Yes, Phil Robertson Said Atheists Lack Morals

Phil Robertson told a horror story about a family of atheists getting raped and tortured. Maybe to him it wasn’t a horror story. As the criminals brutalize the family, they taunt the man of the house about his lack of faith, saying that since there is no God, what they’re doing is fine and there will be no retribution. Eventually the man of the house realizes that “Something about this just ain’t right”

That revelation prompted John Nolte, at Breitbart, to cry “Foul” at any of us who claim Robertson said atheists have no moral compass.

Actually, if you read what Robertson actually says, he makes clear that atheists do in fact know the difference between good and evil and right and wrong.

Nolte is wrong. The only thing Nolte got right is that Robertson didn’t say the criminals were atheists. He said the victims were.

Although history tells us that Christians are capable of vicious crimes, I don’t think Phil Robertson would tell a story about Christian rapists, sadists, and murderers. More likely, Robertson’s criminals are people who might have been held back by faith from performing horrible acts, but decided the atheists must be right. Even as they taunt the atheist for not believing in God, they must agree with him, or else they wouldn’t commit their atrocities. Thus, according to Robertson, at least some atheists have no moral compass.

As far as the victims go, Robertson doesn’t make it “clear that atheists do in fact know the difference between good and evil and right and wrong”. Robertson’s story only makes it clear that he believes an atheist can recognize a horrible wrong when it’s being perpetrated on him and his family. That’s not much of a moral compass.

Atheists have every right to find Phil Robertson’s comments outrageous and insulting just like they have a right to wonder how much Robertson enjoyed weaving a tale of horrific brutal atrocities visited upon those with whom he disagrees.

Thanks to Eric Holder, we Know Officer Wilson was Innocent.

A day after Jonathan Capehart wrote about facing the truth about Darren Wilson’s innocence, his article in the Washington Post has over 5000 comments, much of them accusing President Obama and Eric Holder of racism for wanting to take a closer look at Brown’s death.

Bullshit, all of them.

Michael Brown killed himself with Officer Wilson’s gun despite having no apparent reason to want to die that day. Darren Wilson was a member of a department which had recently arrested an innocent man, beat him up, locked him up, and charged him with bleeding on their uniforms. Several witnesses, including at least one who didn’t seem to have any reason to lie, said Brown had his hands up. Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing after a rigged hearing in which jurors were given false information.

It’s not racist to think that the whole incident required a real investigation from someone outside of Ferguson.

Thanks to Eric Holder, we know Officer Wilson was innocent. Someone who accepted Office Wilson’s story without any confirmation is someone who feels that police should never be investigated for killing Black people.

Justice Department Upholds Wilson’s Story

Incredibly, on the same day the Justice Department issued their report about the entrenched racism and misconduct of the Ferguson Police, the Department also upheld Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events.

Ferguson Findings Worse then You Might Think

When I saw headlines announcing that the Justice Department figured out that the Ferguson, Mo. Police Department was racist, I figured, “no shit”. I assumed somebody crunched some numbers somewhere and came up with a report showing Black people get ticketed and arrested, and occasionally shot to death, more often then White people. But report is, in fact, worse than just that.

The Washington Post has an article and a link to the Justice Department’s report, which includes

a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. One charge, Making a False Declaration, was for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”), and an address which, although legitimate, was different from the one on his driver’s license. Another charge was for not wearing a seat belt, even though he was seated in a parked car. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in his possession. The man told us that, because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years.

.

It’s worth noting one paragraph which won’t make it to most of the media outlets out there

We thank the City officials and the rank-and-file officers who have cooperated with this investigation and provided us with insights into the operation of the police department, including the municipal court. Notwithstanding our findings about Ferguson’s approach to law enforcement and the policing culture it creates, we found many Ferguson police officers and other City employees to be dedicated public servants striving each day to perform their duties lawfully and with respect for all members of the Ferguson community. The importance of their often-selfless work cannot be overstated.

But other than that, the report describes a racist department who’s dirty deeds have had devastating effects on their victims.

Randy Forbes: Dems Playing into Partisan Spectacle by Boycotting Partisan Spectacle

Randy Forbes released the following statement:

At a time when our allies across the globe continue to have questions about this Administration’s commitment and competency, the United States’ support for Israel should be unwavering. Instead, we see the White House prioritizing risky negotiations with a nuclear obsessed Iran over the concerns of a trusted ally, and Democratic Members of Congress playing into a partisan spectacle rather than respecting the longstanding relationship between our two countries. To allow the American commitment to the nation of Israel to be thus called into question is not only shortsighted, it is detrimental to security and U.S. interests in the region.

Forbes makes a pretty bold statement as he conflates our friendship of Israel with our trust in Bibi Netanyahu. We now know he lied about Iran’s nuclear capabilities in 2012, when he used a stupid picture of a cartoon bomb to exaggerate how close Iran was to being a nuclear power. A leaked Mossad document shows that Netanyahu’s lies contradicted information held by his nation’s own intelligence agency. But of course Republicans support lying about military data in order to start wars, so I guess Netanyahu’s lies only bolster Republican’s affection for him.

It’s also a pretty bold statement about allies across the globe having questions about this administration’s commitment and competency. It was George Bush, after all, who invaded Iraq under false pretenses and squandered the international support we had gained after the September 11th attacks that he failed to protect us from. Obama actually raised international support back up from Bush’s low. Peter Beinart’s article in the Atlantic pointed to a Pew Research report (which has since been updated) that shows us that international attitudes towards the U.S. are positive, and much better than they were when Obama took office.

America’s image began to rally in some nations and to soar by the end of the decade following the election of Barack Obama, at least in Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America. After slipping a bit again in the first years of this decade, brand U.S. has stabilized and even recovered in a few nations in 2014.

So where are all those allies questioning this administration’s commitment and competency?

The biggest decline in ratings for the U.S. is in Russia, where 71% now hold an unfavorable opinion.

Of course, Russia’s not an ally, but the way Republicans have been fawning over Putin lately, maybe Forbes is a little confused.

Pretty bold of Forbes to call into question Obama’s commitment to our national security, since he just voted ‘No’ to even a one week stop-gap measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Pretty bold to talk about the concerns of an ally when even Israeli’s are questioning the wisdom of his visit and about 200 members of Israeli’s security community have voiced their opposition to it.

It’s pretty bold to talk about partisan spectacles considering what a partisan spectacle it was for the Speaker of the House to breach protocol and Constitutional law by inviting a foreign leader into our Congress without notifying our President.

Considering all of those facts, it’s not just bold, it’s bizarre to suggest that it’s un-American to boycott the inappropriate appearance in our nation’s Congress of a foreign leader who has lied to us to influence our diplomatic and military strategies, and is risking the security of our nation and his own in a desperate attempt to shore up his slipping popularity just before an election. But then, lying and risking national security to bolster their popularity is what Republicans do, so I guess Randy Forbes is just towing the Republican line.

A Subscription to Mother Jones

Thanks to Bill O’Reilly’s endorsement, I subscribed to Mother Jones.

O’Reilly helped my decision by calling Mother Jones a far left magazine with low circulation, and by saying the magazine is considered by many to be the bottom rung of journalism in America. It was also helpful to me to see so many conservatives circling the wagons around O’Reilly after MoJo presented incontrovertible proof that O’Reilly lied about being in the Falklands, and by O’Reilly’s reference to MoJo’s reporter David Corn as a liar and a “guttersnipe”. Joe Concha of Mediaite, while defending O’Reilly, called Mother Jones a niche magazine for Liberal Democrats.

mojosubscribe

A subscription to Mother Jones is pretty cheap. I signed up through Amazon and got the Kindle subscription for $1 a month (It will go to $3 a month after the introductory price expires). It’s the same price for paper. I also found an offer on Facebook for a year of MoJo for $10.

Yes, There Really Were Gunshots in Buenos Aires in 1982

After Mother Jones posted a story by David Corn accusing Bill O’Reilly of lying about being in the Falklands during the war that took place there and exaggerating his experiences in Buenos Aires, O’Reilly has been defending himself by denying ever having said he was in the Falklands, and by saying that his coverage in Buenos Aires counts as being in a combat zone.

I think that if O’Reilly had admitted that he misspoke about being on the Falklands but emphasized that he did cover the violent protests in Argentina and had been in dangerous situations elsewhere, this all would have washed over. But what O’Reilly did instead was cover his lies with more lies and with straw man arguments, pretending that the Mother Jones story denied his ever seeing violence in Buenos Aires and touting video clips showing the protests.

But Mother Jones never denied the violence. In fact, the original article noted,

Dispatches on the protest filed by reporters from the New York Times, the Miami Herald, and UPI note that thousands did take to the street, setting fires, breaking store windows, and that riot police did battle with protesters who threw rocks and sticks. They say tear gas was deployed; police clubbed people with nightsticks and fired rubber bullets; reporters were assaulted by demonstrators and by police; and a photojournalist was wounded in the legs by gunfire.

But O’Reilly exaggerated the violent reaction of the government against the protesters. According to the original article

O’Reilly noted that soldiers “were just gunning these people down, shooting them down in the streets” with “real bullets.”

Mother Jones called O’Reilly on his placement in the Falklands and on his exaggerations about the Buenos Aires protests, not on the fact of O’Reilly covering violent protests at all.

Bill O’Reilly is defending himself against accusations that were not made, because he cannot defend against what Mother Jones actually reported.

Unfortunately, after the article and O’Reilly’s initial defense, some reporters made questionable comments in their efforts to discredit O’Reilly. Eric Enberg put up a long post on Facebook in which he called the riots “relatively tame”. But when CBS released the old clips, Enberg’s comments became easy fodder for O’Reilly and his supporters, such as Mediaite’s Joe Concha who suggested Engberg must have been sleeping very soundly to have missed the sirens and gunfire.

O’Reilly lied by embellishing his experiences, then told more lies as he defended himself when his earlier lies were exposed. But the only thing Right Wing audiences will hear is how there really were gunshots in Buenos Aires, as if MoJo ever denied that there were.

Deah Barakat Was Not Pro-Terrorist

Update 2015/02/16: Stop Antisemitism Now has removed their link to the Bare Naked Islam article.

Stop Antisemitism Now, a Facebook group which I like, by the Facebook definition of the word, recently posted something that I don’t like at all. It was a link to a Bare Naked Islam article accusing murder victim Deah Barakat of tweeting “anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, pro-terrorist tweets”. One out of three is bad. Barakat was certainly anti-Zionist, but the other two accusations are lies.

Bare Naked Islam, a website dedicated to promoting hatred if Islam, correctly pointed out Barakat’s anti-Zionist tweets such as,

,

and

But I looked at Barakat’s twitter feed and found a few items Bare Naked Islam didn’t bother to post,

,

and

Had I met Deah Barakat, we might have argued about the legitimacy of Israel. We might not have liked each other. But he was not pro-terrorist.

For calling out the lie in a comment on Stop Antisemitism Now’s post, I was called a “Self Loathing Jew”. It’s hard for me to defend myself against such comments since I lack any Jew cred, having lost my faith and having been raising hogs in Virginia and all, but whatever my feelings about myself may be, facts are still facts. A person can be anti-Zionist and even hateful of Israel, and neither be anti-Semitic nor pro-terrorist.

Bare Naked Islam is clear about its purpose, but Stop Antisemitism Now says its purpose is to “promote pride in Israel and in Judaism”, not to promote hatred of Islam. They should promote pride without allying themselves with hate groups.

That misleading question about enforcing labor laws in Texas

I tried to watch some of the Attorney General confirmation hearings with an open mind but my mind could only stay open for about ten seconds of Ted Cruz. His petulant apology on behalf of Democratic Senator Whitehouse turned my stomach. Whitehouse had appropriately criticized so called “witnesses” who had nothing to say about Loretta Lynch and were only there to spew hate about President Obama and Eric Holder. You may have heard Whitehouse’s remark by now, “I regret that this hearing and this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent, and turned into what appears to be a soundbite factory for Fox News and conspiracy theorists everywhere.”, but it’s worth hearing the preceding four minutes or so where Whitehouse established that the witnesses were not there to contribute anything useful to the hearings.


(The above picture is a link to the MediaMatters page that includes the video).

Ted Cruz went further, and devoted precious time to shedding crocodile tears with True the Vote head Catherine Engelbrecht, asking her to tell us “How did it make you feel to be targeted by the government for persecution?”, and rehashing debunked accusations that President Obama was to blame for the investigations of TTV by the IRS and other federal agencies.

The time Cruz didn’t spend accusing Obama of persecuting non-partisan charitable organizations and their angelic founders was spent discussing his misleading hypothetical questions about whether or not the president can decide not to enforce labor laws in Texas, and if the president has the authority to decide not to collect taxes above 25%. The bizarre scenarios were supposed to be analogous to the president deciding not to prosecute certain undocumented immigrants. Cruz was unhappy that Lynch didn’t give him the kind of direct answer he was looking for the day before. Of course she didn’t.

The questions were not asked in search of knowledge. They were asked in the search of soundbites as Senator Whitehouse stated. The answers to those questions are clearly, “No”, but if Lynch were to respond as Cruz would have liked, her words would have been twisted into a condemnation of the president’s actions. It’s typical Republican style propaganda. Republicans are all about the “if this, then why not that?” types of questions. “If we keep guns out of the hands of criminals, than why not grab everyone’s guns?”, “If we give people healthcare, than what’s to stop the government from assigning death panels to kill our grandmothers?”, “If we tax the rich, then what’s to stop us from throwing Jews into ovens?”, “If the president decides not to prosecute illegal immigrants who aren’t causing any trouble because we barely have enough resources to catch those who are causing trouble, what’s to stop him from deciding not to enforce labor laws in Texas?”

It’s all fake. Deciding not to enforce labor laws in Texas isn’t like deciding not to prosecute illegal immigrants who aren’t causing trouble. It would be more like deciding not to prosecute anybody named Teo. Cruz’s scenaries imply the use of arbitrary criteria rather than prioritizing in accordance with established guidelines. A better labor law analogy would be: Can the president, if he barely has enough resources to close down millions of sweatshops, decide not to prosecute companies for violations of ergonomic standards?

The answer to that question would be “Yes”.

Cruz’s questions weren’t designed to learn anything about Loretta Lynch. Almost everyone, including Republicans, seems to agree that she’s well qualified for the job. Republicans just want to use these hearings as yet another forum to to attack the president, and it seems they’re willing to deny the country the appointment of a very competent attorney general unless she provides them with soundbites that would help them do so.

Take a Look at These On Line Scams

This screen popped up after I clicked on a link on Reuters. It looks like an official page from Adobe, telling me I have to install the latest version of Flash. It is not. At the bottom, there is a disclaimer telling us what it is:

We are not affiliated or partnered with Adobe […] This offering is for a download manager that will install independent 3rd party software that will update the advertised program.

Flash Scam
I do believe that if I download and run the installer, it will in fact install the latest version of Flash. I’m sure it will also install applications that deliver a steady stream of popup ads. It will probably hijack my browser and prevent me from using Google, instead delivering a bunch of paid-for results whenever I try to search for something. It might do even worse than all that.

But it looks so real. Here’s another example.

This is a page from Sourceforge, a big repository for open source projects, and it’s the Sourceforge page for Xming, a server which allows you to run Linux X applications from a remote server on a Windows desktop. It’s OK if you have no idea what that means. Xming isn’t the problem. The problem is those “Regular Download” and “Premium download” buttons on top. They have nothing to do with Xming and almost nothing to do with Sourceforge. Those are part of an ad. The real download button is the green one closer to the center of the screen. If you click one of the buttons on top, it will take you to another page where you can download another malware installer like the one disguised as the flash updater.

So why Doesn’t Sourceforge do something about these scammer ads on their website? Probably for the same reason I don’t do anything about the ads that may appear on this blog. We don’t see them. In my case, I have nothing at all to do with them. Whatever ads appear on this site are delivered by WordPress, not me. In the case of Sourceforge, they’re just renting space out to Google Ads, and Google Ads is probably working with other companies. Sourceforge has about as much to do with the scammers as your mail carrier does to the scammers who send junk mail to your door.

At any rate, they’re getting trickier out there. They’re doing a good job making their spamware and spyware installers look official, so be sure to double check what you’re clicking on before downloading anything.

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