A New Kind Of Christian

Maybe not.

 

From Facebook

From Facebook

While I do not subscribe to the implication in the foregoing meme that Christianity is inherently anti-social, my own observation is that Christianity is not an inoculation against shameful conduct. I am reminded of this on the order of once a week.

Last week, leaders of the church planting network Acts 29 removed [pastor Mark] Driscoll and his churches from the group he helped found and asked that he “step down from ministry for an extended time and seek help.”

Driscoll has been an influential but edgy pastor within conservative evangelical circles for several years. His Mars Hill Church attracts some 14,000 people at 15 locations across five states. He has been provocative, occasionally profane and has faced allegations of plagiarism and inflating book sales.

I have to admit. As keen as I presume to be on these matters, Mark Driscoll has been completely off my radar until now:

Mark A. Driscoll (born October 11, 1970) is an evangelical Christian pastor and author, and current preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in Seattle, Washington. In 1996, Driscoll co-founded Mars Hill Church, which as of 2014 has grown to 14,000 members in five states and fifteen locations. He also founded The Resurgence, a theological cooperative, and co-founded several other parachurch organizations: Churches Helping Churches, the church planting Acts 29 Network, and The Gospel Coalition. He has written for the “Faith and Values” section of the Seattle TimesOnFaith, and the Fox News website. Driscoll has also authored a number of popular Christian books. Described as “hip yet hard-line”, he is known for promoting “culturally relevant” yet theologically conservative Christianity. He favors “vintage” aesthetics and a “down to earth”, yet at times “aggressive” preaching style.

In 2011, Preaching magazine named Driscoll one of the 25 most influential [English-speaking] pastors of the past 25 years. His influence is polarizing; he is described in a profile by Salon as being the center of a cult of personality, and using controversy to increase his visibility. The New York Times Magazine called him “one of the most admired—and reviled—figures among evangelicals nationwide.” Controversy has often surrounded his complementarian view of gender roles, Calvinist theology, perceived misogyny, plagiarism accusations and culture of fear that allegedly supports his ministerial authority.

[Some links deleted]

I note here that Mark Driscoll has taken lessons from the Bible, particularly with regard to “research:”

Let no one else’s work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don’t shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize –

The Patheos.com blog hosts a post by Warren Throckmorton that provides some analysis of Driscoll’s phrase lifting. In two of his books, The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out and Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church, Driscoll outlines his approach to ministry. Throckmorton comments on Driscoll’s lack of originality:

Driscoll’s formula has been cited by other church planters and authors since then. However, according to a former close colleague, Ron Wheeler, Driscoll lifted those concepts from work Wheeler did while developing the first Acts29 Network church plant in Mt. Vernon, WA — The Gathering. Wheeler was in the room when the Acts29 Network was organized and spent much time with Driscoll in the early days of Mars Hill Church. From Wheeler, I obtained the following page taken from an   in-house church document. See especially the bottom of the page where the relationship between church, culture and the Gospel are outlined.

In addition to preaching the good news (gospel) Driscoll has talents of business promotion that are to be appreciated:

According to an online story posted March 5 and a follow-up story on Christianitytoday.com, Mars Hill contracted with ResultSource Inc. (RSI) to create a campaign to get Real Marriage onto the New York Times bestseller list. Mars Hill, not the publisher, reportedly paid $210,000 in the deal, which the L.A. Times reported on March 6 as an example of how authors can game bestsellers lists.

The book appeared at #1 on the Times Advice, How-To list for Jan. 22, 2012. It did not appear on the list at all for the week before or the week after. It also did not appear on anyPublishers Weekly bestseller lists.

It is not only his business practices that disturb fellow Christians. I was trying to find out what some of the other fuss was about and came across this:

We live in a completely pussified nation.

We could get every man, real man as opposed to pussified James Dobson knock-off crying Promise Keeping homoerotic worship loving mama’s boy sensitive emasculated neutered exact male replica evangellyfish, and have a conference in a phone booth. It all began with Adam, the first of the pussified nation, who kept his mouth shut and watched everything fall headlong down the slippery slide of hell/feminism when he shut his mouth and listened to his wife who thought Satan was a good theologian when he should have lead her and exercised his delegated authority as king of the planet. As a result, he was cursed for listening to his wife and every man since has been his pussified sit quietly by and watch a nation of men be raised by bitter penis envying burned feministed single mothers who make sure that Johnny grows up to be a very nice woman who sits down to pee.

This was posted by “William Wallace II,” apparently a pseudonym for Mark Driscoll. Of course, William Wallace was one of the 13th century leaders for Scottish independence, also featured in the motion picture Braveheart with staunch Catholic Mel Gibson in the title role. If you are seeing a connection between the Wallace pseudonym and Mark Driscoll’s Calvinist leanings, then you are getting dangerously close to the truth.

Conservative Christians are not noted for promoting sexual equality, but Driscoll’s remarks proved over the top even for this church teetering on the brink of cult hood. How far down the road was Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church from Jonestown we may never learn.

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Benefits of Religion

The One, the True, the Pure

The One, the True, the Pure

People who know me I am sure think I’m often too harsh in my criticism of religion. They tell me all the benefits—lead a moral life, share wealth with the less fortunate, live in comfort for all eternity. What’s not to like?

I like to point out that I can lead a morel life and share my wealth with the less fortunate without the benefit of religion. Regarding the opportunity to live in comfort for all eternity, please get real.

Regarding the first two, let’s take sharing the wealth:

Robert Gibson Tilton (born June 7, 1946) is an American televangelist who achieved notoriety in the 1980s and early 1990s through his infomercial-styled religious television program Success-N-Life, which at its peak in 1991 aired in all 235 American TV markets (daily in the majority of them), brought in nearly $80 million per year, and was described as “the fastest growing television ministry in America.” However, within two years after ABC’s Primetime Live aired an expose into Tilton’s fundraising practices, which started a series of investigations into the ministry, Tilton’s program was no longer being broadcast.

[Some links deleted]

It would seem that religion is neither a necessary nor sufficient premise for sharing wealth.

How about leading a moral life?

Freedom from Homosexuality: No Longer Living the Lie Paperback – July 1, 2006

In this life-changing book, Bishop Duane Youngblood shares insights and truth to help anyone struggling with perversions find a place of forgiveness and deliverance in God. Through his honesty about his own life and the enemy’s plan against him, many have already been delivered from perverse sins.

As you read through the pages of this book, you may find yourself in his story as well as find your way to freedom. Freedom from Homosexuality takes us from the set up against a small child, to the deliverance of the man. If you are a man or woman, a church leader or member, this book will help you process the mind of God about your life and the way you can live for Him.

This book is detailed and explosive against the enemy. Bishop Youngblood is very candid and open as God uses Him to expose the plan of the enemy against so many sitting in the pews in church today. You will never be the same as you read the pages of liberty as this man of God shares from his heart.

Once you have read the book, get in the fight to rescue others from the perverse spirits that seek to control the life of believers. As you read be encouraged, be empowered and be set free.

OK, so that’s one benefit of religion. Religion teaches you how to live a life without the curse of homosexuality (and presumably other perverse character disorders). It might be that Bishop Youngblood is the answer to all of those doubting the value of religious faith:

Pastor And Author of Book ‘Freedom from Homosexuality’ Arrested For Molesting Teenage Boy

A Pittsburgh pastor has been accused of sexuality assaulting a teeneger. Duane Youngblood with the “Higher Call World Outreach Church” in Homestead was charged Saturday with corrupting a minor. Youngblood is also the author of a book, Freedom from Homosexuality: No Longer Living the Lie.

Oh, no. Can’t be that bad:

In 2006 Youngblood was accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy whom he was also counseling.

He was subsequently sentenced to one year of intermediate punishment and seven years’ probation. Youngblood is a registered sex offender.

Wonkette pointed to his twitter timeline. One of his last tweets read, “Do it for Jesus this time!”

From Wonkett: Youngblood's last tweets

From Wonkett: Youngblood’s last tweets

Wow! There’s a lot that I would do for Jesus. But just what is it Jesus (or Bishop Youngblood) wants me to do?

Wackos on the Left

It’s no doubt. I have a lot of fun with wackos in the news, and it’s doubly fun when these wackos also happen to be conservatives. Which is typically all the time. In the interest of fair play (I can’t imagine why) I hunted around for some wackos on the left.

Found one!

SpielbergKillsTricatops

Take a look at this:

Jay Branscomb posted a photo of Steven Spielberg, on the set of Jurassic Park, sitting in front of a Triceratops on his Facebook page on July 6.

Of course, the liberal triceratops poop hit the fan.

Isn’t triceratops an endangered species? If it’s not, then it ought to be. The nerve of a multi-millionaire like Spielberg (a liberal one at that) exercising his wealth to take down this lovely (?) animal. And, as we all know from seeing the movie, it’s absolutely harmless because it’s a herbivore. Just like a rhinoceros. It even has herbivore horns to show how harmless it is.

Or was.

First of all, let’s discuss the endangered species triceratops. If any species is endangered it has to be triceratops. They went extinct about 65 million years ago. And that’s the crux of the matter.

You see, all these liberal tree huggers are complaining about the killing of an animal that does not exist and has not in any human lifetime. That puts these tree huggers on the same ark with right wing conservatives who believe dinosaurs and humans coexisted starting about 6000 years ago with the formation of the universe, exactly as described in the Bible.

But wait. There’s something wrong with this picture. First of all, why aren’t conservatives complaining about the killing of an endangered species, even it is already extinct? Aren’t conservatives supposed to be conservative, wanting to preserve things the way they are? Why aren’t conservatives joining ranks with the tree huggers and marching in protest of the killing of endangered rhinoceroses, or the loss of habitat for the spotted owl? Maybe that’s another story.

But wait again. Maybe there are some conservatives raising a fuss over Spielberg’s trophy hunt, bogus or not? We can’t tell.

Wait once more. There is small doubt that these complainers are just joining in on the joke. I mean, what tree hugger does not watch Nova on TV and already knows about the great extinction event 65 million years ago?

‘I don’t care who he is, he should not have shot that animal,’ wrote Vincent Smith.

A number of other commenters also apparently fail to realize that the triceratops has been extinct for 66 million years ago and that Spielberg, one of the most famous movie makers of all time, is sitting beside a mechanical prop from a movie which has grossed more than $1 billion and won three Academy Awards.

To date, Branscomb’s post has received over 9,000 likes, been shared more than 30,000 times and attracted more than 5,000 comments.

Suffice to say, as the post has become more popular, more and more people have joined in leaving humorous comments and memes using the image.

Finally wait. Terminally stupid or not, these people complaining are faces in the crowd. They are not members of Congress or people running for office of President of the United States or running for any office. The Son of Wacko series on this blog has so far only featured people in politics. And they have all been conservatives.

My attempt at fairness and balance has been completely unhinged by some basic facts. Drat the facts anyway. That’s the way life is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Son of Wacko

From The Daily Beast

From The Daily Beast

Yesterday I was foolish enough to post an item titled “Son of Wacko.” As though there had been a previous “Wacko.” Actually there had not. there had only been “Wacko comes to Washington.” And that was news?:

One thing you can say about Washington, here the truth is a sometime thing. And sometimes not even then. The Daily Beast story is intriguing. Let me analyze a few passages:

In between speakers, some attendees walked around wielding signs and some prayed—with their arms stretched toward the sky. Others clutched rosary beads. Actual priests (and a few rabbis) circled, holding religious texts and offering wisdom to passersby.

See what I mean. However, “Son of Wacko” was actually about Oklahoma:

Readers, I may have made an important discovery. I have, as certainly all of us have, been pounding my head in an effort to figure out where all this wacko in Texas politics is coming from. Sunshine and saddle soap, readers! I may have found the answer. It’s leaking down from Oklahoma.

Anyhow…

That led to a dialog on Facebook about seats of wacko, and Steve pointed out “Southern California is full of wackos also.”

Of course. What was I thinking. I spent some time in SoCal, as it is called, and I saw for myself. Actually, I knew before I went what to expect. What better place to source a story on wacko than one of this country’s great fountain heads of wacko.

I wondered just how long it would take me to find a wacko story from SoCal. So I set my egg timer. I don’t have an actual egg timer, but I mentally estimated it would take me just a few seconds. Through the miracle that is Google I had a story inside a minute. Where do I begin?

During the TSA controversy, [Republican member of the California State Assembly, Timothy Michael “Tim”] Donnelly told the news media that he had no previous criminal history, and reporters were unable to find a criminal record. However, the Sacramento [Bee] discovered a news article in The Ann Arbor News listed a conviction for “larceny in a building” in 1985, with a sentence of three years probation and a fine. Donnelly claimed he was treated as a juvenile, though an adult in 1985, and never convicted. Donnelly told the Sacramento Bee “I got drunk with my buddy, and we left his Sony Walkman in the hallway, and somebody took it. So we started looking for somebody who might have it, and we wound up breaking into somebody else’s room and stealing a stereo from them. Tim Donnelly says past larceny case was college ‘prank’]”, Sacramento Bee, March 26, 2014

Michigan Penal Code Section describes 750.360 “larceny in a house” as a felony offense.

[Edits noted]

Tim Donnelly represents the 33rd District of the California Assembly:

The district, one of the largest in California, encompasses a wide expanse of the High Desert, stretching from the eastern fringes of Los Angeles metropolitan area to the Nevada and Arizona borders. The district’s population is mostly concentrated in the southwest, with scattered settlements elsewhere.

This is a SoCal wacko and not one of those Haight-Ashbury wackos. The Orange County Weekly was also enlightening:

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 7, 7:32 A.M.: Tim Donnelly, the Tea Party favorite for governor of California, apparently noticed that his primary election opponent, Irvine’s Neel Kashkari, picked up endorsements from such nationally known “moderate” Republicans as Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Pete Wilson. It might explain why Donnelly, a member of the state Assembly out of Hesperia, is now playing the “Sharia” card.

Donnelly posted on Facebook Monday:

BREAKING: Neel Kashkari supported the United States submitting to the Islamic, Shariah banking code in 2008 when he ran TARP.Shariah is “the seditious religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy.”

This revelation is spreading fast, as people like Anita Gunn refer to Mr. Kashkari’s support of Shariah an “October Surprise.”

I’m not going to call Tim Donnelly paranoid, I’m not going to call him absent minded, and I’m not saying he is disrespectful of the law. However, a combination of all three says something about the person at the base of these:

Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, was stopped by the Transportation Security Administration about 7:45 a.m. at the Ontario International Airport, airport police said in a written statement.

He had four rounds in the Colt .45, and another magazine carrying five rounds in the carry-on bag, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.

“He said he forgot it was in his bag,” Melendez said.

The 45-year-old was in Terminal Four when he was flagged. The TSA contacted airport police.

“I apologize for the regrettable error that I made this morning,” Donnelly said later.

The lawmaker said he carried the gun for protection.

This may not be “wacko,” and this may not be “son of wacko.” But it borders on “friend of wacko.” Readers, this is SoCal, and this is just the start.

Son of Wacko

OklahomaSallyKern

Wacko alert! Wacko alert!

Readers, I may have made an important discovery. I have, as certainly all of us have, been pounding my head in an effort to figure out where all this wacko in Texas politics is coming from. Sunshine and saddle soap, readers! I may have found the answer. It’s leaking down from Oklahoma.

No, this is not about Oklahoma Senator Sally Kern. Also I am not doubling down on Timothy Ray Murray. Recall a few days ago I highlighted the Oklahoma politician and had the temerity to label him “The Manchurian Candidate.” Cute, what? Like in the movie of the same name. In that I remarked:

There be loonies, and then there be loonies. It’s a matter of degree, a matter for which the American public can be thankful.

Of course, Oklahoma is not the singular source of wacko. I have also noted that great American well spring, Washington, D.C. I reposted some stuff by Olivia Nuzzi that appeared in The Daily Beast:

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and a lady who said she sees angels swooping down into the Supreme Court joined the pro-tradition throngs at the annual March for Marriage.

Steps from our nation’s Capitol, I was approached by Morton, a youthful-looking 68-year-old Virginia native with artificially blond hair and a fistful of fliers that read, “Gay Greed” and “Gay Sex Leads to Adult Diapers.”

“They’re not born with it, you know,” Morton offered, unprompted. “If anybody opens the back door unnaturally from outside, you end up having open-door syndrome. You can’t close the door. Anal sex harms [gays]. It reduces their life by, on average, 25 years—anal or oral sex.” Asked if such sex could harm women the same way it harms gay men, Morton thought for a moment. “Uh, it also has an impact—a strong impact. I’m not certain the exact statistics there.”

Few (actually nobody) were surprised that this kind of stuff goes on in Washington. But Oklahoma?

My previously-stated opinion is that Oklahoma has been going out of its way to make Texas politics look respectable. A wayward errand it turns out. Nonetheless, that does not hold back these worthy Sooners. They just keep plugging along:

Scott Esk, a Republican Tea Party candidate in Oklahoma, got into a debate on Facebook last summer in which he advocated killing homosexuals.

I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” Esk wrote in comments uncovered by Oklahoma journalist Rob Morris. “That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

When pressed, Esk added: “I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it.”

Esk is running for the state’s House of Representatives. The primary is scheduled for June 24.

June 24 primary? That train has already left the station. Let’s see how the vote came out.

In June 2014, Esk gained national media attention when comments he made on Facebook in July 2013 were posted on Moore-based website Moore Monthly. Esk quoted several verses of scripture in response to a discussion about Pope Francis’s views on homosexuality. When Esk was asked if he would support the execution of homosexuals by stoning, he reportedly replied, “I think we would be totally in the right to do it. That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.” Esk later clarified his position in a phone interview, saying “What I will tell you right now is that was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God, and in that time it was totally just. I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law; I do have very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins, and I think that those kinds of sins will not do our country any good and certainly doesn’t do anything to preserve the family.”

Esk was soundly defeated in the Oklahoma Primary elections on June 24, 2014 with just 5% of the vote.

[Some links removed]

Dag nab it. Just when life was beginning to get interesting again. Where’s all this sanity coming from? Oklahoma? Get out of here.

(Full disclosure: Although I have lived most of my life within about a hundred miles of the Oklahoma border, I have not set foot in the state since 1957.)

But wait just a moment. We are passing over the very essence of the story. We have politicians who pound the bible and wear their religious convictions on their sleeves like party arm bands. But seldom do we see a politician who is prepared to go the full monty. I mean politicians will tell you that human contraception is sinful and goes against God’s order to go forth and multiply. But it’s likely they are saying this just to get your vote. They are what are known in the circles as CINO; Christians in name only. Hardly a one of these political Christians is willing to put his first born son on an altar and slit his throat with a knife. Or even to stand by while somebody else does so. Just as there are things that not even a lawyer will do, these pseudo Christians have their limits.

Which is why (defeated) candidate Scott Esk of Oklahoma is such a fresh breeze in this otherwise bleak political landscape. I promise you, fellow Christians, there will come a time when you wish you had not been so scornful of this true believer.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Sword of the Lord

From Google Images

From Google Images

That didn’t take long, although, the stew was some time brewing:

In 1999, the Town of Greece, New York (“the Town”), began starting its Town Board meetings with a moment of prayer. The Town developed an informal practice of inviting clergy to give the opening prayer, and those clergy who accepted were given the “Chaplain of the Month” award. In 2008, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens started complaining about the practice because they felt it aligned the town with Christianity. Over the next year, the Town invited four non-Christian prayer-givers, but in January 2009, all prayer-givers were again Christian. Galloway and Stephens sued in the Western District of New York, claiming that the practice violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Town. On appeal, the Second Circuit reversed, concluding that a reasonable person could believe that the practice affiliated the Town with Christianity. The Town petitioned for a writ of certiorari, which the Supreme Court granted to determine the constitutionality of legislative prayer practices. This case will address the boundaries of the freedom of religion and the meaning of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Court’s decision could effectively end long-standing governmental practices that contain religious connotations.

On 5 May this year the Supreme Court settled the matter:

In a 5-4 decision in favor of Marsh the judgement (sic) of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was reversed because the question before the court was answered with no. The majority opinion authored by Justice Kennedy stated: “The town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment by opening its meetings with prayer that comports with our tradition and does not coerce participation by nonadherents.” The court concluded that the town’s practice of opening its town board meetings with a prayer offered by members of the clergy does not violate the Establishment Clause when the practice is consistent with the tradition long followed by Congress and state legislatures, the town does not discriminate against minority faiths in determining who may offer a prayer, and the prayer does not coerce participation with non-adherents. [Links removed]

Here is a summary from the Supreme Court.

Translated, this decision allows the practice of opening meetings with Christian only prayers, so long as attendees are not required to participate, and people of other faiths do not complain too loudly. The typical argument in cases like this is that Christians make up the vast majority of the community, and Christian prayers just represent the sentiments of that majority.

The Unites States government is the people, and the majority will always have the power to prevail on public issues. The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect minorities by curbing the power of the majority. That’s a rather restrictive interpretation. My more expansive interpretation is that invoking Christian prayers amounts to Christian proselytizing at public expense.

Giving the Devil his due, invoking Jewish prayers would be Jewish proselytizing, and invoking Muslim prayers would amount to Islamic proselytizing. All at public expense. I am sure this is something we said 222 years ago we would not do. What has it all come to? I’m glad you asked:

Rowlett City Council invocations summoning prayer and debate

By 

STAFF WRITER

Published: April 10, 2013 10:44 PM

ROWLETT — A three-year disagreement over prayer at Rowlett City Council meetings is quickly broadening The council’s practice of starting meetings with an invocation has drawn dozens of public speakers, a vigil and enhanced police presence to the Rowlett Municipal Building since March. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Metroplex Atheists have become involved, each sending letters to city leaders in the last six months.

That was over a year ago, before the Court handed down the Greece decision. At the time Mayor Todd Gottel stated:

“In 2010, we told them we were going to review our policy. We did,” Gottel said. “We wanted to make sure our policy was fair and equitable. It is.” Gottel has long posted positive Facebook comments about Sunday services at First Baptist Church Rowlett. His beliefs were well-known when he inherited the mayor’s seat to wide popular acclaim in April 2011 and has twice since run unopposed. “This is a council invocation, and as long as I’m mayor and I’m sitting there, I’m going to pray,” he said. “As long as the Supreme Court tells us it’s OK, we’re going to pray.”

This story from The Dallas Morning News also reported: “Gottel said that the city and council makeup is mostly Christian but that the policy does not discriminate. Licensed clergy from any legitimate church in the city are welcome to lead the invocation, he said.”

Aye, there’s the rub. The key phrase is “any legitimate church in the city.” Another key word is “licensed.” The government issues licenses to clergy? And the people who determine what is a legitimate church are…? And if the city is solidly Catholic then prayers will be Catholic only? If there are no Jewish temples, then there will be no Jewish prayers? And where is the First Amendment in all of this? The Supreme Court?

Americans Against the Tea Party has posted a contemporary news item:

On behalf of the group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter giving city leaders ten business days to respond to a request to add two Rowlett members to its list of people who can give council meeting invocations. “Specifically, we ask that you ensure that nonbelievers are given equal opportunity to deliver invocations at council meetings,” Sam Grover, an attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote to the City of Rowlett. However, city Attorney David Berman said on Tuesday that Rowlett will likely not respond to the letter requesting equal treatment for nonbelievers. “As long as I’m mayor, we are going to pray,” Mayor Todd Gottel said Wednesday.

On the last day of June this year the Supreme Court added a new chapter to the rights staked out by the First Amendment. In a 5-4 decision along political lines the Court ruled that the religious preferences of employers take precedence over national law, particularly in regards to items that must be covered in legislatively-mandated insurance plans. This trend in court decisions promises to shift religious influence in society away from individuals and more toward seats of political and financial power.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Sword of the Lord

godbible

I notice this kind of thing can happen only in America.

Not exactly.

It can also happen in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, some parts of Iraq, and a few other places. What is it? Allow me to explain.

People who know me are aware that I find the practice of opening meetings with appeals to imaginary entities tiresome and sometimes irritating. One governmental institution apparently noticed my plight and has taken action to alleviate my distress. They did this by eliminating some of the sources of my concern. Here’s how they did it:

The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors in Virgina [No, Virginia, not Virgina] has landed themselves in hot water recently when they recently prohibited prayer invoking “neo-pagan, polytheistic, pre-Christian deities” that don’t fall under the purview of “the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

The limitation was set into place after denying the request that a Wiccan’s invocation be added to the list of prayers.  They denied it based on the above stipulations; that is, the invocation is neo-pagan, polytheistic, pre-Christian and outside this mythical “Judeo-Christian” mystery religion.

I’m here to tell you, dear readers, this is a huge load off my mind. The next time I attend a meeting of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors I will not be in dread of having to sit through a silly Wiccan, Buddhist, Shinto, FSM monologue. All I will have to prepare for is sitting through a tiresome Judeo-Christian-Muslim monologue. Wait. Maybe not even a Muslim monologue. I need to verify that.

Sarah Jones, writing in the Americans United blog came away with the impression that prayer at board meetings will be much restricted:

Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its verdict in Town of Greece v. Galloway, legalizing legislative prayer before meetings of local government, one county supervisor in Virginia had an inspiration: Henceforth, prayer should be all Christian, all the time.

“The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard,” Roanoke County Supervisor Al Bedrosian told the Roanoke Times. “If we allow everything…where do you draw the line?”

Bedrosian went on to opine that Christian prayers should dominate because the country, in his view, was founded on that faith.

“I think America, pretty much from the Founding Fathers on, I think we have to say more or less that we’re a Christian nation with Christian ideology,” he stated. “If we’re a Christian nation, we need to move toward our Christian heritage.”

Other supervisors were quick to point out that they don’t agree with Bedrosian and said a change in official policy was unlikely. But his confusion is indicative of the fallout from the May 5 ruling in Greece, a decision that continues to reverberate around the nation.

If this is true there is much joy. It means the next time I attend the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting I will neither have to prepare myself to endure silly Jewish and Muslim prayers. Just the silly Christian prayers. You have no idea how relieved that I am at this news.

Jones elaborated further on the Greece case:

The Greece case, sponsored by Americans United, challenged a New York community’s practice of opening its meetings with mostly Christian prayers. Town officials insisted they had an open-door policy for prayer, but that most of the supplications just happened to be Christian.

AU, representing two local plaintiffs, Susan Galloway and Linda Steph­ens, filed suit against the town’s prayer policy. Although AU prevailed at the appeals court level, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, ruling 5-4 in favor of the town.

I have previously given my take on the Greece decision. I quoted this in my post:

A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that legislative bodies such as city councils can begin their meetings with prayer, even if it plainly favors a specific religion.

The court ruled 5 to 4 that Christian prayers said before meetings of an Upstate New York town council did not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion; the justices cited history and tradition.

“Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this Nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond the authority of government,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court’s conservative majority.

The ruling reflected a Supreme Court that has become more lenient on how government may accommodate religion in civic life without crossing the line into an endorsement of a particular faith. All nine justices endorsed the concept of legislative prayer, with the four dissenters agreeing that the public forum “need not become a religion-free zone,” in the words of Justice Elena Kagan.

You know what I always say, “If this be voodoo, let’s make the most of it.” Apparently some are prepared to do just that.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Just Like Old Times

For longer than I care to reveal (OK, over 50 years) I have been distressed by the actions of the creationists. Until about 1989 I just let the matter slide. Starting that year I began to take action. I started reading their books and attending their meetings and their lectures. Through it all ran a common theme: Creationists wanted “creation science” taught in the public schools. Else they wanted Darwinian evolution not to be taught. Else they wanted a disclaimer attached that modern biological science is “just a theory” and that students should doubt it. Else they wanted schools to “teach the controversy.” They wanted pupils to know that the biological evolution is a controversial topic. And it is. The creationists have made it so by raising counter (and false) arguments.

To the creationists various fields of science are controversial. Nuclear physics is controversial. This science provides evidence that contradicts the Bible on the age of the Earth. Modern cosmology is controversial. Modern cosmology provides natural explanations that contradict the Bible, and cosmology got a rough ride in the Kansas public school system several years ago:

This standards document was before the State Board of Education for three months awaiting approval.  However, one state board member put forward an alternative proposal that had completely bypassed any process of review or public comment.  It was largely ghost-written by members of a local creation science organization. This document eliminated any mention of evolution and also removed reference to any unifying scientific theories.  It rather put the focus on “technological science,” and dismissed “theoretical science” as unproven speculation with little practical application.  Fully half the members of the State Board of Education (an elected body under no other political, educational, or legislative body) favored this proposal over the document developed by the education committee, resulting in an immediate deadlock.

In the last turn of events, 3 members of the Board rewrote the standards to produce a “compromise” document.  While not including the more objectionable parts of the alternate proposal, it still eliminated the theory of evolution as a model for understanding the history and diversity of life.  Furthermore it does not mention cosmology (Big Bang) or the Age of the Earth. It also includes errors of fact and misrepresentations of scientific methodology and content.  This version passed the Board on August 12th by a 6 to 4 vote.  The original standards document written and unanimously endorsed by the appointed committee was not even brought to a vote.  This decision was made in opposition to the recommendations of virtually every scientific and educational body in the state.  The Governor of Kansas and all of the presidents of the regents institutions (state universities) appealed to the Board to reject the alternate document.   The academic and educational communities are very irritated by the current situation.

By now you’re getting the idea. When science contradicts personal belief, science is going to have to give a little.

A school director in Pennsylvania is demanding that an environmental science textbook used in high schools be supplemented with a pamphlet about the “true science” of global warming.

Saucon Valley School Director and Tea Party Republican Bryan Eichfeld claimed “there’s a lot of clear propaganda…based on bad science” in the chapter, the point of which “is to teach our students to fear the future and to hate our modern industrial economy.”

He urged his fellow school directors to reject the textbook.

Or maybe a lot.

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has long been an advocate for teaching evolution in public schools and conversely for keeping ideologically-driven matter out. Starting a few years ago they realized that the science behind global warming is going to require similar attention:

In recent years, most state-level legislative attacks on evolution have taken the form of “academic freedom” bills, which permit — but do not require — teachers and students to introduce creationist material into science classes. Because these bills are permissive rather than prescriptive, they may have a better chance of surviving judicial scrutiny than has past anti evolution legislation.

There are two main strains of “academic freedom” bills. The first mandates that teachers be able to discuss “the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution,” and offers students “protection for subscribing to a particular position on views regarding biological or chemical evolution.” Bills of this strain typically also include unsubstantiated claims of widespread persecution of teachers and students who criticize evolution. The Discovery Institute’s “Model Academic Freedom Statute on Evolution” is of this form.

The second strain does not purport to be concerned with student rights, and cites the need to help students develop “critical thinking skills” on “controversial issues.” To this end, it permits teachers to discuss “the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” The listed “theories” often cover several topics of concern to the religious right: primarily evolution and abiogenesis, but also global warming, human cloning and stem cell research. One example of this strain is 2008’s Louisiana Science Education Act.

Eichfeld stated his case and his demands in a letter, which says in part:

Paul Saunders, a local expert on the deceptions of global warming alarmists, has prepared a 10+ page analysis of the most egregious portions of the book. A quick example of the deceptiveness of the text, from page 344 – “some of the findings of the IPCC state that since the third report in 2001, the average global surface temperature increased by 0.75° C”. What is not stated is they picked 2001 because it was a particularly cold year of surface temperatures compared to 1998 and 2002. If they used the trend of global temperatures from 1998 to 2013, then the temperature increase would be trivial and far below the temperature increase predictions of the 1988 computer climate models that were used to scare the Congress and the public. This type of statistical deception is scientifically dishonest, Eichfield believes, that the only reason that such deceptive techniques are used, is to scare our students to fear the future and to hate our modern industrial economy.

Eichfeld believes that it is the school board’s obligation to provide our students with a balanced point of view. Science is not the study of a consensus of thought, it is the study of the actual data and the application of the scientific method. There is credible, rational scientific evidence challenging the man-made global warming alarmist claims and our students should be exposed to it.

The text in question is Environmental Science by Michael R. Heithaus, Karen Arms and Holt McDougal (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2013). I do not have a copy of this book, so I cannot confirm what Eichfeld says about page 344. That given, an examination of history from meteorological stations and the Land-Ocean Temperature Index does not quite quite confirm Eichfeld’s assertion (“they picked 2001 because it was a particularly cold year”). If the authors had wanted to pick a particularly cold year they could have better gone to 2000, which seems to have been colder, or at least just as cold. What they would not do is use 1998, because, as the plot shows, 1998 exhibited a temperature spike. See the following:

From Google

From Google

What matters more and is easier to interpret are the averages, shown in the following:

From Google

From Google

This does not go all the way to 2013, when the book was published, but it does show the five-year average, and that is particularly telling. The 1998 peak is smoothed out, and the red line (five-year average) shows a monotonic increase following a dip about 1994. The black horizontal bar shows the period when the Pinatubo eruption cooled the atmosphere.

I have attempted to identify the “Paul Saunders” in question. The Lehigh Valley News elaborated on Saunders’ testimony:

Paul Saunders, a self-proclaimed “local expert of the deceptions of climate change alarmist,” was invited by Eichfeld to speak on the matter at Tuesday’s board meeting.
In a presentation of his 11-page report on the topic, Saunders said that the textbook’s assertion that carbon-dioxide emissions have driven global climate change over the centuries is mistaken.
He said the book confounds group consensus with scientific fact.
“The temperature is driving [carbon dioxide] emissions, not the other way around,” he said. “The Environmental Science textbook does not adhere to the scientific method. It delivers one-sided advocacy.”
The Bethlehem resident was allowed to present his findings in spite of not being a member of the school district, to the chagrin of some officials and local residents.

I did find this Paul J. Saunders, who posted the following in 2007:

 As the worlds leaders gather in New York this week to discuss climate change, youre going to hear a lot of well-intentioned talk about how to stop global warming. From the United Nations, Bill Clinton, and even the Bush administration, you’ll hear about how certain mechanisms cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions, carbon taxes, and research and development plans for new energy technologies can fit into some sort of global emissions reduction agreement to stop climate change. Many of these ideas will be innovative and necessary; some of them will be poorly thought out. But one thing binds them together: They all come much too late.

For understandable reasons, environmental advocates don’t like to concede this point. Eager to force deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, many of them hype the consequences of climate change in some cases, well beyond what is supported by the factsto build political support. Their expensive policy preferences are attractive if they are able to convince voters that if they make economic sacrifices for the environment, they have a reasonable chance of halting, or at least considerably slowing, climate change. But this case is becoming harder, if not impossible, to make.

The Center For The National Interest provides the following profile of Paul J. Saunders:

PaulJSaundersCFTNI

Paul J. Saunders is Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest and a member of the Center’s Board of Directors.  He is the Center’s Chief Operating Officer and directs its U.S.-Russian Relations Program in addition to leading projects on other issues, including energy and climate change and U.S.- Japan relations.  He is also Associate Publisher of the foreign policy magazine The National Interest, published bi-monthly by the Center for the National Interest.

Mr. Saunders served in the Bush Administration from 2003 to 2005 as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs. In that capacity, he worked on a broad range of transnational issues, in particular with respect to Russia, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union, as well as Iraq, China and India.

Paul Saunders on Facebook is this Paul Saunders, who appears to live in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania:

From Paul Saunders' Facebook profile

From Paul Saunders’ Facebook profile

This is an excellent article debunking the claim that most scientists agree that global warming is a crisis. P.S. Dr. Roy Spencer is an award-winning former NASA scientist who with Dr. John Christy is the co-Father of global satellite temperature measurement. It is shameful that any organization uses the utterly corrupt surface temperature data anymore. Only global satellite data is meaningful and even it has problems.
The “link” in question is to this:

Opinion

The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’

What is the origin of the false belief—constantly repeated—that almost all scientists agree about global warming?

May 26, 2014 7:13 p.m. ET

Last week Secretary of State John Kerry warned graduating students at Boston College of the “crippling consequences” of climate change. “Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists,” he added, “tell us this is urgent.”

Where did Mr. Kerry get the 97% figure? Perhaps from his boss, President Obama, who tweeted on May 16 that “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Or maybe from NASA, which posted (in more measured language) on its website, “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”

Yet the assertion that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made, urgent problem is a fiction. The so-called consensus comes from a handful of surveys and abstract-counting exercises that have been contradicted by more reliable research.

This Paul Saunders, that Paul Saunders, it’s apparent neither one is a scientist.

The temperature is driving [carbon dioxide] emissions, not the other way around.

That’s a curious statement. Having studied the sciences of chemistry and physics for over 50 years I am at a loss to come up with any known science that supports that claim.

He said the book confounds group consensus with scientific fact.

Mr. Saunders, consensus is a basis of science. What is accepted in science is what is the consensus of scientists working in the field of study. The scientific consensus has been known in the past to be wrong, but it is still science.

The Environmental Science textbook does not adhere to the scientific method. It delivers one-sided advocacy.

The President of the United States summed up this point. When the issue has been examined from all sides there often comes a point when further argument is just silly:

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington DC, Mr Obama said there were multiple solutions to the “very hard problem” of climate change but said he would not waste time debating those who denied it was happening at all.

“We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society,” he said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”

I just now sent off a note to Bryan Eichfeld asking for additional information about the text book passage he mentioned. If I get a response I will provide an update.

UPDATE

Bryan responded quickly to my request for additional information. Here is a copy of the e-mail exchange:

Bryan Eichfeld
Today at 7:22 AM

To
John Blanton
Thank you for your interest, but due to copyright laws I would not be able to send this to you.

On Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 1:51 AM, John Blanton <jf_blanton@yahoo.com> wrote:

Mr. Eichfeld,
I am attempting to follow up on the referenced text book review. In your discussion you mentioned the authors’ assertions on page 344. I do not have a copy of that book, but I am interested in the full presentation by the authors. I will be most grateful if you can send me an image of the page and any relevant material.
Best regards,
John Blanton
San Antonio, Texas
I have asked for Bryan Eichfeld’s additional comments, and I will post an update if he has anything further to tell. In the mean time I will try to get the context from page 344 of Experimental Science.

Kiss Me, Deadly

Image from Politicususa

Image from Politicususa

It’s the title of a novel by Mickie Spillane and also for a movie based on the book’s plot, but with a slightly altered title. When the publisher printed up the first 50,000 copies they left out the comma, and Spillane forced them to pulp the entire batch and reprint.

That said, here is The Rest of the Story:

Tuesday night Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) easily defeated former Oklahoma House Speaker TW Shannon in Oklahoma’s US Senate Republican primary. Lankford will move on to the general election this November and likely fill the seat which is being vacated by retiring Republican Senator Tom Coburn. Despite Shannon, the first African American speaker of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives, receiving endorsements from big names within the Tea Party leading up to the primary, Lankford cruised to victory, 57% to 34%.

Who exactly were these heavy hitters that campaigned for Shannon? Well, one kingmaker that came out for Shannon was none other than 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee and half-term Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. The former mayor of Wasilla jumped on board the Shannon express in March. Back then, when she gave her endorsement, she wrote the normal Palin word salad about self-reliance, entrepreneurship and fighting government waste. She lauded Shannon’s conservative credentials and claimed that Lankford had the backing of “Beltway insiders.”

I have previously posted on The Kiss of Death:

It was summer of 2008, and I swear I was minding my own business. The news item on my computer screen said that John McCain had just picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. That’s the instant I knew.

It was game over. The next president of the United States was going to be Barack Obama. Thank you, Sarah.

I have mentioned before that Sarah Palin recently considered running for the presidential nomination and quickly sank out of sight, ignored roundly by Republicans who need to live in the real world. …

Some of you will say to me that Shannon was due to go down in flames anyhow and that Palin and Cruz just showed up to roast marshmallows in the fire. I say that where there’s fire there’s likely to be smoke. Not that it would ever happen, but on my death bed one thing I would dread to see would be a get well card from the former governor of Alaska.

What me worry?

godbible

As if Republicans did not already have enough problems:

  • Gun advocates acting crazy
  • Religious nut cases acting… like they always do
  • People signing up for insurance under the ACA
  • Yearly increasing evidence for anthropogenic global warming
  • Absolutely no evidence for Intelligent Design

Can’t get much worse than that. Right?

Sorry:

A big deal has been made about the Republican Party’s so-called Hispanic problem during recent U.S. election cycles. But there’s another group — largely white and male — that has also struggled to increase the number of Latinos in its ranks: America’s religiously unaffiliated. Until recently, that is.

The number of Hispanic American “nones” — those who say they have no particular religion or are atheist or agnostic — is growing at a clip that would make GOP operatives green with envy. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, 18 percent of Hispanics are not affiliated with any religion.

The Republican Party has for some time had a problem with “Latinos.” Latinos I define as people whose native language is not English but is Spanish or Portuguese. Also that would include people with Spanish (Portuguese) family names and just plain people from Central and South America. There are a few reasons:

  • Anti immigration policies
  • English-only advocacy
  • General xenophobia

One thing Republicans have going for them with Latinos is religion. Latinos (stereotype alert!) tend to be Catholic. The southern continents were first colonized by Spain, and if there is one thing the Spanish did was to proselytize with prejudice. By that I mean the Catholic friars gave their unwilling subjects two options, convert or die. Many did both. The result is a heavily Catholic society extending from the southern United States border to Terra del Fuego.

Uh, this is a Party that 54 years ago strongly objected to electing a Catholic president. But times have changed. Since the Republican Party became the Party of God about 30 years ago they have found the need to be more accommodating of religious denominations—so long as it is the religion of Jesus, God of Abraham at the very least. Welcome, welcome, Latinos, to the modern Republican Party.

Fade to black.

As more Latinos exempt themselves from religious influence they begin to look more like liberals—Democrats. What to do?

There’s not much Republicans can do. They are basically hosed if enough Latinos lose their religious foundation. The Party is not going to be able to attract Latinos by stumping to post the Ten Commandments in class rooms, requiring schools to “teach the controversy” (relating to biological evolution) and advocating government sponsored prayer.

Republicans can take some consolation. Absence of religion characterizes only one in five Hispanics now. That still gives the Party a shot at one more presidential election. After that Republicans may have to put English-only back in the closet for a few decades.

And may Jesus have mercy on their souls.

Wacko comes to Washington

From The Daily Beast

From The Daily Beast

Actually, it never left. Here’s the latest:

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and a lady who said she sees angels swooping down into the Supreme Court joined the pro-tradition throngs at the annual March for Marriage.

Steps from our nation’s Capitol, I was approached by Morton, a youthful-looking 68-year-old Virginia native with artificially blond hair and a fistful of fliers that read, “Gay Greed” and “Gay Sex Leads to Adult Diapers.”

“They’re not born with it, you know,” Morton offered, unprompted. “If anybody opens the back door unnaturally from outside, you end up having open-door syndrome. You can’t close the door. Anal sex harms [gays]. It reduces their life by, on average, 25 years—anal or oral sex.” Asked if such sex could harm women the same way it harms gay men, Morton thought for a moment. “Uh, it also has an impact—a strong impact. I’m not certain the exact statistics there.”

“Adult Diapers?” Didn’t I just cover that? Or something like it.

One thing you can say about Washington, here the truth is a sometime thing. And sometimes not even then. The Daily Beast story is intriguing. Let me analyze a few passages:

In between speakers, some attendees walked around wielding signs and some prayed—with their arms stretched toward the sky. Others clutched rosary beads. Actual priests (and a few rabbis) circled, holding religious texts and offering wisdom to passersby.

Priests and rabbis offering wisdom? Hopefully these are not among the some with arms stretched toward the sky. “Wisdom” does not belong in this paragraph.

Among those present was Jim Griffin, wearing a Captain America suit and proclaiming himself “The True Captain America.”

He was at the march, he said, because “the family’s fallen apart… Foreign governments are laughing and we’re on the precipice of something very, very, very bad.” Griffin advised people “study history. Just find out the facts, find out the truth,” to prepare for that very, very, very bad something that is coming soon. Griffin said the March for Marriage was about telling the Supreme Court, “We want to take our country back to founding principles.”

Something very, very very bad is coming soon? It already has.

Christian Love

Before readers start pestering me for being unnecessarily sarcastic, allow me to submit my excuse. It’s not my fault. The Devil made me do it. I am referring, of course to the title of this post.

People are going to tell me, “Look, we already know you are not a Christian, but can you just show a little of the holiday spirit on the approach of the Easter season? How about give the Christians a break.” Good suggestions, and worthy of consideration.

JesusDaddy

Nah. Let’s get on with the story:

CNN: Secret Service Interviewed Pastor Who Prays For Obama’s Death

CNN has picked up our story from yesterday on Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who prayed for Barack Obama’s death the day before one of his parishioners, who attended the sermon, brought an AR-15 rifle to an Obama event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upstairs Downstairs USA

For some reason this made me think of an old TV series that was on PBS. I never watched it—it concerned people it’s impossible for me to relate to. I don’t know how many other Americans share my views on domestic servants, but I always thought that employing domestic help would be like turning my family life into a commercial enterprise.

Anyhow, society in other places is much more stratified, and it’s expected there will be a privileged class and a servant class. That’s the way it was in this case.

Arrest, strip-search of Indian diplomat in New York triggers uproar

(CNN) — The prosecutor in the U.S. government’s case against an Indian diplomat charged in New York with visa fraud related to her treatment of her housekeeper expressed dismay Wednesday over the direction the case has taken.

Here’s what triggered the whole business:

But Bharara said Khobragade’s treatment was justified. He cited an 11-page complaint that alleged she had promised in the visa application under which her housekeeper moved from India to the United States to pay her at least $9.75 per hour, the minimum wage in New York, and to require that she work no more than 40 hours per week.

But the complaint alleges that Khobragade then had the housekeeper, who has been identified as Sangeeta Richard, sign a second contract, which paid her less than $3.31 per hour and required that she work much longer hours.

The second contract, which was not to be revealed to the U.S. government, “deleted the required language protecting the victim from other forms of exploitation and abuse” and also deleted language that said Khobragade agreed to abide by U.S. laws, he said.

Apparently in India, as in many other places in the world, there really are two (or more) classes of people. There are those available for exploitation and those possessing the right to exploit.

Devyani Khobragade

News reports indicate this case is not rare, especially among the foreign diplomatic corps in the United States.

December 18, 2013 · By Tiffany Williams · Originally published in Common Dreams

Much of the media surrounding this case has focused on the unfair treatment of Khobragade and the Indian government’s outrage. But what’s missing from the conversation is the context – exploitation of migrant domestic workers is not unusual. Khobragade was clearly mistreated by U.S. officers, but what about the abuse that migrant domestic workers live through every day?

Khobragade, like hundreds of other consular officers, Diplomats, and international officials, was granted the privilege of bringing over a domestic worker to care for her home and family under the U.S. A-3/G-5 visa program. The Department of State, which oversees and monitors this visa program, requires employers and workers to have written contracts that detail wages, hours, working conditions, in addition to in-person interviews and education about human trafficking and worker rights in the United States. Yet as this case shows, dishonest employers can find ways to undermine these protections.

[emphasis added]

What was not clear to me at first is why Khobragade was arrested in the first place. Diplomats are supposed to receive what is called “diplomatic privilege,” making them immune to arrest. Closer reading reveals there are exemptions, including activities not related to their diplomatic service. This appears to be one of those exempt activities.

In the foregoing writer Tiffany Williams is absolutely wrong about Khobragade’s treatment. From all accounts, Khobragade was treated in the same manner as all people taken into custody by the U.S. Marshall Service. In fact, she was given special treatment not accorded to an ordinary citizen being arrested. She was not arrested in front of her children, she was not restrained (handcuffs) and she was allowed to keep her cell phone and make calls while in the Marshall Service car. At the jail she was strip searched in a private room by a matron, and that appears to be the big sticking point with the Indian government and much of the Indian population.

Strip searched, like a common criminal. The indignity!

The fact is, she is a criminal, although her actions would not be considered criminal back in her homeland. As I mentioned before, in some places there is more than one class of citizenship.

No Cure for Stupid

People who know me for a while eventually find out I am not religious. Some are not amazed. And rarely I am asked why, why not religious?

I have lately molded my response to allow me to address this question and also to be fair to anyone genuinely interested. I say something like, “Life is short. I don’t have much time left over for stuff that’s not true or doesn’t work.”

I could look around and find other reasons. Here’s one from the Washington Post:

Pentecostal pastors in Africa push prayer, not drugs, for people with HIV

By Fredrick Nzwili | Religion News Service, Published: December 4

NAIROBI, Kenya — At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.

The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.

“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”

This case is one of those low-hanging fruit, freely available to anybody who wants to argue against religion. The obvious statement is that “religion kills.” But there are deeper statements that can be and should be made. One such is that religion is not so much a cause but the reflection of a flaw in the human thought process. The willingness to accept ideas contrary to known evidence is a major aspect of religious thinking, and in modern life this is turning out to have greater impact than it may have had in the past.

A human mind that has already accepted such fallacies as life after death and talking snakes exhibits the presence of a crippling defect. I know people of faith who possess strong intellects, so I must conclude that faith and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. Beyond that, taking on the mental baggage of religious belief must have some sort of drag on the thought process. At the very least it compares to a marathon runner starting off with one shoelace untied.

Regarding the unfortunates in Kenya, if it were not for religion, would they seek out other excuses for their irrational action? Possibly so. While there may be a cure for HIV, there may not be a cure for stupid. Short of death.

Your mileage may vary

This is news, but it’s not new news. It’s kind of old news. This happened in September last year. A coordinated terrorist attack on the United States consulate and American personnel in Benghazi, Libya, resulted in the deaths of four, including ambassador Chris Stevens. This was sad news to all, especially to the American public those victims served.

Enough of that. It’s time to get some political mileage out of it.

The image was originally posted on Breitbart – One Voice Silenced, Millions Awakened and was then reposted on a the feed of a Facebook friend, no fan of the current president.

Republicans, and especially the Tea Party faction, have been working the Benghazi issue relentlessly ever since the attack. Prior to last year’s election it was critical to emphasize the administration’s failures in this matter. That election strategy didn’t quite work out, partly due to some help the president received from his opponent. Republican candidate Mitt Romney kissed off “47%” of the population in a video that became public prior to the election, so he lost that vote. In the run up to the election all that was required for the president to win was stay the course and to get another 4% of the voters. He did that and better.

So, the president won re-election and went on the following year to push for the remainder of his agenda. I would like to avoid the term “sore loser,” so I will just say that some voters were not pleased. What to do?

Not much was available for a while. There were allegations the IRS, under administration direction, was unlawfully targeting conservative groups, but that eventually ran out of steam. Then a mole working as an NSA contractor absconded with top secret information about our spying operations, but that didn’t get much traction, because even Republicans supported the NSA’s operations. Then the Web site for the Affordable Care Act had a very bad roll out, and that was a bonanza for the president’s opponents. Also the president’s statement that people who already had health insurance would be allowed to keep their policies turned out to be flat wrong. Who would have thought? Last year’s losers have gotten a lot of mileage out of these failures, and rightly so. Then the tech guys came to the rescue of the Web site, and the die-hards lost a bit of their mojo.

But they always had Benghazi. The exploitation of American deaths for political leverage may not be in the best of taste, but this is politics, not charm school. Everything is fair game. On my Facebook account over the past year I saw a steady dribble from conservative friends, a steady dribble of reminders that Americans had died under the watchful eye of a liberal president.

Then came the jackpot.

On 27 October of this year the CBS news show 60 Minutes aired a piece by co-host Lara Logan. I did not watch that particular program, and it’s unfortunate that I did not, because it has since been pulled by CBS and is no longer available for viewing. However, from the conservative community’s response to the item I can only guess the report was highly critical of the Obama administration. It was as though the sun had just come up.

60 Minutes, that puffed up mouthpiece for the liberal base, instantly became the national wellhead of truth and journalistic integrity. My conservative friends posted and reposted the 60 Minutes report as further vindication of their wishful thinking.

Again, without having actually witnessed the 60 Minutes report, I made some surmises of my own. Call me skeptical if you want, but for months there has been investigation after investigation, and there has been the testimony of government employees with knowledge of the events, and nothing ever came out of it all that would cook the president’s goose. Some people like to call me skeptical, but my experience has been that when there is only contrary evidence there is likely no truth.

So, I let the matter slide. Sooner or later all the dust would settle, and there would only be the bare facts left standing. And I waited.

In the mean time conservatives beat the drums and cranked up the volume. Mileage is where you find it. The liberal Media Matters watchdog group sent me a link to the ensuing hoopla, and it was fun to watch. Here’s what you will see when you watch the video:

  • Lara Logan announces, “Tonight, you will hear for the first time from a security officer who witnessed the attack.”
  • “Security officer” Dylan Davies recounts some things that happened, but the available video does not show anything incriminating for the administration.
  • Fox News is reporting on the 60 Minutes story. The news anchor is telling us: “… that’s another witness coming forward to describe what he saw the night the U.S. consulate was attacked in Benghazi last year.”
  • Fox News again: “So last weekend when 60 Minutes did the story it sort of felt like Fox News was the only organization that was consistently reporting and digging in to the Benghazi story.”
  • Minority Leader Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: “After the 60 Minutes show Sunday…”
  • Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire: “The 60 Minutes report…”
  • Congressman Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio: “60 Minutes…
  • Senator Graham again: “What does the 60 Minutes show tell us?”
  • Congressman Jordan: “Lara Logan has interviewed more people on the ground in Benghazi, when it happened, than [Republican Congressman from South Carolina] Trey Gowdy has talked to.”
  • Fox News anchor (talking to Senator Graham): “I see criticism from the left, where they all, ‘You guys are covering a phony scandal… 60 Minutes doesn’t cover phony scandals.”

See what it takes to become rehabilitated? To go from being the liberal left’s sounding board to the bulwark of journalistic integrity? Pas de problem! Just tell conservatives what they want to hear. I should have thought of that years ago. “I coulda been a contender.

But then the ax fell.

The following is from an NPR report.

After Internal Review On Benghazi Report, CBS Puts Logan On Leave

CBS has asked 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan to take a leave of absence, along with her producer, after her recent story on the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was found to have multiple flaws. An internal report also found broader failings in how the news division handled the story. A summary of the report’s findings was obtained by NPR on Tuesday.

News of Logan’s leave of absence was relayed to staff in a memo from CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, who is also the executive producer of 60 Minutes. In it, he also cited the “distinguished” work Logan and her colleague have done for CBS over the years.

Logan’s report on the attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was retracted within weeks of its airing on Oct. 27. It featured Dylan Davies, a security contractor who reportedly told a different version of events to 60 Minutes than he did to his employer and to the FBI.

David Folkenflik of NPR summarized the findings by CBS.

  • Logan and her producers sought a “different angle” to the Benghazi story from the outset and “believed they had found it in the story of Dylan Davies.” But the fact that Davies had by his own account lied to his boss in saying initially that he was not present at the mission on the night of the attack should have raised a “red flag” about his credibility.
  • Contradictory information uncovered by The Washington Post and The New York Times could have been found before the broadcast.
  • 60 Minutes failed to draw upon the journalistic resources of other reporters and journalists at the network with deep sources within law enforcement, military services and the diplomatic corps to confirm the story it was about to tell.
  • Logan’s public speech a year before the broadcast condemning the U.S. government’s response to first warnings of the attack represented a “conflict” with CBS standards. Correction at 9:05 a.m. ET, Nov. 27: We originally said her speech was delivered a month before the broadcast. In fact, it was given in October 2012.
  • Logan had multiple sources and reason to believe them for her assertion tying al-Qaida to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, but failed to sufficiently attribute that contention. Many critics, such as McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef, have strongly questioned that characterization.
  • CBS News Chairman and 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager defended the story to the media on the basis of Davies’ repeated insistence that he had no knowledge of the version of events relayed in the “after action report” or by the FBI, and that Fager also relied on the “strong conviction” expressed by the 60 Minutes team — presumably Logan and producer Max McClellan.
  • 60 Minutes also erred by not disclosing that Davies’ account was pegged to a book published by a conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS. (The publisher has since withdrawn Davies’ book.)

CBS acquired additional knocks for giving Logan free reign, despite knowing her previously stated position on the incident. Logan delivered a speech at the 2012 BGA Annual Luncheon that unequivocally laid out her position. I watched the greater part of her talk, and got the impression she has gained a false impression of American attitudes toward the Taliban, al Qaeda and global terrorism. Early on she refers to people thinking the Taliban can reform, while I find no evidence of such sentiment.

The Better Government Association is a journalism non-profit.

The YouTube posting carries a link to the following:

CBS’s Lara Logan: The Obama Administration Is Lying To You About Afghanistan

October 11, 2012 | Filed under 2012 Presidential Race,Barack Obama,War On Terror Posted by Doug Johnson

Following up her 60 Minutes report of a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan, CBS’s Lara Logan addressed a government watchdog group in Chicago this week and exposed the real story behind the story… the Obama administration is lying to the American public about the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorist bent on our destruction. Far from being defeated, as Obama would have you believe, the enemy is back and bolder than ever.

I am not 100% sure, but it’s possible that CBS and 60 Minutes are no longer the darlings of American conservative politics. When the problems with the 60 Minutes report hit the fan conservative comment dried up like last year’s campaign promises. I still expect to see more Benghazi postings. Tea baggers will be working extra hard now to stretch the mileage on this news wreck. However, I doubt if there will be any more references to the Logan report. Of course, that’s only a prediction.

Don’t laugh at me

Allen West, again. One of my Facebook friends (thank you, thank you, Mark Zuckerberg) posted a new thought by the former congressman from Florida. Without being repetitious, here’s what I previously had this to say:

Less comical is that people then and some even now believe Joe McCarthy’s assertions, which in the early 1950s grew wilder by the week as he drifted off into a never world of his own belief. Tradition has it that at one time he waved a list and announced he had the names of (many) communists working for the government, only the list turned out to be his laundry list. There does not seem to be any historical basis for the story, but it seems as likely a source for communist infiltrators as a ketchup bottle. Ultimately McCarthy never did deliver on his promise to expose and expunge enemy agents from the government.

It doesn’t matter. I have always known that no good joke ever goes unrepeated. Today we have our own twenty-first century Joe McCarthy in the form of Representative Allen West of Florida. West goes one better than the fictitious Senator Iselin and maybe even better than the real-life McCarthy. West has a number, at least an upper bound.

The conservative tea party icon also got in shots at Democrats and President Obama, who spoke Tuesday at Florida Atlantic University. West said Obama was “scared” to have a discussion with him. He later said “he’s heard” up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn’t name names.

West is a never-say-die advocate for the Tea Party. Out of office, he is now a contributor for the Fox network, and he has his own Web site. On said site he has posted this:

As I predicted, the pre-2012 election jobs numbers were fake
Written by Allen West on November 19, 2013

According to an article in the NY Post by John Crudele, it seems the jobs report numbers leading up to the 2012 presidential election were fake. As Curdele (sic) reports:

In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington. The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed.

The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated. And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

These are serious charges. If they are true, then the 2012 election was rigged, and Mitt Romney should rightly be president. This is worth following up. Unfortunately, ex congressman West did not provide any links to the story, so I had to track it down.

Finally spelling his name correctly, John Crudele writes for the New York Post, not to be confused with the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Washington Times. The New York Times is a venerable news source with a long history of straight forward journalism. Same for the Washington Post. The Washington Times is a publication founded by the reverend Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church. I do not consider it to be a reliable source of information. The New York Post is an old-line newspaper currently owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Erik Wemple, writing for the other Post, the Washington Post, had something to say about the New York Post item:

Five questions about the New York Post’s unemployment story

The New York Post knows from headlines, and this one is explosive: “Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report.”

Astounding. In the heat of the 2012 presidential election, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the country’s unemployment rate had dropped from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September. Upon release of those numbers, national business icon Jack Welch tweeted, “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” Media critics and other commentators, this one included, piled on Welch, lecturing him on how inconceivable such a scenario was.

Wemple continues:

Big deal, all of it. A Labor Department spokesperson sent the Erik Wemple Blog this statement on next steps: “We have contacted the Census Bureau about the allegations in this news report. We expect that they and the Commerce Department will investigate.”

In the meantime, some questions:

Wemple’s five questions are:

1) Where’s the sourcing?. Crudele is alleging an ongoing case of malfeasance/corruption/wrongdoing at the Census Bureau. What’s more, he claims that this activity “escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection.” Such a finding would surely rehabilitate Jack Welch, but what’s it based on? A “knowledgeable source.”

2) Where’s the background? Crudele writes, “By making up survey results — and, essentially, creating people out of thin air and giving them jobs — Buckmon’s actions could have lowered the jobless rate.” OK, but did they actually lower the jobless rate? Another sentence in the article suggests that perhaps it didn’t: Buckmon “was never told how to answer the questions about whether these nonexistent people were employed or not, looking for work, or have given up.”

3) Where’s the official response? Crudele says that last week he’d “offered” to surrender all his information to the Labor Department’s inspector general but has yet to hear back. He also quotes a Labor Department spokesperson as saying, “Yes, absolutely they should have told us. It would be normal procedure to notify us if there is a problem with data collection.”

Carl Fillichio, Labor’s senior advisor for communications and public affairs, says that the official who issued that quote to Crudele works for BLS. Any allegation of interference with the unemployment numbers — whether politically motivated or not — should have been directed to the Labor Department’s main press shop, says Fillichio. The New York Post didn’t do so, he says.

4) What’s the deal with the IG? Whistleblowers report stuff to the IG. Activists report stuff to the IG. Citizens report stuff to the IG. Contractors report stuff to the IG.

Reporters . . . don’t report stuff to the IG. They publish the results of their findings and report them to the public.

5) Context? Crudele finds a person who claims to have been directed to fake interviews for unemployment reports. That’s a significant bit of reporting. But how much impact could one person have upon the statistics? How many Census foot soldiers are deployed in conducting interviews for the unemployment report?

For the record, the Census Bureau is a non-political government department, independent of control by people in the White House. On 19 November of this year the bureau released the following statement:

The Census Bureau takes allegations of fraud by its employees very seriously. Fabrication of data by an employee is grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal and possible criminal action.

We have no reason to believe that there was a systematic manipulation of the data described in media reports. As a statistical agency, the Census Bureau is very conscientious about our responsibility to produce accurate Current Population Survey data for the Bureau of Labor Statistics and all other surveys we conduct. We carefully cross check and verify the work of our staff to ensure the data’s validity, including random quality control monitoring. That monitoring process includes reinterviewing respondents, and rechecking the data an employee has submitted, looking for red flags that indicate possible fabrication, such as abnormally short lengths of interviews or higher survey completion rates that are out of sync with normal survey collection productivity levels.

That is why when we learned of the allegations of fabricated Current Population survey results, we immediately reported them to the Office of the Inspector General.

Of course I find all of this very amusing and will continue to follow the story. In the mean time I need to apologize to ex congressman West for comments I made in a previous post:

That should be “Go, West.” Begone, Congressman West. You have shamed us and your party enough. It is time for you to leave.

No, no. I take it all back. Congressman West, do not go. Please stay. You have not amused us enough.

It’s what’s for dinner

I posted this about Oprah Winfrey on Sunday:

At the time there was a big “mad cow” scare in Great Britain. People can catch the condition by eating meat from affected animals. The year following enactment of the Texas law, talk show star Oprah Winfrey had a guest who expressed grave concerns about eating meat. Oprah agreed.

Do you believe in irony? I’m a great fan. This link just popped up on a news feed. I’m going to forgo my usual practice of just posting excerpts. Here’s the entire story from PBS:

ANALYSIS AIR DATE: Jan. 20, 1998
Oprah Winfrey vs. The Beef People
SUMMARY
Oprah Winfrey and representatives of the Beef industry went to trial in a case that tests the boundaries of food defamation laws passed by Texas and 12 other states recently. Winfrey made disparaging remarks about beef on her popular talk show two years ago, which cattlemen say caused a drop in the price of beef.

Transcript

PRESIDENT GEORGE [H.W.] BUSH: I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it, and I’m President of the United States. And I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Former President George Bush’s public disparagement of broccoli did not go far enough to bring on a lawsuit. But if he had said the vegetable endangers people and not had proof, then in some states broccoli farmers could have sued. Since 1990, 13 states, from Georgia to Idaho, have adopted food defamation laws. That, in effect, allowed broccoli to stay in court. Under these laws individuals can be sued for questioning the safety of any food product without verifiable scientific proof, for ridiculing radishes or picking on pears, for example, or, as TV personality Oprah Winfrey discovered, belittling beef.

OPRAH WINFREY: Today’s show may cause you to diet for all the wrong reasons. We’re talking about the hidden dangers in our food.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Last year in the first court test of these laws Texas cattle ranchers filed suit against Winfrey and one of her guests, a Humane Society official, for defaming beef during an April 1996 Oprah show.

Here’s what was said. “Oprah Winfrey, you said Mad Cow Disease could make AIDS look like the common cold?”

Lyman: “Absolutely.”

Winfrey: “That’s an extreme statement, you know.”

Lyman: “Absolutely.” One hundred thousand cows per year in the United States are fine at night, dead in the morning. The majority of those cows are rounded up, ground up, fed back to other cows. If only one of them has Mad Cow Disease, it has the potential to infect thousands.”

Winfrey: “It has just stopped me cold from eating another burger!”

After the broadcast, cattle prices dropped to near 10-year lows and ranchers blamed their losses on the show. Winfrey and her lawyers cite other reasons behind the drop. The talk show host has relocated her show from Chicago to Amarillo, Texas, where the trial is being held, until the jury reaches a decision. The cattlemen are claiming more than $12 million in damages. The only other Texas food defamation lawsuit is before the same court in Amarillo:

The case of Emu Vs. Honda. An emu is the smaller cousin of the ostrich, raised for feathers, skin, and most of all meat. In early 1990, the going price for a pair of emu was about $40,000. Today that same pair would sell for being 100 and 400 dollars. And some Texas emu ranchers blame the Honda Motor Company for the drop. Six ranchers are suing Honda over the car commercial that pokes fun at a guy named Joe who looks for a job in some odd places, including an emu ranch.

PERSON IN COMMERCIAL: Emu, Joe. It’s the pork of the future.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The ranchers’ lawyer says the commercial defames emu meat and the emu industry.

JOHN SCOTT, Emu Ranchers’ Lawyer: The message that most viewers get of this commercial is that anyone associated with the emu industry is a flimflam or scam artist.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The case is expected to be heard later this year. The food libel laws currently on the books in Texas and other states were triggered by a 1989 “60 Minutes” segment, “A is for Apple.” It alleged that alar, a chemical used to lengthen the time that apples ripen on trees, could cause cancer, especially in children. Washington State apple growers sued for damages, but the suit was dismissed on the grounds that the product, not the producers, were defamed. And under the law at that time food could not be defamed. In reaction, the American Feed Industry Association hired lawyers to draft a bill against the defamation of agricultural products. The bill was then dispersed among the states where some legislatures passed it. But whether the new food defamation laws are a limitation of free speech remains to be tested. Meanwhile, in 13 states if you can’t say anything nice about perishable products, it’s safest not to say anything at all.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now, two different perspectives on two defamation laws. John Bode was assistant secretary of agriculture for food and consumer services in the Reagan and Bush administrations. He now practices law in Washington, D.C. And David Bederman is a law professor at Emory University. Thank you both for being with us.

John Bode, you’re a rancher and also your law firm helped draw up the statutes on which some of this legislation was based. Why is this legislation important? What, besides alar, propelled it?

JOHN BODE, Attorney: Well, right now, generally, libel law exists so that if a knowing statement is made to falsely defame Acme brand hamburger, the Acme Company can sue. However, if a knowingly false statement is made disparaging hamburger generally and great damage is done, many courts will not allow that case to be brought because they feel historically the law has held that the identification of the producers of that hamburger is not close enough. This law simply says that if farmers get hurt by someone knowingly making a false statement about the safety of the food, the farmers can go to court and try to prove their case.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Mr. Bederman, is that your understanding for how these laws came to be and also for what they are saying?

DAVID BEDERMAN, Emory University Law School: Well, many of these laws were particularly advocated by agribusiness and food industry interests in this country precisely, I think, as John has said, to provide a cause of action in these cases and also, I think, to send a message to media and food safety advocates to be quiet, to don’t speak out.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And–

DAVID BEDERMAN: And moreover I think in many of these laws the question of whether it’s a requirement that you knowingly utter these false statements is quite uncertain, but even apart from that, I think the real question is what do we mean by scientific certainty in these kinds of cases?

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. I’m going to come back to that for a minute, but first, Mr. Bode, do you agree that this was partly–these laws were partly aimed at warning media organizations not to speak out?

JOHN BODE: No, I don’t. I think when you look at the standard that’s adopted in these laws, it’s a very high standard. That’s why the Texas cattlemen have a tremendously difficult case to prove. They require that, knowingly, a false statement is knowingly made. That’s the same standard we have for defamation of public figures. We do have a pretty robust debate in our country talking about our President and members of Congress. There’s not a chilling effect on that speech, and we should have a robust debate about food safety. That’s how we can keep making our food safer.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Mr. Bode, spell it out just for a minute. I could say something about a product if I–even if it was false, if I didn’t know it was false, is that the way it works?

JOHN BODE: That’s right. The First Amendment clearly protects a very robust debate. It does not permit actions to be brought just because you were wrong. You could make a statement; you could be wrong; and you would still be protected. It’s when you knowingly make false statements, present false information asserting that a food is unsafe, that it could be actionable under these statutes. So it will be very hard to prove a case under these statutes.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bederman, you said that there’s some doubt about that. You think that it’s not so clear?

DAVID BEDERMAN: I’m afraid in many of these states this knowing element, this knowingly making a false statement, is not in the letter of the statute in many states. It seems to be the people will be held liable simply if they disseminate information that is later proven to be incorrect. And I think that’s very problematic. Now, in Texas, John is right, there is an element in the statute which says that a plaintiff, we think, must show that the statement was knowingly made to be false. The problem, again, is in Texas what is the standard of falsity? The Texas statute refers to reasonable and reliable scientific facts, inquiry, or evidence. And the problem I see with that is it converts fundamentally a question of scientific inquiry and a public policy debate into a legal question thrown into a court of law. And I think at the margin that must have a chilling effect on speech.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bode, what about that?

JOHN BODE: Well, I think it’s very clear that if a different standard, a lower standard is used, then there is–that is constitutionally suspect. Let’s stay on taxes, where we’ve got the specifics of the statute in front of us and a case–there the–the–how the standard is applied where will be very important. Certainly, a constitutional law can be applied in a way that is problematic. It is important, of course, that the courts permit speech that allows for the growth of science. We don’t know all there is to know about any of the food safety issues, and science will keep evolving. And our public debate must allow for that and not have a chilling effect. I believe that the Texas statute certainly is tolerant of that approach.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bederman.

DAVID BEDERMAN: Well, my concern, as I think John’s is, is that in the context of this trial in Texas a large part of this is going to be about science. But a large part of this trial is also going to be about tabloid news and sensationalist journalism. I think the subtext of this case is really that public figures like Oprah Winfrey, who engage in this genre of talk shows, have people on who may make statements, who may be uttered in utmost good faith, but if it ultimately is proven, as John suggested the statement was made without reasonable and reliable scientific facts, the Oprah Winfrey is going to be liable. And, again, while the process of scientific inquiry goes on, Oprah Winfrey may well be at the end of the day holding a judgment for millions of dollars. The effect on people around the county in disseminating information, including those in the scientific community, I think is going to be felt pretty quickly.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bode, do you think that’s true, and especially what about small, non-profit groups that may be researching some of these issues and don’t have the resources that somebody like Oprah Winfrey has?

JOHN BODE: Sure. First of all, it is very clear that the statement, the false statement must knowingly be made under the Texas statute. And that’s why the statute is constitutional, and it would not have a chilling effect on free speech. As far as non-profit groups are concerned, certainly this sort of statute applies to them. And I think we should realize that they, like everyone else, sometimes feel pressures. And one of the real concerns in the alar apple case was that there was a group that was seeking to increase their visibility and perhaps contributions to their organization by hyping that story. And that is no small part of what motivated this standard, so that someone could not knowingly misrepresent or lie to create a bogus food scare.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bederman, do you think that a farmer or rancher should have some recourse if the product that they produce is wrongly spoken of as dangerous?

DAVID BEDERMAN: Well, I believe, alternately, that in this marketplace of ideas that we have in this country that good quality information will drive out bad, false information. Growers and agricultural interests in this country have wide access to the media and wide access to public information channels. And I think we ought to rely on the marketplace of ideas to have a robust public debate. The moment we have a lawsuit filed and the moment we have one of these agricultural disparagement statutes on the books, we are basically converting a question of scientific inquiry and public policy into a legal question converted into questions of burden of proof before lawyers and judges. And I think that’s a lousy way to make public policy about the safety of our food supply and also a bad way to promote scientific inquiry.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bode, are other states adopting these laws, besides the 13 that already have them?

JOHN BODE: Some other states are considering them. I’d like to go back to the point he just made. His message to the family farms that could be wiped out by a bogus food scare is basically to say, “tough luck.” If a farmer is–it’s not uncommon for a farm to take a whole year’s production to market on a single day. And if that’s a day a bogus food scare hits the market, they can be wiped out by it. These laws simply allow those farmers to go to court and say, you’ve damaged a commodity market by lying to the public about a food scare, and you should be accountable.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Mr. Bederman, are there more cases like this coming up?

DAVID BEDERMAN: I’m afraid there are. You mentioned the emu case, which in truth I think is really not an agricultural disparagement case at all. It’s really more about parity and about a suggestion made in the Honda commercial that there’s something shady about ranching emus.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Although it is being brought under the same law, right?

DAVID BEDERMAN: Indeed. But I think it really is serious. The Oprah case is a serious test, and I think John and I agree about the use and application of these laws. But I’ve recently learned of a case in Ohio involving a firm called Agri General, now known as the Buckhigh Egg Farms, in which an allegation was made that they were back dating the expiration date on eggs; when a carton of eggs had expired, they simply repackaged it in a carton showing a later expiration date. And they were caught doing this. And when they were caught, their response was to file under Ohio’s agricultural disparagement’s statute saying, well, you’ve implied that these eggs aren’t good to eat, and that’s bad for us, and we want you to pay. There’s clearly a coercive element in these suits almost of a nature of a slap suit, which is strategic litigation against public participation, and these suits are clearly intended to chill speech. They’re clearly intended to send a message to the public and to food safety advocates in the media, think twice, think twice about running these stories; think twice before doing these investigations, because we may hold you to account later.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. That’s all the time we have. Thank you both very much.

DAVID BEDERMAN: You’re welcome.

In my previous post I left the following comment:

But all this time I was never a fan of Oprah Winfrey. She was then, as now, a television talking head, already fabulously rich, but absolutely clueless about the real world. So I have no need to defend her and especially not her viewpoints, which I usually consider to be devoid of deep thought. …

Yes, I do not consider Oprah to be one of the century’s leading intellectual lights, and people who watch her show may reflect some of this dimness. Still, no matter how dim the light, it should be allowed to shine. In the cases cited above, those seeking to close the shutter did not have public enlightenment at heart.

The lesson should be that if you get caught shafting the public your wisest course of action is to not draw additional attention to yourself. Either mend your ways, or else be prepared to eat crow.

Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran

Michele Bachmann (from The Algemeiner)

With apologies to the Beach Boys. I get these two confused. Anyhow, here’s Bachmann, again.

Bachmann: Iran Nuclear Facilities ‘Must be Bombed’, Geneva Deal Obama’s ‘Biggest Cudgel’ to Prevent Israel Self-Defense

House Intelligence Committee member Michelle Bachmann said that Iran’s nuclear facilities “must be bombed.”

In a speech at a Zionist Organization of America gala on Sunday night, Bachmann said that the Geneva deal reached between Iran and world powers at the weekend will severely limit Israel’s ability to operate freely in the interests of its self defense.

It’s encouraging these days to see our politicians take courageous stands on critical issues. Our country is well-served when leaders of great insight and with a knowledgeable grasp of the situation size up problems and firmly direct our course. These are people we need in our government. Bachmann is not one of them.

Bachmann also has problems with some other well-known facts.

In a 2006 debate she wanted to tell people that ”there is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact or not…. There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” She was subsequently unable to identify any such Nobel scientists when challenged.

Bachmann has asserted that the science behind global warming is a hoax. She also ridiculed the idea of trying to limit the production of carbon dioxide, which is a harmless and natural substance.

Bachmann continues to promote Intelligent Design (creationism) as a valid science for instruction in the public schools, a position that is completely opposed by the leading scientific and educational organizations in this country. None can be found that support it.

Others have told me to the effect: “Isn’t this a great country where everybody can have his own opinion?” Yes it is a great country, and everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but it helps greatly if these opinions are also correct. In Bachmann’s case this has often not to be the case. In previous life and in her recent career as a presidential contender she has too often gotten up to the bat and struck out.

Beyond the basic facts of her case, it has been hard to distinguish Bachmann from a stuffed shirt or at least an empty head. She talks a brave talk and seems to believe that is what will carry the day. The problem is that often there has been found to be very little behind all her talk and bluster.

Bachmann’s talk involved a strong critique of the recent agreement reached with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program.

She said, “That decision that was made by the P5+1 in Geneva had more to do with Israel than it had to do with Iran.”

“Because, you see, the decision that was made could be the biggest cudgel that our president, and that the nations of the world, could use to prevent Israel, the Jewish state of Israel, from defending not only herself, but her right to exist.”

Bachmann went on to paint a picture of a systemic effort on the part of the Obama Administration and others to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself

Of course, Bachmann is not the only person critical of the recent agreement reached with Iran regarding its nuclear weapons program. My concern is that a person with her history of faulty reasoning may be drawing attention from more rational critics. We need leaders of great insight and with a knowledgeable grasp of the situation to size up problems and firmly direct our course.

Still Crazy After All These Years

There are time when you want to say, “What are these guys still doing here. Isn’t this the 21st century.”

Deepak Chopra, from Wikipedia

What brought this up is an item in Forbes about Deepak Chopra.

Deepak Chopra Gets Upset, Tries The Harvard Gambit

Deepak Chopra is upset.

Why? Well, it all goes back to statements like this one, from Chopra himself:

“Consciousness may exist in photons, which seem to be the carrier of all information in the universe.”

Chopra is upset that evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne pointed out how absurd this statement is. More specifically, Coyne wrote that:

“[Chopra’s] lucrative brand of woo is finally exposed as a lot of scientifically-sounding psychobabble.”

Coyne was wasting his breath. Rather his ink. Rather Internet bandwidth. Psychobabble is what Deepak Chopra is all about. For example:

Deepak Chopra Claims He Caused Baja Quake by Meditating

Deepak Chopra, woo guru extraordinaire, accepted blame for the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Baja California via Twitter. Seriously.

Tweeted this twit to his 179,000 followers:

Had a powerful meditation just now – caused an earthquake in Southern California.
3:56 PM Apr 4th via TweetDeck

Was meditating on Shiva mantra & earth began to shake. Sorry about that
3:59 PM Apr 4th via TweetDeck

Om Shanti
4:11 PM Apr 4th via TweetDeck

@Whitemoon7 Wont do it again–promise
4:22 PM Apr 4th via TweetDeck in reply to Whitemoon7

Speaking of twits!

Deepak Chopra; born October 22, 1947, is an Indian-American author, physician, holistic health/New Age guru, and alternative medicine practitioner. Chopra began a mainstream medical career in hospitals and universities in the Northeastern United States, becoming Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH). In 1985, Chopra met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who invited him to study Ayurveda. Chopra left his position at the NEMH and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center.

For the uninitiated:

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known ayurvedic texts are the Suśrutha Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā. These Classical Sanskrit texts are among the foundational and formally compiled works of ayurveda.

By the medieval period, ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of various ailments. Current practices derived (or reportedly derived) from ayurvedic medicine are regarded as part of complementary and alternative medicine, and, along with siddha and Traditional Chinese medicine, form the basis for systems medicine.

Safety concerns have been raised about Ayurveda; for instance, two US studies found that about 20 percent of Ayurvedic US and Indian-manufactured patent medicines sold via internet contained toxic levels of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Other concerns include the use of herbs containing toxic compounds and the lack of quality control in Ayurvedic facilities. Mostly Ayurvedic products are not approved by US Food and Drug Administration. There is an import alert on some Ayurvedic medicines issued by US FDA since 2007 which prevents these products entering the US.

Chopra’s credentials in modern woo are well-earned. A follow-up from Wikipedia details this:

Chopra coined the term quantum healing to invoke the idea of a process whereby a person’s health “imbalance” is corrected by quantum mechanical means. Chopra claimed that quantum phenomena are responsible for health and wellbeing. He has attempted to integrate Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine, with quantum mechanics, in order to justify his teachings. According to Robert Carroll, he “charges $25,000 per lecture performance, where he spouts a few platitudes and gives spiritual advice while warning against the ill effects of materialism.”

Chopra has equated spontaneous remission in cancer to a change in quantum state, corresponding to a jump to “a new level of consciousness that prohibits the existence of cancer”. Physics professor Robert L. Park has written that physicists “wince” at the “New Age quackery” in Chopra’s cancer theories, and characterizes them as a cruel fiction, since adopting this view in place of effective treatment risks compounding the ill-effects of the disease with guilt, and might rule out the prospect of getting a genuine cure.

Chopra’s claims of quantum healing have attracted controversy due to what has been described as a “systematic misinterpretation” of modern physics. Chopra’s connections between quantum mechanics and alternative medicine are widely regarded in the scientific community as being invalid, but nevertheless have a number of followers. The main criticism revolves around the fact that macroscopic objects are too large to exhibit inherently quantum properties like interference and wave function collapse. Most literature on quantum healing is almost entirely philosophical, omitting the rigorous mathematics that makes quantum electrodynamics possible.

Jerry Coyne’s principal remarks were about another curiosity from the world of make believe:

Pseudoscientist Rupert Sheldrake Is Not Being Persecuted, And Is Not Like Galileo

Rupert Sheldrake is a pseudoscientist who has made his name promoting various kinds of woo, including telepathy (including in dogs!), immaterial minds, and his crazy idea of “morphic resonance,” a Jung-ian theory in which all of nature participates in some giant collective memory. (He was once a real scientist, trained in biochemistry and cell biology at Cambridge, but somewhere went off the rails.)

Many of you might know of Sheldrake. He enjoys a certain popularity in the US and UK among those who think that there must be “something more out there”—with “more” meaning psychic phenomena. I don’t really understand a penchant for things that aren’t supported by evidence, but that’s probably a failure of empathy on my part—as well as a product of my scientific training to doubt. I am sure, though, that some of the same psychological tendencies that promote sympathy for woo also promote sympathy for religion.

I first touched bases with Rupert Sheldrake in 1998 after he appeared on PBS TV on a program called “A Glorious Accident.” I followed up and wrote an item for The North Texas Skeptic and eventually acquired a number of Sheldrake’s books. A remarkable idea that Sheldrake promotes is morphic resonance and morphogenetic fields. Here’s a diagram that attempts to explain how morphogenetic fields relate to biological heredity:

In the lower row the genes, in the DNA, carry the code for constructing the physical child from generation to generation. The genes pass information to the morphogenetic field (third row), but nothing passes from the morphogenetic field back to the genes. The morphogenetic field receives information from the organism (top row) and from environmental influences (second row). The morphogenetic field also passes information to the organism. Morphogenetic fields of an organism pass information from generation to generation, just as the genes do. The information passed along by the morphogenetic fields encodes the memories of the past that Sheldrake alludes to.

Coyne continues:

Sheldrake and his supporters always defend themselves as beleaguered scientists whose correct theories are unfairly attacked or neglected because they buck the current “materialistic paradigm.” That is, he thinks himself an unrecognized genius, persecuted like Galileo. The proper answer to this is given on the NeuroLogica website:

The definitive assessment of this comparison comes from the original version of the movie, “Bedazzled.” Dudley Moore’s character calls Satan a nutcase (for claiming to be Satan), and Satan replies, “They said the same of Jesus Christ, Freud and Galileo.” Moore then replies, “They said it of a lot of nutcases too.”

Some of Sheldrake’s big ideas are outlined in his book Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science. A couple of these ideas would make for interesting tests of the paranormal. One claim is that people can tell when they are being stared at. It would be straight-forward to test this—just have somebody sit quietly in a chair and either stare at them from behind or not. If they can reliably tell when somebody is looking, then Sheldrake’s case is proved. If not, then I am sure that Sheldrake can come up with an excuse why not.

Another idea of Sheldrake’s is  that dogs can tell when their master is coming home. This doesn’t mean when their master is about to put the key in the lock, but when he’s at his desk in the office and decides it’s time to grab his jacket.

Sheldrake asserts he has reliable evidence for all of these claims,  but my own examination of his writing leads me to believe he sets a low standard for experimental proof.

Finally, I just checked, and it really is the 21st century already, and these two are still around. Remarkably, I am not saddened by this. Were it not for Chopra and Sheldrake, we would have to invent them if for no other reason than to brighten our days with their delightful antics. Too bad, though, about all the millions who hang on the pontifications of these marvelous twits. There may be no hope for them.

How Dare They

This is disgraceful. How dare they!

No time this morning for me to create original material, so I have fallen back on Facebook again. Apologies all around. I am so sorry. A Facebook friend posted this. It’s from a feed titled Breitbart – One Voice Silenced, Millions Awakened.

What this says is:

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION PLANS TO APOLOGIZE TO AFGHANISTAN?!
2,272 AMERICAN LIVES LOST
THOUSANDS MAIMED & INJURED
$360 BILLION IN TREASURE
“How dare they!”
Karen Vaughn, Mother of SEAL Team VI Extortion 17 Aaron Vaughn, KIA 8-6-11

The Obama Administration:
SPITTING ON THE GRAVES & IN THE FACES OF MILITARY FAMILIES EVERYWHERE!

That is so obviously disgraceful. I mean, “spitting on the graves and in the faces of military families.” What a sorry episode in American government.

This being the Skeptical Analysis blog I decided to follow up, to do some skeptical analysis. I went to the original posting on Breitbart – One Voice Silenced, Millions Awakened. But first, here is some background on Andrew Breitbart:

Breitbart appeared as a commentator on Real Time with Bill Maher and Dennis Miller. In 2004 he was a guest commentator on Fox News Channel’s morning show and frequently appeared as a guest panelist on Fox News’s late night program, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld. Breitbart also appeared as a commentator in the 2004 documentary Michael Moore Hates America.

On October 22, 2009, Breitbart appeared on the C-SPAN program Washington Journal. He gave his opinions on the mainstream media, Hollywood, the Obama Administration and his personal political views, having heated debates with several callers.

In the hours immediately following Senator Ted Kennedy’s death, Breitbart called Kennedy a “villain”, a “duplicitous bastard”, a “prick” and “a special pile of human excrement”.

In February 2010 Breitbart received the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. During his acceptance speech, he responded directly to accusations by New York Times reporter Kate Zernike that Jason Mattera, a young conservative activist, had been using “racial tones” in his allusions to President Barack Obama, and had spoken in a “Chris Rock voice”. From the podium, Breitbart called Zernike “a despicable human being” for having made such allegations about Mattera’s New York accent. At the same conference, Breitbart was also filmed saying to journalist Max Blumenthal that he found him to be “a jerk”, and “a despicable human being” due to a blog entry posted by Blumenthal.

I post this particular excerpt from the Wikipedia entry for Breitbart, because the Breitbart feed on Facebook appears intended to further the discussion in a like manner following Breitbart’s untimely death from a heart attack last year. In response to the disgraceful meme posted above, the Breitbart feed had a number of comments along the same lines. Warning: some of these comments make sense, and some are even true. I’m not going to offset the text I copied from Facebook. The copied text can be easily distinguished by the formatting and the context:

AMERICA IS APOLOGIZING TO AFGHANISTAN!

I (Karen Vaughn, mother of fallen Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn) am BEGGING you to share this utterly disgraceful move by our “leadership.” HOW DARE THEY????????????

Watch: American Betrayal by Obama Administration: SEAL Team VI Ramp Ceremony:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjYBr1zNFWE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nByJ5WscRy4

From Extortion 17 – Demand A Congressional Hearing: Yesterday evening, reports appeared in both the New York Times and Khaama Press in Afghanistan that the final hurdle for the Bilateral Security Agreement had been cleared and that US President Barack Obama would sign a letter to be read at the loya jirga. The letter would note that the US has made mistakes in its war efforts in Afghanistan. Further, the letter would convey an apology along with a pledge to avoid repeating the mistakes in which innocent Afghan citizens suffered.

“The assurances will include a pledge that U.S. troops will enter Afghan homes only in exceptional circumstances to save lives, as well as what has become a standard U.S. expression of regret for Afghan suffering and the loss of innocent lives in the 12-year-old war.”

Our troops are restrained by Obama’s rules of engagement as it is. Time to bring them all home. All.

Christine Chiomento My son was one who lost his life fighting int hat country–I just have no words to describe how angry these people in our gov’t make me these days.

Michael Morarie Sorriest (p)resident ever…in every way!
Like · Reply · 52 · November 20 at 4:34pm

Scott Porter He shld b hung
Like · Reply · 25 · November 20 at 4:35pm via mobile
2 Replies

Toni Trueblood WHERE’S THE MILITARY? Remove him!
Like · Reply · 10 · November 20 at 7:19pm via mobile
1 Reply

John J. Carone He should be apologizing to the Americans who fought and died for an ungrateful nation.
Like · Reply · 9 · November 20 at 4:45pm
4 Replies

Chuck Fowler Pull all our troops out next year. Upon leaving, remind the Afghanis that we have tactical nukes and if we have to come back, it will be those that we will use to reduce their rubble of a country into even finer freaking rubble and send the Taliban from the 12th century back into the 7th century.
Like · Reply · 7 · November 20 at 4:39pm via mobile

Betty Price He apologized for Americans the first term!
Now he is apologizing for our military to Afghanistan?
If this is true, he needs to be removed from office!
Like · Reply · 6 · November 20 at 10:36pm via mobile

Kimberly Elliott IMPEACH!!!
Like · Reply · 4 · 19 hours ago

Rosanne Haslem I hope there are a lot of legal people getting ready for the arrest of a “Traitor”!!! Americans, we need our Country Back!!
Like · Reply · 4 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Denise Peragine Ugh! My heart goes out to all military families. This president is an epic disgrace.
Like · Reply · 5 · November 20 at 6:59pm

Noreen Hudgins DON’T SURPRIZE ME NONE AT ALL!!!!!HE HAS TO PLEASE HIS muslim BROTHERS!!!!!
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 7:07pm

Roy Lovell .. I TRULY HATE THIS PRESIDENT !~!!!
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 4:31pm

Deborah Dreher meggaaaaaaaaaa ditto………………………………………………..
Like · 3 · November 20 at 5:27pm

LadyWolf Aguilar IslamaBama is an Anti-American Treasonous Traitor-In-Chief Narcissist Arrogant Egotistical Phony Pompous Evil Delusional Moron Two-Faced Forked-Tongue Pathological Liar Vicious Disgraceful Sleazy Slimy Dirtbag Conniving Thieving Corrupt Disgusting Radical Racist Bigot Petulant Maggot Low-Life Selfish Scumbag Vile Contemptible Deceiving Hypocrite Incompetent Coward Despicable Disgraceful Purple-Lipped Marxist Manipulative Tyrannical Psychopath Deviate Megalomaniac Inept Subversive Destructive POS/SOB, Most Non-Transparent, Ruthless Moooooslime Bastard!!!!!
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 4:45pm

Amy Rouleau Thank you – you summed him up quite adequately. What irritates me the most is how he fooled so many people – and thankfully I did NOT vote for him.
Like · 2 · November 20 at 10:06pm

Mike Ramsey LadyWolf-you forgot derelict idiot!!!
Like · November 20 at 10:54pm

Sue Pierce-Creeger He is the rottenest scum to ever trespass in our country! He’s worse than sewage scum!
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 9:59pm via mobile

Astrid O’Loughlin He’s too proud to resign. How about impeachment as a traitor.
Like · Reply · 4 · November 20 at 7:36pm via mobile

Pam Holt Obama has always and continues to Betray our country at every turn! The list of Impeachable offenses is unsurmountable! So why is this TRAITOR still in office?
Like · Reply · 4 · November 20 at 5:00pm via mobile

Edward Mike Conners If this is true, it is time to get the hell out. These rules of engagement will just get more of us killed, PERIOD.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 5:05pm via mobile

DeWayne Dace Hmmm, Kerry denies such but I don’t believe a word he spews either…
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 5:40pm

Carla Buyes He is the one who put us in Afghanistan, and my son was killed there on November 26,2011… He needs to apologize to US,NOT THEM!!!!
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 11:07pm via mobile

Julie Rysdam Carla… I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. There are not enough words to thank you for your sons life. I hope you remember that there are those of us who will NEVER forget what they did for us.
My son is deployed right now… May God be with him because I know the President isn’t.
Like · 2 · 12 hours ago

Lin Kellum If he isn’t going to let them do what needs to be done, then get them out of there.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 4:46pm

Steve Wightman APOLOGY: I’m sorry we tried to keep you safe. You’re welcome.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 4:35pm via mobile

Jennifer Ward It’s all right folks- he doesn’t mean anything he says anyway.
Like · Reply · 2 · Yesterday at 4:23am

Dee Lewis We at no longer at war with them, we need to bring our troops home! Though I have always supported our troops and they protect our freedoms, this is being slowly taken away from them. No need to sign up anymore, this is pathetic, SOMEONE, please get this this person out of the white house!
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 6:53pm via mobile

Donna Cook Urban How dare OBLAMER! He’s such an IDIOT (insert scream here)!
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 4:46pm via mobile

Judy Kaiser We have a president that has no shame!!
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 4:35pm via mobile

Shawn Cassel All these top military officials being relieved of duty interesting sweepings there I’ll be given litness tests to see if they will fire on US civilians in civil upheaval if you answer wrong witches no I will not you are relieved of duty things to make you go humm
Like · Reply · 2 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Shawn Cassel Can we just get this traitor out of the White House
Like · Reply · 2 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Tanya Evans Collier Just one more example of this administration’s lack of understanding of and compassion for Americans! I am angry yet again for the disregard of our Servicemen and their families who have given so much!
Like · Reply · 3 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Debra Irizarri Mathis Our troops need to pack up and be home for Christmas and let Osama Obama try and stop them. They can all camp out on the White House lawn and he needs to apologize to all of them!
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 10:36pm via mobile

Austin Hunter Does not surprise me, Oboma administration has no goal but to embarrass the american people.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 7:54pm

Lynn Brown I am so sorry for his betrayal and lack of caring for Americans.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 7:19pm via mobile

Marty Gomez Which the GOP has plenty of. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=677317652290103&#8230;

Michele Reyes Gowing He is such a moron! You can’t make nice with Afghanistan. They hate us and always will. Honestly, can we move to impeach this idiot?
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 7:00pm

Rosie Leach I can’t imagine the PAIN of a parents heart, when their loved one sacrificed life, and futures for America, only to watch the Socialist Evil destroy America. He is not one of us. He is not American. It’s sad to endure America’s pain, but in the end God will prevail. Hold on to our faith in God.
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 5:46pm

Penni Price-Lindsey Apologizing for what??!! He should be apologizing to those parents!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 10:11pm

Pat Dempsey Burkholder A turncoat cowardly TRAITOR deliberately bringing dishonor to America.
Like · Reply · 5 · November 20 at 4:33pm via mobile

Barbara Vogelman The ONLY apology those PAB, POS deserve is a nuclear bomb, 100’s of them dropped on their sorry ASSES!! They and that allah scumbag piece of shit they worship can ALL go straight to hell!! That includes the piece of SHIT living in our White House!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 5:14pm

Peter Budd It’s time to bring all our troops and everything they haven’t paid for home. It’s also past time to do something rude about Obama……
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:51pm

Nan Ellis I am surprised that Barry doesn’t have John Kerry go over and kiss Karzai’s Sunni butt.. Kerry could surely do this.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:36pm via mobile

Steve Kronberg I say we appologize as soon as the Taliban appologizes.
Like · Reply · 1 · 21 hours ago via mobile

Judy Kaiser I felt a swell of pride that our nation showered on the only true and living God for the lives of these fallen soldiers. No matter what the Muslims said they have an unknown God. Just listen to the awesome voices of our God loving soldiers . No doubt about who the true God is !
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:55pm via mobile

Andy Tomes Obama is a idiot that has done nothing but lift the title of worst President from Jimmy Carter and ruined our relations with other countries along with our own
Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Coleen Lombardi This administration does not represent me or what we stand for. We will not tire in our pursuit of truth and prosecution. God Bless America.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 10:21pm

John Foster He always apologizes to the muslims.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 8:37pm

Christiane Feier no words for these people in the WH….may be They should personally go to Kabul, sent the troops home and start an apology tour without bodyguards
Like · Reply · 2 · 14 hours ago

Blake Steel Don’t get me wrong I’m sorry for the troops who have died and the families who have lost people I just don’t support what it was for
Like · Reply · 2 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Blake Steel To the people saying Obama sent there troops to Afghanistan I thought Bush did that and the people of America did that because they believed at the time terrorist destroyed the twin towers but with further evidence seemed to be a inside job to steal innocent people’s oil
Like · Reply · 2 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Clell Eskew God bless and keep each who have suffered losses, injuries and mental traumas for having dared to try to bring something good to people who do not understand good.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 11:00pm

Clell Eskew The only apology required is that which should come from the idiot masses who re elected him.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 10:59pm

Jim Phillips This is so wrong in so many ways ! Tell the president to pack his Bags and hit the Road ! That country needs to Thanks us and especially our Soldiers for helping them ! They also need to apologize to us for the soldiers we Train , and then turn around and shoot the Guys that are training them ! Ungrateful stinking Rag Heads !!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 10:13pm

James Guy If this is true, the combined military branches should pack up and head home, without Obama’s permission and then camp out in front of the White House. My family has fought in almost every war since the Revolutionary War thru Vietnam. My sons served in peace time. In good conscience, I will not encourage my grandchildren to join the military, thanks to Obama and his underlings.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 10:01pm

Ann Ferguson Fruits we need to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and bring them home! They do NOT appreciate one thing we have done…and we don’t need to lose another American boy or man in that country!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 8:28pm

Amy Rouleau They’ve never wanted us there so his ‘extension’ makes no sense….
Like · 1 · November 20 at 10:08pm

Ginger Rebert No, don’t hang him…make him serve out his sentence in hard labor…and take Michelle with him!!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 5:23pm

Ginger Rebert This man needs to be put under the jail house…He is crazy!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 5:22pm

Kelly Reddell BRING OUR TROOPS H-O-M-E!! This is BS!!!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 5:06pm

RicknRita Hust Castro Shared! Poorest excuse of a human there ever was this POTUS
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:51pm via mobile · Edited

Maryann Worley SLAP in the FACE NOT only to OUR MILITARY and THOSE THAT LOST THEIR LIVES THERE AND TO THEIR FAMILIES but to ALL AMERICANS THAT LUV THIS COUNTRY !!!!
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 12:49am

Brenda Arnett Darbyshire Gotta keep that poppy trade alive!
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 4:49am

Georganne Baker Beyond MADDENING !!!!! Shouldn’t happen !!!!!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 10:47pm via mobile

Harry Carter HE HAS TO GO, FOLKS. THAT’S ALL THERE IS TO IT !!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:14pm

Dixie Westphal Kurtz Bring them home now!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 10:03pm via mobile

Cheryll Koho Treason
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:31pm via mobile

Scot Tomich Not true, a rumor that was started in Karzai’s office but John (Learch) Kerry said it is Not gonna happen, period….
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:39pm

Shelia Edmonds Wagner WHY???
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 12:41am

Dan Hill I can’t say one way or the other. The man is still my boss.
But just how many of you have been to Afghanistan?
Like · Reply · November 20 at 10:55pm via mobile

Robert Kornegay Another low for this president.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 8:20pm

Denise Morgan AuBuchon Carla, I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. I am so sick to my stomach that he would apologize. I think you need to wear the boots before you can command our troops.
Like · Reply · 6 hours ago via mobile

Jerry Alexander It is becoming more obvious every day,and the recruiters still meet their quotas every month.The war is with the usurper in the White House,in America
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 12:10am · Edited

Jeannie Riker Thank you for not letting this go under the rug. Please keep up the work!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 9:09pm via mobile

Doris McClellan Of course. It’s what he does. He feels invincible.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:45pm

Zach Feinn This literally made me sick to my stomach reading this. How dare he, how. dare. he!
Like · Reply · 8 hours ago

Dallas Jarrell Why be angry obviously obama is trying to make a peace in a foreign land. I would rather have an apology maybe speed up the troops coming home then them being longer
Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hours ago via mobile

Jim Felton The U.S. military does the best it can to prevent civilian deaths in every war, but it IS war and civilian deaths happen. We don’t need to apologize for them! — Besides we go to other countries because someone in their country is starting a war.
Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hours ago

Ron Murphy II I don’t think so the pres has apologized enough
Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hours ago via mobile

Charles Sharp Did you expect anything less from him? How much lower can he go?
Like · Reply · 17 hours ago

John W. Anderson see what happens when you let a monkey run the country.
Like · Reply · 1 · 19 hours ago

Adrianna M Rose http://www.cnn.com/…/19/world/asia/us-afghanistan-talks/

Rice: Reports of a U.S. apology to Afghanistan are false http://www.cnn.com
Reports the U.S. is on the verge of a security agreement with Afghanistan that i…See More
Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hours ago

Blake Steel So does that mean America is done stealing there resources and is sorry for killing innocent women and children
Like · Reply · 1 · 20 hours ago via mobile

Christy Santiago He is nothing more than a traitor!
Like · Reply · 21 hours ago

Christi Taylor Graves May God allow you to get the answers you seek and Peace you deserve ! Losing a Son is heartbreaking ! Unfortunately I know . America has got to stand up so we can fix this mess we are in ! And I pray that we stay close to our Father God so this never happens again ! God Bless ! Obama is not speaking for the majority of America when he apologises ..they attacked us ! Why would we apologise?
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 10:13pm

Vi Hernandez Say it isn’t so!!!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 9:55pm

Linda Sabousky Is this really true ???? OMG
Like · Reply · November 20 at 8:27pm

Megan Berrigan Higginbotham I hope the troops can feel the citizens love and prayers
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 8:23pm

David Speck Infowars.com
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 7:30pm via mobile

Walter Stimler F*** a bunch of ragheads.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:53pm

Diana Mentzer OH NO, we owe Afghanistan NOTHING, they owe US>
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 6:42pm

Steve Degenhardt Why has our lameo congress not got the b…. To impeach this bum? He does NOT speak for the American people!
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 6:30pm via mobile

Linda Woodcock Attach him to one of the bombs and ship him over to them!!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:19pm

Dwaine Taylor He’s muslim. Do you really expect patriotism from a muslim? I agree it’s outrageous. I’m sorry for your loss.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 6:17pm

Nancy Woolfenden Sweeten omg
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:31pm

Ted Foster No surprise here.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:30pm

Craig Hagedorn I’d like a huge thank you from their camel-ass.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:15pm via mobile

Jimmy E. Stewart Screw this Piece of Shit POTUS and his administration.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:09pm

Michael Thomas We have a spineless wimp at the White House.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:56pm

Michael Stokes This Islamic pres is a true disc race and a true hitler and is a real reason why American voters need to be informed the truth
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:41pm via mobile

Ruth Ellen Wood I personally am proud of our country for their part in stopping the atrocities that took place during ww11
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:35pm

Ruth Ellen Wood same thing he did in europe..
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:34pm

John Fiero And he’s the “Commander and Chief” as he loves to say. The leader of the previously free world and he plans to apologize to Afghanistan???? Are you kidding??? He is the antithesis of a leader!!! Plain and simple, he is an unprepared amateur.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 7:38pm via mobile

Deb Maddalena Yeah. One more rediculous apology. What does it mean anyway? We are trying to help them and we are apologizing for it?? What, am I missing something? Bring our men and women home. Let them kill one another off. They are not worth the lives of our best and bravest.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 4:51pm

Jeffrey Johnson Please resign now…. You are the Commander in Chief and you are bowing for mistakes as though that will make a difference. We die for their freedom and protection and you apologize?
Like · Reply · 3 · November 20 at 6:46pm via mobile

Bill ONeill I know it is not the Christian thing but I hate this criminal for what he is doing to my country.
Like · Reply · 2 · November 20 at 7:59pm

Bradley Broemmer Well said Rise Up America.
Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hours ago · Edited

Scott Manke Well then, let’s leave rather than stay there until 2024 like the O man and company want. Let them hire private security for their poppy fields.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 6:17pm

Dawn Cox America isn’t apologizing, it’s our Anti-American prez and his muppets feeling this unfounded need to do so.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 5:00pm

Eileen Dillman Muslim apology
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:33pm via mobile

Shaynette Benghazi Baxter John Kerry claims that it’s not true that Oblahblah is going to apologize, which means he IS going to apologize.
Like · Reply · 1 · November 20 at 4:57pm

Christy KiKi Pearce Exactly! Opposite of what they tell us.
Like · 1 · November 20 at 5:04pm

Lori Lafountain I only liked that is being asked to share, oboma administration sucks
Like · Reply · 24 minutes ago

Timothy Reavis I agree bring them All Home enough already!!!!!
Like · Reply · 5 hours ago via mobile

Dallas Jarrell And I get it our troops were killed but that’s what they and I have signed up for those family s won’t let obama even faze Any type of opinion they have on their soldier
Like · Reply · 12 hours ago via mobile

Joseph Miller Blake Steel, exactly whose oil was stolen? Whose resources? An inside job? Don’t tell me you’re one of those keeping the stupid story alive that the towers were brought down by a demolition crew? Any idea how many TONS of explosives and how many miles of detonation cord would have to have been run, in secret, to accomplish that?
Like · Reply · 16 hours ago via mobile

Marian Holder The man is sick!!
Like · Reply · 21 hours ago

Gary Dover he is apologizing to Iran too??? Bows to kings, Be a Man! Be a Leader!!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 10:42pm

Russell Hurst of course hes going to do we expect anything different from O B L A M A
Like · Reply · November 20 at 8:28pm via mobile

Dianne Maslowski Enger Why is the hell would the USA apologize to Afghanistan???? Let’s just get the hell out of there and let them fend for themselves! After all we’ve done to save them, this is what they ask for????BS!!!! no way!!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:43pm

Gwen Back This administration is a disgrace to all of the fallen soldiers both past and present. I pray for them daily. I appreciate every sacrifice they have made for the people of this nation. Truly sorry from the bottom of my heart for your loss.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:26pm via mobile

Kathy Cagle Barber Christine Chiomento…I am so sorry to hear about your son, one our truest hero’s. I don’t know his name, but I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his service and sacrifice for all Americans. God bless!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:11pm via mobile

Candy Jenkins Hammond and now there’s rumor that this administration may extend troops presence in Afghanistan until 2024. Hmmm where are all those people who forgot about 911 and continue to blame Bush for a war that was “all about the oil”.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 6:00pm

Jack Harrison Shame On You !!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:58pm via mobile

Joe Matheny What do expect from a Commie, Muslim…………
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:41pm

Tamara Withers socialist king obaammaa j kerry socialist…………
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:27pm

Ines Porter AMERICA isn’t apologizing !! I wish that dumba** would stop speaking for ALL Americans !!! He’s just making us sick to our stomachs
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:24pm

Janice Tuzcan I heard Susan rice say this wasn’t true .. Do u believe this “it was a video” liar ??
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:22pm via mobile

Linda Jacobs This is Treason in my book.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:19pm

Ernie Humphries That sorry sandbox was not worth one life. Bring our troops home .They have fought among themselves for thousands of years and will continue to do so until God ends it all.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:17pm

Kyle Culley I heard a letter was being drafted but the President had indicated that he had no intention of signing any such letter. (This info was on 3 cable news networks today.)
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:12pm

Barbara L Boyle agree! Bring them all home!
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:07pm

Jack Vertrees Sorry for what?
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:00pm via mobile

Barry Brecheisen And on every tax paying American Patriot
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:54pm

Corinne Burton ugh
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:36pm

Jennifer Seigla My heart is broken & continues to break for everyone hurt by these monsters running the circus:-(
Like · Reply · 17 hours ago via mobile

Judith Miller bring our troops home we can’t win under this President. Bring them home.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:34pm

Roxanne Allard If he has any brains at all…….he willnot do this…….
Like · Reply · November 20 at 4:48pm

Fred Hoagland The U.S.A. needs to apologize to the American People for still having anything to do with boots on the ground in AFGHANISTAN, then the last soldier out, well… can turn out their lights.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 5:19pm

James Crews God, it feels good when I wake up in he morning and Andrew Breitbart is dead
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 7:40am via mobile

Judy MacAlpine What a load of crap! It’s a wonder Obama hasn’t been shot , apologize after all the men that the Afghanis have killed , they have died fore nothing .
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 4:32am via mobile

Bill ONeill You bet he is.
Like · Reply · November 20 at 7:58pm

Jim Ivy As Clint said “Obama is the Biggest Fraud ever Perpetrated on America”

Again I apologize if some of the foregoing seems to make sense. For others, explanation may be in order.

The word “Muslim” occurs seven times in that spelling, usually not capitalized, and almost always in reference to the president of the United States. In at least one other instance the term “rag head” is used, and in another case “Moooooslime.”

Many instances call for the president’s impeachment, always without any reference to a legal basis for impeachment.

In many instances the president’s name is deliberately misspelled. Variations include “IslamaBama,” “Osama Obama,” “obaammaa,” “O B L A M A.”

There are numerous references to the president’s death, typically by violent means, and always in wishful terms.

Let’s examine some individual entries. Once again I apologize for not being able to address all the fine and interesting points made by those posting to this feed:

Scott Porter He shld b hung

Scott could use a spell checker. Nice try, though.

Toni Trueblood WHERE’S THE MILITARY? Remove him!

Note to Toni Trueblood: Barack Obama is commander in chief of the military. The 82nd Airborne works for him.

Rosanne Haslem I hope there are a lot of legal people getting ready for the arrest of a “Traitor”!!! Americans, we need our Country Back!!

Note to Rosanne: Get a dictionary and look up the definition of the words traitor and treason. By the way, I have your country. If you want it back come see me.

LadyWolf Aguilar IslamaBama is an Anti-American Treasonous Traitor-In-Chief Narcissist Arrogant Egotistical Phony Pompous Evil Delusional Moron Two-Faced Forked-Tongue Pathological Liar Vicious Disgraceful Sleazy Slimy Dirtbag Conniving Thieving Corrupt Disgusting Radical Racist Bigot Petulant Maggot Low-Life Selfish Scumbag Vile Contemptible Deceiving Hypocrite Incompetent Coward Despicable Disgraceful Purple-Lipped Marxist Manipulative Tyrannical Psychopath Deviate Megalomaniac Inept Subversive Destructive POS/SOB, Most Non-Transparent, Ruthless Moooooslime Bastard!!!!!

Aguilar appears to be a walking thesaurus. Congratulations, LadyWolf,  on your splendid accomplishment.

Mike Ramsey LadyWolf-you forgot derelict idiot!!!

Note to LadyWolf Aguilar: You need to check with Mike Ramsey. He has another term for your thesaurus.

Sue Pierce-Creeger He is the rottenest scum to ever trespass in our country! He’s worse than sewage scum!

I take it that Sue Pierce-Creeger did not vote for the president. Of course I am only guessing.

Carla Buyes He is the one who put us in Afghanistan, and my son was killed there on November 26,2011… He needs to apologize to US,NOT THEM!!!!

Carla, you need to check with Blake Steel:

Blake Steel To the people saying Obama sent there troops to Afghanistan I thought Bush did that and the people of America did that because they believed at the time terrorist destroyed the twin towers but with further evidence seemed to be a inside job to steal innocent people’s oil

To Blake Steel: One out of two is not bad. However, check a geography book. Afghanistan does not have any oil.

Pam Holt Obama has always and continues to Betray our country at every turn! The list of Impeachable offenses is unsurmountable! So why is this TRAITOR still in office?

Pam, get with Rosanne Haslem. You two can share a dictionary.

Shawn Cassel All these top military officials being relieved of duty interesting sweepings there I’ll be given litness tests to see if they will fire on US civilians in civil upheaval if you answer wrong witches no I will not you are relieved of duty things to make you go humm

Shawn: Welcome to the United States. I’m glad you’re making an attempt to learn English.

Jim Felton The U.S. military does the best it can to prevent civilian deaths in every war, but it IS war and civilian deaths happen. We don’t need to apologize for them! — Besides we go to other countries because someone in their country is starting a war.

Jim, what are you doing here? Cool it. You’re starting to make sense.

Anyhow, it would appear that many of the above are sorry they voted for the president in the previous two elections and would not vote for him a third time, even if he could legally run.

All of this disagreement stems from the plan to offer an apology of some sort to Afghanistan. What a disgrace! And what a waste of Internet bandwidth. What a waste because…

Because there never was any plan to offer an apology. Even Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai has not asked for an apology.

White House will not publicly apologise for Afghan war mistakes
But separate communique to bilateral security agreement may contain ‘reassurance’ that US troops mistakenly killed Afghan civilians

As it nears an accord that will keep a residual US troop force in Afghanistan for years to come, the Obama administration is publicly adamant that it will not apologize to Afghans for mistakes it has made in its longest war.

But it is possible that a communique separate from the text of the so-called bilateral security agreement may contain a “reassurance” that US troops have mistakenly killed Afghan civilians during a war that just entered its 13th year.

From Fox News:

Kerry: Agreement reached on US-Afghan security pact, no ‘apology’

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday that he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have reached an agreement on a critical security pact governing the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

The document will be presented to a meeting of tribal elders for their approval on Thursday.

“I’m pleased to say that in a series of conversations with President Karzai over the course of this morning … that we reached an agreement as to the final language of the bilateral security agreement,” Kerry announced.

The leaders are still looking for the endorsement of tribal elders for the document, which is not yet signed.

Kerry, though, denied that there was any sort of “apology” in the works, following reports on Tuesday that as part of the deal, President Obama would send a letter to the Afghan people acknowledging “mistakes.”

Readers will note that it’s Secretary of State John Kerry working this security arrangement with the Afghanistan government. That’s John Kerry, formerly an officer in the United States Navy, an officer who saw combat in Vietnam, an officer who traded gunfire with enemy combatants and earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Heart citations for wounds he received from enemy action.

So, what was all the “apology” fuss about? Where did the notion come from that the Obama administration was planning to offer an apology or, worse yet, spit on the graves of dead soldiers? Apparently it came from that famous place, from that place where the sun does not shine. Somebody pulled it out of their ass.

So, what’s wrong with that? That’s where a lot of political rhetoric comes from. You need something colorful and agitating to get people riled up, so you just sit down at a keyboard, and you make it up. You let you fingers do your thinking. Or your gonads. That’s the way politics works. Remember, it’s not how you play the game but whether you win or lose. So, what’s the problem?

The problem is not with the person who made this up. It’s with the people who swallowed it and shared it and vented their darkest selves on a public forum. It’s people feeling so strongly on a matter (their candidate lost the election) they need to externalize their intellectual backsides. Facts do not matter. Facts are often what we want them to be, and we hear what we want to hear.

Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

And we disregard the rest.