The Return of Birtherism 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Back in the old days (2008), some very noisy people got the addlepated notion that Barack Obama, even after he was elected fair and square as president, could not possibly have been born in the USA. First, there was his name. Then his Kenyan father, who was (ohnoz!) raised Muslim. Then his schooling as a boy in Indonesia, where the future pres would learn more stuff about Islam … and eating dogmeat. Nevermind that he was born in Hawai’i in 1961, with a birth certificate and all. And his mother was American. And his eligibility to even run for president was undoubtedly checked and rechecked by the Secret Service, FBI and who knows what else alphabet agency. The doubting Thomases still kept on a-doubting. It’s now 2012, another election year, and damn if the same addlepated nonsense is still in circulation. The freaking Arizona Secretary of State recently badgered the State of Hawai’i to cough up proof of Obama’s birth there, before the (Republican) SoS would allow ballots to be printed with Obama’s name on them. SadlyNo! sums it up quite nicely: God himself could descend from the heavens in a burning, fiery chariot, land in Times ...

The physics of Mitt Romney

JISHOU, HUNAN — It’s not often I can read something about quantum physics and politics at the same time, so I have to share this piece in the Sunday New York Times about the puzzling phenomenon known as Mitt Romney, candidate. Of course, as is true when reading some xkcd comics, if you’re not up on the concepts, the jokes will fly right over your head, but I got a few chuckles out of David Javerbaum’s “A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney.” Romney is not only animatronic and a living Etch-a-Sketch, he’s also a metaphor for quantum physics. Two excerpts from Javerbaum’s piece will show what I mean: Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It is not that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time. …snip Entanglement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an ...

Sen. Inhofe, the Bible and Global Warming

JISHOU, HUNAN — I visit Dispatches from the Culture Wars almost every day, and today commented on a report about Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who is convinced that not only is global warming a lot of hooey, but that God has everything under control, so we humans needn’t worry at all. In an interview with Voice of Christian Youth America, Inhofe repeated his claim that anthropic global warming is all a hoax. He gave as his reason: Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. At Dispatches, there was a lot of commentary about how knuckleheaded this reasoning is, and I added to the discussion with a rejoinder that I think is so good I am repeating it here. If you read Genesis carefully (and not human chauvinistically), it’s important to note that God created humans last, and told them to be ...

The future of China: stuffy old men vs. energized citizens

JISHOU, HUNAN — The common American assumption about China’s government is that it’s repressive, hellbent to maintain its power despite all internal or external pressures to change. But, from the perspective of someone inside China, the general population does not seem to fear the government, despite its ability to detain or “disappear” troublemakers. Among my students, associates and friends, there is a quiet willingness to criticize the government, remark on the corruption of party officials, and play along with seemingly illogical demands from higher ups while basically doing nothing about them — the Chinese version of the colonial Spanish motto,”Obedezco pero no cumplo,” — I obey, but I do not comply (with royal edicts). To be frank, I was not entirely sure my conclusions were correct until I read a lengthy essay in The Diplomat tonight by Gordon Chang, a writer for Forbes. Turns out I’m a better political and social analyst than I thought. [Reading the comments after the essay, though, it seems not everyone agrees with me or Chang.] Chang’s argument is cogent. Prosperity and electronic media have emboldened the Chinese populace as never before, as it plunges headlong into the 21st century. Meanwhile, the powerful elite men ...

10th Circuit slaps Oklahoma anti-Sharia law down like bug on a wall

JISHOU, HUNAN — Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia law violates the US Constitution, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The ruling states that the law — which amended the state constitution — violated the Establishment clause of the First Amendment by singling out one religion, Islam. In addition, the court noted that the proponents of the law, which passed November 2010 in a state referendum, could not identify one occasion in which Sharia was used in Oklahoma. Too bad courts can’t comment on the stupidity of laws, too. Oklahoma’s Islamophobic factions took the lead nationally in pressing for such a law, creating a nontroversy about “creeping Sharia” and Muslim infiltration of the USA. After the Sooner State’s successful ballot initiative, other states jumped on the bandwagon, fabricating Muslim threats from whole cloth. The 10th Circuit got to the heart of the matter in its ruling: “Sharia? What Sharia?” Appellants do not identify any actual problem the challenged amendment seeks to solve. Indeed, they admitted at the preliminary injunction hearing that they did not know of even a single instance where an Oklahoma court had applied Sharia law or used the legal precepts of other nations or cultures, let alone that such ...

Occupy Wall Street in Chinese eyes

[Cross-posted at the Daily Kos] JISHOU, HUNAN –Chinese observers seem to draw two opposing conclusions from the Occupy Wall Street movement in the USA. The more common (state-approved) conclusion is: capitalism is bad, Marxism is good. The more thoughtful conclusion is: if the Chinese government doesn’t deal with widespread corruption, China might see similar protests in the not-too-distant future. Recently, one of my friends asked me what Chinese reactions to OWS were. So, I’ve spent some time poring over Internet reports and blogs to get a sense how OWS is playing over here. Since my grasp of Mandarin is weak still, and my access to movers and shakers is limited, take my comments here with a grain of salt. Official Chinese news coverage tends to characterize OWS as a confrontation between the very poor and homeless (the victims of heartless capitalism) and the rich and powerful (heartless capitalist dogs). The Communist Party is using OWS as an object lesson in the superiority of China’s Marxism. Comments to an article about the clearing out of Zucotti Park in New York City are representative of netizen reactions. Several comments are rabidly anti-American and pro-Chinese, leading other commenters to accuse those writers of ...

Campaign flyer fail

So, what’s wrong with this photo? It came from a campaign mailer from Patricia Phillips, who is a Loudon County, Virginia, Republican running for a state senate seat. The keen-eyed and quick-witted will note that this distinguished old officer is — or more accurately, was — not a member of the US Armed Forces. He’s a Soviet naval officer. You know, our enemies back in the day. I propose that Phillips’ campaign staff is neither keen-eyed nor quick-witted. And her opponent must be laughing his ass off.

It’ll be one hell of a party — {{yawn}}

It'll be one hell of a party -- {{yawn}}
UPDATE OCT. 7, 2011 — A few things have changed since I wrote this post. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is no longer listed as a speaker. Three new speakers are now listed: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of NHCLC, Lila Rose, President of Live Action and John Stemberger, President of Florida Family Policy Council. And the deadline to get the low, low price on the viewing party kits has been extended to Oct. 14. JISHOU, HUNAN — By way of Right Wing Watch, I came across this announcement, which encourages folks to host viewing “parties” for a televised “premiere event.” The lineup of speakers* includes two guys running for the Republican presidential nomination (only one of whom has a ghost of chance of winning the nomination), a former congressman, a man who lies about American history, and the former head of an influential conservative Christian media empire. [*Speakers have been invited, but are not yet confirmed. — Footnote at the bottom of the webpage.]] Three hours of talking heads telling us that the USA is a Christian Nation™, that the USA is going down the tubes because of the liberals, the gays, the atheists, the Muslims and (by the way) President ...

Another conservative jumps on “only property-owners should vote” bandwagon

JISHOU, HUNAN — Just days after Matthew Vadum of American Thinker proposed the dubious analogy that letting the poor vote was like giving crooks burglary tools, another brilliant mind pops up with similar cutting edge 18th century political ideas. This time the mind in question belongs to John David Dyche, a Republican lawyer in Louisville, Kentucky. He wrote an opinion piece for the Courier-Journal entitled “Property rights crucial to voting rights.” He begins with another dubious analogy — doctors this time, not second-story men. Some bemoan Kentucky’s 10 percent voter turnout in recent primaries. But quantity hardly assures quality in making important choices. If you had a serious disease would you open your treatment to everyone or confine it to a few specialists? A free society’s biggest decision is how it shall be governed. The Founders therefore placed prudent limits on participation in it. After offhandedly suggesting that it was probably a good idea to let blacks and women vote, Dyche then takes us to the good old days when only the landed gentry could participate in politics or governance. You know, the situation that encouraged some demented landed gentry types to create an entirely new nation sometime around 1776. ...

Voters in Queens: hand this putz Turner his walkin’ papers

[UPDATE: Well, nevermind. The putz won the election with 53% of the vote. Hope you like what you got, Brooklyn and Queens.] This is an actual campaign flier sent out by the New York Republicans on behalf of NY-9 candidate Bob Turner. I can’t think of a more crass exploitation of the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers attack than this. Turner is running against Democrat David Weprin in a special election to fill the seat of Rep. Andrew Weiner (D-NY-9), who resigned his seat after a sexting scandal. It’s supposed to be a tight race. I hope this flier backfires on Turner big time. Aside from the obvious bigotry, it lies like a dog. The Park 51 project is not at the site of World Trade Center (the so-called Ground Zero), is not a mosque, and doesn’t look anything like the gold-domed edifice in the flier. The project additionally does not violate any laws, local or national, and has even been approved by the local community zoning board. Turner is a putz. Look it up at urbandictionary.com if you don’t know what it means.

Beware of demons? Beware of David Barton

JISHOU, HUNAN — David Barton is a loon, a dangerous loon. I’ve blogged before about David Barton’s peculiar version of American history. He teaches that the USA was deliberately conceived as a Christian nation, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. Barton misquotes the Founding Fathers, twists and quotemines historical documents, and when all else fails outright lies about history to support his cockeyed ideas. The Religious Right adores him. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is vainly trying to be the presidential nominee of her party, invited Barton to teach the Constitution to newly minted Representatives. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who at one point was considering a presidential run, famously said: `“I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.” The Atlantic Monthly had a lengthy analysis of Barton’s appeal and his peculiar methods of historical research. There is no doubt that Barton’s religious belief drives his interpretation of history, but what kind of beliefs does he have? Here’s a clue. Right Wing Watch posted this excerpt of ...

Universal suffrage is an un-American, left-wing plot, says right-wing tool

JISHOU, HUNAN — A long time ago, only white, male property owners could vote. Then the property ownership rule was dropped, followed by the whites-only rule, followed by the men-only rule, followed by a reduction in the legal voting age to 18. So, in the USA, there is near universal suffrage, which most people would consider a really good thing. Not Matthew Vadum of the oxymoronically named American Thinker blog. He believes we need to turn back the calendar a couple of centuries to those good old days when only rich white guys could vote. Or be President, I reckon. Vadum says registering the poor to vote is un-American. Seriously. Because encouraging the poor to vote means they will vote for their own interests, unlike rich folk, who always vote for the poor’s interests. Sayeth he: Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote? Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery. Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of ...
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