This is what ‘bipartisanship’ really means: Praising bigots because they are your friends

Republican congressman from New York Peter King has announced that he is retiring from Congress and the media and Democratic leaders have fallen over themselves praising him as a ‘moderate’ voice. But Mehdi Hasan writes that King is an unrepentant bigot and Islamophobe and this reaction tells us a lot about politics and the media.

Hurrah! One of the leading bigots on Capitol Hill is retiring. Right-wing Republican Peter King announced Monday that he will not be standing for reelection to the House of Representatives in 2020.

Yet media organizations, from the New York Times to the Washington Post to Vice News, lined up to describe the New York congressman as a “moderate” and insisted on framing his departure as a blow to Donald Trump and the Republican Party (King is the 20th Republican in the House to announce he’s standing down).

Even worse, the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, described King as standing “head & shoulders above everyone else” and “principled.” “I will miss him in Congress & value his friendship,” the Senate Minority Leader tweeted.
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A critique of commercialized mindfulness

I am sure that pretty much everyone has heard the term ‘mindfulness’ being bandied about in the media. While it has its roots in Buddhist meditative practice, it has been taken to mean that, at least in its most drastically simplified form, it involved ‘living in the moment’, that one should pay full attention to what one is doing at any given time and not be trying to do many things at once. i.e., it is the opposite of multitasking. For example when you are driving, focus on where you are going and how you are driving and don’t try to talk on the phone, text, read or daydream.
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Intelligent Design Creationism stalwart Philip Johnson has died

Johnson, who died last weekend at the age of 79, was a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley who later in his life and career became an ardent advocate and strategist for promoting intelligent design creationism. He was a key architect of the ‘Wedge Strategy‘ that was revealed in a leaked document, that sought a more ambitious goal than sneaking religion into the scientific curriculum with the goal of overthrowing evolutionary theory, but was a covert assault on the idea of materialism that they felt was dominant in science and the key obstacle to the introduction of religious ideas into science.
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Games rabbis play

I have written many times before about the intricate set of rules that Orthodox Jews have to live by. Some of the most restrictive are those involving the Sabbath and what can and cannot be done during that period. It appears that there are certain things that you can do within the home that you can’t do outside it, such as carrying certain items in public. This can be a nuisance in the modern age when people are used to having their creature comforts available to them 24/7. But not to worry! As in the case of kosher telephones, certified Sabbath mode ovens, and Shabbat elevators, there is a workaround that enables the observant to broaden their activities without incurring their god’s displeasure, and this one involves placing a string known as an eruv around a perimeter that creates virtual doorways that effectively can make an entire neighborhood into the interior of a home. (At least, that is how I think that ‘theory’ works though someone who is more informed on this kind of arcana may be able to add to it.)
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So you are an atheist. Now what?

Over at stderr, Marcus Ranum has a great piece explaining why ‘movement atheism’ was inherently limiting and now appeals only to those (like Richard Dawkins) who have either no broader social justice goals and hence have nothing useful to say outside of condemning religion or (like Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, and the late Christopher Hitchens) are actively opposed to many of those goals.

Richard Dawkins has not had any thoughts about politics that are important enough to make him a footnote to a Cliffs’ Notes version of Plato, so he’s doing well sticking to the well-hoed field of atheism, where he can make arguments that would have elicited a yawn from Hume and an eye-roll from Voltaire.

Religion is a huge system of bullshit, and there are many sub-fields within religion, and anyone who wishes to can have a busy and productive life just attacking any one or maybe two of those sub-fields – in fact, I owe my perspective on movement atheism to Sam Harris and his shit-show posting about “Why don’t I criticize Israel?” [stderr] that made me realize that movement atheists simply do not have the chops to go after anything bigger and tougher than refuting religion.

What I’m saying is that folks like Harris, Dawkins, Shermer, Carrier, et. al., have found the place where they are as effective as they want to be, and they’re comfortable there. Oh, you want to argue about whether or not there’s evidence for the biblical jesus? That’s nice. Over in the deep end of the pool, they are arguing about whether there’s evidence that supply-side economics works and they’re trying to model what reparations for slavery might look like over the size of an economy like the United States’ and 400 years. Next up: what about the Indigenous Peoples? As far as I am concerned, the atheist movement hit its peak effort when a bunch of its stars stepped forward and then immediately fell all over themselves when they tried to express thoughtful opinions about politics.

You should read the whole thing.

Why are there contradictions in the Bible?

There are a large number of Christians who think that the Bible is inerrant and infallible because it was inspired by their god, similar to the way that Muslims think that the Koran must be 100% correct because their god directly dictated it to their prophet.

This of course poses some problems because there seem to be some clear contradictions between different parts of the Bible. When I was an undergraduate, I was a believing Christian but not a biblical literalist and some of us used to have a little fun at the expense of a local evangelical preacher by asking him to explain certain obvious contradictions in the four different versions of Jesus’s life told in the four Gospels and then watching him twist himself up in knots to try and show how they were all in fact consistent when the plain words showed otherwise.
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The Satanic Temple takes on the US Navy

The Satanic Temple keep pushing on the contradictions that exist in how US governmental institutions treat religions. Rather than simplifying matters by requiring that the government and all its agencies be strictly secular, as a reasonable reading of the Establishment Clause might require, the government and the courts have sought to find ways to accommodate religious beliefs in some form, partly I suspect out of fear there will be an outraged reaction from Christian evangelicals who strongly believe that this is a Christian country.
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Bernie Sanders the optimist

Dave Weigel tweets out the following.

Really, Bernie? The Republicans painted John Kerry, who fought in Vietnam and was injured twice, as some kind of coward who pretended to have been injured, while their own candidate George W. Bush got a safe stateside post in the Texas Air National Guard. They have shown that facts do not stand in the way of smearing anyone.
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Film review: The Last Hangover (2018)

What happens if the Last Supper of Christian lore is combined with the 2009 comedy film The Hangover featuring a group of friends who wake up after a drunken bachelor party and find the bridegroom-to-be missing? What you get is this comedic short Brazilian film (about 45 minutes long) that has the last supper being a drunken revel that ends with everyone in a stupor who wake up groggily the next morning to find Jesus missing, and struggle to reconstruct what happened the previous night from the fragmentary recollections of each of the disciples.

It is a film with many funny moments and a very different take on the relationship between Jesus and Judas, and explicitly mentions the lesser-known disciples such as Thaddeus, who is largely ignored even in the Gospels, so much so that very few would be able to name him as one of the twelve

If you know Portuguese, you can watch the trailer below that has no subtitles. The film on Netflix has English subtitles and if you click here it takes you to the Netflix site where the same trailer has English subtitles.

It is interesting that this film was released in Brazil, a Catholic country, just before Christmas in 2018. I wonder whether the reaction was as outraged as it was for Monty Python’s Life of Brian.