Monday, February 29, 2016

Trump Derailed by Obama’s Endorsement

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Adding a new wrinkle in an already unpredictable election year, Donald Trump saw his poll numbers plummet on Monday after receiving a surprise endorsement from President Barack Obama.

The long-awaited downfall of the abrasive billionaire came in startling fashion, as few had expected the President to offer a full-throated endorsement of Trump, especially on the eve of the all-important Super Tuesday primaries.

Praising the Republican front-runner during a nationally televised address, the President said that, despite media reports to the contrary, Trump shared his views on such important issues as immigration and religious tolerance. “In every way that matters, Donald and I are on exactly the same page,” Obama said, pointing to a framed picture of the billionaire on his Oval Office desk.

Concluding his endorsement with an emphatic closing argument, Obama said, “If you love me, vote for Trump.”

In several G.O.P. polls taken after the President’s stunning endorsement, Trump sank from first to fifth place, trailing the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson by several points.

As news of the President’s endorsement spread, former Trump supporters across the nation gathered to vent their anger, with some burning signs, trucker hats, and other campaign paraphernalia at impromptu bonfires.

Harland Dorrinson, who had attended a massive Trump rally in Alabama just a day earlier, said that he now felt totally betrayed by the billionaire. “I guess when all is said and done, Donald Trump was just too good to be true,” he said.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Can an animal have a soul?

By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist
Spirit Animals

Discovery comes out of doubting.  Uncertainty is the ground of creative adaptation.
The Wild Boar
I have a predisposition to wildness.   I needed nature and felt at home, at peace with it.  I was allergic to civilization.  My redemption was to escape outdoors.  I was never afraid, because I knew I was food for nothing, and a creature that all other animals fear.
I was a quail hunter.  I came across a family of Javelina.  Having heard that they were not very perceptive, I decided to see how close I could get to them.  It was then that a wild boar charged me.  Snarling, huffing, and stomping he came at me as I took aim with my gun.  It held only two shots.  I could not waste a warning shot, so I would either hold my fire or kill.  There was no other choice.  The pig stopped about a dozen feet from me.  I slowly backed away, all the time keeping aim on the pig.  This went on for about a half-dozen times until the pig suddenly turned and ran.  He had fulfilled his duty to his family and apparently felt no need to up the ante.  At that moment, I realized that I and the pig had become one.  I admired its courage.  It would live to defend its family from the mountain lions that frequented the area.  I had discovered my personal relationship with the pig, what some might call “soul”.
Cat Fishing
It was a blistering hot July, the kind when the cat fishing is best.  I had triple hooks, raw chicken livers, fish emulsion, hog’s blood, and garlic stink bait.  You put it on the river floor, and if there is a catfish within a hundred yards it will come running!
My Land Cruiser growled through the dry washes for tens of miles, atop high sandbars that were deeply eroded by running water.  I had to be careful not to fall off their edge.  There was no road to be followed, no tire tracks, and no sign of humanity.  There were thickets of yellow jacket wasps and the sweet creosote smell of desert brush.  I waddled across a field of large boulders, polished by eons of seasonal flooding, for hundreds of yards to approach the river.  It was bent in its path by high rock formations, but not constrained having been accelerated in passing through the rock formation.  I had planned to hike the river but the terrain was too steep and it was too hot.  I could see that this might not be a good place during flood season, because the water marks in the distance were higher than my vehicle’s roof rack.
The fishing was good. I put the catfish, still alive, in my ice chest and started to leave as the sun went down.  I had not seen another human being all day.  The terrain had become dark, not visible, giving me the feeling of lost, insecure aloneness.  As I traveled through the washes, my headlights revealed a surprise, a dog straight in my path, so I had to stop.  It ran around to the back of the Land Cruiser and tried to jump in.  I opened my door to check things out and the dog came around.  There was no one for miles in every direction, nothing but cactus and brush, and it was hellishly hot even though it had become dark.   I helped the dog in.  It settled down next to the gearshift.   I gave it a granola bar which it vigorously crunched down.  Let’s go!  Now we were headed for the cool high country, hours away and thousands of feet higher in elevation.  Arriving near midnight, my Land Cruiser waddled down a narrow path next to a creek.  I pitched my tent in the dark from memory, as I had done many times before.  I would sleep hearing the restful sounds of gurgling, running water.  I left the dog in the vehicle.  I would check it out in the morning.
Dog Story
I had never owned a dog and did not want one.  I found that it stunk and was horribly infected with a festering open wound on its bottom.  I contemplated taking the big revolver and putting it out of its misery, but there was a problem.  The dog could eat, had bowel movements, and wagged its tail at me.  I thought that it can’t be that serious!   So away we went to my home in the valley, carrying an unexpected addition to our family.
I discovered that the dog slept all day, but roamed the house at night, constantly sniffing for food.  The vet gave us antibiotic pills and salves for her wounds.  We constrained the dog by temporarily putting it in the crib that was awaiting our child and named it Daisy.
Daisy was a puppy, no more than perhaps a couple of months old when she came to us.  She learned the family way quickly.  It became clear that she was too smart to die out on that hot and lonely desert.  Daisy revealed an intelligence that was far more than suspected.
It was not necessary to teach Daisy commands.  She comprehended speech and could pick things out from our conversations, but her spelling was not very good.  That was how we kept secrets.  Daisy wanted to talk, but could not enunciate!  As smart as Daisy was, she could never understand why I had to go to work and I could never understand why she was so happy to see me return.  Get over it!  Dog, when will you ever learn?
Daisy had a sense of place.  She knew when the Land Cruiser approached the river where she was found. She identified the lights and traffic of the town.   She recognized the trees and the lush summer smells of the woods.  Daisy had a special sense about knowing when we were preparing to go.  She was my sentry on numerous camping trips.  Although dogs are territorial, she identified with me instead of the place.  It got to the point where I did not want to go anywhere that I could not take her.  I knew that she would give her life to defend me, but I wanted to pick the fights.
Daisy could not be let off her leash.  A small stick of dynamite, she would pursue a pine cone with reckless abandon, sometimes completely losing her equilibrium and rolling like a ball head over heels.  My book explained that I should never play violently with a Cairn terrier, but my dog loved that.  I would sing to her, pound the bed, clap my hands, act like I was going to hit her and she would return this play making my arm red, but never bleeding, while vigorously wagging her tail.  I trusted her completely.  She trusted me and even defended me from the garbage truck, though she seemed incapable of understanding that the truck would keep coming.  In her eyes I could see, “get back, get back, I will drive that monster away!”
Daisy was a nose with legs.  I noticed that she was identifying me by sniffing my feet.  Once we were taking a walk, and a rabbit crossed our path about 200 yards away.  The terrain blocked the dog’s view and the rabbit was long gone by the time we crossed the path, but Daisy took off exactly following the path the rabbit had taken.  Diffusion is important in the semiconductor industry, but clearly Daisy’s nose violated physics.  She knew when I was cooking breakfast even though she was 100 feet outside of our sealed home.  A single atom of smell must have reached her nose.
Daisy had feelings, could read when I was sad or happy, knew right from wrong, and visibly displayed remorse when she snapped at me for taking her bloody steak bone away.  I explained to her, even if you did bite me, I would not retaliate.
These experiences changed how I relate to animals, made me think that they were more like us than we knew.  Can an animal have a soul?
Disembodied Soul
I was 11 years old when I looked into the coffin of the man who raised me.  It wasn’t him.  I had not recently seen him, because they did not allow children into the hospital in those days.  I didn’t remember him that way.  Something was gone, but something remained.  Our lives influence how history evolves even after our death.
They say that only humans have soul, but I am convinced that this is only vain pride.  Religion holds that God creates an individual, immortal, spiritual soul that goes on after death and is reunited with the body at a final resurrection.  They say that if you don’t believe, you are deciding against God.  The supernatural is unconstrained and definite.  Simon Weil wrote dogmatically:  “Only certainty will do.  Anything less than certainty is unworthy of God.”  But Simon was wrong.  Discovery comes out of doubting.  Uncertainty is the ground of creative adaptation.
Bible scholars say that in Hebrew, soul was more like a living, breathing, conscious body than the now popular immortal version.  Then there is the fact that versions of the Bible required translation into Greek and sometimes Latin.  Meaning in words, languages, and ever present politics is never complete. 
Supposedly dogs cannot affirm, deny, or will anything, so they cannot have a soul.  It is like saying that only those who speak English have souls.  How about babies?   Aristotle thought that the father’s sperm provided the soul and the mother the body.  He was half right.  The soul lacks material reality and confirmation.  It is mythical instead of scientific, but myths are realities that are not just stories.  They are truths instead of lies even though they may be literally ridiculous.
Human behavior is both free and determined.  It is greater than personal experience because it seeks moral behavior as an end in itself.  It sees the mystery and meaning of life as something beyond personal, embracing all humanity.  It is a whole that is greater than us.  It sees good and evil as simultaneously present, recognizing that the innocent often suffer and that life is not always fair.  We are not just good or bad, but both.  That is the drama of human existence.
An Educated Heart with Intelligent Emotion
Consciousness and the mind are more than the simple brain parts we can see.  Scientists say they can see memories in our brain and even change them.  They are part of how, but not why.  “Why?” draws in and involves us, giving us soul.  The soul is a process that makes us free to choose and consequently responsible.  It is like a computer program that writes itself and is never complete.  Science contradicts belief, but spirituality has to embrace it.  We must look inward. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wingnut Week In Review: Unintelligible Yelling

Terrance Heath

Thursday night’s tenth GOP presidential debate was, ironically, best summed up by CNN’s closed captioner for the hearing impaired.

Last night’s Republican presidential debate was many things, but you only need to watch about 30 seconds to get the gist of it. 

That was the moment that drove CNN’s closed captioner over the edge. Here’s a screenshot of the closed captioning for that moment in the debate.
That pretty much says it all.

Hired to caption the debate for the hearing impaired, this anonymous individual instead spoke for all of us who watched the debacle, and were appalled and a little frightened at how far the GOP has devolved. 

Shooting Down Political Discourse
Texas’ new law allowing licensed gun owners to carry handguns on public university campuses goes into effect on August 1, but it’s already having an impact. Under the law, private universities may still ban guns from their campuses, and none in Texas has allowed guns in their classrooms or dormitories. However, the Texas attorney general’s office has issued an opinion that no limits may be placed on students carrying guns in classrooms and dormitories at public universities. 

Faculty members at the University of Houston expressed concern that guns in the classroom could chill debate. They didn’t have to wait long to be proven right. Jonathan Snow, president of the faculty senate, told the university regents, “Academics know the intrusion of gun culture into campus inevitably harms academic culture.”

For professors, this means that before discussing controversial topics they now have to wonder just which students are packing heat. To that end, at a meeting to discuss the law, the University of Houston played a slideshow that warned faculty to “avoid sensitive topics” and “provocative statements.” 

At least one Texas professor is leaving for relatively saner climes. Frederick Steiner, the dean of the University of Texas’ architecture program announced that he’s leaving the school, partly due to the state’s insane law allowing guns on college campuses. Steiner said the new policies around the law “don’t make any logical sense at all.” Steiner added, “How do you criticize someone when you know or suspect that they have a firearm? Having been in those situations, people can lose their tempers. That’s not a situation where a firearm would enhance the experience.”

Four months ago, an economics professor at UT Austin quit over the “campus carry” law, and moved all the way to Australia. After 15 years at UT, Steiner will leave to head the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.

Here’s the rest of the best of wingnuttery this week:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Exit Polls Show Democrats Embrace “Liberal,” Republicans Embrace Hatred

Bill Scher

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sanders Calls Senate Obstruction a 'Racist Effort to Delegitimize' Obama

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Matt Rourke/AP)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Matt Rourke/AP)

By Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
24 February 16
emocratic White House hopeful Bernie Sanders knocked Donald Trump on Tuesday over his outspoken support for false claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Sanders said the so-called birther movement is partly motivated by racism — but stopped short of saying that’s what drove the bombastic mogul to be its champion.

Sanders’ comments came in a CNN town hall event at which he was asked about Senate Republican promises to block any Obama nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat long held by the late Antonin Scalia.

“What you are seeing today in this Supreme Court situation is nothing more than the continuous and unprecedented obstructionism that President Obama has gone through” at the hands of Republicans, the Vermont senator said.

“This is on top of the birther issue, which we heard from Donald Trump and others, a racist effort to try to delegitimize the president of the United States,” Sanders continued.

Sanders said his father came from Poland but, “Guess what? Nobody has asked for my birth certificate. Maybe it’s the color of my skin, I don’t know.”

CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked the senator whether Trump was motivated by racism.

Sanders demurred.“You know, I’m not a psychoanalyst — and boy, would a psychoanalyst have an interesting time with Donald Trump,” he said, to laughter from the crowd. “I’m not going to speak to Trump, but do I think that at least in some parts of that Republican base there is race involved in that? Absolutely. Absolutely.”

Back when Trump was fueling speculation he might run for president in 2012, the real estate developer repeatedly questioned whether Obama was born in Hawaii, at one point saying he had sent private investigators there. The president responded to the rekindled rumors by releasing his long-form birth certificate in April 2011.
+17 # zepp 2016-02-24 12:36
"Modern" Republicans: Racists first, Republicans second, Americans last.
+1 # grandlakeguy 2016-02-24 14:34
More like corporate Fascists third, and Americans never!
-8 # RnR 2016-02-24 12:41
An effort to distract from the fact that *they can't stop Trump* lmao
+6 # PeacefulGarden 2016-02-24 13:41
Hail! Hail!
The Republican Party is dead!
Long live the Businessman Party!

Out of the ashes of greed, bibles quotes, and military representatives comes Businessmen!

Show us your scams. Show us your selfishness. Show us your cooked books. Rise to the front and lead us. For you can sell anything at double its value. Go! Here, there, and everywhere. Run fast! Strength and Power. Sell us a dime for a dollar.

And don't forget to mash down the poor. Because who the fuck needs them.
+6 # guomashi 2016-02-24 13:47
Quoting PeacefulGarden:
Hail! Hail!
The Republican Party is dead!
Long live the Businessman Party!

Sadly, the same goes for the Democratic Party.
More Sadly, the same goes for America generally.

Dead. Old, cold and already folded.

Trump and Hillary aren't doing it, they are only possible because of it.
0 # Jim Rocket 2016-02-24 14:29
Yes, I'm thinking that the reason the Democratic Party isn't surging is because they're selling a crappy product too. They're pretty much what the Republican Party was 30 or 40 years ago.
+8 # Maybe 2016-02-24 14:13
How many "dog whistles" have there been over the past seven years, implying racism, in an unspoken manner. There has never been any doubt, I'm sure, in anyone's mind, that race was the big factor in the Republican's obstinate refusal to acknowledge Obama as our President. It is not only demeaning, it is grossly unconstitutional. Bernie comes the closest to saying it out loud. But then Bernie speaks the truth, about all things; from the heart and with integrity, I can see no scenario where the Republican party would not do the same to him, if we were fortunate enough to have him as President. But I'll bet they won't stonewall Hillary!
+7 # Colleen Clark 2016-02-24 14:19
Dog whistles. Nobody wants to admit in public that he or she is a racist. But there are a 1001 (and counting) ways in the US to introduce "race" without ever admitting that's what you're doing.

Obama's birth certificate - 100% a racist dog whistle. So convenient to the whistlers that Obama's father was born in Africa and his non-black mother in Kansas so to question his legitimacy had "nothing" to do with race.

Same with discussions of the various versions of the Confederate flag that are part of flags in some southern states. Has "nothing" to do with slavery or the Civil War, it's just our "tradition" (of racism.)

So the refusal of the most of the Republicans to deal with Obama in a straightforward way is all about "dog whistle" racism.
+3 # cynnibunny 2016-02-24 14:25
Wow! This is both a sincere statement, and a deft political move. And thank goodness someone had the guts to state the obvious.

Let's see Sanders talk explicitly and frequently with the Black community - maybe this effort will be enough to give him entree.

Let's see how Clinton responds to this. My guess is Clinton would either have to agree with Sanders or she will not answer questions along that vein, and then her numbers will really start dropping.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Donald Trump Will Not Be Elected President of the United States

Robert Borosage

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reader calls Republicans "blatant racists"

Let's just acknowledge the obvious: the Republicans' hostility and wish to tear down anything Obama tries to do is rooted in their blatant racism. They never will accept that finally a black man rose to the highest official position in this country and has smashed through the previously impenetrable wall of white male power. That's why they hate him, because he certainly hasn't tried to rattle their cages too much in terms of pressing forward a progressive, non-militaristic agenda.

Reader Wally Jasper

Of Course Donald Trump Is a Terrible Christian

Donald Trump holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg)
Donald Trump holds up a Bible while speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. (photo: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg)

By Jesse Berney, Rolling Stone
20 February 16
Even this nonbeliever can recognize a Pharisee when he sees one

ope Francis really stepped in it Thursday, didn't he, getting all judgy about whether Donald Trump is a Christian. Who is he to say whether someone is a good Christian or not, the po — oh, right.

In Trump's case, it doesn't take a pope to know he's a terrible Christian. I'm Jewish, and don't believe in God, and even I feel confident saying it is so.

There are lots of flavors of Christianity and plenty of garnishes and sauces you can add or subtract to your worship. Wars over petty differences have shed countless gallons of blood. There are Christians who happily drive their daughters to the abortion clinic, and Christians who kick their sons out of the house for being gay.

But there a few basics — some bare-minimum standards — you should meet if you want to use the label "Christian," especially if you want to call yourself (as Trump has) an evangelical.

There are the doctrinal requirements, of course: You've got to believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. We can't know whether Trump believes that in his heart of hearts. But you should at least make some kind of minimal head-fake toward following Jesus' actual teachings if you want to call yourself a Christian, right? You should be a little humble, a little decent, a little concerned with the plight of your fellow man?

Donald Trump is a black hole of humility; no self-deprecating thought can escape the gravitational pull of the delusion he has built for himself. Remember when he attacked Carly Fiorina's appearance? He believes he is physically attractive enough to insult Carly Fiorina's appearance. "Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness," he once asked, "if I am not making mistakes?" (His first two wives might disagree.)

As for whether Trump is at all decent: He hasn't been caught on tape kicking puppies or telling small children Santa isn't real. He seems to love his kids, even if he's super creepy about it sometimes. But that's bare-minimum-to-be-called-human decency, not the stuff that Jesus preached in the Sermon on the Mount.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted," said Jesus; Trump wants to deport 11 million immigrants, gleefully breaking up families.

"Blessed are the peacemakers"; Trump wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth"; Trump bullies Jeb Bush into submission, calling him weak and constantly interrupting him like the world's most obnoxious big brother.

Trump is cruel to those around him and crueler in the policies he proposes. He claims the Bible is his favorite book (his own Art of the Deal a close second — seriously), but if he's ever cracked it open he certainly hasn't absorbed any of its important lessons.

The pope didn't name Trump or specifically question his Christianity. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian," Francis said. "This is not the gospel." And while conservatives Internet-outraged all over the Holy Father for questioning someone else's Christianity, we all know Trump's claims to be an evangelical Christian are laughable.

Do you honestly think Donald Trump has ever tried to spread the word? Can you imagine Donald Trump on his knees, supplicating to a God he believes has complete power over his life, asking to be saved? (Saved from what?, you can hear him asking. My billions of dollars? The greatest buildings in the world? My model wife?)

Pope Francis may not think much of Trump's religiosity, but the star of Celebrity Apprentice and his own sexual fantasies has managed to get his bona fides verified by a few choice evangelical stars. Like Trump, Sarah Palin and Jerry Falwell Jr. know something about entertaining a crowd, and they aren't shy about making their religion into a public performance. They claim Trump is Christian enough for them, and should be Christian enough for you — which reduces the meaning of their own religious beliefs to nearly nothing.

You don't have to be the Vicar of Christ to judge whether Trump is a practicing Christian; you just have to listen to what he says.


+94 # Gwalihir 2016-02-20 14:50
Jesus said: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven." Trump exemplifies every reason this is so. He is arrogant, crude, hateful, boastful, and attacks all around him without pity or remorse. If there is one principle which defined Jesus, it was forgivenness to all, even your enemies. This concept is so antithetical to Trump that the mere effort could make his head explode.

The Bible says do not judge, but it also says to be wiser than serpents. We cannot in good conscience support as "Christian" a man whose every action shouts otherwise.

Sadly, the Right has been reinterpreting "Christianity" for some time, somehow equating it to the exact opposities of Christ's teachings. In this environment, who knows? Even someone as brazen as Trump might fit in with what they call Christianity...
+74 # bmiluski 2016-02-20 18:17
Unfortunately, Gwalihir, you are very right. I have found, through experience, the most unchristian people I have met are the ones that profess their Christianity the loudest.
+22 # jsluka 2016-02-21 00:00
Te expand on Samual Johnson's classic edict, "Religion, along with patriotism, is the last refuge of scoundrels." But that Jesus fella was pretty cool. Too bad most Christians don't have anything in common with him.
+61 # Ralph 2016-02-20 15:05
Pick any religion and this guy isn't a worthy member. Religion thrives on community and creating a sense of membership. This maniacal ego maniac thinks only about himself. There isn't any religion or community in this man. Much like modern US, which explains his popularity.
+14 # vilstef 2016-02-20 23:41
Quoting Ralph:
Pick any religion and this guy isn't a worthy member. Religion thrives on community and creating a sense of membership. This maniacal ego maniac thinks only about himself. There isn't any religion or community in this man. Much like modern US, which explains his popularity.
The Dalai Lama says his religion is kindness, and I expect Pope Francis would agree with him.

Take a look at Trump's Magic Mirror of Narcissism and you will see only cruelty, pettiness and enough meanness to support several wars, which I'm sure he would be willing to start asap. Trump is a trainwreck and you know what they say about those.
+83 # Buddha 2016-02-20 17:43
"That which you do unto the least among you, you do unto Me". By this standard, most GOP "Christians" are in for a shocking surprise Judgement in the afterlife. I can see it now, them standing in front of St. Peter, as he reviews their desire to cut food stamps for hungry children, exclude the poor from healthcare, all in order for the rich to get richer.
+36 # Caliban 2016-02-20 18:25
The "afterlife"? I'd rather see Trump in this life dealing with the same judgement from voters.