Obama calls for separation of church and state at National Prayer Breakfast

In a move that is sure to make right-wingers decide (again) that Obama is Muslim extremist out to destroy America, the president spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast and called on religion to oppose violence and support decency and freedom.

“We see faith driving us to do right,” he said to more than 3,500 people attending the annual National Prayer Breakfast. “But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or worse, sometimes used as a weapon.”

He urged believers of all faiths to practice humility, support church-state separation and adhere to the golden rule as ways to keep religion in its proper context.

Nothing like a National Prayer Breakfast, hosted by members of Congress and addressed by the President, to promote separation of church and state, eh?

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Ban the Ten Commandments

Judge Roy Moore has been in the news recently, agitatin’ and rabble-rousin’ and insisting that judges in Alabama resist any federal policy on gay marriage, and uphold only the Alabama state constitution. And you know, that’s not entirely a bad idea, now that the state has amended its constitution to explicitly forbid relying on any foreign law to decide court cases. As astute political observers may have noticed, the ancient theocracy of Israel, which produced the Commandments known as the Law of Moses, is not part of the United States. Alabama, technically, has banned the Ten Commandments.

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Almost correct

According to usnews.com, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is trying out some new(-ish) ways to spin gay marriage into something Republicans can exploit without shooting themselves in what remains of their bullet-riddled feet.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Sunday said being gay is akin to choosing to drink alcohol or use profanity — lifestyle choices he says are appealing to others but not to him.

The former Baptist pastor, who is weighing a second run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, also claimed that forcing people of faith to accept gay marriage as policy is on par with telling Jews that they must serve “bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.” That dish would run afoul of kosher rules in the same way Huckabee sees asking Christians to accept same-sex marriages.

Ooo, so close, but he fumbles on the one yard line.

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Rousing the rabble

Here’s Texas Rep. Molly White, proving once again that you do not need to own a dick to be one.

Molly White

I trust she will also have her staff invite Christian visitors to renounce pedophilia, since some Christians have been caught molesting altar boys, which means all must be presumed to be pedophiles.

Understanding the strategy

A lot of people were surprised when Republicans, including Sen. Jim Inhofe, voted in favor of an amendment explicitly stating that climate change is real and is not a hoax. They needn’t have been. Conservatives have been saying for years that climate change is real, even while insisting that it is a hoax, depending on who they’re talking to and how much they think they can get away with. And to those who think the Senate vote is a good sign: sorry, but that’s only partly true. It does show that people are (reluctantly) conceding the facts. But does this mean the Republicans are now willing to support measures designed to try and address the issue before it turns into a global catastrophe? Unfortunately no. It only means a slight shift in tactics.

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Solving climate change

Now that the Republicans are in complete control of Congress, what do you think their going to do about climate change (especially since 2014 is now the hottest year since climate measurements started)? They haven’t formally announced their strategy for dealing with climate change, but I have a feeling it’s going to involve trying to stop scientists from making accurate measurements of the average global temperature. After all, if there’s no statistics showing global warming, then there’s no global warming, right?

Ok, I confess: I’m not using a crystal ball here. I’m using Google.

An amendment from Representative Scott Perry (R–PA), adopted on a voice vote, would bar spending money on a number of government climate assessments and reports, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s National Climate Assessment (NCA). The president has used the most recent NCA, released last month, to bolster his Climate Action Plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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Thanksgiving deferred

I was upset when a friend of mine re-posted the I Am Darren Wilson meme. My first impulse was to give her a hard time about it in the comments, but I refrained because I wanted to make her think instead of just making her mad, and I wasn’t sure how best to do that. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized she is exactly right. She is Darren Wilson, and so am I, and so are most of my neighbors. We’re all part of a corrupt, self-perpetuating conspiracy to exploit people, subverting justice for the sake of maintaining our own privilege. We’re the bad guys.

I’m still trying to figure out what I will do about that. But in the meantime, I can’t celebrate Thanksgiving right now. When I look at all the privileges that I’d normally be thankful for, and realize the price other people are being forced to pay to preserve them, I cannot in good conscience be happy about it. This is not a time for thanksgiving, it’s a time for anger, outrage, sorrow, and repentance. I’ll be thankful the day I can live in a nation that not only promises “liberty and justice for all,” but actually delivers it. Until then, I’m in mourning.

Who belongs to whom?

One recent story that keeps popping up in my news feeds is how various police and intelligence authorities are complaining about the security in the iPhone 6 being too tough for them to crack. I’m not sure how much of that is real, but it does suggest a couple observations we might make.

First, if it’s true that the iPhone 6 is the first device that’s not open for the police to read whenever they want, then that means all previous devices have been more or less open to government search and seizure at their discretion. A court order might be nice, but as we’ve seen again and again, the government routinely dispenses with such formalities when they become inconvenient.

The second and more important observation is that there’s been a fundamental shift in the foundations of our democratic republic. The government is no longer owned by the people. The people are now owned by the government, at least in the government’s opinion.

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Subverting the democratic process

Via Ed Brayton, we get this argument from Jim Burroway at the Box Turtle Bulletin.

[A]t a time when we are demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrmination Act so that companies can’t just up and fire LGBT employees because they don’t agree with them — as they can now in about two-thirds of our states — we need to think very long and hard about whether we should demand someone be removed from his job for exercising his constitutional rights as part of the cornerstone of our democracy: a free and fair election.

Ed thinks it’s a very persuasive argument, so let me make the counter-argument and see if I can be equally persuasive.

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The rise and fall of the nerd Eich

Perhaps you’ve used the Firefox web browser. If you’re an old nerd like me, you might remember the Netscape web browser, whose source code formed the basis of the Mozilla code that lies behind Firefox. If you’re really hard-core, you might know the name of the man who wrote the original JavaScript language, without which things like ad revenues and blog networks like FtB might not exist.

Brendan Eich was that man, and for a very brief number of days he was the CEO of Mozilla—until word leaked out about his tangible support for Proposition 8 and for discrimination against gays. The uproar was immediate and impossible to ignore. Other board members resigned rather than work with/for him. OkCupid put up a notice, visible specifically to FireFox users, naming and shaming Eich for his anti-gay efforts and urging users to switch to a different browser. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere erupted with calls for his resignation and for boycotts. Eich resigned after only 10 days in office.

The aftermath has even some liberals frowning. True, it’s a sign of the times that bigots can no longer act with impunity when trying to promote discrimination against gays. That’s a positive step and a sign of the long overdue decline in society’s willingness to condone bullying and harassment. But has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction? Have gay rights activists stepped over a line, and become guilty of “witch hunts” themselves? Is it anyone else’s business what Eich’s personal beliefs are and how they relate to his job, if he himself is careful to maintain a professional separation between the two?

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