Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Canadian born Ted Cruz getting birther meds from Left and Right


Why should atheists have to show respect for religion?

Especially since so many superstitious morons have so little respect for women and LGBT because thei imaginary sky daddies tell them that women and LGBT people aren't really human.
From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/why-should-atheists-have-to-show-respect-for-religion/


23 Mar 2015


Can’t we all just get along?”

Among progressive and moderate religious believers, ecumenicalism is a big deal. For many of these believers, being respectful of religious beliefs that are different from theirs is a central guiding principle. In this view, different religions are seen as a beautifully varied tapestry of faith: each strand with its own truths, each with its own unique perspective on God and its own unique way of worshipping him. Her. It. Them. Whatever. Respecting other people’s religious beliefs is a cornerstone of this worldview… to the point where criticizing or even questioning anyone else’s religious belief is seen as rude and offensive at best, bigoted and intolerant at worst.

Why?

Don’t atheists want a world where everyone’s right to their own religious views — including no religious views — is universally acknowledged? Don’t we want a world with no religious wars or hatreds? Don’t we want a world where a diversity of perspectives on religion is accepted and even embraced? Why would atheists have any objections at all to the principles of religious ecumenicalism?

Oh, let’s see. Where shall I begin?

Well, for starters: It’s bullshit.

Progressive and moderate religious believers absolutely have objections to religious beliefs that are different from theirs. Serious, passionate objections. They object to the Religious Right; they object to Al Qaeda. They object to right-wing fundamentalists preaching homophobic hatred, to Muslim extremists executing women for adultery, to the Catholic Church trying to stop condom distribution in AIDS-riddled Africa, to religious extremists all over the Middle East trying to bomb each other back to the Stone Age. Etc., etc., etc. Even when they share the same nominal faith as these believers, they are clearly appalled at the connection: they fervently reject being seen as having anything in common with them, and often go to great lengths to distance themselves from them.

And they should. I’m not saying they shouldn’t. In fact, one of my main critiques of progressive believers is that their opposition to hateful religious extremists isn’t vehement enough.
But it’s disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst, to say that criticism of other religious beliefs is inherently bigoted and offensive… and then make an exception for beliefs that are opposed to your own. You don’t get to speak out about how hard-line extremists are clearly getting Christ’s message wrong (or Mohammad’s, or Moses’, or Buddha’s, or whoever) — and then squawk about religious intolerance when others say you’re the one getting it wrong. That’s just not playing fair.

And, of course, it’s ridiculously hypocritical to engage in fervent political and cultural discourse — as so many progressive ecumenical believers do — and then expect religion to get a free pass. It’s absurd to accept and even welcome vigorous public debate over politics, science, medicine, economics, gender, sexuality, education, the role of government, etc… and then get appalled and insulted when religion is treated as just another hypothesis about the world, one that can be debated and criticized like any other.

However, if ecumenicalism were just hypocritical bullshit, I probably wouldn’t care very much. Hypocritical bullshit is all over the human race like a cheap suit. I’m not going to get worked up into a lather every time I see another example of it. So why does this bug me so much?

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/why-should-atheists-have-to-show-respect-for-religion/

‘Kill All Gays’ Law Proposed in California—Crazy or Trolling?

Imagine the screams of outrage if this proposition were to advocate killing all Black people, or all Christians.

I'm a gun owner.  I remember what other self proclaimed German Christians did some 75 years ago.  I will not go to my death without taking at least one of these Taliban Anti-Christian Murderers with me.

Never Again!

In the mean time tax the Churches and all their holdings at the same rate any other profit making business is taxed.

Cade:
I thank you, good people—there shall be no money; all shall eat
and drink on my score, and I will apparel them all in one livery,
that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.

Dick: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Cade:
Nay, that I mean to do.


Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, scene 2, 71–78

From Reason:  http://reason.com/blog/2015/03/20/kill-all-gays-law-proposed-in-california

Lawyer prepares initiative; state may have to let him collect signatures.

What exactly to make of the proposed "Sodomite Suppression Act"? This ballot initiative wasn't introduced in some African country, the Middle East, or in Russia, but right here in California, home of many, many sodomites. A lawyer by the name of Matt McLaughlin wants to change the Golden State's penal code to make homosexual behavior a capital crime (pdf):
Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the People of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.
If the state refuses to enforce this law, it says the general public is "empowered and deputized to execute all the provisions hereunder extra-judicially, immune from any charge and indemnified by the state from any and all liability." It's so bonkers and evil that it almost comes full circle to be utterly hilarious, like Marvin the Martian threatening to destroy Earth. Mind you, the location is what makes it funny. Legislation like this would be exceedingly dangerous elsewhere in the world. But in California, even if this guy actually starts collecting signatures (that will make for some interesting encounters in parking lots) and it ends up on the ballot, the initiative could never be implemented, as it is blatantly unconstitutional.

California's ballot initiative system, though, does not appear to be able to stop him from moving forward with his proposal and signature-gathering, even knowing full well it will never be implemented. From the Sacramento Bee:
[T]he measure is likely to proceed to the signature-gathering stage. At the moment, its fate rests with state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is charged with writing a title and summary for the proposal. Legal experts say she has little choice but to let the process continue and that McLaughlin is unlikely to face professional repercussions.
Over the years, the $200 price tag for submitting an initiative has enabled California political activists to draft and submit thousands of orphan causes: eliminating divorce, requiring public schools to offer Christmas caroling, making criminals of those who lie during political campaigns.

Carol Dahmen, a media consultant in Sacramento who started the petition to disbar McLaughlin, argues that this one is different. Along with disbarment, Dahmen wants to draw attention to reforming the system, calling McLaughlin the "poster boy of what is still wrong with the initiative process."

"It's an interesting discussion about free speech, and I get that," Dahmen said. "But this is a lawyer, and he's advocating for murder."
The issue is who should make the call that a ballot initiative is illegal. As an elected official embroiled in state politics, letting the attorney general make that choice could create serious problems in less clear-cut situations. As it stands, Harris has been criticized (and sued) for writing slanted summaries of ballot initiatives that affected the possibility of their passage. It may have to be up to a judge to make the call, if needed.

Continue reading at:  http://reason.com/blog/2015/03/20/kill-all-gays-law-proposed-in-california

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

From The Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/is-it-time-for-the-jews-to-leave-europe/386279/

For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest examples of rising violence against Jews. Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalized Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.

Jeffrey Goldberg April 2015

All comes from the Jew; all returns to the Jew.”
— Édouard Drumont (1844–1917), founder of the Anti-Semitic League of France

I. The Scourge of Our Time

The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist. To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing France’s bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide. To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims. Finkielkraut’s cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim.

“My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture,” he said. “I live in a strange place. There is so much guilt and so much worry.” We were seated at a table in his apartment, near the Luxembourg Gardens. I had come to discuss with him the precarious future of French Jewry, but, as the hunt for the Charlie Hebdo killers seemed to be reaching its conclusion, we had become fixated on the television.

Finkielkraut sees himself as an alienated man of the left. He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing—and once openly anti-Semitic—National Front party. But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. “I don’t trust Le Pen. I think there is real violence in her,” he told me. “But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.”

Suddenly, there was news: a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris, had come under attack. “Of course,” Finkielkraut said. “The Jews.” Even before anti-Semitic riots broke out in France last summer, Finkielkraut had become preoccupied with the well-being of France’s Jews.
We knew nothing about this new attack—except that we already knew everything. “People don’t defend the Jews as we expected to be defended,” he said. “It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.”

I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?

“We should not leave,” he said, “but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.”

Reports suggested that a number of people were dead at the market. I said goodbye, and took the Métro to Porte de Vincennes. Stations near the market were closed, so I walked through neighborhoods crowded with police. Sirens echoed through the streets. Teenagers gathered by the barricades, taking selfies. No one had much information. One young man, however, said of the victims, “It’s just the Feuj.” Feuj, an inversion of Juif—“Jew”—is often used as a slur.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/03/is-it-time-for-the-jews-to-leave-europe/386279/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From Selma to Tunis: When Will We March Against the Segregation of Our Own Time?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ayaan-hirsi-ali/from-selma-to-tunis-when-will-we-march-against-the-segregation-of-our-own-time_b_6915660.html

Monday, March 23, 2015

California proposal to legalize killing gays hard to stop

Sure makes me glad I no longer live in Cali.  If I were an LGBT person there I'd be sure to have a gun even if I had to do so illegally.  Remember the Taliban Christers passed Prop 8.  Don't be the unarmed Jew in Germany or Poland circa 1939.

Time for LGBT People to take a page from the Israeli book of self-defense.

Be prepared to fight or leave.

Never Again!

From The Sacramento Bee:  http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article15394181.html

Nature Is Speaking – Julia Roberts is Mother Nature


The Rise Of LGBT Rights Is An Existential Threat To Conservative Religious Groups

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/03/17/3634382/can-religious-conservatives-survive-rise-lgbt-rights/

by Jack Jenkins March 17, 2015

On Monday, Rabbi Denise Eger was installed as the first openly gay president of Reform Judaism’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, which claims around 2,000 rabbis and 862 congregations in the United States.

“It really shows an arc of L.G.B.T. civil rights,” Eger told the New York Times. “I smile a lot — with a smile of incredulousness.”

Eger’s new position is, unquestionably, a historic moment for Reform Judaism. But when placed alongside the greater American religious landscape, her achievement is remarkable in part because of how common such stories have become. It’s hardly the first time a mainstream American faith community has proclaimed spiritual support for LGBT rights — the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association chose a lesbian Rabbi to be their president in 2007, Unitarian Universalists have been passing resolutions affirming everyone regardless of their sexuality since 1970, and several of the largest mainline Christian denominations have moved to embrace various versions of LGBT rights. Since the early 2000s, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have all voted in favor of supporting gay ordination and same-sex marriage, and the Episcopal Church famously elected Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, to the position of bishop in 2003. And while the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Christian denomination, officially opposes marriage equality and the ordination of LGBT ministers, Methodist bishops and priests across the country are now refusing to enforce church discipline on clergy who officiate same-sex weddings. Meanwhile, nearly half of religious Americans see no conflict between their faith and LGBT rights.

 Yet even as equality advocates toast these victories, more conservative-leaning faith traditions are doubling down on their opposition to homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender identity. This trend isn’t necessarily astonishing, of course, but as more and more religious Americans move to endorse equality, right-wing faithful are struggling to confront an uncomfortable question: can anti-gay religious groups survive in a country that embraces LGBT rights?
 
The issue has become omnipresent at the national gatherings of evangelical Christian institutions such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), whose leaders disavowed destructive “ex-gay” therapy in 2014 but continue to enforce a no-tolerance policy toward theologies that promote acceptance of same-sex relationships. When a SBC pastor in California told his congregation last year that he had adopted a conciliatory view of homosexuality, for example, national-level officials promptly responded by kicking the church out of the denomination. The larger evangelical community has also adopted a strategy of silencing or rejecting believers who publicly endorse pro-LGBT views: when World Vision, an evangelical charity, announced last March that it would start hiring gay employees, funders began pulling money from the organization, resulting in the group reversing its decision within 48 hours; Brandan Robertson, a young evangelical and author of the popular blog Revangelical, lost a book deal in January after he refused to sign a pledge asking him not to “condone, encourage or accept the homosexual lifestyle”; and in February, the Evangelical Covenant Church denomination “terminated” its partnership with Christ Church: Portland after the pastor preached passionate support for LGBT acceptance.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/03/17/3634382/can-religious-conservatives-survive-rise-lgbt-rights/

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Municipal Violations


Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Night Fun and Culture: ZZ Top














Michael Douglas finds Judaism and faces anti-Semitism

From The LA Times:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0315-douglas-anti-semitism-20150315-story.html

Last summer our family went to Southern Europe on holiday. During our stay at a hotel, our son Dylan went to the swimming pool. A short time later he came running back to the room, upset. A man at the pool had started hurling insults at him.

My first instinct was to ask, “Were you misbehaving?”

“No,” Dylan told me through his tears.

I stared at him. And suddenly I had an awful realization of what might have caused the man's outrage: Dylan was wearing a Star of David.

After calming him down, I went to the pool and asked the attendants to point out the man who had yelled at him. We talked. It was not a pleasant discussion. Afterward, I sat down with my son and said: “Dylan, you just had your first taste of anti-Semitism.”

My father, Kirk Douglas, born Issur Danielovitch, is Jewish. My mother, Diana, is not. I had no formal religious upbringing from either of them, and the two kids I have with Catherine Zeta-Jones are like me, growing up with one parent who is Jewish and one who is not.

Several years ago Dylan, through his friends, developed a deep connection to Judaism, and when he started going to Hebrew school and studying for his bar mitzvah, I began to reconnect with the religion of my father.

While some Jews believe that not having a Jewish mother makes me not Jewish, I have learned the hard way that those who hate do not make such fine distinctions.

Dylan's experience reminded me of my first encounter with anti-Semitism, in high school. A friend saw someone Jewish walk by, and with no provocation he confidently told me: “Michael, all Jews cheat in business.”

“What are you talking about?” I said.

“Michael, come on,” he replied. “Everyone knows that.”

With little knowledge of what it meant to be a Jew, I found myself passionately defending the Jewish people. Now, half a century later, I have to defend my son. Anti-Semitism, I've seen, is like a disease that goes dormant, flaring up with the next political trigger.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0315-douglas-anti-semitism-20150315-story.html

Modern-day snake oil: Those colon cleanses and detox diets are pseudoscientific nonsense

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/modern-day-snake-oil-those-colon-cleanses-and-detox-diets-are-pseudoscientific-nonsense/


19 Mar 2015


In light of the recent New York Times revelation that potential GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is “pursu[ing] some highly unconventional income streams” to finance his run for the White House — including a “cure” for diabetes that consists of cinnamon and chromium picolinate — increased attention is being paid to highly lucrative fad diets, the science behind which is sketchy at best.

Evidence for the damaging effects of “toxins” is thin on the ground — as in, scientists claim that the kinds of toxins that are eliminated via these diets not only don’t, but can’t possibly exist.

As Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University told The Guardian‘s Dara Mohammadi, “there are two types of detox: one is respectable and the other isn’t.” The former involves the medical treatment of people with life-threatening drug addictions, whereas “[t]he other is the word being hijacked by entrepreneurs, quacks and charlatans to sell a bogus treatment that allegedly detoxifies your body of toxins you’re supposed to have accumulated.”

If the human body did accumulate toxins in the manner that detox advocates claim, people wouldn’t need a detox — they’d be dead.

“The healthy body has kidneys, a liver, skin, even lungs that are detoxifying as we speak,” he said. 
“There is no known way — certainly not through detox treatments — to make something that works perfectly well in a healthy body work better.”

Many of these detox products claim to “cleanse” the toxins stored in the liver — but toxins aren’t stored in the liver. The liver processes harmful substances that enter the body and transform them into water-soluble compounds that can be excreted. Yet health food store shelves are stocked with teas and tinctures — as well as hair brushes and shampoos — that promise to somehow rid the body of these mysterious toxins.

Colonic irrigation is not as palpably absurd as a hairbrush that can cleanse toxins from the liver, but it’s no more based in science. Enema and colon cleanse advocates claim that the walls of the colon contain a toxin-housing “plaque” that slow releases the dreaded compounds into the body.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/modern-day-snake-oil-those-colon-cleanses-and-detox-diets-are-pseudoscientific-nonsense/

Tuesday, March 17, 2015