The Lord’s Blessing

JesusDiedJoelOsteen

It’s that season again, dear readers, when our thoughts turn to the blessings of faith. The rewards of a pious life are deep and many. We all share. We all are rewarded. Some more than others. This I know, because I had the good fortune to run across an accounting of the ten most pious, said piety being revealed by the degree to which they have been rewarded. Rejoice to all who wade forward into this rambling missive. For here are the top ten:

1. David Oyedepo $150 Million

David O. Oyedepo (born September 27, 1954) is a Nigerian Christian author, preacher, the founder and presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide, also known as Winners’ Chapel, and its affiliated international churches known as Winners Chapel International, with headquarters in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. Oyedepo is the senior pastor of Faith Tabernacle, a 50,000 seat church auditorium, reported to be the largest church auditorium in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.[1]

The Winners’ Chapel network of churches is located in over 300 cities, in all states of Nigeria, as well as, in several cities in 45 African nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States.[2][3] Oyedepo has been seen as one of the pioneers of the Christian charismatic movement in Africa and has been referred to as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria. He is the Chancellor of Covenant University and Landmark University. He was named in 2011 by Forbes magazine as being the richest pastor in Nigeria.[4]

According to the WorldsRichPeople.com site, pastor Oyedepo “owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a fleet of private jets.” The Lord rewards those who reward themselves.

2. Benny Hinn $42 Million

Toufik BenedictusBennyHinn (born 3 December 1952) is a televangelist, best known for his regular “Miracle Crusades”—revival meeting or faith healing summits that are usually held in stadiums in major cities, which are later broadcast worldwide on his television program, This Is Your Day.[3]

His net worth is quite tidy, even by today’s standards. It’s more than some people make in a whole week. His powers of healing are notorious:

In April 2001, HBO aired a documentary entitled A Question of Miracles that focused on Hinn and a well-documented fellow Word-of-Faith German minister based in Africa, Reinhard Bonnke.[21] Both Hinn and Bonnke offered full access to their events to the documentary crew, and the documentary team followed seven cases of “miracle healings” from Hinn’s crusade over the next year. The film’s director, Antony Thomas, told CNN‘s Kyra Phillips that they did not find any cases where people were actually healed by Hinn.[22] Thomas said in a New York Times interview that “If I had seen miracles [from Hinn’s ministry], I would have been happy to trumpet it…but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist.”[23]

Hinn moved his ministry in 1999 to Grapevine, Texas, possibly in order to be closer to the money, and the gullibility.

3. Joel Osteen $40 Million

Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963)[2] is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas. His televised sermons are seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries.[3][4] Osteen has written five New York Times Bestselling books. He has been widely nicknamed “The Smiling Preacher”.[5]

4. Chris Oyakhilome ‘pastor Chris’  $30-50 Million

Chris Oyakhilome (known popularly as “Pastor Chris”) is a Nigerian minister who is the founding president of Believers’ LoveWorld Incorporated, also known as “Christ Embassy”, a Bible-based Christian ministry headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.

His ministry runs several arms including the Healing School, Rhapsody of Realities (likely the most translated book in the whole world, 660 translations), and an NGO called the Innercity Missions for Children as well as three Christian television channels: LoveWorld TV, LoveWorld SAT and LoveWorld Plus. Oyakhilome’s television programs feature his faith healings, miracles and large meetings which his ministry organises around the world, with gatherings of over 2.5 million people in a single night’s event.[2]

5. Creflo Dollar $27 Million

Creflo Augustus Dollar, Jr. is an American televangelist, pastor, and the founder of the non-denominational World Changers Church International based in Fulton County, Georgia,[1] Creflo Dollar Ministerial Association (formerly called International Covenant Ministries), Creflo Dollar Ministries, and Arrow Records.[2][3]

He was born on January 28, 1962 to Creflo Augustus Dollar, Sr. (1936-1993) and his wife. The younger Creflo attended local schools and was raised in the Baptist Church.

In 1984, Dollar received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia.[4]

Dollar began developing World Changers Ministries Christian Center in 1986.[5] He held the church’s first worship service in the cafeteria of an elementary school in College Park, Georgia, with eight people in attendance. He later renamed the ministry as World Changers Church International (WCCI), and the congregation moved from the cafeteria to a dedicated chapel. Four services were held each Sunday, and Creflo added a weekly radio broadcast. On December 24, 1995, WCCI moved into its present location, the 8,500-seat facility known as the World Dome. The church has said that the nearly $18 million World Dome was built without any bank financing.[6] As of 2007, the congregation reported having around 30,000 members, and $69 million in revenue (gross cash collections) for 2006.[7]

In June 2012 Dollar was arrested in an alleged attack on his daughter, in accordance with the Fayette County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office. [8] The charges were dropped in January 2013 after he attended anger management classes.[9] Fayette County Police Department released details of a 911 call.[10]

In October 2012, Creflo Dollar Ministries leased Loews Paradise Theater in The Bronx for a new church location in New York.[11]

Dollar also speaks at conferences and is an author, writing about his gospel of wealth and involved in televangelism.[12][13]

Dollar and his wife, Taffi, have five children and live in Atlanta, GA.[5]

6. Billy Graham $25 Million

William FranklinBillyGraham, Jr., KBE (born November 7, 1918) is an American evangelical Christianevangelist, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, who rose to celebrity status in 1949 reaching a core constituency of middle-class, moderately conservative Protestants.[2] He held large indoor and outdoor rallies; sermons were broadcast on radio and television, some still being re-broadcast today.[3] In his six decades of television, Graham is principally known for hosting the annual Billy Graham Crusades, which he began in 1947, until he concluded in 2005. He also hosted the popular, Hour of Decision, from 1950 to 1954, which would later be known as The Hour of Power, which was the longest-running religious show on television.

Graham was a spiritual adviser to several American presidents; he was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson (who was considered to be one of Graham’s closest friends)[4] and Richard Nixon.[5] He insisted on integration for his revivals and crusades in 1953 and invited Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a revival in New York City in 1957. Graham bailed King out of jail in the 1960s when King was arrested in demonstrations. He was also lifelong friends with another televangelist, Robert H. Schuller, whom Graham talked into doing his own television ministry in Garden Grove, California in 1970, from the Neutra Sanctuary, after Schuller visited him in 1969, at an Anaheim Convention Center for one of his crusades.[6]

7. Rick Warren $25 Million

Richard DuaneRickWarren (born January 28, 1954) is an American evangelical Christian pastor and author.[1][2][3] He is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch in Lake Forest, California, that is the eighth-largest church in the United States. (including multi-site churches).[4] He is also a bestselling author of many Christian books, including his guide to church ministry and evangelism, The Purpose Driven Church, which has spawned a series of conferences on Christian ministry and evangelism. He is perhaps best known for the subsequent book The Purpose Driven Life which has sold more than 30 million copies, making Warren a New York Times bestselling author.[5][6]

Warren holds conservative theological views[7] and traditional evangelical views on social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, abstinence-only education over the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS, and embryonic stem-cell research.

During the 2008 United States presidential election, Warren hosted the Civil Forum on The Presidency at his church with both presidential candidates, John McCain andBarack Obama. Obama later sparked controversy when he asked Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration in January 2009.[8]

8. T.D Jakes $18 Million

Thomas Dexter “T. D.” Jakes, Sr. (born June 9, 1957) is an American pastor, author and filmmaker. He is the bishop of The Potter’s House, a non-denominationalAmerican megachurch, with 30,000 members. T. D. Jakes’ church services and evangelistic sermons are broadcast on The Potter’s Touch, which airs on Lightsource.com, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Black Entertainment Television,[1] the Daystar Television Network, The Word Network and The Miracle Channel in Canada. Other aspects of Jakes’ ministry include an annual revival called “MegaFest” that draws more than 100,000 people, an annual women’s conference called “Woman Thou Art Loosed”, and gospel music recordings.

The last time I looked (2004), Jakes’ Daystar was located just west of the DFW Airport on Highway 121 in Bedford. Joe Barnhart and and I participated in the taping of an episode of the Joni Lamb Show. Ostensibly it was to debate creationist Ralph Muncaster, but the real purpose, the real purpose of all Daystar productions, is to raise money. A constant crawl across the screen for these productions is a toll-free number to call in donations. The facility dripped money. They have the latest and the best of equipment. The parking lot rivals Monaco.

9. Temitope Joshua $15 Million

Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963), commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Nigerian preacher. He is the leader and founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN),[2] a religious organisation that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos, Nigeria.

He has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008[3] and being voted the Yoruba man of the decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua.[4] He was recognised as one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine[5][6] and listed among the world’s most famous people by the website thefamouspeople.com.[7]

Joshua is known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence, with over 1,500,000 fans on Facebook[8][9] and hundreds of YouTube videos which have proved controversial and amassed millions of views.[10] As of 2011, according to Forbes, Joshua was Nigeria’s third-richest pastor.[11]

10. Matthew Ashimolowo $6-10 Million

Matthew Ashimolowo (born 17 March 1952) is a Nigerian clergyman, the Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in London.

His Winning Ways programme is aired daily on Premier Radio (London) and Spirit FM (Amsterdam) and on television in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, TV Africa, the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Europe on The God Channel and Inspirational Network.

The dominance of Nigerian ministries in this list gives lie to the myth that America is the flam-flam capital of the world. To be sure, Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world and the most populous in Africa. However, half of that population is Muslim, a group not inclined to flock to Nigeria’s Christian exchange houses.

Getting past all that, the season is still upon us, giving us pause to reflect on our blessings and to lend thought to others less fortunate. Give in to that tug on your wallet and shed a few shekels into the plate at your local money temple. These worthies desperately need your help if they are to pray for the poor.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Chuck-Yeager

On 14 October 1947 Army Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to exceed the speed of sound in an airplane (in level flight). The speed of sound at that altitude, 45,000 feet, was about 670 miles per hour. The speed of sound at sea level is typically 761 miles per hour. And that brings up the Quiz Question of the week.

Why does the speed of sound vary with altitude?

Post your answer as a comment below. If nobody has provided the correct answer by Friday I will provide an update with the answer.

L’Affaire Sternberg

DarwinsDoubt

Three years ago I concluded the my discussion of the Coppedge controversy—l’affaire Coppedge.

Judge: NASA firing of JPL employee wasn’t due to intelligent design advocacy

Employee’s firing was due to job performance, not religion.
by John Timmer – Nov 2 2012

Earlier today, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s staff were busy recounting their latest successes on the surface of Mars. At the same time, news broke that JPL’s lawyers were succeeding in the courtroom. In 2010, JPL was sued by an employee for religious discrimination after it asked him to (among other things) stop aggressively promoting intelligent design at work. A wrongful termination charge was added less than a year later after the employee, David Coppedge, was let go. But the judge overseeing that case has accepted the JPL’s arguments that Coppedge was let go for performance reasons as part of a larger cutback of staff.

That quote was from ARS Technica. I had my own concluding remarks:

The end of an affair? Only if you are optimistic. Creationist like to milk cases like this to portray themselves as martyrs for the true religion, all the while claiming that Intelligent Design is not religion. We may hear more from them about this business. In the Coppedge affair it would appear the creationists sought to demonstrate that, although Coppedge considered Intelligent Design to be real science, his supervisors thought it was religion, so the creationists really could have it both ways. Perhaps beside the point of the whole affair is that nobody has ever demonstrated any scientific merit for Intelligent Design or any other flavor of creationism, while about seven years ago a district judge in Pennsylvania ruled that the school board defendants in the case had been unable to make the case that Intelligent Design has a scientific basis. And, yes, the judge in the Dover case also agreed that Intelligent Design is solely a matter of religion.

C’est finis.

For another case it appears not to be finished. I call this case l’affaire Sternberg. I have touched on this previously. A particular instance was my review of the video starring economist, movie actor and television personality Ben Stein and titled Expelled:

In 2008 the word began to circulate, and there was a lot of excitement. I eagerly awaited the release of the video and purchased my copy through Amazon. It’s Expelled, starring movie and television personality Ben Stein.

As you can see, the subtitle is No Intelligence Allowed. If by now you are getting the idea this is going to be about Intelligent Design, then you can come up to the head of the class.

A personality featured in the video is evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg. The story in Expelled is that Sternberg suffered undue criticism and retribution for publishing a paper by creationist Steven C. Meyer in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington a scientific journal for which Sternberg was editor at the time. That was in 2004, and the story lingers. Here is an excerpt from the Expelled review:

Sternberg met with Steven C. Meyer, the author of a paper that Sternberg published in the journal of which he was editor. Apparently the two arranged to have the paper published in order to give Intelligent Design the prestige of having a paper published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Sternberg did not consult with others on the editorial board of the journal, but he selected the four reviewers, including himself. He has never revealed the identities of the other three reviewers, which I presume were fans of Intelligent Design.

At any level of reading the paper has no scientific merit. I have read it and found it to be at the level of an op-ed piece that might be printed in the opinions section of a newspaper. You can read it for yourself.

The editorial board was highly outraged, which outrage provided much of the fuel for the fire storm fanned in the video.

Sternberg did not lose his job. He was not employed at the Smithsonian. He was employed at the National Institutes of Health, and in his free time he was doing unpaid research at the Smithsonian. His job as editor for the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington was a voluntary, unpaid position. He announced his resignation as editor even before the paper in question was published.

A post by Jonathan Coddington on the Panda’s Thumb blog provides additional detail:

Posted by JAC on February 3, 2005 9:36 AM (e)

Although I do not wish to debate the merits of intelligent design, this forum seems an apt place to correct several factual inaccuracies in the Wall Street Journal’s Op Ed article by David Klinghoffer, “The Branding of a Heretic” (Jan. 28, 2005). Because Dr. von Sternberg has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, I cannot comment as fully as I would wish.
1. Dr. von Sternberg is still a Research Associate at the National Museum of Natural History, and continues to have the usual rights and privileges, including space, keys, and 24/7 access. At no time did anyone deny him space, keys or access.
2. He is not an employee of the Smithsonian Institution. His title, “Research Associate,” means that for a three year, potentially renewable period he has permission to visit the Museum for the purpose of studying and working with our collections without the staff oversight visitors usually receive.
3. I am, and continue to be, his only “supervisor,” although we use the term “sponsor” for Research Associates to avoid personnel/employee connotations. He has had no other since Feb. 1, 2004, nor was he ever “assigned to” or under the “oversight of” anyone else.
4. Well prior to the publication of the Meyer article and my awareness of it, I asked him and another Research Associate to move as part of a larger and unavoidable reorganization of space involving 17 people and 20 offices. He agreed.
5. I offered both individuals new, identical, standard Research Associate work spaces. The other accepted, but Dr. von Sternberg declined and instead requested space in an entirely different part of the Museum, which I provided, and which he currently occupies.
6. As for prejudice on the basis of beliefs or opinions, I repeatedly and consistently emphasized to staff (and to Dr. von Sternberg personally), verbally or in writing, that private beliefs and/or controversial editorial decisions were irrelevant in the workplace, that we would continue to provide full Research Associate benefits to Dr. von Sternberg, that he was an established and respected scientist, and that he would at all times be treated as such.
On behalf of all National Museum of Natural History staff, I would like to assert that we hold the freedoms of religion and belief as dearly as any one. The right to heterodox opinion is particularly important to scientists. Why Dr. von Sternberg chose to represent his interactions with me as he did is mystifying. I can’t speak to his interactions with anyone else.

Sincerely yours,
Jonathan Coddington

The matter of Sternberg having to surrender his keys to the Smithsonian lab is even more bizarre:

THE CLAIM

“In October, as the OSC complaint recounts, [Sternberg’s supervisor] Mr. Coddington told Mr. Sternberg to give up his office and turn in his keys to the departmental floor, thus denying him access to the specimen collections he needs.” (Wall Street Journal editorial, linked from Expelled website)

THE FACTS

According to Coddington in a January 2005 communication, “Well prior to the publication of the Meyer article and my awareness of it, I asked him and another Research Associate to move as part of a larger and unavoidable reorganization of space involving 17 people and 20 offices. He agreed. I offered both individuals new, identical, standard Research Associate work spaces. The other accepted, but Dr. von Sternberg declined and instead requested space in an entirely different part of the Museum, which I provided, and which he currently occupies.”

The Smithsonian wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal, observing, “Dr. Sternberg’s characterization of his work conditions and treatment at the Smithsonian is incorrect. He was never denied office space, keys or access to the collections.”

In a January 30, 2006, letter responding to Sternberg’s concerns, Smithsonian Deputy Secretary & Chief Operating Officer Sheila Burke explained:

“As you know, as part of an effort to enhance security at the Museum, all researchers were asked to return their keys in 2004, and were issued coded identification badges to provide access to non-public areas. The badge you were issued, which provides general access to doors and elevators, is still operative. If you have any problems gaining access to conduct your research, however please contact the Security office at NMNH. In accordance with NMNH policy, please return your old keys as soon as possible to your sponsor, Dr. Vari.”

In short, Sternberg has turned two bits of bureaucratic minutiae affecting an entire division of the museum – a switch from keys to ID badges and a routine shuffling of office space – into a conspiracy to undermine him personally.

And that was supposed to be that.

Not quite. Amazingly the topic was resurrected five years later with the publication of a new book by Steven C. Meyer, the author of the piece at the center of L’affaire Sternberg. Reviewing the book I received a tantalizing surprise:

Attention immediately turned to Sternberg, an obvious creationism sympathizer. More followed, and this is what Meyer has to say about the affair:

… The editor, Richard Sternberg, lost his office and his access to scientific samples and was later transferred to a hostile supervisor. After Sternberg’s case was investigated by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog organization and by the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, a congressional committee, other questionable actions came to light. …5

Meyer notes that senior administrators at the Smithsonian Institution questioned Sternberg’s colleagues about his religion and politics and instigated a campaign to damage his professional reputation and to get him to resign. Sternberg did not resign, but he was demoted.

Meyer gets some of that right, and that’s the unfortunate part-for Meyer. The problem is this pronouncement by Meyer reveals that Meyer’s infatuation with the truth is a sometime thing.

And that was supposed to be that.

Au contraire. Two years ago Steven C. Meyer came out with yet another book promoting creationism (Intelligent Design). That book is Darwin’s Doubt, of which I have a copy and have finished reading. Actually, I have finished reading up to location 7606, after which Meyer launches into a review of various critiques of the book. I will review the main part first, and then I will review Meyer’s critiques of the critiques. Here’s what Meyer has to say in his latest book:

The same year, I published a peer-reviewed scientific article about the Cambrian explosion and the problem of the origin of the biological information needed to explain it. 1 In the paper, I cited Axe’s results and explained why the rarity of functional proteins in sequence space posed such a severe challenge to the adequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism. The article appeared in a biology journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, published out of the Smithsonian Institution by scientists working for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Because the article also argued that the theory of intelligent design could help explain the origin of biological information (see Chapter 18), its publication created a firestorm of controversy.

Museum scientists and evolutionary biologists from around the country were furious with the journal and its editor, Richard Sternberg, for allowing the article to be peer-reviewed and then published. Recriminations followed. Museum officials took away Sternberg’s keys, his office, and his access to scientific samples. He was transferred from a friendly to a hostile supervisor. A congressional subcommittee staff later investigated and found that museum officials initiated an intentional disinformation campaign against Sternberg in an attempt to get him to resign. His detractors circulated false rumors: “Sternberg has no degrees in biology” (actually he has two Ph.D.’ s, one in evolutionary biology and one in systems biology); “He is a priest, not a scientist” (Sternberg is not a priest, but a research scientist); “He is a Republican operative working for the Bush campaign” (he was far too busy doing scientific research to be involved in political campaigns, Republican or otherwise); “He’s taken money to publish the article” (not true); and so on. Eventually, despite the demonstrable falsehood of the charges, he was demoted.

Meyer, Stephen C. (2013-06-18). Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (Kindle Locations 3830-3845). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

This is particularly galling. Imagine I purchased a book, a recent edition, about the history of World War Two. It’s by a famous author, but a couple of chapters in the author makes the claim that Poland attacked Germany, kicking off the hostilities on 1 September 1939. It’s a claim the author has made before, one which is thoroughly rebutted by multiple sources. Yet, the same author is making the same claim, ignoring the basic facts without any attempt to defend his variance with known history.

It’s not as though Meyer hasn’t had the opportunity to rebut the rebuttal. His own organization, the Discovery Institute, has put up a Web site just for the purpose of rebutting criticism of Expelled. Here is what Expelled Exposed Exposed has to say about l’affaire Sternberg:

Richard Sternberg:
Many of the false claims at “Expelled Exposed” about Richard Sternberg also seem to parrot the arguments of Michael Shermer, and thus the aforementioned response to Shermer provides rebuttals to many of the website’s claims: see “Michael Shermer’s Fact-Free Attack on Expelled Exposes Intolerance of Darwinists towards Pro-Intelligent Design Scientists.” “Expelled Exposed” makes the unbelievable assertion that “the worst that happened to Sternberg is that people said some unkind things about him in private email to one another.“ The rebuttal to Shermer documents the precise e-mails and evidence which show that, contrary to the claims of “Expelled Exposed,” Sternberg did experience harassment and persecution, including pressure to resign, investigations into his outside activities regarding evolution, and inappropriate restrictions on his research.

More facts about Richard Sternberg’s unfortunate story can be found on his home page at RichardSternberg.org as well as at the following links:

 

 

Unless the details are tucked away inside one of the sources linked—none of the link titles point that way—then the Discovery Institute and Meyer by implication are willing to let the facts lie as they fell.

You have to wonder at a story like l’affaire Sternberg. “Museum officials took away Sternberg’s keys.” No additional detail. A more credible story would have some detail. A more credible story would go like this: “Mr. Coddington approached me in the corridor near my lab at the Smithsonian on 12 December and told me to immediately hand over the key to my lab. I asked why, and he just told me to give him the key. He took the key and walked away. No explanation was given. Since that time I have been unable to access my lab space.” No such narrative has been forthcoming.

What has been forthcoming was “Museum officials took away Sternberg’s keys.” Repeated. The beauty of this statement is it is true on its face. Museum officials did take away Sternberg’s keys. This gives Sternberg, Meyer, and the Discovery Institute the cover of bare truth. Something like this gives certain people, Ben Stein included, the ability to stand before a video camera and make the statement with a straight face. The lie is what is left hanging in the room after the speaker has departed.

And I wonder why. Why give cover to this tiny lie, when the more massive hoax sits exposed for all to see. That hoax is that Intelligent Design is all about science and has nothing to do with creationism, nothing to do with promotion of a religious agenda.

My own review of Meyer’s latest book is forthcoming. His previous book, Signature in the Cell, was an easy task. It centered on intelligence and information, a topic about which I consider myself considerably more expert than Meyer. Darwin’s Doubt dives deeply into biology,,particularly phylogeny and other biologically obtuse topics, about which I am mostly clueless. In reviewing Meyer’s latest book I will rely completely on expert sources, sources that have from all appearances already stripped the veneer off Meyer’s most recent golden calf.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

 

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a continuing series

I recorded this one from Turner Classic Movies months ago. I didn’t watch it at the time. I didn’t need to. I could tell from the title this was destined for the BMotW. It’s Vigilante from Magnum Motion Pictures and starring Robert Forster and Fred Williamson. Technical details are from Wikipedia and IMDb.

What this is is Death Wish without the glamor of Bronson. Instead of Paul Kersey we have Eddie Marino (Forster), out for revenge against a lawlessness the legal system is unable or unwilling to contain. The opening scene shows Eddie’s friend Nick (Williamson) addressing a citizen’s group. He demands they take personal action against gangs afflicting the community. The community is New York City, particularly Brooklyn. What appears to be the Manhattan Bridge appears in some scenes.

We next see a young woman stalked and murdered as she takes the elevator to her apartment. The Police are unable to take the killer off the street, but Nick’s group of vigilantes grab him and make mince meat of him.

Vigilante-01

Eddie gets personally involved when thugs invade his home while he is away. His wife Vickie (Rutanya Alda) has had an altercation with the thugs when they robbed a service station and roughed up the attendant. Vickie is stabbed, but recovers.

Vigilante-02

Not so lucky Eddie’s young son. Gang member Prago (Don Blakely) takes delight in killing him with a shotgun blast.

Vigilante-03

Eddie and Nick discuss alternatives to the legal justice as Eddie prepares to face the gang leader Rico (Willie Colón) at his arraignment hearing.

Vigilante-04

Meanwhile, Nick takes personal action. Observing a gangster dealing drugs on a neighborhood street corner, he chases him down. Just when you expect the punk to get away free, he is bushwhacked (almost literally) by one of Nick’s friends with a baseball bat. They work some street magic (“Want to fly like Superman?”) and wind their way up the food chain.

Vigilante-05

Meanwhile, the American justice system—as viewed in this production—works its own magic, with a crooked Judge Sinclair (Vincent Beck) denying the prosecutor’s demand for a murder trial. The punk walks free with two years probation.

Eddie is incensed and makes a go at the judge in the court room. This lands him 30 days (standard) in Rikers, where the formula prison shower rape scene begins to unfold as a crooked guard watches with amusement. Eddie’s butt (actually his oral cavity) is saved by hardened inmate Rake (Woody Strode), seen here in the blue shirt.

The actor you see having a go at Eddie was played by a the leader of the New York Hell’s Angels and was convicted of murder after the film was released.

 

Vigilante-06

Meanwhile, Nick and his people have worked their way up the chain to a regional pimp. We come easily to dislike the pimp as we see him roughing up one of his whores. Nick and companions chase the pimp mobile until it crashes. Again a bit of street magic gives them the name of the main man, a local politician.

Vigilante-07

The local pol gets his due—his driver, as well—in the form of a couple of shotgun blasts.

Out of the slam, Eddie joins up with Nick and they go to Rico’s apartment, where Eddie finishes him with a bullet to the chest. Rico’s girlfriend engages the vigilantes with a gun of her own and winds up dead in the bathtub.

Things do not end well for Eddie. His wife leaves him, and he packs his belongings into his van and vacates his Brooklyn home.

Then he spots Prago on the street and gives chase. Prago can’t get his car going, it’s hemmed in at the curb by two other cars. He steals one of the offending autos and takes off. Eddie steals Prago’s car and gives chase. Supposedly the chase scene we see here was inspired by The French Connection. It’s not quite to that level, but it does involve Eddie destroying a police cruiser that gets in the way.

Vigilante-08

Prago bids farewell at the hands of Eddie atop an industrial tower.

Vigilante-09

We last see the crooked judge getting into his car, upon which Eddie presses a button on the remote to detonate a bomb. And that’s the end of the movie.

What I saw watching this is not so much of a narrative but a collection of episodes. This, then this and finally that. And the movie is over. Else, not much is wrong, theatrically. Acting is on par and believable, and there is drama to keep you watching. Cinematography has been handled well with the color perhaps deliberately saturated for effect. Go back and see the review of Mel Gibson’s Payback.

This would have been a decent movie, except:

  • Been done before (Death Wish)
  • Discontinuous plot

More reviews coming up. Keep reading.

The Edge Of Civilization

AdamKinzingerCNNPlannedParenthoodShooting

I may have discovered the edge of civilization, and it turns out to be closer than I thought. By “civilization” I don’t mean the strict definition, but the meaning generally attributed. Civilization is people working together in harmony for the common good. It may be we are close to the edge.

The precipice heaves into view when prominent elected officials leave good intentions behind and launch into malice aforethought. Take, for example, the case of Congressman Adam Kinzinger, representing Illinois District 16:

“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that.”

That was the congressman yesterday afternoon speaking on the CNN coverage of a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was responding to a statement released by Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains:

Our top priority is the safety of our patients and staff. Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this tragic situation. Planned Parenthood has strong security measures in place, works closely with law enforcement agencies, and has a very strong safety record. We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country. We will never back away from providing care in a safe, supportive environment that millions of people rely on and trust.

While the shooter was still holed up in the clinic and as the lives of a police officer and two civilians slipped away, Congressman Kinzinger offered additional wisdom to cover the tragedy:

We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about.

Congressman Kinzinger was referring to doctored videos released early this year by The Center for Medical Progress, an organization opposed to abortion:

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an editorial in support of Planned Parenthood’s “efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research”. The editorial argued that many medical advances would not have been made without fetal tissue research and that “Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this work should be praised, not damned.” The NEJM described CMP’s actions as a “campaign of misinformation” and said that it is shameful that CMP “continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends”. In addition, the NEJM praised Planned Parenthood’s contributions to women’s health care and stated that the “contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions”.

The editorial board of The New York Times described CMP’s actions as a “campaign of deception against Planned Parenthood”, and wrote that the “video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal”. Supporters of Planned Parenthood have complained that the videos were “highly edited”, although the Center for Medical Progress has released unedited videos along with the much shorter edited versions. Defending the release of the videos in the Washington Post, columnist Charles Krauthammer said “these revelations will have an effect on public perceptions . . . by throwing open the door to the backroom where (the developing infant in utero) is destroyed”.

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, “personally apologize[d] for the staff member’s tone and statements”, saying the videos were “unacceptable”. Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of PPFA, stated: “The latest [fifth] tape has at least 20 substantial and unexplained edits. Previous tapes released by this extremist group were ‘heavily edited’ in order to distort what was actually said. These videos are intended to shock and deceive the public.”[16] In a letter to a Congressional committee, PPFA wrote: “A group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years—in their agenda to ban abortion completely—are not ‘documenting’ misdeeds; they are trying to create them, quite unsuccessfully.”

In response to Planned Parenthood, CMP stated that “we look forward to showing the public more clear evidence that Planned Parenthood routinely profits from the sale of baby parts and changes the abortion procedures it uses on pregnant women in order to do so”.

Congressman Kinzinger is not the only politician stepping close to the divide between civilization and desolation. Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlett-Packard Corporation and currently a candidate for president of the United States, went beyond the pale and expressed revulsion at a video not even associated with Planned Parenthood:

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this video tape—I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

Ms. Fiorina was subsequently unable to produce a copy of this video.

Yesterday was not Congressman Kinzinger’s first trip to the dark well. Fact is, he’s quite the authority:

Thursday morning Illinois congressman Adam Kinzinger was on 1440 WROK’s morning show and was asked about the Planned Parenthood videos which show the nations largest abortion provider cavalierly talking about the price for harvesting organs and other body parts from aborted babies.

Kinzinger said that the videos were reminiscent of the experiments Nazi doctors conducted at the concentration camps.

“Look this is barbaric. I mean it’s Nazi Germany…you think of the doctors in the concentration camps experimenting on their victims it’s kind of reminiscent of that.  To see a cold-hearted, I’d use a word I can’t utter on the radio, you know negotiating callously the parts of a child is just, I mean you’d never imagine anything like this happening in America….You can’t justify this.”

For the record, at this time there is no demonstrated connection between the attack and any anti-abortion motives of shooter Robert Lewis Dear:

Officials were not immediately able to establish a motive for the deadly shootingat a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday. But on Saturday, a picture of the suspected gunman, Robert Lewis Dear, began to emerge.

The city of Colorado Springs confirmed his identity on Saturday morning and released a booking photo of the bearded 57-year-old from North Carolina. He is suspected of opening fire at the women’s health clinic just before noon on Friday, the beginning of an hours-long standoff with police.

Colorado Springs police lieutenant Catherine Buckley said on Friday it was too early to determine the suspect’s motive.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” she said.

Mayor John Suthers reaffirmed these comments on Saturday, though he added that people could make “inferences from where [the shooting] took place”.

If Congressman Kinzinger has been reticent about making the connection, others have not been so restrained:

PlannedParenthoodShooting

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I have some advice for Congressman Kinzinger. Don’t distance yourself from these people and their sentiments. Get comfortable with them. You need them. They’re your people. They vote for you.

And keep in touch. We look forward to receiving additional from your well of wisdom. As we step closer to the edge.

Bad Joke of the Week

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One of a continuing series

A woman runs a red traffic light and crashes into a man’s car. Both of their cars are demolished, but amazingly, neither of them is hurt. After they crawl out of their cars, the woman says; “Wow,  just look at our cars!  There’s nothing left, but fortunately we’re unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days.”
The man replies, “I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God!”
The woman continues, “And look at this, here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished, but my bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.”

She then hands the bottle to the man.
The man nods his head in agreement, opens it, drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman.

The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap back on and hands it back to the man.

The man asks, “Aren’t you having any?”
The woman replies, “Nah… I think I’ll just wait for the police.”

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

One of a continuing series

ObamaSyrianRefugeesTerrorists

Who is the most recent politician saying the darndest things? How about Congressman Steve King representing the Iowa 4th District? Here is what he had to say recently:

While chatting today with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, Rep. Steve King took issue with the claim that the mounting hostility to refugees is undermining American values. The Iowa Republican said that “the argument that ‘that’s not who we are’ is just one of the mantras that they put out, it’s not supported by logic or rationale.”

“Who we are? We should not be a suicidal nation,” King said. “My wife said this morning, ‘If you had 100 grapes and you knew that two of them were fatally poisonous, would you sit there and eat the grapes until one of them killed you? Or would you decide, I’m not going to take that bunch of grapes at all?’ That’s what we’re dealing with here with the Syrian refugees.”

This is, of course, interesting logic. Pause for a moment to review a bit of irony:

WASHINGTON, March 14 [1989]
Food stores around the country pulled tons of grapes and other fresh fruit from their shelves today as the Food and Drug Administration broadened its investigation of a possible attempt to poison Chilean produce with cyanide.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it had joined the inquiry, which has so far turned up traces of the poison in a small batch of grapes shipped last month from Chile to Philadelphia.

There have been no reports of death or illness from Chilean fruit.

To be sure, Congressman King did not have this particular incident in mind when he made his remarks. It is possible he had in mind the image at the top of this post. That image is from the Facebook site titled Political Correctness Gone Wild.

PoliticalCorrectnessGoneWild

Supposedly all of this is about political correctness, popularized as “PC.” PC is supposed to be a poke at overly ingratiating politeness—specifically, politeness where politeness is not due. What often happens is that opponents of something wholly pragmatic stick on the PC label to knock off some of the shine. It’s apparent in this instance that is what is happening.

A cold look at the matter of the Syrian refugees reveals some inconvenient facts. See additional details from The Christian Post:

  • The vetting process for refugees, including those from Syria, appears to be comprehensive and as exhaustive as can be made.
  • “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001.” “[T]hree resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities — and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”
  • “About 70 percent of refugees who participate in employment-training no longer need public assistance six months after resettling.

But, back to the poisoned grapes. Can I promise Congressman King that no Syrian refugee accepted under the current plan will commit crimes in this country or even plot terrorism. I cannot, and I do not need to. Further, I will guarantee that based on reliable population statistics, some will eventually run afoul of the law, and some will even be convicted of homicide while living in this country.

Does Congressman King want to keep people out of this country on the off chance, credible or not, they will pose a threat? He needs to think again. Such a restriction would have trapped any number of conservative Americans:

TIMEcoverTimothyMcVeigh

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff’s Office, File)

Knock Knock. These were your neighbors.

We are not finished with politicians saying the darndest things. Keep reading.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

The Bad Movie Wednesday series is devoted to movies that are not ruinously bad but that for reasons of structure, debilitating interest or earnest production, never made it to the top tier. Here’s another.

It’s Side Street from MGM in 1950 and starring Farley Granger as Joe Norson. Images are screen shots from Turner Classic Movies, and technical details are from Wikipedia and IMDB.

The Wikipedia entry calls this a “crime film noir/police procedural.” That’s somewhat off base. A police procedural likes to be told from the point of view of the police. This is mostly the story about the luckless Joe Norson.

Norson, a part-time mail carrier, is the pivot point of the plot, but he enters it after things get interesting. We start off seeing Emil Lorrison (Paul Harvey), a man of considerable wealth, withdrawing $30,000 from his bank account. In 1950 $30,000 was a sizable sum. It still is. What Lorrison needs the money for is to pay off a blackmailer.

The blackmailer is Lucille Colner (Adele Jergens), a woman easy of virtue and hard of heart. She meets with Lorrison in her apartment to collect the money and to deliver the embarrassing photographs. Waiting in the next room is gunman George Garsell (James Craig), who takes the money and sinks the conniving Lucille in the East River.

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Norson, in his rounds delivering mail, has noticed $200 being inserted into a folder and placed in a file drawer in the office of attorney Victor Backett (Edmon Ryan), the personality behind the shakedown racket.

Norson returns next day on his route and finds Backett’s office deserted. Seeing his opportunity, he axes open the file drawer and pinches the folder. Later on a roof top he discover the folder now contains the $15,000.

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His poverty seemingly at an end, Norson gives $200 to his pregnant bride Ellen (Cathy O’Donnell) and makes up a story about a new job in Schenectady.

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It doesn’t last. Norson gets cold feet and offers to return the money to Backett. No deal. Backett knows the $15,000 can tie him to Lucille’s ugly fate. He plays dumb, but tails Norson.

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A cat and mouse pursuit leads to George and cabbie Larry Giff (Harry Bellaver) taking Joe Norson for a one-way ride. A standard action scene ensues as Joe exits the cab in front of an on-coming truck and makes his getaway.

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A friendly bartender whom Joe has entrusted to hold a package with the loot absconds with it. This leads to Joe tracking down his ex-friend, one step behind George. The bar keep is dead, and Joe gets tapped for the crime.

He turns detective and tracks down George’s ex-girlfriend Harriette Sinton (Jean Hagen), hoping to find George. She betrays him, and George, Larry, and Harriette stand around his unconscious self deciding what to do with the body. First things first. George takes Harriette down to the cab parked at the curb and strangles her, leaving her body on the floor of the cab. These crooks give misogyny a bad name.

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George and Larry next walk Joe down to the cab and take a drive in the direction of the East River.

The drive gets rough as the police, hot on the trail of Joe and the crooks, chase the cab through the canyons of downtown Manhattan on an early Sunday morning. When the chase gets too hot Larry elects to take a powder, and George guns him down, handing his driving duties over to Joe.

As the police close in Joe deliberately rolls the cab, and police perforate the escaping George. Joe is re-united with his sweet wife, and things begin to look up for him. Still no money, however.

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Wikipedia takes note of the long drought between this iconic car chase through Manhattan streets and the famous San Francisco chase scene in Bullitt. Later came The French Connection, raising white knuckles to a new level.

Farley Granger came to be type cast as the luckless hero, echoing a few years later in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

One of a continuing series

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It’s going to get worse before it gets better. You can count on it. Politicians, especially candidates, are my favorite source when it comes to lessons in foolishness:

“I do think it’s worth saying,” Fiorina declared, “that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it’s important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives.”

This was not presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s first encounter with the cow patty that is foolish pronouncement. Her path to national glory has already found its way to the warm and moist:

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina won applause in Wednesday’s debate for her vivid description of a live fetus she said was shown in an antiabortion group’s undercover video about Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

But the image she described isn’t in any of the videos released by the antiabortion group. Instead, one video from the group depicts a former employee of a tissue procurement company stating what she says she saw at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There was never any video that depicted, as Ms. Fiorina stated, a live fetus on a table being prepared for organ harvesting.

As remarkable as was Fiorina’s stance on the non-existent video, her latest is no measure of poetic license. Some dissection will illustrate:

[F]aith gives us humility.”

Let’s see how that works. Here is a snippet from what I gather to be Fiorina’s handbook on faith:

Zechariah 13:3 King James Version (KJV)

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

Be we be ever so humble.

“[F]aith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us.” For example:

Jeremiah 50:21-22 King James Version (KJV)

21 Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.

22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.

“[E]ach of us are gifted by God:”

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 King James Version (KJV)

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

“Faith gives us empathy. ” See above.

“And faith gives us optimism:”

Revelation 20:11-15 King James Version (KJV)

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

I am really looking forward to that. In truth, rather than people of faith, I enjoy a world populated by people with good sense. People of faith give me a pain.

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** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto.  On the fourth anniversary of the president's "Mission Accomplished" speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush "has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed."  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto. On the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush “has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Government Employees Incompetent

First of a continuing series

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You know they are out there. They’ve been a pernicious embarrassment for over 200 years, and you’ve been paying their salaries. They’re incompetent government employees.

After years of turning a blind eye to this scandal I have decided to take action. Starting with this post I’m going to identify these leeches on the body public, and I am going to expose their lack of worthiness for your trust, not to mention the drain on the public larder they represent. Who am I going to start with? None other than White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Let’s see what gives:

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was literally at a loss for words on Friday when asked to comment on reports that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson would release information proving that China is involved in fighting in Syria.

After White House officials, including National Security Advisor Susan Rice, said Carson’s claim was untrue, the GOP presidential candidate said that he had better information than the White House did. He also said that he would make his evidence public this weekend, and that the White House would have a chance to review it then.

Earnest paused for a few seconds but eventually gave up on trying to find the right words.

“Maybe it violates my job description as a spokesman to be speechless, but in this case I am,” he said.

Speechless? Yes, that is what the highly-paid White House spokesman said. The man we pay to speak for the President and his administration was speechless. Jesus Christ, I’m willing to draw half his salary and stand up there in front of the nation’s, the world’s, press representatives and not say anything. The man is paid to speak, and now he finds himself speechless? Can you imagine an even worse use of your hard-earned tax dollars? This scandal begs investigation. This requires some Skeptical Analysis.

Start first with the basis for this latest disgrace:

Moderator Maria Bartiromo: “Dr. Carson, you were against putting troops on the ground in Iraq and against a large military force in Afghanistan. Do you support the president’s decision to now put 50 special ops forces in Syria and leave 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan?”

Carson: “Well, putting the special ops people in there is better than not having them there, because they — that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there.

“And what we have to recognize is that Putin is trying to really spread his influence throughout the Middle East. This is going to be his base. And we have to oppose him there in an effective way.

“We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there.”

Here is more from another source:

The campaign of Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson is hitting back at criticism over a comment he made during Tuesday night’s debate about China being involved in the conflict in Syria.

Carson’s debate comment came in response to a question about President Barack Obama’s decision to send 50 members of special-operations forces to Syria and to keep 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan past the end of his presidency.

Obviously more than one news outlet was aware of Carson’s specious remarks. Worse, the White House spokesman’s own organization was aware at the time:

White House national security officials said Thursday there was no evidence to back Republicanpresidential hopeful Ben Carson’s claim that China has gotten involved in the Syrian conflict.

Carson’s comment, which confounded foreign-policy experts, came in response to a question at Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate about President Barack Obama’s decision to send 50 members of special-operations forces to Syria.

Were that not enough, the whacked out candidate, himself, soon recognized his fly was unzipped:

Days after asserting that China is involved in the fight in Syria — and after freshly offering to prove it with his own intelligence — Republican presidential contender Ben Carson acknowledged Friday that there are no Chinese troops in that conflict.

Josh, that has got to be so embarrassing. It would appear that everybody on this planet knew the infamous pants-on-fire candidate had wandered far into the deep end. Everybody, it would seem, but you. You—the person we pay to explain these things. And you were speechless. Pick up your paycheck on the way out the door.

We need to take a lesson from this sorry episode. Speaking of which, I’m the one to do it. To the outgoing White House spokesman I have this advice. Here is what you should do, here is what you should say, when some dumb ass reporter asks you “to comment on reports that Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson would release information proving that China is involved in fighting in Syria.” You look the reporter in the eye. You smile politely. Then you say in a loud, clear voice, “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

And that, Mr. Earnest, is what you needed to do to keep your job. I hope this has all been a lesson to you—a lesson you can take with you to any future employment, said employment not involving American tax dollars.

Readers, there’s a shit load of this stuff going on in the government, and I will be commenting on it. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.