2013

I know we haven’t been that active on the blog of late. But on behalf of the whole AXP gang, allow me to wish everyone a safe and happy new year. My hope is for a year of reason and goodness, with fewer things such as superstition, conspiracy ranters, mass shootings, superstorms, misogynist abuse both on and offline, and greedy homophobic rape-apologist anti-science Republicans. (Yes, I know there are douchey Dems as well, but there’s no denying that your average Repub has a much longer checklist of appalling personality failings on the whole.) What I’d like more of? Good friends, good music, good times, good food, a nice tall Guinness every now and again, an inquiring skeptical approach to living, and a nonstop feed of Grumpy Cat photos.

Best wishes to you all.

Rick Perry for Dick of the Year

There isn’t an official contest, but maybe there should be. I nominate Texas Governor Rick Perry for the Dick of the Year Award. Granted, Perry’s work was part of a team effort, with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and a host of conservative Christian Texas legislators giving assistance. Rick and his pals have largely dismantled the Texas Women’s Health Program, a program for low-income women to get reproductive health care. The program has been about 9/10ths Federally funded. Part of the agenda there is to stop unwanted pregnancies as such pregnancies increase federal costs down the road to cover those pregnancies. It is good public policy. Or, rather, was.

The point of contention is that the program would fund Planned Parenthood to provide many of these services, much as it has done with public and private of funding. In the minds of Christians, though, “Planned Parenthood” is synonymous with “abortion.” Yes, Planned Parenthood does provide abortion services, but state and Federal funding are never used for this purpose. In fact, Planned Parenthood works very hard to prevent unwanted pregnancies through its education efforts and providing contraceptives.

Rick and the Christian chorus have argued that because money is fungible, giving any money to Planned Parenthood is effectively funding abortions. By that logic, tax breaks to or public funding of any Catholic organization is equivalent to government funding of an international pedophilia ring.

To make his point, Perry barred funding of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s health program. Planned Parenthood sued, but lost.  Perry’s lawyers argued that to be acceptable to the state, Planned Parenthood would have to change their name and distance themselves from any abortion services. So this is a case of Christians using the power of the state to screw over an organization they have unjustly vilified.

The Obama Administration declined to have its Women’s Health Program hijacked by a bunch of Texas dicks and de-funded TWHP. Miffed, Perry and Abbott sued in Federal court to have the funding restored. Just this week, a Federal court ruled that their attempted exclusion of Planned Parenthood violated Health and Human Services guidelines and threw out their claim. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has won a temporary Federal injunction from being barred from TWHP funding. I’ll bet someone’s feeling a little blue in the balls over this.  Thankfully, for Rick there will be little political fallout.  His conservative Christian base is cheering him on.

For now, Texas is left to fund the program on its own. Given Texas’ history of ideological sex ed in schools and state funding of Christian-based crisis pregnancy centers that provide manipulation instead of information, I’d be very surprised if Texas properly funded an effective program. Meanwhile, they are doing an effective job of dismantling women’s reproductive health in Texas.  Many smaller clinics have already shut their doors over funding uncertainties.

So Perry deserves the Dick of the Year award.  In a mad quest to prevent abortion, Perry and his Christian pals have sabotaged a public health organization (Planned Parenthood) and a Federal program that would have prevented unwanted pregnancies and women seeking abortions to end those pregnancies. It is well documented that legal restrictions on abortion do not reduce abortion rates, but they do increase the health risks associated with those abortions. Thus, abortion laws mostly serve to increase suffering and death under the pretense of morality. Perry clearly lacks compassion for the women involved, many of whom are poor.  About 3/4ths of women seeking abortion say that they lack the resources to raise a child.

I know of two solutions to the abortion problem. The first solution is to take the claims of Christians at their word and address the lack of resources. Christians say they have a special relationship with an all-powerful god who answers prayers. They also claim to care deeply about the welfare of the unborn child (at least until birth). They claim to follow Jesus, who cared for the poor. Churches even get tax breaks for their alleged charity. So the solution is simply set up a registry where pregnant women who lack the resources to have a child sign up to get financial support for themselves (as care giver) and the child until the child graduates from college or vocational school. In the case of a disabled child, care should be funded until death. Churches and their members would be taxed to provide the necessary funds. Think of it! Poverty would be reduced instead of increased. Christians would have a compassionate way of demonstrating the courage of their convictions. Children would have church and state support instead of the church using the state to punish them and their mothers.  Christian leaders could even offer up one of their own to be killed for women who die in childbirth (i.e. Exodus 21:23). They should want to be held to their God’s laws as an example to their flock.

How would churches find the money for such a program? Simple. They can pray and God will provide. Each Church’s petitioners would pray to God for reimbursement and there would be no net loss to the church. Churches promoting false religions or out of favor with God would not be reimbursed and their assets would be liquidated to cover their share of the program. The ministers of such churches could go out and make an honest wage that go toward the expenses. If that weren’t enough, members could be taxed. I can’t imagine a Christian wanting to have a child that they brought into the world starve or otherwise suffer due to their moral failings.

We know that this is not a viable solution, simply because Christianity is a fraud. We all know there isn’t a god that someone can pray to to get the things they want, despite Jesus’ claims to the contrary. If prayer worked, Christians could simply pray abortion away and not have to hijack the government and uteruses to make future tithers. Everyone knows that God can’t. God also can’t make more sycophant believers, so women’s reproductive organs have to be co-opted to perpetuate the fraud.

The only tools Christians have in their arsenal that really works are manipulation and thuggery.  If they can’t manipulate women into keeping their unborn child (such as through guilt, ultrasound baby pictures, or lies about mental health harm), they can always rely on thuggery, such as vindictive abortion laws, trans-vaginal ultrasounds, intruding in personal and medical decisions, forcing women to bear children they don’t want, risk their lives with child birth, and commit many of them (and their child) to a lifetime of poverty.  Rick Perry and his Christian pals are completely on board with this manipulation and thuggery, making Rick my nomination for dick of the year. To end the year, Rick Perry vowed to outlaw all abortion in Texas.

The second solution to the abortion problem is to make them safe and rare, through reproductive education, contraceptive availability, and family planning.  First world countries do this and they are successful at keeping their abortion rates down without being dicks to the women involved. Rick and his pals would never think to use a proven effective means of reducing abortion. Instead, U.S., Christian conservatives seemingly work to increase unwanted pregnancies, and then wonder why U.S. abortion rates are so high. They are all dicks, in my opinion.  They want the power to make a decision for someone they don’t’ know but they run away from the responsibility of such a decision.

It’s hard to understand these small minds and hearts.  If men like Rick want control over a vagina, they should have a sex change operation. Their god clearly knew they couldn’t handle control over even one.  Perhaps they’re so insecure over their own manhood that they have to cause women to suffer to feel good about themselves.  Perhaps Rick and his pals get some sort of sexual pleasure out of controlling other’s reproduction.  Regardless, he is nothing more than a dick and everyone should know that fact.

Apparently every tragedy is a marketing opportunity

Last Sunday on the show I had an opportunity to address Mike Huckabee’s wildly inappropriate and downright loathsome comment on the First Grade shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  Hours after the attack, Huckabee had this to say:

It’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment…  Maybe we ought to let [God] in on the front end and we would not have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.

I had started to write a post about this, but then I got a chance to rant about him on the show instead, so I figured I wouldn’t bother.  However, we got an email expressing a similar sentiment, from a gleeful Christian practically licking her chops over the opportunity to blame atheists for an incident that had nothing to do with us.  I figure this is a good reason to kill two birds with one stone.

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Gods, wizards, and plot holes

A lot of atheists really like to argue about inconsistencies in the Bible, and let’s be honest here, there are a lot of them.  A quick look at the “Contradictions” section of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible will show us all kinds of gems such as the following:

There are hundreds of them.  Dan Barker seems especially fond of this kind of argument, as he has his “Easter Challenge” in which he asks Christians to reconcile the death of Jesus from the four Gospels into one coherent story.
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To change or not to change?

Woke up today and saw that the new design template for FTB had gone live across the whole network. I took one look at the ugliness and thought…

And because I’m a rebel and I just don’t care, I went back and switched to the old one.

Change happens, and often it’s necessary and for the better. (The FSM knows our TV show website is well and truly overdue for an overhaul.) But the new FTB template, with its ginormous sans serif font and absurdly wide columns, wasn’t pleasing to my eye. What say you, faithful readers? Do you prefer the new look and want us to switch back, or should we keep flying the rebel flag and decline to fix what wasn’t broke?


Update: Russell here.  I’m not sold on flying the rebel flag, and Martin and I are still hashing out how we can compromise on this.


2nd update: Martin again. Okay, Russell — who really wanted to go with the new template (Philistine!) — has at least worked out how to dig into the CSS and change the body font to Times Roman, which is, on its own, very much an improvement. So we’ll just go with this, I guess. Fellow dissenters, always know the rebellion lives on in our hearts!