Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fox Fire

Rachel Maddow looked into the hoopla being ginned up by the right-wing noise machine — mainly Fox News — over the standoff in Nevada between Cliven Bundy, a deadbeat rancher, and the Bureau of Land Management.

The folks at Fox are harking back to Waco and Ruby Ridge as if the people who started the fights were the poor put-upon victims of the jackbooted thugs of the government when in reality they were criminals and worse.

Here’s the story from The Rachel Maddow Show — note, the video auto-starts.

These cowards in Nevada — they threatened to use women as human shields — are little more than disgruntled whiners who, as has been noted, are ripping off the taxpayers because they don’t want to pay their rent.  So they’ve come up with this cockamamie crap about “sovereign citizenship” based on the same perverted reading of the Constitution that also gives us the interpretation that we’re a Christian nation founded on biblical law and only white Christians and county sheriffs should run the country.  (Mr. Bundy would do well to re-read the U.S. Constitution as well as the constitution of his own state.)

They’re not a whole lot different than the Taliban, and Fox News is enabling them because there’s a black guy in the White House.  If you don’t think racial animus plays a part in this, imagine if Mr. Bundy was black, Hispanic, or Muslim and taking the same stand.  Fox News would be all over the ATF to get those tax-dodging moochers out of there and complaining that the Obama administration is backing down because the president supports their cause.

Personhood

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted the other day that “personhood” — the idea that a fertilized human egg has all the rights of a fully-born person — is making a comeback in several Senate races.

This has already appeared in the Colorado Senate race, but it will likely become an issue in other races, too. In Colorado, the Republican candidate, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, renounced his previous support for Personhood after entering the contest, admitting it would “restrict contraception,” but Dems seized on the reversal to argue that Gardner only supports protecting women’s health when politically necessary.

Gardner co-sponsored the “Life at Conception Act,” which provides for Constitutional protection of the right to life of each “preborn human person,” defined as existing from the “moment of fertilization.” The Pro-Life Alliance describes this as a “Personhood” measure.

Other GOP Senate candidates are on record in similar fashion. Co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act include Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Steve Daines of Montana, both expected general election candidates. Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, three leading GOP Senate candidates in North Carolina — Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon, and Mark Harris — all favor a “Personhood” constitutional amendment that would “grant legal protections to a fertilized human egg and possibly ban some forms of birth control.”

Leaving aside the sketchy science that goes along with the idea — after all, scientific facts in the debates such as climate change or teaching “creationism” in schools never matter — the idea behind personhood is control; mainly control of women and their bodies.  From the moment of conception, which, by the way, is very hard to pinpoint — it’s not like a bell rings when it happens — a second person is inhabiting her body and she cannot do anything about it other than host it.

Personhood has been on the ballot before.  It’s lost in places like Colorado and even in Mississippi where abortion is being legislated out of existence with the same legerdemain the states used to prevent integration when that was fashionable.  (Still is in some places.)  But like every perverse trend the control freaks come up with and seems like a lost cause, they have a way of coming back from another direction.  Zealots never give up.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Disqualifier

There should be a simple test as to whether or not someone should be elected to Congress.  One of the questions should be whether or not equal rights under the law are constitutional.  (Hint: the answer is yes.)

So why does Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) have a problem with it?

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a freshman congressman aligned with the Tea Party, held a town hall Monday evening in Gainesville where he fielded a wide range of questions from constituents. One such voter was Melvin Flournoy, a 57-year-old African American from Gainesville, who asked Yoho whether he believes the Civil Rights Act is constitutional.

The easy answer in this case — “yes” — has the benefit of also being correct. But Yoho found the question surprisingly difficult.

“Is it constitutional, the Civil Rights Act?” Yoho repeated before giving his reply: “I wish I could answer that 100 percent.” The Florida Republican then went on to strongly imply it may be unconstitutional: “I know a lot of things that were passed are not constitutional, but I know it’s the law of the land.”

In his previous career, Mr. Yoho was a veterinarian.  I’m not sure I’d want someone with this brainpower to be working on animals, but he sure as hell doesn’t belong in Congress.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Freedom Freeloaders

Bryan at Why Now? has a concise summation of the case of Nevada rancher and right-wing anti-government “patriot” Cliven Bundy who refuses to pay grazing fees for his cattle on federal land.

A number of my relatives were/are dairy farmers. If they wanted to expand their herds and needed more grazing land, they had to lease it from private landowners at commercial rates. The grazing fees on Federal land in the West are a pittance compared to what a dairy farmer in the Northeast has to pay. The grazing fees are effectively a subsidy of Western ranchers by the taxpayers.

Bundy is a moocher, making money off of Federal resources, and that has to stop. He is stealing from the ranchers who pay their fees, and from all of the taxpayers. It may be time to reintroduce mountain lions and wolves on Federal lands in Clark County, Nevada.

It was probably wise of the BLM to back off for the sake of avoiding a confrontation with a bunch of Palinized gun nuts: discretion is the better part of chicken.  But it never ceases to amuse me how all those brave patriots are really just a bunch of whiny adolescents who refuse to pay their fair share of living here because Freedom! but are the first hogs to the FEMA trough when a flood, a tornado, or some other disaster strikes.

Cheese It

Wisconsin Republicans want to reserve the right to secede.

Earlier this month, the party’s Resolutions Committee voted in favor of a proposal that says the state party “supports legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede.”

A version of the so-called “state sovereignty” resolution was first OK’d last month by one of the state GOP’s eight regional caucuses as an assertion of the state’s 10th Amendment rights. The measure also calls for ending all mandates that go “beyond the scope of the constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government.”

Top Republican officials hoped to kill the fringe proposal during a meeting of the resolutions panel at the Hyatt Hotel in Milwaukee on April 5. Instead, the committee made a few edits to the resolution and adopted it on a split vote.

Now, the matter will go for final approval to the delegates attending the state Republican Party’s convention in Milwaukee on May 2-4.

I don’t think they’ve thought this one through.  When the South seceded 150 years ago, there was a natural order to it; they were all bunched up in the lower part of the continent and we could have thrown up a border from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans.  Texas can secede to its heart’s content; it’s next to its original owner, Mexico.  But Wisconsin is wedged in there between Minnesota to the west, Michigan to the north, Illinois to the south, and Lake Michigan to the east.  Wisconsinites couldn’t go anywhere without a passport.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Freedom Cattle

Via TPM:

Armed anti-government activists have forced federal authorities to stop their seizure of cattle that were illegally grazing on federal land in Nevada.

“Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze said, according to ABC News.

Self-described militias had come to protest the government action against Cliven Bundy, a cattle rancher who is feuding with BLM over his use of federal land.

You know who the self-described militias are blaming all of this on, of course: the evil Kenyan gay socialist in the White House who dictated the terms using his dictatorial powers of Executive Order 12548, signed in … 1986 by Ronald Reagan.

Oops.

So Go Already

Mike Huckabee is the fun that never ends.

Not content to make just one questionable quote in the last 24 hours, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee decided Saturday to suggest that North Koreans living under an oppressive regime might have more freedom at times than Americans.

According to reporters at the New Hampshire conservative summit where Huckabee spoke, the potential 2016 candidate cited airport security measures by the Transportation Safety Administration as proof.

If he would be happier living in North Korea, I will gladly contribute money to buy him a plane ticket to Pyongyang.  I’ll even drive him to the airport.

A Couple of White Guys Sitting Around Talking

The two whitest men on TV accuse President Obama and Eric Holder of playing the race card.

Fox News political analyst Brit Hume said that Holder and President Obama have “benefited politically enormously from the fact that they are African-American.”

“To those two men, race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves, and to attack others,” Hume said.

Fox News contributor George Will said that liberals haven’t had any new ideas in a few decades, so they accuse people of being racist.

“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s syndrome these days. Just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist,’” he said. “There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s — except Obamacare — and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles, from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad.”

“So, what do you do? You say, ‘Anyone who criticizes us is a racist,” Will continued.

It’s just hilarious to hear these two men — both of whose views on race relations are problematic at best — get their tails all puffed up about both the president and the attorney general pointing out the obvious.  Republicans in and out of the government and on TV have gotten away with race-baiting and borderline slurs and then, in typical bully/coward fashion, acted as if they were the wounded party.

It’s also hilarious to see Mr. Will go off on all the problems that the country faces and lay them at the feet of Mr. Obama, as if the economic recovery from the the unmitigated disaster spawned by Wall Street and hindered by the Republicans was all his doing.  Project much, Mr. Will?

And yes, if you have to tell people you’re not a racist, chances are pretty good that you are.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

GOP Outreach Update

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) says it’s the bible that makes him a sniveling homophobe.

“I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives,” Huckabee said in his keynote address to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

“But…when people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.’ Folks, that’s why I stand where I stand.”

[...]

“Why is it that Christians stand back and take it in the teeth time and time and time again? But we cannot change this country if we do not rise up and vote with an informed mind and a committed spirit and if we’re not willing to stand along.”

Yes, it’s the Christians who are being targeted by legislation in several states and being told they don’t have to be served by businesses that don’t agree with their “lifestyle”; it’s Christians who are being fired just because they’re Christians; it’s the poor put-upon Christians who are literally having their teeth kicked in by roving bands of gay thugs on the streets of New York, and it’s the Christians who hide their own bigotry and hatred behind a book of fiction and fables to justify their own flaws and don’t have the courage to own up to their own issues.  (Hint: only the last one is true.)

Gov. Huckabee missed that part of the tale about “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “turn the other cheek.”  But selective reading is what you do when you’re looking for loopholes to justify being an asshole.

Meanwhile, former Sen. Jim DeMint, now the head of the Heritage Foundation, says the federal government didn’t free the slaves; it was in the Constitution already.

Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong.

Um, the part about “all men are created equal” is from the Declaration of Independence, which predates the Constitution by about a decade or so, and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which banned slavery, was written and proposed by members of the federal government.  The Emancipation Proclamation was written as an executive order by President Lincoln.

Mr. DeMint has an ironic sense of history regarding the Civil War since he used to be a senator from South Carolina, the first state to secede, and chances are a great many people in his state and of his mindset would be perfectly happy to return to the old times there which are not forgotten.

Finally, one more note from Mr. Huckabee on outreach to women:

Guys like to go fishing with other men. They like to go hunting with other men. Women like to go to the restroom with other women.

Keep up the good work, guys; you’re doing great.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Running Against Darwin

Aaron Miller, a Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota, is in the race to run on the usual Tea Party agenda: repeal Obamacare, cut the deficit, et cetera. But he’s added a new item to the list: stop evolution… or at least the teaching of it.

He also called for more religious freedoms. He repeated his story about his daughter returning home from school because evolution was being taught in her class. He said the teacher admitted to not believing in the scientific theory to his daughter but told her that the government forced him to teach the lesson.

“We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington D.C.,” Miller said.

First things first: Washington D.C. does not decide what is taught in our schools.  That is up to the local school board.  The Department of Education is specifically precluded by federal law from dictating curriculum content to public schools.

Second, if the public school teacher is admitting to not believing in the scientific theory, then perhaps they should be teaching another class — or another profession — because that’s a lot like having a math teacher who says they don’t “believe” in Euclidean geometry.  Of course, that assumes that Mr. Miller’s child is telling the whole story, which sounds a little fishy to me.  After all, how many kids come home from school complaining about a teacher when it was the student who didn’t do the homework?

Finally, as Steve Benen notes, running for Congress because public schools are teaching accepted scientific theories and doesn’t include medieval mythology in biology classes is a really strange motivator, and the people in Minnesota could probably do better.

Smackdown

Attorney General Eric Holder takes it to Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX)

Under questioning by Gohmert at a House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Holder was again asked for documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal that led to his being held in contempt of Congress two years ago.

“I’ve read you what your department promised and it is inadequate,” Gohmert said. “And I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our Attorney General but it is important that we have proper oversight.”

“You don’t want to go there, buddy, alright? You don’t want to go there, ok?” interjected Holder.

“I don’t want to go there?” responded Gohmert.

“No. You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me,” a visibly agitated Holder shot back. “I think it was inappropriate, I think it was unjust, but never think that that was just a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”

Video here.

No Jews Either

Trail Life USA, the Jesus-freaks’ replacement for the Boy Scouts now that they let openly gay boys — but not leaders — into the troops, also doesn’t allow openly Jewish leaders.

Via Good As You, from Trail Life USA’s FAQ page:

Trail Life USA is a Trinitarian Christian organization with a Statement of Faith that includes those denominations that specifically recognize Jesus Christ as the prophesized Messiah of the Jewish scriptures. There are some groups like “Jews for Jesus” that recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, but continue to hold to Jewish traditions and customs regarding feasts, etc. A Messianic Jew could indeed be a leader. However, a person of the Jewish faith would not be able to sign our Statement of Faith. Thus, according to our membership standards, Jewish churches and organizations would be precluded from chartering Trail Life USA troops. And those of the Jewish faith would indeed be precluded as adult leaders based on their beliefs.

What a dull bunch of hateful people.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Keeping Score

A few weeks ago a religious charity called World Vision came out in favor of being nice to gay couples.  The right-wingers carried on as if their home was in a tree and a lot of outraged alleged Christians said they would no longer contribute to the charity because depriving people of food and shelter in the third world is what Jesus would do.  They shrieked loud enough that Richard Stearns, the head of the organization, reversed course: it will no longer hire people who are in same-sex marriages.

Then this week it was revealed that Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla, the foundation that created the Firefox browser, donated money to support the Prop 8 campaign in California.  This led to a call from dating website OkCupid to boycott Mozilla.  After enough shouting, Mr. Eich announced that he was resigning from the company.

In both cases the outcry became the story, and what’s even more entertaining is that the Religious Righties who tweeted and flailed about Mr. Stearn’s blasphemy turned right around and accused OkCupid of being “fascists” and the “GAYSTAPO” as if they have absolutely no self-awareness at all.

I use Firefox as my main browser.  I have for years, and because one of the executives at the company gave money to a cause I don’t agree with isn’t enough of a reason for me to stop using it.  I am sure there are a lot of companies or organizations that I patronize that do things I don’t like; everyone from my grocery store to the phone company to the lawn guy with the ragged old McCain/Palin bumper sticker on his truck.

This is one of the reasons boycotting a company can be problematic: you have to be really good at remembering who you got mad at a couple of weeks ago and be very consistent in telling other people what to do — or not to do.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mississippi Passes Anti-Gay Law

Picking up the turd that Arizona dropped:

Mississippi lawmakers on Tuesday passed the final version of a bill that says state and local governments cannot put a substantial burden on religious practices, a measure that sparked debate about possible discrimination against gay people and other groups.

An early version of the bill, considered weeks ago, was similar to one that Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed after business groups said it could hurt that state’s economy.

Of course the poor persecuted Christians see it as a victory against the rampant discrimination that they face every day.

Senate Bill 2681 is called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and its main sponsor is Republican Sen. Phillip Gandy of Waynesboro, a Baptist pastor.

“It protects Christians in the state from discrimination,” Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, who is also a Baptist pastor, told his House colleagues.

Here’s a thought: if you demonize an entire community based on nothing but mythology and superstition, perhaps you should face discrimination because you’re a flaming asshole and a sniveling bigot.

Put that on your cross and burn it.

Jumping The Gun

Even before the most basic facts were known about yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood in Texas that left four dead and sixteen wounded, at least one of the right-wingnuts shot off their mouth via Twitter:

Muslim massacre Twit 04-02-14In this case, the shooter wasn’t a Muslim, had no ties to terrorism, and was being treated for PTSD after serving in Iraq.

But why let facts get in the way of your racist psychopathy?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Haven’t Heard The Last Of It

Now that President Obama has done his victory lap in getting more than 7 million people to sign up for health insurance through Obamacare, that’s pretty much it for it being a campaign issue in November, right?  According to Rachel Maddow and a lot of other hope-filled Democrats, the numbers should put the kibosh on it.

You wish.  The Republicans will do whatever it takes to keep up the demonization for as long as they can.  They will find anecdotes of someone who refused to sign up because they hate the guvamint and now have chronic sinusitis and it’s all Obama’s fault, or they heard about someone’s aunt who was tortured by a death panel.  After all, these are the folks who brought you 24 hours a day of Benghazi! and Rand Paul is dredging up Monica Lewinsky, f’r Dog’s sake.

So if you think you’ve heard the last of GOP hating on Obamacare, you haven’t heard anything yet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This Really Gets Old

Apparently you can whip a dead horse.

A trio of Republican senators is pushing for a special committee to investigate the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.

“We are once again calling for the appointment of a Joint Select Committee to investigate the terrorist attacks on our compounds in Benghazi,” said Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in a statement Monday. “It is imperative that we learn everything that happened before, during and after the attacks. A Joint Select Committee should be established.”

These were the same folks who said the same thing in 2012.  If it wasn’t April 1, I’d think it was Groundhog Day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Annals of Asshattery

Newt Gingrich criticizing Hillary Clinton for something:

“First Lady, Senator, Secretary Clinton is very famous for being famous,” Gingrich opined. “And as long as she can continue to be famous, she will be famous.”

This from someone who has made his living for the last fifteen years by selling snakeoil and political opinions to the highest bidder.  Jealous much?