Friday, October 31, 2014

He Had Other Plans

Via TPM:

Federal agents reportedly found a supply of the explosive ammonium nitrate, along with a pile of guns and ammo, when they searched the hotel room of a leader of a Texas border militia member earlier this month.

The San Antonio Express-News reported on Wednesday about court records that showed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dispatched agents to a hotel in Brownsville, Texas where Kevin “KC” Massey had been staying before his Oct. 20 arrest on weapons charges.

Along with a box containing the chemical, the officers found “an AK-47 with six loaded magazines, a loaded handgun, a ballistic helmet and several cameras,” according to the Texas newspaper.

As the Express-News noted, ammonium nitrate is the substance used by the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in the attack that killed 168 people.

Massey belonged to the paramilitary group “Camp Lonestar,” and was described as a “CO,” or commanding officer, in a September profile in the Texas Observer.

Yeah, I don’t think he was down there just waiting to catch some kid from El Salvador crossing the border carrying Ebola or bales of marijuana.

In His Dreams

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has fantasies of men.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is toying with the idea of a presidential bid, joked in a private gathering this month that “white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency,” according to an audio recording of his comments provided to CNN.

I’m sure he was joking, but just in case, boys, update your profile on Manhunt.

Tim Cook

The CEO of Apple comes out publicly.

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

[...]

When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

Welcome to the out world.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chicken Word Salad

Speaker John Boehner is outraged that a White House official used a barnyard epithet to describe Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said that profanity-laced attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from senior Obama administration officials were an implicit reflection of President Obama’s views, adding that the official who called Netanyahu “chickens—” should be fired.

[…]

Boehner said that the administration officials should be dismissed. “The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not,” Boehner said.

And Mr. Boehner should know because he’s an expert at setting the tone and calling people “chickenshit.”  According to Steve Benen, the Speaker used the term to describe candidate Barack Obama in 2008.  Oh, and now he wants the president to go on an apology tour to Israel.

The White House isn’t in a rush to apologize to anyone.

“[That's] an interesting observation by the Speaker of the House, who has a penchant for using salty language himself,” [Press Secretary Josh] Earnest said. “It’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the Speaker of the House.”

Good to hear from you, Mr. Boehner.  Keep in touch.

Conquer The World

Some nutjob at Fox News (I know; redundant) wants America to take over the world.

Keith Ablow, a doctor and Fox News analyst, thinks that the United States should aggressively export its system of government to every single country on earth. What could go wrong?

In a comically unhinged column posted to Fox News’ website on Tuesday, Ablow calls for an “American jihad” in which the U.S. would aggressively move to America-ify the entire world, which totally makes sense because “the Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth.”

How would this ambitious plan work? Well, Ablow explains, “we would tie American aid to incremental changes not just in the attitudes, but in the fundamental structures, of countries. These changes would move those countries, slowly but inexorably, toward reflecting our Constitution in their own charters.” The plan would also involve doubling the budget for the CIA and Special Forces, presumably to counter any foolhardy resistance to American domination. There’s more, but you get the idea.

Ablow further expounded on his vision on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday. After listening, host Brian Kilmeade correctly noted that Ablow had “some views that need to be discussed.”

Haven’t we done that already?  Coca-Cola is the world’s most recognized trademark.  Mickey Mouse has fans in North Korea.  They watch The Big Bang Theory in Cuba.

It’s only when we actually try to impose our form of government on other people that they get testy, like say in Iraq, or when we try to get them all to become Christians, like say in everywhere.

Give us time, Dr. Ablow; we won the world with our charm, Hershey bars, and money after World War II.  Now why don’t you go off and play with your home lobotomy kit?

Close Ties

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi got along really well with lobbyists.

Partners with a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm aren’t registered as Florida lobbyists, but that hasn’t stopped them from wining and dining Attorney General Pam Bondi the past four years to discuss clients.

Bondi dropped suits or declined to investigate cases after numerous behind-the-scenes interactions with the firm, Dickstein Shapiro, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald review shows none of the partners were registered to lobby in Florida, meaning their advocacy may have violated state law. They won’t be prosecuted unless someone files a sworn complaint with the state.

Cases involving Dickstein Shapiro clients that fizzled in Florida include Accretive Health, a Chicago-based hospital bill collection company shut down in Minnesota for six years because of abusive collection practices; Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit online school that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said had engaged in “unconscionable” sales practices; Herba­life, which had been investigated by federal and state authorities; and online reservation companies, including Travelocity and Priceline, on allegations that they were improperly withholding taxes on hotel rooms booked in the state.

Since 2011, Dickstein Shapiro has contributed $122,060 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, a super PAC that contributed $750,000 to Bondi’s re-election bid. She sits on RAGA’s executive committee.

[...]

It’s not the first time questions have arisen about how Bondi intermingles politics with her official duties.

She persuaded Gov. Rick Scott to postpone an execution in 2013 so she could host a political fundraiser. At about the same time, Bondi accepted $25,000 from Donald Trump three days after a spokeswoman said she would be reviewing a complaint filed by the New York attorney general against Trump’s for-profit schools. Though they’ve received complaints in Florida as well, Bondi’s office has yet to take action.

Look at it this way: she saved Florida taxpayers millions of dollars by not taking them to court, and those companies made millions of dollars by ripping off the people of Florida with scammy products and not paying taxes.  It’s the glibertarian’s dream come true.

The election is in five days.  Pam Bondi will win re-election in a walk.  That’s how we roll in Florida.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Doomsday Preppers

Democrats and progressives are steeling themselves for waking up a week from today and seeing the Senate in Republican hands and Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.  The theme is “Hey, look on the bright side: the Republicans won’t be able to do anything and they’ll get killed in 2016.”

There are multiple reasons for this, but they all have their roots in the fundamental dilemma that has plagued the GOP throughout Barack Obama’s presidency: the contradictory demands of appealing to a broad electorate and appeasing an eternally angry and suspicious base. The tension this creates will play out in new ways if and when Republicans take over the Senate.

[...]

That leaves Republicans with the following dynamic: They pass bills meant to mollify their supporters, the bills are filibustered by Democrats and the bills die. Other than stopping Obama administration appointments (something significant, particularly when it comes to judges, but one that gets a limited amount of attention), Senate Republicans will have little to show their base.

The problem with that theory is that the Republicans don’t really care if they pass any bills or accomplish anything.  They haven’t done any of that in the last eight years and they keep getting re-elected.  Why mess with a good plan?

Liberated

The columnist who advocated secession for southern states to make a new country called “Reagan” has been given the time to explore new opportunities.

Douglas MacKinnon, one of the most conservative and controversial columnists to grace the pages of a Tampa Bay daily newspaper in many a year, has been fired from the Tampa Tribune, sources tell CL.

The Trib isn’t saying anything officially. Metro Editor Dennis Joyce told CL that “It’s a personnel matter,” and refused to confirm or deny MacKinnon’s firing. But his name and work have been scrubbed off the paper’s website (On Tuesday his work was back on the site).

In all probability it’s because of the embarrassment to the paper.

That’s because of a book he’s just published in which he calls on the Southern U.S. states to secede from the rest of the country, because of the South’s more conservative stance on same-sex marriage and other rights pertaining to the LGBT community. Entitled The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country…Now, the book envisions a new Southern region called Reagan,after our 40th president, and would consist of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. Not Texas, however, because, well, frankly, there are too many Mexicans there.

He and this guy are free to go off somewhere and form their own country.  Hopefully on top of an active volcano.

Pope Francis and The Big Bang Theory

Who knew he was into the popular sitcom on CBS?  Oh, wait.

Pope Francis on Monday said that the Big Bang and evolution theories do not contradict the concept of creation.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,” he said at an assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”

“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” he continued. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

Not being a theology major, I am not sure what he means by saying that God is not a divine being.  Isn’t the definition of “god” sort of tied in with divinity?  Whatever; I just… oh, never mind.  I gave up trying to figure out popes ever since they told me they elect one by smoking something.

But somewhere Galileo and Darwin are nodding and smiling, as are Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard, and Penny.