Thursday, September 3, 2015

First Things First

Matt Bevin is running for governor of Kentucky.  You might remember him as the guy who tried to primary Mitch McConnell a couple of years ago and lost badly.  So if he’s whacky enough to lose to him, you know he’s not what you’d call mainstream.

Now of course he has an opinion on the trials of the Kentucky county clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to anybody because Jesus and icky gays.

“I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights,” he said. “Without any question I support her.”

How noble, except there is no First Amendment right to defy the Supreme Court’s rulings.  Your rights end where the other person’s begin, and the couples — straight or gay — in Rowan County have a right to get a marriage license issued by the county.

So do the people of Kentucky really want a governor who seems to have slept through Grade 10 government class?

Whose Side Are You On?

That’s the question for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, part of his weeklong trip to Israel.


“Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal,” Cotton said in a statement after the meeting. “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”

I’m just imagining the shitstorm that would have come raining down if a Democratic senator had gone to France in 2002 and pronounced that he stood with the opponents of invading Iraq.  The Republicans would have tried to arrest him for treason.  This guy gets a selfie with Bibi.

Thanks, Dick

There are now enough votes in the Senate to sustain any veto of the Iran nuclear deal rejection by Senate Republicans.

I think we have Dick Cheney to thank for this.  If he hadn’t reminded us just what a colossal warmonger he was and how wrong he and his minions were about the Middle East, some Democrats might have listened to his warnings.  But since it was really hard for him to hide his apparent glee — or in his case, his maniacal snarl — at the prospect of nuclear war, they decided to err on the side of sanity.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

These People Vote

Rachel Maddow got hold of some new polling for the GOP primary.

While the findings at the top of the poll are what we’ve come to expect from the Republican field – Donald Trump and Ben Carson securing the top spots – what is more surprising is to find Beltway-favored candidates Chris Christie and Rand Paul floundering at the bottom with barely any support.

The poll also shows the tea party character of the Republican Party, with strong birther views and a dubious grasp of some key facts about President Obama and Senator Ted Cruz.

For instance, when asked if they believe President Obama is a Christian, a Muslim, or “not sure,” Republicans answered 54% Muslim, 14% Christian, 32% Not Sure.  (Spoiler alert: the president is a Christian.)

When asked if President Obama was born in the United States, 29% said he was.  When asked the same about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), 40% said yes, Sen. Cruz was born in the United States.  In fact, President Obama was born in the United States.  Sen. Cruz was born in Canada.

The question for the candidates then becomes: Why would you want anyone that stupid voting for you?

Marry The Men Today Update

Via TPM:

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ request for a stay while she pursues an appeal.

In the two months since the court legalized gay marriage, Davis has refused to issue any marriage licenses. Four couples sued her and the Supreme Court’s rejection marks the end of her legal options to refuse.

It’s not clear exactly what she will do when her office opens Tuesday. Her attorney has said she will pray about it overnight.

Here’s what’s going to happen:  She’s going to tearfully quit her job, start a GoFundMe campaign, and buy a rhinestone-encrusted crown of thorns with her grift.  Yeah, pray for that.

Update:  She’s still refusing to obey the law of the land.  She’s perfectly within her personal rights to do this…

Aw fuck it.  I tried to be reasonable, but she’s nothing more than a sniveling bigot hiding behind her religion.  Sue the hell out of her.

Monday, August 31, 2015

It’s His Turn

I never understood why all the Very Serious People said that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) would be a formidable candidate in presidential race.  He’s not an especially inspiring speaker, he hasn’t done that great a job as governor as compared to his neighbor Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota in terms of turning the state around after the recession, and he’s basically your average right-wing nut job on social policy such as abortion and marriage equality.  He’s basically Mitch Daniels of Indiana with backing from the Koch Brothers.

Now he and the rest of the GOP field are getting big-footed by Donald Trump and his used-car-dealer demagoguery, so he has to come up with something to get back the spotlight.  Like Mike Huckabee did a month ago, he has to find something to say that will at least get our attention for a moment.

How about immigration?  Well, why not?  It’s a hot topic, and while Wisconsin isn’t the choice destination of anchor babies and pot smugglers, it’s something that gets the base riled up without any logic behind it: deport 11 million! seems to be the way to make them applaud and throw money.

But he had to find a fresh angle.  Everybody’s talking about building a wall to keep out the Mexicans and other brown people; why not look the other way and keep out the white hockey players and poutine-eaters?

NBC’s “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd asked Walker on the Sunday program if he would consider building a wall along the country’s northern border.

Walker said that some people along the campaign trail have raised the issue.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker told Todd.

Rest assured that the only reason Canada would go along with this would be to keep us from getting into Canada.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Short Takes

Up to fifty people found dead in immigrant smuggling truck in Austria.

California cut water use by over 30% in July.

Report: Planned Parenthood videos altered.

NLRB makes it easier for fast-food workers to unionize.

Tropical Update: TS Erika looks to edge close to South Florida by Monday.

The Tigers lost 2-0 to the Angels.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hallelujah Trail

Ted Cruz found himself upstaged by Donald Trump on immigration, so he’s heading down another path.

Cruz, looking to gain traction in an early voting state with a heavy concentration of evangelical Christians, held a highly organized and produced “Rally for Religious Liberty” Friday night. The rally featured live music, interviews with people who said their religious liberty was violated and sermon-like speeches from Cruz, who tried to cement himself as the candidate of choice for evangelical voters in a crowded Republican primary field.

“There is a war on faith in America today,” Cruz said, later noting that 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home during the 2012 election. “I’m here to tell you, we will stay home no longer,” he said as the audience, which filled a ballroom and the campaign estimated to number 2,500 people, cheered.

As an example of the “war on Christians,” Mr. Cruz posed a hypothetical situation: what if gays discriminated against evangelicals?

Imagine if this were inverted. Imagine if there were a gay florist — now I know that’s hard to imagine, a gay florist — but just go with the hypo[thetical] for a second. Imagine if two evangelical Christians came to a gay florist and they wanted to get married, and the florist said, “You know what? I disagree with your faith. I have problems with your faith.” You have no entitlement to force that florist to provide flowers at the Christians’ wedding. We are a pluralistic nation that tolerates diversity.

Actually, there is a law that would force the florist to provide flowers to the wedding.  It’s called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it protects people from discrimination on the basis of religion in public accommodation such as renting a hotel room or selling goods.  It does not, however, protect people on the basis of sexual orientation, which seems to be fine with Mr. Cruz.

Now that Donald Trump has sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of nativist xenophobia, he’s got to find some place to go.  The Pat Robertson side of the street seems to be his only option.

Freedom of Suppress

Donald Trump has issues with people asking him questions.

Univision reporter Jorge Ramos was forceably removed by security at Donald Trump‘s press conference before his Iowa rally on Tuesday.

“Go back to Univision,” Trump told Ramos, who was continually asking Trump questions despite not being called on. Security then escorted him out of the room. Trump later said that he had nothing to do with the removal — pinning the blame on the security personnel.

Racism and bullying the press all at once.  He’s been studying Dr. Goebbels, I see.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Justice For All

William Kristol is having wet dreams about the ideal Republican candidate just in case Donald Trump and Ted Cruz don’t bring in the voters.

Who could such a mysterious dark horse be? Well, it’s not as if every well-qualified contender is already on the field. Mitch Daniels was probably the most successful Republican governor of recent times, with federal executive experience to boot. Paul Ryan is the intellectual leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives, with national campaign experience. The House also features young but tested leaders like Jim Jordan, Trey Gowdy and Mike Pompeo. There is the leading elected representative of the 9/11 generation who has also been a very impressive freshman senator, Tom Cotton. There could be a saner and sounder version of Trump—another businessman who hasn’t held electoral office. And there are distinguished conservative leaders from outside politics; Justice Samuel Alito and General (ret.) Jack Keane come to mind.

You read that right: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito for president because there aren’t enough white straight men already in the race and they need a little diversity, y’know?

Of course, if Justice Alito did run, he’d have to resign from the Court and that would give President Obama a chance to appoint someone.  I doubt he’ll replace Mr. Alito with another right-wing jurist.  I wonder if Mr. Kristol took that into consideration.

Friday, August 21, 2015

AP Blows Iran Inspection Story

Well, that didn’t go well.

Yesterday the AP ran a story that sounds eye-poppingly scary. The International Atomic Energy Agency has a “secret” side deal that will allow the Iranians to inspect themselves. What the hell, right? Thanks Obama and what was Obama thinking? But the story itself was based on the reporter apparently not knowing what he was talking about. And the AP had to later scrub what were seemingly the most damning details.

Josh Marshall explains.

Let me share with you a deep truth: The nuclear stuff is complicated. Einstein said that. It doesn’t necessarily work in the way your everyday life experience would suggest. So it’s important to consult the people who know about the nuclear stuff, people called scientists. Particularly, nuclear scientists. And here we have another case where tendentious malefactors leak seemingly damning details to reporters who in the most basic sense do not know what they are talking about and write a story which can and often does dramatically affect the public debate over a critical issue. It’s already happened with the 24 days nonsense and it may with this. The AP has to scrub its story and pull a New York Times pretending the gist somehow isn’t changed when there is barely a story there in the first place. It really is a replay of how reporters — often acting in good faith — get played by malicious leaks. There are lots of reporters unfortunately who are in on the scam but they shall remain nameless for the moment. And it’s all a replay of the tragic nonsense parade which preceded the Iraq War — with lots of the same easy-mark reporters.

It joins the parade of zombie lies that you’re going to be hearing about from your crazy uncle.

“Passionate” Supporters of Trump

Via TPM:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

While We’re At It, Repeal the 13th Amendment

Jan Mickelson, a radio talk show host in Iowa, has an idea about what to do with all those people who can’t prove they’re here legally.

…anyone who is in the state of Iowa that who is not here legally and who cannot demonstrate their legal status to the satisfaction of the local and state authorities here in the State of Iowa, become property of the State of Iowa.’ So if you are here without our permission, and we have given you two months to leave, and you’re still here, and we find that you’re still here after we we’ve given you the deadline to leave, then you become property of the State of Iowa. And we have a job for you. And we start using compelled labor, the people who are here illegally would therefore be owned by the state and become an asset of the state rather than a liability and we start inventing jobs for them to do.


CALLER: Well you know I don’t have my Constitution in front of me and you know like I say, it sounds like a clever idea and maybe you can make it – put it in action, but I think the fall out would be so significant. And I, you know —

MICKELSON: What would be the nature of the fall out?

CALLER: Well I think everybody would believe it sounds like slavery?

MICKELSON: Well, what’s wrong with slavery?

Okay, so this is just some right-wing nutsery AM radio talk show guy in Iowa; nothing to worry about, right?  Except for the fact that he doesn’t sound a whole lot further down the road than some of the presidential candidates who are being asked “what do we do with the 11 million people who are undocumented?”

Well, to his credit, the talk show host didn’t say he was advocating for the “final solution.”  That would be a little too on the nose.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

It’s Not Enough To Be Born Here

The birthers are now going after four Republicans because they suspect that they’re not real Americans.

In a column published last week on the conspiracy theory website WND, author Jack Cashill noted that questions had been raised about whether four of the 17 candidates in the GOP field were really “natural born citizens” and therefore eligible to run for President.

Ted Cruz has already dealt with those questions publicly — the Canadian-born senator from Texas renounced his citizenship with that country last summer in anticipation of a 2016 bid — but Cashill also listed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) among those who were suspect.

Catherine Thompson at TPM interviews Mr. Cashill, who claims he has no agenda (even though he doubts that President Obama was really born in Hawaii, and even if he was, his mother wasn’t old enough to claim him as a citizen); he just wants what’s white right for America.

You write that the term “natural born citizen” is “often misunderstood or deliberately twisted.” How so? Can you give me a specific example of that?

When the challenge was made against Barack Obama, people said “how dare you question he’s a natural born citizen because he was born in Hawaii.” Even if he was born in Hawaii, that does not make him a natural born citizen. It’s a very strict term. I won’t say very strict — there’s a real meaning to the term, it’s not that it’s perfectly defined but the understanding is well understood. The understanding is that you be born of American parents with unquestioned loyalty to the United States. So for instance, had Obama been born [somewhere] other than Hawaii he would not have been eligible to run for President. Even though his mother was an American, just like Ted Cruz’s mother was American, the difference is that according to the law you’d have to be an American citizen for five years after the age of 14. She simply wasn’t old enough to confer that status on Obama. If his mother had been a non-American citizen and his father had been a Kenyan, and neither had any allegiance to the United States, which in fact neither of them really did, he would not have been eligible no matter where he was born.

So the question comes up about Bobby Jindal’s parents. Both of them were in the United States on student visas. To me the real question is does the candidate have any divided allegiance. So if Jindal’s parents remained steadfastly identifying as Indians and he steadfastly identified as an Indian, even though he was born in the United States and was a citizen, he would not be eligible. Legitimately, he would not be eligible to be President. But given the fact that he changed his name after a character in “The Brady Bunch” — as American as it gets — I don’t think there’s any question in any of those candidates that there’s any dual allegiance. That’s what the law was designed to prevent, was people with dual allegiance. Especially in the early Republic when you had people who were from England or from France and who really reported back to the motherland first. Even if they were born here they might be children of a diplomat or something like that. The fact that you are a citizen doesn’t make you a natural born citizen.

It’s not enough that you’re born here physically; your parents have to swear some kind of loyalty oath to the United States before someone — he doesn’t say who — decides, “Okay, you’re in.”

There are a whole lot of reasons to be against Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum for president, but going after their citizenship qualifications is the coward’s way out.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump has a plan to control immigration, and it’s as xenophobic and as unconstitutional as you can get without actually invoking the Nuremberg laws.

Business mogul Donald Trump released an immigration plan this weekend almost exclusively focused on enforcement and cracking down on unauthorized immigrants, including preventing babies born in the U.S. to undocumented parents from U.S. citizenship as guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.

The GOP presidential candidate also repeated a vow to end President Barack Obama’s deportation relief policies for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. He would instead deport those mothers and fathers, he said. Trump insisted it could be done without separating families — a claim that, although he does not say so explicitly, would effectively mean forcing out children with the right to be in the U.S. if they wanted to remain with their parents.

“We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,” Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a “Meet the Press” interview that aired Sunday.

The wingnuts love it, of course, because America Fuck Yeah!

This Is Not “Pro-Life”

Mike Huckabee doesn’t just go to extremes.  He lives there.

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union this morning, Mike Huckabee was asked about “Mainumby,” a ten-year-old Paraguayan girl who became pregnant after she was raped by her stepfather. The girl, whose name is a pseudonym, was denied an abortion and forced to carry the baby to term, despite objections from medical experts.

When CNN host Dana Bash asked Huckabee if he would have allowed Mainumby to have an abortion, Huckabee responded with a stock answer: “Does it solve the problem by taking the life of an innocent child?”

Bash then asked Huckabee if it would be easy “looking in the eyes of a 10-year-old girl and saying, ‘You had a horrible thing happen to you, and you’re going to…carry it out for the next nine months.’”

Huckabee responded: “No, it isn’t easy. I wouldn’t pretend it’s anything other than a terrible tragedy. But let’s not compound the tragedy by taking yet another life.”

His rationale for such a decision is two-fold Huckabee explained, it protects both fetus and mother: “There are two victims. One is the child; the other is that birth mother who often will go through extraordinary guilt years later when she begins to think through what happened — with the baby, with her. And again, there are no easy answers here.”

Mr. Huckabee and people who believe in this hard-core “pro-life” stance are just as guilty of criminal child molestation as the one who actually raped the 10-year-old girl, and they are facilitating further acts of violence by negligence.

How can anyone say that this kind of torture for both the mother and the child is any kind of “life”?

The only good news to come from this — and it’s cold comfort to the victims — is that Mike Huckabee will never be president and he can go back to hanging out with Ted Nugent and playing with his home lobotomy kit.

Friday, August 14, 2015

George Will: Who Invited The Boors?

George F. Will is positively beside himself that the crass and tacky Donald Trump has invaded his garden party.

He is an affront to anyone devoted to the project William F. Buckley began six decades ago with the founding in 1955 of the National Review — making conservatism intellectually respectable and politically palatable. Buckley’s legacy is being betrayed by invertebrate conservatives now saying that although Trump “goes too far,” he has “tapped into something,” and therefore. . . .

Therefore what? This stance — if a semi-grovel can be dignified as a stance — is a recipe for deserved disaster.


Conservatives who flinch from forthrightly marginalizing Trump mistakenly fear alienating a substantial Republican cohort. But the assumption that today’s Trumpites are Republicans is unsubstantiated and implausible. Many are no doubt lightly attached to the political process, preferring entertainment to affiliation. They relish their candidate’s vituperation and share his aversion to facts. From what GOP faction might Trumpites come? The establishment? Social conservatives? Unlikely.


Soon the campaign will turn to granular politics, the on-the-ground retail work required by the 1.4 percent of the nation’s population that lives in Iowa and New Hampshire. Try to imagine Trump in an Iowa living room, with a macaroon in one hand and cup of hot chocolate balanced on a knee, observing Midwestern civilities while talking about something other than himself.


So, conservatives today should deal with Trump with the firmness Buckley dealt with the John Birch Society in 1962. The society was an extension of a loony businessman who said Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” In a 5,000-word National Review “excoriation” (Buckley’s word), he excommunicated the society from the conservative movement.

The Republican Party of George F. Will and William F. Buckley created the environment that hatched the Southern Strategy and their Confederate flags, the Christian Coalition and their religious bigotry, and the Tea Party with their low-education crowd of dog-whistling racists, all with the smug idea that they could control them and bend them to their will at the voting booth, then blithely dismiss them like the hired help when it came time to run the country.

Mr. Will, you created Donald Trump.  You deal with him.  And if you can’t well, then, in the words of your nemesis, “Later, losers!”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It’s Not “Stuff”

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and allegedly a candidate for president, shared his thoughts on citizenship.

In a radio appearance on Wednesday, conservative host Laura Ingraham asked Christie for his opinion on birthright citizenship, a topic he does not seem to have specifically addressed before. In response, Christie said he believed the policy may be outdated.

“I think all this stuff needs to be reexamined in light of the current circumstances,” he said. “[Birthright citizenship] may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that.”

“This stuff” is the Fourteenth Amendment that states plainly that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens.  There’s not a lot of room “to re-look at all that.”

I get it that he was pandering to a right-wing talk radio host and that to say that we should actually go along with the Constitution would be a really bad thing to tell an audience that proudly stands behind it only when it suits them, but when he does this kind of casual off-the-cuff shredding, it makes you glad that the closest Chris Christie will get to the White House is when he takes his kids on a tour there sometime.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Catching Up

We got home safe and sound even though we had to make an unscheduled stop in Fort Lauderdale because of a thunderstorm parked over Miami at the time we were supposed to land.  It held us up for 90 minutes, but we made it without much fuss.  It’s good to go away, but it’s good to be home.

So I’m trying to catch up on the news and see what happened here while I was gone.  It’s not that the Canadian press doesn’t cover our world down here or that it’s blocked, but when you’re doing something else you tend to ignore things like stupefying debates over silly stuff.  So I turned to someone who puts it all together in a well-written summary.  Friends, I give you Charlie Pierce.

There are weeks on the Sunday Showz in which you just throw your hands into the air and shout terrible imprecations at Gutenberg for afflicting mankind with the curse of mass communication. This was one of those weeks. I do appreciate the magnitude of the problem now facing our elite political press. One entire political party has become completely unmoored from reality. This was amply demonstrated on Thursday night in Cleveland. The Republican party held two debates in which one candidate explained about how the EPA should be reduced in size and influence only to the point at which he could sic it on Planned Parenthood. Another candidate proposed biblical tithing as a mechanism for that plutocrat’s friend, the flat tax. Two candidates proposed giving Zygote-Americans Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. It was downright remarkable how unremarkable these lunatic propositions seemed to be. All the attention centered on whether or not a ferret-headed plutocrat was mean to the nice lady from Fox who believes that Santa Claus is white.

Now comes Sunday morning, and we discover that it continues to be impossible for our elite political press to admit what is plainly before its eyes – that one of the two political parties that we have allowed ourselves through inertia and custom to have has become demented, and that the political health of the nation in general is in peril unless that dementia can be overcome. Because of this inability to attach itself to obvious reality, the elite political press has rendered itself incapable of performing the necessary function of calling out con-men and identifying nutty ideas before they reach the mainstream political life of the country and turn it into a SuperFund site.

Three cheers for the red, white, and blue.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Not In Kansas Anymore

Teachers are leaving Kansas by the busload.

News came two weeks ago that Kansas has taken a bold new step in making their schools Even Worse. The story is one of how several current trends intersect to drag schools backwards in defiance of common sense or educational concern.

July 14, the Kansas State Board of Education voted to allow unlicensed people to teach in Kansas schools.

Their motivations are not hard to explain. Kansas has entered the Chase Teachers Out of The State derby, joining states like North Carolina and Arizona in the attempt to make teaching unappealing as a career and untenable as a way for grown-ups to support a family. Kansas favors the two-pronged technique. With one prong, you strip teachers of job protections and bargaining rights, so that you can fire them at any time for any reason and pay them as little as you like. With the other prong, you strip funding from schools, so that teachers have to accomplish more and more on a budget of $1.95 (and if they can’t get it done, see prong number one).

The result is predictable. Kansas is solidly settled onto the list of Places Teachers Work As Their Very Last Choice. It’s working out great for Missouri; their school districts have teacher recruitment billboards up in Kansas. But in Kansas, there’s a teacher shortage.

This all started when Gov. Sam Brownback (R) slashed the state budget in 2012 by gigantic proportions, hoping to show the world that doing so would prove Reaganomics worked: cut taxes and businesses would flock to the state and the economy would boom.  Instead it went down like a turd in a well and the state hemorrhaged money.  While the rest of the country recovered from the recession, Kansas got worse.  Rather than acknowledge the error of his ways, Gov. Brownback touted the results as a huge success the same way that North Korea tells the world that their famine-ridden starving nation was the envy of the world.

I’m sorry that the teachers are leaving and I wish them the best of luck in their new careers elsewhere.  But I really feel sorry for the kids who are left behind in more ways than one.