From the Back Cover
* GOD’S PROFITS is is a fascinating and important investigation into the sordid nexus between religious zealotry and run-amok capitalism. Sarah Posner has given us a vivid account of a new generation of spiritual hucksters whose venality is nearly matched by their political influence. The story she tells is appalling, but the way she tells it is enormously compelling. — Michelle Goldberg —
* Sarah Posner has produced the definitive expose of America’s leading “prosperity gospel” preachers. With direct access to the Bush White House and Republican lawmakers, these televangelists have injected their Armageddon-based agenda into U.S. foreign policy. Posner’s book should serve as a stark warning to anyone tempted to dismiss the John Hagees and Rod Parsleys of the world as benign loons. — Max Blumenthal —
* Sarah Posner’s reporting on the religious right is dogged, informed, and ceaselessly illuminating. She never condescends to rank-and-file believers; at the same time, she never excuses their leaders’ hypocrisies or fundamental misunderstanding of, and threat to, our constitutional republic. — Michael Tomasky —
* Sarah Posner introduces us to the stars of a new evangelical movement who have declared welfare Satanic, poverty a religious curse, and redistribution of wealth “contrary to the word of God.” GOD’S PROFITS serves as an urgent warning about their toxic and corrupting effect on American politics. — Esther Kaplan —
* GOD’S PROFITS is an astounding tale of religious hucksterism–and its role in politics–as big and crass as the ostentatious empires of the Word of Faith movement itself. It features a cast of charlatans, demagogues, con men, and the pols and presidents who pander to them. It is also a window on the rise of the Bush family dynasty and details how John Hagee, Rod Parsley, and their ilk treat faith as a cheap political commodity on its behalf. — Frederick Clarkson —
Thursday 29 September 2011
A Nation of “Suspects”
Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts: “The recent dramatic expansion of intelligence collection at the federal, state and local level raises profound civil liberties concerns regarding freedoms and protections we have long taken for granted. If people generally appear unaware of ‘change in the air,’ a large part of the reason is the unparalleled resort to secrecy used by the government to keep its actions from public scrutiny. According to the new American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report, ‘Drastic Measures Required,’ under President Obama (who had vowed to create ‘an unprecedented level of openness in Government’ when he first took office), there were no fewer than 76,795,945 decisions made to classify information in 2010 – eight times the number made in 2001.”
Read the Article
Republicans and Democrats may be at loggerheads about the debt ceiling and what to cut from the budget, but they agree on one thing: “It’s OK to bill the taxpayers for gourmet coffee, pricey pastries, and bottled water.”
More fun reads:
Hatfield, Early Republican Critic of Religious Right, Dead at 89: “The Times obituary of former Senator Mark Hatfield notes his liberal stances and rejection of the rightward tilt of his party over his career—stances that also put him at odds with Democrats, notably his opposition to the Vietnam war. At the end of the piece, citing an interview Hatfield did with Sojourners magazine in 1996, the piece notes he found the religious right an “embarrassment” to his party, as well as his concern about its influence on Christianity, rather than politics.”
9/11: How I Lost the Country I Used to Know and the Person I Used To Be: On September 11, 2001, I was lucky. I didn’t lose anybody close to me — except my country and the person I had been before.
Tom Friedman Tries to Scapegoat Baby Boomers — He Should Remember That We Helped Forge American Prosperity
“Baby boomers did not contribute to the economic decline of America. Actually, they helped create consumerist prosperity with teenager allowances and middle age purchases……Just recently, for example, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, as he wandered through the streets of Greece, wrote with Athenian authority that Baby Boomers were responsible for this country’s huge debt. Just because Eric Cantor and seventy-eight million other people fit into the rather vague category (1946-1964) of the Baby Boomer generation doesn’t mean that a particular generation caused the housing bubble, or turned our nation into one gigantic gambling casino. Yes, Virginia, there truly are people who daily bet against the economic health of the nation. “READ MORE
Inside the Wall Street Protests: An Eyewitness Account of Police Crackdown on Peaceful Demonstrators
“Protesters from the week-old “occupation” in New York’s financial district were arrested, penned up, and Maced on Saturday when the NYPD showed up to their march. A group of protestors from the camp ventured outside the park and marched on Union Square Saturday morning, and around 100 of them were arrested. Police sprayed peaceful protestors in the face with pepper spray, threw them to the ground and assaulted them with elbows, dragged a woman around by the hair, jumped over barricades to grab and rough up young people, and, when all was said and done, laughed to themselves triumphantly. This is exactly the sort of violence and brutality American authorities routinely condemn when perpetrated against non-violent civilians demonstrating for democracy in Middle Eastern dictatorships, even as they employ horrifying cruelty right here.” READ MORE
God-Based Thinking Destroying the Economy
Joshua Holland / AlterNet
“The theology embraced by American religious conservatives may render them immune to evidence and reason when it comes to economic management.” READ MORE
(NOTE: Sounds like SW is trying to save face, not get boycotted by gays, who percentage wise, have more “disposable” money to spend with less of a need to pay for a bunch of screaming brats in airplane isles. I am sure no child has been informed that his/her behavior has bothered anyone and any parent that lets their child act like an asshole, we all know, are assholes themselves so there is no use in telling them about their little spoiled brats disrupting the other customers. They can always pull the trump card “Oh, they are just being kids” just as many Christians back up their asshole behavior with “In the bible it says”. So, it is a no win situation for everyone, unless you are a heterosexual white person or family who can get dark-skinned people and gay people tossed from a plane, or anyone else. It must give them a rush just like when the KKK used to hang black people and their supporters, when it was clearly outlawed, they still felt above the law. It all boils down to conservative Christians in the USA believing they run the country and should be treated better than all others, heck, we fund all their churches and schools and organizations to travel the world trying to convert people and even get gays killed legally, like they have been trying in Uganda and other places for decades, where they have been unable to do that here in the USA, even though they are still trying today. I support rounding this pigs up and eliminating them or sending them to a country that will.)
GLAAD Statement on Lesbian Passengers on Southwest Airlines: “Just like all couples, Leisha Hailey and Camila Grey should be able to express affection in public,” said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s Senior Director of Programs. “The widespread outrage around Leisha’s report demonstrates that fair-minded Americans will no longer stand for discrimination of gay and lesbian couples. Corporations need to ensure that employee training programs include best practices for welcoming all customers and that those practices are enforced.”
(NOTE: Notice this: “After Union representatives in Boston discovered a “cancer cluster” amongst TSA workers”, the government and private sector ALWAYS need oversight, regulations, rules, and employees willing to pay attention and take action when their employer, regardless of who they are, are held accountable for their behavior. Capitalism DOES NOT have to be extreme in the ways it makes it’s money, as they always do, however, a tired, unhealthy employee in not a good one, so when “Profits Before People” without “We the People” is a very bad idea for us all.)
Cancer Cluster Possibly Found Among TSA Workers – Slashdot
“TSA employees at Logan International Airport believe they have identified a cancer cluster in their ranks, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. They have requested dosimetry to counter ‘TSA’s improperly non-monitored radiation threat.’ (PDF) So far, at least, they have not received it. The documents also reveal a paper from Johns Hopkins (PDF) that essentially questions whether it is even safe to stand near an operating scanner, let alone inside one. Also, the National Institute of Standards and Technology says that the Dept. of Homeland Security ‘mischaracterized’ their work (PDF) by telling USA Today that NIST affirmed the safety of the scanners (PDF) when in fact NIST does not do product safety testing and never tested a scanner for safety.” READ MORE
Why ‘Constitutional Conservatives’ Like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry Have No Respect for the Constitution
“A great irony of our political discourse is that those who describe themselves as “constitutional conservatives” display not only habitual ignorance of what our founding documents proscribe, but also show blatant scorn for the most important principle they enshrine: the separation of powers. For much of our history, people across the political spectrum laid competing claims to being the true champions of the United States constitution, but in recent years that ground has largely been ceded to the far-right. When the Tea Partiers stormed into Congress, one of their first acts was a bit of political theater arranged by Tea Party caucus leader Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota: reading the Constitution (with the embarrassing bits edited out) aloud on the floor of the House.”
The Mystic Chords of Violence’s Memory
by Michael Shermer, Sep 27 2011. This is a review of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker, (October 2011, Viking. 771 pages. ISBN 978-0-670-02295-3). Originally published in the Autumn issue of The American Scholar as “Getting Better All the Time.”
Excerpt: “The Bible (the “Good Book”), Pinker reminds us, “depicts a world that, seen through modern eyes, is staggering in its savagery. People enslave, rape, and murder members of their immediate families. Warlords slaughter civilians indiscriminately, including the children. Women are bought, sold, and plundered like sex toys. And Yahweh tortures and massacres people by the hundreds of thousands for trivial disobedience or for no reason at all.” In fact, the book opens with a murder. After creating the heavens and the earth and Adam and Evil and their two boys Cain and Able, the former killed the latter.”
(NOTE: MORE CHRISTIAN WHINING!!! Its all fine and good when Christian organizations get public libraries to ban books, force laws to be passed even when they reside in another state, and dont mind taking money from tax payers to teach hatred here in the USA, but also in Uganda, where they helped create a “Kill the gays bill”…with American tax payers money….not to forget the mosque three blocks from 9/11 sight….all these Christians know what to do is whine, because being a victim is at the very core of their disgusting religion.)
Microsoft, other businesses put in middle of e-commerce gay-rights culture war
“Gay-rights advocates — including a Seattle man who started the effort — have gotten some of the world’s largest businesses, including Microsoft and Apple, to pull out of an e-commerce relationship with a marketer that indirectly gave money to conservative Christian groups that see homosexual behavior as a threat to the morality that holds society together.
Now the marketer and the Christian groups are fighting back, saying that the companies that have dropped the marketer were misled and that the charities are being slandered for their religious beliefs, according to a story published Sunday in The New York Times.”
What McCain, Palin Have in Common with The Third Reich
by Len Hart
“Albert Speer is credited with having said that Nazi Germany was built upon empty, meaningless platitudes. The same can be said of every GOP ‘reign of terror’ –be it Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or, more, recently George W. Bush. The rule of law means nothing to the GOP but that matters little to goppers. GOP demagogues have even less to offer. As a Reagan devotee swooned at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston: “Ronald Reagan made us feel good about ourselves”
Michele Bachmann tailors “don’t settle” message for Christian base
“Don’t take your life, don’t take this university, don’t take the future of the most magnificent country God has ever bequeathed” for granted, Bachmann told Liberty students, putting a Christian spin on her recent campaign mantra of “don’t settle.” She continued, “Don’t settle for anything less than what this great and mighty God has planned for you.”
Denialist Demagogues and McCarthyist Tactics
“A few weeks ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry made the news by not only topping the field of GOP Presidential candidates in denying climate change, but upping the ante, and blaming it on greedy scientists. Many of the other GOP candidates have claimed that scientists are trying to scam the public for nefarious purposes”
Evangelicals Without Blowhards
by Nicholas Kristof:
“In these polarized times, few words conjure as much distaste in liberal circles as “evangelical Christian.”
That’s partly because evangelicals came to be associated over the last 25 years with blowhard scolds. When the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson discussed on television whether the 9/11 attacks were God’s punishment on feminists, gays and secularists, God should have sued them for defamation.
Earlier, Mr. Falwell opined that AIDS was “God’s judgment on promiscuity.” That kind of religious smugness allowed the AIDS virus to spread and constituted a greater immorality than anything that occurred in gay bathhouses.
Partly because of such self-righteousness, the entire evangelical movement often has been pilloried among progressives as reactionary, myopic, anti-intellectual and, if anything, immoral.
Pat Tillman’s Atheism
by Michael Shermer, Sep 13 2011
In the 2010 documentary film, The Tillman Story, the story of Pat Tillman and his tragic death at the hands of “friendly fire” is retold. Tillman was the NFL star who gave it all up to join the military cause in Afghanistan after being inspired by 9/11 to do something for his country. He did not do it for the glory or publicity, and gave up a lucrative football career for what he perceived to be a worthy cause. After his death the U.S. government implemented a publicity campaign to use Tillman’s death as a tool to promote the war as a cause so worthy that even a highly-paid NFL star believed it to be worth the sacrifice. What the government failed to mention is that Tillman was killed at the hands of his fellow soldiers during a “fog of war” incident in a steep and narrow slot canyon in which there was much confusion about where enemy fire was originating. It’s a very disturbing film to watch—infuriating in fact—and Jon Krakauer’s book, Where Men Win Glory, presents the story in excruciating detail in a compelling narrative.
Pat Tillman was an atheist. At his funeral his younger brother Richard got up to speak, visibly upset, noticeably inebriated, and with beer in hand proceeded to thank everyone for their warm sentiments, but upbraided those like Maria Shriver and Senator John McCain who made religious overtones in their sentiments, noting about his brother Pat: “He’s not with God, he’s fucking dead. He’s not religious. Thanks for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.”
More Americans neglecting health in sick economy; Skipping medical tests, forgoing drugs to save
by Lindsay Goldwert, Wednesday, September 28th 2011
“Of the 48% of Americans who said they’d neglected their heath in 2011, 21% admitted to putting off a doctor’s appointment ; 17% said they’d put off a medical procedure. It’s a sign of a sick economy — More Americans are taking dangerous risks with their health. In 2011, the percent of people in the U.S. who admitted to forgoing medical tests, medication and appointments in order to save money rose a staggering 9 percentage points to 48% — up from 39% in 2010, according to a Consumer Reports survey.”
“Wednesday, public schools across the country will be the site of a religious ritual glorifying Christ
“Wednesday morning, Christian school children across the country will make a very public exhibition of their faith, an exhibition some of their non-Christian peers may find disturbing, if not intimidating. Wednesday, public schools across the country will be the site of a religious ritual glorifying Christ, and very publicly dividing the school into Christians and non-Christians. The ritual, known as “See You at the Pole,” is a controversial “student led” prayer rally set for the fourth Wednesday of September.”
PHOTOS: 9/12 D.C. Protest Signs
September 17, 2009
(NOTE: OMG…LMFAO: why are there so many fat, ugly, old nasty people on the “right” side of politics? Don’t they realize if there were no “left” they would be skinny, starving, working 7 days a week, 20 hours a day, not allowed a bathroom or lunch break, if they lost a limb at work, they would have to do without or be fired, and the woman wouldn’t even be outside the kitchen, let alone wearing pants and showing any skin. The young ones would be in factories, the old would be dead because there would be no Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and other safety nets placed by “leftist” ideology, what was before just old people dying penniless and hungry after giving their blood, sweat and tears to the USA. Can’t wait to see what these pigs have in store for us as we get closer to the next presidential election.)
The United States of America, the way the Founding Fathers’ envisioned and planned it; is a ‘Constitutionally limited Democratic Republic’, however, America is a little bit of all types of political ideologies depending on who is in power and at what time in history.
Science & Skepticism Triumph in the New Jersey Courts
by mattusmaximus on August 29, 2011
“It’s not often spoken of, but I think perhaps one of the most critical reasons why it is that we need to have a populace that is well educated in basic critical thinking and reasoning skills can be summed up in how our court system works. In the United States, many trials in court are decided by juries, which are composed of everyday folk like you and me. And, as is sometimes the case, juries that are tasked with making major decisions – such as in murder cases – can all-too-often fall victim to sloppy thinking. And, unfortunately, sometimes this sloppy thinking is actively encouraged by rules set by the courts themselves!”
(NOTE: Palin apparently hates free speech, unless it is her’s of course)
Sarah Palin threatens to sue author Joe McGinniss over controversial book, ‘The Rogue’
by Aliyah Shahid, September 27th 2011
“Sarah Palin wants to see Joe McGinniss in court. The former Alaska governor is threatening to sue the author who wrote an explosive tell-all, alleging the pol had a sexual tryst with hoops star Glen Rice and dabbled in marijuana and cocaine.”
The Republican War on Science Returns
by Chris Mooney, August 22nd, 2011
“My latest post at DeSmogBlog is about how, unfortunately, my six year old first book remains as relevant as ever. Just look at Jon Huntsman’s recent and dramatic stand against the anti-science tilt of his own party. However, there are at least three important updates, or considerations to add to the argument of the original The Republican War on Science.”
MORE FROM AUTHOR:
(September 27th, 2011)
(September 16, 2011)
(Published by Basic Books July 14, 2009)
(Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition,(July 2, 2007)
(Published by Basic Books August 29, 2006)
by Donald R. Prothero
Shortly after Texas Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy for President of the United States, he made additional news by not only topping the field of GOP Presidential candidates in denying climate change, but upping the ante by claiming it was all made up by a conspiracy of greedy scientists. The same position has been articulated by all the GOP candidates except Jon Huntsman. That one of these people could very well win the presidency in 2012 should worry us with not only their ignorance of science, but the even more alarming tactic of using ad hominem and “shoot the messenger” tactics to try to discredit the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists around the world.
That consensus is well represented in James Powell’s new book, The Inquisition of Climate Science, a masterful compilation of nearly all the evidence, not only for the reality of anthropogenic global warming, but especially answering point-by-point the ridiculous attempts by climate deniers to cloud and distort the issues by raising one bogus charge after another. As many people have noted, the global warming deniers use many of the same tactics that creationists use to attack evolutionary science. These tactics include quote-mining statements out of context (the entire “climategate” email kerfuffle, which Powell shows was nothing more than careless use of language); and cherry-picking data and repeating discredited statements even though they’ve been debunked (such as the false meme about “it’s been cooling since 1998,” perpetuated by right-wing media again and again). There are many other similarities between the tactics of evolution-deniers and climate change-deniers, many of which are documented in Powell’s book in great detail.
Last week, 56 major religious, educational, health and civil rights organizations sent a letter (full text) to President Obama, again asking him to clarify the Administration’s position on religion-based hiring in federally funded faith-based programs. The groups oppose religious discrimination in hiring and firing for positions funded by federal dollars. The letter follows a somewhat ambiguous response last month to similar concerns in a statement posted on the White House website by Joshua Dubois, Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (See prior posting.) [Thanks to Michael Lieberman for the lead.]
Restoration of Bald Knob Cross almost complete
Monday, September 26, 2011
By Patrick T. Sullivan
The 48-year-old cross had deteriorated over the decades due to aged materials and a lack of community support. After deciding to restore the cross in 2008, supporters have been faced with a federal lawsuit, sexual assault charges against a prominent cross fundraiser and a rough economy.
Despite those factors, the repaneling of the cross was completed in November and now the cross needs a new lighting system and landscaping for the restoration to be complete, said Jeff Lingle, president of Friends of the Cross, a group dedicated to raising funds to refurbish the 111-foot-high landmark.
“We’re getting close to the restoration being complete,” Lingle said. “The basic refurbishing is complete.”
Months before the last panel was put on the cross, the Rev. Bill Vandergraph, 73, was arrested on suspicion of predatory sexual assault of a child younger than 13 in June 2010. Vandergraph had been the president of Friends of the Cross but resigned when he was arrested, Lingle said.
He faces charges of predatory criminal sexual assault — a felony carrying a potential sentence of six to 60 years in prison — and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, each carrying potential sentences of 14 years.
Vandergraph will stand trial Dec. 12 in Jonesboro, Ill.
Vandergraph’s arrest did not hurt fundraising efforts, Lingle said.
The arrest “and the fundraising have been two different things,” Lingle said. “It didn’t have any effect on the restoration process.”
Two months after Vandergraph’s charges, prominent Illinois atheist Rob Sherman filed a federal lawsuit that requested the Friends of the Bald Knob Cross return a state grant given to the group to help with the restoration.
In his lawsuit, Sherman claimed that public funding shouldn’t be used for sectarian purposes. He had asked the organization in May to return a $20,000 grant the group received from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for the panels. When the group refused, he filed the lawsuit.
“It’s definitely a violation of the separation of church and state,” Sherman said recently.
“U.S. Private Prison Population Grew 37 Percent Between 2002-2009 As Industry Lobbying Dollars Grew 165 Percent”: READ
Pope fails to satisfy critics on first state visit ‘home’
“Pope Benedict XVI’s first state visit to his native Germany which wrapped up Sunday fell far short of the expectations of sex abuse victims and those clamouring for a more open and tolerant Church. Benedict’s four-day marathon taking in Berlin, the former communist East German city of Erfurt and staunchly Catholic Freiburg aimed to reinvigorate a Church in crisis in the face of the abuse scandals and growing secularisation.”
“But Germans are leaving both the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in droves. Richard David Precht, a best-selling German author on philosophical issues, said the lukewarm reception in Germany, which had taken great pride in his 2005 election, was symptomatic of a Western trend. “The fate of the Catholic Church in the next few years and decades is not looking very positive or euphoric and I don’t think the pope’s visit is likely to stop the decline of Catholicism in Germany,” he told ZDF public television.”