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On Friday of last week, the Texas legislature passed the so-called “Merry Christmas Bill,” a fusillade by conservative lawmakers in the “War on Christmas.” The law is designed as a legal firewall to protect educators or other public officials who wish to openly celebrate Christmas in the state, but fear legal action from secular groups.
Raw Story spoke with Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public-access TV show “The Atheist Experience,” who said that the law is a way for Christian lawmakers to burrow further into their illusion of constant persecution and win the votes of “people who don’t live in Austin.”
“There’s a million idiotic little bills going through the Texas legislature all the time,” Glasser said, which sometimes makes it hard to keep track of exactly what the state’s Republican lawmakers are attempting to do.
The “Merry Christmas Bill,” he said, “sounds like the usual ‘War on Christmas’ nonsense.”
“As far as I can tell, nobody has ever actually stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ because they’re afraid to get sued,” he continued. “Does anybody sue anyone for saying ‘Merry Christmas?’ Because I think that’s a bunch of bullshit.”
“They’re claiming that they’re under oppression,” he said, “and they use this as an excuse all the time to pass laws that basically codify Christianity and make sure that everybody hears about it as often as possible.”
“It’s not about freedom of expression, because kids can go around and wish each other ‘Merry Christmas’ all they want,” he insisted. “There’s a lot bigger things for people to worry about if they care about the separation of church and state.”
Glasser shares hosting duties on “The Atheist Experience” with Matt Dillahunty, who Raw Story readers may remember from an incident earlier this year in which a Christian caller on the show said that perhaps a little girl was raped because she was “evil.”
“First of all, you portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent, she’s just as evil as you,” said the caller.
Dillahunty disconnected the call, saying, “Goodbye, you piece of shit! You know what? I was a better Christian than you when I was a Christian, and I still am.”
[image of angry Santa Claus via Shutterstock.com]
Today's comic by Matt Bors is IRS destroyers of freedom:
Andrew Sullivan just can't let go of IQ disparity by race:
Yes, “race” is a social construct when we define it as “white”, “black,” “Asian” or, even more ludicrously, “Hispanic.” But why then does the overwhelming data show IQ as varying in statistically significant amounts between these completely arbitrary racially constructed populations?
Tim F. suggests he stop embarrassing himself:
These concepts of ‘race’ are indeed social constructs. Sub-Saharan Africa has more genetic diversity than the rest of the world combined. ‘Hispanics’ can come from a lot of different places. If IQ tracks very well with a social construct and poorly with genetics, the default hypothesis ought to be that the collective IQ disparity is also a social construct. Sticking with a more complicated hypothesis makes you look less like the rational person in the room and more like a retrograde Tory clinging to the racialist baggage of the British Empire.
Utilities vs. distributed power:
The conflict between electric utilities and distributed energy — mainly rooftop solar panels — is heating up. It’s heating up so much that people are writing about electric utility regulation, the most tedious, inscrutable subject this side of corporate tax law. The popular scrutiny is long overdue. So buckle up. We’re getting into it. 
This is a pivotal issue, a trial run for many such struggles to come.
There’s a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The former is about how electricity rates are structured, specifically how utilities compensate (or don’t) customers who generate power with rooftop solar PV panels.
Scott Walker holds a yard sale:
We haven't looked in recently on the activities of Scott Walker, the twice-elected goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin. It seems that he and his pet legislature has decided to put what's left of the state's public patrimony out on card tables in the driveway to see who pulls up the old minivan to haul it away.
Conor Friedersdorf on the chilling effect of seizing the AP phone records:
It is impossible to know how much damage the leak investigation has done. Are there government sources with knowledge of corruption or serious wrongdoing who've decided against speaking out, now that they see DOJ going after the phone records of reporters? What stories that advance the public interest will the Associated Press be unable to break as a consequence of this action? What important reforms won't be made? What issues won't be subject to democratic accountability? What illegal or immoral actions will officials get away with under cover of secrecy, especially given their well documented penchant for over-classifying information?
It didn't take long for official apologists to rescue this thug:
Guatemala’s highest court on Monday threw out the genocide conviction and prison sentence of the former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt.
The decision by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court was a dramatic legal victory for General Ríos Montt, 86, and a blow to human rights advocates who had called his conviction a sign that Guatemala’s courts would no longer allow impunity for the country’s powerful.
Nutella makers don't like World Nutella Day:
Lawyers for Ferrero, SpA (makers of the Nutella spread) have sent a legal threat to Sara Rosso, who founded and maintains the World Nutella Day site, where they promote Nutella through recipes, tweets, stories, and (obviously) an annual day devoted to the sugary gloop. Rosso has capitulated and will no longer promote their products for them.
Think the IRS Was Bad? Try the Spying on Occupy Activists:
With all the hullabaloo over the IRS’s special scrutiny of Tea Party groups, a far worse case of political meddling and governmental overreach has been going on: The spying on leftwing activists in the Occupy movement.
Thousands of documents obtained by DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy show how Homeland Security and local law enforcement were obsessed with the Occupy movement and other activists. They treated Occupy activists as potential terrorists. They infiltrated Occupy meetings. dThey tracked Occupy activists online.
Salt Lake is the city with highest rate of same-sex couples raising kids:
Unexpected as it may sound, a new study finds that the Utah capital and its outskirts have the nation's highest percentage of gay or lesbian couples raising children.
Among couples of the same sex in the Salt Lake City area, more than 1 in 4 are rearing children, the analysis of census data reveals.
Video will feature words of politicians, artists and others against stop-and-frisk laws:
n an effort to speak out against the continued harassment policy of people of color by police officers known in New York City as Stop and Frisk, Elon James White, Editor-in-chief at This Week in Blackness (TWiB!) has produced a new video project called the #10FriskCommandments Remix. Featuring Pittsburgh-based rapper Jasiri X and Florida-based artist and producer Willie Evans Jr., the track was released digitally and an open call for submissions was placed asking people to lend their virtual voices in speaking against Stop And Frisk.
The video features New York Times bestselling author Baratunde Thurston, New York Councilman Juamaane Williams, Daily Show Creator Lizz Winstead, New York State Senator Kevin Parker, and many more, all rapping the personal words of the artists featured on the song speaking of contentious interactions with police officers and personal dealings as people of color.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, the day's news was dominated by Oklahoma. But Greg Dworkin's not just a pundit rounder-upper, he's an expert in disaster prep, too. Once again, disaster reminds us that teachers are often first responders, and that first responders are unionized, public employees. Also: more wacky gun news, and Utah's gun-toting teachers. Then, an update on the 3D printing issue, a story about "Colorado's deadliest neighborhood," and an investigation into the disciplinary records of Atlanta area school resource officers. Finally, a note from sfbaytransplant seeking clarification in reporting of the "unanimous confirmation" of the new Energy Secretary.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) berated Congress on Tuesday for "bullying" Apple, calling a committee hearing on the company's tax avoidance strategies a "theater of the absurd."As many on Twitter have been quick to note (some in total disbelief, mind you), Paul is the very littlest bit right in his outrage: Apple isn't breaking any laws by sheltering a portion of its earnings in three empty subsidiaries in Ireland, a strategy that has allowed the company to dodge billions in corporate taxes since 2009.If Congress is looking to place blame for Apple's legal maneuvering, Rand said, they should look in the mirror:If anyone should be on trial here, it should be Congress. I frankly think the committee should apologize to Apple. The Congress should be on trial here for creating a Byzantine and bizarre tax code.Continue Reading
Douglas Shulman, the former commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said today he was “dismayed and saddened” that his agency had improperly targeting conservative groups, but declined to offer a direct apology and dismissed suggestions that he mislead Congress. The testimony from Shulman, who was
The first group that claims they were unfairly scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service filed suit today against the agency in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking damages and the granting of their long-delayed tax-exempt status application. True the Vote, a Houston-based voter watchdog group, filed