Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Christian Guy talks up rape and murder of Atheist Wives and Daughters at Prayer Breakfast. More Coffee, Anyone?

Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty actor and self- professed loyal follower of Jesus Christ, Son of God--the same guy who's been in trouble before for saying bad stuff he heard straight from God's mouth--had this to say at a prayer breakfast the other day:
"I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’ "
The audience cheered, applauded and laughed.  YaHOO!  Those good ol' boys was havin' them some fun.  Nothin' wrong with a good old fashioned poke at them godless ones. . .  Let 'em know what worthless POS they are.  Just doin' God's work. . .

You're thinking since I'm as close to a non-theist as it gets without making a formal announcement, and a woman besides, I should be so offended I can't stop bawling my eyes out over this. 

You're thinking this is going to be a rant against Phil Robertson and all those fundamentalist Old Testament phonies who get their pants in a big old bulge by fantasizing about wicked sexual stuff being done to helpless women.

You're thinking I'm thinking that maybe a prayer breakfast wasn't exactly the place to be saying things like that out loud.

Well, on that last one, maybe I am, but it wasn't my prayer breakfast.   (We don't have prayer breakfasts.  remember?  I don't really know what goes on in those places, except for that silly one the president has to go to every year. The one Ol' Phil probably shouldn't get invited to, if everybody knows what's good for them.)

Naw. I'm letting it go.  I think it's pretty hilarious. That Phil!  You and I both know this isn't the real Phil.  The real Phil is a savvy businessman turned dubious actor who makes scads of money by being Phil the bearded camo-christian bible-thumper.  In addition to marketing Duck Dynasty camo baseball caps, hoodies, tee-shirts, beach towels, key chains, mugs, mouse pads, Monopoly games, and baby Onesies, he publishes his own bible.  (The original King James version apparently leaves a lot to be desired.  Too much New Testament stuff.  And all the gory, sexy parts aren't underlined.)

*A question for another day:  If there is one true bible, why are there so many bibles?

I don't want Phil banned or boycotted or even bobbed.  Down there.  I want him to say more.  Get it all out.  I'm on a mission to figure out if God actually tells Phil these things or if Phil is maybe a bit dyslexic and he's sort of fouling those words up.  I've heard so many strange things this God has supposedly said to people I'm now hopelessly, unhealthily obsessed by the whole Telephone Gameness of it all.

I'm on the outside looking in--an impartial observer--and from my side it's not looking good for God.  (What? I'll go along.)  Lord knows He tries, but if He's so omnipotent, so omniscient, so perfect, how is it that He can't get his followers to repeat after Him and get His message out in clear, coherent (that is to say, non-nuts) sentences?

Whatever happened to the Beatitudes?  The Psalms?  The Lord's Prayer, for God's sake?  They're all in the Old Testament--the book the Fundies love to haul out while they're swooning through their sacred hatefests.

How is it that God allowed His primer, the Bible, to get so fuzzy whole chapters of it are up for grabs in the interpretation department?  Murder! Mayhem! Misogyny! Miscegenation! Homosexuality! Obama!

All I can say is, if You're out there anywhere, God, You've got Your work cut out for You.  Time for some smiting, Big Fella.  These guys aren't getting You or Your Only Begotten Son at all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Not "The Onion": GOP Senators Tell Iran Obama's Not The Boss, They Are

In a stunning open letter to the leaders of Iran, 47 Republican senators let it be known that, while Barack Obama might occupy the White House and temporarily hold the title of President and Commander-in-chief of these United States, it is Congress--most especially the Republican Congress--that holds the cards when it comes to any kind of nuclear deal.

The letter--did I mention it was addressed to the leaders of Iran?--was written by Tom Cotton, freshman senator from Arkansas, and signed by all but seven Republicans in the United States Senate.

It began like this:
An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.  Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution — the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices — which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.

Does that paragraph seem a little strange to you?  Who, outside of Monty Python, or maybe your local HOA, writes, "It has come to our attention. . ."?

Who, besides a newbie Tea Party senator (or a hotshot American Constitution 101 student) thinks it's a good idea to publicly school the leaders of another country about the laws of the United States?

Who, for that matter, writes an open letter to leaders of a country with which we're negotiating nuclear agreements, telling them they shouldn't be negotiating anything with this particular president when it's this particular congress that will ultimately have to approve? 
From the letter:  "For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.  As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then — perhaps decades.
"What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.  The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time."
 Who writes this without knowing that congress only approves and does not ratify a treaty?
"First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.  In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.  A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate).  Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement."
Who does that without knowing that it's not just our country in negotiations with Iran, but a UN coalition made up of five other countries--the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany?

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, did his own schooling yesterday:
"I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law.
The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.
I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement 'with the stroke of a pen', as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law."

So how did Tom Cotton get 46 other senators, many of them senior senators and wannabe presidential candidates, to sign their names at the bottom of that misdirected, miscalculated, misinformed mess? 

I can hardly wait to hear from the signers--the ones who woke up this morning, as if from a hangover, thinking, "What in hell? Where am I?  What did I do?"

The seven Republican senators who didn't sign:
1. Flake (AZ)
2. Collins (ME)
3. Corker (TN)
4. Murkowski (AK)
5. Alexander (TN)
6. Coats (IN)
7. Cochran (MS)

And, man, oh, man, (Got that from Biden) didn't the shit hit the fan?  It did.  In great steaming gobs.  So many are responding at so many different sources, it's impossible, even at this early stage, to link to them all.

Bernie Sanders accused the signers of sabotage.  And Joe Biden said this:
“In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which Senators wrote directly to advise another country--much less a longtime foreign adversary–that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them,” Biden wrote. “This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our Commander-in-Chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments-a message that is as false as it is dangerous.”

To which Tom Cotton, the author of the now infamous letter, who, at this writing, has no foreign policy or national security experience whatsoever, responded:
“Joe Biden, as [President] Barack Obama’s own secretary of defense has said, has been wrong about nearly every foreign policy and national security decision in the last 40 years,” Cotton said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” in a reference to former Pentagon chief Robert Gates, who ripped Biden in a tell-all memoir after leaving office.
And on it goes.  There is no end to the disrespect and outright hatred for this president.  The caterwauling against him raises by a thousand decibels each year he is in office.  The haters, including those members of congress who have made it their mission to take him down by any means necessary, aren't finished yet.  If this doesn't work--and it won't--they'll move on to something else.
It's worth noting that this all came down on the same weekend the country was recognizing the sacrifices made by the Civil Rights marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama.  On Saturday, the same day the Open Letter to the Islamic Leaders of Iran became public, our president, Barack Obama, gave the speech of his life at the entrance of the "Bloody Sunday" bridge.

In his speech President Obama said,
"The Americans who crossed this bridge were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities – but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.  

What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate." 
 And this is why the haters, even those members of congress who will never give this president the legitimacy he deserves, will lose.  We've made too many sacrifices in too many places at too many times to give in and give up and let them win.

(Cross-posted at Dagblog and Alan Colmes' Liberaland

Friday, March 6, 2015

Yes, Virginia, There Really Are Unicorn Hunters

There is a real Unicorn Hunters Society in the United States, in case you hadn’t heard.  It was formed in 1971, even though, as you know, unicorns have been around forever.  The society is based at Lake Superior State University (hereafter known as LSSU) in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (pronounced “soo saint Marie, hereafter known as The Soo).

The Soo is at the northern terminus of I-75, just beyond the 46th parallel, an hour north of where I live most of the year.   Up in the north woods hunting is a traditional activity, but until unicorn hunting was established only certain of us believed they existed.  The Unicorn Hunters Society, knowing what chaos would ensue once word got out about the mythical creatures’ activities, wisely set up a list of regulations.
From their Unicorn Quest list:
    1. Only one Unicorn per month. A success ratio higher than this often results in a form of euphoria, which of course requires a mental truss. This is highly undesirable.
    2. Female unicorns may not be taken. Since no one has ever sighted a female unicorn it is believed that males reproduce asexually.
  • TERM OF SEASON. All days of the year except St. Agnes’ Eve. This exception is to protect hares who limp trembling through frozen grass from being trampled by running unicorns. Bow and arrow season is Oct. 1 – Nov. 14, then Dec. 1 – Jan. 1.
  • APPROVED QUESTING DEVICES. Unicorns may be taken with:
    1. Serious Intent
    2. Iambic Pentameter
    3. General levity
    4. Sweet talk
(See complete list of regulations here.  Download a Unicorn Quest license here.)

The society was founded by W.T (Bill) Rabe,  a Public Relations mischief-maker from Detroit who later became the resourceful PR Director at LSSU.  He was looking for something unique that would put the obscure little university on the map, and, for reasons obscure, he came up with The Quest for Unicorns.

It got some attention.  Who could resist? But for Rabe it apparently wasn’t enough. At a New Year’s Eve party a few years later, in 1975, he and some of the other Unicorn Hunters got together and began writing down the words or phrases they most hated that year. (Must have been some boring party is all I can say.)  They saw right then and there that unicorn hunters made the most perfect wordsnobs wordsmiths, and the idea for the First Annual Unicorn Hunters List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness was born. (Hereafter known as the Banished Words List.  Or List.  Or list.)

Bill Rabe, old PR expert that he was, chose New Year’s Day, 1976, for the list’s debut date.  He knew from experience that January 1 is traditionally a slow news day, and the media, always hungry for tidbits on that day, would snap up the whimsical back story about the unicorn hunters and help to promote the Banished Words List.

Some of the words from that first list:  At this point in time, detente, macho, scenario.  (See 1976 list here.  See archive of all the words here.)  Now the voting is open to everyone and the words or phrases that show up most often will get to the top of the list.

Last year’s list included Selfie (no surprise), twerk/twerking, hashtag, Twittersphere (or Twitterverse, as someone corrected.) and Obamacare.

This year  they added BAE (a new word for me until my niece explained it), polar vortex, skill set, cra-cra, and my own favorite candidate, enhanced interrogation.

Well, certain people took umbrage (whoa–a candidate right there) with the Unicorn Hunters.  They didn’t see this as just so much fun; they saw it as a bunch of stuffy university types forcing people to stop using words or phrases of their choosing.   One commenter wrote, “Nobody is going to tell me what words I can use.  Not gonna happen. Bite me.”  (Oy.)

I’ve perused (all right, read) the whole damn list from A to Z and I’m pretty sure I’ve used at least a third of those words and phrases.  (Except bromance” and “chillaxing”. Typing them here for the first and last time.)

I literally (Literally! Ha!  Not on the list!) love lazy phrases and cliches, but only when I’m using them.  I hate it when other people take the easy way out and use them, too.  Amateurs!

I’ve followed the Unicorn Hunters for years and I love these lists, but at the end of the day (1999), they’re just words, right?  So far it’s not a crime to use them, right?  So will I try to mend my ways?

As if! (1997)

(Cross-posted at Constant Commoner)