Four Weeks In

Number 66 of a series

There’s no way I’m ever going to run out of these. Daniel Dale, with the Washington bureau of The Toronto Star, compiled a list of 80 fabrications by Donald Trump, all during the first four weeks of the new administration. That was so many days ago, and we have ceased expecting any truth from our president. It’s near pointless to continue putting Donald Trump’s lies on display. However, forge ahead I must. History is waiting. Here is number 66:

66. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim: “This administration is running like a fine- tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my cabinet approved. And they’re outstanding people like Senator Dan Coats who’s there, one of the most respected men of the Senate. He can’t get approved. How do you not approve him?”

In fact: We’ll ignore the dubious “fine-tuned machine” claim — there is no sign that Coats, Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, “can’t get approved” or is even facing obstruction. The Republican who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Richard Burr, told The Hill they are waiting for the FBI and others to finish background checks, and that they will hold a hearing when the Senate returns from its one-week break.

Daniel Dale’s list has since grown. As of 18 April the count was up to 179. How long can our president keep this up? Better yet, how long can I keep this up?

Until there is no skin left.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Apparently Jesus does save. Saves on the cost of health care. Also the cost of college tuition and the cost of public schooling for children. Because with Jesus you don’t need all this stuff. Because you are by then with Jesus:

Pennsylvania pastor charged in faith-healing death of 2-year-old granddaughter


17 MAR 2017 AT 07:14 ET

A pastor in a fundamentalist Christian sect that rejects doctors and drugs has been charged in the death of a child — his own granddaughter — from medical neglect.

The novel prosecution is raising hopes among some advocates that it might spur change in a church that has resisted it.

Faith Tabernacle Congregation has long told adherents to place their trust in God alone for healing. As a result, dozens of children, mostly in Pennsylvania, have died of preventable and treatable illnesses.

Apparently we have not heard the last of Faith Tabernacle Congregation. Ella Foster has. She is with Jesus now.

Four Weeks In

Number 51 of a series

Do I need to keep going on with this? Daniel Dale, with the Washington bureau of The Star, compiled a list of 80 fabrications by the Donald Trump, all during the first four weeks of the new administration. That was so many days ago, and more recently Trump’s occupational pratfalls have advanced to front and center. His determined effort to humiliate himself (also the American image in the process) has eclipsed his lack of familiarity with the truth.

Forge ahead I must. History awaits. Here is number 51:

51. Feb. 7, 2017 — Meeting with the National Sheriffs’ Association

The claim: “The EPA — you’re right, I call it — it’s clogged the bloodstream of our country. People can’t do anything. People are looking to get approvals for factories for 15 years, and then after the 15th year they get voted down after having spent a fortune.”

In fact: Environmental law experts say it would be extremely rare for a manufacturer to wait 15 years for an approval from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, if that even happens at all. “Without any facts to back it up,” said Maxine Lipeles, director of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at the law school at Washington University in St. Louis, Trump’s statement is “really kind of hard to believe. It could be that he found one case … It would be very much an outlier.” Lipeles also noted that most permit-approval is done at the state level.

Daniel Dale’s list has since grown. As of 23 March the count was up to 143. How long can he keep this up? Better yet, how long am I going to keep this up?

Until there is no skin left.

Heart Of Dumbness

Third in a Series

I previously posted a truncated review of Ray Comfort’s book You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think. That skeleton review only covered Ray Comfort’s views on science, which turned out to be amusing. His views on religion are no less so, and this concerns additional aspects of his views.

In his book, Comfort launches into a chapter devoted to creationism, as opposed to modern science. Chapter One has the title “Creation Must Have a Creator.” Following that are six more chapters dealing with Comforts views on morality, faith, and the Bible. Chapter Two deals with human conscience and its implication for the divinity of Jesus. The title is “Our Conscience Testifies to a Creator And Our Need For a Savior.” It’s worth a look. An example of Comfort’s thinking is exhibited throughout the book, and the following paragraph illustrates:

The same Creator Who gave us all of this to enjoy clearly wanted true abundance for us—not mere survival. He loves us. An impersonal force like evolution, if real, would have left us sitting on that bare rock, because it wouldn’t care about us beyond mere survival. But God does, and He proved it when He gave us this incredible planet to inhabit. The evidence of His existence and of His love is all around us. And, as mentioned in the last chapter, even atheists will have no excuse for denying Him on the Day of Judgment.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 633-637). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

Take the following: “The same Creator Who gave us all of this to enjoy clearly wanted true abundance for us—not mere survival.”

First, Comfort opens with the premise of the existence of a creator, he capitalizes the word, and he imbue’s the creator with a love for humanity and a desire that people enjoy the world and all that the creator provides. That would partially explain the story of the Flood of Noah, wherein all but a few people were killed, and it would also help us understand the horrible existence experienced by a large part of the human population. Barring that, let’s give Comfort the benefit that he made prior attempts to justify his premise. What’s more?

Take the next: “He loves us. An impersonal force like evolution, if real, would have left us sitting on that bare rock, because it wouldn’t care about us beyond mere survival.”

In truth, an “impersonal force like evolution” requires a habitable world before anything like human beings can develop. All indications are that the human species developed on the very large continent of Africa, which even today offers an abundance of environmental possibilities. Times appeared to have been difficult for the early human population, considered to have reached a low point of about 10,000 individuals about three million years ago. A blog post in Why Evolution is True gives an account. Following that, some currently resplendent populations dropped to as few as 1200 individuals 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

Comfort clinches his argument with “The evidence of His existence and of His love is all around us. And, as mentioned in the last chapter, even atheists will have no excuse for denying Him on the Day of Judgment.”

There is a lot to be swallowed with this. The evidence for a creator and his love for us (humans) is all around. That’s an argument? If joy of life is evidence “all around us” for love of the creator, then pestilence and misery are evidence for the creator’s disdain for our species. Or evidence for absence of a creator.

Not quite. Comfort plays the obverse side of the coin:

The suffering in the world is due to our living on a planet polluted by sin—not to God’s hatred or neglect.

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 641-642). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

He says more, but this line is pertinent, and he restates this in different forms in multiple places. Elsewhere, Comfort defines sin, not as doing what is harmful to people, but as going against the creator’s wishes. Reading the entire book is going to give you to understand that living a good life is not the path to redemption. Only the acceptance, completely and without reservation, of Jesus the savior will garner salvation. It’s an idea that will not go over well with the Jews or the Muslims, but Comfort does not press that point, especially regarding the Jews.

But back to another point of Comfort: “[E]ven atheists will have no excuse for denying Him on the Day of Judgment.” Comfort completely misses the point that atheists know there is no “Day Judgment,” and there will be no need to apologize for denying a creator. Comfort’s reasoning is horribly circular, except for those who already believe.

Subsequently in the chapter Comfort gets dangerously close to scientifically verifiable matters:

The conscience is a dilemma for the believer in evolution. He doesn’t know why it exists. Neither do the experts. Why would evolution create something that tells us that it’s wrong to lie, to steal, to kill, and to commit adultery? Was primitive man committing these sins before he evolved a conscience? If he wasn’t, why did the conscience evolve? If he was, why did the conscience evolve?

Comfort, Ray. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, But You Can’t Make Him Think: Answers to Questions from Angry Skeptics (Kindle Locations 656-659). WND Books. Kindle Edition.

A simple explanation for the development of a “conscience” in human populations is that its existence is beneficial to promotion of the populations containing conscience. People do not willy nilly commit offenses against society, because they are descended from people who have survived in a society that nurtures human life and mutual benefit. My explanation has never been demonstrated to be correct, but it is an explanation derived from reason and not from wishful thinking.

Subsequent chapters of the book exhibit quite the bizarre, and I will touch on those in later posts. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I watched this back in January, courtesy of Amazon Prime Video. I should have saved it for Christmas. But, no. It’s Midnight Clear. If the title sounds familiar, recall this:

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold!
Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heaven’s all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.

Yes, that’s what this is all about. There is no Wikipedia entry, so I’m getting details from IMDb. The production company is listed as Jenkins Entertainment. My early guess was the setting is Houston, but filming actually took place in Dallas. The scenery just looks Texas, not to mention car license plates. It’s Christmas eve. It’s grim.

This movie is drama as a morality play. We are going to get lessons in life before the 95 minutes run time is up.

The opening scene shows Lefty (Stephen Baldwinabout to lose his job. He’s a demonstrated loser. There must be a badge for demonstrated losers, but Lefty seems to have lost his. He’s sleeping in his car because he’s homeless. A co-worker is coming to wake him and tell him he’s late for work. It’s a good way to keep your demonstrated loser badge.

midnightclear-01

Yes, Lefty does lose his job. Reporting for work he is told by his boss that his days with the company are over. Goodbye. On his way out Lefty steals some stuff from the company and takes it to sell.

midnightclear-02

We meet a host of other characters facing life crises. Here is Kirk (Kirk B.R. Woller). He runs a convenience store/gas station. He has become embittered with life.

midnightclear-03

Here is Eva. Elderly, living alone, planning to  end her life. Her plan to take all her medication at one time is thwarted by the arrival of a visitor.

midnightclear-04

Things get worse for Lefty. His wife has divorced him, and he is unable to get visitation rights for his son. At a meeting with his ex-wife’s lawyer he explains why he is called Lefty. He is actually right-handed, but when he was growing  up his family didn’t have much money, so when  he played baseball he had to borrow his brother’s baseball glove. His brother was left handed and others called him Lefty, because he fielded left handed.

At the meeting he is asked if his current address is still as listed. He attempts to flummox the lawyers by claiming he has just received a promotion at work, but the extra money hasn’t come through yet, so he doesn’t actually have a place to live. That ends the meeting. No court is going to grant visitation if you don’t have a home.

midnightclear-05

Lefty’s next move is typical of him. He goes to a shop across the street from his ex-wife’s house and bums a cell phone from a customer, telling him he has to make an important business call. Then he phones his ex-wife Heather (Faline England) and cusses her out, falsely telling  her that her freaking lawyers screwed him over because she and her dorky boyfriend don’t want him to visit his kid. The shop owner comes out with a baseball bat and forces Lefty to return the phone to its owner.

Mary (Mary Thornton) takes her son Jacob (Dominic Scott Kay) to visit her husband Rick (Kevin Downes). He is in a perpetual care facility, having received irreparable injuries in an automobile accident. He doesn’t speak. Things are grim for Mary.

midnightclear-06

Lefty steals more stuff from his former employer. He trades it for a pistol and some ammunition. His plan to use the gun to rob Kirk is aborted, and he leaves. His plan to kill himself with the pistol is called off, as well.

midnightclear-07

Mary is going to visit relatives for Christmas. Her car encounters trouble, and she pulls in at Kirk’s station. He fixes the car for her. Kirk and Mary get something going.

midnightclear-08

Eva turns out to be Lefty’s mother. They share dinner, and things begin to come together for everybody. Lefty and his mother go to church together.

midnightclear-09

This movie has no great plot. It’s a story of Christian redemption, loaded with syrup. Acting is par for a modern film. Contrast it with standard fare from 70 to 80 years ago. And nobody dies. Watch it when you are feeling down and need a lift.

Uncle Bye-Bye

Yes, it is a continuing series.

Forget about Uncle Kim Jong-un. Your real daddy-longarms is Russian President For As Long As He Sees Fit Vladimir Putin. From ABC News:

A former Russian lawmaker who became a vociferous critic of Moscow following his recent move to Ukraine was shot and killed Thursday in Kiev, prompting harsh words between the two neighboring countries.

Denis Voronenkov, who had testified to Ukrainian investigators and criticized Russian policies after his move to Kiev last fall, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of an upscale hotel in the Ukrainian capital.

Voronenkov’s bodyguard, a Ukrainian security services officer charged with protecting him, fired back during the attack and was himself seriously wounded.

Ukrainian officials said the gunman, who they claimed was a Ukrainian citizen, later died from wounds in his chest and head. They did not identify the gunman.

Talk about a long reach, Vlad the Embalmer can outreach with the best. His reach may extend to our own shores.

Continuing from the video:

George Stephanopoulos: What exactly is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?

Trump: I have no relationship with Putin.

Stephanopoulos: But if you have no relationship with Putin, then why did you say in 2013 “I do have a relationship,” In 2014…

Trump: He has said nice things about me over the years…

Stephanopoulos: But you said for three years, 13, 14, 15, that you did have a relationship.

Trump: What do you call a relationship?

Don. Don! People are not saying you slept with the guy. But what do you call a relationship? Another video clip elaborates:

Interviewer: Do you have a relationship with Vladimir Putin, a conversational relationship, anything that you feel that you have sway…?

Trump: I do have a relationship.

Yes, Donald, that’s what we mean when we say you have a relationship with Vlad the Embalmer. It’s when you say in a news interview that you have a relationship, that’s when you have a relationship. Otherwise you would be a liar, and nobody wants to call you a liar. Yet.

So, Mr. President, before you consider breaking off this love fest, or whatever you have going on, with Uncle Bye Bye, think about that long reach.

Four Weeks In

Number 35 of a series

politics-trumpvicepresidentcleanup

The drip goes on. Daniel Dale, with the Washington bureau of The Star, compiled a list of 80 fabrications by the Snowflake-in-Chief, all during the first four weeks of the new administration. Here is number 35:

35. Feb. 2, 2017 — Facebook and Twitter

The claim: “’Trump taps first woman to CIA second in command’.”

In fact: Trump’s appointee, Gina Haspel, is the second female CIA deputy director, not the first: Barack Obama appointed Avril Haines to that post. Trump was quoting an inaccurate headline in The Hill newspaper — it was soon changed — but the president does not get a pass when publicizing inaccurate claims about his own administration, even if he did not make them up himself.

La de da de da, indeed! He is the dictionary definition of fact-deprivation. How long can he keep this up? Better yet, how long am I going to keep this up?

Until there is no skin left.

Bat Shit Crazy

Tenth of a series

It’s a good thing none of that stuff is still going around:

This West Virginia school district has weekly Bible classes. A kindergartner is suing.

March 22

A kindergartner is battling county officials in federal court over Bible classes in public school.

In a federal lawsuit filed in January, Jane Doe, a pseudonymous plaintiff who is the mother of Mercer County, W.Va., kindergartner Jamie Doe, challenged the county’s “Bible in the Schools” program, saying it was unconstitutional.

“This program advances and endorses one religion, improperly entangles public schools in religious affairs, and violates the personal consciences of nonreligious and non-Christian parents and students,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The story, featured in The Washington Post yesterday, further describes idiotic themes promoted by the Mercer Counter public school system. According to the Post report, a lesson contained the following language: “imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time.” It continued: “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur!” Additionally: “He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

Yes, this public school is cool with the idea of passing on to students the false tale of Adam and Eve from the biblical book of Genesis. Additionally these public servants want to tell students that, contrary to known facts, people and dinosaurs existed contemporaneously. An item appearing on the Patheos blog provides additional detail:

Bible indoctrination classes have been taught in Mercer County Schools for more than 75 years. Between 1939 and 1985, the bible classes were designed, financed, administered and staffed by a small group of Mercer County citizens. Following complaints by parents of eight students in 1985, the Mercer County schools took over the instruction in 1986, claiming to follow nine guidelines from the Office of the Attorney General.

Financing is provided by the “Bluefield Bible Study Fund, Inc.,” which operates a fund to pay bible teachers to instruct about 4,000 students. Bible teachers must follow lesson plans almost without deviation. There are 70 to 90 visuals used in each lesson. Lessons have included images of Jesus being tortured, nailed to the cross, and ascending into heaven.

Public schools can teach a host of ideas, but the idea of a person ascending into the sky while people look on is the far side of truth. Where did all this start? Where is it going to end? Are chemistry students going to learn everything is composed of four basic elements—fire, water, earth, and air? Will history classes get into the details of the lost city of Atlantis? Will science classes describe how the sun goes around the Earth? The Post item paints a dismal picture:

One mother in Mercer County said her child was indeed bullied for not attending the Bible classes. In fact, the bullying got so bad that Elizabeth Deal took her daughter out of the county school system, she said.

“I think this is definitely an outright gray area, if not outright illegal,” Deal said.

The school district’s motion also pointed out that the classes, which are paid for by a nonprofit organization, receive no public funding.

“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective,” said Hiram S. Sasser, a lawyer representing Mercer County Public Schools who works for the First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on religious freedom. “To make sure that students obviously have the social currency to interpret Western literature.”

“The point of the course is to teach history and literature … a cultural enrichment objective.” Really? When did teaching history turn into teaching fables as true? Are students to be left believing Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan were true-to-life and their exploits real? Is Washington Irving‘s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to be elevated to the status of a historical narrative? When did “cultural enrichment” become indoctrination? At what point do we need to stand back and call this what it is, Bat Shit Crazy?

[Full disclosure: I am a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.]

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

It’s not always Jesus who comes to tell us it’s time to turn out the lights:

According to the Minnesota statute “no person over two months old may be allowed to enroll or remain enrolled in any elementary school or secondary school or child care facility” until the person has submitted documentation of compliance with compulsory immunization requirements.

Kayla Dee, a Rochester mother of three, has one child enrolled at Jefferson Elementary.

“My religious beliefs are if you get sick with something it’s part of your plan in life,” said Dee. “So why get the vaccinations to try to prevent it. Those diseases are going to suck if you get them, but if you live through them great. If you don’t that’s your plan in life. Also medically it’s against my beliefs because who really knows what’s in these vaccinations?”

Dee said she will home school her kids if fighting the law doesn’t work.  She said she has lost friends since her kids aren’t vaccinated.

Vaccination exemptions can be given for medical or religious reasons.

Yes, and death is Nature’s way of telling us to slow down.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Dumbest Kind

You wanna embrace the golden calf?
Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?
Here it is!
I mean, here it is!

That’s one way to get it started. Here’s another way.

 

Yes, that’s Texas’ own Congressman Joe Barton, representing District 6, just south of Dallas. He’s been in place for 32 years and appears to be well-entrenched. Something about Congressman Barton’s district favors his odd mentality, and he’s likely to stick around for awhile. The topic of the featured meme epitomizes his thinking:

At a 2009 hearing on renewable energy, Barton asserted that large-scale wind power projects could slow down God’s method for cooling the earth and possibly contribute to global warming.

 

A reference to the source comes from Newsweek, as reported 17 June 2010:

Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.

Forget for a moment that Congressman Barton has just referenced a mythical being, what does the remainder of his statement say about the thoroughness of his thought processes? Some diagnosis:

  • Regarding wind being a finite resource, like many things, it is. Also, Barton made his relevant comment in a Congressional sub committee hearing. He started by citing university research that asserted wind is a finite resource, and he ended by summarizing in his own words, invoking God. Snopes has a complete discussion.
  • Regarding wind being a way of balancing heat, this is essentially true. It gets hot somewhere, the wind blows, heat gets distributed. Fact is, heat is what makes the wind blow.
  • Regarding less wind contributing to global warming, university research may or may not make this claim, but my own authority, being a certified physicist, is that less wind will amount to less global warming. The reasoning is this. If less wind causes heat to remain accumulated in a spot, the rise in  temperature at that spot will increase radiative loss of heat. The affected spot will lose more heat, while unaffected regions will not accumulate additional heat to make up the difference. Run the numbers for yourself.

Notably, Barton has also stated he does believe there is global warming, but he attributes this to natural causes. For Joe Barton, natural causes are documented in the Bible:

“I would point out that people like me who support hydrocarbon development don’t deny that climate is changing,” he added. “I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence.”

Barton then cited the biblical Great Flood as an example of climate change not caused by man.

“I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

Hint: Congressman Barton receives considerable campaign support from the petroleum industry. A video uploaded to YouTube on 25 March 2009 elaborates on his thinking. People, he says, should be prepared to adapt to global warming as they have adapted to climate change in the past. He proposes we cease useless attempts to forestall efforts at ameliorating non-existent human causes and devote our immediate attention to accommodating the inevitable.

Congressman Barton is likely correct in thinking we will not be able fix global warming in time to avoid its impact on our lives. In his talk, presented in the video, he does not specify any steps we need to take to accommodate global warming. Among steps he fails to address is the need to protect coastal areas from the rise in sea level, already being observed. Miami, Florida, is a city currently dealing with sea level rise, and its projected cost to mitigate the problem is impressive:

From his sunny corner office on the sixth floor of Miami Beach City Hall, the engineer has spent the past two and a half years working on one of the hardest jobs in the country: trying to keep this city of 90,000 above water.

This is, of course, Miami Beach, which is strictly not Miami. I visited the area a few weeks ago and can attest the city is situated on a barrier island, separated from Miami and the mainland by a lagoon. These barrier islands exist all along the east and Gulf coasts, from New Jersey to Brownsville, Texas. They are not now and never have been permanent, being continually obliterated and reformed by wave action over cycles that last in the order of a thousand years. It was foolish for people to build facilities on these islands and expect them to be permanent.

Miami is on the mainland, on the coast of a state whose highest point is around 300 feet above sea level. It would not take much of a rise in sea level to erase much of Florida’s present coast line. Is this the kind of global warming problem Congressman Barton expects us to accommodate as though it were a hot summer day? The dumbness is strong in this one, Master.