Monday, November 30, 2015

They Can’t Figure It Out?

There seems to be some hesitation about saying what the motivation might have been behind the shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic last Friday in Colorado Springs.  At least on the part of some in the media.

The shooter who killed three and injured several others at the site of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs remains something of an enigma, and while both sides of the political aisle have chimed in about the shooting it isn’t clear at all that he was particularly or specifically motivated by politics to commit his crimes…

So suddenly the mantra is “no rush to judgment” as to the motives of this killer?  Well, that’s fine, but the next time — and there will be a next time — that there’s a mass shooting done by a person who isn’t white or against a target that harbors conservative ideology, let’s all stroke our chins and wait until all the evidence is in, shall we?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Palling Around With Terrorists

Back in 2008 the McCain campaign made a lot of noise about Barack Obama’s nodding acquaintance with William Ayers, a college professor, anti-war activist, and co-founder of the Weather Underground (a name now used — with ironic intent, I’m sure — by a very good on-line weather forecasting service).  The campaign’s mouthpiece accused Sen. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”  This caused twitterpation among the Very Serious People who were concerned that the candidate might be associated with unsavory people who had been active in illegal activities forty years before.

Like most campaign memes, the concern about Mr. Ayers and his association with the candidate proved to be about as long-lasting and tenuous as the connection itself, and the people who really cared about it moved on to more important issues such as the missing birth certificate and Mr. Obama’s secret gay Muslim lifestyle.

Stories like that, though, tend to make us indifferent to candidates who do associate themselves with truly unsavory and possibly dangerous people.  For example, Rachel Maddow noted last night that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has received the enthusiastic endorsement of Troy Newman, an anti-abortion activist who co-authored a book that speaks approvingly of the murder of doctors who perform abortions.

Mr. Cruz has embraced the endorsement of this man who openly advocates first degree murder, and so far his campaign hasn’t shied away from seeking out like-minded individuals such as Kevin Swanson, who preaches that gay people should be put to death.

The question now before us is why hasn’t Mr. Cruz received the same kind of attention for palling around with people who are, to this day, actively promoting murder and execution as compared to the furor that was raised when it was revealed that Mr. Obama once shook hands with a man whose last days of anti-war activity took place before the Beatles broke up?

Someone ought to look into that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

No Matter What

It’s often said that if President Obama came out in favor of sunshine and puppies, the Republicans would accuse him of promoting skin cancer and hating cats.  Think that’s an exaggeration?  Check this out.

The examples of the GOP’s reflexive opposition to President Obama’s agenda are many but this may be the best one yet: by a 27 point margin Republicans say they disapprove of the President’s executive order last year pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys (Macaroni and Cheese) instead of the customary one. Only 11% of Republicans support the President’s executive order last year to 38% who are opposed- that’s a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama’s name on something GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what.


“Thinking Something Differently”

Sharp as a tack:

Hours after Ben Carson told reporters he remembers seeing American Muslims celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, his campaign said the GOP presidential candidate was “thinking something differently” and does not remember such reaction in the U.S.

“Dr. Carson does not stand by the statements that were reported today. He was hearing and thinking something differently at the the time,” Carson communications director Doug Watts said in a statement on Monday. “He does, however, recall and had his mind focused on the celebrations in the Middle East. He is not suggesting that American Muslims were in New Jersey celebrating the fall of the twin towers.”

Watts added that Carson apologizes to “anybody offended by that.”

Earlier in the day, Carson said that he, like fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump has claimed, has seen “newsreels” of American Muslims celebrating the attack in New Jersey.

Trump raised eyebrows this weekend when he said he saw “thousands” of people cheering as the twin towers fell on September 11th.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is sticking to his story and demanding an apology from anyone who says he didn’t see the non-existent video.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Trumping Trump

Donald Trump got a lot of attention last week for saying that we should shut down mosques in America, but he was trumped, so to speak, by Marco Rubio.

“It’s not about closing down mosques. It’s about closing down any place — whether it’s a cafe, a diner, an internet site — any place where radicals are being inspired,” Rubio said on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Thursday night when asked if he agreed with Trump. “The bigger problem we have is our inability to find out where these places are, because we’ve crippled our intelligence programs, both through unauthorized disclosures by a traitor, in Edward Snowden, or by some of the things this president has put in place with the support even of some from my own party to diminish our intelligence capabilities.”

“So whatever facility is being used — it’s not just a mosque — any facility that’s being used to radicalize and inspire attacks against the United States, should be a place that we look at,” he continued.

Donald Trump is a sadist and a fascist, but he’s leading in the polls so Marco Rubio, who never had an original idea but knows who to steal from, comes along.  So we’ve come to this, and this is now what passes for “reasonable” rhetoric from the candidate who is supposed to be the one who isn’t as wild-eyed bat-shit crazy as some of the others.  Just toss out the Constitution and lump all the people who worship at a particular place into one group.  That, we have been told, will solve the problem and put an end to radicalization.

In the real world, just the opposite will happen.  Persecuting Muslims and their allies will only radicalize more of them, as we’ve seen in Iran, Iraq and Syria and anywhere else in the last 100 years where we’ve tried to bend them to our way.  And it’s not just Muslims; it’s a lot of places where we decided that we know best and who can resist the siren call of capitalism, McDonald’s, and Jesus?

Friday, November 20, 2015

It’s What They Do

I expected the Republicans to vote as a bloc on the stupid and chickenshit bill to gum up the works for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  It is, as the current meme goes, what they do.

I also expected a number of Democrats to cringe and curl up into a ball and vote along with them because, y’know, it’s also what they do.  They’re not afraid of jihadists sneaking into the country under the guise of being poor wandering ones from war-torn countries; after all, the people who committed the attacks in Paris were either Belgian or European Union citizens; the Syrian passports found at the scene were forgeries, most likely being carried as a part of the plan to throw off the investigators.  I doubt they were thinking, “Gee, after we do this, the U.S. House is going to play right into our hands and completely lose their shpadoinkle over the idea of Syrians sneaking into Deadcat, Indiana, and waging jihad while washing dishes at the Cracker Barrel.”

What they’re really afraid of is being called soft on terrorism by the Republicans who have completely lost their shpadoinkle over a group of people who are running for their lives from a bunch of vicious thugs and murderers and have no more capacity to wage guerrilla war on the West than Rush Limbaugh has of doing the macarena with Hillary Clinton.

Aside from the fact that the law is doomed and short-sighted — after all, if the intent is to block only Syrian and Iraqi refugees, what’s to stop a determined jihadist from picking up a false set of papers from say an Albanian or a Serbian or whatever set of forgeries are available from the guy at the copy shop who sells them on the side — it was another in a long series of GOP attempts to call out the weak-willed and bed-wetters among the Democrats. And it worked; now we know who can be held hostage via e-mail and who could be coaxed into voting for laws that basically put Muslims under the same yoke of suspicion and ostracization as the Japanese citizens in Los Angeles on December 8, 1941, or the Jewish shopkeepers in Nuremberg in 1938.  After all, Donald Trump says “he’s potentially open to the creation of a database to track Muslim citizens, or requiring that Muslim Americans carry a special form of identification noting their faith.”  What, wear some version of the symbol of Islam on their clothing?

I have gotten used to the Republicans and their candidates sucking up to fascism and religious intolerance American style (not to mention the irony of labeling gun registration as the road to tyranny but registering Muslims as a bulwark of freedom).  And sadly I have gotten used to Democrats caving in to this mindset.  It’s what they do.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Find A Better Example

The forced internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II was one of the most shameful episodes in our country’s history.  Thousands of people were uprooted from their homes and livelihoods for no other reason than they happened to look like or share a country of origin with the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.  For the last seventy years we have been trying to make amends, going so far as to issue an official apology on behalf of the United States from Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Now there are those who are citing that horrible chapter as an inspiration on how to deal with Syrian refugees.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you David Bowers, mayor of Roanoke, Virginia:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.

Seriously?  He’s using that as a talking point for setting up concentration camps?  (Well, at least he didn’t suggest that we offer everyone a shower before being put into the camps.)

George Takei has a response:

Mayor Bowers, there are a few key points of history you seem to have missed:

1) The internment (not a “sequester”) was not of Japanese “foreign nationals,” but of Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens. I was one of them, and my family and I spent 4 years in prison camps because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It is my life’s mission to never let such a thing happen again in America.

2) There never was any proven incident of espionage or sabotage from the suspected “enemies” then, just as there has been no act of terrorism from any of the 1,854 Syrian refugees the U.S. already has accepted. We were judged based on who we looked like, and that is about as un-American as it gets.

3) If you are attempting to compare the actual threat of harm from the 120,000 of us who were interned then to the Syrian situation now, the simple answer is this: There was no threat. We loved America. We were decent, honest, hard-working folks. Tens of thousands of lives were ruined, over nothing.

I admire Mr. Takei for a lot of reasons, not the least for being a wonderful punster as well as a role model for gay people, but he also has a life experience that he has turned into a lesson for us all.

Mr. Bowers, on the other hand, does a fine job of showing us how to be an asshole and put it out there in an official statement.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I’m Gonna Get You At Recess

Via TPM:

Cruz was responding to Obama’s recent criticism of Republicans suggesting there be a religious test for Syrian refugees seeking entrance to the country, a plan he called “shameful” and “not American” while in Turkey for the Group of 20 summit.

“If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries. But I would encourage you, Mr. President, come back and insult me to my face,” Cruz said, staring directly into the camera.

Cruz got even more schoolyard, challenging the President to a debate any place, any time.

“Let’s have a debate on Syrian refugees, right now. We can do it anywhere you want. I would prefer it in the United States and not overseas,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “We’ll do it on any station.”

Word is they’ll do it next to the swing set.

Better To Lose

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post writes that the Republican governors who want to ban Syrian refugees have the right idea, at least in terms of politics.

Over the past 24 hours, almost half of the nation’s governors — all but one of them Republicans — have said they plan to refuse to allow Syrian immigrants into their states in the wake of the Paris attacks carried out by the Islamic State (no matter that they can’t really do that). Ted Cruz, a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has announced plans to introduce legislation in the Senate that would bar all Muslim Syrian refugees from entering America.

That stance has been greeted with widespread ridicule and disgust by Democrats who insist that keeping people out of the U.S. is anathema to the founding principles of the country. “That’s shameful,” President Obama said in a speech addressing the Paris attacks on Monday. “That’s not American. It’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Think what you will, but one thing is clear: The political upside for Republican politicians pushing an immigration ban on Syrians and/or Muslims as a broader response to the threat posed by the Islamic State sure looks like a political winner.

He cites a variety of polls that show the public is with them on this, and if you are thinking strictly along those lines, he’s probably right: Americans are by and large reactionary and as I’ve noted many times before, no one ever lost an election by exploiting the greed, fear, and paranoia of the American electorate.  We also know that a large segment of the American voting population believes the world was formed 6,000 years ago, that dinosaurs co-existed with humans, and that if you pull the tag off a mattress you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones warns Democrats against mocking the Republicans for yet again appealing to the worst part of our nature.

The liberal response to this should be far more measured. We should support tight screening. Never mind that screening is already pretty tight. We should highlight the fact that we’re accepting a pretty modest number of refugees. In general, we should act like this is a legitimate thing to be concerned about and then work from there.

Mocking it is the worst thing we could do. It validates all the worst stereotypes about liberals that we put political correctness ahead of national security. It doesn’t matter if that’s right or wrong. Ordinary people see the refugees as a common sense thing to be concerned about. We shouldn’t respond by essentially calling them idiots. That way lies electoral disaster.

It’s not a matter of political correctness.  It’s a matter of both humanity and reality.  No one has yet to prove that anyone involved in the attacks in Paris was a Syrian refugee.  In fact, the attack by ISIS was because the French have been taking in refugees; are we going to give in to the blackmail and not take the people fleeing ISIS?

This may be a losing argument politically, but in the larger scheme of things, it’s better to alienate voters who would support the cowards and bed-wetters than have them on our side.

Now They Want Gun Control

From the Didn’t Think This Through files:

A Texas state legislator wants the U.S. to stop allowing Syrian refugees into the country. His reasoning: They might be able to buy guns in his state.

Rep. Tony Dale (R) made this argument in a television interview on Monday and in letters to Texas’ U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R) and U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul and John Carter (R).

“While the Paris attackers used suicide vests and grenades,” Dale wrote, “it is clear that firearms also killed a large number of innocent victims. Can you imagine a scenario were [sic] a refugees [sic] is admitted to the United States, is provided with federal cash payments and other assistance, obtains a drivers license and purchases a weapon and executes an attack?” He urged the lawmakers to “do whatever you can to stop the [Syrian refugee] program.”

Well, maybe if Texas didn’t have some of the loosest gun control laws in the country this wouldn’t be a problem.  Did you ever think of that, Copernicus?

The Department of Jesus

The Republicans are always talking about shrinking the federal government and getting rid of useless taxpayer-funded agencies that accomplish nothing but move a lot of air.  But Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who’s also running for president wants to add one.

“We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have a Western ethic, to be a part of a Christian-Judeo society,” Kasich said in an interview Tuesday with NBC. “It means freedom, it means opportunity, it means respect for women, it means so many things.”

The GOP presidential contender laid out his proposal during a larger discussion of his plan to defeat the Islamic State. The agency would promote the Judeo-Christian beliefs to places such as China, Russia, and the Middle East, Kasich told NBC.

Despite the obvious First Amendment issues, particularly the Establishment clause, I’d be interested to know exactly which form of the Christian-Judeo society he’d want to promote: Catholic or Protestant Christianity; Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform Judaism, or some mish-mosh of ersatz Joel Osteen and Rabbi Tuchman?

By the way, this is the kind of Western mindset that fires up groups like ISIS.  They still remember the Crusades.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fear Itself

The Paris attacks and the unfounded rumors that Syrian refugees might be responsible for it have turned the usual suspects who know nothing about the actual nationality of the bombers and less about what to do about them into foreign policy experts and military strategists… at least as far as getting in front of a microphone is concerned and making noise.

CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta took an unusually blunt approach Monday in questioning President Barack Obama about why the United States has not destroyed the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS.

“A lot of Americans have this frustration that they see the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS,” Acosta said. “I guess the question is, and if you’ll forgive the language, but why can’t we take out these bastards?”

Obama, who was speaking in Antalya, Turkey, at the G-20 summit, responded that he had “just spent the last three questions answering that very question.”

And because “Call of Duty” is a video game, not foreign policy.

Earlier Monday, Obama had defended the U.S. strategy against the Islamic State, which has largely focused on airstrikes, amid calls for deploying a large number of ground troops in response to the Paris terrorist attacks. Obama said a ground invasion would be a “mistake” because it would require using U.S. troops to occupy Iraqi and Syrian cities indefinitely.

Obama also said he respected the debate over what to do against the Islamic State, but “if folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan.”

“If they think somehow their advisers are better than the Chairman of my Joint Chiefs of Staff and the folks who are actually on the ground, I want to meet them,” Obama said. “And we can have that debate. But what I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that.”

The situation got even stupider if not more xenophobic when a group of state governors — mostly Republican — announced that they would not allow Syrian refugees to be settled in their states.

More than half a dozen state governors have come out against President Obama’s plans to relocate several thousand Syrian refugees within the United States. Some have pledged to actively resist settlement of these refugees. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), for example, signed a letter to Obama that begins “as governor of Texas, I write to inform you that the State of Texas will not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) issued an executive order instructing all “departments, budget units, agencies, offices, entities, and officers of the executive branch of the State of Louisiana” to “utilize all lawful means to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the State of Louisiana while this Order is in effect.”

The problem for Jindal, Abbott and the other governors opposed to admitting refugees, however, is that there is no lawful means that permits a state government to dictate immigration policy to the president in this way. As the Supreme Court explained in Hines v. Davidowitz, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” States do not get to overrule the federal government on matters such as this one.

Just in case there is any doubt, President Obama has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is particularly robust if they determine that an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as the Syrian refugee crisis exists.

Blaming the Syrian refugees for the bombing in Paris is not only wrong based on the facts, it reminds those of us with a knowledge of history of another shameful chapter in our recent past where those fleeing religious persecution were turned away.

The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner most notable for a single voyage in 1939, in which her captain, Gustav Schröder, tried to find homes for 908 Jewish refugees from Germany, after they were denied entry to Cuba, the United States and Canada, until finally accepted in various European countries, which were later engulfed in World War II. Historians have estimated that, after their return to Europe, approximately a quarter of the ship’s passengers died in concentration camps. The event was the subject of a 1974 book, Voyage of the Damned, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts. It was adapted for a 1976 American film of the same title.

Those governors — including Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) who apparently won’t accept any Syrians unless they’re Cubans — aren’t afraid of the unlikely possibility that among them might be a sleeper agent of ISIS; they’re afraid of showing compassion to people who aren’t like them.  (Jeb Bush said he was fine with admitting Syrian refugees as long as they were Christians.  Oh, how noble.)  How can they run for president or some cabinet post in the Cruz administration if they can’t prove they are both butch and bed-wetters?

This is exactly what ISIS wants: for America and the West to close its borders to those fleeing their caliphate and to prove that non-Muslims hate all Muslims and intend to launch the Crusades again.  So far at least a goodly number of useful idiots in Congress and various statehouses are falling in line with them.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stop, Look, and Listen

Like a lot of people, I’ve been trying to make sense of not just the attacks in Paris, but of the whole global situation that has brought us to this point.  The endless loop of people saying the same thing while vamping between commercials on cable TV provides the background noise, but there’s very little thought behind what passes now for insight, so the best thing to do about that is either change the channel or shut it off and let the silence descend.  (This isn’t really the fault of the cable channel talkers; they have to do something to fill the time, and there are only so many re-runs of The Big Bang Theory out there.)

That’s the first step: just stop.  Keeping the noise going won’t add any more knowledge, and neither does the input of the presidential candidates who are trying to both grasp the situation and make political gains out of it.  The paid consultants don’t really know more than you do in that they don’t have access to more or different information, and even if they did, it’s probably just as confusing to them as it is to the average person paying attention.  Take a deep breath and think before you say something.

The second step is to look at the whole picture, not the facets or fragments.  It’s not just about the civil war in Syria and the refugees fleeing to Europe, or about the decay of government in Iraq, or the support of various factions by sponsor states, or even the difference between Sunnis and Shi’as.  It is all that plus the ambitions and positions of the governments involved and the local jockeying for advantage and life in the European Union and beyond.  It doesn’t mean winning a war; it means finding a way to peace with all sides at the table.

It also means that we must recognize that extremism isn’t just limited to religious fanatics in the Middle East; we have our own crop of them right here in the good old U.S.A.  Just because it’s been a while since they blew up anything and killed just as many people as died in Paris on Friday night doesn’t mean that they’ve gone away.  Their response to these attacks is just as demented and poisonous as the ones who attacked in the first place.

Finally, just listen.  The voices that need to be heard will make it through all the chatter.  Instant retaliation may feel good — it works in the movies, right? — but in real life there is no credit roll and swelling music.  The politicians and the people we elected to do the job of protecting us have to do their job without all the noise or the easy fixes that can be proposed in a Tweet.  The biggest danger we now face is the overreaction to these acts by those who would exploit it for their own gains both there and here.

Oh, and if changing your Facebook profile picture to add the French tricolor to the background makes you feel better, by all means go ahead.  We all need a little symbolism now and then.

Friday, November 13, 2015

No Academic Freedom For You, Little Lady

A Missouri state legislator is trying to shut down a doctoral dissertation on Missouri’s abortion laws.

Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) claimed in a letter to the university chancellor dated Oct. 30 that the university is breaking the law by allowing the student to carry out her research. The grad student is studying a recently imposed law requiring women in Missouri to wait 72 hours between the time they seek information about an abortion and the point at which they have the procedure.

It’s the latest in an ongoing battle between state lawmakers and the university over its relationship to Planned Parenthood. A decision by the university in September to cancel 10 contracts with Planned Parenthood helped fuel recent protests on campus that led to the ouster of the university system’s president and the flagship campus’ chancellor.

Schaefer is chairman of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life and a GOP candidate for state attorney general. The state senate began investigating Mizzou’s ties to Planned Parenthood this year after an anti-abortion group released heavily edited videos purporting to show that the women’s health clinics were selling aborted fetal tissue. No evidence has emerged to prove this assertion; rather, some Planned Parenthood clinics request the reimbursement for the cost of delivering tissue to be used for medical research.

It sounds like Mr. Schaefer is afraid that research will discover that the law is based on pseudoscience and mythology, not to mention a lot of misogyny and patriarchy.  Oh, and it never hurts to generate a little free publicity for someone running for office to get his name in the papers, even if it’s for a totally bullshit reason.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Random Thought

So if the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was such a bad influence on Barack Obama because he was vocal about the way America treated African-Americans, why isn’t anyone getting upset about Rev. Kevin Swainson advocating executing gay people when Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal are sitting in the audience and nodding along?

I can think of two reasons.  First, none of those men will ever be president, and second, advocating death to queers is pretty much what passes for white evangelical Christian gospel these days.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When We Do It, It’s Good

When Tim Wolfe resigned as the president of the University of Missouri system over racial tensions, the right-wingers went into their expected rage over political correctness and mob rule.  When, they ask, has a leader ever been forced out of office because the people he is in charge of don’t like the way he’s leading them?  It’s anti-American and tantamount to terrorism.

Oh, really?  Steve M says “Let’s ask John Boehner.”

What did these students do to Tim Wolfe? They did exactly what the conservative movement did to Boehner: they applied pressure until he realized that his position was untenable and his only hope of heading off a possibly unquenchable rebellion was to resign. The defenestration of Boehner was, as I recall, hailed by conservatives as a great moment for American liberty, even though he’d been duly elected by both the voters of his district and the very House Republicans who went on to toss him out the window. But the forced resignation of Wolfe is fascism in a way that the campaign against Boehner wasn’t because, well, it just is.

This is just the latest example of right-wing outrage over someone else doing something they racked up goodie points for.  When Cliven Bundy, the freeloading rancher in Nevada refused to pay grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management, he was hailed as a hero by Fox News for standing up for freedom; when Eric Garner sold cigarettes in New York without paying taxes, he was labeled as a thug by the right-wing media for defying the just laws of this nation and he got what was coming to him.

The two situations, however, are not at all alike: Cliven Bundy is white and armed; Eric Garner was black and unarmed.

Short Takes

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu made nice in their Oval Office meeting.

The Burmese opposition claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

The president of the University of Missouri system resigned due to protests over racial tensions.

The World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russian athletes, coaches and team doctors of systematic doping.

What is it with Republicans and making up personal history?

Tropical Update: TS Kate pops up north of the Bahamas and heads east.

Monday, November 9, 2015

That Time of Year Again

As inevitable as the Christmas promotions starting before Halloween, the War On Christmas has begun again.

Some people are angry about Starbucks’ new holiday cups. Really angry.

What is the issue, exactly?

In previous years, Starbucks’ iconic holiday cups, which the chain uses in lieu of white cups in November and December, featured wintry or Christmas-themed designs like snowflakes, ornaments and nature scenes. This year, the cups are more minimalist — a red ombre design that Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks’ vice president of design, said was meant to embrace “the simplicity and the quietness” of the holiday season.

Starbucks Christmas Cups 11-09-15

This is a huge problem for some people, who feel that the plain red cups are oppressing Christians by insulting Christmas.

“This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefitted Starbucks,” Andrea Williams of the U.K.-based organization Christian Concern told Breitbart. “This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story so powerfully at this time of year.”

Fa la la la la, la la la barf.

If your faith requires that you pay $5 for stinked-up coffee with more ingredients in it than a figgy pudding and poured into a cup that will end up in the trash but only if it has depictions of a fairy tale on it, then your problem isn’t with the people who are selling you that stuff in the first place.

Here’s a news flash:  There is a war on Christmas.  It won.