That will be the new mantra of students — giving tests has a secret agenda to brainwash you. Charles Van Zant, Republican wackadoodle from Florida, thinks standardized tests will turn children gay. This is all in response to the commission of a company to administer tests statewide.

These people that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida, unless this is stopped, will promote double mindedness in state education, and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can. I’m sorry to report that to you. … I really hate to bring you that news, but you need to know.

He doesn’t know the half of it. I’m not gay, so my tests only inculcate atheism in all of my poor victims students. If I try harder, maybe I can get all of the students who take biology here to emerge as gay socialist godless abortionists, just by asking them questions about mitochondria or recombination or Sonic Hedgehog.

But the esteemed legislator does ask everyone to look at the website for the testing company, AIR, so I did. I’m not much of a fan of standardized testing — I think we lose sight of the individual when we develop a single instrument to measure — but a lot of what they say does makes sense, and I couldn’t find anything about their magic gayness-inducing tests. I did see stuff about standards of care for “many LGBT people [who] face harassment, violence, stigma, rejection, and discrimination in their families, schools, employment, and social settings”, or improving the well-being of LGBT youth or ending LGBT youth homelessness. I don’t see what there is to oppose in that, unless you think that LGBT kids should be treated violently, not be healthy, or not have a home.

We also have AIR’s official statement on the issue.

AIR’s Health and Social Development program develops knowledge and understanding about LGBT youth that takes account of their experiences and needs. AIR also enhances opportunities for the healthy development, well-being, and safety of LGBT children, youth, and their families by providing workforce training and technical assistance to service providers across systems addressing behavioral health, child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and homelessness.

Those all sound like desirable things. I guess it’s only if you’re a Republican that caring about children without reservations about their sexual orientation is considered wicked.

Marco Rubio is already Gish-Galloping

Marco Rubio is still staggering over charges that he’s a science denialist on climate change. He has discovered a familiar way to deal with it: distraction. Ask him about climate change, and he babbles about abortion.

Here’s what I always get a kick out of, and it shows you the hypocrisy. All these people always wag their finger at me about science and settled science. Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life beings at conception. So I hope the next time someone wags their finger about science, they’ll ask one of these leaders on the left: ‘Do you agree with the consensus of scientists that say that human life begins at conception?’ I’d like to see someone ask that question.

This is only settled science if you get all your science information from the preacher on scienticianology at your local fundagelical Church of the One True American Jesus. Let’s take that phrase “human life begins at conception” apart.

What do you mean by “life begins”? Was there some step between your parents and you where there was a dead cell? Life is continuous — there hasn’t been a transition from non-life to life for about 4 billion years. So, yes, I’d agree that the zygote is a living cell, but so were the sperm and egg that fused to generate it, and so were the blast cells that were precursors to it, and so were the zygotes that developed into your parents. We can trace that life all the way back to early progenotes with limited autonomy drifting in Archean seas, to self-perpetuating chemical reactions occurring in porous rocks in the deep ocean rifts. It’s all been alive, so this is a distinction without meaning.

What about “human”? It’s a human zygote, we’d all agree; but it’s also human sperm and human ovum. You can pluck a hair from my head and determine with a few tests that it’s a human hair; you can take a blood sample from me and check a few antigens and determine that it is human blood; you can similarly swab a bit of saliva or earwax or tears from me, and analyze its biochemistry and find that it is specifically human spit or earwax or tears. That we can tag something with the adjective “human” does not in any way imply that my earwax deserves all the protections and privileges of a full human being. “Human zygote” imposes as much ethical obligation on me as “human spit”.

And don’t even try to pull that BS about a unique, novel genetic individual being created at conception. One of the key properties of meiosis is a genetic reshuffling of alleles by random assortment of the parental chromosomes and recombination by crossing over — every sperm and egg is genetically unique as well, and we spew those profligately with no remorse. Conception just adds another level of semi-random rearrangement of a random assortment of genes that were made during oogenesis and spermatogenesis.

So what are we left with? An obvious attempt at distortion or incomprehension in which the common modifier “human” is used as an absolute signifier for sociological and historical and psychological of an entity as being a complete member of a higher level community. It’s a lie cloaked in ambiguous language.

And of course, at the end of that dissection, we’re still left with the fact that Rubio is dead wrong on climate change and threw out this whole line of argument to distract us from the point that Marco Rubio is an idiot.

It didn’t work.

Patriotic pratfall

Oh, how sad. The numbers for Operation American Spring fell a wee bit short of expectations…by about 5 orders of magnitude. But don’t you worry, the Moonie Times has an excuse.

“It’s a very dismal turnout,” said Jackie Milton, 61, a Jacksboro, Texas, resident and the head of Texans for Operation American Spring, to The Washington Times. He said hopes were high when he arrived in Alexandria, Va., a day or so ago and found motels and hotels were sold out for 30 miles around.

But weather’s dampened turnout a bit, he said.

“We were getting over two inches of rain in hour in parts of Virginia this morning,” Mr. Milton said. “Now it’s a nice sunny day. But this is a very poor turnout. It ain’t no millions. And it ain’t looking like there’s going to be millions. Hundreds is more like it.”

Tom Paine has a few words for these wankers.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

If the idea that 9,999,900 patriots were dissuaded by the rain (it didn’t scare off the atheists when we had our rally in the rain) doesn’t sound very plausible to you, don’t worry — they have another excuse.

He also said the some of the planned Operation American Spring members who were planning to head to Washington, D.C., instead traveled to Nevada, to give support to cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight against the federal government over grazing fees.

“A lot that were supposed to come here went there instead,” Mr. Milton said.

Imagine. 10 million people are now hanging out at the Bundy ranch in Nevada.

Another explanation, familiar to us teachers: 9,999,900 grandmothers died yesterday. It was a massacre among the elderly!

Since when is overthrowing the government constitutional?

Today is the day that Operation American Spring, Restoring the Constitution of The United States of America commences. This is a proposal by teabaggin’ wingnuts to march on Washington DC, depose Obama, all the Democrats, and those establishment Republicans who don’t follow Tea Party extremism with adequate zeal, and also repeal all taxes and declare America a Christian nation.

They are utterly bonkers.

They aren’t managing expectations very well, either. Here’s their proposal:

Phase 1 – Field millions, as many as ten million, patriots who will assemble in a peaceful, non-violent, physically unarmed (Spiritually/Constitutionally armed), display of unswerving loyalty to the US Constitution and against the incumbent government leadership in Washington D.C., with the mission to replace with law abiding leadership. Go full-bore, no looking back, steadfast in the mission.

Phase 2 – One million or more of the assembled 10 million must be prepared to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to see Obama, Biden, Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, and Attorney General Holder removed from office.

Consistent with the US Constitution, as required, the U.S. Congress will take appropriate action, execute appropriate legislation, deal with vacancies, or U.S. States will appoint replacements for positions vacated consistent with established constitutional requirements.

Phase 3 – Those with the principles of a West, Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Gov Walker, Sessions, Gowdy, Jordan, should comprise a tribunal and assume positions of authority to convene investigations, recommend appropriate charges against politicians and government employees to the new U.S. Attorney General appointed by the new President.

So, supposedly, ten million “patriots” are supposed to arrive in DC today. One million are expected to camp in the Capitol for an indefinite period of time. The Moonie Times is expecting more.

The group expects between 10 million and 30 million similarly thinking Americans to meet them in the capital on Friday for a rally that’s being billed as a sort of “Arab Spring” for Americans.

The logic behind these huge numbers is a little weird. They don’t actually have verified numbers, instead, it goes like this. Only 3% of the American population participated in the Revolutionary War. They were True Patriots™. We are True Patriots™ too, so 3% of the American population will actively join in our cause. 3% of 310 million is about 10 million, more or less, so we should expect about 10 million people to join us in our assault on the Washington establishment.

I don’t know where the 30 million comes from. Unbridled optimism, perhaps, or maybe just poor math skills.

I may have to turn on the television news today, to catch sight of the tens of millions of lunatics swarming the Mall. I wonder whether, if the numbers don’t come anywhere near their expectations, we’ll see the same kinds of rationalizations made that end-of-the-world cults make when their doomsday dates pass without a cataclysm?

I don’t think the kooks are helping.


Another entry in the Republican insensitivity sweepstakes

Last week, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter were mocking efforts to publicize the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram. (Jon Stewart did an excellent job puncturing those blowhards). Apparently, we’re all supposed to shut up and be silent about any deplorable action in the world, because it’s pointless to communicate, say a couple of right wing bozos who’s entire business model is about complaining over left wing perfidy.

Here’s another one. Ben Shapiro thinks publicizing villainy is a bad idea because it doesn’t magically eradicate it.

Also ironically, on his twitter page he advertises his book, BULLIES: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America. How dare we encourage talking about world problems, that’s the same as silencing everyone on the right!

The next step in our descent

We’ve already got the right wingers outright denying science. They couldn’t get any worse, could they? Have we hit bottom yet? No. They could be accepting the evidence for all the wrong reasons. Expect this to be the new normal for the far right in a few years.

Christian Post blogger Michael Bresciani writes this week that changes in the climate are indeed taking place, but not due to human activities such as fossil fuel emissions. Instead, he says extreme weather is the result of “homosexuality, abortion [and] general sexual preoccupation,” which according to Bresciani is bringing about the End Times and the coming of the Antichrist.

I hope it’s a few years. But you never know — with the midterm elections coming up, the Republicans may embrace it as a winning strategy.


People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as "parasites" fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.—Jason Read

People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as “parasites” fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.

—Jason Read

The right wing’s new/old strategy for dealing with an uncomfortable reality

Declare that they are smarter than scientists. Simple!

George Will and Charles Krauthammer are right wing hacks who have an air of cultivated superciliousness that passes for intelligence in the smugly self-serving atmosphere of the Sunday morning talk shows…but they have no other talent or ability to justify their existence. The two got together on Fox News to pontificate on the usual conspiracy theories about how scientists are all lying. Here’s Will:

Now, there is, as Charles says, the policy question is how much wealth do we want to spend directly or in lost production in order to have no discernible measurable effect on the climate? People say, well, what about this report? There is a sociology of science. Scientists are not saints in white laboratory smocks. They have got interests like everybody else. If you want a tenure-track position in academia, don’t question the reigning orthodoxy on climate change. If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don’t question its orthodoxy. If you want to get along with your peers, conform to peer pressure. This is what’s happening.

Krauthammer doubles down by claiming that all of science is subjective and simply made up by the eggheads.

99 percent of physicists convinced that space and time were fixed until Einstein working in a patent office wrote a paper in which he showed that they are not. I’m not impressed by numbers. I’m not impressed by consensus. When I was a psychiatrist, I participated in consensus conferences on how to define depression and mania. These are things that people negotiate in the way you would negotiate a bill, because the science is unstable, because in the case of climate, the models are changeable, and because climate is so complicated.

And then he declares that the conclusions of science are equivalent to superstition.

And you always see that no matter what happens, whether it’s a flood or it’s a drought, whether it’s one — it’s warming or cooling, it’s always a result of what is ultimately what we’re talking about here, human sin with the pollution of carbon. It’s the oldest superstition around. It was in the Old Testament. It’s in the rain dance of the Native Americans. If you sin, the skies will not cooperate. This is quite superstitious, and I’m waiting for science which doesn’t declare itself definitive but is otherwise convincing.

Do either of these guys have any knowledge of how science actually works? No. That doesn’t stop pundits from declaring it all invalid when it produces answers different from their ideological presuppositions, though. Isn’t it nice that the news media has become a haven for propagandists? It pays them a cushy salary and bolsters their prestige so they can go on air every week and engage in that exercise in projection in which they declare scientists to be scum-sucking shills who’ll say anything for money.

And now watch Marco Rubio. Oh, he’s pandering to the Tea Bagger vote.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asserted recently that there was nothing that humans could do to stop climate change because it was not caused by humans, and that any new laws would only destroy our economy.

In an interview that aired on Sunday, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked the Florida Republican if he agreed with scientists who said that two of the cities in his state were being threatened by climate change.

I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there — including scientists — that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate, Rubio insisted. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research, and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity.

Don’t try to tell me these frauds aren’t science deniers.

I knew they were around here somewhere

When I expressed my disgust with the lunatic fringe on campus that published the North Star, I also said, “We do have conservative students here — I expect that the majority are more conservative than I am — but they also trend towards being more the reasonable, rational, educated sort of conservative.” Sometimes I fear that’s just my optimism speaking out, but then today I just got this nice letter from the College Republicans.


See? They’re not all far right wackaloons. The t-shirt isn’t exactly to my taste — a teddy bear holding a pistol with a word balloon that says “College Republicans believe in the right to bear arms” — but I can accept it in the spirit of reconciliation in which it was offered. Of course, I’m not going to wear it…even a loose shirt is uncomfortable with the trench excavated in my back right now. The cookie was tasty, though.