Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election (UPDATED WITH VIDEO)
Religious groups, labor groups, women's rights groups, environmental groups and various business interests all offer "scorecards" that rate politicians. So why not atheists? Penn Jillette fills the void.
If you visit The Family Research Council (FRC) website, you can examine the "Pro-family voting record of your Member of Congress." The FRC, a conservative Christian lobbying group, is not alone in providing so-called "scorecards" that rate politicians according to how well they mesh with the group's core beliefs. Many labor groups, women's rights groups, environmental groups and various business interests offer similar services to their members and constituents.
What you won't see very often, however, is a scorecard for atheists. Until now. Penn Jillette, the talking member of Penn and Teller, prominent atheist and author of God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales, sized up the major candidates in the 2012 presidential race in a recent interview with Big Think. Jillette's scorecard is unique in a number of ways. For one thing, it's decidedly non-partisan. Jillette directs his criticism at Democrats and Republicans alike. Another noticeable attribute: you'll be hard-pressed to find another voting guide out there that is quite so colorful, and so laced with profanity, as Jillette's.
Watch the video here:
A few highlights:
Bill Clinton is the most religious president we’ve had.
Penn Jillette points out that Bill Clinton attended more church services and made more references to the Bible than any other President, including George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.
On Mitt Romney:
Under his pants, he is wearing magic underwear. Magic underwear. And he believes that a convicted con man got golden tablets that no one else could see, and sat with an angel to find out that the original Jews of the Bible were living in North America. Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy.
However, according to Jillette, Romney is "the same as Obama."
On Barack Obama:
You have two choices with Obama. You either believe that he is a man of Christ...or you think he’s a liar. And I’m surprised by the number of atheist free thinkers that support Obama and their argument is essentially, he’s lying about being religious ‘cause you have to do that to get elected. It’s a horrible reason to like somebody. I like him because he might be a liar. Horrible.
If Obama believes what he was being taught in that church in Chicago, okay, he is bat-shit crazy. And Obama is demonstratively not bat shit crazy.
On Michelle Bachmann:
I have tried with friends to say the most blasphemous sentence I can possibly say and it does not come close to the blasphemy of Michelle Bachman saying that earthquakes and hurricanes were the way God was trying to get the attention of politicians.
Follow Penn Jillette on Twitter @pennjillette.
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @DanielHonan
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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