Sunday, March 1, 2015

Raif Badawi May be Facing a Death Sentence--Again

Just as thousands have begun to mourn the passing of Avijit Roy, a freethought blogger who was highly critical of the negative influence of the irrational in religious thought (and our sympathies at the Strangely Blogged household also go out to his spouse Rafida Ahmed Banna, who was also wounded in the attack), there's word that the Saudi Arabian blogger, Raif Badawi, who was sentenced a brutal and physically treacherous 1000 lashes, may be facing trial once again for the crime of apostasy,  which would mean death by beheading.

This is a reminder that if religious extremism in itself is bad, as it no doubt is when practiced by self-appointed judges and executioners, it can be equally terrible when the extremists actually are the government--except wholly lawful.

Religious Extremists Killed Avijit Roy

Avijit Roy was an atheist blogger who was brutally hacked to death for being an atheist blogger.

Being an atheist is not reason for being hacked to death--I hope.

Being a blogger is not reason to be hacked to death, I hope.

Being an American atheist and blogger a couple days younger than Roy, I realize I haven't challenged religion in the in-your-face way he did, but I feel no less like the kind of religious movement that would kill him, would kill me. And am, not surprisingly, very much against that kind of extremist--the same kind that made a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, that follows Lars Vilks to this day, and that slew several contributors to Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The willingness to slaughter people for words is the weakness that will make religious extremism collapse, because they lead people to the gallows, and there is, no kidding, a humor for that. And this little humor of mine, this bile....this little bile of mine, I'm going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

The CPAC 2015 Poll is in

I've really not made a big point of following CPAC this year because I finally get that I am not the audience this whole shindig is for. Of course, part of the deal is that the prominent voices of today's conservatism are supposed to be showcased. Yes, some of these people are running for POTUS. But that doesn't mean I have to take it totally seriously, because the likelihood that, for example, the CPAC straw poll actually ever meant anything would probably mean that we were experiencing Ron Paul's second term. And we are not. So, if Sen. Rand Paul has enjoyed his third CPAC poll win, this has more to do with inheriting his father's libertarian apparatus, and less to do with anything like being able to win in 2016. (I think.)

WI Gov, Scott Walker has come in a respectable second, despite or probably because he compared union workers to ISIS, which would no doubt haunt him if he made it to a general election. His claims that facing protesting union folks prepares him for foreign policy is kind of strained, I think. And making the "Reagan" connection is so obvi. Try harder, you try-hard!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

O'Reilly's War

FOX Mushroom Farm is probably not doing star manure-shoveler Bill O'Reilly any favors by not putting him on a bullshit short-term temporary suspension--just throwing that out there. At present count, he has about seven or eight former colleagues calling b.s. on his accounting of his experiences covering the Falklands War. He's gone so far as to threaten a NYT reporter with "everything I have" over the issue.  A time-out might defuse attention on this issue for the network and their star, but right now, he is totally being a story. Journalists (real or FOX News) tell stories--but it isn't helpful for them to become them.

Steve M. describes the wagon-circling that conservative media are engaging in--I think this is very awkward of them (and really--Alger Hiss?*) O'Reilly's fault in recounting his Argentinian experiences doesn't really have an ideological basis, and his reporting in the "No-Spin Zone" should certainly account for something if the byword of "Fair and Balanced" is to have any meaning at all, no? He's simply being called an inaccurate reporter who is exaggerating and got on everyone's nerves. That's not about politics. That's about their experience of working with him.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Rep. Lamar Smith is the Problem

Vixen, you may be thinking, the problem?Texas Congressman Lamar Smith is certainly "a" problem, but he can't actually be "the" problem all by himself?

And you would be right, Dear Reader, because no one person is, all by themselves, the whole entire problem. He is just a profound example of the problem. One of the best examples. And no, not just because he's one of those science-denying, fossil-fuel industry paid-for seat warmers. Although that's totally true. It's because he doesn't believe anything he doesn't want to--and here's some proof, via Right Wing Watch, do be a love and click the link. Here's some of what he said, though:

"One might hope that he would be a little bit more responsive and a little bit more assertive and, frankly, trying to assert American power and provide weapons to individuals who are our allies, for example, or take actions to stop the atrocities that are occurring, or support other nations that are doing more than we are. But the president is doing none of these things," Smith continued.
The attempted genocide of the Yazidis was prevented by US airstrikes. Arms were air-dropped to Kurds fighting ISIL in October. The US has led the airstrikes against ISIL and done the lion's share. Somewhere around 1600 ISIL fighters have been killed. How does he not know this?

Or let me reframe that a bit--how does some idiot get elected to the US Congress who claims they care about this country, and yet has no idea what our military is doing abroad?

That is the problem.  And I'm pretty sure this damnfool has a safe seat, too.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scott Walker and the Litmus Test

Technically, there really ought not be a religious "litmus test" when it comes to achieving any elected office. It honestly should not matter whether our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, is a Christian, as he actually professed publically many times over and witnessed to as a member of Trinity United Church for 20 years, is a practitioner of Islam, having some incidental relationship with that faith having a father and stepfather who were in some respects Muslim, or even as I am, an intellectually inquisitive militant agnostic. The First Amendment technically means that everyone is free to worship as they will, and does not deny anyone their rights because of some heterodoxy. This needs to be understood as part of a long tradition within US history, where Islam was considered among many religions as part of the experiment in allowing such a freedom of thought.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Does Rudy Giuliani Love America?

The absurd question of whether a man who has run for president twice and who lives with his family under the watchful eye of the Secret Service for the privilege of doing a very particular job actually loves his country strikes me as gallingly stupid, and as a blogger who tries to be level-headed, I really didn't want to respond, but since failed 2008 GOP primary candidate Rudolph Giuliani wanted to go there, and since he wanted to stay there, I feel like I can't help but address how enormously huge an asshole a person would have to be to put things in just the way he did and then insist he didn't mean anything by it. I'm also going to point out how ignorant it is and why, once we start talking about people in just that way, no SOB who ever entered politics escapes whipping.

What Giuliani said was:

"I do not believe -- and I know this is a horrible thing to say -- but I do not believe that the president loves America," said Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and one-time presidential contender, according to Politico. "He doesn't love you. And he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."  
Giuliani made the remarks Wednesday during a private dinner event at the upscale 21 Club in Manhattan that featured Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is closely considering a presidential bid.
I think Giuliani might just be so old-school he never thought that would get out of the Club. But let me tell you a little about the phrase "I know this is a horrible thing to say--but".  That is sort of like saying "I am not a racist, but." It's a "tell" that something awful is actually coming. But no, he doesn't want you to look at it as awful. Why, he is telling you it is awful so you can marvel at his truth-telling blunt son-of-a-bitchness. What a truth-telling SOB! he imagines you will say. And no--he is not.