Theocracy Alert: LGBT students forced to read bible as punishment

No doubt human beings read the Christian bible for various reasons whether it is to learn how to live according to Stone and Bronze Age sensibilities in the 21st Century, or to verify that America’s bastardized version of the faith is founded on fantastical lies, or for academic studies into archaic mythology and superstition. For some people it is probable that reading the Christian bible is sheer torture, and it may explain why an Oregon school forced LGBTQ students to read Christian bible scriptures as punishment.

First, although America officially began lurching towards becoming an evangelical theocracy shortly before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, it is still patently unconstitutional to insert any religion into public education – regardless what “preacher” Pence or Education Secretary and evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos believe. It almost certainly occurs often but is hardly reported for a couple of reasons. Either because victims are terrified of the theocrats, or because there are far too many evangelical extremists in power who regularly flout the U.S. Constitution by inserting and promoting some form of the Christian religion in public schools they refuse to accept or believe that their Christian bible is not the Constitution and ultimate law of the land and they will inflict damage on anyone claiming otherwise.

It is noteworthy that the evangelical extremists who reject the Constitution as heretical also believe that the Constitution imparts religious liberty authorizing evangelicals to single out women and members of the LGBTQ community for “special treatment” regardless of equal rights laws or federal protections against discrimination. Of course it is abominable and contrary to the Constitution to discriminate against any American, but to discriminate against gay students and then use the Christian bible for punishment in the public schools would be criminal if America wasn’t creeping towards theocracy.

In a rural region about 200 miles from Portland Oregon the North Bend School District is facing what are being termed “serious discrimination” charges for “forcing at least one LGBTQ student to read the Christian bible as punishment.” The discrimination aspect entails allegations that the district singles out LGBT students for  “separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment;” such as a school administrator “forcing LGBT students to read the Christian bible while they were being disciplined.

Of course the district, and likely the culprits, summarily denied the allegations because like all common criminal they knew they were violating more than a few rules. However, it seems certain that at some juncture someone in authority actually scanned the Old Testament and read “Number Nine” of the BIG Ten Commandments prohibiting lying under pain of death. Possibly then the theocrat using their bible for punishment realized they were courting death according to Old Testament rules if they continued lying. The administrator in question, although not contrite, confessed to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) investigators that the allegations were indeed true. It also was revealed that another teacher was reported as equating same-sex marriage to marrying a dog — during taxpayer-funded public school lessons.

Part of the Oregon Department of Education investigation is whether the “forced Bible reading violated the student’s First Amendment rights, including the Establishment Clause which recognizes the separation of church and state.” Obviously, any introduction of religion in public school violates the Constitution, so there is no question that punishment by bible is a serious violation; obviously forcing any student to read it is violating the students’ rights.

The ODE letter to North Bend School District Superintendent Bill Yester said in part:

There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment… The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred.”

Coos Bay World provided excerpts from a “detailed account” of the three primary allegations lodged against the district.

Under the matter of “using the bible as punishment,” the ODE noted that:

The District allegedly treated students differently on the basis of sex and sexual orientation when imposing discipline.”

The district also “failed to respond to sexual harassment complaints when those complaints were made by LGBTQ students.”

And finally, “District  failed to take appropriate action to remedy a hostile environment after complaints had been made by LGBTQ students alleging that students and district staff had sexually harassed other students.” (author bold)

This incident should raise myriad red flags and incite outrage about the increasing imposition of religion occurring at the state and federal level, but it has not. It is likely increasing because at one time only an evangelical extremist would disagree that using the Bible for anything in the public schools violates the First Amendment; now the minority die-hard evangelical extremists run the government as an extension of their version of “the Church” in a burgeoning evangelical theocracy.

Under Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, educators cannot use the Bible as a moral authority in public schools because it is an “establishment of religion” that violates the separation between church and state. The concept of separating church and state, although enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution is an abomination and “unconstitutional” according most religious right fanatics, including Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions.

The ODE’s letter to the District also noted that one school counselor the students appealed to for assistance faced retaliation from the district officials after he began advocating for LGBTQ students. The counselor said:

These students have required quite a bit of support, but luckily they have some good family and friends. A lot of students who have been involved didn’t come forward or remained anonymous so it’s two main students who spearheaded the appeal. They had the courage to do this.”

No-one should be surprised at this latest imposition of religion in the public school system, or that LGBTQ students have been singled out and “openly discriminated against and forced to read the Christian bible” both as a form of punishment and to “demean LGBTQ students.” There is a crusade at the federal level to force evangelical teaching on public school students as the be all, end all “national moral authority,” as well as to inculcate America’s youth into the superstitious worldview of bigots according to a religion.

Another aspect of this atrocity in a secular nation is that, save a few local and regional media outlets, this all-too-common story has been woefully under-reported, if reported at all. That dearth of reporting is part and parcel of why evangelical extremists, religious right activists, and Republicans nationwide continue flouting the Constitution with veritable impunity. Sadly, although they only make up a minority of the population, the evangelical theocrats now co-own the federal government with the Kochs and corporations and if Republicans are not thrown out of power quickly, this particular incident is going to be a regular occurrence. And if the Christian Dominionists achieve their goal, it will not be unconstitutional, it will be the law of the land and reporting it as discrimination will be a crime.

Image: Patheos

Trump’s Shutdown Threat Reveals the Depth of His Contempt for the People

It is nearly impossible to believe that there are very many Americans remaining who fail to see the abject disaster of allowing a fake wrestling and reality show personality inside the White House. Of course Trump has supporters, but one seriously wants to believe the data that white supremacists {racists} and evangelical extremists (religious right) still represent a minority of the population; it is difficult to quantify the “stupid” contingent that do not fall into either of those categories, but it has to be under 50 percent of the population. After Trump’s outrageous statement last weekend, it is nearly impossible to believe anyone fails to see Trump as dangerously disastrous.

There was an interesting op-Ed in the Washington Post asking, “Does Trump operate out of any conception of what’s in the public interest?”

It is an easy to answer query, and it is a question that applies equally to the Republican Party; the GOP exists solely to advance the interests of the rich and the religious with no regard for “the public interest.”

Trump’s statement that he is looking ahead to September to “close down America” if Congress doesn’t bend to his will certainly insinuates that no, Trump has no “interest” in what is good for America or the people. It is not, as the WaPo piece suggests, that Trump is “incapable” of considering the good of the people or the country; he just has no regard for anyone but himself.

No doubt Trump was serious in threatening to “close down the country” if his Republican underlings in Congress fail to provide funding to build a Berlin Wall-type barrier along America’s Southern border. In fact, it is not a stretch to assume that Trump would in fact “close down America” if he was able, but it is not within his purview according to the document he dismisses as “archaic” and not applicable to him or his administration.

Obviously, someone in the White House informed Trump that regardless of what the voices in his head tell him, America is not one of his bankrupt hotels, at least not yet; he cannot just unilaterally close down the government if his perceived employees in Congress fail to do his bidding. Trump almost certainly meant he would impose a “government shutdown” as demanded by his minders at Fox News to facilitate punishing the American people if he doesn’t get his vanity project and monument to America’s xenophobia and isolationism.

Since he would require assistance from Congress, Trump could not possibly make an outrageous threat without lying; including using alternative facts sourced directly from his juvenile mind. Seriously, it is difficult to recollect any time in American history that a “president” White House resident threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get his way, but then again Americans never allowed a petulant racist bastard take up occupancy in the White House.

Trump was speaking to a group during a tax reform roundtable in Ohio and as usual he was in the process of attacking Democrats “during a riff about border security” and just offered up a typically Trump idea. He said Americans should begin thinking about “closing up the country” if he doesn’t get his way. He said:

They don’t want the wall, but we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while. We’re going to get the wall. We have no choice. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country.”

To show he was serious Trump repeated the idea of closing down the nation and he naturally lied about what he claims is the existential threat to the nation without a Berlin-type wall. He reiterated just how far he is willing to go and how much misery and damage he can inflict on the American people to get his way and sate the white supremacists, xenophobes, and isolationists who demand a whites-only nation. He said:

And we may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don’t. And you can’t allow people to pour into our country the way they’re doing. We come up again on Sept. 28 and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country.” (author bold)

Trump naturally lied about immigration to defend shutting down the government, and of course his mendacity entailed fear mongering about a massive increase in Hispanic immigrants threatening America as a nation and the white people as a race. One even wonders if very many Americans are aware of the Berlin Wall Trump envisions for America; particularly since a frighteningly inordinate number of people are unaware of the Holocaust.

The truth is that immigration has been on the decline for well over a decade, and two years ago a new trend was reported; more Mexicans are fleeing America than are entering. In fact, exactly a day prior to Trump’s threat to close the country amid his own dire warning that America’s “Southern border is under siege,” Trump’s administration released  statistics showing that undocumented immigration was in line with historical norms that represent a steady decline of Hispanic immigrants; not an invasion and certainly not a dangerous surge.

Although Trump has made immigrants a target for ages, he began ramping up his nasty rhetoric about an hour after watching a Fox and Friends segment reporting on an annual publicity stunt to bring attention to the refugee crisis in Central America; what Fox News convinced Trump was an invasion force consisting of “a small migrant army marching toward the United States.” There is a fair explanation of what the annual “human rights demonstration” entails here; only Trump and his advisory committee at Fox News could possibly conflate the “demonstration” with an invasion force.

One House Democrat, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), echoed the sentiment of any sane American at the news that Trump threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get his way. Ms. Jayapal said:

“[Trump] is absolutely out of his mind to think that is any kind of a reasonable solution for our economy or compassion or in line with our values. This President [Trump] has done everything he can every time he’s in trouble to turn around and try to turn it against immigrants, and it really deeply saddens me.”

Despite everything Trump says about immigrants, the real threat to Americans is the filthy lying racist living in the White House. The  one who appears ready and willing to burn down the country, or at least “shut it down,” until his employees in Congress hand over taxpayer dollars for Trump’s vanity wall.

It is likely that the same xenophobes who have supported him since his poorly attended inauguration, and his minders at Fox News, cheered his threat to “close America for a while” if he can’t get what he wants; no matter the damage to the nation’s economy and the people.

Despite what the WaPo op-ed proffered, there is not a question of whether Trump has any concern for the public interest, because he has none. The prescient question is how much damage will Republicans allow him to inflict on them if he doesn’t get what he wants.

DeVos Has a Plan To Force Taxpayers to Fund Religious Schools

For many Americans hearing incompetent Education Secretary and  evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos’ name is tantamount to having their eyeballs gouged out with a rusted salad fork. For Americans concerned about educating the next generation to live and compete in the 21st Century, DeVos represents a clear and present danger to the nation as it has existed since its inception.

It is no secret that DeVos hates the public school system for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is that they are not taxpayer funded evangelical madrassas and they do not yet exist to enrich her wealthy cohorts in the corporate private and religious school movement. In fact, DeVos was disappointed to learn that because the federal government does not contribute nearly as much education funding to states as she believed, she is unable to impose her evangelical agenda on states’ public schools as Education Secretary. Now she has a solution to complete her task of using taxpayer money to propagandize American children in America’s bastardized version of Christianity.

For a reminder, DeVos clearly stated that her goal in running Trump’s Education Department is shaping the culture “to advance god’s kingdom.” And she fully intends to force American taxpayers to fund her effort as part of a larger Christian Dominionist movement to restore Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution by 2020. While Americans have been ignoring the warnings and real threat out of fear of offending “the faithful,” theocrats have been systematically setting the stage to reach their 2020 target date and DeVos’ actions are a crucial part of the plan.

DeVos’ effort entails redefining corporate charter and private religious schools as “public” to legally funnel taxpayer dollars away from “non-religious” and “non-profit” public schools directly to her friends in the religious and charter school movement. DeVos exposed her devious machination during a meeting of 50 teachers of the year during her response to concerns that her anti-public school agenda is already damaging public schools.

DeVos revealed her “plan” during a private visit when she asked the country’s “top teachers” to describe the obstacles they face in doing their jobs. At least one of the teachers had the courage to speak the truth and he told the public school enemy that many of her policies are damaging public education. In particular, Oklahoma’s teacher of the year, Jon Hazell, questioned her unconstitutional policy of using “taxpayer money meant for public education to fund private, mostly religious schools.” Mr. Hazell said:

We have a problem where public money is siphoned off from the public schools and given to children who are going to [corporate] charter and private [religious] schools.”

Mr. Hazell said DeVos’ immediate response was shocking. She told the gathered public school teachers that her intent was to redefine “what education is and declare all of it ‘public’ education.” The reason is clearly to legally fund religious, private and corporate charter schools, all for profit, with money stolen from public schools.

Another “teacher of the year” from Pennsylvania, Michael Soskil Sr., confirmed Mr. Hazell’s account of the exchange and like Mr. Hazell, he was stunned saying:

“One of the things that was so stark and memorable in that exchange was . . . SecretaryDeVos trying to redefine what the word ‘public’ is. It was almost like Orwellian double-speak to me.”

Most Americans are aware that DeVos is more of a “know-nothing” than her boss Trump, particularly about the public education system, and that she is a filthy rich member of the upper echelon of the richest one-percent. But she is also a raving evangelical theocrat desperate to eviscerate the public school system to fund private, for-profit, religious schools. The only reasonable assessment of DeVos is that she is a “radical Christian extremist intent on using America’s public school system to ‘advance god’s kingdom;” and she is on a mission to force American taxpayers to fund her theocratic crusade.

One of the reasons DeVos is so enamored with private religious and charter schools is she relishes using taxpayer dollars to discriminate against gays, the disabled and women according to “the sensibilities” of the conservative Christian movement. In fact, DeVos is very upset that there is no federal taxpayer money to fund private religious and charter schools. so her plan is making them “public” to rob taxpayer dollars.

When DeVos was queried about her intent to spend taxpayer dollars on evangelical madrassas, an intent that is patently unconstitutional, she said:

There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the [theocratic] need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.”

DeVos has made no secret that, in her evangelical mind, the pressing need in the public schools system is more Christianity, more god, more prayer and more archaic mythology disguised as science. And since filthy rich evangelicals like her are unwilling to pay tuition for idiot parents that demand religious indoctrination for their offspring, DeVos is more than willing to “destroy public education and use public school funds to advance her dreams of a Christian theocracy.”

There are already many Republican controlled states that are funneling money meant for public schools to private religious and charter schools that are for-profit. And although it is patently unconstitutional, the religious Republicans want to use all federal education money to inculcate American children according to their evangelical form of Christianity.

DeVos, like all of Trump’s people, took a “so help me god” oath of office and swore to her god that she would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States … without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me god.”

Instead, DeVos is purposely defying the document she swore to uphold and defend by going to extreme measures to force Americans to pay for “advancing god’s kingdom” in the “public schools.

This idea of using the federal government to extract money from taxpayers to “continue advancing god’s kingdom” is an abomination, and in no small measure the blame is on the media and Democrats who are still terrified of even mentioning that DeVos’ “school choice” nonsense, or attacks on women’s reproductive rights, or blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community are borne of theocrats pushing their religion on the population as if it is the law of the land.

At this juncture it is apparent that the Dominionist movement attempting to create a theocratic government is perilously close to reaching fruition by the movement’s 2020 target date. And it is worth noting that once the theocrats have succeeded, Americans will lose the right to criticize the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to advance the kingdom of god.

There are no winners in Trump’s Iran move – except Netanyahu

Since his poorly attended inauguration, Trump has demonstrated that America can never be trusted to keep its word and as of Tuesday, that Israel is dictating America’s Middle East foreign policy. It was no surprise to anyone that Trump broke America’s word again by pulling out of a multinational agreement with Iran because it prevented the war that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dreams about – America versus Iran.

Trump has made America as untrustworthy as he is by exiting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Paris Climate Accord and threatening to pull out of NAFTA. And he just recently reneged on the budget deal he signed because it failed to take food and healthcare away from children and other vulnerable Americans. If he disagreed with the budget Congress sent him, then he should have vetoed it, but he didn’t.

At this juncture, no nation, or American citizen, should ever trust this government again because America’s word and commitment to anything is as worthless and deceitful as the villain in the White House. If that were not the case, the United States Congress would do its Constitutional duty and put a stop to Trump.

Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he would reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil sector that had been lifted as part of the P5+1 nuclear agreement immediately violated America’s obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump claimed that “we cannot prevent an Iranian bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement;” so he deliberately violated the agreement — effectively withdrawing from the “deal.”  What that means is Trump will impose “secondary sanctions” as if the agreement doesn’t exist. And like everything Trump does, it will adversely affect America’s allies as much or more than it does the country that has kept is word by not violating any terms of the agreement – Iran.

The problem with “secondary sanctions” is that they do not directly impact Iran. Instead, they will “punish“ international banks that were doing business with Iran’s oil sector, and cut off access to United States’ markets for third parties that still want to work with Iran because they are complying with “the agreement.”

This “punishment” is all on Trump who is negatively impacting America and its allies to sate the warmonger and corrupt Israeli Prime Minster –  Ben Netanyahu. It is almost certain that Netanyahu had a  waking nocturnal emission when he learned that Trump obeyed his demand to violate America’s obligation under the international deal – all to bring Netanyahu closer to realizing his dream scenario of America waging war against Iran.

As a few experts have noted, since this was an “international” deal involving 6 nations and Iran, Trump reneging on America’s behalf does not necessarily mean the deal is dead. In fact, if Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China do not reimpose their own sanctions, Iran will still have more access to international markets than prior to signing the agreement. And it is noteworthy that the other nations in the deal have been opposed to Trump’s decision giving Iran even more impetus to stay in compliance with the deal and avoid irritating the five nations that do not violate international agreements to satisfy Israel, America’s warmongers and the all-powerful military industrial complex.

What is curious, and telling, is that Trump did not attempt to present evidence that Iran was not complying with its obligations under the agreement.  That is probably because Trump’s people,  and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly confirmed that Iran is complying with all of its obligations under the deal. Unlike Trump’s America, Iran has stayed true to fulfilling its commitment from the outset; a fact the other P5+1 nations have independently verified over and over again. In fact, even the two countries that support Trump’s decision to violate the agreement, Israel and Saudi Arabia, could not come up with any evidence that Iran is violating the deal. Still, Israeli leader Netanyahu celebrated Trump as “courageous” for making an “historic move” by violating an international agreement that was over two years in the making.

Trump claims that according to his “perception of the deal,” all of the provisions are not permanent and some ‘sunset’ in 10 , 15, and 20 years; except that all-important provision forbidding the Islamic Republic from ever developing and building a nuclear weapon. Trump also claims the nuclear agreement does not punish Iran for its ballistic missiles or supporting insurgents in other countries like America has historically done as a matter of course. Trump fully intended to do Netanyahu’s bidding no matter there is no evidence Iran is violating the agreement, and to ensure he does not have to be reminded that Iran is in full compliance, Trump systematically removed members of his inner circle who thought America should preserve a semblance of trust among the world’s nations and stay in the deal.

Trump’s recent termination of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom thought the US should stay in the deal, was the confirmation that Trump was going to do as Netanyahu demanded and prove that America cannot be trusted. Trump brought teabagger Mike Pompeo and warmonger John Bolton on board because both are renowned Iran hawks who opposed the deal simply because it prevented what Netanyahu wants more than anything; America at war with Iran. Interestingly, less than a month ago Pompeo reported that Iran was in full compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Trump removed the reasonable members of his administration and surrounded himself with yes men to support what is being called “one of the most consequential decisions of his tenure [as an unworthy occupant] in the White House.”

It is a mystery why Trump allows Defense Secretary James Mattis to stay on the job because just last week he defended and praised the Iran deal even as Trump continued to “bash the multinational agreement” as “the worst deal ever made.” Mr. Mattis told a Senate Armed Services Committee that the deal contained provisions with robust oversight on everything Iran is doing to ensure the Iranians could not cheat.

Trump is putting America in a precarious position in global affairs going forward because by now no sane leader can trust the United States ever again; especially now that Israel is officially dictating America’s foreign and war policy as it relates to the Middle East. Netanyahu has made every effort to sabotage the deal both covertly and in plain sight because he wants America to go to war with Iran; and Trump desperately wants Netanyahu to like him. However, when America does goes to war with the Islamic Republic, it will be on dirty Donald Trump, not Netanyahu, and it will be because America violated a multinational agreement, not Iran.

It is as much a travesty that Trump is successfully creating America in his deceitful and corrupt image as he is willfully causing economic distress for America and its allies. As most observers have noted, Trump or his warmongers have no “plan B” if Iran does not stay in the deal with the other nations except  for war. A war the neo-cons have lusted for as long as Netanyahu has asked them to.

There have been myriad reasons to be ashamed of America over the past year-and-a-half, but none of them are remotely as disastrous as knowing America deliberately violated an international agreement as a prelude to another Middle East war. And this one, like George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, serves the whims of another corrupt foreign leader who is effectively directing America’s Middle East foreign policy towards the war Netanyahu has coveted for over a decade.

Evangelical Extremists Freak Out Over “Unholy” Yoga in Schools

It really is tragic that America is home to an inordinate number of both religious extremist and stupid people, and not solely because they installed an ignorant and corrupt fascist in the White House. Actually, one could comport a nation of ignoramuses and religious radicals if they kept to themselves, and if their Republican facilitators would cease pandering to what is a growing threat to the rest of the population. However, without the ridiculously stupid sect and religious extremist cult, Republicans would not be in power and America would not be in danger of becoming the West’s version of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

As has been the case since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, there is yet another in a long list of signs that the evangelical malcontents are crusading to make America great by attacking anything unrelated to advancing their filthy version of the religion. Religious extremist have once again attacked a public school over a program designed specifically to help students succeed and prosper. It is beyond question that the only “problem” with this specific “program” is that it does not entail imposing evangelical god-prayers or inculcating students with an Old Testament mindset as part of public education.

The outrage among some Christians in a Maryland public school district is the addition of a locally produced program in recorded video format known as the daily “Mindfulness Moment.” The program was created solely to  “help young students calm themselves both physically and mentally, and thereby help them focus on their schoolwork.” As an extension of the school’s daily announcements, “the students participate in a mini 6-10 minute mindfulness and yoga session to help them positively start off their day.”

As has occurred in a few other states, the stupid and the religious, a nasty combination in any situation, went ballistic at the idea of students not being forced to “focus on all things god.” Seriously, one comment on the school’s Facebook page demonstrates the epitome of stupid and religious extremism. The outraged “Christian” wrote:

“THIS IS COMPLETE LAST DAYS DECEPTION! There is nothing wrong with stretching, or being still to focus on your day, but yoga takes it another step further. There are spirits invited in by focusing on things not of God … there is an unholy Spirit behind it. If this is allowed in school, than (SIC) Jesus must be allowed to be enjoyed in school also.”

The furor prompted the school to set up an approval meeting with four local preachers; the school principal, the district superintendent, the school guidance counselor and two women leading the program attended to defend their effort to assist the students. It is likely that school officials were attempting to show the “faithful” that unlike in Sunday School, the children were not being compelled to listen to archaic mythos about god to frighten them into submission. The result was the school changed the word “yoga” to “stretching” to comfort the stupid Christians who complained because they believe “yoga” is an “unholy”  religion, and nearly as Satanic as meditation. It is noteworthy that meditation is mentioned often in “god’s immutable” word in the Christian bible.

To get an idea where the radically stupid faithful get the idea that yoga or meditation are unholy religions implemented to “invite unholy spirits” in, one of the four preachers monitoring the program issued a statement prior to preaching about how horribly dangerous yoga is. Daryl McCready is the pastor of SonRise Church, and he posted a statement about the observational experience on his church’s Facebook page. He wrote:

Our meeting went well and the Superintendent of the Board of Ed, the Principal of the school, the Guidance Counselor, and the two ladies leading the new program met with myself and the other three pastors. Everyone was kind and respectful of one another and the meeting went well. I am not sure yet what the result will be but they said they understood our concern. It was clear that everyone wanted the best for the children though we may differ about what that is.”

Despite eradicating the word “yoga” from the program to satisfy the preachers’ demands, McCready gave a sermon with a different tone about the “program,” or acknowledging that the school, principal, superintendent, and guidance counselor submitted to the will of the preachers who were terrified of the unholy word “yoga.” McCready spent no small amount of time “denouncing practices like yoga and reiki as teaching a false equivalence between humanity and divinity. Christians are being deceived!”

It is true Christians are being deceived and this author has spent the past two-and-a-half decades opining in print and digital media that as the Christian bible warns, false prophets (clergy) are deceiving the imbeciles under their control. This is not the first time evangelical zealots have raised holy Hell over the public schools they claim are using Satan’s religion yoga to destroy Christianity and crush the “holy spirit” children learn at home and in church.  If those evangelicals were not so ridiculously stupid they would comprehend how absurd their claims are about an exercise.

Yoga, like reiki, is not a religion. And there damn sure is no stinking divinity involved in either practice. Yoga is an exercise with several minor variations according to the particular “style” being practiced, and in twenty-plus years as a practicing yogin, this author can attest that divinity” never entered the picture. And reiki is a well-documented pseudoscience, like chiropractic therapy, with no measurable, medical or scientific value whatsoever; except whatever placebo effect easily manipulated ignoramuses experience.

It is noteworthy that this opposition borne of ignorance and extreme religiosity is not shared by all faiths, including Christians. There is an entire network of Christians who practice yoga and this author personally knows two Christian pastors who are dedicated yogins. One of the preachers explained that even in her congregation, ignorant people are easily swayed by extremists they see on television leading them to criticize her for being a yoga practitioner. Obviously, this issue is the purview of a minority of extremists who curiously control much of the public agenda because politicians are too frightened to dare challenge a small religious minority’s power over the majority.

Look, if radical evangelical parents do not want their progeny participating in “yoga,” then they should take their children and enroll them in the nearest Christian madrasa, but at their own expense. If that is not acceptable, then they should humiliate their children by forcing them to explain that they are forbidden from participating in yoga because of the scary unholy spirits. However, either of those options will not force the rest of the students to stop participating or compel the school to allow the evangelicals abolish yoga entirely and force all students to “enjoy Jesus in school.”

This incident is a portent of the state of America going forward with an administration Hell-bent on allowing a radical religious minority to control all aspects of public life. It is worth restating that if America was not home to an inordinate number of stupid people and religious extremists, the nation would not be lurching towards a theocratic coup d’état and Trump would not be living in a place a dirty fascist has no right visiting.

“Wrong” Kind of Christian Chaplain Fights Back and Rescinds Resignation

As America continues its abominable spiral towards a dominionist theocracy, the news that some members of the House were angry at Speaker Paul Ryan for forcing out the “wrong” kind of Christian as House Chaplain was somewhat surprising. It is not shocking that Ryan forced the “wrong” kind of Christian out of his position; only an ignoramus is unaware that there is a “purity” movement in the religious Republican movement. What is curious is that both Democrats and some Republicans were “upset” as if Ryan’s move took them by surprise.

The minor furor last week was over Ryan unilaterally “firing” the Reverend Patrick Conroy, the highly-respected Jesuit House chaplain and warmly-regarded spiritual counselor to members of Congress. There are conflicting reports, and conjecture about why Ryan forced Reverend Conroy out, but it seems relatively clear what prompted Ryan’s action. Unwilling at first to cause any more conflict, the obedient servant Reverend Conroy succumbed to Ryan’s pressure and submitted his resignation.

That action vexed a bipartisan group of House members who demanded that Ryan explain his justification for what is certainly a rare move. In a letter to Ryan, the bipartisan group of House representatives wrote:

We are seeking additional information regarding your decision to request the resignation of Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the House of Representatives. The sensitive nature of this situation requires a description of the process followed to arrive at the decision and a justification for that decision.”

One Republican who was particularly revolted at Ryan’s action, Representative Peter King (R-NY), told reporters:

“To be the first House chaplain to be removed in the history of Congress, in the middle of a term, raises serious questions. I think we deserve more of an explanation of why. Was there political pressure?

To answer Mr. King’s question; of course there was  “pressure,. But it was not necessarily “political pressure;” it was theocratic pressure. And it surrounds two specific “incidents” that devotees of America’s bastardized version of Christianity are not going to comport in their Christian Dominionist theocracy.

However now, the Reverend Conroy is not going to comport being “pressured out” and on Thursday he rescinded his resignation. As Conroy noted, in agreement with a gang of Democrats and Republicans, he did not do anything wrong and expects any action taken against him to be done correctly; no matter the outrage from evangelicals for being the “wrong kind of Christian.

Ryan and the Republicans’ evangelical caucus took umbrage at Reverend Conroy’s prayer appealing for members of Congress to follow the “structure” of the nation that guarantees equity for all Americans; including those who are “struggling.”  It is noteworthy that Mr. Conroy was also appealing to members of Congress, primarily religious Republican members, to follow mythological Jesus Christ’s teaching to help all people, especially “those who continue to struggle.”

After a few years on the job, Reverend Conroy was aware that Republicans intended on heaping more wealth on the rich at the expense of “those who are struggling” under the guise of “tax reform.” He likely hoped a “prayerful” appeal might convince some religious Republicans to harken to Christ’s teachings about helping those who are struggling. It was a valiant effort, but Republicans are never going to consider the plight of any American who is not rich and they damn sure are not going to abide a Chaplain appealing to them as Christians.

It is glaringly apparent that Paul Ryan and his heretical evangelical cohorts are apostates to the “Christianity” Jesus preached; they are fierce adherents of “prosperity gospel” that particularly targets “those who are struggling” to enrich the already wealthy. Even atheists and agnostics are likely aware that the mythical Jesus of the Christian bible spent the majority of his time preaching that helping those who are struggling at any cost is paramount to being a “follower of Christ.”

The prayer that offended Paul Ryan and his band of evangelical heretics occurred during last November’s tax reform debate and included an appeal for members of Congress to be fair and consider the plight of all Americans – including those who are suffering. Reverend Conroy prayed thusly:

“Bless the members of this assembly as they set upon the work of these hours, of these days.  Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great nation.

As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Ryan was irritated over the prayer and bluntly told Reverend Conroy, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”

If a Christian prayer for fairness for Americans who “continue to struggle” is wrong, then mythological Jesus Christ was a criminal of epic proportions. If Paul Ryan or any prosperity gospel devotees had ever opened their New Testament, they would be well aware that Reverend Conroy was not being political – he was being a “follower of Christ” who commanded his disciples to teach and preach about helping those who are struggling.

Ryan said  that “a few” Republicans complained that they wanted “a more active Pastor.” No doubt a few Republicans complained that Reverend Conroy prayed like a “Christian” by appealing to Republicans to consider the plight of “those who are struggling.”

It is noteworthy that he also did the unthinkable in the GOP’s aspiring Christian theocracy by inviting a Muslim to offer a prayer. However, it is almost certain the real issue was the Christian clergyman calling for consideration for those who are struggling – something that is anathema to Republican evangelicals promoting the heretical “prosperity gospel.” It is “gospel” that uses Christianity to justify living to attain “personal empowerment, personal wealth, and personal health.” Prosperity gospel is, no matter what Christian cult one subscribes, contradictory to everything the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, preached incessantly while he was alleged to live as a man on Earth.

Although it damn sure should be as unconstitutional to employ a “House Chaplain” as it is to designate a national day of prayer, or claim all Americans “trust in god,” or pledge allegiance to a flag “under god,” it is an abomination that a chaplain was forced out because he was the wrong kind of Christian. And by dog, that is the real reason Ryan pushed Reverend Conroy to “resign.” Because since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, the religious right has pushed its agenda down the American people’s throats with valuable assistance from that dirty lying sinner Donald Trump, his equally despicable underling Mike “preacher” Pence, and the nasty Republican evangelical caucus.

It is worth noting that Republicans who claim Christianity as the be all, end all to the world’s woes were vicious in a months-long set of attacks on Pope Francis because, like Reverend Conroy, he followed his namesake’s teachings and appealed for attention to income inequality and “those who continue to struggle.” Those same religious Republicans love the Pope and Catholic clergy when they support the GOP effort to control and dominate women, but praying for fairness for “those who are struggling” crosses a “prosperity gospel” line they will not accept without a fight.

As Representative Steve King said, Ryan ousting Reverend Conroy in the middle of the term, the first time in American history, does raise serious questions, but he surely knows all the answers. Reverend Conroy is the wrong kind of Christian and he committed a major sin by praying for so-called Christian Republicans to do something they consider an atrocity – give consideration to Americans who are struggling.

There is another message for Americans who still refuse to see the creeping evangelical theocracy threatening this country, especially Americans who are Christians. When the evangelical fundamentalists take control of the government, something they are on a crusade to complete by 2020, there will be no safe “Christian.” If any American doesn’t believe it, consider the plight of the “wrong” kind of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or any country controlled by religious extremists. The only difference in America, at least for now, is that the “wrong kind of Christian” serving as House Chaplain can rescind a forced resignation and avoid being beheaded.

Trump’s DHS to monitor and compile an “undesirable” media database

There is a very good reason the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers made “freedom of the press” a top priority in the young nation’s Constitution and included it in the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment. That reason has been reiterated by champions of freedom and democracy throughout history and that particularly includes from this nation’s founding continuing to the 21st Century threat posed by an aspiring tyrant. At least in free societies the concept of a free press is regarded as sacrosanct and until recently, that was the case in America. A little over a week ago, a former Daily Kos writer and activist now working at the The Intercept, Shaun King, discovered the harsh truth about being an activist journalist living in Trump’s America.

Democracy Now reported last week that Mr. King and his family were detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents at JFK International Airport and endured questioning about his activism in support of Black Lives Matter. Mr. King reported that after being called out by name, he and his family were taken to a “secluded questioning room” where the officer, who “had clearly been reading his tweets,” asked about his “support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” It is a sad commentary, but it appears that going forward there will be an increasing number of Americans facing detention, or at least heavy-handed government scrutiny, by Trump’s security forces based on the “sentiment” in what they write or say.

Whether it was Founding Father and third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, or war hero and U.S. Senator John McCain, they concur with no small number of American leaders insisting that America as it was created cannot survive without a free press . Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786:

The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”

Well over two centuries later, and in response to the speech and actions of the “aspiring dictator” Trump, Senator John McCain defended the free press while he was in Munich Germany saying:

“We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital. If you want to preserve […] democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, […] we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time.”

Not to be outdone, Arizona’s other Republican Senator Jeff Flake took to the floor of the Senate to give a speech assailing Trump for perpetually attacking the media for factual reporting. Suffice it to say, even Republicans comprehend the importance of a free press for a bevy of reasons, but none more so than protecting democracy. Republicans cannot ignore the threat to democracy posed by Trump.

That is why it was, although sickening, not shocking that the anti-democracy Trump administration is targeting the free press by giving a federal law enforcement agency the authority to target Americans who express the “wrong sentiment” in what they write, share on social media, or insinuate in a recording. And let’s face it; the “wrong sentiment” includes anything contrary to what Trump thinks is the “right sentiment.”

Bloomberg reported that a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the heading, “Media Monitoring Services” is nothing less than a devious “big brother” type maneuver if there ever was one. There was an attached Statement of Work that outlined precisely what the federal law enforcement agency planned to do to bring the media and many Americans into compliance with all things Trump; gather and monitor the activities of the public media and everything and everyone associated with it.

Now, it appears that Senator McCain’s warning about losing “our” personal liberties is not something that is going to happen “over time.” The threat from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security with an attack on the free press is a dangerous portent that the aspiring tyrant is attempting to keep pace with a rash of attacks on the media worldwide.

This is underway in America, “traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom,” where a powerful federal agency is planning to compile a comprehensive list of journalists, social media influencers, bloggers, and podcasters to monitor what they are “putting out to the public” with a particular interest in the “sentiment” they express.

As Michelle Fabio noted:

We are entering potentially dangerous territory with the government keeping track of the ‘sentiment’ of American citizens in a Department of Homeland Security media database.”

The primary concern of the Trump administration is “the sentiment” being expressed by private American citizens, media organizations, bloggers, print journalists and Americans active on social media. It is unlikely that DHS is going to do the same level of monitoring of “foreign” sentiment towards America as the other intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA. This action is targeting domestic “sentiment” and although it is normal for dictatorships Trump aspires to emulate, it is an abomination in an alleged “free society” anywhere in the world, much less in the United States of America.

It is nothing less than an outrage in a liberal democracy that a federal agency is monitoring and compiling data on what the dictionary deems are private citizens’  “views of, or an attitude toward, or an opinion of a particular situation or event.” Only someone who has been comatose for the past two years is unaware that the prevailing sentiment in America, and around the world, toward Trump is overwhelmingly negative. It should terrify all Americans that expressing those sentiments is deemed “dangerous” enough to warrant Homeland Security putting them in a federal law enforcement database; something that is unprecedented except in dictatorships.

An organization that has spent the past nearly 40 years monitoring press freedom, Freedom House, “recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.” The organization places the blame for less press freedom on government threats to journalists and media outlets in “major democracies” and “authoritarian countries like Russia and China.” The report also noted that:

It is the far-reaching attacks on the news media and their place in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as president of the United States [White House occupant] that fuel predictions of further setbacks in the years to come.”

This action is a dangerous administration’s attempt to rule by tyranny and intimidation and little else. It is also not the first time the Trump administration has suggested keeping a federal database of “undesirables.”

First they proposed forcing American Muslims to “register” in a national database, and then attempted to garner the highly-personal voting and citizenship information from Americans with a bogus “commission” to ferret out the non-existent massive voter fraud. Now they have tasked a federal law enforcement agency with compiling a database consisting of journalists, media organizations, bloggers, podcasters and “influencers” on social media based on their “sentiment?”

It is hardly arguable that the government does not already monitor everything Americans are reading, saying, and writing, and by its very nature everything related to the “media” is not secret. However, the concept of a federal agency monitoring the “sentiments” of Americans and creating a federal database based on those “sentiments” is chilling. It is also another indication that America under Trump, since his poorly-attended inauguration, is experiencing the exact same process that eventually gave the world North Korea, Russia and Nazi Germany.

Boehner Joining Crusade To Legalize Marijuana is a BFD

Since before Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration, it was a monumental task to envision or find much good about the prospects for America in the foreseeable future. It is true there has been a dearth of good news over the past year-and-a-half, but with a little exploration, one did discover an incredibly encouraging bit of news. And believe it or not, it involves a well-known Republican many liberals have despised for years, former Speaker of the House John Boehner.

In what is being rightly labeled “a watershed event,” Acreage Holdings proudly announced that the former House Speaker has joined the organization’s advisory board and will be a significant spokesman for the United States of America’s legal marijuana industry. That’s right, Republican John A. Boehner who just nine years ago claimed “he was unalterably opposed” to cannabis legalization will be a spokesperson and serve in an advisory capacity to a “major company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states.”

Look, whether or not one uses the weed for its medicinal or entertainment value, this is, as Vice President Joe Biden once said, “a really BFD.” Over at Bloomberg, Jennifer Kaplan noted that with Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld (R) joining Acreage Holdings, “marijuana has gone mainstream.”

No doubt a sworn enemy of cannabis, Attorney General J. Beauregard Sessions suffered a minor shit fit at the announcement that two Republicans, one formerly third in line to the presidency of the United States, will be promoting a weed Sessions claims has no medical value, and that only “bad people” use it.

First, it is noteworthy that Messrs. Boehner and Weld claim to have never used marijuana and have no intention of starting. It is not uncommon for legalization advocates to have never used reefer for recreation or medicine.

Indeed, world renowned travel celebrity and author Rick Steves is an important and highly visible board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and he does not use weed. His advocacy for legalization, like one of the reasons John Boehner gave for joining the decriminalization crusade, is the abominable practice of imprisoning non-violent Americans convicted of either possessing, cultivating, using or dispensing cannabis. The point is that one does not have to use the weed to understand the absurdity of criminalizing a “medicine” that grandma and grandpa can grow in the backyard, or on their retirement home balcony.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Boehner explained why he is joining the Acreage Holdings advisory board and advocating for the weed’s decriminalization; and no, it is not because he has any pecuniary interest in the company. He said:

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in that same position. When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head. We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

Boehner went on to explain that, like many Americans, his opinion of the weed shifted dramatically “after he saw the plant’s efficacy in helping a close friend deal with debilitating back pain.” He also said that besides studying the U.S. criminal justice system’s problems for years, the weed’s potential for treating the nation’s Veterans played a big part in helping to sway him.

Former Massachusetts governor Weld did not require any “swaying” because he has been an advocate for decriminalization since 1992 and supported the 2016 referendum that legalized recreational pot use in his home state. Weld also said that his “belief in the functionality of the plant has grown” since 1992; particularly with the weed’s use for “easing the opioid crisis.” He said, referring to marijuana’s success at treating opioid addiction:

“Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug.”

Weld and Boehner both claim the core issue is a 10th Amendment matter; an argument that should satisfy even the most ardent Republican opposed to legalization. Mr. Weld said that, “If some states don’t want marijuana to be legal, that’s their prerogative. But that shouldn’t be dictated by the nanny state in Washington.”

Currently, it is Beauregard Sessions who is “dictating” to the states that cannabis is only used by “bad people” and that it has no medicinal value whatsoever. This is, in fact, after he was pilloried in the House by Republicans and Democrats alike for his “harsh” position on weed, and after he was presented with documented research demonstrating the plant’s medicinal value.

Regarding Sessions’ tough stance on marijuana, Boehner said Sessions’ harsh words for the weed, and his decision to roll back President Obama’s protections for states didn’t deter him or Mr. Weld from deciding to get on board with an industry set to record a healthy $75 billion within ten years and outpace the soda industry. Mr. Boehner said:

“When I saw the [Sessions] announcement, I almost chuckled to myself. I don’t know why they decided to do this. It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”

No, Sessions is clear about his motive, and he is determined to keep marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 substance with heroin and much worse than cocaine. Remember, Sessions hates marijuana more than he loves being a racist which is why he complained about a group he really admired, the Ku Klux Klan because some of the white supremacists used marijuana.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri issued a statement regarding Mr. Boehner as an advocate for decriminalization saying in part:

“Former Speaker Boehner is still held in high regard by a large percentage of the GOP membership and voter base. We look forward to his voice joining the growing chorus calling for an end to cannabis criminalization. Anything that expedites the ability for patients to access this safe and reliable treatment alternative, and that facilitates an end to the practice of arresting otherwise law abiding citizens for the possession of a plant should be welcomed with open arms.”

It is almost certain that most Americans who support decriminalizing cannabis, roughly 64 percent of Republicans and Democrats alike, are going to welcome both Mr. Boehner and Mr. Weld to the crusade to stop the absurdity of weed as either illegal or listed as a dangerous drug on par with heroin. What is amazing is that John Boehner is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and has characteristically been resistant to change; that he evolved from being “unalterably opposed” to decriminalizing marijuana in less than nine years is remarkable. That the man is now an advocate for legalizing the weed is mindboggling, and “highly” encouraging for a majority of Americans.

Religious Republican states inform women abortion can be reversed

In the religious war against women being waged by Republicans in Congress and state legislatures, there are unlimited absurdities and atrocities in the crusade to deny women their constitutional human right to self-determination regarding their reproductive health. Republicans believe their constitutional right as theocratic legislators is controlling women’s reproductive health and a piece in the Huffington Post reveals just how maniacally driven religious Republicans are in their crusade to control American women.

It is a sad state of affairs, but too few media outlets are apprising women about the unrelenting attacks on their reproductive rights because the media is as terrified of inciting evangelical rage as Democrats. They still believe there is a federal statute forbidding alerting Americans that Republicans are legislating according to a bastardized form of evangelicalism unique to the American religious right. And that religious legislation is most rampant where  women’s medical and health rights are concerned.

Most folks who have undergone a medical procedure have signed a consent form and been adequately educated about the risks and their options by a physician. Every state has their own version of what information the state deems is necessary for the patient to be adequately “informed” before giving their consent for a medical procedure. This is particularly true with regard to a relatively simple and routinely safe procedure unique to women intent on terminating an unplanned pregnancy. Suffice it to say that some dyed-in-the-wool evangelical red states include phony information that is simply not supported by any medical or scientific research; their goal is to prevent women from making an informed decision when they can make a Vatican-approved decision instead.

Informed consent based on fake science, first or second-person anecdotes, or a theocrat’s notion that “seems to make sense” is not informed. However, in three statespart of advising a woman seeking an abortion is “informing” them that if they “act urgently” they can “reverse an abortion.”

This unscientific “idea” is a real “thing” only in that there is a real organization, the “Abortion Pill Reversal” (APR) worldwide network, pushing the idea. The “idea” is actually just another religious “crisis pregnancy center” deception with only one reason for existing: to frighten, cajole, and dissuade women from terminating a pregnancy.

This APR “idea” was first introduced about six years ago under the guise of a “case study” that is as far removed from any kind of real science as some of the other dimwitted assertions from evangelical conservatives. In fact, the concept of reversing an abortion is so fantastical that one believed it had been promptly sent to the dustbin about six years ago when it was first introduced. Instead, it was embraced by evangelicals and the Catholic personhood movement and written into legislation in a few red states.

Seriously, the idea of “reversing an abortion” ranks up there with other debunked assertions such as homosexuality causes hurricanes and earthquakes; more guns on the streets mean fewer shootings; college turns Christians into gays; and abortion causes breast cancer, infertility, and severe lifelong psychological damage from making a decision evangelicals oppose.

The issue here is not necessarily another deceitful machination to manipulate women into toeing the Vatican line on reproduction, although it is an issue posing monumental threats to women’s rights. No, the matter is that religious Republicans are actually passing laws targeting women’s reproductive rights based on nothing more than “an idea” some evangelical cretin conjured up to control women. Some real scientists generously labeled the abortion reversal plan “an experiment;” but it is far less than any real scientific experiment.

The insanely ridiculous notion is courtesy of APR  founder Dr. George Delgado who published what he declared was a “small case series” in the Annals of Pharmacology back in 2012. In that poor excuse for a study Delgado claimed that he found a way to reverse “medication abortion” in 4 out of the six women he said participated by giving them an injection of the hormone progesterone; a seventh woman bailed on Delgado’s study.

The women were allegedly administered the progesterone after taking a dose of “mifepristone,” the first of two drugs necessary for a medication abortion. According to Delgado, “giving women extra progesterone – a hormone that helps support pregnancy – will ‘outnumber’ and ‘outcompete’ the ‘misoprostol’ [first pill] and keep it from working.”

Delgado also said that since a higher concentration of one hormone “will tend to win the battle at the receptor, it just makes sense” that progesterone can block the effects of mifepristone and reverse an abortion.

In August 2017, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had to release a real science and fact-based statement warning that “Facts Are Important” and that “Medication Abortion Reversal Is Not Supported by Science.” The gist of the ACOG statement is that real OB/GYNs do not support prescribing progesterone to stop an abortion because it is “not based on science and does not meet any clinical standards.” ACOG also assailed Republican states for “unfounded legislative mandates [that] represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

Another OB-GYN, the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Dr. Daniel Grossman said:

It’s one thing to exaggerate the risks of abortion, but it’s far more concerning when a state codifies into law a medical treatment that is completely unproven. We should all be concerned when our government forces doctors to recommend an experimental therapy — without making it clear that it’s experimental.” (author bold)

As one might expect, any suggestion that a fake anti-abortion treatment is unscientific enraged the Catholic personhood movement and drove them to lash out at what they deemed is a “hostile media” for reporting that Delgado’s “idea” is unscientific and unproven. At the time, the Catholics were furious that several media outlets’ reporting convinced legislators in two or three states to reconsider “forcing doctors” to counsel their patients with junk science; the abortion reversal information was not included in those states’ informed consent laws.

Learning that three Republican controlled states actually included this APR gibberish and forcing doctors who know better to recommend a treatment based on an unscientific and untested “idea” was somewhat surprising. It is almost unbelievable that this “abortion reversal” nonsense is still a thing, but then every religious Republican attempt to deny women their equal rights is scientifically unproven and patently absurd. Whether it entails claims that abortion causes cancer, a single-celled zygote is a person, or a fetus feels pain before there is any neurological structure in place to feel anything, the anti-women’s choice movement is the epitome of deceitful.

It is not clear if Republican legislators truly believe the level of lunacy they are basing their anti-women’s religious legislation on, or if they want to believe the non-science supports their crusade to control women’s lives. But whatever their particular religious dysfunction, they never take into account the health and well-being of the woman. The so-called six-person APR “case study” never even considered how the “treatment” would affect the woman’s health, or what might happen to the fetus if it survives. It is something that a real scientific study would have explored extensively prior to beginning the study.

One can argue that without any documentation other than an anecdotal “study” void of any data, that so-called abortion reversal therapy is not even experimental in a scientific sense. It may seem to make biological sense to an ignoramus abortion opponent like Delgado and his personhood devotees, but it is nothing remotely resembling anything “scientific;” which explains why religious Republicans in three states are forcing doctors to inform patients about some idea.

It isn’t unexpected the religious right and Vatican defends these anti-women charlatans; they exist to control women. However, Republicans, and any idiotic Democrat, who supports misleading women using fear or fake “science” is beyond despicable – they are supporting religious extremism targeting American women. But by dog, because this is a religious patriarchy the religious Republicans and their anti-women evangelicals continually get a free pass; because they are using religion to control women.

Image: Eclectoblog

Death penalty for drug dealers when there is one for gun dealers

Throughout history religion and tyrannical dictators have experimented with various means of controlling human nature with varying degrees of failure. There are universal truths regarding the way humanity has behaved down through the ages which is why that behavior is attributed to “human nature,” and it is why even the most strident religion is incapable of reversing or retarding human behavior. There are just some actions, especially those borne of emotions, that are impossible to regulate no matter the deterrent or reward system to promote what society regards as acceptable behavior.

Although it is inherently evil for one group, or one individual, to attempt to control anyone, there is no doubt that civilized societies need some kind of deterrent or reward system to contain dangerous human behavior to protect people. Human traits like greed, religious passion, and unrestrained anger are the underpinning of all manner of “crimes against society” making punitive measures a necessary element of any cultural construct. As antiquity has shown, despite severe punishment for many bad behaviors, human nature can never be completely controlled or deterred. If that were the case there would be no crime and the entirety of humankind would serve the most severe religion under pain of “holygruesome methods of execution.

In another instance of the Trump administration enacting policies that are historical failures, the Reagan-era “just say no” drug policy is being value-added with a call to “just kill drug dealers.” The death penalty for dealing drugs is allegedly Trump and Sessions’ primary tool of choice to address the legal prescription drug (opioid) epidemic.

That “just kill them” plan typifies stupid and blood-lust, and it is likely a result of Trump’s adoration of Philippines’ murderous president Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte is notorious for his boasts of personally committing extra-judicial executions for suspected drug dealers. Those boasts excited and incited Trump to tell Duterte what a great job he’s doing by killing citizens he suspects of dealing or using drugs. Still, despite the thousands of executions, drug users and dealers are thriving in the Philippines.

It is not clear on what official grounds Sessions and Trump are basing their decision to execute drug dealers, but if it is as a deterrent, it  has shown to be a monumental failure around the globe and domestically. In some extremely harsh nations the death penalty has not stopped the use or trade of ‘illicit’ drugs, so expecting it to stop the use and trade of legal prescription drugs is folly. Let’s get one thing clear right now; the death penalty is not going to do anything to address a public health issue like the  “opioid epidemic;” the stated reason Sessions and Trump want the death penalty. For dog’s sake, many American states have the death penalty for homicide and execute convicts regularly, and yet those states still have homicides like states lacking capital punishment.

The threat of death is not going to change human nature whether it is a greedy off-the-books gun dealer selling legal battlefield weapons, a desperate addict, or greedy drug dealer selling legal prescription pain killers like opioids. There is another inconvenient truth that neither Sessions nor Trump comprehend; drug dealing in America is not a capital crime at the federal or state level. Of the 41 federal laws calling for the death penalty, only two have a direct connection to drugs and both require the commission of murder to earn the death penalty.

One is under 18 U.S. Code § 924 calling for the death penalty for “Murder committed by the use of a firearm during a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime.” And 18 U.S. Code § 36 includes capital punishment for “Murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting.” (author bold)

In both “drug-related” cases a murder has to have been committed in order to qualify for the death penalty. And that little fact is noteworthy because the Supreme Court has ruled that “the death penalty is unconstitutional for crimes against individuals in which no one is killed.” That opinion put to rest a 1994 “drug kingpin” idea calling for the death penalty for crime bosses connected to criminal enterprises dealing in large quantities of illicit drugs, even if no-one was killed.

Sessions announcing the death penalty for drug dealers as an means of dealing with what experts say is a bonafide public-health issue, besides not fixing the problem; “is proven unwise, costly, ineffective and often counterproductive.” Experts and half-sane human beings comprehend that it also does nothing to address the real problem plaguing America; the epidemic of legal prescription drug addiction. As the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, Dr. Andrew Kolodny said:

We can’t execute our way out of this epidemic. The reality is, most people who are selling drugs are suffering from opioid addiction, and they sell drugs to support their own habit.”

Dr. Guohua Li is professor of epidemiology and anesthesiology at Columbia University and he concurred with Dr. Kolodny:

When I start hearing about the death penalty, it just seems to me we’re going in the wrong direction.

Criminal justice can play a complementary role in addressing the opioid crisis, but relying on criminal justice system to address public health problems has proven unwise, costly, ineffective and often counterproductive.”

A recent Pew Charitable Trust study released just two weeks ago supports both experts’ arguments; and it reveals that harsher penalties for drug dealers or addicts will not fix the problem. The study revealed that:

Harsher penal sanctions had no measurable impact on drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug arrests. The data reinforce a large body of prior research that cast doubt on the theory that stiffer prison terms deter drug misuse, distribution, and other drug-law violations. The evidence strongly suggests that policymakers should pursue alternative strategies that research shows work better and cost less.”

If Sessions and Trump need to see some capital punishment to try addressing Americans dying unnecessarily, they should call for the death penalty for gun dealers. Particularly those “off-the-book” types who sell assault weapons that exist for one reason and one reason only; to assault and kill human beings.  AR15s and AK47s were not created to assault ducks, pheasant, rabbits, deer, baby seals, bear cubs or any other alleged game animal; they exist to assault and kill human beings. But no-one is suggesting the death penalty for gun dealers because they are selling as legal a product as any dealer or addict selling FDA-approved prescription drugs containing opioids. Opioids, by the way, that have been studied and developed to serve a useful medical purpose; relieving pain and suffering.

The idea of executing people over a public health issue like an epidemic is barbaric, but so is Trump and his Old Testament, mean-god acolyte Jeff Sessions. However, barbaric or not, it is a fairly good sign that there will be no legitimate policies enacted to address an epidemic the medical profession and big pharmaceutical companies are culpable of creating and perpetuating.

Remember, whether Sessions or Trump admit or like it or not, addiction is a human medical affliction that is not going to be deterred with the threat of death any more than capital punishment deters the greed driving “big” drug dealers; or the administration traitors adhering to a hostile foreign power undermining America’s democracy. Treason, by the way, is one of the 41 federal capital crimes that DOES NOT require an unwarranted death (murder) to impose the death penalty.

Trump was enamored with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s boasts that he personally “executed” people “suspected” of being involved with drugs and he wants to show Duterte that he too is a tough guy. Something Trump and Sessions may not be aware of is that there are 33 foreign nations with the death penalty for trafficking (smuggling) illicit drugs, but “very, very few” actually impose the penalty because it is ineffective. And it is noteworthy that each one of those 33 foreign nations all have one thing in common, even the very, very few that are actually killing drug dealers and users; they still have plenty of people selling, smuggling and using “illicit drugs.”

No matter how harsh laws are, they will never alter human nature and the people selling legal prescription drugs to sate their greed or an addiction are behaving like humans. Threatening to kill the people selling drugs is not going to solve “a medical condition or an addiction epidemic,” it just won’t now or ever.

It is now more apparent than ever that Trump or Sessions have no will or intent to solve a legitimate public health issue, but if they really want to kill purveyors of death and destruction, they can call for the death penalty for gun dealers.