John Oliver covers the RNC meeting in Hawaii.

The Daily Show’s John Oliver travels to Hawaii to cover the RNC’s winter meeting. Republicans manage to reveal their hypocrisy without a hint of having a clue that they’re doing so:

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It’s amazing how they can stand there and complain about fiscal irresponsibility by the Obama administration while engaging in it themselves. I really wish the legitimate news organizations would question some of them about shit like this.

It’s funny ‘cause it’s true…

john ensign

… and also kind of sad.

The more conservative and religious you are the more likely you love porn.

At least that appears to be the findings of a recent study of porn consumption:

A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.

“When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different,” says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.

“Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” Edelman says.

Hypocrisy on the part of the Values Voters? Say it ain’t so!

The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. “The differences here are not so stark,” Edelman says.

Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan, averaged 2.32.

Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year’s presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.

I suppose it could be argued that the conservative religious folks aren’t buying the porn for their own enjoyment, but so they can be aware of how horrible it is when telling other people why they shouldn’t consume porn. Or could be that all that screaming about forbidden fruit on the part of the overly religious leads folks into temptation.

The latter possibility is brought up in the news article:

To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion.

States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement “I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage,” bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement “AIDS might be God’s punishment for immoral sexual behaviour.”

“One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you’re told you can’t have this, then you want it more,” Edelman says.

Consider that this only covers porn people paid for. As an occasional viewer of online porn myself I can tell you that there are a plethora of sites offering plenty of free porn to satisfy the most active libido without ever spending a penny. Perhaps what this study is really showing is that the overly religious folks aren’t clever enough to find the free porn sites and so they end up buying more than the rest of us.

Still, I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

Meanwhile FOX News shows just how biased they really are.

Over at Faux News they’re all up in arms that anyone is criticizing Sarah Palin and her $150,000 wardrobe. It’s no big deal, they say. When you’re in the public eye you have to look good, they say. So Jed over at Daily Kos put together a little montage to reveal their hypocrisy:

Fair and balanced my fat ass.

Republican hypocrisy on display. Thanks to “The Daily Show.”

There’s nothing like reviewing a few video clips to show everyone just how hypocritical the Republicans really are:

They remind me of those neighborhood kids you played with when you were kids that were always changing the rules of the game to their advantage, but if you tried to do the same then you were a cheater.

If Sarah Palin wants her kids left out of politics then why is she putting them front and center?

That’s the question this analysis by AP writer Ted Anthony poses:

The Republican message about the Palin offspring comes across as contradictory: Hey, media, leave those kids alone — so we can use them as we see fit.

If you doubt this scenario, consider this: On Wednesday morning, a teenage boy from Alaska stood in a receiving line on an airport tarmac, being glad-handed by the potential next president of the United States — because he got his girlfriend pregnant. TV cameras were lined up in advance. The mind boggles.

“Either the children are out of bounds, and you don’t put them in the photo ops, or you don’t complain when somebody wants to talk about them. You can’t have it both ways,” said John Matviko, a professor at West Liberty State College in West Virginia and editor of “The American President in Popular Culture.”

“Right now, it looks like they’re being used by the campaign more than the media are using them,” he said.

[…] Using one’s relatives as accessories in the political arena can have its pitfalls, despite McCain’s remark to ABC News on Wednesday that Palin has “got an incredible resume, including a beautiful family.” Candidates open themselves to charges of hypocrisy if they demand the ability to boast but reject the attention that can ensue when the road gets rougher.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, however, takes issue with that conclusion. He says both positions are possible.

“There’s a long-standing precedent of children of the candidates being in the public eye as members of families involved in public service,” Bounds said Wednesday night. “There is also a long-standing precedent of candidates’ children being left out of the hardball politics of campaigning for higher office.”

That’s pretty typical hypocrisy for the Republicans. Especially when one of the things they’re pushing about Palin is her supposed status as a “soccer mom” who is big on “family values.” In all fairness it’s not as though Obama hasn’t put his kids up on stage or in front of the camera with him, but then neither one of them is representative of a failed policy stance that Obama promotes either.

Maybe I’m stupid (duh, it says so right in my blog name), but it seems to me that if you don’t want people using your pregnant minor child and her “I’m a fuckin’ redneck” boyfriend as a political football then perhaps it would be wise not to do so yourself. But that’s just me.

Kmart starts selling abstinence promoting pants and then lies about it.

This is pretty funny. Several blogs I read have been commenting on a new line of girl’s crop pants available at Kmart that have the slogan True Love Waits silk screened on them. People who, like me, are skeptical that a slogan on pants is going to do much to keep teens from having sex are either annoyed or, in my case, mildly amused. Conservative types, particularly those who support abstinence only sex ed, are much more enthusiastic about them.

The folks at The Buzz Blog contacted Kmart about the pants and were told that the pants weren’t meant for abstinence:

A spokeswoman for Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Kmart, told The Buzz the pants have absolutely nothing to do with taking any kind of position, either way, on abstinence. “It was not associated with any group or any cause,” said Amy Dimond. “It was just a graphic put on the pants.”

Piper & Blue, Kmart’s private label brand, designed the sweatpants as part of its summer collection that hit stores in late April.

Although the pants were not designed to make a statement, Dimond admitted that “there may be some (customers) who made the (abstinence association), but it was not the intention.”

Well, OK, except that the ad copy right on the page selling the pants says, and I quote, “Bold abstinence screen print”. I also found this customer review pretty damned amusing:

“i got these because i think the message is great and also the colors are great too but the elastic ankle cuffs are a little too small. now im worried that my chubby ankles and pro-abstinence stance are not compatible. would recommend to a friend that had smaller ankles, and also was not allergic to the yellow dye.”

Remember kids, if you have fat ankles they may be incompatible with a pro-abstinence stance. Try sitting instead. Preferably with your legs closed.

Honestly, I could give a shit if people want to sell pants with pro-abstinence messages on them. If nothing else it makes for a potentially delicious irony when some young woman wears them after getting pregnant because she didn’t bother to use any birth control. I just don’t understand why Kmart decided to offer pants with a pro-abstinence message and then felt they had to lie about it.

Saving your kids’ souls, by any means necessary.

Here’s an entry that’s going to combine two things I talk about often, but which usually aren’t associated with each other: religion and video games. It’s seems a number of churches around the country are using the ever popular Halo video games to lure young men into church so they can be proselytized “ministered” to after a couple of rounds blowing the living shit out of everything on the screen:

Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church – New York Times

First the percussive sounds of sniper fire and the thrill of the kill. Then the gospel of peace.

Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

Right off the bat we have a conundrum for our Christian friends. The Bible says “Thou Shalt Not Kill” and yet they’re luring in kids with the promise of being able to virtually kill to their hearts content. It goes even deeper than that, however, because the Halo games are rated M for Mature and is considered inappropriate for people under 17 years of age. Yet many churches are letting kids several years younger than that play the game:

Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.

Far from being defensive, church leaders who support Halo — despite its “thou shalt kill” credo — celebrate it as a modern and sometimes singularly effective tool. It is crucial, they say, to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.

Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”

Now, personally, I don’t think there’s all that much in the Halo games that the average 12 or 14 year old can’t handle, but I’m not the one using the game to lure kids in for a little brain washing ministering with it. Needless to say some other Christians have a bit of a problem with this tactic:

“If you want to connect with young teenage boys and drag them into church, free alcohol and pornographic movies would do it,” said James Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a nonprofit group that assesses denominational policies. “My own take is you can do better than that.”

Free booze? Maybe, but I don’t know of too many adults, let alone teenagers, who’d rush to church to watch some porn followed by messages about Jesus dieing for their sins. That’d be a bit… awkward. Whereas the free booze might make sitting through the sermons a bit easier to handle. Still, think of the slogans you could have: “Get a boner, for Jesus!”

Daniel R. Heimbach, a professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, believes that churches should reject Halo, in part because it associates thrill and arousal with killing.

“To justify whatever killing is involved by saying that it’s just pixels involved is an illusion,” he said.

I can imagine that how you approach your interpretation of the Bible would play a role in how acceptable you find this practice. The Baptist church I attended taught that just thinking some naughty thoughts was enough to get your ass in a sling with God and there’s at least one Bible passage to back that claim up. So wouldn’t virtually killing be more or less the same as thinking about killing as far as God is concerned?

Apparently such questions aren’t an issue to this fellow:

Playing Halo is “no different than going on a camping trip,” said Kedrick Kenerly, founder of Christian Gamers Online, an Internet site whose central themes are video games and religion. “It’s a way to fellowship.”

Mr. Kenerly said the idea that Halo is inappropriately violent too strictly interpreted the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” “I’m not walking up to someone with a pistol and shooting them,” he said. “I’m shooting pixels on a screen.”

Mr. Kenerly’s brother, Ken Kenerly, 43, is a pastor who recently started a church in Atlanta and previously started the Family Church in Albuquerque, N.M., where quarterly Halo nights were such a big social event that he had to rent additional big-screen TVs.

Ken Kenerly said he believed that the game could be useful in connecting to young people he once might have reached in more traditional ways, like playing sports. “There aren’t as many kids outdoors as indoors,” he said. “With gamers, how else can you get into their lives?”

Which just sounds insidious to me. It’s no secret that if you can get people to believe something when they’re young they’re more likely to hold that belief when their older and this sort of thing just reveals how far Churches are willing to go to suck people in when they’re most likely to buy the bullshit. When they’re older you have to wait until people are in a hard way and vulnerable to have the same sort of impact so catching them when they’re young is key. And the thing is, it works:

David Drexler, youth director at the 200-member nondenominational Country Bible Church in Ashby, Minn., said using Halo to recruit was “the most effective thing we’ve done.”

In rural Minnesota, Mr. Drexler said, the church needs something powerful to compete against the lure of less healthy behaviors. “We have to find something that these kids are interested in doing that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol or premarital sex.” His congregation plans to double to eight its number of TVs, which would allow 32 players to compete at one time.

Among parents at the Colorado Community Church, Doug Graham, a pediatric oncologist with a 12-year-old son, said that he was not aware of the game’s M rating and that it gave him pause. He said he felt that parents should be actively involved in deciding whether minors play an M-rated game. “Every family should have a conversation about it,” he said.

Mr. Barbour, the youth pastor at the church, said the game had led to a number of internal discussions prompted by elders who complained about its violent content. Mr. Barbour recently met for several hours with the church’s pastor and successfully made his case that the game was a crucial recruiting tool.

In one letter to parents, Mr. Barbour wrote that God calls ministers to be “fishers of men.”

“Teens are our ‘fish,” he wrote. “So we’ve become creative in baiting our hooks.”

I’m willing to bet that last line has some Christian readers nodding their heads in agreement where it just makes me cringe. Of course there’s nothing new here as the churches have always been willing to usurp anything they consider popular to try and bring in the heathen. Again I point to Halloween, Christmas, and Easter as prime examples of the True Believers taking something popular — pagan festivals in this case — and using them to their own ends. This is just a lesser example of the same thing.

Gotta get their asses in the pews by any means necessary. After all, it’s only for their own good.

Let’s get ready to RUMBLE: Phelps to picket Sen. Larry Craig.

Do two wrongs make a right? Sometimes when they come up against each other it might be tempting to think so. At the very least it’s an occasion to pop up some popcorn and settle back in anticipation of the fireworks. Alas it appears I may have already missed all the fun:

Phelps’ Followers to Picket Sen. Craig :: EDGE Boston

In a press release dated Aug. 28, Westboro Baptist Church, located in Topeka, Kansas, exhorted followers to “Thank God for revealing a bit of truth about Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho; and, by a logical extension, about the United States Congress.”

Said the church’s press release, “Sen. Craig used his powerful office—(on loan from God, temporarily)—to oppose [Westboro Baptist Church], to speak against WBC, and to vote against WBC’s Constitutional rights of free religious exercise and freedom of speech.”

Now we know why he did that. Every member of Congress is either a fag or a fag-enabler,” he continued in the release. “God Almighty has now drawn back the curtain of hypocrisy and lies for all the world to see how fags and fag-enablers run the government at every level—starting at the top.”

Phelps believes that Craig’s purported sexuality was no secret to voters, the press or other legislators. The church would picket Senator Craig’s offices in Boise and in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, respectively, “in religious protest and warning” with the message that, “God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Sen. Craig, and ldaho, and America.”

I’ve not said much about Sen. Craig as of yet because he’s still denying that he’s gay even though there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that he may very well be gay. If he is then he’s a hypocrite of the first order and if he’s not then the way he’s been treated by his fellow Republicans is pretty disgraceful considering that Sen. David Vitter has admitted to cheating on his wife with a prostitute and has largely been ignored by Republicans. Still, it’s fun watching Republicans being picketed by the likes of Phelps.

Link found via Canadian Cynic.

Woman claims school’s dress code targets her daughter’s religious beliefs.

It’s somewhat amusing how uppity some Christians can get when their (not so) subtle attempts to proselytize are disrupted by rules they don’t like. Be it taking down Ten Commandment plaques from Government buildings or, say, wearing shirts with religious slogans in violation of a school dress code. It seems that Highland High School in Indiana, like many schools across the nation, have implemented a new dress code requiring students to wear khakis and polo shirts and prohibits shirts with any slogans or logos on them. Teenager Brittany Brown decided to ignore that dress code by wearing a t-shirt promoting her Christian beliefs on four different occasions and was finally suspended on Monday as a result.

Naturally this has led her mother, Tracy Prochnow, to start playing the “poor persecuted Christians” card:

The mother of a student who was suspended for violating her school system’s dress code says the rules unfairly target religion, WRTV in Indianapolis reported.

Prochnow said the school may be violating her daughter’s rights, and she has asked the school board to change the code.

“I don’t believe it matters what she’s wearing—whether it be a T-shirt and jeans or polo and khakis—as to what she’s going to learn,” Prochnow told WRTV.

I’m no big fan of dress codes myself, though given what passes for fashion these days I think some regulation is in order, but she’s got a hard case ahead of her if she really wants to claim that her daughter’s rights are being violated. The courts have ruled on a number of occasions that students have a much more limited right to free speech in a school setting and that schools have a lot of leeway on determining what is an isn’t a reasonable dress code.

The front of Brittany’s T-shirt features a cross and the words “This Shirt Is Illegal In 51 Countries.” The back quotes the Bible’s Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God … the salvation of everyone who believes.”

“The school is basically saying I can’t wear a shirt that talks about Jesus or Christ or God or any religious type of T-shirt because we have to wear a polo,” Brittany said.

The school’s principal, Mark Finger, said the dress code doesn’t target religious beliefs.

“The policy states there are to be no logos or slogans on a shirt,” Finger said.

If the school had a policy that specifically and only limited the ban to shirts with religious messages on them then these folks might have a leg to stand on, but it doesn’t and they don’t. It’s a very reasonable policy and the only reason these folks are upset is because it prevents them from engaging in a silent form of preaching to others. Ah, but there’s an advantage to being part of the majority religion:

A city council member, Ollie Dixon, said he would work to change the policy. It wasn’t clear what changes he would favor.

I wonder if Mr. Dixon would be so keen to get involved if the shirt in question promoted an Islamic or Pagan message. I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts he’d laugh them out of his office.

Smell that? That’s the stench of Christian hypocrisy at its worst.