein Kampf.  He’s called Islam an “ideology of a retarded culture”, called for taxing women who wear headscarves, and demanded a cleansing of the Netherlands from the Trojan Horse of Islam.

This cartoon contest was in response to a January event where a Muslim group had invited nearby families to discuss religious tolerance, pluralism, and anti-extremism (it was called “Stand with the Prophet against terror and hate”) and to raise money for a cultural center to promote tolerance.  Geller helped organize a large protest outside the January event, where hundreds of people waved anti-Muslim signs and American flags. Muslim-American families were forced to walk through a gauntlet of bile-spewing hate.

Honestly, was there any doubt...

Honestly, was there any doubt…

So much for free speech – since for demagogues the only permissible bullhorn is the one spewing self-delusional pap.

Pam Geller’s name struck a chord with me because she was behind the furor around the Park51 Mosque in New York or as she famously marketed it, “the ground zero mosque.”  60 Minutes improvidently did a piece on the issue giving her more publicity and legitimacy than she could ever covet.  Her regular propaganda outlets are her blog (I will not even mention its name), Fox News, and Breitbart.  Each promoted her fear-mongering hatred.  Prior to her glomming onto anti-Muslim hate, she tried other causes, but they didn’t hold the cachet of notoriety she craved or the fundraising potential.

Some of her more infamous theories:

  • Obama is a third-worlder and a coward.
  • Obama will do nothing but beat up on our friends to appease his Islamic overlords.
  • It is well-known that Obama allegedly was involved with a crack whore in his youth.
  • Back in the early 80’s there were only two reasons to travel to Pakistan. Jihad or drugs.  I think he went for the drugs and came back with jihad.
  • Jews refuse to get on Obama’s Trains.
  • The moochers and the looters, the crooks and degenerates voted at 1 a.m. this morning to rip the constitution to shreds, to rape the American people and to nationalize medicine.
  • Geller’s blog contains 267 posts tagged “Muslim in the White House.”

With that said, no matter how odious Geller and her hate is, there is zero – zero justification for violence like that contemplated by the two shooters on Sunday evening — especially if that violence was the product Geller so longed to provoke and for which she had so carefully planned.Garland TX

The Garland officials had required extra security for the event and the SWAT squad, turned out in their best Fallujah-wear, were already on site.  Geller’s plan worked.

Now, two days later, ISIS is claiming responsibility.  Of course they would claim responsibility even though hours before the killing of the two gunmen one of them pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda.  Free publicity, claiming something isn’t what is claimed, an unquenchable thirst for acclaim, and an unrequited hatred of a belief system different from one’s own – all the creed of those with dreams of despotic control and adulation — whether it is ISIS or Pamela Geller.

For those who don’t know, bait hunting is outlawed in all fifty states.  Sunday night, Pamela Geller laid the bait and facilitated the taking of two lives that easily could’ve been many, many more — all in the quest for notoriety and self-approbation.

When it comes to sin and an everlasting peace for one’s soul, I don’t know if the two who died Sunday night reached paradise, but personally, I’d give them a much better chance of reaching it than Pamela Geller will ever have.

Take the conversation in any direction you might like.

 

Indiana_no_gays_allowed

Of course I’m referring to “Professor” Harold Hill from the musical The Music Man, and his supposed hometown of Gary Indiana and him having graduated from the Gary Conservatory, Gold-Medal Class of ’05, the inside joke being that the town wasn’t founded until 1906!  I am not saying ole Harold was gay because we know he was busy chasing down Marian the Librarian!  But I don’t think Harold would want to claim citizenship in a state that feels it has to legislate its hatred of “others” by passing a “religious freedom” (referred to Religious Freedom Restoration Act) law.

Folks have said the law that Indiana passed is no different than laws passed by another 19 or so states, and some of those same folks have said it’s just like the bill passed in Congress and signed by President Clinton, but the Indiana law is different.

There are several differences between the Indiana law (I’m just going to type Indy from here on out) and the others that have been passed.  Judd Legum over at ThinkProgress says one of the big ones lies in Section 9 of the law.

Under that section, a “person” (which under the law includes not only an individual but also any organization, partnership, LLC, corporation, company, firm, church, religious society, or other entity) whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense… regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

Every other Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to disputes between a person or entity and a government. Indiana’s is the only law that explicitly applies to disputes between private citizens. This means it could be used as a cudgel by corporations to justify discrimination against individuals that might otherwise be protected under law.  (bolding/italics mine)

Matt Anderson, an Indy trial lawyer said that difference ” opens up ‘the path of least resistance among its species to have a court adjudicate it in a manner that could ultimately be used to discriminate…’.”  Pardon my language but that’s some scary shit!

As the piece goes on to say, Arizona has a similar law but when the lege there tried to expand the law to purely private disputes, Jan Brewer the governor had enough sense to veto it.  I don’t believe her veto was over any great love of the LGBT community, but rather from the probably earful she was getting from the Arizona business community and its leaders.  It would have been a serious hit to Arizona’s tourism industry as well as its ability to attract newer and more forward-thinking companies.  The same will now apply to Indy.  Also, as Legum says “When the federal law was signed in 1993, it was thought “to be about benign and relatively uncontroversial matters, such as allowing Muslim jail inmates to wear closely trimmed beards, or assuring that churches could feed homeless people in public parks.” .

But that’s not the case now.  Writing for The American Constitution Society, Steve Sanders of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law wrote:

Setting aside the problem that some religious business owners will now think they have a green light to discriminate, the real problem with Indiana’s RIFRA has been less about its substance than its politics – specifically, the motivations of some of its most ardent proponents.

[snip]

… RIFRAs like Indiana’s are being impelled by the politics of anti-gay backlash.  Their most ardent supporters come from an increasingly angry, marginalized, and shrill subset of Christian conservative activists.  These activists want to stick a symbolic thumb in the eye of judges who struck down anti-gay marriage laws, along with the elected officials, business and cultural leaders, and ordinary citizens who have produced breathtakingly rapid change on the questions of marriage rights and LGBT equality generally.  Indeed, one sign of this progress, even in Indiana, has been the mainstreaming of outrage (from the NCAA to Angie’s List) against the very idea of anti-gay discrimination.

Now Indy is one of the states that does not have a law on the books that says you cannot discriminate against LGBT folks, so some will say that businesses and individuals were already free to discriminate against LGBT people if they wished to.  And this law gives them even more of a legal defense to fall back upon.

And speaking of those economic issues that might arise from this bill’s passage…well here’s a partial list of companies and groups who have gone on the record about how unhappy they are with this and who knows how many may have communicated privately to the Governor, members of the legislature and of the Indiana business community.

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Happy Tuesday, Widdershins. Remember the “Conscience Clause” I was so up in arms about a few years back? This was the Bush-created, Obama-supported clause that exempted pharmacists with “consciences” from providing abortion or contraception prescriptions to anyone they chose. (By logical extension, I suppose pharmacists with no “consciences” simply have to fill the prescription as written. Losers!).

As I wrote in March, the HHS regulation Bush forced through in the waning days of his Administration like a cold butter knife through a hot thick steak, has already made a demonstrable negative impact on women’s lives.

Just as many of us suspected, this rule is actually creating unwanted pregnancies, and for rape victims, no less – as if they have not been through enough. Isn’t it interesting that men are making these rules, and women are the ones who have to bear the consequences in their own wombs? Or perhaps not so much interesting, as 100% pure evil. Yes, that’s the word I was looking for!

It was 2009 when I wrote that post. What with all of the cray-cray the right-wingers have been pouring on lately, it had kind of slipped my mind. I was strongly reminded of it a couple of weekends ago, during a get-together with one of my best girlfriends. Guess what? It’s still going strong.

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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.3 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

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