Paul Ryan Denounces Republican Strategy

You may have heard that establishment Republicans are almost as terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency as the rest of us. And since they haven’t been able to stop him so far, they’re getting a bit desperate.
So today, Speaker Paul Ryan opened his mouth and said some words:

The Republican party does not prey on people’s prejudices—we appeal to their highest ideals.

Are you fucking kidding me? He would have us believe that he lives in this country, has managed to become Speaker of the House, and yet somehow has never paid attention to electoral politics in the last twenty-some years?

Republicans gave us the Willie Horton ad. They gave us “welfare queens”. They made “9/11” the most commonly-repeated phrase in several conventions.

Republicans were the ones screaming loudest that gay marriage would undermine religious liberty, destroy the family, and probably rain on your Fourth of July barbecue. Ditto gays in the military. And gay scout masters. And now the fearmongering about trans people in bathroom bills is all coming from the right.

Who kept accusing Barack Obama of not being American? Which party gave us “blah people”?

I understand that Ryan doesn’t want Trump to be president. But he’s the culmination of years and years of Republican divisiveness and fearmongering. They, as the saying goes, built that. Preying on people’s prejudices and fears is what Republicans do. Does Ryan really expect anyone to believe otherwise?

Bryan Fischer Needs to Make Up His Mind

One of my guilty pleasures is listening to Focal Point, the AM talk-radio show of famed anger-bear Bryan Fischer, a man so far right that even the AFA tried to distance itself from him.

In yesterday’s episode (which you can find at the show archive under Feb. 15, 2016, Hour 1), he made several points about Antonin Scalia, the recently-deceased Supreme Court justice who was so far to the right that even Fischer approved of him.

That Scalia is an irreplaceable genius who interpreted the constitution as the founders would have wanted.

That since Obama is in a position to nominate his replacement, the very future of our republic hangs by a thread. (Update, Feb. 17: See this column for a text version of Fischer’s apocalyptic fears.)

That the Supreme Court does not make law: it writes opinions. And while everyone’s entitled to an opinion, and while this opinion may be binding on the parties named in the suit, the rest of us are under no obligation to listen to them.


That the Senate still has to confirm anyone Obama nominates, and Mitch McConnell is just too spineless to stand up to القاعدة‎ the Base, those loyal AFA listeners who will demand that the Senate turn down anyone Obama nominates.

That Congress could simply pass a law reducing the number of Supreme Court justices, so that there’s no vacancy to be filled.

So for one thing, I’m sure that Obama doesn’t see this Republican-controlled Congress as a thread, but rather as a major roadblock.

For another thing, somehow the Supreme Court is both trivial, a constitutional afterthought that no one needs to pay attention to, but also so vitally important that a single Justice’s absence can spell the ruin of the nation. Maybe someone can call Fischer up and ask him to explain.

Now, I know that I tend to be pretty snarky here, but in this case, I’ve tried to represent Fischer’s views fairly, in a way that he would agree with. It’s just that he’s a walking, talking Poe. If anyone doubts me, feel free to listen to the show and correct me.

Apologetics of the Day: God Hides to Show He Exists

So I ran out of good podcast episodes, and was listening to The Mar. 18, 2014 episode of Bryan Fischer’s Focal Point (or, as George Orwell might have put it, the Two Hours’ Hate).

He started by railing against Bill Maher. For those who missed it, Fischer, along with the rest of right-wing America, got upset at Bill Maher for pointing out that the God of the Bible, the one who drowned every single person on earth, is a psychotic mass-murderer with anger issues. Apparently you’re not supposed to call attention to that.

On his show, Fischer pointed out the logical flaw in Maher’s reasoning by saying that he , and since God didn’t actually murder him right then and there, that proves that God is merciful and kind.

God allows Maher to continue living after saying these things, Fischer explained, is in order to give Maher an opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness.

“Bill Maher might have thought he was being hip and kind of trendy and kind of cool and all of that,” Fischer said, “but he is going to be judged for those careless words. God hopes it doesn’t come to that. God could, by all rights, take him right now and Bill Maher would have to face judgment by the end of the day. Why doesn’t He do that? Because He is patient with Bill Maher. He doesn’t want to have to do that. He wants to give Bill Maher the time to come to his senses and to come to a place of repentance

Yesterday, Fischer continued in this vein (starting around 2:31 in the podcast; dunno about the video):

[t]he reason that God doesn’t judge us the moment we commit a sin is because he is patient. He is kind, he doesn’t want to judge. He is slow to judge, but abounding — slow to anger, but abounding in loving kindness and mercy. And he is patient with all men because he wants all men to come to the knowledge of the truth. He doesn’t want any to perish. That’s his heart.

And so that’s what I explained about Bill Maher: why does God let Bill Maher get away with those kind of profane, blasphemous rants? Well, it’s because he loves him, and he’s extending patience to him and he is hoping that by giving Bill Maher enough time, he will come to the place of repentance. […] Just simply speaking Biblical truth about God’s heart toward those who are clearly his opponents, hostile to him, why he lets them get away with so much? Because he’s patient, does not want any to perish, wants all men, including Bill Maher, to come to the knowledge of the truth.

One thing I noticed is how Fischer tells us what God wants. Apparently the rule is that when God does something bad, like kill everyone in the world in a flood or fail to stop the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, you’re not allowed to say that God is a murderer, or indifferent, or like that; the “mysterious ways” rule applies. But when God does something good, like cure someone’s cancer or fail to reduce a talk show host to a pile of ashes, go ahead and talk to your heart’s content about what’s in God’s mind.

But mainly, I noticed that according to Fischer, the real reason God didn’t murder Bill Maher is because he wants Maher to “come to the knowledge of the truth”, i.e., that God exists. And so God didn’t do anything. Because what better way to show someone that you exist than by remaining hidden and not doing anything, just like a thing that doesn’t exist? That’s just logic theology.

Marriage Is a Punishment, Imply Defenders of Marriage

Marriage should be limited to unions of a man and a woman because they alone can “produce unplanned and unintended offspring,” opponents of gay marriage have told the Supreme Court.

By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans.

The LA Times calls this an “unusual defense” of marriage, which is a bit like calling the Pacific “moist”.

So the California Prop 8 trial has reached the Supreme Court, and apparently the anti-gay side’s lawyers have figured out that the “buttsecks is icky” and “Baby Jesus told me to hate you” lines of argument aren’t going to fly in a venue that has cross-examination (a legal term for “calling you on your bullshit”).

It is plainly reasonable for California to maintain a unique institution [referring to marriage] to address the unique challenges posed by the unique procreative potential of sexual relationships between men and women,” argued Washington attorney Charles J. Cooper, representing the defenders of Proposition 8. Same-sex couples need not be included in the definition of marriage, he said, because they “don’t present a threat of irresponsible procreation.

So what they’re saying is that the only reason the state has to have marriage in the first place is to provide unwanted and unplanned children with a stable environment. That if it weren’t for drunk guys shooting their cum up equally-drunk vaginas all over the place, no one would have to get married, shotgun or otherwise. So really, they’re doing the homos a favor by not imposing marriage on them, and all the nasty icky visitation rights and tax-filing status that come with it.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that this line of reasoning sophistry is so underpants-on-head retarded that it shows that the anti-gay-righs folks are running so low on arguments that they’ve scraped through the bottom of the barrel and are now serving up whatever they’ve found under the rocks below the barrel.

But the second thing was the stereotyping. They’re lumping me along with the irresponsible guys who get women pregnant and then refuse to take responsibility for their children. Me, and every guy who always carries a condom, just in case; every woman who makes sure she doesn’t get pregnant until she’s ready. Every mutually-infertile straight couple who use IVF or adopt children.

But even though I’m being insulted, I can’t even get that worked up about it. Because as Greta Christina points out, if they’re using this sort of argument, it’s because nothing else has worked, so they’re desperate. They’ve lost. But some of them haven’t realized that yet.

Woman Killed for Not Prostituting Herself

What is this I don’t even

Mah Gul, 20, was beheaded after her mother-in-law attempted to make her sleep with a man in her house in Herat province last week, provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada told AFP.

Gul was married to her husband four months ago and her mother-in-law had tried to force her into prostitution several times in the past, Sayedzada said.

The suspect, Najibullah, was paraded by police at a press conference where he said the mother-in-law lured him into killing Gul by telling him that she was a prostitute.

This story is so far outside my most cynical ideas about how the world works that all I can do is gape in idiotic incomprehension. What the fucking fuck?!

For one thing, you don’t force people to have sex with strangers for money. If Gul had chosen that path, that’d be one thing; but it’s not a choice you can make for someone else. Secondly, you don’t kill people for not prostituting themselves. That one seems kind of obvious, but apparently not obvious enough for some people. Thirdly, don’t behead people. Because fuck you with a meat cleaver, that’s why. Fourthly, if you’re pushing someone to become a prostitute, you don’t then get to tell people that she’s a prostitute and that that’s a bad thing. Again, apparently not obvious to Gul’s mother-in-law. Or else she took advantage of the two-for-one special on standards at the local bazaar.

This story is so horrific, I can’t imagine how any human being can think the way these people must have done. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

About That “House” Banner

You may recall that I sent mail to the church in Ireland that put up the banner shown here, and caused a fair amount of consternation. Today, I got the following reply:

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for taking the time to notice the sign and sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner as we received your mail during the week of prayer. I was surprised how fast the poster circulated on the net as we hadn’t put it on the web. This poster generated some discussion with strong views on both sides – Most really liked it as it generated discussion if read with the irony that was intended – others did not as they hold that is stating that there is no rational people in the Church – It is just one of a series of posters that was used to advertise a week of prayer in the parish between the 15th – 21st Oct and the intention was not to offend but to at least generate a discussion that would encourage people to come and find out for themselves!

I can assure you that the person who designed the poster was familiar with both the character, the series and also the sentiments that the character attached to the quote. Some who commented went as far to say that it “
was serving to make a mockery of the Christian faith”
as unfortunately the sentiment that is behind the quote is a real view that some people have of the Church and “religious” people. I do understand the characters beliefs although I would think that most that hold this view seem to do so without actual experience of
a faith community.

So the poster was an invitation to people to come and see for yourself if this is the case, a point that was not been lost on a number of others who commented on it.

Thanks again for your comments and the week of prayer was a terrific success, and a real experience of community, with a number of people (of all ages) coming along for the first time. Maybe the poster prompted a few to come along that may have never thought of coming?

Kind regards and God Bless

Frank Brown

So meh, decent idea, poor execution. Maybe the problem is that for a concept like this to work, the message should either explicitly say something like “Is this true? Come to our event and find out!”, or else it should be clearly wrong, like Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat: clearly he doesn’t mean that the planet Earth is pizza-shaped, so you have to read the book to find out what he means.

But in this case, the idea that people are religious for irrational reasons is not only plausible, it has been propounded by Christians like Ray Comfort (granted, not the best proponent of any idea, but still). So I’m putting this under “decent idea, poor execution”.

I Send Email

You may have seen this image floating around the web (also at Chez Hemant):

In case you don’t recognize the reference, it’s a photo of Hugh Laurie as Dr. Greg House, saying “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” For those who don’t know, House is not only an atheist, he’s also not shy about slamming religion, and never allows theists to get away with saying something stupid. I mention this in case someone thought maybe after the quote above, he went on to say something about the necessity of believing in transcendent spirituality because it’s psychologically true or some such nonsense. He didn’t. He wouldn’t.

So I don’t know what this church was thinking when it put up this banner. But I figure that the best way to find out would be to ask them. So I found a contact address on their web page and sent them mail:

Dear sir or madam,

There is a photo circulating on the Internet, purporting to show a banner outside Rathmine’s Parish, quoting the character House, from the TV show of the same name, saying “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there would be no religious people.” See!/bdbdbdbd/status/124582300972351488

First of all, may I ask whether this is correct? I have no reason to believe that the photo has been edited, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Secondly, if the photo is accurate, then I admit I am as puzzled as the person who posted it to Twitter. It seems to say that there are no good rational arguments for religious claims, and indeed that rational arguments point toward the falsehood of religious claims. Certainly that is what the character meant in the show.

So may I ask why Rathmine’s Parish would display this? Is there some secondary meaning I’m not seeing?

Thank you,

We’ll see what kind of response I get, if any. It’s been two days, and so far I haven’t heard back.

Update, Oct. 28, 2011: I’ve heard back.


Maggie Gallagher writes at NOM:

The tiny number of liberal northeastern states that have embraced gay marriage tend to have high per capita incomes, because they are much older, supporting fewer children, and much whiter, and better educated than average. They are older in part because with so little job growth, young adults with families move elsewhere, most likely to a southern state with a marriage amendment that enjoys more robust economic growth.

So, um, yeah. Apparently marriage equality kills jobs, resulting in higher per-capita income and better education. And also somehow whiteness and olditude.

I’d like to say the homophobes are scraping the bottom of the barrel, but as with creationists, every time I’ve thought that, I’ve been proven wrong.

ID and the 2LoT

I keep hearing from cdesign proponentsists that ID is not creationism. That ID is totally a scientific theory with predictions and everything that they’d love to show except the dog ate their lab notes the mean old bourgeois scientific establishment is suppressing the truth.

And then Bill Dembski posts this:

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has never been a friend of materialistic evolution. Granville Sewell’s arguments concerning it at the following two links are worth pondering:

Link 1: from the book IN THE BEGINNING

Link 2: video presentation “A Mathematician’s View of Evolution”

You can read the preface (PDF) of the Disco Tute’s latest emesis, in which Granville Sewell writes:

The origin and development of life seem to violate the second law of thermodynamics in a clear and spectacular way; however, such arguments are routinely dismissed by saying that the second law does not apply to open systems, such as the Earth. The author counters this idea with the tautology that “if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable.”

Sewell either doesn’t understand the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, or he’s deliberately lying.

Perhaps the most layman-friendly version of the 2LoT is

Heat generally cannot flow spontaneously from a material at lower temperature to a material at higher temperature.

Right now, I’m sipping a drink with ice cubes in it. How did those ice cubes form? I started out with water at room temperature (say, about 20°C). My freezer then “sucked” the heat out of the water, bringing it to 15°C, then 10°C, then finally 0°C when it froze. And where did that heat go? Into the room.

You can test this for yourself: go stand by the back of a fridge, or an air conditioner, and you’ll feel that the air coming out is slightly warmer than the ambient air.

In other words, what my freezer does is move heat from a material at lower temperature (the water) to a material at higher temperature (the air in the room).

But note that the 2LoT says “spontaneously”. That’s a key word. The only reason my freezer works is that it’s getting electrical energy from the wall socket. If you put water into a freezer that hasn’t been plugged in, it’s never going to spontaneously freeze, any more than water will spontaneously go uphill.

But it’s possible to pull heat out of a colder object and into a warmer one using a freezer, just as it’s possible to move water uphill using a pump. But both of these come at a cost: you have to keep adding energy into the system. If you pyt a small amount of energy into your pump, you can move a small amount of water uphill; if you want to move a lot of water uphill, you need to put more energy into the pump. Ditto with freezers. It’s possible to freeze Lake Michigan in a week, but not with a common household freezer.

Sewell’s rebuttal to people who actually know what the fuck they’re talking about is:

if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable.

That “something [which] is entering” is sunlight. If I put my freezer inside a capsule (insulated against heat loss) at 20°C, then shoot the capsule into space, and put water in the ice tray in the freezer, it’ll never turn into ice.

But if I then hook the freezer up to a solar panel, and point the panel at the sun, then yes, the freezer will cool the water and heat up the rest of the capsule. But then the capsule is no longer a closed system, since energy from sunlight is entering it. And thus, something that’s very very improbable (read: impossible) in a closed system becomes possible in an open system.

In fact, that’s what photosynthesis is: plants take energy from sunlight, and use it to force CO2 and water molecules together against their wish, to make sugar molecules. The sugars can then be broken up to release energy where it’s needed. It’s like using a solar panel to charge batteries that can then be used wherever they’re needed.

I’ll leave you with Sewell’s conclusion, a dumb-bomb of such potent moronicity that it ought to be banned by international arms treaties:

The conclusion: “If we found evidence that DNA, auto parts, computer chips, and books entered through the Earth’s atmosphere at some time in the past, then perhaps the appearance of humans, cars, computers, and encyclopedias on a previously barren planet could be explained without postulating a violation of the second law here. But if all we see entering is radiation and meteorite fragments, it seems clear that what is entering through the boundary cannot explain the increase in order observed here.”


If you’ve been following the ID movement for any time, you know that the group they try to publicly distance themselves from the most, after Darwiniacs, are other creationists, especially young-earthers.

So you’ll understand my surprise when I saw this come in on the ID the Future podcast feed:

On this episode of ID the Future, Casey Luskin examines a new peer-reviewed paper that demolishes a very common and very fallacious objection to intelligent design. That objection? “Aren’t there vast eons of time for evolution?”

I haven’t listened to it, so it’s possible that the blurb is misleading (it wouldn’t be the first time a creationist wrote something misleading). But are they so starved for peer-reviewed papers that they’ll even take something that seems to support YECism?