Friday, October 24, 2014

Stupid Question

A Green Bay, Wisconsin, alderman is in trouble for asking a Muslim woman if she had denounced terrorism after she wrote him to ask about bus service.

Heba Mohammad, a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate, emailed Alderman Chris Wery to ask why bus service is not free on Election Day.

Wery replied to say he would look into it, and then proceeded to ask Mohammed about terrorism, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“I am just curious, you are the founder of the Muslim Student Association at UWGB?” he asked in the email. “Across the country there seem to be some problems here and there with some MSA’s. I just want to be assured that your group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology.”

“Do you and the MSA condemn both of those as well as terrorist groups such as HAMAS?” he then asked.

Mohammed was taken aback by Wery’s questions and did not answer him.

“That’s kind of hurtful, to be honest,” Mohammed told the Press-Gazette.

Ms. Mohammed should have asked Mr. Wery that because he’s a white Christian, has he condemned the Ku Klux Klan?  What’s his stand on lynching?

Second Amendment Solution

Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst — she of the pig castration fame — says she’s ready to stand her ground.

In a newly released video from a 2012 National Rifle Association event, Iowa Republican senate candidate Joni Ernst said that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important,” Ernst said at the rally, which was held about a month after James Holmes allegedly murdered 12 people in Aurora, CO.

I get the part about defending herself against an intruder, but from the government?  Does that mean she’s going to pull a gun on a cop that gives her a ticket for a busted taillight?  Draw down on the census taker or the IRS?

Paul Waldman asks the same question.

The problem with this new quote is that it borders on anti-democratic. I don’t care how many times you praise the Founding Fathers or talk about your love of the Constitution, if you think that the way to resolve policy differences or personal arguments with the government is not just by trying to get different people elected or waging a campaign to change the laws or filing suits in court, but through the use of violence against the government, you have announced that you have no commitment to democracy. In the American system, we don’t say that if the government enacts policies we don’t like, we’ll start killing people. It’s not clear that Ernst meant this, but it’s fair to ask her to explain what she did mean.

There’s a real chance she could be the next senator from Iowa.  Do the good people of Iowa really want someone who thinks the best way to protect themselves is by having gunshots flying?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

We Tried That Before

Via Raw Story:

A conservative columnist and former aide to President Ronald Reagan called on southern states to secede and form an ultraconservative new nation named after his old boss.

Douglas MacKinnon, a former speechwriter for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, appeared Tuesday on The Janet Mefford Show to promote his new book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country … Now,” reported Right Wing Watch.

He told the religious conservative host that southern states – starting with Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – should leave the United States so they can implement a right-wing Christian system of government.

MacKinnon envisions other states joining, but he hopes to leave out Texas because “there have been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from some of the folks in Mexico.”

We tried that before about 150 years ago and it didn’t work out so well.  Anyway, if he wants to have a country without gays and Hispanics, he can forget about including Florida.  But we have other plans anyway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And We’re Tired Of You

Aw, Chris Christie is annoyed at hearing about poor people.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Tuesday that he’s “tired” of hearing discussion on the minimum wage and seemed to suggest that a higher minimum wage isn’t something to “aspire to.”

“I gotta tell you the truth, I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage, I really am,” Christie said during an event at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, according to a recording of his remarks by the liberal opposition research group American Bridge.

“I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight in America who are saying, ‘You know honey, if my son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized,” he added. “Is that what parents aspire to for their children?”

Well, I’m sure sorry that he’s tired of hearing about the minimum wage.  What a way to ruin his perfect day.  You know who else is tired of hearing about the minimum wage?  The mom who has to feed a family with the money she makes earning it, or the dad who has to pay for other things besides just food and shelter such as healthcare for a child, or the guy who has to work two minimum-wage jobs to pay for the long-term care for a disabled parent.

They’re fucking tired of hearing about the minimum wage, and one of the things they aspire to is getting through the day without being lectured on how boring it is to hear about it from someone who couldn’t last a week on minimum wage.

Peak Fearmongering

Okay, I think we’ve reached the limit on Ebola fearmongering thanks to Mark Thiessen in the Washington Post.

Terrorists could collect samples of infected body fluids, and then place them on doorknobs, handrails or airplane tray tables, allowing Ebola to spread quietly before officials even realize that a biological attack has taken place.

Think it can’t happen? If an Ebola-infected Liberian, Thomas Eric Duncan, was able to fly to Dallas, what is to stop an Ebola-infected terrorist from doing the same? And if our health-care system was unable to handle a single Ebola patient, imagine what would happen if 50, 100 or more Ebola patients started showing up at U.S. hospitals.

And Osama bin Laden will rise from his watery grave, grow wings, and hover over downtown Miami singing “Close To You.”  It will be a movie on SyFy with Dustin Hoffman and Kristin Chenoweth.

Seriously, folks; if Nigeria can contain Ebola, so can we.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nothing To Sneeze At

Once again George F. Will proves that he has no idea what he’s talking about.

He told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that the jury is still out on whether or not Ebola can be spread through the air.

“There are doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or some cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious,” Will said.


“We’re getting used to people declaring scientific debates closed, over and settled — they rarely are.”

Yes, they are, and the doctors he misquoted said nothing of the kind.  But since he sounds articulate and writes well, he’s a fucking genius on the subject.

Zombie Nutsery

You remember ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, right?  According to its Wikipedia entry, it “advocated for low- and moderate-income families by working on neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. At its peak ACORN had over 500,000 members and more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the U.S.”

It also became the target of right-wing fury because it helped people who voted for Barack Obama, and in 2009 it was targeted by James O’Keefe, convicted felon, in a heavily edited video that accused it of “voter fraud.”  Thanks to the negative publicity, ACORN went out of business in 2010 and the Orcosphere won.

But just to be sure that it was dead, Congress under the GOP whooped through legislation that specifically forbid ACORN from ever doing anything again, and they’re so afraid of it that to this day they still require anyone who gets a federal grant to swear on the soul of Robert Taft that they won’t touch ACORN, even though it is dead and buried.  Here’s what is included in a grant award notice received from the Department of Justice in October 2014:

Recipient understands and agrees that it cannot use any federal funds, either directly or indirectly, in support of any contract or subaward to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries, without the express prior written approval of OJP.

ACORN has been dead for four years now, but the wingnuts are so afraid of it that they still include this shit.

The power of the people must really scare them.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Can’t Get Here From There

This is what happens when you don’t do your homework… or check Orbitz.

A member of Congress who wants to ban travel from countries afflicted by the Ebola outbreak appeared to be unaware of a key fact — that there are no direct flights between the U.S. and Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone.

In a Friday morning appearance on MSNBC, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) argued that instituting a flight ban, regardless of what experts say, makes sense and said he plans to introduce a bill doing so once Congress reconvenes in November.


Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.

“I believe there are some flights,” Ross responded.

“There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect,” rebutted New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters.

Yep.  Another Florida win in the Idiot Quotient in Congress.

Don’t Panic — Ctd

Via the New York Times:

At least one chapter of the Ebola saga neared a close Sunday, as most of the dozens of people who had direct or indirect contact here with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola, had been told by officials that they were no longer at risk of contracting the disease.

Mr. Duncan’s fiancée, Louise Troh, who nursed him in their cramped apartment while he suffered from diarrhea and who was put under state-ordered quarantine, was set to be declared Ebola-free by officials at the end of Sunday. So, too, were the paramedics who drove an ailing Mr. Duncan to a hospital and health care workers who drew or processed his blood. And a mandatory quarantine was lifted for a homeless man who later rode in the same ambulance as Mr. Duncan before it was disinfected.

The 21-day monitoring period ended Sunday and Monday for nearly all the roughly 50 people. It concludes as federal health officials are tightening the guidelines for the protective gear worn by health care workers treating Ebola patients.

Hear that, Fox News?  You are free now to find something else to obsess about.  Okay, how about a jihadist deliberately infecting himself and then taking the A train?  Have you worked that one out yet?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Out of Gas

A story in the New York Times revealed that American soldiers found rotting, rusting, and forgotten chemical weapons shells that the U.S. had sold to Saddam Hussein during his war with Iran in the 1980′s.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.

In case after case, participants said, analysis of these warheads and shells reaffirmed intelligence failures. First, the American government did not find what it had been looking for at the war’s outset, then it failed to prepare its troops and medical corps for the aged weapons it did find.

No, wingnuts, this does not prove that President Bush was right about WMD’s all along.  It’s roughly the same as finding an old Soviet warhead from World War II buried in a backyard in Warsaw and claiming that Mikhail Gorbachev was plotting to invade Poland.

The real crime is that the Pentagon for whatever reason decided not to train their soldiers on how to deal with the old ordnance when they encountered them, and covered up the injuries when they did.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Big Misunderstanding

Via TPM:

A Republican Missouri official said that she meant “no ill intent” toward President Obama when she asked on her Facebook page if the U.S. military was able to oust the president.

In a Facebook post last week, Jefferson County Recorder of Deeds Debbie Dunnegan referred to Obama as “our domestic enemy,” according to a screenshot published by Progress Missouri.

“I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military … having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the constitution gives you the authority,” she wrote in the post. “What am I missing? Thank you for your bravery and may God keep you safe.”

Dunnegan, who is up for re-election in November, said that her question was taken out of context, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it’s an election,” she said. “I meant no ill intent toward the president. I meant no ill intent toward anybody.”

All she did was call for the violent overthrow of the duly elected president.  It’s not like she was wondering why someone hasn’t killed him or anything.  What’s the big deal?

Today in Chutzpah

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) mused that in the midst of concern about Ebola here and abroad, there should be someone overseeing the healthcare policy for the country.

You mean like a Surgeon General?  You mean the nominee that was blocked by Republicans in the Senate?

Yeah, that guy.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just Making Stuff Up

No, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Jr., there are no ISIS fighters sneaking across the U.S. border.

On Tuesday night, Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, took those comments even further. Appearing on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” Hunter said, “At least ten ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the border in Texas.” When Van Susteren asked how he knew that, Hunter replied, “Because I’ve asked the border patrol, Greta.”

To which the Department of Homeland Security replied:

“The suggestion that individuals who have ties to ISIL have been apprehended at the Southwest border is categorically false, and not supported by any credible intelligence or the facts on the ground,” said DHS spokesperson Marsha Catron. “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border.”

To which Rep. Hunter replied in essence, “Well, of course they’d deny it.  They don’t know what they’re doing, and besides, why should we believe anything they say?”

At this point you start looking for a large baseball bat or a sock filled with horse manure.

Never Got The Chance

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is already providing the autopsy for his impending re-election loss.

“I think they so desperately want what’s happening in this state to fail that they’re shopping for a factual setting to back that up because it’s working,” Brownback said of his critics in an interview with CBN News’ The Brody File.

Brownback in recent months has found himself in serious trouble of not winning re-election due in large part to Kansas’s struggling economy and deep cuts to education. Critics have pointed specifically to the deep tax cut plan Brownback laid out two years ago and has since implemented. It’s helped create a rare opening for Democrats and now Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) is leading in most polling of the gubernatorial race race.

Yes, do tell us how that darn liberal media cut taxes to the bone, slashed education funding, and lowered the state’s credit rating to that of the homeless guy outside the Circle K.  It’s not like Gov. Brownback didn’t have four years and a hand-picked legislature to whoop through all of his Tea Party wet-dream paths to prosperity and freedom.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

More Shiny Objects

Following up on the previous post…

upyernoz on Ted Cruz’s tantrum over the Supreme Court’s non-decision on marriage equality:

This is the first time I have seen the term “judicial activism” for not issuing a judicial decision. So now the decision not to engage in an activity is “activist.”

I get what Sen. Cruz is up to, though.  This will be part of his campaign for the presidency and once he’s over gay marriage and the Supreme Court, he’ll find another shiny object to freak out about.  He knows that his base has the attention span of an Irish setter, so he has to come up with something every other day to be outraged about.

A year ago it was Obamacare, then later it was immigrant children, followed by ISIS.  Next week, who knows; there’s plenty to choose from: Benghazi!, the IRS, the latte salute, playing golf, Michelle forcing us to drink water, eating dessert with a salad fork.

Republicans are never happy unless they’re trashing their shorts about something every day, and they go through their life like they have gallstones.  What a miserable way to live.

Fearmongering Buffet

According to Arkansas GOP senate candidate Tom Cotton, ISIS is coming to get you by way of Nogales:

The problem is with Mark Pryor and Barack Obama refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and refusing to secure our border.  I’ll change that when I’m in the United States Senate. And I would add, it’s not just an immigration problem. We now know that it’s a security problem.  Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they’re willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism.

They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas. This is an urgent problem and it’s time we got serious about it, and I’ll be serious about it in the United States Senate.

¡Ejole!  Does Lindsay Graham know about this?

Okay, so he’s checked off one big story of the summer — immigrant children — and conflated it with the other big story — ISIS — to make a boogedy-boogedy sandwich.  All we need is a side of Ebola and we have a right-wing nutsery combo platter.  Beverage not included.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Beginning Of The End

Looking at some of the reactions to the Supreme Court’s non-decision on marriage equality by the anti-equality folks — outragejudicial activism by unelected judges, a violation of God-given rights, and so on — tells me that the battle for same-sex marriage is coming to the end the way I thought it would: by the slow inexorable march, state by state, court battle by court battle, until finally the freedom to marry is as ordinary as any other exercised right.

The losers are outraged because they believed that they had the right to encode their bigotry and religious prejudice into law.  They also have gone over the top because they hear the distant approach of oblivion.  It won’t happen overnight; history tells us that overcoming pride and prejudice (h/t Jane Austen) takes a long time.  But they know the jig is up and the anti-gay movement will in time become as relevant and forceful as the temperance movement.

This may not be the solution some of us wanted: a firm holding from the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment, contrary to Sen. Cruz’s assertion, does guarantee equal protection under the law and that marriage, established as a fundamental right in cases going back generations, should be available to all citizens regardless of genitalia.  Those who criticize the Court for not taking up the case should understand that in order to do so they had to have conflicting rulings: a ruling for and a ruling against.  So far no federal bench has sided with the anti-same-sex side, therefore there’s no decision to make, and they let the lower courts rulings stand.  In baseball, it would be called a walk-off: there’s no need to have the final out when the winning run has scored and the other team has no more at-bats.

They’re going to go out in the same way they came in, though.  They will grift the foolish and the fearful of their money and hope to hang on to their cash while desperately finding some other line of work.  They know that the lies they tell and the fundamental misstatements about the make-up of our government are meant only for their pigeons.  They carry on about “unelected judges,” knowing full well that the federal judiciary doesn’t face the voters for a very good reason: they — at least it is to be hoped — should not be swayed by political or financial ambition (even if that concept has been put to the test by the current Supreme Court).  Judicial activism is clearly in the eye of the beholder.  These same people praised the genius of the Court when it decided that corporations themselves can hold religious beliefs and that a checkbook is the same thing as a soapbox; two decisions that legal scholars of every stripe agree were outside the scope of the original cases.  And while appealing to heaven and the Almighty make for some thunderous rhetoric and get the money flowing, using a religious argument to enforce an untenable violation of the Constitution should automatically disqualify it from consideration.

A federal court could rule against marriage equality and that could set up a hearing before the Supreme Court.  But yesterday’s move basically opened the door and hundreds of couples have already tied the knot in places such as Virginia, and Utah (!); states that up until yesterday morning did not have marriage equality.  Even the losers concede that undoing those bonds would be impossible.

This is not the end.  Florida still has the ban — for the moment — as do nineteen other states.  But it is only a matter of time, and I’m not talking years.  It will be months, perhaps weeks now.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Compassionate Conservatives

This guy makes Adolf Eichmann sound like a wuss.

The former general counsel and executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party is coming under fire for the novel solutions to the Ebola epidemic he is posting on Twitter.

The vehemently pro-life Todd Kincannon began by arguing that anyone who contracts Ebola should be summarily executed.

Well, it would save on medical bills.

And then there’s this dude:

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tried Sunday to defend the Texas anti-abortion law that shut down 13 clinics this week. But he avoided discussing what the law actually does.

“The issue for us is only one thing, and that’s whether you ought to use taxpayer money to fund abortion,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The law in question has nothing to do with taxpayer funding of abortion. It requires all abortions in Texas to take place in ambulatory surgical centers, or mini-hospitals, and requires all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law also bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and limits how doctors can prescribe medication abortions.

Since the first provision of the law went into effect nearly a year ago, all but seven of the 44 abortion clinics in Texas have been forced to shut down or stop offering the procedure.

Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” asked Priebus why Republicans “don’t like a lot of regulations on businesses, except if the business is an abortion clinic.” He noted that the new law has effectively closed 80 percent of the abortion clinics in Texas.

Priebus dodged the question.

“The fact of the matter is that we believe that any woman that’s faced with an unplanned pregnancy deserves compassion, respect, counseling, whatever it is that we can offer,” he said.

So how much “compassion” and “respect” does it take to make someone drive seven hours to find a clinic?  No one needs that much compassion and respect.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Killer Virus

There’s a deadly virus that causes severe respiratory illness.  So far it’s killed at least four people in the U.S. and it is spreading.  No, it’s not Ebola.

Samples collected from four patients who recently died have tested positive for enterovirus D68, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is unclear what role the virus played in their deaths. In fact, it’s possible that enterovirus had nothing to do with them. The virus is very common, especially in the late summer and early fall, with the CDC estimating 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States.

Yet the deaths do raise an alarm because this year has been worse than some other years, since enterovirus D68 has been sending more children than usual to the hospital with severe respiratory illnesses. It seems to be most affecting children with a history of asthma or breathing problems.

As of Wednesday, the CDC had confirmed 500 people in 42 states have respiratory illnesses caused by enterovirus D68.

But so far all the attention and freak-out has been over one case of Ebola and the patient is, thankfully, still alive.

This is not to minimize the danger of Ebola, but it makes you wonder why it is getting all the attention with BREAKING NEWS banners and special music on the cable channels when there’s a disease that’s actually killing people here.  Could it be that Ebola came from Africa and everyone knows that Africa is a scary place with people who scare people, as opposed to a plain old American virus that just kills kids as they breathe?