Pick Wayne's Brain

February 13, 2016

We Need Less of Moore’s Ilk – UPDATED

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is at it again. It seems no matter how hard he tries, which appears to be not very, Moore can’t seem to wrap his head around the fact that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and its rulings take precedence over any state or local law. Despite having lost his job once before in 2003 for refusing to follow the orders of the SCOTUS when they ruled he must remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from state property, Moore may be about to lose his job again, and for the same reason – failing to obey a SCOTUS ruling because it contradicted his personal religious beliefs. Moore claims the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is confusing because it says that not only must Alabama let gay people marry, but it has to recognize lawful same-sex marriages in other states. This violates the Chief Justice’s personal religious beliefs and he believes that is reason enough to order all Alabama probate judges in Alabama to stop issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. He is wrong, of course, and in violation of his oath of office. Again. Like every public official in this country, elected or appointed, Moore (more…)

February 7, 2016

Trump the Lawless

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:53 PM

Over the weekend, Donald J. Trump, the billionaire racist real estate developer son of a millionaire racist real estate developer, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he would bring back waterboarding (and “worse” techniques). When it was explained to the authoritarian favorite that waterboarding and many other forms of torture are illegal under both US and international law and treaty, Trump demonstrated his complete lack of comprehension of the law, how it works, how national security works, and why subjects are classified at all, by saying he would bring it back by “declassifying” it.

Sorry, Donald, but whether or not the use of waterboarding is classified has nothing whatsoever to do with its legality. In fact, classifying its use would violate several additional laws besides the ones barring its use in the first place. It is illegal to classify something just to keep it hidden from the public, or because it was illegal at the time. For those who never served or never learned the distinction, information is classified (or not) based on (more…)

January 30, 2016

Bruisin’ From A Cruz-in’

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:58 PM

As a human being, you are capable of believing whatever you want to believe whether it has any connection to factual reality or not. For example, while I don’t think either is real, I would believe that The Matrix is real before I believe any crazy story about a mythical being creating the universe and everything in it. At least The Matrix makes some sense and explains better why I seem to encounter several examples of the same kind of thing on my way to work on any given day. Like that car that goes by with one headlight out. I might not see a car like that for several days or weeks, and then one day I’ll see three or four go by me, all on the same drive. Or a car who wants to go slower than I will pull out of an intersection ahead of me before turning off down a side road, but not before another pokey pulls out in front of him, for the obvious sole purpose of keeping me from getting where I want to go in my lifetime. I could more easily accept that these are (more…)

January 23, 2016

If You Hate Freedom And Liberty, You’ll Love Donald J. Trump

Liberal Libertarianism was something unknown to me when I took my first test at Political Compass. I was familiar enough with the well-known ideologies of Liberal and Conservative, enough to know I’m Liberal while my father’s Conservative. But I wasn’t aware of the “perpendicular” ideologies of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism, the former being how free you think we should individually be versus how much control over your life you believe your rulers should have (and note that I did not mention the word “government” there.) The Liberal/Conservative scale would be an economic one, while the Libertarian/Authoritarians scale would be a social one. Go there. Take the test. If you never have before, you’ll learn something about yourself and how you compare to some famous historical figures.

I just did and I scored -8.5 on the Economic Left/Right scale (very Liberal) and -8.46 on the Social Libertarian/Authoritarian scale (very Libertarian). Like Gandhi’s views only more so. (But not his courage. Or wisdom. Or sheer animal magnetism.) So naturally I would not be in favor of (more…)

January 16, 2016

Arrested; Development

After much public outcry, an arrest has finally been made in the terrorist occupation of public property by armed militants near Burns, Oregon. A 62-year-old misinformed man by the name of Kenneth Medenbach was arrested on charges of “suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.” As if things weren’t bad enough for the brain-addled wood carver, he was released pending charges of occupying federal land illegally on the condition that he not occupy any federal land in the future. Oops. And being caught driving around in a federally-owned vehicle reported as stolen is not one of the smarter things Medenbach has done. Two years ago, Medenbach was forced to vacate his business site when local town officials started enforcing solid waste disposal laws. Medenbach was not very good at keeping his property clean, which led to a settlement in which his landlords would agree to give up any hope of recovering the back rent he owed them if he would just leave their property. So he did.

It wasn’t the first time Medenbach had to leave his home. (more…)

January 9, 2016

The Hole In The Head Gang

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 1:47 PM

Whenever anyone tells you they are doing what God wants them to do, run. And I don’t mean for president. It’s amazing how many people claim God told to run for the same public office, especially in America, which is officially and constitutionally a secular nation. There were all those Republicans in 2012 who said they heard God calling upon them to run for president. The fact that none of them even came close to winning might suggest in an otherwise free thinking person that maybe those claims of being told by God to run were false. Not lies, exactly, just inaccurate. In fact, it makes a lot more sense to believe Satan told these people to run for high office. Why we never ask them if this was a possibility is beyond me. When you have at least four people standing on a stage each claiming to be there because God told them to run, why just accept that as truth? Why not grill each one and ask them why would God do such a thing? (And why would he tell even more of them to run this time?) It seems to me that an (more…)

January 2, 2016

He’s Trump, He’s Trump, What’s On His Head?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 4:50 PM

If one were to believe the political poll results published by the scam artists, Donald J. Trump has a lot of support to be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 2016. I don’t. I’ve already talked before about why these things should be taken with a grain of salt. Besides the facts that neither the primary nor the general election is being held tomorrow (making the entire premise of many of these question meaningless,) people who make a living following these things say that the vast majority of voters don’t make up their minds until the final weeks before the vote. The only people answering these polls (which is about one out of the seven or eight folks they attempted to survey) have already put forth the minimal effort needed to reach their decisions and concluded that alleged billionaire real estate developer and reality show star Trump would be great for America. Even though he clearly won’t.

For one thing, he lies. One can immediately counter that all politicians lie, and that certainly has an element of truth to it. But Trump’s not a politician, he’s a narcissistic billionaire enjoying one of the biggest waves of popularity he’s ever personally experienced. Not that narcissism (more…)

December 26, 2015

A Man, A Turtle, and Fear of Muslims

Bret Colvin and his turtle - photo Miles Bryan of Wyoming Public Radio

Bret Colvin and his turtle – photo Miles Bryan of Wyoming Public Radio

Bret Colvin is prejudiced. We all are, to a certain extent, and it’s partly a survival mechanism. If you don’t learn to recognize potential dangers by doing some internal “profiling” in your mind, you could get killed. And it works, so long as your prejudices have some rational basis. Bret Colvin’s do not. Bret is afraid of Muslims he has never met. This is a stupid kind of fear to have because virtually any Muslim he’s likely to meet will pose no more danger to him than any non-Muslim would. I’d even say it’s highly likely that anyone he meets who does pose a danger to him will do so for reasons that have nothing to do with Islam. He’s in Wyoming, FFS. There aren’t a lot of Muslims to fear there in the first place. In fact, the mosque that got him so worried he started a Facebook page called “Stop Islam in Gillette” is only the third mosque in the entire state of Wyoming. And it was started so that members of one particular family would have a place to freely exercise their First Amendment right to practice the religion of their choice. They hope to save enough money to build a new mosque (this one is a regular house, converted for their purposes) to which they would welcome Muslims from other areas. It’s the American dream from before there was an America built on consumerism (in violation of the Ten Commandments.) In response to Bret’s FB page, another FB page was started called Save Islam in Gillette.

Since then, Bret has changed the name of his FB page to “Stop Forced Syrian Immigration to Gillette.” (Maybe the little chat he had with one of the mosque’s founders convinced him to refocus his hate and ignorance.) His concern now is, “Well, I don’t want Jihadis in my neighborhood.” Is that a rational fear? Of course not! Why not? Well, for one thing, Wyoming is the only one of our 50 states that does not have a refugee resettlement program. Which means that when the federal government eventually finishes its extensive background checks and interviews with refugee applicants some 18-24 months from now, they won’t get settled in Wyoming. I’m guessing Bret is totally unaware of the procedure for Syrian immigrants to apply for refugee status and resettlement in the US. The fact that Bret is a YUGE Donald Trump supporter makes me certain he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to immigrants, refugees, and terrorism in general. He’s not the only one with that problem.

According to a NYT survey, a lot of people have a misguided fear of terrorism. Which brings me to a second point on which I’d like to rant – public opinion polling. I am thoroughly convinced (okay, maybe there’s a teeny, tiny chance my mind can be changed in this, but I’d be surprised if the right evidence and facts could be shown me to convince me I’m wrong) that public opinion polling in America is pure bullshit, and there are several reasons for this. It’s not the mathematics themselves, just their application to poll results. Statistical analysis is fine when you’re analyzing actual facts or events that have actually happened. For example, by analyzing the time of day at which people actually had heart attacks, you can come up with the day of the week and time of day at which you’re most likely to have a heart attack. (I believe this was done once and the answer was Monday mornings.) And that’s fine and it’s valid and it makes sense because it’s based on actual facts. But if a bunch of inaccurate days and times were thrown into the results, would the final number really have any meaning? Could you point to this analysis and be confident with the result if you knew a bunch of lies and misinformation were factored into the final number? Opinions are not facts. And worse still, opinions based on lies and misinformation are less than worthless. And that’s what public opinion polls are often based on – lies and misinformation.

For example, suppose I’m an idiot who believes leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves are all real and plotting together to take over the Earth from humans any day now through violent acts of terrorism, but I keep that to myself. You come along and ask me a survey question asking me what I thought the likelihood of a terrorist attack on the United States is. Of course I’d tell them it’s high or very high, but do you think my opinion has any merit and should be considered as part of this survey response? Do you think the President should consider my opinion when developing our counter-terrorism strategy? Should he factor this in and order the Dept of Defense to stock up on poison darts to kill the elves? Of course not, because there’s no reality-based reason for my fear. Now replace “leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves” with “typical Muslims.” Is my opinion any better? Is there any reality-based reason to believe typical Muslims are plotting to take over the Earth through violent acts of terrorism? Of course not. But the guy asking me the survey question doesn’t know on what I base my answers, so why should it be lumped in with all the reality-based answers and factored into the poll results?

Donald Trump is polling well among Republican voters, but should we really assume he’ll win the general election (or even the nomination of his party, whichever that is this year)? Are we really going to operate on the premise that the people saying they support Trump are basing their views on facts and reality? He is saying things that appeal to people who do not put a lot of effort into their thinking. Do you want a nation’s foreign policy to be based on the opinions of people whose views of Muslims is no more accurate than that of someone who says they believe leprechauns, pixies, unicorns and elves are all real and plotting together to take over the Earth from humans any day now through violent acts of terrorism? I have a surprise for them. My brother’s ex-wife married a Muslim who helped raise my nephews, and I never once feared that he might secretly be a terrorist waiting to do terrorist things. Not once. Not even for a nanosecond. Abraham is a good man and I am even grateful for his being a part of raising my nephews. The men in my family have a little problem with alcoholism and my brother was not immune to this. (Neither am I, which is why I gave up drinking decades ago.) So when Abraham instituted a rule that there would be no alcohol in his house, I was glad because it meant my nephews would be less likely to turn into full blown drunks. But it also meant that they would have a good role model in their stepfather because, like 99.9% of all Muslims, he’s a man who practices Peace. But the people telling the pollster they fear a terrorist attack probably wouldn’t know that.

Here’s something else about polls: You can never be sure how the person answering is interpreting the question. For example, what do they consider “terrorist attack” to mean? Is it a bombing or mass shooting committed by radicalized Muslims only? Could it also be a lone, crazed Christian who thinks the vast majority of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions? Could it also be someone who thinks the federal government killed those people in the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX, and then went too far with a ban on assault weapons? Could it be a white male who wants to start a race war by executing nine people in a church just because they were black? You don’t know. The person answering is free to apply his own definitions of the words used in the question so, in essence, you’re really not getting answers to the same question from different people. There’s too much room for lies and misinformation to enter into the process and, therefore, you are no longer applying statistical analysis to empirical facts. You are applying them to worthless answers, answers that may not have any connection to Reality. Can you still conclude that there are Americans who fear we might be subject to an act of terrorism? Of course you can, for two reasons. One, you don’t need a survey to learn there are people who are afraid of terrorism. And two, given how broadly one can define “terrorist,” it’s obvious we’re going to be subject to another terrorist attack. But it doesn’t mean we have to seal our borders, build a giant wall along one of them, and stop all Syrian refugees fleeing war in their home country. We can’t let fear dominate our decision-making. Because that’s what the terrorists want us to do.

Note: There is no evidence that Bret Colvin’s turtle has expressed fears about Muslims in Gillette, which makes the turtle a better man than Bret.

December 5, 2015

How Much Is Too Much?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 1:59 PM

If you’re reading these words, then you have access to the internets. And if you have access to that wonderful “series of tubes” then you know it happened again. Several times, in fact. Another mass shooting (the worst in America since Sandy Hook, which actually happened, so don’t try to convince me otherwise) that left more than a dozen people dead, following a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in CO. Why did these shootings happen? Quite frankly, who cares? Two of these latest shootings, one in Colorado Springs, CO, and the other in San Bernardino, CA, were motivated by religious extremism, though you couldn’t be blamed for not knowing that based on the coverage in the MSM. But they were. One killer was motivated by his extreme Christian beliefs, and the other killers were motivated by their extreme Islamic beliefs. Of course, now that we learned one of the killers in CA had pledged allegiance to ISIS on her Facebook page, the talk has been about Muslim extremists but not Christian ones. (It should be noted that while ISIS thanked her for her support, they did not claim any responsibility for the murders.) And while Colorado Springs police have not officially released a motive for the killings there, there is ample reason to believe that he was motivated by his own extreme Christian beliefs. And not just those, but on lies promoted by right wing media and politicians regarding the doctored videos about Planned Parenthood and the lies told about fetal tissue and “baby parts.” (Please, if you’re conservative, don’t waste my time trying to convince me the videos were 100% legitimate and truthful. They were nothing of the sort.) But regardless of the motives of the killers, the real cause of the problem is being ignored by most of the MSM: the proliferation of guns and the ease with which they can be acquired, even by people the law says shouldn’t have one.

No matter when it happened, no matter where it happened, and no matter why it happened, every single instance of gun violence in this country has had one and only one thing in common: (more…)

November 30, 2015

And The Right Just Keeps On Lying

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 1:17 AM

This past Friday, a lunatic with a gun he no doubt purchased legally opened fire outside a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, CO, killing three people, including a police officer responding to reports of shots fired at the clinic. From the beginning, the Right began lying about what happened and why it happened. They tried to say it had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood or abortion, and that the shooter just happened to pick that nearby building to take cover. That was not true. The entire incident took place at the Planned Parenthood facility. They tried to say it started out as a bank robbery, but that was also untrue. The shooter started shooting at Planned Parenthood and when police cars started arriving on the scene, he started shooting at them. As some took cover behind a nearby Chase bank, the shooter took shots at them. That’s how the bank robbery lie started. After he was arrested and identified, the Right tried to claim the shooter was transgendered, and a Leftist (they love using that word, “Leftist.” It’s so close to calling us “Communists” and, as we all know, Communism is Pure Evil. And since “Leftist” sounds like “Communist,” that leans Leftists must be evil, too. See how easy it is to be a Conservative? No thinking required.) The same voter registration form from which they determined he used to be (more…)

November 21, 2015

When Being Afraid Just Doesn’t Help

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:25 AM

Fear is not always a bad thing. It plays an important role in our evolution as a species. Evolution, BTW, is a fact of Science.

As Bill Nye says, there’s no reason to doubt it. None. And there certainly isn’t any reason to teach your kids Creationism as a valid theory in its place. Creationism is not Science. It doesn’t propose testable hypotheses. It simply tells you what is supposed to have happened and then tells you, “Believe this, or else.” I agree with Nye that one of the worst things you can do to your kids is to teach them that Creationism explains how we got here.

But fear is not always a good thing, either. Erick Erickson (more…)

November 15, 2015

None So Blind

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 11:28 PM

On Friday, November 13, at approximately 9:20 PM local time, a group of well-armed criminals began a mass murder of completely innocent people in Paris, France. There were people from many countries killed, including America. More than 120 people died, not counting the killers, at least two of whom detonated bomb vests killing themselves and one other person total. While suicide bombers attacked a stadium where the President of France was attending a football match, several kilometers across town gunmen opened fire on cafes and bars killing fifteen people. They got in their cars and calmly drove down the road where they got out and killed at least five more people dining in a restaurant terrace. Witnesses say they got in their cars and, again, drove away slowly, calmly. About a mile away they opened fire on an other establishment killing at least 19 people. A third group of attackers converged on a concert hall where an American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, was performing. They began systematically shooting people and when the police arrived, they began a two-hour-forty-minute siege that ended with at least 89 innocent people losing their lives. Another suicide bomber detonated himself taking no one else with him. By about 12:30 AM local time (6:30 PM EST) it was over. In all, at least 129 innocent people were killed by these ruthless, deluded criminals. My heart goes out to their families and friends. I can’t pretend to know what going through something as horrific as this is like.

And, yes, I am calling them (more…)

November 8, 2015

This Week In Crazy – Christian Persecution, God’s Punishment, and Transgenders and Bathrooms, Again

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:28 PM

When you want to hear truly crazy, off-the-hook nonsense, it’s hard to beat the right wing. Those lovable misanthropes never fail to deliver when it comes to conspiracy theories so crazy even Alex Jones says, “Whoa, are you nuts?” Courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch (A project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement), here are some of the things that have gotten the right wing in a lather. We’ll begin and end with Pat Robertson.

Poor Pat Robertson. No matter how much he condemns them, he just can’t stop thinking about gay men (more…)

November 7, 2015

Adrenaline Rush To Judgment

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 2:51 AM

There is a misunderstood problem in America that is not being talked about from the proper perspective. There are police officers, few in number to be sure, but there nonetheless, who have killed unarmed people who were absolutely posing no life or death danger to the police officer whatsoever. What has exacerbated the problem are the fruitless attempts to hold these police officers criminally liable for taking those lives. Time after time, a police officer caught on video killing an unarmed civilian has walked away free and clear of any punishment for his (or her) crimes. And they clearly were crimes from a moral standpoint. There shouldn’t be any way to defend these actions, should there? Well, if you don’t consider being human as part of the problem, there apparently is.

We are human beings, which means we are animals. I’ll give the more religious ones of you out there a moment to absorb that fact……….[looks at watch]………that’s enough time. And as animals, we have things called survival mechanisms. These are the natural, innate reactions we have to (more…)

October 31, 2015

Speaker of the Tea House

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 11:36 AM

If anything unfortunate (as in “fatal”) were to happen to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the man who would become the 45th President of the United States is a man beholden to some of the most extreme conservative radicals in recent American history. This past Thursday, Republicans in the United States House of Representatives chose as its 54th Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 2012 elections. The American people rejected both him and his running mate, Willard “The Mitt” Romney, a venture capitalist who made millions by buying corporations, restructuring or selling off their parts, then extorting the banks who lent them money into refinancing their debts under threat of (more…)

October 26, 2015

Why Is Ben Carson Still Running For POTUS?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 1:16 AM

He is Dr. Ben Carson. He is running for President of the United States of America. He doesn’t believe in Evolution.

Listening to him talk about it it’s clear he doesn’t understand how Evolution works, which might contribute to why he doesn’t believe in it. I guess to be more accurate, I should have said that Ben Carson doesn’t believe in Evolution as he understands it. He might be pleased to know that most scientists don’t believe in Evolution as Ben Carson understands it, either. Carson thinks that species changed into other species, which then changed into other species, and so on. Of course that’s not how it works. They didn’t “change into” other species, they were born of other species but with slight genetic variations that gave them advantages over others of their kind born without it. I’m not going to waste good intelligent people’s time with a defense and explanation of how Evolution works and why the vast majority of scientists still recognized as scientists by their peers believe that Evolution is how we came to be the creatures you see standing before you in the mirror each day. And I’ll never convince those who argue that because we can’t as yet explain how it all works right down to the tiniest detail that it can’t possibly be true and so we must have been created just as we are just like the Bible says. Those people do not wish to engage their critical thinking skills and, you know, think critically about something. I believe Ben Carson to be one of those people. We’ll see why later.

About a week ago, Carson suggested that we could have caught bin Laden sooner if we had declared that we would be energy independent. Not, as our good Friends at Raw Story put it, if we had been energy independent, but simply if we declared we would be energy independent within five-ten years. And I know this because he said the Arab countries would be come so concerned they would have…I won’t spoil it. Read what he said:

“Declare that within five to 10 years, we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.”

Pressed on how that would work in real life, Carson added:

“Well, I think they would have been extremely concerned if we had declared — and we were serious about it — that we were going to become petroleum independent, because it would have had a major impact on their finances,” Carson offered. “And I think that probably would have trumped any loyalty that they had to — to people like Osama bin Laden.”

When it was pointed out that the Saudis had no loyalty to bin Laden and had kicked him out of their country, Carson countered with that standard Conservative tactic of denying Reality:

“Uh, well, you may not think that they had any loyalty to him, but I believe otherwise,” Carson said without further explanation.

I know Carson doesn’t like those who think critically because a couple of days ago he told Glenn Beck he would use the Department of Education to “monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.” You can listen to him give rapid fire yes or no answers that prove he’s on the wrong side of most issues.

He explained to talk show radio host Dana Loesch (who has joined Chuck Todd, Erick Erickson, Eric Bolling, Liz Cheney, Dana Perino, and Sean Hannity as Famous Conservatives Who Have Blocked Me On Twitter) that he would only block Liberal speech on campuses because he believes only Liberals engage in “extreme” speech. (If that doesn’t tell you how extreme his conservatism is, what will?) He says, “And it’s not appropriate for public funding to be used to indoctrinate students in one direction.” First of all, education is not “indoctrination.” Any candidate for POTUS who refers to education this way is unfit to be POTUS, for they are saying they wish the American people to remain ignorant and not learn new things. Second, Liberalism is not “one direction,” but rather the expansion of the mind to look in many outward directions where things don’t have the sameness that looking inwardly only shows. It’s called being “open-minded” and it is the very definition of being Liberal. You don’t go to college to be told what you already knew. You go to college to expand your mind and learn things you never knew before. For example, I went to college to learn why one plus one equals two. Not to learn that one plus one equals two. I mastered that the year before. But why does it equal two? Why doesn’t it equal three or four or some other number? I’ll save you several thousand dollars in education costs and reveal the answer: One plus one equals two because “two” is what we call the number you get when you start with one and add one to it. And “three” is what we call the number you get when you start with “two” and add one to it. And “four” is what we call the successor of “three.” And so on. Rather anticlimactic, I suppose. I bet you were wishing it was some really cool story about word origins or something but, no, it’s simply a matter of definitions. We had to call these numbers something, so we called them what we did. One was going to be the first number after Nothing. And Two was whatever came after One. And Three whatever came after Two. That’s also why they’re in the order they are. Two follows One because Two is what we call whatever follows One. I won’t get into how we’re actually referring to symbols, because that would only confuse the matter. The point is I never would have learned that had I not gone to an institution dedicated to opening my mind and teaching me things I didn’t already know. And to hooking me up with people who could get me LSD.

And if religious extremism, foreign policy naivete, and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of an education don’t convince you he’s unfit for any public office, perhaps his paranoia will. Buzzfeed is reporting that Carson has been told (and therefore believes) that he is “in great danger” because, and pardon me if I am unable to get through this because it’s so absurd, he challenges “the secular progressive movement to the very core.” How is? What is? Where the? Why would he think he is “in great danger” from the “secular progressive movement”? I can’t speak to whether or not there are threats that pose a great danger to him, but I hardly think any such threats would come from the “secular progressive movement” (whatever that is.) I’m atheist (secular) and a Liberal Libertarian (sort of progressive), but no form of opposition to his political views I ever take would involve physical harm to his person or family. Whoever told him that was projecting his own framework of the world onto the suggestion. He told Carson this because he believed that’s what he would do if he were on the other side. But he has no idea how the other side would think or else he would be ON the other side. They simply don’t get this. I can’t speak for any racist or white supremacist groups, but I won’t dispute he may be in danger. But let the experts in law enforcement who know more about what’s going on than we’ll ever know pinpoint the source of the dangerous threats. I’m sure it will surprise you, Ben.

“But, Wayne, you incredibly handsome and intelligent guy,” you say, “Carson is a man of medical training who must surely understand the medical reasons why an abortion might be necessary. Might he be open-minded enough about that to see why a woman should ultimately be the one to decide if she will have an abortion?” Well, I’d say you were right about me but wrong about Carson. No, he opposes abortion and wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned (never going to happen.) As he said just this past Sunday, he doesn’t even think there should be an exception for cases of rape and incest. The problem is his internal framing of the issue. He likens the collection of cells that is on its way to probably being a human to being a slave, and equates the slave owner’s right to do whatever he wanted to with his property to a woman deciding to kill her own baby (which is not what it is at the point in the pregnancy of which we speak.) Remember the little talk before about Evolution? He doesn’t believe in that, so he doesn’t believe it’s possible that the pregnancy could produce the next species after Homo sapiens sapiens. Or it could produce a mutation that isn’t genetically beneficial to survival of the species, such as the inability to breathe oxygen into your bloodstream. If you believe in Evolution, it is arguable that we’re not necessarily talking about a “human” baby, since we’re talking about something that is only weeks along in its development. And if you believe Women are equal citizens under the law, and if you believe that Everyone should have the right to decide what to do with his or her own body, and if you believe that these choices are just that – choices – that you have the right to make, then you cannot believe Ben Carson would make a good President. Not for this country. Take it from a handsome, intelligent guy. So why is he still running for POTUS?

October 17, 2015

Why We Must Raise The Debt Ceiling

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 3:59 PM

In a new column posted on Alternet, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains in terms even your average conservative can understand why it is important to raise the debt ceiling, end the sequester, and put more people to work by increasing rather than decreasing spending on public investments like education and infrastructure. [Not that I’m a journalist, ethically obligated to reveal such things, but in the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of MoveOn.Org, who helped produce the video below.]

Before continuing with my own less coherent babble, I want to make something very clear. It’s important (more…)

October 3, 2015

Backward, Christian Soldiers

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 3:47 PM

There is a belief among some people (and when I say “some people,” I mean Conservative Christian Americans) that the United States of America was founded as a Christian nation, on Judeo-Christian values, and for the benefit of Christians. They are wrong on all three counts. The only evidence I’ve seen that the USA was “founded” as a Christian nation come from David Barton, a well-known snake oil salesman who has been misleading people for decades, and all of it refers to the USA as it was founded under the Articles of Confederation. Barton and his ilk want the USA to be a Christian nation so badly that they promote a philosophy called Seven Mountains Dominionism, which is a plan to establish a virtual theocracy here. In their minds, the Bible takes precedent over the US Constitution. (I can promise you this atheist will oppose such a movement at every turn, but I seriously doubt any such thing will ever happen.) But I don’t believe that any of their thinking is (more…)

September 26, 2015

Driving Me Crazy – The Pokey and The Gapper

Filed under: Commentary, Driving Me Crazy — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:05 AM

I have to talk about these two together, because in combination, they often create one of the biggest headaches commuters face each and every morning – the Complete Stop For No Apparent Reason. “The Pokey” is, as you may have guessed, a slowpoke. Now, I would cringe at the accusation that I am a “Leadfoot” (or “Zippy”, as I’ll talk about at a later date), but I do like to drive fast. Safely, yes, for I do not believe in that bullshit that “speed kills”, but a little fast. (Speed doesn’t kill, bad driving does. Race car drivers survive fast driving all the time.) I feel that a 55 MPH Speed Limit for interstate highways, which were built when the national speed limit was 75 MPH, is too oppressive. I even think that 65 MPH is too low, but at least it’s a lot closer to the speed at which I like to drive. I’m not going to set myself up for a conviction for speeding by saying anything more specific than that. (more…)

September 19, 2015

Driving Me Crazy – This Isn’t Any Signal

Filed under: Commentary, Driving Me Crazy — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:05 AM

“This isn’t any signal. It’s a direct statement. If it’s a signal, fine.” – George H. W. Bush, as reported in New York Times, Mar 10, 1980, p B10

By a funny coincidence, we’ll be talking about the exact same thing.

On every car that I have been in, there is a stick coming out of the left-hand side of the car’s steering column which I’m certain is gathering dust in some people’s cars. It’s the lever that operates the turn signals, otherwise more cleverly – and properly – known as “directional indicators”, on account of they’re for indicating which direction you intend to take your car next. And that’s the whole key right there. Until you use your turn signals (I’ll use “turn signals” if it makes everyone happier, until I have a point to make), people are going to expect that you’re going to continue doing what you’re doing, especially if what you’re doing is just driving along at a steady speed in the lane in which you’re currently traveling. (more…)

September 11, 2015

Driving Me Crazy – The Pacer

Filed under: Commentary, Driving Me Crazy — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 7:30 PM

Well, lucky you, Dear Readers. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to tell you about those idiots out there who don’t know how to drive properly. Oh, the things I’ve seen. Worse still, the things I’ve heard about. Well, I’m going to tell you where some of your fellow citizens and non-citizens alike are going wrong. I’ll introduce you to the vast array of Driver Types that I’ve created over the years (well, “created” in the sense that I thought of them myself and didn’t steal them from anybody, even though someone else might have thought of them, too) including “The Gapper”, “The Pokey” and, today’s target, “The Pacer”. (By the way, how do I know it’s not one of you I’ll be writing about? Because (more…)

September 5, 2015

How The Right Gets Religious Freedom Wrong – Kim Davis Edition

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 3:24 PM

Article VI of the United States Constitution states:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Immediately after that it says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Kim Davis, a Democrat, was elected County Clerk of Rowan County, KY, in November 2014 and took office in January 2015. She succeeded her mother who had retired from that position. Prior to taking office as County Clerk, Davis served as Deputy Clerk for 27 years. According to a press release from her lawyers, Liberty Counsel, Kim Davis only wanted to have her name removed from the marriage license forms. She was willing to file any form without her name on it, but because marriage licenses stay in the records permanently, she said, “I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.” That’s where she first went wrong. You see, it really makes absolutely no difference what “God’s definition of marriage” is because that’s what her particular religion tells her. What she fails to grasp (more…)

August 30, 2015

Chris Christie vs. Technology

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:16 PM

In order for Governor Chris Christie’s plan to round up people who overstay their visas to work, he would have to invent time travel technology. And even though it’s impossible to know if time travel really has been invented if you’re not the one using it (if history has changed, so have all your memories), looking at his poll numbers it would appear he hasn’t yet. After all, if you started out doing poorly in your effort to become President, and you had the ability to travel back in time, wouldn’t you go back in time and change things so that you had the humongous lead in Republican polls and not some billionaire with an oversize ego and even worse ideas than yours? Actually I shouldn’t say Trump’s ideas are worse since he hasn’t explained how any of them could work except to say “Management.” But I digress. Anyway, without time travel, Christie’s plan to call in FedEx Chairman and CEO Fred Smith to help teach the government how to track people who have overstayed their visas can’t work. At least, not if (more…)

August 23, 2015

The Rebel Flag Is Not About ‘Patriotism’

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:52 PM

So the Weekend Folks at Fox and Friends (say that three times backwards in front of a candle-lit mirror and it will summon them) are having a sad over the decline in acceptability of the Battle Flag of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (hereafter conveniently, if technically inaccurately, known as the Confederate Flag, the Rebel Flag, the Traitor Flag, The Slavery Lover Flag, the Racist Flag, and the White Supremacist Flag II) because they wrongly believe it’s because Liberals are trying to ban all expressions of “patriotism.”

Before going on to hear what an actual documentarian on the Civil War has to say about what it, and the battles flags under which the South fought, represented, let’s clear up a couple of things. First Tucker (more…)

August 15, 2015

How The Right STILL Gets Religious Freedom Wrong

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:44 PM

This past Thursday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins interviewed Fox News Channel Host/Parasite – I forget which – Todd Starnes (both men can best be remembered by forgetting they exist as soon as you finish reading this post) about a recent federal appeals court ruling that said a Colorado baker violated a couple’s rights when he refused to bake them a wedding cake just because they were both men. Here is my own (generously abridged) transcript of an exchange between Perkins and Starnes courtesy of the good folks at Right Wing Watch:

STARNES: It was really chilling to hear you read what they, what the government wants this Christian business owner to do. And when you read the ruling – I’ve had a chance to read the 60-some-odd pages of the Court of Appeals ruling, which is affirming the lower court’s decision – it’s not much of a legal stretch to imagine the day when they will tell pastors the same thing, “You will participate in these gay weddings.” So it’s a troubling thing when you look at this document and you realize that Christian business owners, at least in Colorado, really don’t have as much freedom as they thought they did.

PERKINS: Yeah, and that’s one of the points I’ve tried to make with pastors, you know, I know pastors have been concerned that, you know, any day now they will be forced to do same sex weddings and I say, look, look, look, it probably will come but not immediately. What’s more immediate are the people sitting in your pews, the bakers, the photographers, you know, the florists, we’ve seen those already. But it’s coming, you know even further, it’s coming to the fire chiefs, like Kelvin Cochran, who’ve you written about in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s the regular business people, the public servants. It’s Judge McConnell in Ohio, a city court judge, who did not want to do, perform, actually have to perform, and there was, I don’t know if you saw this, Todd, but there was a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court Ethics Board that said he was required, as a judge, to perform same sex weddings.

Where to begin? Let’s start with (more…)

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