10

“Things I Learned From Republicans In September”

From the Daily Kos: Written by Bill in Maine

Extra learny this month:

Same-sex couples getting married is the same as gassing the Jews at Auschwitz. (Bryan Fischer, speaking for the American Family Association)

If you work hard, you won’t have time to get hooked on drugs and that will solve all our drug-problem woes. (Rand Paul)

Muslims can’t be president. (Ben Carson)

Elephant in graduation gown

Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution at the behest of Satan. (Carson again)

America should get back in the torture business. (Carly Fiorina)

Diversity sucks. (Rick Santorum)

The discovery of water on Mars was faked by NASA. (Rush Limbaugh)

It’s acceptable to walk into a classroom of seven- and eight-year-olds and coldly ask them, “Do you know what a nuclear weapon is? Do you know that there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?” (Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon)

Immigrants need to speak American. (Secretary of Energy Sarah Palin)

The Dred Scott decision is still the law of the land, so slavery is still on the books. (Mike Huckabee)

To appeal to Latinos, just leave ’em a little tip when you check out of your hotel. (Gov. John Kasich)

The issuance of secular marriage licenses to same-sex couples is leading America into the very pit of Hell. (Kim Davis’s lawyer Mat Staver)

Congratulations. You may now add a sparkle pony sticker to your diploma.

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3

A Sucker Born Every Minute

From The Daily Beast—by Karl W. Giberson

Ken Ham: The Making of An American Religious Huckster

Creationist Ken Ham is a modestly-educated Australian schoolteacher. But America’s long tradition of anti-intellectualism helped him become a star religious entrepreneur.
Ken Ham’s widely watched debate with Bill Nye has brought America’s most significant fundamentalist onto the radar screen of millions of Americans for the first time. Many are shocked to discover that such views still exist and, as polls remind us, are held by more than a hundred million Americans.

The Ken Ham phenomenon is uniquely American. Creationism exists largely as an American export in other countries, and I am bombarded with inquiries when I speak on this topic in Europe. European scholars find American creationism incomprehensible. How in the world can an Australian schoolteacher with a modest education create an organization like Answers in Genesis, with a $20 million annual budget? And raise $27 million to build a creation museum? And become one of the most influential educators in the country?

The answer lies in the unique and remarkable influences of two of the major shapers of American culture: Martin Luther and King George III.

Luther, of course, is the rabble-rouser who broke away from Roman Catholicism and started the Protestant religious tradition. He had various theological objections to Catholicism, but the perhaps most significant thing he did was simply to split off from an established religion and start a “New Christianity.” In so doing he rejected the traditional wisdom of what had been his faith community. His rallying cry was sola scriptura—“nothing but the Bible”—and he rejected the notion that ordinary people needed theologically educated leaders to tell them what the Bible said. Ordinary people were invited to read the Bible for themselves, free of the insights of scholars, a Protestant emphasis that continues to this day.

The Bible, as we now know, is a notoriously complicated collection of 66 books (for Protestants) written in several languages over the course of several centuries by people with very different cultural backgrounds and agendas. The complexity is so great that disagreements on important issues of biblical interpretation constantly arise with no higher authority to adjudicate them. So what do you do when you become convinced that you have a better understanding of the Bible than everyone else? Well, following Luther, you simply split off and start yet another “New Christianity,” with the hope that many of your fellow Christians will follow you into your new and improved version.

The theological “speciation” that results from such splitting bears a remarkable resemblance to the evolutionary “tree of life,” with its many new species branching off from a common ancestor. The “common ancestor” of the hundreds of different and typically fundamentalist Baptist denominations, as well as the liberal Episcopalians and the moderate Methodists, was the Anglican Church from which they originally split. The common ancestor of all the protestant denominations is the Roman Catholic Church. Now there are over 40,000 Protestant denominations, all of which have branched off from a parent tradition. Most Protestants have no problem leaving one faith community for another, and charismatic entrepreneurial Protestants are often able to create “New Christianities” that capture something highly attractive in the zeitgeist. The quintessentially Protestant—and anti-Catholic—Ken Ham is a religious entrepreneur who sells a version of Christianity based on an unprecedented emphasis on Biblical literalism, especially in the interpretation of Genesis, and a rejection of modern science.

King George III is the other half of the puzzle. America was born in a revolution that rejected, among other things, the European tradition of celebrating intellectuals and deferring to their expertise. Where British society had an “intellectual class” and a “working class” and schools routed students onto tracks based on skills measured at an early age, America was egalitarian. America’s public schools were supposed to be no respecter of persons. American children grow up with the myth that “you can be anything you want,” and we point to Abe Lincoln’s birth in a log cabin, or Steve Jobs dropping out of college, as proof.

America’s heroes have never been intellectuals. We celebrate the 19th-century adventurers who built the railroads, but have no idea who discovered the laws of thermodynamics that made the essential steam engines possible. The traditional American hero is played by Clint Eastwood, Kiefer Sutherland, or Bruce Willis, who create compelling characters that succeed because they reject the rules and take matters into their own hands. Martin Luther was a theological Jack Bauer, certain that he knew more than all the eggheads in the Vatican combined. The wisdom of an ordinary person is revered in America. It is the deep faith on which democracy is based and the reason why Sean Hannity’s audience cheers when he ridicules the Harvard economist that comes on his show.

While admirable in intent, America’s celebration of ordinary common sense has nurtured a profound anti-intellectualism that often translates into a cavalier dismissal of expertise. Never mind that the New England Journal of Medicine says we should vaccinate our kids; millions of people would rather listen to Jenny McCarthy. Rush Limbaugh is America’s expert on climate change.

Ken Ham, as historian Randall Stephens and I argue in our book The Anointed:  Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age has tapped into these two powerful undercurrents in American culture: anti-intellectualism and religious entrepreneurialism. When he moved to the United States in 1987, Ham worked at the Institute for Creation Research, which had an ambitious but ill-fated vision to develop a scientific foundation for young-earth creationism. He left a few years later to start Answers in Genesis, which abandoned scientific research to focus on convincing laypeople that evolution was an evil, morally corrupting, anti-Biblical worldview that Christians must reject.

Convincing people to reject evolution—and the Big Bang, the age of the earth, and many other mainstream scientific ideas—was accomplished in part by portraying the scientific community as a cabal of elitist, politically motivated secularists conspiring with the assistance of Satan to undermine the traditional values of American Christians. This view of the scientific community resonated with conservative Protestants, bewildered by a world that they once controlled but that now seemed to be leaving them and their values behind. Such a view provides a reason to reject so-called “expertise” in favor of homey assurances that everything they needed to know about origins is in the Bible.

Just as it has always been.

creationism

4

If…

From The Daily Kos (“Cheers and Jeers” by Bill in Portland, Maine):

“If…

…you engage in an IRS witch hunt even when your information is proven false, you believe rape kits prevent pregnancy from rape, you accuse anyone who starts a debate on race relations of being a reverse-racist, you claim the solution to the environmental effects of fossil fuels is to drill wider and deeper for them, you compare gays to pedophiles, you shout “global cooling!” on individual snow days in the winter but ignore record-breaking heat year after year, you openly and proudly call for secession, you believe economic expansion depends on economic contraction, you think alternative energy means switching from regular to premium, you want more tax breaks for the wealthy but not the middle and lower classes, you thought voting for the Iraq war was good judgment and you’d do it all over again, your idea of healthcare reform is “take more vitamins,” you insist that the primary role of Congress is to repeal laws, you think it should be more difficult for minorities to vote, you spend most of your time naming new post offices at the same time you’re trying to strangle the Postal Service, you keep funneling billions of tax dollars to Big Oil but starve green energy, you see commies behind every bush, you think it’s fine that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men make, you compare European immigrants’ “Secretariat DNA” to Mexican immigrants’ “donkey DNA,” you believe regulations on massively-predatory corporations are tyranny but regulations on ordinary workaday individuals are necessary to prevent “moochers,” you preach “abstinence only” to a demographic group that’s at the peak of their biologically-wired horniness, you can’t stomach the idea of a minimum living wage for people on the lowest rungs of society at the same time you can’t stomach a billionaire paying a few extra bucks in taxes, your response to the obscene level of gun violence in America is more guns, you bicker and dicker over funding for disaster relief, you scream “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” but do nothing about jobs except slash them, and you act all rough and tough yet you’re too frightened to ever criticize a conservative radio entertainer because you’re afraid he might destroy you with some words…

…then tell me again, Republicans: why should anyone listen to you?”

ICHCHeadUpAss

2

Where Are the Grown-ups?

Quotes of the day about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico:

     

“We’re now looking at a scenario where response plans include lighting the ocean on fire, pouring potent chemicals into the water, and using trash and human hair to stop the flow of oil,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a letter to President Barack Obama calling for a formal moratorium on new offshore drilling permits. “If this is the backup plan, we need to rethink taking the risk in the first place.”

“It’s anger at the people who are supposed to be driving the ship (who) don’t have any idea what’s going on,” said E.J. Boles, 55, a musician from Big Pine Key, Fla. “Why wouldn’t they have any contingency plan? I’m not a genius and even I would have thought of that.”

“Everything in that marsh is dead as we speak,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said after touring the clogged marshes. “Had you fallen off that boat yesterday and come up breathing that stuff, you probably wouldn’t be here, either.”

10

Stick a Fork in Me…

…I’m done.  With politics, with the Democratic party, with listening to the blabbering talking heads and pundits.  Everything.  I can’t take it anymore.  This country is getting dumber as each day passes.  I’m beyond caring at this point. 

If “the People” want to keep things the way they were 50, 60 or 100 years ago, I say let ’em have it.   If they’re that dim, then they deserve the country they get under President Palin or whatever reactionary idiot they choose.  Education, science, reason, intelligence…forget about it.  “The People” just want someone they can knock back a beer with. 

Count me out.

Cats are better.  Put your trust in animals, they never let you down.

5

Rush Limbaugh: Humanitarian of the Year

Whiplash inducing quote of the day from Rush Limbaugh:

“We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”

 

“Sir, instead of helping Haiti, he says he wants his taxes to go to the Retirement Home for Oxycontin-Addicted, Billionaire Ex-Radio Hosts.”

3

As Serious as a Heart Attack

Whiplash inducing quote of the day from Rush Limbaugh at his press conference following his release from the hospital:

“Limbaugh couldn’t resist a few political comments in the short press conference at the hospital. He said he got the best health treatment in the world “right here in the United States of America. 

“I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the United States health system,” Limbaugh said.

Wow.  Just…wow.

This man is a gazillionaire who could afford to buy his own hospital if he wanted to and he has the stupidity to say that nothing is wrong with the health care system here when millions of working people worry about  having their premiums raised sky high at the whim of the insurance companies.  If they can even afford to have insurance, that is.

It must be very nice to live on Rush’s planet.