"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Friday, November 17, 2017

Today's Must-Read: They're Not Hypocrites, They're "Christians"

I've pointed out before that today's evangelical "Christians" and their wholly-owned subsidiary, the Republican party, are not about morality, they're about power and control. Here's an incisive examination of that idea:

According to an expert in the intersection between religion and sex, the fact that evangelicals are flocking to support embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore should not come as any surprise, because maintaining “power” is at the center of their world.

This is the nut:

“How did sexual politics become so central to religious discourse in the United States? Why do we have such an obsession with sexual morality?” Griffith was asked.

“The Bible has things to say about sex. But for Jesus, in the New Testament, it’s not a major thing at all,” she replied. “He’s far more concerned with feeding the poor and caring for those in need. When you look back over the last century of Christian argumentation and political concern, however, it’s had a lot more to do with sex than with caring for the poor.”

Americans are obsessed with sex, especially conservative, "religious" Americans. And as far as their devotion to Jesus goes, think about it: how many soup kitchens and homeless shelters are being run by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, or Focus on the Family? I actually checked out some of their websites a while back, looking to see what programs they had for families. The best they could offer was links to other organizations. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars they've spent fighting any extension of basic rights to LGBTs, that's pretty pathetic, but it gives you a good idea of their priorities.

That tied in with this article that I ran across a bit earlier:

Taken together, the speakers’ comments mirrored the disturbing public record of Moore himself: anti-reproductive choice, anti-LGBTQ, and solidly in favor of using the power of government to bring the country back to, in Moore’s words, “the One on whom it is founded.”

There's also a strong element of tribalism involved, illustrated in the NCRM article. It's striking how little regard -- or perhaps more accurately, open contempt -- these "Christians", patriots all (just ask them) have for America's foundational principles, especially separation of church and state, equality under the law, and an independent judiciary.

As I said, it's illuminating -- it's also nice to have my analysis validated.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

All the Little Dictators

are coming out from under their rocks:

A photo posted on social media showing a truck sticker with an expletive directed toward President Donald Trump is going viral and prompting local law enforcement to search for the driver.

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls posted a photo of the back of a white pickup truck with a tinted back window and a large sticker that reads, "F*** Trump, and f*** you for voting for him."

The sheriff's response:

Sheriff Troy E. Nehls
19 hours ago
I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you. Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.

Note: When interviewed for the storly, he actually sounds fairly reasonable -- but he did start off by threatening criminal charges -- which wouldn't stick:

KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said this was a free speech issue and referred to the 1971 case of Cohen v. California. According to the case, the Supreme Court "overturned a man's conviction for the crime of disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket in the public corridors of a courthouse that displayed the phrase, 'F*** the draft.'"
(Link added.)

It's bullying, no more, no less, as typified by our regrettable president -- and every other dictator or wannabe who ever lived.

Via RawStory.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today's Must-Read: Dictatorship, Here We Come

The Republican party has spent the last thiry-five years trying to gut American democracy. Now that they've managed to install a president who thinks he's a king, they're moving one big step closer to getting their wish. This portion is from Josh Marshall's report:

That said, the Times account is much clearer on the politics involved. The Times notes that the letter comes ten days after Trump publicly demanded that the DOJ go after Clinton. And then there’s this graf …

The decision to examine those matters raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is trying to use the Justice Department to investigate his political rivals and distract from the special counsel’s investigation into his presidential campaign. It also comes at a tenuous time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Mr. Trump has hinted to advisers he may want to fire. People close to the White House believe Mr. Sessions can stop the president from firing him by appointing a special counsel to investigate the uranium deal. Before leaving for a trip to Asia this month, Mr. Trump expressed his frustration with the Justice Department.

To not get ahead of ourselves, it is important to note that the letter in question only says that Sessions is considering the right course to take and that appointing a special counsel is just one option. But make no mistake: this is as bad as it looks. A President is demanding that federal law enforcement go after his political enemies. And federal law enforcement appears ready to comply.

This is not something that happens in a democracy. As Digby points out:

Threatening to jail your political rivals is something you don't see in advanced democracies. That's the way it's done in banana republics and totalitarian dictatorships, and it says everything you need to know about Trump.

I think it's a mistake to focus on Trump: he's merely the means. If you look at the Republicans' scare tactics regarding "voter fraud," attacks on the courts, giving the nod to police brutality directed toward minorities, and the relentless chipping away at civil rights since the days of St. Ronnie, it's clear that Trump may very well be the end game -- if we manage to avoid being incinerated because of his bully boy posturing. If you think I'm seeing conspiracies, note this article: the key point here is that Congressional Republicans are fully on board with the anti-Clinton witch hunt.

I still wonder if New Zealand is far enough away.

Culture Break: The John Lewis Christmas Ad

John Lewis is a major British retailer, and their Christmas ads are always wonderful. This approaches high art:

And for all the whiny "Christians" out there, yes, I said "Christmas." Big whooping deal.

A note: just about everyone has a Solstice holiday. (And yes, Christmas was on the Solstice on the old calendar, moved from the spring to coincide -- and co-opt -- the Roman Saturnalia.) It's just another example of the self-absorption of so-called "Christians" that saying "holiday" is offensive.

Grow up and get over yourselves.

(And I think it's just the cherry on top that the ad features an interracial couple. Lewis does things like that.)

And another note: I've noticed, probably in response to the Trump regime's attacks on immigrants, LGBTs, women, and other minorities, and the lawsuits of poor, persecuted "Christians" who've discovered that they're not immune from anti-discrimination laws, that a lot of businesses on Chicago's North Side have signs saying "Everyone welcome here."

The Vote Is In

Australians voted 62 to 38 percent in favor of equal marriage. In response, PM Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to have a marriage bill through Parliament by Christmas and shot down attempts by the right wing to neuter the bill:

Moments after the survey result was announced, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appeared before national cameras and vowed his intention to get a same-sex marriage bill through Parliament by Christmas. Watch below.

Earlier today, Turnbull denounced right wing plans to laden the bill with “religious liberty” amendments which would legalize anti-LGBT discrimination by wedding-related businesses. According to Turnbull, such amendments are “non-starters.”

The bill in question was really pernicious, and obviously derived at least part of its DNA from American "religious freedom" bills.

There's a good editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald that makes a very interesting point in regard to "religious freedom" exceptions to anti-discrimination laws:

In 2008, a group talking about suicide prevention with at-risk LGBTI teens from country Victoria booked a getaway at the Phillip Island Adventure Resort. The group, Way Out, did not realise the resort was owned and run by a conservative religious group, the Christian Brethren.

When the Brethren found out who they were hosting, they cancelled the booking, saying the group's activities were "contrary to God's teaching as set out in the Bible", and contravened the resort's "safety" policy.

"Our definition of safety, because of our Christian faith, does not support or include the promotion of homosexuality," the camp said at the time. It was, no doubt, a sincere religious belief.

Even so, the camp lost the case all the way through the courts until the High Court refused special leave to appeal. The camp, the courts said, was a commercial enterprise, and did not have a "religious purpose". It was therefore not protected by the general exemption that religious organisations have under anti-discrimination laws.
(Emphasis added.)

I wonder if that point about "religious purpose" has occurred to anyone arguing the Martyred -- sorry, I mean "Masterpiece" Bakery case. It seems central to the whole issue to me.

At any rate, welcome to the club, Australia.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Defense of Roy Moore: Pffft!

Of course Moore has his defenders -- he's Republican from Alabama.

Rush Limbaugh to the rescue:

Not [sic] matter what the real stories are here and no matter what the evidence is, these guys, these people, on the Republican side are making it clear they’re going to prevent this guy from ever being seated in the United States Senate. Did you know that before 1992, when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat?

“You didn’t know that? How ’bout all these people now – ‘Oh yeah, everybody here knew about Judge Moore!’ –- while he was a Democrat? Nobody said a word. When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.

So was Strom Thurmond, once upon a time. So, let me guess -- Moore found Jesus and got a Get Out Of Hell Free card.

Sandy Rios goes ol' Rushbo one better:

It’s what the darkness always does to the light. Remember that Jesus himself was accused, but he was completely innocent. Remember that they paid guards to come and lie about whether the stone was rolled away and the body was not there. This is not new.

So, he didn't find Jesus, he is Jesus. But then, Sandy Rios is out somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Nice To Have It Right Out in the Open

See, the Republicans know how to get the economy going:

Andrew Biggs is a Republican member of PROMESA, a board created in 2016 to chaperone Puerto Rico’s finances in the wake of the island’s bankruptcy problems. Yet, when speaking about the recovery efforts, he compared those U.S. citizens to “drunks” who have “hit rock bottom.”

The Intercept reported Tuesday that, while speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event on the island and disaster relief, Biggs claimed fair treatment of workers is what is stopping Puerto Rico from recovery. He specifically cited minimum wage laws, labor rules surrounding just-cause termination, paid sick days for staff, paternity leave and overtime. Even a planned Christmas bonus is stopping Puerto Rico from greatness, according to Biggs.

“The reality is, the government doesn’t want to do these things,” he said of labor laws. “If you let them not do them, they won’t do them.” If the island were to be given additional aid from Congress, Biggs argued that it should come with strings attached demanding they kill their progressive labor laws.

See? If we just get rid of those pesky liberal labor laws and workplace safety rules and all that junk -- maybe just bring our labor laws into line with those of, say, China, why, jobs will just flow back into America.

And given that his audience was the American Enterprise Institute, which is about as corporate friendly as you can get, this comment is no surprise:

Toward the end of the panel, AEI resident fellow Desmond Lachman said, “One doesn’t want a good crisis to go to waste.” He explained “other countries” have sought support from the International Monetary Fund when they hit “rock bottom” after a natural disaster.

Right, the IMF -- remember how they helped Greece out? And that wasn't even a natural disaster. That one came directly from people like the members of the American Enterprise Institute. (I seem to remember that would-be dictators, along with muzzling the press, go after labor unions -- the organizations that are the origin of those pesky labor laws.)

Oh, and by the way -- Puerto Rico isn't a separate country: it's a U.S. territory. So many people, especially on the right, seem to forget that. Maybe because Puerto Ricans tend to be brown and speak Spanish.

Today in Social Protest: More Idiots

You may have read about advertisers pulling their ads from Sean Hannity's show (and what took them so long?). The first was Keurig, which produces coffee makers and accessories. This is what passes for a boycott among the trumpanzees:
Kuerig coffee and some others decided not to advertise on Sean Hannity’s show after he stood up for Roy Moore. That made Sean's fans very angry. So they decided they would destroy their own coffee makers.

Gizmodo reports:

This predictably escalated even further and now Twitter is filled with amazing videos of right-wingers smashing their costly home coffee machines. The intent is apparently to intimidate Keurig into once again sponsoring Hannity’s show, lest he fall victim to the same fate that awaited accused abuser Bill O’Reilly.

There are videos at the link, which for some reason I can't embed this morning.

So, smashing a coffee maker that you've bought and paid for as a protest against the manufacturer is really going to -- do what? Prove that you broke one of your two remaining brain cells?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans, Trump Style

I just ran across this photo, which went viral over the weekend:

(Henka Martinez/AFP)

The photo depicts a group of several Mexican men who served in the U.S. military in order to become citizens, but were denied and deported. The soldiers protested on Memorial day this year in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

All I can say in response to that is to echo this tweet:

No Surprises Here

Here's a couple of very revealing facts about Republicans and "Christians" in the wake of the accusations against "Judge" Roy Moore:

But the answers to this question are disturbing: "Given the allegations that have come out about Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct against four underage women, are you more or less likely to support him as a result of these allegations?"

Just 38 percent said they now are less likely to vote for Moore, 33 percent say it makes no difference to them, and a nearly one in three Alabama voters (29%) say they are more likely to vote for Moore as a result.

The poll, conducted November 9-11, also says nearly six in 10 (58%) call themselves evangelical Christians.

It's bad enough that 29% of Alabama voters are more likely to vote for Moore after the allegations, but that 33% don't care is even more appalling.

I think it's become quite clear over the past couple of years, and especially since the election of Trump, that evangelical "Christianity" is not a religion and has nothing to do with Christ: it's a tribal identity marked by hating the same people. As long as that's in order, there are no expectations of good behavior or moral probity (except, of course, in calling out the failings of the disfavored groups), especially for men.

(For an illuminating discussion of evangelicals' attitudes toward women and sexual predators, see this post by Digby.)

In other words, it's everything we as a society have been moving away from for the past century.

A Note: Oh, an about all those senators taking back their endorsements, etc.: Moore's not well-liked in Washington to begin with, but he's what they had. Now they have a credible excuse for cutting him loose.

Today in Advertising: The Three Bears

Rowse Honey, a UK brand, has an ad campaign that's a lot of fun, featuring, of course, the Three Bears -- although Goldilocks doesn't seem to be in evidence. Here's the trailer:

And you can watch the first three episodes at Rowse's YouTube channel.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Today in Sports: 200,000 Idiots

This had to happen:

A Facebook group with more than 200,000 followers is planning an NFL boycott over Veterans Day weekend.

"We will be not be watching or listening to NFL games on November 12th in solidarity with veterans around the country, as football players have continued to disrespect the national anthem, the American flag, and everything our nation stands for," it says on the Boycott The NFL Facebook page.

Of course, that's not what it's about at all, but Trump said it, so it must be true.

Via Joe.My.God.


What's New at Green Man Review

Yep, it's Sunday again, and there's more goodies at Green Man Review -- Dead Can Dance, Alan Garner, Kage Baker, Blowzabella, Mouse Guard, and chocolate (would you believe 85% cocoa?). And that's just skimming the surface, so click on over and enjoy.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

It Doesn't Matter

In the wake of accusations that Roy Moore engaged in a little bit of "romance" (which apparently went beyond moonlight and roses) with underage girls a while back, some GOP senators are pulling their endorsements, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has pulled funding for his campaign, and it looks as though former (interim) senator Luther Strange may mount a write-in campaign.

Know what? It doesn't matter: Moore will win, and probably by a good margin, because that is what the Republican party has become: embezzler, sexual predator, con man, it doesn't matter: he's one of them, and he hates the same people they hate.