Category: Religion

Why are scams more common on the Right than the Left?


Click to enlarge

Since the tea party burst onto the political landscape in 2009, the conservative movement has been plagued by an explosion of PACs that critics say exist mostly to pad the pockets of the consultants who run them….A POLITICO analysis of reports filed with the Federal Election Commission covering the 2014 cycle found that 33 PACs that court small donors with tea party-oriented email and direct-mail appeals raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses.

….[Democrats] have mostly avoided the problem, though they also benefit from the lack of tea party-style insurgency on their side. That could change if the 2016 Democratic presidential primary inflames deep ideological divisions within the party. But on the right, this industry appears only to be growing, according to conservatives who track it closely.

And this problem isn’t limited just to consultants who set up PACs to line their own pockets. Media Matters reports that right-wing outlets routinely tout—or rent their email lists to people touting—all manner of conspiracy theories and out-and-out frauds. Here’s an excerpt from Media Matters’ list:

Mike Huckabee sold out his fans to a quack doctor, conspiracy theorists, and financial fraudsters.
Subscribers to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich‘s email list have received supposed insider information about cancer “cures,” the Illuminati, “Obama’s ‘Secret Mistress,'” a “weird” Social Security “trick,” and Fort Knox being “empty.”
Five conservative outlets promoted a quack doc touting dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures.
Fox analyst Charles Payne was paid to push now worthless stocks.
Newsmax super PAC boondoggle.
Right-wing media helped “scam PACs” raise money from their readers.

…So here’s my question: why is this so much more common on the right than on the left? It would be nice to chalk it up to the superior intelligence of liberal audiences and call it a day, but that won’t wash. There’s just no evidence that liberals, in general, are either smarter or less susceptible to scams than conservatives.

One possibility is that a lot of this stuff is aimed at the elderly, and conservatives tend to skew older than liberals. And while that’s probably part of the answer, it’s hardly satisfying. There are plenty of elderly liberals, after all—certainly enough to make them worth targeting with the same kind of fraudulent appeals that infest the right.

Another possibility is that it’s basically a supply-side phenomenon. Maybe liberal outlets simply tend to be less ruthless, less willing to set up scam fundraising organizations than conservative outlets. In fact, that actually does seem to be the case. But again: why? Contrary to Vogel’s lead, this kind of thing has been a problem on the right for a long time. It definitely got worse when the tea party movement created a whole new pool of potential patsies, but it didn’t start in 2009. It’s been around for a while.

So then: why is this problem so much bigger on the right than on the left?…It’s got to be something institutional, or something inherent in the nature of American conservatism. But what?

Ken Vogel probably grew up in the age of solid-state communications – instead of vacuum tube-powered radios. He missed the generations of Americans who were told by radio preachers to “place your hands on the radio and feel the warmth of God reaching out to save you!”

Of course they were warm. You could burn yourself on those suckers if you reached inside the radio – or first couple generations of TV’s – and touched the tubes.

True Believers accept authority easier than any skeptic. While folks on the Left often get there because of skepticism learned from watching a corrupt establishment lie about damned near everything. The veneer of lies was more than evident in that classic Republican candidate debate when the moderator asked how many didn’t believe in evolution. A few – the preachers – threw their arms up right away. The rest dragged their arms up as they looked out at the audience of True Believers. They knew they had to join in or be rejected by the idjits.

And so it goes. Want to buy some underwear woven with copper wires to aid your virility?

Israeli newspaper photoshops women out of Paris Unity Rally

What women?

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was right there next to the president of France on Sunday, marching through the streets of Paris for all the world to see — all the world, that is, except the readers of an ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel.

The newspaper, HaMevaser, altered a third-page photograph of the march to remove Ms. Merkel and other female leaders, setting off snickers and satire on social media.

Ultra-Orthodox publications generally avoid pictures of women for reasons of modesty, and their intended audience has been known to scratch women’s faces out of bus advertisements and to bar them from running for public office in their parties. But some people saw the deletions from the Paris photograph as a more serious sin.

“It is rather embarrassing when, at a time that the Western world is rallying against manifestations of religious extremism, our extremists manage to take the stage,” Allison Kaplan Sommer commented on a blog for Israel’s left-leaning newspaper Haaretz. She berated HaMevaser for “denying the fact that in the wider world, beyond the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the world stage and shape events…”

An Irish satirical news source, Waterford Whispers, responded by posting its own “feminist newspaper photoshop,” featuring the same Paris street scene with three female leaders depicted, but no men.

Newspapers catering to ultra-Orthodox Jews have been embarrassed before by their handling of news photographs depicting women. In 2011, Di Tzeitung, a Brooklyn-based publication, apologized for digitally altering a photograph to remove Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was then secretary of state, and another woman from a scene in the White House Situation Room.

Fundamentalist nutballs are worth laughing at 24/7.

Still, please be be unrelenting in the fight to keep theocratic crap from becoming the law of the land. They have no shortage of ignoranus supporters.

Saudi Islamic scholar issues fatwa – banning snowmen

Harbin snow festival
Click to enlargeBetter stay away from Harbin in the winter

A fatwa issued by Saudi religious scholar Mohammad Saleh Al Minjed bans the creation of snowmen, saying it is too western of a practice.

“It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun,” said the fatwa.

After a snow storm on the Arabian Peninsula, children started building snow-camels — a rare incident that inspired the fatwa.

Supporters of the fatwa say the creation of snowmen or snow camels, rather, is a crude imitation of the West…

The camels, built in the northern part of the country, were a nod to the local culture.

“We have snow for fleeting days, maybe even hours, and there is always someone who wants to rob us of the joy and the fun,” said opposing blogger Mishaal.

It seems that the only thing left for us is to sit down and drink coffee.”

Be satisfied you can do that, Mishaal. We have fundamentalist religions in the US that won’t let you drink coffee.

#JeSuisAhmed


Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

After the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” — “I am Charlie” — became the unofficial slogan of solidarity with the shooting victims. #JeSuisCharlie trended on Twitter, and people held up signs featuring the phrase at rallies all over the world.

Je Suis Charlie’s message is an important one in the wake of this horrifying crime. But now a new hashtag campaign, #JeSuisAhmed, has arisen to augment it. Its message of tolerance deserves — perhaps needs — to be heard as well.

#JeSuisAhmed honors Ahmed Merabet, the French police officer who was murdered outside the Charlie Hebdo offices by the same gunmen who went on to murder the magazine’s staffers. Merabet, in addition to being a police officer, is believed to have been part of France’s large Muslim community.

Twitter users have rallied to the hashtag to argue that Merabet, like the murdered journalists, should be honored as a defender of free speech — particularly because he died trying to protect a publication that had mocked and derided his own religion.

#JeSuisAhmed does not dispute the sentiment of Je Suis Charlie. Rather, it adds to it, by calling attention to the importance of tolerance as well as solidarity. That is important in its own right, but it’s also an elegant response to those who might respond to the attack with broad hostility towards Islam, or suspicion of Muslims as a group…

The hashtag was also a reminder that the victims of Islamist terrorists are primarily Muslim

In an update, VOX notes that candyass [my word] sources like the NY TIMES say Merabet’s religion is unconfirmed. While the British press reports that his family says he was Muslim and will be buried in a Muslim cemetery.

Close enough for folk music, folks.

Ever think we’d chuckle over a Pope pissing off conservatives about science?

He has been called the “superman pope”, and it would be hard to deny that Pope Francis has had a good December. Cited by President Barack Obama as a key player in the thawing relations between the US and Cuba, the Argentinian pontiff followed that by lecturing his cardinals on the need to clean up Vatican politics. But can Francis achieve a feat that has so far eluded secular powers and inspire decisive action on climate change?

It looks as if he will give it a go. In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions…

Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners…

In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.

“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

Pope Francis will be opposed by the Republican Party, lackeys for fossil fuel barons like the Koch Bros…and they have long forgotten how to act like traditional American conservatives in their rejection of science, education, the environment.

He will be opposed by conservative theologians within his church who care less about economic reality and scientific understanding of how destroying our world destroys our lives – and fear losing the brute power they have commanded for decades over a diminishing flock.

And finally, Pope Francis will offend the evangelical nutballs of America, the strident voice of our idjit vote – who will always cast their lot with junk vs sound science, conservative, traditional research. Especially if it reinforces their allegiance to bigotry, political power and deceit, a hatred of progress in their DNA.