Wednesday, May 27, 2015

First They Came For The Mainstream

Per Marco Rubio, the hunters will be the hunted.

“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech,” Rubio said in an interview with CBN News published on Tuesday. “Because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater.”

Rubio added that eventually the teachings of the Catholic Church will be under attack.

“After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech and there’s a real and present danger,” Rubio continued.

Aside from the fact that throughout history the Roman Catholic Church systematized the persecution and conversion — willingly or not — of millions of people in hundreds of countries and pretty much invented the idea of “enhanced interrogation,” the current leader of the faith seems less concerned about the acceptance of gays and lesbians than Mr. Rubio.  Granted, he’s not wild about it, but he isn’t making it sound like it’s the end of the world.

It also seems rather chauvinistic to think that the Catholic Church is the sole representative of mainstream Christianity.  There are plenty of denominations who qualify under that rubric who not only accept marriage equality but ordain gay clergy and perform same-sex weddings.

The only real and present danger is letting Mr. Rubio convince voters that he’s the one who should be speaking for mainstream Christianity.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Supremely Stupid

Mike Huckabee, who will never be president of anything, continues to prove that he should never be allowed near any form of power other than the adapter on a Dust-Buster with this spewage of religious bile and historical ignorance.

Republican presidential candidate Mick Huckabee insisted on Sunday that the president of the United States would not have to follow a ruling that struck down bans on same-sex marriage because the Supreme Court was not the “Supreme Being.”

“You seemed to indicate that as president, you wouldn’t necessarily obey court rulings, even the Supreme Court,” Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out during an interview on Sunday. “We have operated under the principle of judicial review since the Marbury v. Madison case in 1803.”

According to the GOP candidate, the United States would be operating under “judicial supremacy” instead of judicial review if bans on same-sex marriage were to be struck down.

“Presidents have understood that the Supreme Court cannot make a law, they cannot make it, the legislature has to make it, the executive branch has to sign it and enforce it,” Huckabee said. “And the notion that the Supreme Court comes up with the ruling and that automatically subjects the two other branches to following it defies everything there is about the three equal branches of government.”

“The Supreme Court is not the supreme branch,” he added. “And for God’s sake, it’s not the Supreme Being.”

Huckabee wondered what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled on “who was going to be the next president.”

“We would say, ‘Well, they can’t do that.’ Why can’t they do it? They can’t do it because it’s not in the law,” he opined. “We are sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law. And it has to be consistent and agreed upon with three branches of government. One can’t overrule the other two.”

Setting aside the fact that apparently Mr. Huckabee was not paying attention in Grade 6 Social Studies when most kids learn about the three branches of government system that we have and that one of the roles of the Judiciary is to review the laws and does have the power to invalidate them, chuckling over the cute little “Supreme Court v. Supreme Being” quip, the statement that gets my attention was his fear of what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled on “who was going to be the next president.”

Yes, indeed, what would happen?

Fortunately for the sake of the country and what’s left of the separation of church and state, the best that Mr. Huckabee can hope for is that Fox News will take him back.  If not, there’s always the role that Junior Samples played on the reboot of Hee Haw.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Reading

Obama on the Middle East — Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview in The Atlantic covers Iran, Iraq, and Israel, and the history of presidential legacies in dealing with all three of them.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

The president—the self-confident, self-contained, coolly rational president—appears to have his own anxieties about the nuclear talks. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Jimmy Carter’s name did not come up in our Oval Office conversation, but it didn’t have to. Carter’s tragic encounter with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, is an object lesson in the mysterious power of Iran to undermine, even unravel, American presidencies. Ronald Reagan, of course, also knew something of the Iranian curse. As Obama moves to conclude this historic agreement, one that will—if he is correct in his assessment—keep Iran south of the nuclear threshold not only for the 10- or 15-year period of the deal, but well beyond it, he and his administration have deployed a raft of national security-related arguments to buttress their cause. But Obama’s parting comment to me suggests he knows perfectly well that his personal legacy, and not just the future of global nuclear non-proliferation efforts (among other things), is riding on the proposition that he is not being played by America’s Iranian adversaries, and that his reputation will be forever tarnished if Iran goes sideways, even after he leaves office. Obama’s critics have argued that he is “kicking the can down the road” by striking this agreement with Iran. Obama, though, seems to understand that the can will be his for a very long time.

The Candidate the Tea Party Hates — Jenna McLaughlin at Mother Jones finds out it is not Hillary Clinton.

The tea party hates South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and the feeling is mutual. It attacked the Republican lawmaker mercilessly during his Senate reelection campaign in 2014, but Graham held his seat with 55 percent of the vote. “Kicking the crap out of the tea party is the most fun Senator Lindsey Graham has ever had,” wrote Molly Ball for The Atlantic last June after interviewing the South Carolina Republican on the eve of his primary election victory, when he faced six no-name challengers, one of them a tea party pick, in his deep red state’s Republican primary.

On June 1, Graham plans to join the crowded GOP 2016 field, according to his preannouncement on Monday. And his soon-to-be presidential campaign raises the question: How will the Graham/tea pary feud continue?

The animosity between this three-term senator and tea partiers began before his 2014 reelection campaign, triggered in part by Graham’s intermittent attempts to work with Democrats in the Senate. Such moves have enraged staunch conservatives. The Greenville GOP compiled a list of 29 offenses that they “strongly disapprove of and hold to be fundamentally inconsistent with the principles of the South Carolina Republican Party.”* Right-wing blogs have nicknamed him “Flimsy Lindsey” and “Grahmnesty” because he disagreed with his party on climate change, immigration reform, and a few other hot-button Republican issues.

Climate change triggered the first tea party salvos against Graham. In the fall of 2009, tea partiers in South Carolina and beyond bashed Graham for his support of energy legislation that aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In an editorial titled “Graham’s Dalliance With Cap-And-Trade Crowd a Bad Move,” Michael Costello of the Idaho’s Lewiston Tribunewrote, “If Republicans really want to completely alienate this crowd and give birth to a third party, they should follow the lead of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). [He] has thrown his lot in with John Kerry (D-Mass) to push one of the worst pieces of legislation in American history, the carbon cap and trade bill.”

Soon after that, as Politico reported, the conflict between Graham and tea partiers “sparked a mutiny back home” in South Carolina. The Charleston County Republican Party, in a written resolution, slammed Graham for stabbing Republicans in the back and undercutting “Republican leadership and party solidarity for his own benefit.” Politico noted that “bubbling” conservative discontent blew up because of the climate change bill but was also fueled by Graham’s support for immigration reform and changes at the US detention facility Guantanamo Bay. Graham, a hawk who often criticizes President Barack Obama’s national security policies, didn’t try to make peace with his conservative critics. Instead, he called detractors of immigration reform “bigots” and refused to disavow or stop his occasional bipartisan efforts.

“I’m making that a tea party goal to get scoundrels like Lindsey Graham out of office,” Greg Deitz, a Charleston Tea Party organizer, told Politico.

London Mystery House — Ed Caesar in The New Yorker on the biggest house in London and the question of who owns it.

Witanhurst, London’s largest private house, was built between 1913 and 1920 on an eleven-acre plot in Highgate, a wealthy hilltop neighborhood north of the city center. First owned by Arthur Crosfield, an English soap magnate, the mansion was designed in the Queen Anne style and contained twenty-five bedrooms, a seventy-foot-long ballroom, and a glass rotunda; the views from its gardens, over Hampstead Heath and across the capital, were among the loveliest in London. For decades, parties at Witanhurst attracted potentates and royals—including, in 1951, Elizabeth, the future Queen.

In May, 2008, I toured Witanhurst with a real-estate agent. There had been no parties there for half a century, and the house had not been occupied regularly since the seventies. The interiors were ravaged: water had leaked through holes in the roof, and, upstairs, the brittle floorboards cracked under our footsteps. The scale of the building lent it a vestigial grandeur, but it felt desolate and Ozymandian. A few weeks later, Witanhurst was sold for fifty million pounds, to a shell company named Safran Holdings Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands. No further information about the buyers was forthcoming.

In June, 2010, the local council approved plans to redevelop the house and five and a half acres of grounds, maintaining Witanhurst as a “family home.” It was the culmination of a long battle with other Highgate residents, who did not welcome such an ambitious project. Since then, Witanhurst’s old service wing has been demolished and replaced with the so-called Orangery—a three-story Georgian villa designed for “everyday family accommodation.” And beneath the forecourt, in front of the main house, the new owners have built what amounts to an underground village—a basement of more than forty thousand square feet. (The largest residential property in Manhattan is said to be a fifty-one-thousand-square-foot mansion, on East Seventy-first Street between Madison and Fifth, owned by Jeffrey Epstein.) This basement, which is connected to the Orangery, includes a seventy-foot-long swimming pool, a cinema with a mezzanine, massage rooms, a sauna, a gym, staff quarters, and parking spaces for twenty-five cars. In late 2013, the local council approved plans for a second basement, beneath the gatehouse, which will connect that building to both the main house and the Orangery. Earlier this year, the owners also sought planning permission to extend an underground “servants’ passage.”

When the refurbishment is complete, Witanhurst will have about ninety thousand square feet of interior space, making it the second-largest mansion in the city, after Buckingham Palace. It will likely become the most expensive house in London. In 2006, the Qatari royal family bought Dudley House, on Park Lane, for about forty million pounds; after a renovation, its estimated resale value is two hundred and fifty million pounds. Real-estate agents expect that the completed Witanhurst will be worth three hundred million pounds—about four hundred and fifty million dollars.

If a vast and lavishly appointed house in Manhattan—a palace nearly double the size of the White House—were being redeveloped on the edge of Central Park, New Yorkers would want to know who lived there. Londoners are equally inquisitive, and concerted efforts have been made to uncover the identity of Witanhurst’s owners. Shortly after the house was sold, it became known—from local gossip and publicly accessible planning documents—that Witanhurst belonged to a family from Russia. Several newspapers speculated that the owner was Yelena Baturina, Russia’s richest woman, and the wife of Yury Luzhkov, then the mayor of Moscow. (Luzhkov and Baturina reportedly enriched themselves while he was in office, before Luzhkov clashed with the Russian government; she now lives in London.) Baturina denied owning Witanhurst, and in 2011 she sued the London Sunday Times for publishing an article titled “BUNKER BILLIONAIRESS DIGS DEEP.”

The Baturina lawsuit and the continued secrecy surrounding Witanhurst have intensified the guessing game. Generally, the names of homeowners in Britain are listed in the Land Registry, which can be read for a small fee. But listings for properties owned by offshore companies do not disclose individual beneficiaries. In the British Virgin Islands, records reveal merely the name of the “registered agent” of Safran Holdings—Equity Trust Limited, a local agency that holds several such positions and is connected to the company by name only—and the company’s post-office box, on the island of Tortola.

A recent investigation by the Financial Times found that more than a hundred billion pounds’ worth of real estate in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies. London properties account for two-thirds of that amount. Charles Moore, a former editor of the Telegraph, says that London’s property market has become “a form of legalized international money laundering.” For Highgate residents, however, worries about the lack of transparency in the purchase of Witanhurst have come second to a more English concern. People irritated by the construction noise and the traffic that have blighted their normally quiet neighborhood have no owner to complain to—only managers.

Doonesbury — Everything you say.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tweets From Post-Racial America

Via the New York Times:

Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s first, cheerful post — “Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really!” it began — Twitter users lashed out in sometimes profanity-laced replies that included exhortations for the president to kill himself and worse.

One person posted a doctored image of Mr. Obama’s famous campaign poster, instead showing the president with his head in a noose, his eyes closed and his neck appearing broken as if he had been lynched. Instead of the word “HOPE” in capital letters as it appeared on the campaign poster, the doctored image had the words “ROPE.”

The accompanying message said “#arrestobama #treason we need ‘ROPE FOR CHANGE.’ ” It was addressed to @POTUS by a user calling himself @jeffgully49, who has posted other images of Mr. Obama in a noose, and whose Twitter profile picture shows Mr. Obama behind bars. “We still hang for treason, don’t we?” his post said.

The writer, Jeff Gullickson of Minneapolis, subsequently posted on Thursday that his reply to Mr. Obama had earned him a visit from the Secret Service at home. Reached for comment, Mr. Gullickson responded by asking in an email how much The New York Times would pay him for an interview.

White House officials and a Twitter spokesman said they could not determine the percentage of postings to Mr. Obama that were racist. But they appeared to be a small number in what was an otherwise social-media-fueled show of love for Mr. Obama, who was drawing followers at a breakneck pace — nearly 2.3 million by Thursday afternoon — and hundreds of worshipful messages that welcomed him to Twitter and praised him on everything from his appearance to his policies.

“I love you, @POTUS,” wrote one person, @camerondallas, who has nearly five million followers, in a posting marked as a favorite more than 15,000 times.

But there was one measure of a specific slur. According to analytics compiled by Topsy, a research company that collects and analyzes what is shared on Twitter, the number of postings that included Mr. Obama’s name and one particular racial epithet jumped substantially on Monday, the day of the president’s first posting, to 150.

They had to know this was going to happen.  In fact, I’ll bet they were counting on it: draw out the trolls, let the sticks and stones fall where they may so we could see how pathetic the common clay really is.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jeb Steps In Another One

Just when he thought he had extricated himself from the war quagmire, Jeb Bush has stepped in another one.  This time it’s marriage equality.

Jeb Bush reiterated his opinion on a same-sex couple’s right to marry on Sunday, going so far as to say he doesn’t believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality, an issue currently being deliberated in the Supreme Court.

Speaking during an interview with The Brody File on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Bush, whom BuzzFeed dubbed “2016’s Gay-Friendly Republican,’ called traditional marriage ‘a sacrament.’

“To imagine how we are going to succeed in our country unless we have committed family life, a child-centered family system is hard to imagine,” he told David Brody. “So, irrespective of the Supreme Court ruling … because they are going to decide whatever they decide, I don’t know what they are going to do, we need to be stalwart supporters of traditional marriage.”

First, let’s unpack some of this garbage.  He’s right; there is no explicit constitutional right to same-sex marriage.  Nor is there an explicit constitutional right to straight marriage.  There is no mention in the Constitution about marriage at all.  However, the Supreme Court has said that marriage “is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,'” so they’ve got you there, Mr. Bush.

Second, traditional marriage may be a sacrament to some people and faiths, but it is also a legal contract that doesn’t require the blessings of a religion to be binding.  (For that matter, circumcision is also a sacrament in certain faiths, but I can provide evidence that in at least one case it had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.)  Marriage, however you define it, does not depend on religion.  If you want to have a nice wedding in your choice of a place of worship, whether it’s in a cathedral with a priest, a synagogue with a rabbi, or a meeting house with the Friends gathered around, knock yourself out.  But twenty minutes in front of a judge at the courthouse has just as much legal weight.

Third, it is demonstrably false that same-sex couples cannot provide for a “committed family life [and] a child-centered family system.”  Same-sex couples who adopt or go through surrogacy want children and want to raise them; they don’t get them because someone forgot to make a trip to Walgreens or things got a little too hot and heavy behind the DQ in their mom’s minivan.  So marriage equality could actually make the home better for a child who is wanted by the parents, and there is no scientifically valid study to show that having two moms or two dads is any different than being raised by straight parents.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at Mr. Bush’s transparent toadying to the homophobic base of the GOP.  Not so long ago he was saying comparatively moderate things about marriage equality, asking people to “show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue – including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections.”  But once he’s playing in Pat Robertson’s ball park, all bets are off, even going so far as to muse that discrimination against a gay couple buying flowers is okay because we’re a big country and there’s always room for bigotry dressed up in “religious freedom” drag.

This is beginning to be a pattern with him.  First he blew the Iraq war question, which he had to know would come up given that it’s his family’s business.  Now he turns into a culture warrior, apparently trying to horn in on the schtick of Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, none of whom will give any ground on being sniveling homophobes of the first order.

It makes you wonder what the next turd pile he’s going to step in… Hey, Jeb, how about that auto bailout?  Should we have let Detroit go bankrupt?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Give Us A Break

George Stephanopoulos gave $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation — a charity that buys medicine for poor people and supports AIDS research among other things — and the Beltway goes into meltdown.  He has to apologize on the air and and has now set himself up as the target for all the right-wing nutsery as proof of the “liberal media.”

Charles and David Koch, who run a huge oil and gas conglomerate, gave billions of dollars to PAC’s for Republican candidates and helped write right-wing legislation against combating climate change, and no one gives a shit.

What am I missing here?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Speaking of Stupid

John Boehner can really be an asshole.

House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday dismissed a reporter’s question about Amtrak funding as authorities continued investigating the Tuesday derailment that killed eight people near Philadelphia.

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said, cutting off the reporter mid-question during a briefing at the U.S. Capitol. “They started this yesterday, it’s all about funding, it’s all about funding.”

“The train was going twice the speed limit,” Boehner said. It is “hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here.”

It’s not a stupid question for families of the people who died or who were injured; it’s not a stupid question when we have bridges collapsing and killing people; it’s not a stupid question when a majority of people in both parties agree that something needs to be done about all of it.

And yet we’re still not doing anything about it because it’s a priority of President Obama and of course the Republicans won’t do anything about it as long as the president is, um, near.

So the question is, how many people have to die or get maimed because of shitty roads, dangerous bridges, and failing infrastructure before they decide that it is a priority?  Or is that a stupid question?

Short Takes

The engineer is now the focus of the inquiry into the train wreck in Philadelphia.

Fast Track back on track: Senate Democrats reverse course and hand President Obama a victory.

Man arrested for trying to fly drone over White House fence.

Proofread: Clinton-bashing book gets some error corrections.

R.I.P. B.B. King, 89, blues guitarist and legend.

The Tigers wallop the Twins 13-1 thanks to two homers by Miggy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sorry But Not Sorry

You’ve probably heard about this man who refused to buy health insurance because Obamacare is Socialism, but if you haven’t, here’s a quick recap.  He’s going blind thanks to untreated diabetes and now he is pissed at Obamacare for not coming to his rescue.

Lang, a Republican, says he knew the act required him to get coverage, but he chose not to do so. But he thought help would be available in an emergency. He and his wife blame President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats for passing a complex and flawed bill.

“(My husband) should be at the front of the line, because he doesn’t work and because he has medical issues,” Mary Lang said last week. “We call it the Not Fair Health Care Act.”

That’s like driving a car without insurance and getting pissed off at State Farm because they won’t pay to replace your smoldering ruin when you’re standing next to it after you plowed into a bridge abutment.  (PS: Don’t you just love the sense of entitlement Mrs. Lang has because her husband is a member of the Party of Personal Responsibility?)

I’m sorry he’s got medical problems; diabetes and blindness is horrible, but I’m not sorry at all that he’s going through this nightmare that he caused for himself and his family.  As it is, the state will end up paying for his medical care because he can’t, which is the very definition of socialized medicine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Disqualifier

Ben Carson can run for president to his heart’s content, but when he says stupid things like “we need to discuss” the Supreme Court’s role in reviewing the laws so that we’re not living under mythical “judicial laws,” he ought to be relegated to the rank of that of a candidates whose campaign is focused on discussing the flatness of the earth.

We could also exclude those who think we should run our foreign policy based on movie trailers.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Kids These Days

The attention span of a teenager is roughly that of an Irish setter (this is not to put the knock on kids; the same can be said of the average adult — SQUIRREL!), and getting them to pay attention in school when there are many other distractions going on, including the raging hormones that turn the slightest breeze into a towering urge to do something about the circus going on in their trousers, is basically impossible.

So why is anyone at all surprised that there’s an outbreak of chlamydia at a high school in Texas where they teach “abstinence-only” sex education?

District officials are rethinking their approach to sex education after 20 of Crane High School’s 300 students tested positive for the sexually transmitted disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the outbreak a health issue at “epidemic proportions,” KFOR reported.

Crane Independent School District officials met Monday to discuss possible updates to the high school’s conservative sex education program.

“We do have an abstinence curriculum, and that evidently ain’t working,” superintendent Jim Rumage told the TV station. “We need to do all we can, although it’s the parents’ responsibility to educate their kids on sexual education.”

However, Rumage defended the current teachings to the San Antonio Express-News.

“If kids are not having any sexual activity, they can’t get this disease,” he said. “That’s not a bad program.”

Well, yeah, and if they don’t breathe, they won’t catch a cold, either.

HT to Balloon Juice.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lone Star

The mere fact that I was born in Texas does not give me the right to sneer and disrespect the state or the people therein, and it’s totally unfair to label a happenstance of geography and cartography that has carved out a large chunk of the land mass we call the United States as the bilge.  Texas is a beautiful state with a lot of great people and places, ranging from the Gulf Coast to the rolling hills and desert of the west; I have a fond memory of driving across it in early August and being charmed by the variety of its open spaces and the friendliness of the people I met as I took Sam for an early-morning walk in Pecos.

So it must be just the confluence of circumstance and karma that three of the strangest and news-notable events of the past year have either started in Texas or are playing out there: Ebola, Jade Helm 15, and the assault on offensive cartoons of Mohammed by a couple of road-company jihadists from Arizona.

Of course the Ebola outbreak of last fall didn’t start in Texas; some poor fellow already infected with the virus happened to land there, get sick, and ended up dying in a Texas hospital that at first sent him home with two aspirin.  The nationwide panic that ensued was fueled by ignorance and to no small degree a midterm election that was desperate to find something to scare the crap out of the voters.  But it started in Dallas and gave the local politicians yet another thing to blame on incompetence of the federal government, all the while demanding that they do something before everyone in the Lone Star State was wiped out.  Fortunately (except for the first victim), no one else died of Ebola, and once the election was over, it was like it never happened.  Two months later, a much more infectious and potentially dangerous epidemic of measles swept the country, but since it started in California and there was no one running for office, we dealt with it calmly.  (Also “Ebola” sounds much scarier than “measles,” a disease we associate with childhood and cute poems about Christopher Robin.)

The paradox of rough-tough gun-totin’ Texans freaking out over a military exercise titled Jade Helm 15 that they see as a cover for martial law, gun confiscation, and a Red Dawn-style invasion by the forces of evil under the thrall of the Secret Muslim Kenyan Usurper is both amusing and scary: amusing that a military exercise that has been openly planned for a long time and is a reprise of pretty much the same exercise that took place in 2005, and scary that otherwise allegedly sane people who drive around with SUPPORT OUR TROOPS bumper stickers would think that the Special Forces of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines could pull it off.  What happened to the bumbling, fumbling, snafu-prone federal government?  Have they actually been using their legendary molasses-like pace as a cover for their truly swift and overwhelming abilities to seize an entire state without tipping someone off?  How very clever.

As with Ebola, this story couldn’t have gotten legs without the help and encouragement of the politicians who instinctively know how to exploit the fear and loathing of low-information voters, and Texas excels at electing such exploiters as Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Rep. Louis Gohmert, all of whom have gone so far over the top with the boogedy-boogedy about Jade Helm 15 that the voice of reason — at least in terms of defending the troops if not the president — is former Gov. Rick Perry, who heretofore was famous for succeeding George W. Bush both as governor and as a buffoon.

When Pam Geller, the anti-Islamic agitator, decided to sponsor a contest to see who could draw the most offensive cartoon of Mohammed, she chose a suburb of Dallas, probably based on the assumption that she would draw in, so to speak, a number of like-minded participants.  Maybe Ms. Geller didn’t know that there is a substantial Muslim population in Texas and they’ve been there for over 150 years.  Or maybe she did know and was doing it for the same reason someone who really hates Catholics would host a Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective or display Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” across the street from St. Patrick’s cathedral.

Ms. Geller has the First Amendment on her side and she said she was no different than Charlie Hebdo and their satirical cartoons, and when the two guys rolled up in their car and tried to shoot up the place, she got exactly the response she was hoping for.  (Taking a cue from the Jade Helm 15 conspirators, it does make one wonder if they weren’t set up by her organization, and the fact that a sharp police officer was able to kill them before they got out of the parking lot means they were collateral damage to her show.)  Had they not shown up, no one would have noticed the event at all.  Now she can claim that ISIS is in Texas, and if they’re there, they could be everywhere.

Texas doesn’t have the monopoly on batshit crazy and stupidity in America; after all, I’m writing this in Florida.  But whether it is because of its size, its diversity, and instinct for kneejerk repulsion against anything that doesn’t come from there (or they can lay claim to), it’s had a rough go.  And now that Ted Cruz is running for president and Rick Perry is planning to try again, the good folk of the Lone Star state can expect even more excitement.  But this is also the state that turned a massacre by the Mexicans at the Alamo into a rallying cry, so I expect they’ll make it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Article of Faith

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seems to have a problem with basic grammar.

“Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Middle East is bad news,” Graham said at a dinner in Boston on Monday with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, according to investigative journalist Uri Blau.

Graham was referencing the Arabic word for “the.”

“Al-Qaida, Al-Nusra, Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula,” he continued. He went on to discuss U.S. relations with Israel and the Arab world, threatening the funding of the United Nations if it “marginalized” Israel.

He’s got the support of a number of kids in Grade 8 who hate “al-Gebra,” but he’s pissed off a lot of denizens of the Everglades, and you really don’t want to dis the “al-Ligators.”  I’d suggest he calm down and have a drink, but apparently he also has a problem with “al-Cohol,” which would explain this bizarre and xenophobic behavior.

So Sue Me

Via NBC:

A Nebraska woman identifying herself as the “ambassador” for plaintiffs “God and His Son, Jesus Christ,” is suing all homosexuals on Earth for breaking “religious and moral laws,” according to court records filed Tuesday.

In the suit, entered into the docket as Driskell v. Homosexuals, Sylvia Ann Driskell, 66, of Auburn, Nebraska, asks in a seven-page, neatly handwritten petition (PDF) that U.S. District Judge John M. Gerrard decide once and for all whether homosexuality is or isn’t a sin.

The suit doesn’t cite any case law under which a judge could make such a determination. In fact, it cites no court cases at all, quoting Webster’s Dictionary and numerous Bible verses, instead, to bolster Driskell’s central contention, which is:

“That homosexuality is a sin and that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in the closet.”

Driskell writes, “I’m sixty six years old, an [sic] I never thought that I would see the day in which our Great Nation or Our Great State of Nebraska would become so compliant to the complicity of some peoples [sic] lewd behavior.”

The suit was noticed by several gay activists and writers, including Dan Savage, the advice columnist, who said, “Man, I hope I get deposed!” and Steven Payne, a self-described “gay feller,” who wrote in The Daily Kos:

“Brian (his husband) and I will be liquidating our assets in preparation for a certain loss. We anticipate the restitution ordered to this woman will take us down to our very last penny. In the meantime, our fear is so great we have ceased and desisted being homosexual.”

She will be hearing from my lawyer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015