Tag Archives: fundamentalists

The Republican establishment has bragging rights on hot air

As a onetime Republican who has evolved into an independent freethinker, I find the present state of politics to be rather disgusting. I suppose most people feel that way these days. (NOTE: Please participate in this poll re: your political affiliation.) Let me explain…

patriotic in AmericaThe two most common varieties of fundamentalism prevalent in the United States today seem to be religious fundamentalism (often manifested as a result of a disguised, socially acceptable form of brainwashing) and political fundamentalism (commonly known as partisanship). Even casual skimmers of our blogs often quickly sense our dislike of fundamentalism in all its forms. The reason is simple:

Fundamentalism represents a true evil, a notable worldwide scourge, and a major threat to the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.

Should anyone question this assertion, I suggest researching it for yourself; apply objective, critical thought to the issue. (Sadly, a large swath of America seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of critical thought…)

For starters, take a look at what Islamic fundamentalism has cost the planet so far. Consider how and why Hard Right Christian fundamentalism is pushing its way into American politics and its possible ramifications. Review the negative messages being spread by organizations like Resisting the Green Dragon[1] if you can stand to read it. These are not always comfortable subjects to study, but this writer for one believes the continued granting of free passes to such extremist fundamentalist organizations – ignoring them or remaining quiet about them so as to avoid respectful debate – might no longer be an acceptable option, if we are to make a difference. Perhaps exemplary living is not enough. (But that would be a good place for me to start…) :|

In this digital age of self-publishing and blog commentary, it seems highly partisan politics are being exposed more frequently. It’s easier than ever to identify those politicians that do little more than toe the party line, no matter how inane or illogical the stance, position, or sound bite may be. A great example of a party line-towing sycophant is Michele Bachmann, the dull and senseless Republican known for consistently getting the facts wrong in her stump speeches.
remaining Republican candidates in Jan 2012Americans increasingly admire politicians who are willing to speak their minds and butt heads with the standard party line when there’s notable disagreement. But the highly partisan politicians never do this; they parrot the latest party talking points on all occasions. It is precisely these politicians Americans should boot from office. These parrots should be denied the right to represent any bloc of the U.S. populace.

Of course, such partisans exist in every major political party; it is not merely a Republican issue, and it isn’t something that only Democrats have to deal with. However, this fiercely Independent citizen is certainly not alone in saying that it is the Republican Party that is spewing the majority of the hot air these days. Why is that?

For whatever reason, fundamentalists of all stripes – religious fundamentalists and political fundies alike – seem to be more at home on the Right. If you doubt that, then look into it.

Before the reader accuses me of being a liberal partisan myself, let me state for the record that I am in fact an ardent, Green-leaning Independent. I even respect Newt Gingrich to a degree; his flaws aside (every human has them), Newt is not afraid to speak his mind — even when it does not agree with the standard, regularly faxed Republican talking points. Newt does not toe the party line. Newt is an intelligent critical thinker. Newt is bold. However, Newt might be a tad too hot-headed to serve in the capacity of the world’s most powerful man; I don’t know!

At present, I must agree with those who were quoted in a post-State of the Union address CNN article as saying that, despite his shortcomings, Barack Obama is the best choice going forward when all of the current Presidential contenders are carefully considered. Obama clearly demonstrated in his eloquent and encouraging State of the Union address that he is the best candidate.

For a time, Ron Paul got my rapt attention. As a former card-carrying Libertarian (currently Independent/Green-leaning), I appreciated most of Ron Paul’s positions. But once I discovered that he has no respect for the critical, indispensable principle of separation of church and state, I no longer followed him.

Crucial reminder: Separation of church and state

While politics in general is dirty regardless of party (it is extremely unfortunate that spirituality and politics rarely intersect), the Republicans in particular are experts at distortion and misrepresentation.

You’d think, listening to the Republican debates, that Obama has raised taxes. Again, this is not true. Not only did he agree not to sunset the Bush tax cuts for his entire first term, he has aggressively lowered taxes on most Americans. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts, affecting 95 percent of taxpayers; he has cut the payroll tax, and recently had to fight to keep it cut against Republican opposition. His spending record is also far better than his predecessor’s. Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, nondefense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama. Again: imagine Bush had been a Democrat and Obama a Republican. You could easily make the case that Obama has been far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor—except, of course, that Obama has had to govern under the worst recession since the 1930s, and Bush, after the 2001 downturn, governed in a period of moderate growth. It takes work to increase the debt in times of growth, as Bush did. It takes much more work to constrain the debt in the deep recession Bush bequeathed Obama.
Source: In Newsweek, Andrew Sullivan Takes on Obama’s Critics on the Right and Left

And again:

It’s true that Obama has done a good job as president and deserves to be reelected, especially is the alternative is Mitt Romney, or worse. (Pick your poison.) Other than on a handful of serious issues related to civil liberties, the president’s biggest stumbles have mostly been political — particularly his and his team’s failure to recognize the tea party astroturf mobs for what they were: Bush’s base backed by billionaires intent on wreaking havoc.

Let’s hope the president has put the quest for world peace bipartisanship behind him, at least until November, and that his campaign will continue to play hardball with the GOP. One thing the Obama campaign can do right away is to take a cue from Andrew Sullivan’s article in Newsweek and begin countering the right-wing deceit about the president’s record with the facts.

Source: In Newsweek, Andrew Sullivan Takes on Obama’s Critics on the Right and Left

Furthermore, a recent study shows that Republicans truly own hot air:

Well, this week comes new and updated empirical evidence by the leading scholars in the field of political science that both sides don’t do it. Or, to be more accurate: yes, both sides do it, but saying that both sides do it equally is the equivalent of saying that a murderer and a purse snatcher have equally violated the law.

Keith T. Poole of the University of Georgia and Howard Rosenthal of New York University have been studying political polarization for years. They are the leading experts we have on the topic. And, three days ago on their blog, they released updated numbers (to include the current Congress) looking at all votes taken in both the House and Senate going back to 1879 and measuring over that period the ideological positions on a scale of the respective parties. You can read the post and look at the relevant graphs at the link above.

Result? “What is accurate to say, beyond doubt,” says Poole, “is that the Republicans have moved out to the right very fast, while the Democrats have drifted to the left, maybe, but nowhere close to what the Republicans have done.” Let’s check the numbers. Read more

Poll question: Political affiliation


How do you classify yourself politically today?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Notes

[1] Resisting the Green Dragon is the religious right’s fact-free disinformation campaign on climate change which is targeting children.
Resisting the Green Dragon home page

Resources: Republican establishment has bragging rights on hot air

Removed content: not verifiable
Tea Party member on their failure so far to create viable candidates:

The left all believes in roughly the same thing, they only differ on tactics. The right does not have the same political beliefs. A significant part of our party is socialist and simply argues we will do a better job of managing big government. Remember, it was a Republican that bragged “the era of small government is over!” (Source: Hot Air)

For later posts about religious fundamentalism, perhaps…

Removed content
Thankfully, positive reviews of Resisting the Green Dragon – reviews with any degree of objectivity, at least – are hard to find.

This post was started on Thursday, January 26, 2012.

Fringe TV show, fringe science, junk science

I’ve seen fewer than 20 episodes, so I’m no expert or Fringe junkie, but I really do enjoy certain aspects of Fringepromo image for Fringe TV show particularly the so-called fringe science for which the show is named. Fringe science, while certainly far-out, isn’t something that can be written off, reviled, or ridiculed, as if it were on the same level as the junk science employed by those who cannot accept actual science when it disagrees with the ancient books, fad diets and supplements, conspiracy theories, etc. which so many people seem to hold in higher esteem than reality.

Certain groups of people seem to be particularly prone to equate some junk science with the real thing. This subject receives more attention than usual during pre-election periods when ultra-rightist candidates – infamous in part for their refutation of actual science in favor of highly questionable theories – are out politicking.

Adherents to far-right fundamentalist flavors of various religions are another group that seems particularly susceptible to junk science in certain subject areas (evolution, age of the earth, scientific dating, the moon being a light source, and so on).

Divides between respected science and junk science can evolve into serious chasms and cause heated debate whenever serious money is at stake, such as when scientific claims threaten the future of corporate profits. A notable area here is green science, including energy-saving technologies, alternatives to oil, and breakthroughs leading to cleaner air and water. Such advances can add cost to some projects, especially during the early years of new technology while it is still relatively expensive – and this causes some groups to start misinformation or even disinformation campaigns against such advances in order to protect their financial interests.

Generally speaking, there are three (3) categories or classifications of scientific ideas: center, frontier, and fringe. Mainstream scientists typically consider fringe concepts as highly speculative, or in some cases, strongly refuted.

From Jules Verne to Isaac Asimov, science fiction writers have had a long tradition of inspiring future generations of scientists. As researchers and writers for the sci-fi television series Fringe, Robert Chiappetta and Glen Whitman hope to continue that tradition. No doubt, their series—now heading into its fourth season—is helping to shape today’s pop-culture image of what it means to be a scientist. Here, Chiappetta and Whitman talk about why science fiction often paints a negative picture of science and technology, why it’s tricky to work time travel into a storyline, and more. Source: PBS – NOVA, Fringe science

Resources: Science of Fringe, fringe science, junk science

Resources: Many Christians accept evolution; many more will follow in the coming decades

Just in case you, dear reader, are a religious person, please don’t worry – and please don’t be in a hurry to vacate this website! This is not a purely atheist or skeptical viewpoint; in fact, a great many Christians now accept the scientific view that the earth is billions of years old, and that creation and evolution need not contradict one another. If you are such a Christian, please spread the word: Science and religion need not be enemies! We strongly believe that fideism is on its way out, and we say “good riddance.”

Resources: The junk science of young-earth creationism

  • Religious fundamentalist arguments against scientific dating – What are the creationist arguments against radiometric dating? They have no data that determines the age of the earth to be 6-10 thousand years old, so they resort to two methods. First, they try to find examples of bad radiometric dates and offer these up as proof that radiometric dating is totally unreliable. Second, they provide supposed evidences of a young age for the earth, based on variables such as the accumulation of salt in the ocean…
  • Evolution evidence – This site contains a series of articles written by myself or linked from other sites that are designed to demonstrate the evidence for evolution and common ancestry of all life on earth. If you read the articles listed in the menu down the left hand side of the page (click here if you don’t see a menu), you will get an idea of how the evidence for evolution builds upon basic facts.
  • Young earth creationism – Wikipedia
  • Evidence against creationism
  • Fideism – Wikipedia
  • Fideism – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Family Guy tackles young-earth creationism

Other subjects that came up during research on fringe science, junk science

Updates
September 15, 2011

The United States is being seriously weakened by hyper-partisanship

wrecking ball in action - partisanship is the wrecking ball demolishing the United States

The United States is being significantly weakened from the inside by hyperpartisanship, which – objectively considered – is ultimately as harmful to politics as fundamentalism is to religion. The Tea Party’s effect on the right is spotlighting the issue of pathetic politicians who consistently choose to toe the party line instead of doing what’s best, or even using common sense. Sadly, saving face has become more important than responsible leadership and representation.

I suppose the ultimate cause of our representatives’ morphing into robotic party lackeys is ego/desire for power, and this serves to further highlight the need to limit our reps in Congress to one or two terms.

What else might we do to discourage partisanship and encourage common sense? I really do wonder…

Background

The above comment was posted on Facebook today in response to a comment from the Libertarian Party:

The best outcome would be no deal at all. If the debt limit is not raised, then the federal government will have to cut its spending by over 40%. That would be the best outcome for the future of America, and it’s certainly the preferred outcome for Libertarians.

Why Michele Bachmann is wrong for our country

Quick update (Wednesday, September 14, 2011): Michele Bachmann continues to suffer from a bad case of truthitis. Michele Bachmann, tea party republican christian fundamentalist creationist
Many of the “facts” in her prepared speeches continue to be blatantly misleading, if not plain false. Some of her comments during the recent “Tea Party Republican Debate” were no exception, particularly when she attacked the equally unworthy Rick Perry for his executive order requiring girls to get a vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV).

Contents of this post

It seems apparent that Michele Bachmann is not the right person to lead a progressive, secular country like America.


Michele Bachmann, tea party republican christian fundamentalist creationist Our secular nation
I’m confident in my referral to America as a secular nation; it seems obvious this was the intent of the Founding Fathers as evidenced by the documents they produced, their writings and quotes, etc. However, a 2010 PRRI poll shows that over half of those identifying with the Tea Party say the U.S. has always been and still is a Christian nation – indicating a basic but crucial misunderstanding if taken to mean “Christian fundamentalist nation.”

Phrased another way, America is definitely a Christian nation, if by “Christian” one speaks of adhering to basic spiritual principles and morality, and making the same kinds of choices that great spiritual teachers like Jesus might have made, treating all others with respect, and so on.

However, America is certainly not a Christian nation in the sense that good citizens and even government must interpret religious traditions and supernatural stories in the Bible in a literal, fundamentalist sense (as in the creation of the universe taking place in six 24-hour days, a talking snake, a literal Satan, God favoring America over other countries, Noah’s ark as historic fact, etc.).

Flawed proposals of Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann wants to strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its powers, if not dismantle it entirely. The reality is that we need environmental protection and related oversight more than ever; it’s a basic and crucial issue. Thomas Jefferson portraits - color When left to their own devices, big business has shown itself to be far more adversarial than neutral toward nature, clean air, clean water, etc. – certainly not an advocate, benefactor, or protector of the environment. Man’s quest for the dollar often causes a departure from common sense, good stewardship, and basic spiritual principles when it comes down to earth’s precious, irreplaceable natural resources. If anyone should still doubt the importance of clean air and water, a few easy biology lessons will reveal even to the simple-minded that man cannot live without his environment; we’re a part of it. Everything is connected and interdependent. Why should we be willing to allow our aquarium to be polluted any more than absolutely necessary, especially for the sake of lining a few pockets?

Michele Bachmann and many others have demonized the health care bill. The truth is it’s modeled on a Republican-devised health care system. horned Michele Bachmann, tea party republican christian fundamentalist creationist It’s far from perfect, but condemning the health care bill as a whole is nothing more than pure partisan politics. The herd, though, has a strong tendency to adopt the talking points their political party rather than searching for and determining the truth for themselves. For example, declaring with a straight face that Obama is a Muslim or that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. appears to indicate one of two things: dishonesty or a low intelligence factor (along with the willingness to be a complete lackey – stuck under the party’s thumb). Opponents of Obama’s health care legislation – regardless of party affiliation – should be providing realistic alternatives rather than applying blanket partisan criticism, particularly if they’re just parroting party leaders and haven’t even sought the truth for themselves in a reasonably objective fashion.

Michele Bachmann, tea party republican christian fundamentalist creationist Michele Bachmann says Americans are too heavily taxed for the economy to spring back to life. In truth, Americans now enjoy some of the lowest personal income tax rates in decades. In 1980 those earning between $100 and $250K were taxed at 59%; the same amount was taxed at 75% in 1960. Arguments and assertions that present-day personal income tax rates are high are misleading at best. (Corporate taxes are another story; the U.S. ranks about in the middle of the top industrialized nations. Smooth-talking politicians often speak negatively about taxes, allowing the audience to make the assumption they’re talking about personal income taxes; it’s a very important distinction.)

Michele Bachmann pledges to reverse the recently implemented oversight over the practices on Wall Street: the kind of watchful care that would have gone a long way in preventing at least some of the 2008 flame-out of the U.S. and global economies; oversight most people believed necessary when the economy swerved into the ditch.

Though talk of this has waned in recent months, the right-wing political machine speaks ill of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailout – even though in reality it was passed at the urgent request of George Bush, went a long way in saving our collective asses, and might even result in a net profit – or at least a surprisingly low net cost. Once it’s all wrapped up, it’s possible the only wiser move in retrospect would have been more of the same.

However, I must also admit that the Libertarian streak in me would like to have seen the market itself determine the outcome of those institutions and auto companies, even though this probably would have wreaked much more havoc on the economy. The market might have forced certain realities to be confronted and dealt with in a more permanent and sustainable fashion.

It seems Michele Bachmann and others like her have become emboldened practitioners of intellectual dishonesty based on carefully orchestrated misdirection and political sleight-of-hand designed by her expensive hired hands. Bachmann has clearly chosen big-money special interests over thoughtful progress. Bachmann and those like her are choosing organized fundamentalist religion and big business over basic, universal spiritual principles and what’s best for individuals.

There’s little chance than Bachmann will be a contender for the Republican ticket for very much longer – but will the alternatives be different enough to really matter? This remains to be seen.

Am I trumpeting the Democratic ticket as the ultimate solution? Hardly; big-party politics as usual is a major part of the problem. But this relatively independent observer sees more intellectual dishonesty happening on the right side of the aisle these days.

A political platform we’d like to see

(NOTE: The material in this section has been updated and moved to its own post; see A political platform we’d like to see.)
IMHO, a proper political movement would combine fiscal conservatism, libertarianism, greenism, freedom of religion and other personal latitude, the ability and willingness to negotiate reasonable agreements through compromise while remaining open-minded and teachable, and so on: the better parts of diverse political philosophies. This might include plans to:

  • Implement a fair tax; dismantle current system of outdated loopholes & slash IRS budget
  • Enforce immigration laws to reduce future welfare and other public costs, but don’t pass laws to oppress immigrants already living here
  • Create a significant overhaul and upgrade of U.S. infrastructure (roads, bridges, pipes, telecommunications, power grid, etc.) to maintain and improve the American quality of life, attract global business, etc., using the private sector as much as possible
  • Encourage alternative energy sources; allow oil to move to a natural market price
  • Remove subsidies (such as those received by oil companies), outdated tax breaks, and other lingering loopholes well past their prime
  • Education: consider implementing locally successful education projects on a national scale (e.g., magnet schools)
  • Legalize marijuana, decriminalize use of other drugs; release those imprisoned for only using drugs
  • Implement alternatives to incarceration for non-violent crimes
  • Implement gradual tax increases on the use of limited natural resources
  • Implement gradual tax increases on certain goods: tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, maybe certain firearms, etc.
  • Implement taxes on excessive waste in certain instances, where measurable (e.g., a tax based on vehicles getting under 20 miles per gallon [MPG])
  • Randomly audit the feds on all levels, including defense contracts and other partnerships with private sector
  • Significantly reduce the defense budget
  • Continue to move away from serving as the global police force
  • Move toward clean, zero-waste systems as opposed to traditional systems
  • Implement & maintain reasonable oversight for environment, Wall Street
  • Eliminate all religious preferences, favoritism, and appearances of such from government, per the original intent of our Founding Fathers; take the separation of church and state more seriously, stop encouraging religious fundamentalists/extremists
  • Use lottery or chance systems instead of personal wealth & political connections to make certain unpopular decisions in order to remove the tendency to oppress the poor (e.g., location of new city dump, which neighborhood gets new park, etc.)
  • Apply fairness in government decision-making whenever possible and reasonably practical (as opposed to the wishes of big business, wealthy taxpayers, etc. being the deciding factor); even though life is not always fair, governance can be in most cases
  • Reign in payments to other countries
  • Behave responsibly as a respected and respecting member of the global community; refrain from bullying other nations and similar tactics; treat other nations as we would like to be treated
  • Implement zero-based budgeting throughout government

Green Party: Worth a look?

It turns out that the Green Party platform is extremely close to what many would consider ideal – including many Independents, Republicans, and Democrats.

The platform of the Green Party covers all the major issues; it’s much more than just an environment-friendly group. All indications are that the Greens are a responsible, intelligent, and fair political party. Although I have not yet read the entire platform (it’s a lot), I have yet to find a position with which I disagree.

Perhaps I’ll spend less of my time being critical of current politics and more of my time promoting responsible political thought and action – and so far the Green Party appears to be the most logical choice.

Back to Bachmann: Gaffe-prone, dishonest, or both?

Michele Bachmann, tea party republican christian fundamentalist creationist

Politicians in the U.S. and elsewhere – especially those running for office, it seems – are frequently busted making false statements. Sometimes the falsehoods are genuine mistakes, I’ll grant. Many are exaggerations; some are marvels of statistical creativity.

But some of the misstatements made by politicians are just plain dumb; they really make you wonder. This is where we find ourselves with Michele Bachmann. If such outlandish, bizarre statements don’t cause wonder and concern among listeners, it points to related issues that may be even more frightening: that of a populous incapable of rational thought – a creeping idiocracy. We’d better provide some examples of Bachmann misinformation/disinformation. (No problem; for many more, see PolitiFact.com.)

“If you threw a barbecue yesterday for the Memorial weekend, it was 29 percent more expensive than last year because Barack Obama’s policies have led to groceries going up 29 percent.” – Michele Bachmann
(The President did it!?)

“The president released all of the oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve.” – Michele Bachmann
(Huh?)

“One. That’s the number of new drilling permits under the Obama administration since they came into office.” – Michele Bachmann
(There are many ways to slice the data, but there is not any determinable scheme to arrive at one. Over 44 new drilling permits have been issued by the Obama administration since the Deepwater Horizon incident, or somewhere north of 269 oil drilling permits during Obama’s reign overall; prior to the BP oil disaster, the Obama administration reported approving 217 new shallow and deepwater well permits.

“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.” – Michele Bachmann
(A figure plucked from an Indian paper with no fact-checking)

“Speaker Pelosi … has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she’s flying.” – Michele Bachmann
(Alcohol comprised a small fraction of the tab; is M.B. arguing against alcohol, or spending?)
MAD Magazine cover - funny

Ezekiel Emanuel, one of President Obama’s key health care advisers, “says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you’re disabled.” – Michele Bachmann
(Deliberate misinformation or disinformation, it appears)

ACORN will be a paid partner with the Census Bureau and “they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public.” – Michele Bachmann
(False on all counts)

“Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table” of abandoning the dollar for a multinational currency. – Michele Bachmann
(And in that corner: the imaginary adversary)

In the 1970s, “the swine flu broke out… under another Democrat, President Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” – Michele Bachmann
(This statement strongly indicates that Michele Bachmann will say damn near anything to disparage her opponents; this is extremely lame – even for a politician. The 1976 swine flu outbreak occured during Gerald Ford’s presidency; Ronald Reagan was president during another, smaller, outbreak in 1988.)

MAD Magazine poster - funny

Michele Bachmann stated that the Constitution only requires her to tell the census “how many people are in our home.” (False, illegal)

“The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax. There isn’t one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle… And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.” – from Michele Bachmann’s Earth Day speech (watch the video)
(More carbon dioxide can’t be bad because it occurs naturally, right?! Using Michele Bachmann’s glistening logic, we should increase our use of arsenic or uranium. They’re natural. They’re part of Earth’s life cycle… Can you imagine Michele Bachmann leading the free world? Dare you imagine it?)

“Normalization [of homosexuality] through desensitization… A very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders is to take a picture of “The Lion King” for instance, and a teacher might say, “Do you know the music for this movie was written by a gay man?” The message is: I’m better at what I do because I’m gay.” – Michele Bachmann
(Being gay is a big sin per MB, and Bachmann has single-handedly uncovered the secret Liberal Socialist Satanic plan to convert around 10% of our children from hetero to homo. The Bachmann solution: Nip gayness in the bud by speaking of gays either negatively or not at all!)

“Five decades ago in America, we had less debt than we have today. We had $300 billion or less in debt. A gallon of gasoline was 31 cents.” – Michele Bachmann
(Sounds dramatic, huh? This is a fine example how Bachmann’s clever, wool-pulling team of gurus and speechwriters spin the statistics to produce the oohs, ahs, and gasps. It isn’t lying – but it isn’t straight talk, either. Properly adjust for inflation and the 31 cents becomes $2.25; the $300 billion in national debt was a full 55% of the 1961 GDP. Today’s $14 trillion in debt is 96% of the GDP. Too high? Yes, way too high, as everyone knows… That’s what wars, entitlement programs, and other excessive spending do to a budget. But the difference is not nearly as dramatic as she’s implying, nor is it the fault of one party.)

Michele Bachmann claims to have “never gotten a penny” from a subsidized family farm.
(Her previous financial disclosures show tens of thousands in personal income from the agricultural operation.)

“During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed… The government spent its wad by April 26.” – Michele Bachmann
(Nice phrasing. Didn’t you mean “shot”?)

This one is a hoot.
Bachmann blames FDR for “Hoot-Smalley” tariffs

What’s happening to reason?

A related point of concern is that some Tea Party audiences seem to eat up the misstatements; I expect many of them have the unfortunate tendency to believe most of what they hear, particularly when the source is friendly to their cause (e.g., info from other religious fundamentalists, ultra-conservative partisans, etc.). Is the United States trending towards Idiocracy? What if it were?!

Conclusion: Elect Bachmann!

Even if everything I’ve written above were wrong, the United States still could not afford to endure a high-risk extremist like Michele Bachmann for President, or even as her party nominee. Honestly, a person who routinely makes so many deliberate or sadly ignorant misstatements and gaffes in a public speech probably does not have the mental prowess or even the basic knowledge necessary to be an effective leader of our country.

Look, M. Bachmann believes any amount of carbon dioxide is acceptable because it is a natural element. It occurs in nature, so it could not possibly be detrimental to human health.

This is Bachmann’s stance: NATURAL ELEMENT = SAFE FOR HUMANS. “It’s natural, and part of God’s plan for us.”

Toxic metals

Using Bachmann’s Einsteinian reasoning, we ought to manufacture baby bottles out of lead. We should flavor our tea with arsenic; hey – it’s natural, so it must be O.K. in any amount, right?

Toxic Elements: Do You Know Which Elements Are Toxic?

If we prepared you a batch of eye shadow containing large amounts of uranium, you’d be O.K. wearing it, right? Why not manufacture a line of high-end, mercury-based make-up? Great business idea.

Here’s another example of a Bachmann rant with a error rate approaching 100%

It is unfortunate that basic, universal spiritual principles such as honesty and truthfulness seem to have evaporated from politics – or perhaps this has been a trait of politics for centuries. But not even slick politicians should get away with repeatedly spreading falsehoods, misinformation, or even disinformation, whether it’s deliberate or out of ignorance. A person who displays such a willingness to revise or whitewash American history, speech after speech, is certainly not someone I would want leading the country – not even if she were a Green Libertarian.

Resources: Bachmann wrong to lead America

For later, perhaps…
When they come from an elected U.S. official, falsehoods in public speeches on the world stage can be downright embarrassing or even worrisome. A couple of examples come to mind…

Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or dogma. The cognitive application of freethought is known as freethinking, and practitioners of freethought are known as freethinkers. Why not let common sense reign?

Michele Bachmann’s frequent falsehoods, gaffes, historical revision

Michele Bachmann: “The very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” What could she possibly have been thinking of – our Founding Fathers? Many Continental Congressmen were themselves slave owners. Unfortunately for Mrs. Bachmann, this gaffe is intensified by her choice of words (the “very” founders…), making the odd comment appear to be more than just a misstatement. She even made it worse later, when questioned about the misspeak, by bringing John Quincy Adams into the mix as a Founding Father. (He did work to abolish slavery but he was not among the Founding Fathers.)

(Christine what’s-her-name comes to mind.)

(Christian fundamentalism seems to be an increasingly common “Christian” viewpoint or interpretation today; for more on the folly of religious and political fundamentalism, please see Search for Truth).

Nashville’s Belmont University now welcomes gays

Organized Christianity vs. homosexuality

skyline at night in Nashville, Tennessee - downtown lit up in the evening

Belmont University unintentionally exploded onto front pages all over the United States when the Christian (sort-of) institution fired Lisa Howe — a soccer coach who happens to be a lesbian — after she came out of the closet.

Apparently, it all began when Lisa took a brave initiative: she approached the Belmont administration and asked for permission to spread some personal good news to the members of her soccer team. Lisa’s female partner is pregnant, officially making the pair an expecting couple.

Many conservative Christians – especially religious fundamentalists who interpret the Bible in a relatively literal fashion (and this is quite common in Nashville, Tennessee) – firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin, and a “big one” at that. (For more about the pitfalls of far-right religious and political fundamentalism, please see Search for Truth.)

Tolerance of homosexuality appears to be growing on a slow but steady basis in the U.S. along with much the world.

Generally, homosexuals number about one out of every ten people; it is quite a statistically significant group. Appearances do not seem to support this, but that’s easy to explain: contrary to popular opinion, sexual orientation is not a visible trait, like hair color. Besides that, many gays apparently choose to remain closeted – especially in regions more heavily populated by far-right religious fundamentalists and other intolerant groups.

action movie - v for vendetta - a movie with meaning

Having attended Lipscomb (a Church of Christ-based school) from first grade all the way through college (then known as David Lipscomb University), I can’t help but wonder whether the ongoing clash between organized fundamentalist Christianity and homosexuality will ever become a public spectacle on the Lipscomb campus. Hopefully the Lipscomb administration will have the wisdom and foresight to implement a formal policy regarding tolerance of homosexuals (if they haven’t already) before a similar event occurs.

Not being gay myself, but having had a few gay friends here and there throughout my life (e.g., as a student at Lipscomb, in the workplace, etc.), I’ve found gays are just like everybody else. They are not weirdos, and they aren’t some kind of otherworldly enigma! This is likely evident regarding any homosexuals you might know personally. (If you think you don’t know any, they are probably still in the closet.) Most importantly, based on what I have been told more than once, most gay men do not choose to be homosexuals, to be attracted to members of the same sex. In other words, it seems to be a trait that occurs in nature rather than a conscious choice.

So while some gays may adopt the lifestyle by choice, I believe the vast majority do not. If this eventually proves to be scientifically shown, then many people (e.g., religious fundamentalists) must eventually change the way they think about gay people.

As an enthusiastic advocate for the application of universal spiritual principles (e.g., acceptance, tolerance, compassion, etc.) in all situations, I have no doubt Belmont has done the right thing by electing not to engage in discrimination against gays.

Even so, this remains a very tricky issue; on one hand you have basic spiritual principles like acceptance and non-judgment, and on the other hand you have the Libertarian ideals of privacy and the freedom to include or exclude whatever subgroups one wants.

Private institutions should have the right…

As an admirer of the Libertarian Party and proponent of a much smaller and less intrusive government, I firmly believe that private institutions and organizations should have the right to form exclusive groups if they so desire.

So, a relevant question at this point might be what kind of institution does Belmont want to be? If the answer is “a spiritually centered” one, then the non-discriminatory policy is the right policy. But if the answer is “a private” one, then by all means let them exclude whatever subgroups they want.

Homosexuality in the Bible

The Bible explicitly takes on this subject. I’ll not list all the scriptures now… According to The Event Horizon Rider, the Bible clearly condemns gayness a total of three times. The most famous Biblical reproach of homosexuality is in Genesis when Lot donates his virgin daughters to be raped by a pack of gay men. (What a story, huh?)

The subject of sexual orientation is on a lengthy list of apparently contradicting statements in the Bible. Although there are exceptions, religious fundamentalists (whether Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, etc.) generally interpret their “revealed” scriptures in a literal or near-literal manner. Since the Old Testament strongly condemns a particular sex act, homosexuals as a whole are viewed as evil by many of those on the far right or “hard right.”

But since the Bible cannot reasonably be interpreted in a literal (or near-literal) fashion, the O.T. condemnation doesn’t carry a lot of weight with freethinkers or progressive Christians. For instance, if we are to apply a literal interpretation of the Bible’s apparent support of slavery, then it’s OK for us to have slaves today. If we are to interpret the Bible literally, then we must hate our parents and give away all our possessions. So it’s safe to say that most of us do not believe the Bible was ever meant to be interpreted by modern man in a literal or even near-literal fashion.

Homosexuality: Natural trait or choice?

In order for a given act to be considered a sin, it must be an action performed by choice at some level (as opposed to a natural trait, or a characteristic with which one was apparently born). One doesn’t see the bible listing as a “sin” any naturally occurring features (hair color, skin tone, acne, etc.) people may possess. If this were the case, that would mean the true responsibility of sexual orientation rests with the creator as opposed to the individual.

If you are reading this and you agree with most religious fundamentalists on this issue, then you believe homosexuality is a grave sin – and certainly a choice, not any kind of natural or inborn trait.

If that is really true, then you should carefully consider the following question.

Could you suddenly decide to start being sexually attracted to others of your sex?

If you react with revulsion, or an “Of course not!” answer, then perhaps you should reconsider your position objectively and without judgment.

Resources

Belmont: General

http://belmontvision.com/

Bible on homosexuality

Reaction to Belmont’s intolerance

Belmont University afterwards

Is Homosexuality a choice?

Time for a little religious fundamentalist humor…

This is your brain on authoritarian religion. Any questions?

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a U.S. radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination
according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura.

NOTE: in all seriousness, in July 2003, Schlessinger announced on her show that she was no longer an Orthodox Jew. (Source: Wikipedia)

Moral of the story – Religion: It comes, then hopefully goes. Even so, we shall continue…

Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also
tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)?

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Thank you!

Originally written Friday, December 10, 2010