November 6th, 2012


Stormin' Mormons: Cult or Religion?‏

As Americans head to the polls in vast or half-vast numbers to select the commander in chief of the most deadly killing machine on the planet, the issue of the opposition candidate's religion has been hashed over a thousand different ways. Some have pointed to Kennedy's ability to transcend his own Catholic background as an example for the Mormon candidate. Others are hoping that the notion that Mormonism is a cult will take some wind out of the candidate's sails. The upside of the issue is that it has prompted Americans and others to learn more about the Mormon experience.

At a social gathering I attended, the topic of Mormon magic underwear came up for discussion. One of the more geeky participants looked it up using her smart phone. She showed everyone a photo of the "temple garments" and read an on-line description out loud. I told a story of how I asked some Mormons if it were true that the Mormons have special underwear. (Mormons are not always easy to spot in public, except when they are dressed and badged for missionary work.)

The issue of racism in the Mormon experience was raised by an African American woman who knew more on the topic than all others in attendance. Her expertise prompted one of the other guests to ask me if the woman was a Mormon. I got the distinct impression that the woman had boned up on the topic as a result of the faith of the opposition candidate. Her expertise had an outsider quality to it.

When the notion that the Mormons are a cult came up, I pointed out the case of the kitten buried alive in the backyard of a former Mormon. This kind of intimidation is sometimes done by cults when a member quits. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, the sect associated with the buried kitten does not represent the mainstream Mormon organization.

I brought up the Mormon opposition to marriage equality and tied it to the experience of a Mormon neighbor who is openly gay. One guest pointed out that the Mormons may have become gun shy after their Prop. 8 experience. They did not seem to present significant opposition to a Salt Lake City ordinance promoting homosexual rights. In fact, the actually supported it. On the other hand, the ordinance in question merely makes it more difficult for a bigoted landlord to evict a homosexual tenant.

When all is said and done, at least the Mormon religion (or cult, if you prefer) has roots in the American experience. Its founders were member of the Freemasons, an organization which played a significant role in crafting the American "republic." Mormon clerical authority is more distributed in a cadre of presbyters rather than in a central episcopacy. Unlike the fears of papal despotism that hounded Kennedy, the current opposition candidate is not seen as a pawn of a foreign prince (other than the princes of the Cayman Islands).

Do you see the opposition candidate's brand of superstition as a liability, an asset, or both? Would it affect the way he conducts business once in office?

Links: Stormin' Mormon missionaries. Fundamentalist Ed Decker's description of his Mormon experience. Buried kitten video. Mormon support for gay rights.
Godzilla, default

Teach the Controversy!

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that the liberal media is covering up the existence of one of the most terrible, carcinogenic substances on the planet. This thing is known to exist, it has the power to literally dissolve everything (I hear the damn dirty liberal chemists even call it the universal solvent), and it's the most common substance on Planet Earth! We must act quickly against this pernicious enabler of storms and acid rain, this dreadful force that all things devours, birds, mountains, trees, flours.

Click the thing in the spoiler link if you dare!
[this is a spoiler link text]

[this is a spoiler link text]

Join me, and together we can vanquish this terrible force out to destroy the human race and even the very rocks themselves. Why do you think the liberal media is not teaching the evil influence of dihydrogen monoxide? What terrible, fiendish, Communist plots are there in the refusal to teach the truth of this dreadful substance which it is rumored makes up the majority of all life on the planet? What have they got to hide?

I'll tell you what they're hiding! They're hiding that Obama and the Esoteric Order of Dagon are behind the existence of Dihydrogen Monoxide and these rumored things called rivers, oceans, and lakes!

This is a message brought to you by Making Nonstories Inc, a subsidiary of Underlankers, Inc. You may now return to your regularly scheduled LJ programming.


★ ☆ ★ ø¤º° Welcome to the Election Results Post °º¤ø ★ ☆ ★

[Current Electoral Map updated at 11:30 PM]

NBC News projects the Republican Party will retain control of the House.
NBC News projects President Obama will be re-elected as of 11:30 PM.

[If you not are sure about voting requirements in your state]

Be sure to vote! If you aren't sure what the legal requirements are to vote, or when the polls close,you can use this chart below. California polls will not close until 12 midnight on the East coast.

[Where to watch on line]

Here is your ultimate guide to watching the elections online below:

[Some interesting Twitter feeds to watch]

Ezra Klein , Washington Post.
Jeff Greenfield, PBS.
Tom Brokaw, NBC News.
John Heilemann, New York Magazine.
Rachel Maddow , MSNBC.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, presidential historian and author.
Sean Hannity, Fox News
Bill Maher, HBO
David Brooks New York Times
Politifact, Tampa Bay Times.
Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Chairwoman.
Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman.
David Axelrod, Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama.
Eric Fehrnstrom, Senior Romney campaign adviser.

[Some interesting races to watch]

1. California and the death penalty. Proposition 34 would end the state's costly and inefficient experiment with capital punishment and transform all existing death penalties (725 in all) into life sentences without the possibility of parole.

2. Marijuana. Voters in six states will be voting on marijuana initiatives. In Arkansas and Masschusetts, voters will decide whether to legalize, regulate, and tax medical marijuana. In  Montana, voters will decide whether to repeal their 2004 medical-marijuana initiative. And in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, voters will decide whether to legalize, regulate and tax recreational marijuana. Of the latter contests, the Colorado measure, Amendment 64, appears to have the best chance of passage. None of these measures is technically legal under federal law but the Obama Administration went on the record recently, in a 60 Minutes segment, pledging not to harass individual users.

3. Same-Sex Marriage. Voters in four states** -- Maryland, Minnesota, Maine and Washington -- will vote on same-sex marriage initiatives. In Maine, the vote is to overturn or ratify a 2009 measure that outlawed same-sex marriage. In Maryland, the vote is to affirm or reject a new law permitting same-sex marriage. And in Washington, the vote is to endorse or preclude a similar new law.

4. Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The most infamous lawman in America -- and longstanding sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona -- is heading toward yet another reelection victory. This despite a series of recent political scandals, costly litigation and allegations of fiscal mismanagement.

5. Judiciary. In four states closely aligned with Tea Party sentiment -- Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Florida-- conservative activists seek through ballot measures to limit judicial authority and independence through a series of partisan initiatives. The most blatant of these efforts is in Florida, where Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-sponsored group, is seeking to remove three justices of the Florida Supreme Court. Millions have been spent on that race alone. Follow William Raftery's Gavel To Gavel blog on election night if you want the play-by-play. Here is his list of all judiciary-related amendments.

6. Alabama segregation. For the second time in eight years, voters in Alabama will have an opportunity to delete from their state constitution an explicit reference to racial segregation in public schools. The language currently on the books, a vestige of the state's dubious history of interposition, states:

To avoid confusion and disorder and to promote effective and economical planning for education, the legislature may authorize the parents or guardians of minors, who desire that such minors shall attend schools provided for their own race, to make election to that end, such election to be effective for such period and to such extent as the legislature may provide.
It seems simple. But it's not. Many Democrats and school administrators believe the initiative would make matters worse. And speaking of which, Alabama voters will get a chance again on Tuesday to choose or reject for the judiciary Roy Moore, the infamous former state supreme court justice who once defied a federal court order forcing him to remove the Ten Commandments monument he had ordered built at the state's supreme court.

7. Abortion. In Florida, voters will confront Amendment 6, a measure that seeks to limit interpretation of the privacy rights contained in the state's constitution. In Montana, voters face LR-120, which involves parental-notification rules. In Oklahoma, a "personhood" measure that would have criminalized abortion was rejected as unconstitutional by the state's supreme court before it could make it onto the ballot. In case you were wondering, following a campaign where abortion and reproductive rights were issues, this isn't much different than 2010, when there were also three similiar measures (in Alaska, Colorado, and Missouri).

8. Health Care. Silly you, you thought the Supreme Court's decision in June to uphold the Affordable Care Act meant the end of legal challenges to the federal health care law. Wrong. New litigation has been filed. And voters in five states -- Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming -- will have the opportunity on Tuesday to weigh in with their views of the obligations contained in the Care Act. The gist of each of these measures is made clear in the simple language of Wyoming's proposed Amendment A:

The adoption of this amendment will provide that the right to make health care decisions is reserved to the citizens of the state of Wyoming. It permits any person to pay and any health care provider to receive direct payment for services

9. Three-strikes. Back to California for Proposition 36, which would reduce the scope of the state's notorious three-strikes law in an effort to clear overcrowded prisons there of more non-violent offenders. Like Proposition 34, the popularity of this initiative is owed perhaps as much to the budget savings the state would see from it as it is from the fact that the existing "three-strikes" law has resulted in terrible injustice to some Californians. If it passes -- and it was up in the polls the last time I checked -- it will be the clearest signal yet that states are serious about adjusting their views of the harsh costs of our prison society.

10. Death with dignity. Voters in Massachusetts face Question 2, which upon approval would mean a new state law "allowing a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person's life." The measure has been consistently in front in polling although its margin has slipped in the past few weeks. It's an important moment for supporters of a "right to die." It's been long enough for them to have comforting research on how Oregon's landmark law has worked. But they've struggled to translate that information into legislative success.

Source. The Atlantic.

[AN EXCELLENT VIDEO PRIMER on the Electoral College]

Many thanks to Mr. weswilson who mentioned this. Great, great stuff.

[Cool election stories trivia etc etc]

When Republicans Were Blue and Democrats Were Red

We take the visual maps used all over the Internet and TV for granted. But that wasn't always the case. Prior to 1976, it was a pretty boring visual experience. For the Bicentennial election, NBC News anchor John Chancellor developed the idea for a super sized map that would change colors as a state was declared for one candidate. But at that time, Blue was used for Republicans, and red was used for Democratic candidates. Why? Mr. Chancellor and the director of election coverage at NBC Roy Wetzel, decided to use the British color system: “Without giving it a second thought, we said blue for conservatives, because that’s what the parliamentary system in London is, red for the more liberal party. And that settled it. We just did it,” said Wetzel, now retired.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine.