Category: Magical thinking

13 Insane Republican Arguments Against Upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a National Park

LIES, LIES, LIES -Opponents to changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, "Friends of the Colorado National Monument," to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo's caption says it was taken at the entrance to the "Kapalua National Conservation Area." No such conservation area exists.

Mesa County Republicans who oppose changing the Colorado National Monument into a national park posted this photo on their website, “Friends of the Colorado National Monument,” to warn that lack of access will ensue if the Monument becomes a national park. The photo’s caption says it was taken at the entrance to the “Kapalua National Conservation Area.” There is no such conservation area.

Name a simple, cost-free way to boost our area’s sagging local economy and put Grand Junction on a lot more tourist maps.

That’s right, it’s upgrading the Colorado National Monument to national park status.

The push to turn the Monument into a national park has won widespread support from a broad spectrum of the community, and for good reasons.

The Monument has all the natural features it needs to qualify as a national park, and making the change would clarify what tourists are looking for. Right now, tourists think the Colorado National Monument is a statue or a commemorative plaque. If the Monument were called a “park” instead, it would clarify what they are heading to see. Also, as a national park the Monument would draw more travelers from the airport and more tourists off I-70, boosting business at local hotels, restaurants, coffee bars, rental car companies, gas stations, art galleries and other businesses.

Sounds like a good idea, right? That’s because it is. And for that reason, the Grand Junction Economic Partnership endorses it. The Chamber of Commerce has supported it. The Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau says it is a “clear opportunity to attract more visitors.” Even the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association supports it. The Daily Sentinel supports it, saying “Studies show that monuments which become national parks don’t necessarily see a big increase in the number of visitors. But they do see a change in the types of visitors, with more people coming from outside the immediate area, staying longer in the area and spending more money.”

So if upgrading the Colorado National Monument to a national park is such a no-brainer and it would do our area so much good, why isn’t the effort going forward full throttle?

G.J. Mayor Rebuked for Openly Backing Fraudulent Use of Federal Funds

Sitting Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras reportedly backs the fraudulent designation of a new airport building in order to keep the federal funds that are to be used to complete its construction.

Sitting Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras  backs the fraudulent designation of a new airport building in order to keep the federal funding obtained for its construction.

Former Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts, speaking during the public comment period at the February 5th City Council meeting, charged current Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras with supporting dishonest behavior by former Airport Director Rex Tippets and asked Susuras to voluntary step down from the airport board. Pitts referenced a February 4 article in the Daily Sentinel that said the Grand Junction Airport Board voted to change the designation of a building currently under construction at the airport to reflect its administrative purpose instead of its original designation as a new terminal building. All Airport Board members except Susuras recently concluded that Tippets, who was fired December 17, 2013 amid financial fraud allegations, had purposely mischaracterized the building to federal officials to get funds for construction.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to fund 65 percent of the $6 million building as long as it would be a new terminal, but would not help fund an administrative building.

Susuras has said the conclusion that Tippetts mischaracterized the building to the FAA is not valid. Susuras also stated his belief that former airport board members who served during the period now under investigation for fraud were “visionaries” for trying to expand the airport.

Pitt’s statement to Council is as follows:

“I’d like to call your attention… to an article in today’s paper of Airport Board hopeful faults panel’s credibility.”

I attended the last Airport Authority meeting — which I’ve been attending quite regularly for several years — and at that meeting there was a discussion about changing the name of a building and returning funds to the government which were obtained, as I understand it, fraudulently.  It is the opinion of our representative to the Authority, Mayor Susuras, that we keep the funds under the false pretenses under which it was received, and I take this as an insult to our community that such representation would made by our City Council that we retain funds from the federal government of several million dollars, that were obtained fraudulently, to change the name of a building, and I suggest that Mayor Susuras step down as the representative of City Council on the airport authority and suggest strongly that the Council appoint somebody to the Authority that can stand up for the credibility of the community which he represents.”

Mayor Susuras, whose term on the Airport Board expires in May, 2014, carried on with the Council meeting as though nothing had been said.

See the video of the meeting here. You can skip directly to the Citizen Comments part of the meeting about eight minutes in to the video, and Mr. Pitts is the only person speaking during the comment period.

Additional coverage: Bill Pitts publicly asks mayor to leave Airport Board, KREX, Feb. 5, 2014

Parishioners Worship Aphid Excrement Falling from Tree

Fresno parishioners worship beneath an aphid-infested tree in front of their church (Photo credit: WPTV)

Fresno parishioners worship beneath an aphid-infested tree in front of their church (Photo credit: WPTV)

Parishioners of St. Johns Cathedral in Fresno, California started worshipping a crape myrtle tree in front of their church after someone who stood underneath the tree for shade felt droplets falling from it. A growing group of worshippers from the church believes that the droplets coming from the tree are “tears of God,” and are a miracle. St. Johns parishioner Maria Ybarra told WPTV News  that “When you say ‘glory be to God in Jesus name,’ the tree starts throwing out more water.” But local arborist Jon Reelhorn explains that the droplets coming from the tree are the excrement of aphids that have infested the tree and that are sucking its sap. He noted that the aphid excrement, called “honeydew,” gets so heavy in the summertime that it literally drips off the tree. He pointed out that the same thing happening at another tree across the street. That explanation didn’t throw any water on Ms. Ybarra’s enthusiasm for the phenomenon, however, and she continues to believe the bug excrement is divine. She said to WPTV, “I can tell you looking at it from a scientific standpoint and a spiritual standpoint, it is the work of God manifesting here on earth,” Ybarra said.

Source: KPTV Channel 5, Fresno, California (NBC affiliate), August 10, 2013

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Clams Up, Hunkers Down in Political Storm


Grand Junction Area Chamber President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

Embattled Grand Junction Area Chamber President Diane Schwenke (Photo Credit: YouTube)

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce is up to its ears in alligators, and its best proactive strategy is to hope all its self-caused problems will just go away.

Just four days after the April 6 city election, Rick Brainard, one of the Chamber-backed candidates for City Council who won, was arrested for hitting his live-in girlfriend in the face hard enough to give her a black eye. In his official arrest affidavit, Brainard told police he hit her because she “needed to shut her mouth,” a comment that inflamed local citizens and galvanized public opinion against Brainard. The Daily Sentinel withdrew its endorsement of Mr. Brainard and published an op-ed recommending he vacate his Council seat. Community Hospital pushed Mr. Brainard off its board and West Star Aviation fired him from his executive job as Vice President of Business Development. Thousands of people signed an online petition titled “Woman Beating Councilmember Must Go” and citizens angrily picketed the Chamber of Commerce over its tenacious support of Mr. Brainard. When the Sentinel asked the Chamber if, despite his arrest, the organization still supported Mr. Brainard’s presence on Council, Chamber President Diane Schwenke refused to answer reporters’ calls. Instead, in true Sarah Palin style, she issued a response through the Chamber’s Facebook page:

“Mr. Brainard is entitled to due process. It sends an equally wrong message to our children to condemn without benefit of going through a process where we assume innocence until found guilty by the courts. Once that process has happened we will again review our position on Mr. Brainard.”

On May 17 Brainard pled guilty to the assault in Mesa County Court. So does the Chamber still think it is appropriate for Brainard to remain on Council?

Republican Bill Would Let North Carolina Establish a State Religion

North Carolina Republican state House Representative Harry Warren introduced a bill to let the state establish its own religion.

North Carolina Republican state House Representative Harry Warren introduced a bill to permit his state to establish its own religion.

Two North Carolina state House Representatives introduced a bill to permit the establishment of a state religion in North Carolina, arguing that the prohibition against doing so embodied in the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause doesn’t  apply to the states.  North Carolina House Representatives Harry Warren and Carl Ford, both Republicans, introduced the “Defense of Religion Act of 2013” (House Joint Resolution 494) after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against Rowan County, North Carolina commissioners over the Christian prayers they say at the start of public meetings. The suit claims that Rowan County Commissioners have opened over 97 percent of their public meetings over the past five years with prayers that routinely mention the name “Jesus Christ.” The invocations typically make such declarations as “there is only one way to salvation, and that is Jesus Christ.” House Resolution 494 also declares that public schools would be free to ignore federal court rulings that prohibit the establishment of religion in schools. ACLU of North Carolina’s Legal Director, Chris Brook, said, “The bill sponsors fundamentally misunderstand constitutional law and the principles of the separation of powers that date back to the founding of this country.” Rep. Harry Warren says he doesn’t expect the bill “will go anywhere,” saying it is more a symbol of his support for Rowan County than a serious effort to enact a new law. While the legislators claim the Establishment Clause doesn’t apply in their state, though, they do not claim that the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment is null and void in their state as well. Warren risks his reputation as a serious state legislator by introducing a frivolous bill he knows is unconstitutional, is destined to fail and which will embarrass the state.

Main Source: Salisbury Post, April 3, 2013

American Politicians Vastly Overestimate Constituents’ Conservatism

FeelingBlueSeeingRedAmerican politicians know amazingly little about their constituents’ viewpoints, and tend to believe their constituents are far more conservative than they really are. Political scientists at two major universities surveyed nearly 2,000 candidates for statewide legislative office across the U.S. and uncovered a vast disconnect between what candidates’ believe on political issues, and what constituents in their districts actually believe. The researchers, David E. Broockman of the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Christopher Skovron of the Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, compared legislative candidates’ perceptions of mass opinion in their districts on issues like same-sex marriage, universal health care and funding of government programs with actual district-level opinion.  They found that politicians are generally fairly wrong about their constituents’ views. Both liberals and conservatives overestimated how conservative their constituents are, but conservatives’ perceptions were exceptionally distorted.  Conservative politicians overestimated the conservatism of people in their district by more than 20 percentage points. The study authors write, “For perspective, 20 percentage points is roughly the difference in partisanship between California and Alabama.”

Christian Group Distributes Bibles at Public Schools, Gets Pushback

The book secularists plan to give away at Orange County, Florida high schools when they get their  date to distribute literature from the school district

The book secularists plan to give away at Orange County, Florida high schools when they get their date to distribute literature from the school district

An Orange County, Florida school district allowed the Christian group World Changers of Central Florida to distribute Bibles to high school students at eleven area high schools on January 16, 2012, by placing the books on tables near the school’s lunchroom. Orange County secularists who were offended by the overt advertisement for Christianity on public school grounds has asked the school district to change its policy to disallow distribution of religious materials on school grounds. If the school district refuses to change the policy, members of American Atheists and Central Florida Freethought Community say they will ask the school district for a date on which they can distribute information to students about atheism and humanism in the same manner.  World Changers’ mission is to promote prayer in public schools and push to have creationism taught in public schools.

Stealth Anti-Science Bills Disguised as “Academic Freedom” Bills

Creationist cartoonThe National Center for Science Education is warning that a bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives on January 16,  HB13-1089 (pdf), called the “Academic Freedom Act,” is really a trojan horse anti-science bill. The bill directs teachers “to create an environment that encourages students to intelligently and respectfully explore scientific questions and learn about scientific evidence related to biological and chemical evolution, global warming, and human cloning.” It sounds innocent enough, but such bills use an “academic freedom” guise to tacitly permit teachers to misinform students by allowing the teaching of creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to evolution, or by allowing teachers to misrepresent evolution as being scientifically controversial. The last time such an anti-evolution bill was introduced in Colorado was in 1972, when a lawmakers tried to put a measure on the ballot that would have allowed “all students and teachers academic freedom of choice as to which of these two theories, creation of evolution, they wish to choose.” That measure never made it onto the ballot. All of the primary sponsors and co-sponsors of Colorado’s 2013 “Academic Freedom Act” in both the House and the Senate are Republicans. These tricky, shifting strategies state and local school boards, state legislatures and teachers are using to undermine the teaching of scientific subjects like evolution, climate change and cloning are described in depth an article published in a September, 2010 article in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics titled Dispatches from the Evolution Wars: Shifting Tactics and Expanding Battlefields

Pentagon Hires Known Fraudster to Speak at Prayer Breakfast

Photo of Ray Giunta from Ambassador Speakers Bureau website, which says Guinta brings the “sustainable hope of Christ to people.”

The Pentagon has hired Las Vegas-based Ray Giunta, a known fraudster, to be the guest speaker at the “Pentagon Prayer Breakfast” on November 28th. Giunta, who advertises himself as the friendly “Pastor Ray,” a Christian motivational speaker, has also put himself out as “Doctor Ray,” a clinical psychologist and addictions counselor who practiced using a fake Ph.D. degree that he bought online for a few hundred dollars. A California state audit revealed that in a previous job as director of the California Cemetery Board in the mid-1990s, Giunta illegally diverted over $10,000 in cemetery trust funds meant for maintaining graveyards. He used the money to open a bank account, pay his dry cleaning bills and his creditors and to help support his nonprofit group, “We Care Ministries.” While not an ordained minister, more recently he has started putting himself out as a chaplain and pastoral counselor. Giunta and his wife purchased online degrees from a place called “Rochville University” which charged $769 for a “master’s and doctorate degree package.” He ordered a white lab coat with the word “Doc” embroidered on the lapel that he wore while “counseling” people on behalf of a church. The personal license plate on Giunta’s car said “CAREDOC” and he wore a stethoscope on a church-sponsored missionary trip to Africa. In June of 2008, the Las Vegas Sun published an extensive article describing Guinta’s string of frauds and the people he had deceived. Giunta says he and his wife believed their degrees were real and didn’t realize they were bogus.  The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is protesting Guinta’s appearance at the Pentagon event and a has asked the Pentagon to rescind the invitation to Giunta. The bigger question remains, however, and that is why a taxpayer-funded institution is holding an event that endorses religion.

Source: Military Religious Freedom Foundation, November 26, 2012

Six Mormon Beliefs Romney Would Probably Rather You Didn’t Know About

Americans may be on the brink of electing Mitt Romney as their first Mormon president, but so far, Romney has refused to talk about his faith, preferring to leave people in the dark about it. Judging by the popularity of our recent blog about Romney’s Mormon underwear, though, Americans seem to be eager for more information about Mormon beliefs and practices. So what DO Mormons believe? Mr. Romney may not tell you, but we will. To get you started, here are a few Mormon beliefs Mr. Romney might prefer you didn’t know:

1) Mormons believe that the Garden of Eden is in Jackson County, Missouri and that Missouri is destined to have a prominent role in the second coming of Christ. Mormons also believe that “destruction throughout the earth” (Armageddon) will occur prior to the second coming.

2) Mormons believe God has his own planet, called Kolob.  Kolob has its own time. One revolution of Kolob takes one thousand years.

3) The Mormon church bans women from  the priesthood.

4) Mormons baptize dead people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) explains this by saying “The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world.” Some famous dead people Mormons have baptized include Anne Frank, Hitler, Lady Diana, Mohandas Ghandi, Pope John Paul II and Barack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham.

5) Mormons believe that before Armageddon (which, remember, must occur before the second coming of Christ) two countries called “Gog” and “Magog” will battle each other ferciously over the country of Israel. One will be for Israel and the other against it. Mormons believe that God will descend to break up the fight and that afterwards “beasts and fowls” will “eat the flesh and drink the blood of the fallen ones.” Christ will come again after the battle.

6) Black people were banned from the Mormon priesthood until the LDS church reversed that doctrine (pdf) in 1978.

Missouri U.S. House Rep. Akin Shocks Nation with Comments about Women

In a Sunday, August 19 interview on the “Jaco Report” on St. Louis’ Fox Channel, House Rep. Todd Akin, the tea party Republican running against incumbent Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, was asked whether he would support a woman’s right to have an abortion in the case of rape. Referring to pregnancy resulting from rape, Akin responded, “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape,” he continued, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.” Akin’s outrageous statement revealed not only his extreme lack of knowledge about basic human biology, but also an incredibly callous attitude towards women. His comments immediately drew outrage from a national audience.  Akin tried to take back his comments shortly after the interview by issuing a statement that said, in part, “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.” Akin’s biosketch on his campaign website says he has an engineering degree and a Master of Divinity Degree from a theological seminary, and his children are home-schooled. His campaign website credits solely God for helping him win his primary election. Akin did not explain in the interview what he believes constitutes a “legitimate rape.” Rep. Akin teamed up with House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) last year to try to redefine the term “rape” in a federal bill. The bill sought to change the term “rape” to “forcible rape” in a bill regarding Medicaid funding, to try to further restrict women’s access to abortions in the event they are raped.

This article was updated at 6:56 p.m. MDT, August 20, 2012

About Mitt Romney’s Underwear

The mainstream media is loathe to cover the touchy topic given Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, but devout Mormons wear special ceremonial underwear called “garments” underneath their clothes as a constant reminder of their faith. The white underwear symbolizes purity and covenants made with God. Mormons consider the garments to be the “protective armor of God,” and believe the underwear provides protection against temptation and evil. The special garments are sold only at Mormon church-owned stores or through Mormon church websites. Men’s undergarments consist of a white, somewhat exaggerated scoopneck undershirt and knee-length boxer-style briefs. Women’s garments similarly cover them from shoulders to knees, with an undershirt that has a sweetheart neck and some tailoring to accommodate the bust. Some people mock the garments by describing them as “magic Mormon underwear,” but Mormons consider them sacred and treat them with the utmost respect. So does Mitt Romney wear this special protective Mormon underwear? It appears that he does. In photos of him wearing white dress shirts, one can see an exaggerated scooped-neck, white undershirt underneath the fabric that looks very much like the photos of the sacred underwear Mormons wear under their street clothes.

Additional information about Mormon underwear:

The Thinking Atheists’ guide to Mormon underwear (contains information on difficult-to-see special features of the underwear and their significance)

A Brief Guide to Mormon Underwear  (by Buzzfeed)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) guide to “Temple Garments”

LDS information on “Temple Garments” and instructions to the media on how to treat the subject of the underwear  (a website that uses hunky male and sexy female models to demonstrate Mormon temple garments and that sells the garments to anyone regardless of their religion) (a website that blogs the ExMormon world — this is their page about temple garments)

What are LDS Garments or Mormon Underwear?

L.A. Times article discussing Ann Romney’s underwear and


Updated 10/27/2012