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Bryan Fischer: Who is this manipulator?

There’s a new guy in town for the fundamentalist evangelicals.  His name is Bryan Fischer and he has a gig with American Family Radio.  If the fundagelicals you know have become rabidly homophobic lately and shrieking about fisting (in other words, they know more about gay sex than you do and think you want to hear about it for hours while you’re trapped in a car together), you might be able to trace their current mental state back to Bryan Fischer.

Jane Meyer wrote a profile on Fischer for the New Yorker for its July-August edition.  Unfortunately, the New Yorker wants money to read past the abstract, which is a shame because it’s not in my budget.  But you can get the abridged version from an interview that Meyer did with Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

Fischer is pretty awful from what I’ve been able to find on him.  To make matters worse, he’s a Stanford graduate.  Given his views on evolution and AIDS, it’s a little disconcerting to say the least.  It sounds to me like he’s manipulating his audience to make money or it could be Stanford wasn’t that picky back when Fischer applied.  But the fact that he’s a graduate of a prestigious school is problematic because it gives Fischer a kind of authority.  He’s seen what the elitists have to offer, he’s even been considered one of them, and he’s rejected it.  This is part of his schtick.

See his argument against evolution if you want to know how he works.  He knows his audience and knows they like absolute certainty.  All he has to do to knock evolution down is skillfully use language to imply that there is nothing certain about a theory.  And he’s right.  A theory is just a theory until something better comes along.  But science doesn’t stick with theories that have no evidence to back them up.  A theory is an interpretation of evidence.  The evidence is real.  The theory is just a working model.  Fischer knows this because he is very precise with his words in this argument.  But he appears to think his audience is as dumb as a box of rocks.

My own personal view on this is that you can believe in creationism if you want but you’re better off not trying to argue with those of us who understand and accept evolution.  There’s nothing you can possibly say that would make us change our minds because your arguments don’t make any damn sense. The person you are trying to convince is yourself. The rest of us are perfectly content and have peace of mind with evolution. We are not tormented by uncertainty. (And here’s some handy advice for religious people who are trying to convert non-believers.)

Homophobia is not his only fault.  His views on women are so extreme that his ultra fundamentalist church kicked him out.  Anyway, keep an ear out for this blowhard because he knows what he’s doing and he makes Glenn Beck look like an amateur.

********************************

Speaking of the gullible, the AARP has a post about why people fall for those incredible Nigerian scam emails.  Wouldn’t it be better for the scam artist to use a more believable story?  Nope.  It turns out the beauty of the scam is that it is so outlandish:

Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical,” writes study author Cormac Herley. “Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage…By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible, the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select.”

[…]

“The scam involves an initial email campaign which has almost zero cost per recipient,” notes Herley’s study. “Only when potential victims respond does the labor-intensive and costly effort of following up by email (and sometimes phone) begin.” So the scammers want only the unshakeably clueless to respond; they don’t want to waste time on people who are going to get wise after the gang’s invested hours of one-on-one contact. It’s not exactly what they may teach at business school, but it makes dollars and sense: For the best chance of closing a deal, focus on customers most likely to buy (into a lie, in this case).

But why specifically mention Nigeria? “A less outlandish wording that did not mention Nigeria would almost certainly gather more total responses…but would yield lower overall profit,” notes Herley. That’s because respondents would include more people who would ultimately yield not a single dollar.

Bryan Fischer operates along these lines as well.

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Friday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians! It’s been a long week for me. I’ve been trying to get caught up from missing a week of work for my dad’s funeral. Thank goodness the semester is almost over. But I must say, we had some beautiful spring weather in the Boston area this week. Today it’s cooler and overcast–a good day to stay inside and get some work done–or maybe read a good book.

So what’s in the news today? I couldn’t find much in the mainstream media about the two stories that have affected me most this week: President Obama’s order to kill a U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and the massacre of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops in 2007, recently seen in a video released by Wikileaks. But Democracy Now has good coverage of both stories.

Here is their video discussion of the al-Awaki story: Is the CIA Assassination Order of a US Citizen Legal?

Spencer Ackerman also writes about the story in the Washington Independent: Are Anwar al-Awlaki’s Ties to 9/11 Strong Enough for the Government to Kill Him?

And here is Glenn Greenwald’s latest post on our war criminal King President. (WARNING: it includes praise and video of Keith Olbermann).

CNN reports that al-Awlaki’s father is begging the U.S. government to allow him to talk to his son before they blow him off the face of the earth without a trial.

The elder al-Awlaki, an agricultural economist, said he was “distressed and disappointed” to learn that his son had been singled out for killing or capture.

“What they have decided is to hunt for Anwar al-Awlaki and kill him by a drone as they do every day in Pakistan. I think this kind of policy will only make the U.S. look more ugly to Muslims all over the world,” he said.

“The U.S. is a powerful country and has the means to reach anyone anywhere in the world, but is killing people — and especially American citizens — without legal justification the right way to show American justice and power? I think not.”

It turns out that Democracy Now covered the 2007 helicopter massacre of Iraqi civilians the day after it happened. I highly recommend watching the entire episode and got reactions from witnesses at the scene. Thank goodness we still have a few independent news sources like Democracy Now!

Finally we are seeing some justice for people murdered by “law enforcement officers” in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: Judge in Danziger case sickened by ‘raw brutality of the shooting and the craven lawlessness of the cover-up’

A New Orleans police officer who fired his gun at civilians on the Danziger Bridge a week after Hurricane Katrina pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday, offering a chilling account of what transpired on the bridge that early September day in 2005.

The seven officers were charged on an array of murder and attempted-murder charges.
Michael Hunter, 33, became the first officer who actually participated in the shooting to enter a guilty plea. Two investigators have already confessed to playing roles in a wide-ranging cover-up of the police shooting, which injured four unarmed civilians and left two men dead.

Hunter, who resigned last week after he was charged in federal court, contends that fellow officers shot at people they should have seen were unarmed. The account of events Hunter signed Thursday afternoon, called a factual basis, provides the most specific details to date about officers’ actions on the bridge, which spans the Industrial Canal at Chef Menteur Highway.

Hunter, 33, said a New Orleans police sergeant fired an assault rifle at wounded civilians at close range after other officers stopped shooting and after it was clear that the police were not taking fire. He also says he saw another officer in a car fire a shotgun at a fleeing man’s back, although the man did nothing suggesting he was a threat to police. That man, 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who was severely mentally disabled, died of his wounds.

As part of his plea, Hunter also acknowledged taking part in a conspiracy with colleagues to conceal the circumstances of what he considered an unjustified shooting. At one point, in a meeting with other officers, a supervisor said “something to the effect of, we don’t want this to look like a massacre,” the court document says.

Also down in New Orleans, the Republicans are holding a “Southern Leadership Conference,” and Newt Gingrich is the man of the moment. He supposedly “made a rock star’s entrance,” and then gave “a self-assured address peppered with historical allusions.” Here are some highlights:

Democrats in Washington, he said, had put together a “perfect unrepresentative left-wing machine dedicated to a secular socialist future.”

Mr. Obama is “the most radical president in American history,” Gingrich said. “He has said, ‘I run a machine, I own Washington, and there is nothing you can do about it.'”

“What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.”

Gingrich discussed passage of the health care bill, saying the “decisive” election of Sen. Scott Brown sent a message that Democrats decided to ignore in order to “ram through” the bill against the wishes of the American people.

“The longer Obama talks the less the American people believe him,” Gingrich said, citing the decline in poll numbers for the health care bill as the president kept trying to sell it to the public.

Gingrich said that when Republicans take back the House and Senate in the midterm elections they should “refuse to fund” the administration’s proposals, drawing huge applause from the crowd.

{Yawn…}

Politico notes that there was no mention of Katrina at the “Leadership Conference.”

As for the Democrats, the latest Gallup Poll shows that

Americans’ favorable rating of the Democratic Party dropped to 41% in a late March USA Today/Gallup poll, the lowest point in the 18-year history of this measure. Favorable impressions of the Republican Party are now at 42%, thus closing the gap between the two parties’ images that has prevailed for the past four years.

Gallup last measured party images in late August/early September of last year. At that point, the Democratic Party enjoyed an 11-point favorable image advantage over the Republican Party. Now, the favorable ratings of the two parties are essentially tied.

Lots of graphs at the Gallup link.

MABlue posted this story in the comments last night: Power Struggle: Inside the Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party If you ask me, it’s far too late. The Democratic Party already sold it’s soul to the devil–cheap.

I hate this story. It just makes me so angry!

To prevent Constance McMillen from bringing a female date to her prom, the teen was sent to a “fake prom” while the rest of her class partied at a secret location at an event organized by parents.

McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn’t much to keep an eye on.

“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”
Last week McMillen asked one of the students organizing the prom for details about the event, and was directed to the country club. “It hurts my feelings,” McMillen says.

Shame on the Itawamba County School District in Jackson, Mississippi and the parents who brought up the bigoted kids who shut out a young girl because she’s gay. They make me sick to my stomach. Here is another more positive story about this situation.

The West Virginia coal mining disaster continues: Crews unable to search West Virginia coal mine on Friday

Toxic gas kept rescue crews out of a West Virginia mine on Thursday and that appears to be the case already on Friday morning.

Rescue teams had to stop searching the coal mine where four people are believed to be trapped. Search crews got to a refuge chamber where they hoped the missing miners would be, but were forced to turn back when they found signs of fire and smoke. It now looks like rescue teams will not be able to physically search the mine.

But don’t worry, because Massey Energy, the owners of the unsafe mine where 25 men are confirmed dead and four more are missing and presumed dead, will make up for lost revenues by forcing workers at their other mines produce more coal.

The accident at the UBB mine in West Virginia was one of the deadliest at a U.S. coal mine in recent years. The mine, owned by Massey’s Performance Coal subsidiary, is about 30 miles south of the state capital Charleston.

Massey Energy said in the filing that it had third-party insurance coverage that applies to litigation risk.

“We believe this coverage will apply to litigation that may stem from the UBB explosion.”

The UBB mine has had three fatalities since 1998 and has a worse-than-average injury rate over the last 10 years, according to federal records.

I don’t quite understand what this is about: Israel’s PM Cancels Nuclear Summit Trip

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called off his trip to Washington next week to attend a conference on the spread of nuclear weapons, officials in his office said Thursday night, fearing Israel would be singled out over its own nuclear facilities.

Netanyahu had said he would attend the conference to underline the dangers of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons, but suddenly called off the trip less than two days after he announced he would take part.

Army Radio reported that US sources informed Israel that a group of participating Arab countries led by Turkey and Egypt plan to use the summit to demand that Israel sign the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and allow its alleged nuclear capabilities to be placed under international inspection.

Perhaps it is related to the following story: Obama’s New Policy : All Israeli Nuclear Workers Now Refused US Visas‏

I hope someone more knowledgeable can enlighten me about this. I’m curious.

So what are you reading this morning? Post your links in the comments, and have a fabulous Friday!!

Author of Uganda’s anti-gay bill to attend Washington prayer breakfast

I can’t believe this.

In February, David Bahati, the mover of the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to attend a prayer breakfast in the American capital of Washington DC.

David Bahati

Mr. Bahati, according to reports, may speak at the event where President Barack Obama – a gays-tolerant liberal president, is also expected to attend. On Friday, Mr Bahati said he would attend. The event is organised by The Fellowship- a conservative Christian organisation, which has deep political connections and counts several high-ranking conservative politicians in its membership.

“I intend to attend the prayer breakfast,” said Mr Bahati – himself a part organiser of the Ugandan equivalent of the national prayer breakfast.

The bill assigns a penalty of life imprisonment for a person convicted of homosexuality and the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as homosexual sex with someone under 18 or a disabled person or if the “offender” is HIV positive. All activities that would promote homosexuality–even blogging–are banned, and the bill requires anyone who knows of anyone engaging homosexual activities to report them to authorities. The entire text of the bill is at the above link.

According to the Box Turtle Bulletin, Mr. Bahati is

a member of the secretive American evangelical group known as the Family, which founded and organizes the National Prayer Breakfast held on the first Thursday in February, typically at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue N.W. The Monitor reports that the Family has invited Bahati to the prayer breakfast.

This profile in The Independent UK provides some interesting background on Bahati and perhaps gives some clues to his motivations.

Left orphaned when he was three-years-old Bahati was sent to live with his grandmother. Later she also passed away and the boy had to work at the local market selling and carrying bananas to raise money for school fees. He was separated from his siblings and only reunited with them at 13 when his sister came to the market to buy fruit and recognised him….

The story of how Bahati came to be the face of the anti-gay campaign in Uganda goes back a couple of years. The MP, a father himself, first became interested in the issue of homosexuality after hearing testimony from sexually molested children. “I’m passionate about the issue of homosexuality because of both the danger for our children and our society,” he said.

Is President Obama really going to attend this prayer breakfast in February? If so, what is he planning to say to Mr. Bahati? Inquiring minds want to know.

Axelrove: We Have Always Been At War With EastAsia.

Does This Party Structure Look Familiar?

Does This Party Structure Look Familiar?

In July, I remarked upon the Orwellian nature of the Obama campaign. And why shouldn’t they be Orwellian – they have copied KKKarl Rove’s playbook down to the last semicolon, and La Turd Blossom has certainly been a fan of the visionary 1984 author. Remember the legislative hommages, like “No Child Left Behind,” which actually causes children to be, um, left behind if they don’t pass the tests; and who could forget the cleverly-named “Clear Skies Initiative,” which was responsible for more pollution that actually cleared the skies of…birds! Good times, good times.

But no worries – we need not miss Rove and Bush for long. Here comes KKKarl’s younger, hairier brother, with his latest logic-twisting assertions.

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod strongly defended the selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the opening prayer at the inauguration, telling moderator David Gregory on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the nation needs to get beyond “shaking our fists” across a political divide.

The selection of Warren, a Californian whose “The Purpose Driven Life” has sold 20 million copies, prompted a fierce backlash from some of Obama’s liberal supporters — especially gay activists, who were miffed at Warren’s support for the Golden State proposition outlawing same-sex marriage, which passed in November. (Note the diminutizing use of the word “miffed” here, and the complete omission of female activists who are outraged at Warren’s opposition to reproductive rights and belief that a woman should be submissive to her husband. – MB)

“You have a conservative evangelical pastor who’s coming to participate in the inauguration of a progressive president,” Axelrod said from Chicago. “This is a healthy thing and a good thing for our country. We have to find ways to work together on the things on which we do agree, even when we profoundly disagree on other things.”

Let’s take a closer look at this inclusive-sounding pap, shall we?

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