Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Law That Dare Not Speak Its Name

It never ceases to amaze me how the American electorate can consistently vote against their own self-interest and for people who are basically out to scare and scam them with the full knowledge of what is being done to them.  Thomas Frank wrote about this in What’s the Matter with Kansas? in 2004, but he might as well have been writing about Kentucky in 2014.

From Amy Goodnough at The New York Times:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Affordable Care Act allowed Robin Evans, an eBay warehouse packer earning $9 an hour, to sign up for Medicaid this year. She is being treated for high blood pressure and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, after years of going uninsured and rarely seeing doctors.

“I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

Ms. Evans said she did not want the law repealed but had too many overall reservations about Democrats to switch her vote. “Born and raised Republican,” she said of herself. “I ain’t planning on changing now.”

Not to be too harsh on Ms. Evans, but without Obamacare, she would probably be dead and buried as a Republican a lot sooner than later.

There are plenty of anecdotal stories about people who hate something based on perception but then find out all along they actually like it when they try it.  It’s known in some places as the “you’re soaking in it” paradox drawn from the classic Palmolive dish soap commercials with Madge the manicurist.

This leaves the Democrats with their own paradox: how to campaign on a law that they voted for and is growing in popularity without saying that they voted for it or calling it Obamacare because of the unpopularity of the name.  Republicans were saying that no Democrat is running a campaign ad saying they supported Obamacare, and that is technically true, but at least one Democrat in a tight race — Mark Pryor in Arkansas — is touting his support of the law without calling it Obamacare.

In a new ad, Pryor sits with his father, former Sen. David Pryor, and proudly says he “helped pass a law that prevents insurance companies from canceling your policy if you get sick, or deny coverage for preexisting conditions.”

Notably, Pryor doesn’t use the words “Obamacare” or “Affordable Care Act.” But he talks up one of the centerpieces of the law — rules prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating against sick people — and invokes his past struggles with cancer.

It would be easy to dismiss the people who love their new healthcare but hate the man who proposed it as ignorant racists who are under the thrall of the GOP and Fox News spell of hating anything associated with That Man.  There is an element of truth to that in some quarters, but it isn’t the only reason.  New ideas, especially those that have a bearing on something as personal as healthcare, go beyond the logical thinking process and trigger the lizard brain run-and-hide response.  Changing healthcare is not the same thing as changing your cell phone calling plan (although there are those who do make as big a deal as possible out of that).  Simply put, we humans don’t like change and will go to great lengths, even if it causes pain or money, to maintain the status quo inside the comfort zone.

I don’t blame the Democrats for being skittish about campaigning on Obamacare.  They don’t want to change the status quo either.  Their problem is that they have yet to figure out a way to get the people to vote in favor of their own self-interest without resorting to the proven method that has worked for the Republicans: greed, fear, and loathing of abstract ideas like marriage equality, black people voting, and health insurance that actually saves money and lives.

Next Gen GOP

Via TPM:

A Wisconsin Republican dropped out of the race for a seat on the state assembly on Tuesday after he admitted that he made offensive comments about gay and black people on social media, according to The Gazette.

Jacob Dorsey, a 19-year-old candidate challenging Democratic state Rep. Deb Kolste, apologized last week for referring to gay people as “fags” in a tweet.

In December 2013, Dorsey tweeted “fags need 2 leave my favorite state alone” after a judge decided not to stay the ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban, according to the NOManiancs blog.

Now, Dorsey admitted that he made other offensive comments on Twitter and YouTube, which were discovered by the NOManiacs blog.

In comments on YouTube videos, he used the words “fags” and “niggers.” In one comment he said “Niggers trash cars. I’m not selling my town car to one…” according to NOManiac’s screenshots, which were also posted on the Janesville Community Facebook page.

Kids these days.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Common Core

Okay, students, here’s a pop quiz: which prominent political alliance is violently opposed to the teaching of evolution and promotes religious theories in the science curriculum?

  • ISIS
  • The Texas Republican Party

Trick question: they both do.

ISIS:

In Mosul, ISIS issued a statement nearly two weeks ago, declaring “good news of the establishment of the Islamic State Education Diwan by the caliph who seeks to eliminate ignorance, to spread religious sciences and to fight the decayed curriculum.”

The AP report added that Islamic State explicitly prohibits lessons on “Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

As it turns out, Iraqi schools weren’t teaching evolution anyway, but in the name of “eliminating ignorance,” ISIS wants to be absolutely certain that modern biology is banned from science classes. The violent extremists prefer “religious sciences.”

Texas GOP Platform:

The document also rails against teaching evolution in schools, demands that schools restrict access to “community organizers” [...], and encouraging schools to embrace “subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems.”

So the real question is do we fight them over there or over here?

Speaking Of The Stupid Party

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal famously noted that the Republicans have to stop being the stupid party.  To that end, he keeps providing examples.

At a prayer breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor this morning, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said the Obama administration is filled to the brim with “science deniers” who are “holding our economy hostage” by not harnessing every available domestic energy resource.

Yeah, this from a guy who thinks the jury is still out on Jesus vs. Darwin.  While he acknowledges he’s not an evolutionary biologist, he believes mythology should compete with science so students can make up their own minds.  That’s why he’s opposed to Common Core, which he once supported until he found out it was on the Tea Party hit list.

Well, he never did say that the GOP has to stop being the craven party.

Fried, Dried, and Laid To The Side

You may have come across Bryan Fischer somewhere in your internet travels, but in case you haven’t, he’s a Christian fundamentalist with a radio show who spends most of his time obsessing about Christian supremacy and gay people.  He also claims that America is a Christian nation and that the separation of church and state is both a myth and a radical homosexual agenda plot.  Yeah, he’s one of those.

Anyway, his latest proof that America is a Christian nation is bacon.

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation?” he asked. “One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.”

“So the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon,” he continued, “is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation.”

Based on that logic, Israel too is a Christian nation:

The fact of the matter is that it is not that difficult to buy pork in Jerusalem.

Most supermarkets in the city, including the large chains, are either kosher or halal, and thus do not carry the product. But between the secular, native-born Muslims and Jews, Christians, the local tribe of internationals, and Russian Jews who lost many kosher habits during 70 years under communism, a significant number of consumers hanker after the rosy meat.

In fact, the stringency of Jewish and Muslim prohibitions against pork may well serve to heighten the desire for it in a city that almost glows with religious fervor.

In recent months, among journalists and diplomats stationed in town — men and women alike — there has been a quiet thrumming about someone referred to as “the beautiful pork guy in Beit Jala.”

There’s even a popular supermarket chain in Israel that sells non-kosher food, including bacon.  And you can buy it in Dubai as well.

HT to J.M.G.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A History of Pearl Clutching

Jon Stewart via Crooks and Liars recounts the history of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) going over the top with his warnings about doom, death, and destruction.

The poor man lives his life trapped in the Blair Witch Project. For God’s sake, I’ve seen chihuahuas in handbags who are less fretful and shaking.

Well worth watching.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Lindsay Graham Goes Full Freak-Out

Well, there’s nothing like a little calm reassurance from a member of the U.S. Senate that our homeland is secure.  But Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) doesn’t know from nothing.

This is a war we’re fighting, not a counter-terrorism operation. This is not Somalia, this is not Yemen. This is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.

Someone hand Aunt Pittypat the smelling salts, please.  While you’re at it, check in his closet for monsters.

Friday, September 12, 2014

ISIS In America

The wingers are fretting that if President Obama doesn’t go balls-to-the-wall war with ISIS, they’ll be coming here and bringing their religious extremism — convert or die, only True Believers can live within their state, and all laws must be based in their faith — with them.

It sounds like they’re already here.

Founder of the young Earth Creation Museum Ken Ham accepted the donation of a dinosaur from Michael Peroutka’s foundation in May 2014. Now Ham is going to headline an event with Peroutka and David Whitney and put on by Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution.

Peroutka is a member and former board member of the League of the South; Whitney is the chaplain of the Virginia/MD chapter of the League. The League of the South advocates for the Southern states to secede to form a homeland whites of European heritage. Peroutka has pledged the resources of the IOTC to the work of the League, and Peroutka defended the League as a Christian group.

Just over a year ago, fellow right wing luminary General Jerry Boykin pulled out of a conference because of the presence of IOTC speaker David Whitney on the program.  Ham is a frequent speaker at right wing functions. Ham’s decision to partner with IOTC indicates the reach that the IOTC has developed within the Christian right.

The IOTC claims to properly represent and teach the Constitution. However, David Whitney teaches that only Christians should be allowed to be citizens…

How soon before we need some airstrikes for these folks…?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Totally Not Racist GOP

They’re not racist; they just don’t want those black folk to vote.

A Republican state senator in Georgia has vowed to end Sunday balloting in DeKalb County due to the fact that the area is “dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches.”

The news was flagged by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In a longwinded email state Sen. Frank Millar (pictured) rants that Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal “appointee Interim CEO Lee May has disappointed those of us that hoped he could help bring the county together.”

Millar goes on to note that DeKalb county happens to include a number of African American mega churches.

“Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election,” Millar wrote in the email. “Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb.”

This goes along with the outrage that a lot of Republicans fomented in Ferguson last month; not that the police were militarized and drawing down on people who had their hands up, but that someone set up a voter registration table on the street.

Annals of Asshattery

Can you guess where Fox News came down on the story about former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s assault on his then-fiance which was lighting up all the media yesterday?

Well, if you went out to the loony bin and said, “Blame Obama!” you win.

I shit you not.

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros wasted no time during Monday’s episode of “Outnumbered” directing anger at President Obama and the Democrats over a video reportedly showing NFL star Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in an elevator.

“I wanna know, where is the President on this one?” Tantaros asked, after a brief throat-clearing about the NFL’s obligation to react to the tape.

“My question is — and not to bring it back to politics but — this is a White House that seems to bring up a ‘war on women’ every other week. A White House that’s very concerned about the NFL, concussions, etc., prescription drugs in locker rooms,” she said.

So the house organ for the Republican Party, the same party that fought against the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, is tut-tutting because President Obama didn’t immediately have an Oval Office speech on this.  Seriously?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Batshit Crazy

In case you missed it:

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) – It was a case of mistaken identity that, authorities say, could have gone very wrong.

Authorities say, apparently, a group of heavily-armed border militia members mistook conservationists researching bats for illegal immigrants or smugglers.

It happened Aug. 23 in the Gardner Canyon area near Sonoita where the small group of conservationists was out in the middle of the night conducting a wildlife population survey, in this case, counting bats.

Nobody was hurt during the confrontation, but the incident has law enforcement taking notice.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada say the militiamen were on ATVs. They were carrying weapons and were wearing camouflage.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sheriff Estrada says Santa Cruz County does not welcome border militia groups.

“These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,” Estrada says. “We really don’t want them here.”

“It can be a problem for them. It can be a problem for the people, just like in this particular case. Things could have gone terribly wrong,” Estrada says. “They really don’t accomplish anything. They really don’t. With about 1,000 Border Patrol Agents here in Santa Cruz County, a little group of any militiamen are not going to make any difference at all. As a matter of fact, they’re going to get in the way and they could get hurt. Or they could hurt somebody else.”

It seems, before the militiamen realized what was going on, they had called Border Patrol agents who then traveled across the area, merely to encounter people studying bats.

It sounds like more that just the bats need to be counted.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What Happened In Kansas

The headline at TPM read “Democrat Drops Out Of Kansas Senate Race.

It sounds like very bad news for the Democrats’ hopes to keep the Senate in their control: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) would cruise to re-election and the GOP would pick up six more seats.  Hey, presto, Mitch McConnell is the Majority Leader and dems da berries for the rest of the Obama presidency.

Not so fast.  The Kansas senate race was a three-way, pitting Mr. Roberts against the Democrat Chad Taylor and Independent Greg Orman.  Mr. Roberts had a small lead in the race — he’s had troubles of his own, including a rather odd Tea Party primary challenger who in his spare time posted x-rays from his medical practice on Facebook — but with Mr. Taylor out of the race, Mr. Orman actually has a pretty good lead in polling over Mr. Roberts.  Mr. Orman, a former Democrat, has indicated that if elected he would caucus with the Democrats, but even if he doesn’t, he still denies the Republicans a safe seat in the Senate.

There is more going on in Kansas than just the Senate race.  Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is struggling in his race for re-election after using the state as the Great Experiment for all the Tea Party economic wet-dreams of cutting taxes.  His draconian measures drained the state coffers and damaged its credit rating.  He purged the state GOP of anyone suspected of harboring a nice thought for common sense.

But the Republicans that he purged are not going quietly, and it may have been this bit of news that prompted Mr. Taylor to drop out of the race.

More than 70 former Republican lawmakers announced their support for the independent candidate for U.S. Senate over incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts on Wednesday.

Traditional Republicans for Common Sense, which is made up of moderate Republicans who have served in the Kansas Legislature, chose to endorse Greg Orman over Roberts and Democrat Chad Taylor.

“Our members know leadership because they’ve been leadership,” said Jim Yonally, the group’s chairman and a former state representative from Overland Park. “Our members have been there. They’ve been on the frontline. They’ve had to make the tough decisions.”

The group sees Orman as a pragmatist who can broker compromises between the two parties, said Rochelle Chronister, who has previously represented Neodesha in the House and served as chair of the Kansas Republican Party.

[...]

The group’s membership has a lot of overlap with Republicans for Kansas Values, which endorsed [Democrat] Paul Davis over Gov. Sam Brownback in the governor’s race in July, with a few exceptions. Chronister has not endorsed either candidate in the governor’s race, but she has criticized Brownback in public statements.

What this comes down to is that if the Democrats keep the Senate in 2014, the one person they may have to thank in their victory speech is their former colleague and far-right talisman Sam Brownback.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

More GOP Minority Outreach

Now that Ferguson, Missouri, has calmed down and the cable TV news shows have stopped doing live coverage, the Republicans are doing their best to see how they can help bring harmony and understanding between the races.

Sending Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father out to mend the wounds seemed like a good idea.  The elder Mr. Cruz took it upon himself to educate African-Americans by telling them that the minimum wage is actually a bad thing and that the “average black” didn’t know that.

Cruz went on to tout Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder For Blacks To Succeed by Jason Riley, a member of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board who is African-American. Riley, Cruz said, talks about how “all the handouts to blacks have kept blacks in the poorhouse.”

“Jason Riley said in an interview, Did you know before we had minimum wage laws black unemployment and white unemployment were the same? If we increase the minimum wage, black unemployment will skyrocket. See, he understands it, but the average black does not.”

And they still don’t get it why African-Americans don’t vote for Republicans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Specifically Vague

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed President Obama for not have a specific strategy for dealing with ISIS, but can’t come up with one himself.

But then, he’s not the president.  What a relief.

Hell, even George Will is able to cut the president a little slack for not being able to herd the cats that are the alleged allies we have in Europe and the Middle East.  But Mr. McCain will never pass up a chance to remind us what fools we were to pass him and what’s her name over to lead the nation and chase kids off his lawn.

Love Them and Leave Us

I’m with Booman on this: what is with the right-wing punditry’s obsession with getting foreign leaders to run our country?

Ann Coulter wants Benjamin Netanyahu to be our president, Erick Erickson wants David Cameron to be our president, and Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle would be okay with either Netanyahu or Vladimir Putin being our president.

I’ve got a better idea: let Ann Coulter move to Israel, Erick Erickson move to Great Britain, and Kimberly Guilfoyle can move to Russia.  They’ll get the leaders they want and we’ll be rid of them here.  Win-win.

Salute Freedom Or Get Out

Someone needs to get their irony meter checked.  Via ThinkProgress:

A Florida mayor ejected one of his constituents from a City Commission meeting on Thursday because he declined to stand during the invocation and pledge to the flag at the beginning of the meeting.

Winter Garden Mayor John Rees, a nonpartisan official leading an Orlando suburb of about 37,000, was caught on video demanding that an audience member stand for a prayer, which thanked God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.”

The audience member responded, “I don’t believe I have to do that, thank you.” After the prayer, Rees again instructed the constituent, identified by the Orlando Sentinel as Joseph Richardson, to stand for the pledge to the flag as “children have to in school.” Richardson again politely declined.

“Okay. I asked him to either stand or please be escorted out as we do the Pledge,” Rees says in the video. “It’s just not fair to our troops and people overseas, sir.”

City police then enforced the mayor’s demand and Richardson left.

The Supreme Court has ruled that no one may be compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  A number of churches and denominations have specific imprecations against pledging to the flag or taking oaths, or even praying out loud.  But none of that seems to matter to Mr. Rees, who did it for the troops.  He perhaps will be explaining it to an attorney when he gets his ass sued in court for violating the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fashion Plate

I heard that the twittersphere got all twitterpated because President Obama wore a tan suit at his press conference yesterday.  Well, if that’s what sets off the bird-brains, so be it.

Obama Speaks on the Situation in Ukraine

But now I hear that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is angry about it, too.  Via TPM:

“There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday,” King said on NewsMaxTV on Friday. The interview was flagged by Buzzfeed. “When you have the world watching … a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is gonna do. For him to walk out —I’m not trying to be trivial here— in a light suit, light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy. This is a week after Jim Foley was beheaded and he’s trying to act like real Americans care about the economy, not about ISIS and not about terrorism. And then he goes on to say he has no strategy.”

So wearing a tan suit makes him appear un-presidential?  Really?

Check this out:

C3657-13

Okay, Mr. King, if you say so.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Paging Dr. Strangelove

Via Kevin Drum, William Kristol is at it again, this time taking his love of raining terror on people back to ISIS in Iraq:

What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.

Oh, I get it; he’s saying that just to get a rise out of us.  He doesn’t really want to kill a bunch of people just to see if they decapitate any more hostages or something.  He’s messing with us.  Right?  Right?