Archive for January, 2014

I’ve written before about the United States’ (effectively) unconditional support for anything Israel does, especially among the very conservative (at least Christian conservative). So, it makes you wonder: What’s a Christian conservative to do when Israel happens to have a more liberal – a more progressive – policy in favor of something that the Christian conservative loathes? Enter the cognitive dissonance!

In fairness, I fully realize that I’m pulling a bit of an over-simplification here, and I fully recognize that one can generally be in favor of some group while not liking some of the individual things they do. For example, I’m generally in favor of President Obama, but I think his use of the NSA with their spying is horrible.

With that in mind, we get to an article by Ryan Jones of Israel Today that was either written for or posted in full by WND: “Israel Picking Up Tab for Abortions.” I’ll quote the first four paragraphs and a fifth one farther down:

Israel’s newly-passed health budget for 2014 includes a significant increase in government funding for legal abortions, a move that Sandy Shoshani, national director of the pro-life organization Be’ad Chaim, says is a serious indictment of the nation’s spiritual condition.

Last month, the Health Basket Committee – which annually decides which medications, treatments and procedures will be covered or subsidized by the government – determined that the previous practice of paying for abortions for women under the age of 19 and over the age of 40 wasn’t enough.

Included in the new budget is 16 million shekels (USD $4.5 million) to also cover abortions for women between the ages of 20-33.

While all women seeking a legal abortion must receive special approval, the committee in charge of making that decision rubber-stamps 97 percent of requests, or well over 20,000 abortions each year.

… That Israel’s government would regard the lives of unborn babies in so flippant a manner is evidence that “the moral fibers of our nation are in shreds,” said Shoshani, who warned that “you can’t bring a curse on your nation and not expect repercussions. We just opened the door wide and made ourselves vulnerable.”

The article got 220 ratings (4.80/5 star average) and 283 comments, and it was published 13 days ago (I’m sorta catching up). I was curious to see how WND commenters would handle this issue: Maintain unbridled support for Israel no matter what, condemn this practice, or something else?

Mostly, at least skimming the high-rated comments, anyway, they ignore it. There are a lot of comparisons to Hitler and pointing out numbers of people he killed versus number of abortions performed. Lots of people saying that the US is “in judgement” because of their policies. Some anti-Obama stuff. Some anti-Muslim stuff. The most direct comments I found (that were highly rated) claim that the current government of Israel is anti-Biblical and going to lead to Israel’s downfall and the apocalypse.

World Net Daily’s Jack Minor got to write up this doozy: “State Bill Makes Abortion ‘Class 3 Felony.’” In the lovely state where I reside, Colorado.

For those who don’t know, we have a bit of history here in Colorado with making any abortion illegal. It was soundly rejected by voters (by something like a 3:1 margin) the two times that I remember it being on the ballot under the guise of a “Personhood” Amendment. (If passed, it would mean that as soon as an egg is fertilized, it will be recognized as a “person” in Colorado law, meaning that destroying it in any way would constitute murder.)

But, that kind of overwhelming rejection doesn’t stop anti-abortion people. The latest is House Bill 14-1133 (link to PDF), with 12 sponsors in the state House and 7 in the state Senate. The sponsor in the House is Rep. Stephen Humphrey (district 48), and in the Senate, it’s Scott W. Renfroe (district 13). Both are Republicans. To quote:


Meanwhile, the bill defines an “unborn human being” as any homo sapien “FROM FERTILIZATION TO FULL GESTATION AND CHILDBIRTH.” In other words, instead of amending the state Constitution, they’re trying to just do it by statute. There are only two exceptions: The mother’s life is in danger, but the physician still has to try to save the life of the fetus; and if the death is accidental during some routine kind of medical procedure. Period. The bill is very clear about its intent, the very first line explaining, “Legislative intent.(1) It is the intent of the general assembly to make the practice of abortion illegal in the state of Colorado.”

Maybe this is common in bills – I don’t know ’cause I very very rarely read them – but it almost anticipates a court challenge (and a successful challenge) if passed: “It is the further intent of the general assembly that if and as long as any portion of part 9 of article 6 of title 18, Colorado Revised Statutes, is declared unconstitutional by an appellate court, the existing statutes or portions of statutes that relate to abortion shall be enforced as law.”

I don’t think it’s a stretch for me to say this bill has almost zero chance of passing. Democrats have a majority in both the House and Senate, and the Governor is a Democrat (though Jack Minor notes, “Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper also is facing a tough re-election campaign this year”).

I expect this bill to die in committee. Not just because of its blanket ban on all abortion – which has very little support as evidenced by past election results – but also because the legislature is controlled by Democrats and because the Supreme Court clearly ruled in Roe v. Wade that at least some form of abortion is a protected right. Though I think that these ultra-conservative groups keep trying to get these laws passed so that they will be challenged and then appealed all the way to the Supreme Court which they hope will then overturn Roe v. Wade.

Just for completeness, the article has 433 ratings (4.90/5 average – the highest I remember seeing on posts with >100 ratings), and it has 559 comments.

Let’s get right to Right Wing Watch’s story about this: Another Religious Right Tale Of Anti-Christian Victimization Gets Thoroughly Debunked. They give the short version, I’ll try to give the short-short version: Six-year-old child was doing a “sharing” (public speaking) exercise in school, allegedly was told by the teacher she couldn’t talk about the Bible, Christians got outraged in typical Christian Love™ fashion. Except, as RWW points out, the entire victimization story is made up (but happily promoted by serial maker-upper Todd Starnes of FOX “news”).

Granted, this revelation that it was made up came to light on January 21. RWW blogged about it on January 29. WND’s article by Bob Unruh on it came out January 14 (“District Bullies Students Over Faith – Again” — This is labeled a “WND Exclusive” despite it being reported all over Tea Bagistan). I have yet to see any WND retraction.

If for some reason you want to read Bob’s article, you’ll find a whole lot of (un)righteous indignation. Lots of blustering, also, by the legal team at Advocates for Faith & Freedom, including quotes by their general counsel, Robert Tyler, such as, “The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic.”

The article served its purpose, however, and it garnered 54 ratings (4.80/5 average) and a decent 91 comments. It’s not worth going through the comments, they’re not that unusual for WND.

Continuing a string of legal victories for marriage equality proponents, in mid-January, a federal judge in Oklahoma struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage, finding it unconstitutional. However, he stayed his ruling pending the certain appeals (probably to avoid a situation like Utah’s). World Net Daily copied three paragraphs and a figure caption – without the figure, and put in the middle of the text – from The Oklahoman and entitled it, “Oklahoma ‘Gay’-Marriage Ban ‘Unconstitutional.’

A few days later, they published two paragraphs from People’s World with the headline, “Communist Party Cheers ‘Gay’ Marriage.” I think this is supposed to be a “poisoning the well” logical fallacy — most WND’ers consider communists bad, therefore if they like something, it’s even more reason for WND folks to dislike it.

I’d be repeating myself if I cited all my normal commentary on how conservatives are fighting a losing battle on this issue. But, instead of closing out the article and not writing about it, I decided to delve into the 184 comments to try to understand what the arguments still are on the conservative side against marriage equality. Here’s what I found:

  • Homosexuals are not an ethnic nor sectarian minority and therefore don’t deserve protected rights.
  • Homosexuals are defined only by “sexual deviance.”
  • “Anal intercourse or lesbian mutual masturbation are not constitutionally protected rights.” –“jtrollla”
  • The ~50% of Americans who support same-sex marriage “are deceived” (“3rdryder”)
  • Moral disapproval (my a majority) should be a permissible justification.
  • Gays can get married to an opposite-sex partner.
  • God
  • Jesus

I know it’s been pointed out elsewhere, but I actually find this kind of thing reassuring. These ridiculous arguments clearly show that there aren’t any rational ones that can be made for preventing two people of the same gender from entering into a legally binding contract and receive the legal rights, protections, and responsibilities thereof.

Edited to Add (February 1, 2014): I missed this in my queue, that WND’s Ilana Mercer has an article about it, as well: “Conned About Marriage, Constitution and ‘States’ Rights.'”

I should’ve started numbering these posts when I did the first one. Oh well. This 4-paragraph snippet is courtesy of the Arkansas Matters, and WND posted it on January 14 (I’m catching up!) under the headline, “Atheists Want Cross Off Police Property.” To quote Annie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), “The Searcy Police Chief seems to mistake public property for private property” by placing a cross on the grounds of the Searcy Police Department.

Seems pretty clear: A government entity (part of the executive branch, if you read my last post), giving the appearance of endorsing one religion over all others by placing a religious symbol for Christianity (a cross) on public property. Unconstitutional.

Unless you’re a conservative Christian? From the top-rated comment (10 up, 1 down vote) by “Conservative American:”

One of the major aspects of these law suits and bullying is the old saying “follow the
money”. The aclu and ffrf have found that they can make a lot of money from tax payer paid attorney’s fees. They find people who are willing to allow them to use their name for the suit and if they go to court and win they charge the government large fees. They play the numbers. Ask yourself why they seem to pick on small out of the way districts.
The added bonus is poking Christians in the eye. As well as furthering the communist agenda.

Actually, the ACLU and FFRF could be very easily caused to make $0 off of these cases simply if these public officials and institutions chose to follow the law and Constitution. I actually get kinda indignant and ticked off at these when they (the Christians) choose to use public money to defend clearly unconstitutional things and then lose that money in fees when they ultimately lose because they are in the wrong.

Maybe the ACLU and FFRF should set up a fund to return that money to non-Christian taxpayers in those jurisdictions.

The article is pretty basic — a simple excerpt from a FOX “news” source entitled, “Supreme Court Blocks Abortion Ban.” The US Supreme Court simply let stand a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that determined an Arizona law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional.

For those who don’t remember, or who aren’t in the US and don’t know about how our government works, we have three branches: Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Supreme Court). This structure is duplicated in pretty much all jurisdictions at all levels across the United States.

The basic roles are that the executive runs things, implementing the laws; legislative passes laws that set rules for how things should be run; and judicial ensures that both the executive and legislative follow the laws, especially within the context of the Constitution. It’s called “checks and balances” where each branch both supports and keeps the other branches in check (such as the executive nominates people for judicial, but legislative has to approve those nominations, and can impeach them once on the bench, but once in, the judicial branch can throw out stuff the executive has tried to do or is doing and stuff the legislative has done).

Make sense? Sure … in a very fast top-of-my-head way.

That basic civics lesson, however, was apparently lost on some WND commenters on this article. “MarvLS1” with 11 up and 1 down-vote (the highest-rated) wrote, “How can they legitimately refuse to hear the appeal?”

In response, “gertd” with 6 up and 3 down tried to inform him/her: “If they feel the issue has been addressed already and the law is clear, they will not re-open the matter.” Yup. If you agree with the lower court ruling, you don’t have to revisit the issue.

But, “MarvLS1” didn’t like the response, and with 8 up and 1 down vote, wrote: “In other words, judicial rule by fiat is the law of the land. No wonder this country is in decline.”

Um, no. The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) doesn’t have to hear an appeal. They exist to protect the rights of the people and keep Congress and the President (and governors and state legislators, etc.) in check. And if they act contrary to the Constitution, then Congress can impeach them. It seems only to be “judicial rule by fiat” when a ruling goes against what you want it to.

That’s all … it’s really not worth getting into the completely ignorant comments by others, like “dude911” who seems to think that all pregnancy is a choice (“Face it, if you didn’t want to get pregnant, you should have made that choice.” or “Women have a choice. But when they act, and become pregnant, that choice has already been made, the consequences being the creation of life. After that, a womans right is forfeit to the child, whom she owes a duty to protect.”)

There are a couple links that are relevant to this story and that will give you much more background and context than the WND version. Perhaps best is from The Friendly Atheist, who wrote, How to Ruin Your Gay Kid’s Life: Inside Linda Harvey’s Book ‘Maybe He’s Not Gay.’ That title may give you an idea about what this is about, if you couldn’t tell from the title of this blog post. Also relevant are three posts from Joe.My.God:

To quote the author herself:

“I saw the rotten reviews, a smear campaign by those who had not read the book, and the publisher attempted to get Amazon to pull the ad hominem reviews, but they were not immediately responsive. So, since the book is brand new and I didn’t want it to be harmed by this uninformed and vicious campaign stimulated by ‘gay’ bloggers, I decided to pull the page for now. We have the option to re-post it, but hopefully by that time, the book will have been read by others who will be honest and sincere, and at any rate, fair in providing review. This book reflects concern for all students, concern about the damage homosexual behavior and activism is doing in young people’s lives and to our country. Anyone who reads the book with an open mind and a fair appraisal will not think it’s hateful, but exactly the opposite.”

Okay, with all that out of the way, let’s get to the WND story, written by Cliff Kincaid: “‘Maybe He’s Not Gay’ Prompts Homosexual Backlash,” posted on January 8, 2014. Kincaid wrote:

The “Maybe He’s Not Gay” book “seeks to tell kids the truth about homosexual behavior,” Harvey says. It explains in a conversational tone why no one is born homosexual, the health risks associated with the lifestyle and factors that may lead to same-sex attractions.

Harvey asserts that the homosexual movement is revolutionary and designed to overturn traditional cultural values. “It’s a revolution, both inside the minds and hearts of today’s youth – and in our culture,” her book says.

Uh huh. If you click on nothing else I’ve ever linked to (so far), I strongly urge you to click on that link to The Friendly Atheist blog, wherein Camille Beredjick explains that this is not a harmless book, but one that has the real potential to destroy young childrens’ lives. Here are a few snippets:

As she introduces the book, Harvey describes homosexuality as “an emperor without clothes,” claiming repeatedly that gay people’s “feelings” (I can just hear her saying it in a mocking voice) are totally misguided and don’t actually reflect facts or represent the “truth” — which is, apparently, that nobody can be gay.

The “factual” pillars she believes we’re violating are that being gay hasn’t been proven to be genetic and that there are “risks” associated with homosexuality — as you may have guessed, she throws around lots of outdated data and incorrect stereotypes about HIV/AIDS. (Chapter 4 is called “Friends Don’t Let Friends Be Gay,” and it’s all about gay sex. Which religious conservatives seems rather obsessed with…)

… The part of this that made me start to hyperventilate is when she compared homosexuality to skipping class, being overweight, cheating on exams, cheating on a spouse, or even developing an eating disorder: all behaviors she considers “not genetic, high-risk, and changeable.”

… She also whines that acceptance of homosexuality will lead kids to start wondering about sex, and having sex earlier, and that we’ll all have to accept it. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If your child sees a same-sex couple and their first question is how that couple has sex, you need to have another conversation entirely.

… Later, she defends parents who kick their gay children out of their homes. She suggests that children whose parents don’t try to shield them from homosexuality will commit suicide. She says that it’s the responsibility of churches to try to warn people about homosexuality. She suggests that gay teenagers are the victims of broken homes or sexual abuse. She waxes poetic on Sodom and Gomorrah. And finally, she says that God is the answer to a troubled life of homosexuality.

How will this destroy your child? Because if you are a parent who doesn’t know what to do when you either suspect or are told by your child that they are gay, and you go to Linda Harvey’s book for advice, you will “learn” that your child is just confused, a pervert, can change, and if they refuse to, then you should kick them out of your house onto the street. Oh, and that your own home is a broken one and you or your spouse or someone else may have sexually abused your child which is what caused them to think they’re gay.

I don’t support banning books. But if I did, Linda Harvey’s book would certainly be near the top of my list.

Another short post interlude from the 20+ so far that I’ve prepared in advanced based on WND articles while I was in Australia. The WND article is unattributed and headlined: “Lou Dobbs Tells GOP How to Win Next Election.” What he says is this:

[H]e believes former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney doomed his campaign when he said 47 percent of Americans had no incentive to embrace his campaign because they are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.”

Also citing a poll showing 78 percent of Americans support legal abortions in at least some circumstances and the recent momentum for same-sex marriage, Dobbs calls for Republicans to forget the focus on social issues and embrace an economic agenda that will appeal to a wide swath of voters.

“I believe the Republican Party just has no choice but to embrace all Americans around the traditional values of the Republican Party,” he said. “That is a temperate foreign policy, a prudent fiscal policy, a pro-economic growth policy, a pro-prosperity policy and equal opportunity for all within our borders. To create a nation that is prosperous, that is at peace, and is focused on a brighter future rather than creating more debt for our children.”

This coincides with pretty much all post-2012 analyses that I have seen of the GOP election losses and the election losses since then. All those except by Tea Party and über-conservative sources who think that Republican Small-Government means the government needs to legislate all social issues and morality. However, while this post had an attached poll and 591 people voted in it, only 11% responded that, “Yes, government has no business being involved in moral issues anyway.” 77% reject Dobbs’ argument, as do the majority of the 457 comments. While WND appeals to a minority of Republicans, these are the ones who show up in the early primaries and to whom candidates must appeal if they want to make it to the actual election, and if they continue to think this, I predict more losses.

On this blog, I often point out the pseudoscience that WND promotes and its commenters support. Birther conspiracies, anything dealing with supporting Christianity, “alternative” medicine, etc. are all standards. But something I’ve noticed is that WND doesn’t tend to support UFO-type stories and their relative, crop circles. This is certainly evidenced in a trio of articles starting on January 1, ending on January 6, about a crop circle in California that turned out to be a marketing publicity stunt by graphics chip maker NVIDIA.

The first got 3 ratings (3.7/5 average) and 3 comments, the top one (“Mamzer_FEMA_REGION_IV” (2 up, 0 down)) catching on before the official announcement: “silicon valley must be releasing a new electronic chip. Nice marketing ploy”

The second and third were much more engaging with readers, getting 400 ratings (3.92/5) and 118 ratings (3.65/5), respectively, and 374 and 165 comments, respectively.

Now, in the comments to the second story, there are believers. But at least half of the ones I read are saying things like “joecorea.” who wrote, “The entire crop circle thing is just so stupid.” The remaining half are along the lines of this being aliens or fallen angels.

The comments in the third story again follow the VERY roughly 50/50 split. Again, half are those who reiterated “These crop circles have been proven over and over again to be be man made. No “mystery” or “Aliens” involved.” (by “ohmama”) But, the other half maintain a bit of mystery (“HOW do they do it?” via “BravesBeliever”) and saying that aliens DID do it — illegal aliens!!

Sigh. Still, better than comments on an alt-med story.

This topic was hotly debated on the LGBT blogs/sites I read when it happened: Itay Hod, a former CBS News contributor, stated that he had evidence that Representative Aaron Schock (Republican from Illinois) is gay (not Aaron Shock, as WND incorrectly wrote three times). Schock is 32, has amazing abs, and is one of the best-dressed. Stereotypes, and without an “admission” by Schock the rumor is still that, but Hod did have evidence that he presented.

The reason that Hod went forward with this is the perceived hypocrisy of Rep. Schock’s voting record: Being very anti-gay, he has opposed the repeal of the US Military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and he has supported a federal marriage amendment (which, contrary to its inclusive-sounding name, would prohibit marriage between anyone other than one man and one woman). Pointing out hypocrisy by politicians is what journalists live for (at least in part).

As I said, the topic was debated on the LGBT sites I read, and there were VERY mixed opinions. Most were against it. I am of mixed opinion, personally, but at the end of the day, I would say I probably come down on the side of pointing out the hypocrisy IF I have iron-clad evidence it’s real. For example, the anti-gay priest who sleeps with a male prostitute, yeah, I’m going to out him.

But, World Net Daily will have none of that, representing (in my opinion), more hypocrisy: “‘Gay’ Sites Go Wild ‘Outing’ GOP Congressman.” Except they didn’t “go wild,” and WND does not post any evidence they did; all they post is a screenshot from Facebook. And it’s far from a “WND EXCLUSIVE” about the story … perhaps the “exclusive” is that they’re the only ones claiming that the sites went “wild” with it because, well, they didn’t.

The story got 153 ratings since it was posted on January 4, 2014, and it has 1234 comments (neat!). The reason I say that the story represents hypocrisy is that WND delights in any apparent hypocrisy (real or made up) that it can print about democrats or liberal policies or groups. Meanwhile, the comments defend Schock and demonstrate mud-flinging perceived insults. The perceived insult is that being gay is bad. One must remember that to see these as insults, as they were intended.

Take, for example, the second-highest-rated comment, by “Jack Dillon” (51 up, 1 down vote): “Character assassination by the sexual perverts.”

Or the third-highest, by “Jim Buzzell” (49 up, 1 down): “From the mind of a flaming heterosexual: What is his voting record? Does being homosexual negate one from being a Constitutional Conservative? Does being homosexual mean you must support the gay rights organizations and their ideals? Does being homosexual mean you must force your beliefs on everyone else? If the homosexuals are so intent on outing those that choose to keep their sexual orientation to themselves, why not out Obama, Hillary Clinton, Holder, Emmanuel? Would those outings up the homosexual gain?” Because, remember, all those people he lists at the end are gay because he thinks being gay is an insult.

I don’t think much more needs to be said about this, at least at this time, on my part.