Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – where the American president is a bigot, the mid-South needs help, and an anti-choice twit demonstrates how very deceitful they can be

What a fun time here in the US. So, we have the liar and wannabee despot Trump pardoning a liar and a bigot, Arapaio, who used the power of his office to harass people who weren’t white. Why anyone thought or currently thinks this ignorant orange ass wasn’t a white supremacist and bigot, I have no idea. When the GOP might do anything about is anyone’s guess and certainly makes them *all* seem to be supporters of the white supremacists. These actions of Trump support the idea that a good part of his supporters are indeed deplorable.

We also have the devastation by Hurricane Harvey. I am of the opinion that anyone who asks for help from the federal government and FEMA be investigated for any time they may have been for secession or have spread lies about FEMA having “concentration camps” and then summarily be denied any assistance, or be required to repay the assistance after the fact, which may be the more humane thing to do. If they said they didn’t want aid from other before, then they don’t get it on our backs.

Lastly, we have the opinion piece in the Washington Post by a rather unpleasant anti-choice activist Jeanne Mancini in response to the news stories that Iceland has few people with Down’s Syndrome being born thanks to pre-natal testing and having the choice to carry the fetus to term or not. Ms. Mancini repeats the lies that all people with Down’s Syndrome are happy individuals, who are no problem to their parents and on and on. She plays on the societal pressure to never admit that having a disable child is a very hard thing to do. It is the terrible lie that some god will never give you more than you can handle, when the fact is many people have more than they can handle and suffer greatly because of it.

This unpleasant woman intentionally deceives people by not mentioning that people with Down’s Syndrome have many medical issues and that the syndrome covers a range of expression, from those who are high functioning to those who must be restricted to homes and tended 24/7. She also ignores the fact that many parents of such afflicted children are desperate with worry on what happens to their children if they happen to outlive the parents who have spent so much time and love on caring for them. They don’t want to worry about those children be placed in homes which have a mixed track record for care.

She also evidently has no children of her own and has never adopted any of these children that she wants to force others to have. This is per her biography on the March for Life website, a mention of her husband but no family: “Jeanne resides in northern Virginia with her husband, David.” . Her compensation is around $118,000 in salary and other compensation.

She also supports politicians that do their best to reduce the help that people with such children can get. She is the worst kind of Christian, the hypocrite who piously claims that her god will help others and does little herself.

As my new bumper sticker says, my species disappoints me. Happily, there are indeed responsible and honest people out there. Support them all you can. My preferred help organizations are Foundation Beyond Belief, where non-theists can donate and not have their donations claimed by theist groups, and Oxfam which I just like.

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Not So Polite Dinner Conversation: Antics of Christians in the news, in a blog, and in a newsletter(NSFW because of what they said)

(note to my readers: if you followed this blog because of your interest in my recipes, brewing or drink reviews, you may want to back out now.  Anything that is titled “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation” is my unvarnished views of politics and/or religion. You’ve been warned 🙂 ).

Here are a few random things about religion. The first is about an opinion piece published in the New York Times by someone who really is afraid of anyone not like him. The second is a brief bit about what a pastor thinks about justice and the bible, and the third is just a few bits of crank mail from my FFRF newspaper and a link to a good blog post about the new bible “club” in the White House. The newspaper also has some very nice essays written by young atheists of color for a scholarship contest.

The NYT ran an opinion piece by Rob Dreher, a conservative Christian, “Trump Can’t Save American Christianity”.   Of course, Mr. Dreher is certain that his version of Christianity is the only true one.  He’s also one of the fellows who thinks that Christians really need to segregate themselves from anyone who disagrees with them.   Of course, that’s rather inconvenient and even he doesn’t follow his own recommendations.  Writing for the NYT isn’t exactly conducive to doing what he says.

He’s also jumped from Methodism, to Roman Catholicism, and now is with the Eastern Orthodox church.   Funny how the magical and divine “truth” can change, isn’t it?

In the article, Dreher wonders if Trump can do anything to alienate conservative Christians.  At this point, it certainly doesn’t seem to be anything, considering the circus that has been going on for more than 6 months.  Ah, but Dreher is sure that Trump isnt’ the problem, it’s is an “increasingly faithless people” aka those who don’t agree with Mr. Dreher.  He claims that the lack of people who agree with him will lead to a “calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate”.   Of course, all we have is this chicken little nonsense about how bad it will be, nothing to show what this would be or anything to support the claim.

One of the claims that Mr. Dreher makes is that Americans are not following “authentic Christianity” and are following something a Notre Dame researcher calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, something that Mr. Dreher insists is a “pseudoreligion” and it isn’t his version of Christianity.   The problem here is what is “authentic Christianity”?  We see that Mr. Dreher has gone from one sect to another, which would seem to indicate that Mr. Dreher has no idea what it is either.  If he gets disappointed with one, he decides another might have the right answers, and that certainly isn’t an unusual thing for Christians.

Now, Mr. Dreher is sure that all of the nonsense that conservative Christians have done with the Republican Party aren’t enough, and that the GOP isn’t doing what he wants.  The slide into the secular abyss is because his religion failed somehow.  Ah, but how you may ask?  He’s sure that Trump is a symptom of this problem, which at least he may seem to realize that Trump is no kind of Christian, literalist or liberal, a thing that many Christians can’t quite seem to grasp.  What he returns to is that Christians (again only those who agree with him) need to separate themselves from the world.   They cannot listen to anyone who has a different opinion, they cannot consider that they are wrong.

Conservative Christianity has been its own enemy when it comes to losing believers.  The constant adherence to outright lies is rather stupid in this age where information is easily available.  People have realized that the myths of the religion are nonsense and that morality does not come from one sect of one religion.  As always, this particular form of Christianity depends on fear and ignorance to exist, and Mr. Dreher certainly uses those tactics in his article.  “You must run away! You must not listen to anyone else except me!”   Everyone else must be cast as an enemy to fear.

As much as Dreher may see Trump as a symptom, Dreher is using the same pathetic attempts at controlling people.  He seems to need external validation and keeps poking his head out of his imaginary fortress to get it.     Continue reading

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.