Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – on this Fourth of July

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a good post for the Fourth of July, our national holiday here in the US.

“On this date in 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” was adopted, after a vote approving it on July 2. Its secular purpose was to “dissolve the political bands,” and it inaugurated the anti-biblical idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson was a Deist who was highly critical of Christianity, and whose revolutionary document made references to a “Nature’s God.”

Jefferson was indeed highly critical of Christianity and created “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth” aka the “Jefferson Bible” by keeping only what he found to be the worthwhile bits of the gospels.  Hew as not a Trinitarian and he found Paul to be a “corruptor”. His “Nature’s God” is not the one in the bible, nor are the values in the Declaration biblical values. His letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly (if you remember your 9th grade science, he’s the fellow who discovered a bunch of gasses) is revealing about what he does believe.

The Declaration says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  

The laws of the bible, which, per the bible, are still in effect since the heavens and earth haven’t passed away yet, do not support these truths at all.  They indicate that there are special humans that are indeed “chosen” above others.   It also has a lot of laws in it that, if followed, would be considered crimes today, e.g. murdering anyone who isn’t following the Sabbath (whenever that is).

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

And what does the bible say?  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. ” – Romans 13  This is where the concept of the “divine right of kings” comes from for Christians.   The bible claims that governments come from its god; the Declaration directly denies this.

Of course Jefferson was no saint.  He believed that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were less than he was, and tried to promulgate this nonsense, for the declaration also says this “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” 

And then we have, what Ray Comfort, wannabe theocrat, vermin in chief,  and supporter of the failed Ark Park, has to say about the holiday: “Get a fun hat, or a full costume, and simply extend a tract with a warm smile saying, “Happy Fourth of July.” The holidays make giving out tracts easier than ever. It’s a very disarming and inviting time of the year to receive a gift from a stranger.” 

Really? The image is from the video that Ray presented as such a good idea.  You’ll note that it takes deceit to get people to take his tracts since they don’t mention a bit about his religion when you look at them.  They go out of their way to hide their religion behind an Uncle Same costume and an image of a million dollar bill, that has this pathetic threat and demand of obedience on the back of it.

As always, it’s all about them needing external validation for their beliefs and bothering others, making false claims for their own benefit.  They want only their version o Christianity to be the religion in the US.  I’m quite happy to stand against such theocratic nonsense and enjoy my democracy today.  Ray can shill for his religion because of those rights that Jefferson et al put into the US law.  It’s a shame he chooses to abuse such a thoughtful gift from two plus centuries ago.

If you want a bit of amusement, click this link to hear Christian emails sent to the FFRF read aloud (definitely not safe for work considering the foul language used by some of these Christians).   This a couple of years old, though they are still going on strong in the paper.  If you’d like to see the most recent, I’ll make a scan.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – when the SCOTUS ignores facts to funnel public monies to churches

Unsurprisingly, the conservatives on the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ignored the fact that church in the recent Trinity Lutheran case admitted that their playground that they were requesting state funding for was part of their ministry.  It was not a case of “but think of the children” in wanting a safer playground, but “we are using the playground to proselytize to children, and we don’t want to use our own money to make it safe.”

It’s a shame that so many Christians find that they must lie about so many things. So much for claiming that their holy book is something that they follow, when it says that their god hates lies and liars.

“The most important fact in the Supreme Court’s recent decision, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, didn’t even make it into the majority opinion. The silence of the seven judges who held that Missouri must give taxpayer funds to a church on this point was deafening, especially to anyone looking beyond the superficial media reporting and its inevitable shot of a playground. This crucial fact, passed over in the majority, was highlighted by the dissent upfront.

The omitted fact is simple: The playground at issue was, by the church’s own admission, part of a ministry directed at children and intended to propagate the faith. Here’s how the church explained it:

  1. The Church uses “teaching” to carry out its mission to “make disciples.”
  2. The Church does this partly through “the Trinity Church Child Learning Center,” which has the playground that is the subject of the case.
  3. The Learning Center serves as “a ministry of the Church and incorporates daily religion and developmentally appropriate activities into . . . [its] program.”

This case is not about playgrounds or skinned knees or keeping children safe. It’s about the government funding a religious ministry that targets children…”

For the entire article, please click here.

From the Bar and the Back Room: nostalgia on my part – Blennd and a new beer

Like most regions, humans come up with foods that are beloved locally but pretty much unknown outside of a day’s travel. I grew up in western PA which has this stuff called Reymer’s Blennd. This is a orange and lemon fruit based syrup that you mix with water to your taste.

It’s been around for a long time and now is made by Byrnes & Kiefer (B&K) Manufacturing, in Callery, PA, just north of Pittsburgh.   It is a bit hard to get a hold of, (horrors, amazon doesn’t carry it!) but one can still get it in various grocery stores in western PA. I have yet to find a place that you can order it from online, without paying a crazy amount for it or having to get an industrial sized quantity.

Blennd is a unique thing. Orange juice concentrate and lemon juice are its flavorings (it contains 15% actual juice, and it’ll give you quite a hit of vitamin C). Despite the acidity of these, Blennd doesn’t have a harsh aftertaste like a lot of juice based beverages, that are marketed as healthy or for kids. Something that is close to the taste, and is a wider distribution is Turkey Hill’s Haymaker Punch in the lemon flavor. If you’ve read the Little House on the Prairie books, you’ll recognize that punch as something Laura and Pa drank when working in the fields. Along the lines of these types of drinks are shrubs, which are vinegar and fruit syrups that one mixes with water. We also indulge in just vinegar to sip, and have tried a lot of infused ones.

just like this one!

Blennd has a very smooth consistency, thanks to some of the chemical thickeners in it (sodium hexametaphosphate, xanthan gum and propylene glycol) . And it has high-fructose corn syrup, which may frighten some people, but heck, if this is going to harm a human, I certainly should be feeling some effects thanks to the gallons of Blennd I’ve drank over the years. It was the go-to drink for any church picnic or family reunion, kool-aid was a distant second.   An aunt had a huge galvanized steel drink cooler that found its way everywhere from the barn when hay was being baled, to weddings. I probably got my zinc quotient for my entire life from that thing.

Since we hadn’t had it in a while, I asked my parents to bring some along when they visited recently. And since we have quite a full liquor cabinet, I decided to figure out what was the best mixer. I think anejo tequila is the best (I use Lunazul) since it works well with the citrus flavor.   Vodka is a close runner up, and Blennd really hides the alcohol, which can be a good or bad thing. Bourbon is okay, but reminiscent of a rather redneck blend of Mountain Dew soda and whatever kind of whiskey one might have. And rum makes what amounts to a very smoothly textured variant on a daquiri.

Blennd, along with chip chopped ham (a loaf of ham bits sliced raggedly and as thin as possible), are archetypical of the western tail end of Appalachia. For me, it’s comfort food. Indulging in a bit of nostalgia can be a remedy for how crazy the world is.

We also made a new beer kit. The kit was Northern Brewers White House Honey Porter kit (ours was a partial mash and it seems they only have the extract kit now). This was from a recipe from the White House during President Obama’s first term (I think) when it was nattered about having a beer with the president. It is a very good porter, but I honestly can’t tell that honey has anything to do with it. Ours is as dark and transparent as a cola soda.   A definite one to make again. And a reminder that there can be decent people as president and not that orange idiot that we have now.

I also bought NBs Don’t be Mean to People: A Golden Rule saison kit. They got together with a bunch of North Carolina breweries to make this to point out that North Carolina’s HB 2 was pure discrimination against the LGBT (and I’m sure I’m missing a few letters) community. NB is donating proceeds from the sales of this kit to the NC LGBT community, which I very much like. Not sure if I’ll brew that soon or if I’ll wait until this fall.

NB also has this nifty, and expensive, toy, a pico brewery!   Ah, to have won the lottery and play with this stuff.  🙂

That’s all. Eat and drink well!

(I don’t get any recompense from any of the companies mentioned.  I just like their stuff!)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: where we find “religious freedom” meaning no more than fear and bigotry again

Today, our not so very religious but very ignorant president of the US has signed an executive order allowing religious organizations to get more politically active.  I think it is disgusting for all of the pandering by the GOP and the receiption of such pandering by TrueChristians but honestly, it’s a great thing for those of us who like to show how much of a fail most religions are.

Imagine, if you will, this scenario:

Church A will claim that its followers should vote for “x” because they will claim that their god is totally behind this person.   This will start in the primary season for every candidate.  Candidate “x” fails. So they have to revise their claims of who is this god’s anointed and move on down the line.   Hmmm, were their holy messages from their god wrong? And how does one explain how each church claims that their candidate is the right one when the next church makes a different conclusion from their also holy messages from purportedly the very same god?

It’s a great way to show that the claims of religion are no more than the claims of humans who want control.

Then we have another scenario, which is far more unpleasant:

Church A says that Candidate X will win.  And he doesn’t, but Candidate Y does.  Now, will Church A support the new winner because, at least in the Christian bible, it is claimed that their god chooses the winner every single time, no exceptions?  Every leader is in place because this god supposedly wills it. And will the winner now accept that churches stood against them?  What would or could he do against those who have declared that he was not this god’s chosen?   Are they a “true” religion in his/her eyes?  What will become of that lovely “faith-based” funding if you aren’t part of the true religion?

TrueChristians will make up some excuse on why their claims of someone being divinely ordained to be elected fail.  They have before, witness the fail of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the usual passel of failed prophets (who never seem to get stoned to death as per this god’s requirement).

Of course, this also allows people to discriminate as long as they have a “religious” reason to do so. I wonder, how long will it take for Protestants to discriminate against Catholics, for Christians to discriminate against, well, anyone else, etc.   I’ve read such pitiful complaints on how Trump “betrayed” the LGBT community. The naivety to assume that this liar would follow through is unfortunate.

Alas, the antics of the ignorance and the antics of the religious will harm us all with the schadenfreude that they will bring upon themselves.  But in any case, thanks theists, for showing that your claims of entities supporting you and only you are false.

As for the passing of the TrumpCare “healthcare” bill by the US House of Representatives, it does to show that the GOP doesn’t give a damn about people but only party. Trump doesn’t want it called TrumpCare because he knows it is shit and doesn’t want his name on it, just like the legislators gave themselves an exception to it because it is shit.

For all of the claiming of how great this bill would be, how it would be even better than the ACA, we see a bill that removes protections for pre-existing conditions, removes the requirement that insurance cover maternity care, and removes the funding to support special needs kids who can go to school with the appropriate medical support. So much for the miner who has black lung as a pre-existing condition, so much for the woman who is pregnant and who has a high risk pregnancy where it risks here and the fetus, so much for the kid with spina bifida. Considering how much these idiots tout the bible, they certainly forget one of the few decent remarks in the bible: Matthew 25“45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

It still has to get through the US Senate.  There still needs to be the evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office on how much this nonsense will cost and what the real impacts it will have.  We can hope this is ended there.  But there is no reason to think that Trumpty Dumpty and his minions won’t be just as stupid in the future.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – They can’t even get egg rolling right

(as an aside, look like I was wrong about North Korea being the first tail to wag the dog in my last post, see postscript).

In this atmosphere where the clown Trump and his circus are threatening the world with destruction thanks to their incompetence, one wouldn’t think that a story about the annual White House Easter egg roll would have much play. However, it underlines that this self-proclaimed great manager and his buffoons can’t even get things right that have been done for years. The New York Times has an article on the ineptitude again being shown.

Now, it is hard to arrange a public event of any kind, and especially one for tens of thousands. One has to start planning for such events months, if not years, in advance. Orders have to be placed, people have to be hired. And Trump, Melania, Ivanka (daddy, bomb them because they make me feels bad but screw the refugees) and their staff have done none of this. They blame others for their incompetence as usual, underlined by them trying to blame the manufacturer of the commemorative eggs by saying that the manufacturing time was cut and that is not true at all. They were told when they had to get the order in and they ignored it.

One might think that Trump is afraid of failing at the egg hunt too.  “I got more eggs than anyone.  My eggs are the best eggs.  No one’s eggs are better than mine!”

What’s even more pathetic is that Trump et al, also asked that PBS supply them characters for the event, when doing their best to kill PBS Kids, culture and the arts.   PBS seems to be providing *one* character, and at this time, it’s not known which one. I hope it’s Oscar the Grouch, who can tell the pointed truth about these idiots.

Postscript: On the subject of bombing Syria, it’s most curious that Trump’s son said this ““If there was anything that [the strike on] Syria did, it was to validate the fact that there is no Russia tie.” Hmmm, so we have a president who is facing an investigation for ties to Russia, and who ordered an attack on Syria that did little damage, and we have his son saying “look, look, we did something that Russia didn’t want us to do, so that means we’re not Russia’s pawns.”  One gets this ploy and the attempt for Trump to say “think of the children!” all in one package.

 

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – No, many conservatives really are this ignorant

I haven’t had a Pennsylvania politician post for a while.  But oh this one deserves it in spades.  Scott Wagner, a Republican (what else?) state representative from the district to the south of me, has said the following about climate change:

I haven’t been in a science class in a long time, but the earth moves closer to the sun every year–you know the rotation of the earth. We’re moving closer to the sun.” [WITF-FM, Harrisburg, 3/28/17]

And not satisfied with this, he also said:

“We have more people…you know, humans have warm bodies. So, is heat coming off?”

No, despite the date, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Keystone Progress is looking to send this pathetically ignorant man to school to learn the basics about reality.   Hmmm, I wonder if I still have college books for astronomy, meteorology, geology, etc. If so, someone’s getting a package!  Indeed this man is a great example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, as is that clown Trump.

This is why everyone who can should attend the March for Science, write your legislators, and always *always* counter the ignorance and outright lies of those who would try to ignore science in favor of their ignorant ideology.  No one has the right to take away the ability of people to make an informed decision.

This stupidity makes the kitty angry.