Friday, January 30, 2015

Mary Cheney and Stupid Rhetorical Questions


Welcome to the stupidest question of the year so far:
Mary Cheney wants to know why it isn't "socially acceptable" for a white person to "put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African-Americans" if drags queens are allowed to imitate female stereotypes?
If a man can dress up as a woman to entertain an audience, then why can't a white person get on stage in blackface, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney wondered aloud Thursday in a private Facebook post obtained by CNN.
Let's see. 

Racism? Ever heard of it? 

You see, when someone dons blackface, they are reinforcing a racist stereotype designed to dehumanize and belittle an entire race of people through mocking their humanity. When someone dresses up in drag, they're celebrating something they wish to be, which is a woman, and that's rare in a male-centric society.

This has been a simple answer to a stupid fucking question.

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit


There really is a website called "Conservatives For Palin" and they really, really do have a banner with a misspelled word on it.

And I realize that this is absurd and could be entirely wrong, but the phrase stamped on the old Scottish coins was "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit," which is roughly translated as "no one cuts me with inpunity."

The Palin site spells the word as "lacesset." This is an obscure spelling on the Internet. It is vastly more common to spell it "lacessit."

What? I'm bored.

Mitt Romney Will Run For President in 2020


That's how I read this:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will not make a third run for president, CNN has confirmed, and will tell supporters on an 11 a.m. phone call he believes it's "best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity" to become the nominee.
Multiple Romney aides confirmed that text of his planned remarks during an 11 a.m. call with supporters posted online by radio host Hugh Hewitt are accurate, and that Romney will "do whatever I can" to elect the GOP nominee, but will not run himself.
The call comes as Romney has faced deep skepticism from some quarters of the Republican party over his interest in another run for president. His surprise announcement to donors earlier this month that he's interested in making another run for the White House upended the developing 2016 GOP primary field, freezing Republican staff and donors who were torn between their loyalties to the 2012 nominee and a new crop of potential contenders.
Romney's trial balloon crashed, so he's going to step aside for a moment and see who emerges as a front runner. He will wait and see if someone falters, and then he will expect to either be drafted as the nominee or announced as the early pick for Vice President.

There's no chance whatsoever that Romney is "done" with presidential politics. He's making a tactical move that will maintain his viability for another chance.

Senator John McCain Orders Low Life Scum to Leave


I probably have this wrong, but when Senator John McCain ordered "low life scum" to "get out of here," he was probably talking about Henry Kissinger, who had wandered into the place, looking for somewhere to unload his problems.

Now, he could have been talking about the Americans who showed up to protest the presence of a noted war criminal, but I have to believe that he was really channeling his inner rage and his limitless supply of bile in order to get Kissinger to leave. However, Kissinger stayed, and they humored him for a while and then everybody had a good laugh and went and watched cartoons.

Not a shining moment of democracy or discourse in this country, especially since we've criminalized all forms of dissent that make old men who have killed thousands of people sad, sad, sad.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Comcast is Still a Horrible Company


This is the bill that a Comcast customer recently received. The first name on the account was changed to "asshole" by a Comcast customer service representative. Go read about it...awful.

My own experience with Comcast was hilarious fun. I was using the Comcast E-mail service with our account (cable and Internet) and they arbitrarily cancelled the account and destroyed the E-mail along with it.

I have been asked, numerous times and in person, to switch to Comcast. I will never, ever do it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moochers


There was a time when people actually cared about children in this country. I think it lasted for about a half a minute. It was when "We Are the World" came out and the government gave away a lot of free cheese. I know I'm being a nasty, shrill, simplistic bastard, but when you think of all of the kids who go to school hungry, who go home hungry, who go hungry on the weekends, and who go hungry because the food stamp benefits they are entitled to don't last until the end of the month, well, it's difficult to see how this plays out.

If a Republican running for President were to call the kids on food stamps moochers, he or she would reap the benefit of fundraising and media attention. That person would win the morning. That person would be devoid of a soul, but that's how we roll now. Hating poor people, blaming poor people, and demonizing poor people is a feature, not a bug anymore, and you can have it free with your distractions and your tax refund.

The 2016 election will see an onslaught of cash poured in by Republicans. I, personally, think that a Republican is going to win, hands down, because no one is paying attention. Is the economy good? Vote for the Daddy Party.

We are missing a vital and important discussion about hunger and the development of children. Whole groups of children, millions of them, are suffering in this country. So, of course, we're going to be distracted by a Flag Burning Amendment or the need to invade another country somewhere instead.

Andrew Sullivan Gives Up and Quits


Good for you, Andrew Sullivan! You finally decided to give up. Wish I could.

This sounds like trolling to me, but I have two questions:

One of the things I’ve always tried to do at the Dish is to be up-front with readers. This sometimes means grotesque over-sharing; sometimes it means I write imprudent arguments I have to withdraw; sometimes it just means a monthly update on our revenues and subscriptions; and sometimes I stumble onto something actually interesting. But when you write every day for readers for years and years, as I’ve done, there’s not much left to hide. And that’s why, before our annual auto-renewals, I want to let you know I’ve decided to stop blogging in the near future.
Will there be refunds for all of those people who paid to support him and his new startup?

Will there be a reckoning for the bigotry and the warmongering?

Didn't think so. Somewhere, Freddie DeBoer is leaping through the air as if he and his droogs just had a bit of the old ultraviolence.

Tyranny in Alabama


Alabama's controversial Supreme Court Chief Justice, Roy Moore, urged the state's governor on Tuesday to oppose a federal judge's decision to strike down the state's gay marriage ban, saying "we must act to oppose such tyranny" being imposed by "judicial fiat."
Moore, known for unsuccessfully trying to block the removal of a plaque bearing the Ten Commandments that he'd installed at the state courthouse in 2001, told Gov. Roy Bentley in a letter that nothing in Alabama's constitution allowed the federal government to "redefine" marriage to include gays and lesbians. The state supreme court, he said, has described marriage as a "divine institution."

"Today the destruction of that institution is upon us by federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution," he wrote in the letter posted to AL.com.
He sounds like the sort of fellow President Jeb Bush would put on the Supreme Court. But real tyranny is when you allow the law to be applied in a separate and unequal manner, especially in the context of using dogs to confront protesters.

Allowing Bruce and Steve to get married isn't tyranny because they're not going to blow up little girls in churches or murder people if they don't get their way. They may rethink the insanity of living in Alabama and expecting the application of the rule of law in a reasonable manner, but that's what elections are for.

There aren't many people willing to use this kind of hyperbole. If Moore feels that granting rights to Americans is tyranny, what does he think real tyranny looks like?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jeffrey Goldberg on Israeli Politics


Jeffrey Goldberg writes about Israel's obsession with stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons and how Benjamin Netanyahu is the wrong man to accomplish this task:
[...] the only other way for Netanyahu to stop Iran would be to convince the president of the United States, the leader of the nation that is Israel’s closest ally and most crucial benefactor, to confront Iran decisively. An Israeli strike could theoretically set back Iran’s nuclear program, but only the U.S. has the military capabilities to set back the program in anything approaching a semi-permanent way. And only the United States has the throw-weight to organize sanctions regimes of lasting consequence.

For several years, Netanyahu and President Obama, despite their mutual loathing, worked more or less in tandem on this issue. Netanyahu traveled the world arguing for stringent sanctions, and Obama did much the same. In fact, Obama used Netanyahu’s tough posture to America’s advantage: On several occasions, Obama and officials in his administration played good cop/bad cop, telling other world leaders that toughening sanctions on Iran would be the only way to forestall an Israeli attack, and this line of argument often proved effective.
The focus here is on the wrong thing. You have the leader of Israel trying to start a war with Iran and you have the President trying to use diplomacy. Why are we not celebrating that effort? Successfully preventing wars doesn't lead to anything anymore in terms of real benefits for the incumbent President You are almost better off starting a war and letting "the next guy" finish it for you and take the blame for anything that goes wrong. The American people just don't care about foreign policy anymore, period.

If the Republicans think they can run in 2016 on the issue of support for Israel, they are mistaken. Americans want us to be friendly and continue to "save" Israel but they have never punished Obama for refusing to start a war on behalf of Israel. Even George W. Bush understood this.

Goldberg adds this:
Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country? From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are—or will be shortly—a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary. As I reported last year, in an article that got more attention for a poultry-related epithet an administration official directed at Netanyahu than anything else, Netanyahu has told people he has “written off” Obama.
Someone advising Netanyahu has put it in his ear that there won't be any Democrats to negotiate with by the time the 2016 campaign is done; that's a wrong-headed notion. Control of the U.S. Senate could easily swing back to the Democrats in the next cycle and every sitting Republican Senator of note understands this fact. They are a temporary thing, given the demographics of the Senate and the presidency as far as elections are concerned. The House is safely Republican thanks to gerrymandering; unfortunately, you can't apply that magic to the Senate or the Executive.

This is why I fear a Hillary Clinton presidency--being tough with Israel is not going to be possible for her because of a need to have exceptional toughness that would not normally be applied to a male president. She will be under enormous pressure to use force, a la Margaret Thatcher, and she will be backed into conflicts we should not have to fight. She will be bullied into giving Netanyahu everything he wants.

If she tells everyone to go pound sand and that she will make peace wherever she can, good for her. We have had enough of the permanent wars of the early 21st Century. We cannot keep fighting forever.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sarah Palin is the Original Grifter

Every time Sarah Palin threatens to run for President, an angel in heaven acquires a pair of wings.

The mere fact that ABC News entertained the idea of legitimizing her run for the presidency--which does not exist and could only exist in a fairy tale--should tell you that click bait is the watchword of the day.

She's not running to win; she's running because she needs money. By forming a handful of phony organizations designed to collect money from rubes who think she might actually run, she can open up the spigot on the money that flows from idiots into her pockets.

There ought to be a law against preying on the innocent like this, but there never will be because the grift is permanent, just like Palin's need to keep sucking money from fools.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On The Campaign Plane


Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush flew on the same plane today, and that plane is significant because it was the Romney for President campaign plane. In 2012.

Here it is, over two years later, and the Romney Ryan 2012 campaign material is still visible (directly behind Romney's head in the photograph).

If there's anything more pathetic than keeping your own plane decorated in the campaign swag from your failed attempt at winning the presidency, and if there's anything more poignant than knowing that you lost because you couldn't connect with the very same 47% of Americans you wrote off as moochers, I don't know what it would be.

Wow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The No Accountability League


The New England Patriots are a team of cheating liars who lie. So they're just like any other NFL franchise that wins. They'll do anything to make good things happen. They're terrible at getting away with it.

So, when it comes to Ballghazigate or whatever they're calling it, please. Nothing will happen and nothing will be done that will have any significant impact on anything that matters:
The season that began with the NFL not knowing what to do about Ray Rice will end with one Super Bowl participant being suspected, not for the first time, of cheating. Commissioner Roger Goodell likes to say his job is to Protect The Shield, meaning the longstanding NFL logo. We’re about to see if he means it.
You wouldn’t think the New England Patriots, winners of three Super Bowls this millennium, could be considered a rogue outfit, but they are. In 2007, they were found to have filmed other teams’ defensive signals in violation of the rules and their coach was fined $500,000, and it’s widely accepted in league circles that the Patriots and Bill Belichick aren’t above anything in their pursuit of victory.
Bob Kravitz of WHTR reported after Sunday’s AFC championship that the Indianapolis Colts believed the footballs had been underinflated. (The suspicion took wings after D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Tom Brady, who has said he prefers underinflated footballs.) Late Tuesday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensenreported that the NFL has found that 11 of the 12 footballs used in open play were inflated below league specifications — this after the balls were inspected by the officiating crew barely two hours before kickoff.
Now, they could tell the Patriots that next season is completely off limits and that they are banned and that the NFL will reinstate them in a year, but that's not happening, either.

Forget the fans, by the way. The gamblers must be furious. You can destroy the integrity of the game, but don't you dare fuck with the spread.

The Weather Troll


I didn't know anything about this asshole until I read about him in Gawker:
Kevin Martin, notorious purveyor of weather hoaxes and second prize in a Johnny Depp lookalike contest, is the subject of a federal investigation after issuing threats of violence last month against the National Weather Service in San Diego, CA. He recorded the FBI visiting his house, and surprise!, it didn't go well.
If you've followed weather news for any length of time, you're probably aware of Martin's reputation of threats, intimidation, and wildly inaccurate weather information he creates specifically for the purpose of going viral on social media.
The thirty-something California resident, often unlovingly called "K-Mart," has been the source of many widespread weather hoaxes in the past year, including false prophecies of doom last winter and one steaming pile of Facebook virality in August that threatened the entire Gulf Coast with a non-existent major hurricane. The latter hoax spread so far and wide that even The Weather Channel had to call him out on it.
Martin contacted Gawker and left this on voice mail because he's a genius who knows how to persuade people to give him what he wants:
You're such a fucking bitch, uh, fucking cunt. I don't even know, I could call you every fucking name in the book. Yeah, this is Kevin again. Uh, I did hide the material just so that I could see it and I am going to be using that, um, so it is behind a wall where only the admin can see it. Of course, that's me, nothing you can fucking do about it you little fucking cunt.
Um, but I'm gonna let you know that what you sent, that says you're not in any way, any way, in any facts, no, you guys will fucking remove "scam," you'll fucking remove "fraud," and you'll fucking remove the "hoax" bullshit. You will fucking remove that shit or you're gonna have me on your fucking ass, you got me?
Sounds like a well-adjusted young man to me. He's also one of those "chem trail" idiots.

I know, I know. Of course he is.

This is why people have to stand up to bullies on the Internet. This is why you have to refuse to cede to these people any authority or credibility--they're crazy and they're maladjusted and they have no business living in a polite society. There has to be an island or a hermit kingdom where K-Mart and his bro can go live. That ain't here.

Reserved Veteran Parking


Mary Claire Caine didn't do a damned thing wrong:
When Mary Claire Caine walked outside after finishing her routine grocery trip to Harris Teeter Friday, she couldn't believe what she found plastered to the front window of her car.
As a veteran of the Air Force who served in Kuwait and on the flight line of the F-117 Nighthawk, Caine felt proud to park in the reserved "Veteran Parking" spaces at the grocery store chain when she did her shopping. Her two kids were always excited whenever one of the spots was open, and no one had ever questioned her qualification for it, until now.
Just as she finished unloading the groceries from her cart, she noticed a note taped to the passenger window, written in sharpie.
It read, "Maybe [you] can't read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America....not you. Thanks, Wounded Vet."
This is the mentality of some veterans--no one who is female could possibly have served their country and those who did were nurses or clerks. It's pathetic. This is probably the work of one of those regulars down at the American Legion. This is the wingnut who mouths off at people, always looking for a free drink, never did anything in the military, and can't let go of the one thing they managed to get through.

I can just imagine the scene--Caine drove up, parked, and went into the store and then some old jackass went to his car where he keeps his tape, his loose leaf paper, and his Sharpies so that he can tell people what they've done wrong and how they should go about making sure they don't piss him off. This is the work of someone who had to be prepared to leave a cowardly anonymous note on someone else's car. This is what entitled crybabies resort to when their fee-fees are hurt.

Caine's service is every bit as important as anyone else's service and that's all there is to it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You Are Most Welcome


Which Republican is going to yell something ugly first?

The President should just get up there and say:

"You're welcome."

Then drop the mic and walk off.

Obstructionism has been rewarded and the Republican Party has no ideas. The President saved the economy, ended the war in Iraq, and delivered on health care for all Americans in the face of overwhelming opposition from the know-nothings and the sellouts in his own party.

They tried and failed to end his presidency. And here we are, unemployment is down, gas prices are down, the stock market is soaring, and Americans are no longer dying in droves in the middle of a land war in Asia.

You're welcome.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Jesus Christ Pose of Dinesh D'Souza


I don't recall whether or not Martin Luther King Jr. ever broke the campaign finance laws of the country in order to enrich himself, but Dinesh D'Souza is exactly right to compare himself to one of the great men of history.

Look at me! Look at me! I'm just like someone Americans love and admire, except I'm a convicted felon who stole moneys and blamed it on the President of the United States because of my persecution complex!

The only thing worse than Dinesh D'Souza is blogging about Dinesh D'Souza...

Expertise is Just Another Word For Bullshit


This confirms an old bias of mine:
Study after study has shown that people enjoy a wine more the more the pay for it. If someone believes a wine to be of high quality—if they view its producer as truly high-end—it ends up tasting better to them. “Marketers cannot assume,” the authors of one 2008 study in the Journal of Wine Economics wrote, “that intrinsic product attributes, even when experienced, will be weighted and interpreted accurately by consumers.” Since price is a strong predictor of enjoyment, one could make the argument that the wine industry is actually set up according to a certain logic: People pay more to buy the products they end up enjoying more.For most of the 20th century, California’s vineyards were viewed as inferior to Europe’s.
A drinker's preconceptions, as those wine economists noted, shape his or her experience. In a 2001 study that is so outrageous as to appear apocryphal, all 54 tasters—some of them professed experts—were fooled into thinking that a white wine was actually red. All it took to dupe them was a few drops of red food-coloring, which were used to make one of the two glasses of the same white wine take on a different tint. (That finding is not as dispiriting as one wine journal's 2009 paper that found that one in four subjects preferred dog food to some pâtés—but it’s close.)
In other words, the expertise of snooty people is revealed to be a game of bullshit. How this can be expanded to understand the mystique wrapped in the cloak of bullshit that's behind the Pono music player, vinyl records and vintage guitars is one for the scholars to work out.

I have always been skeptical of people who push things in your face because they are authorities and experts. Really? And how do you reconcile that with the fact that independent verification usually reveals expertise to be nonexistent?

Oh, and don't get me started on Baby Boomers, man.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Mitt Romney is the Second Coming of Richard Nixon


[...] not everyone here was prepared to write off Romney just yet.
It’s not unheard of for a failed contender to wage multiple attempts at the White House. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all ran unsuccessful bids for the presidency before going on to win; Reagan campaigned for the job in 1968 and 1976 before a victorious 1980 effort.
Romney would enter 2016 with a built-in network of donors and political supporters that other candidates would have to work to acquire. And some pointed out that he would be well positioned if he could figure out what went wrong in his first two campaigns.
“People have obviously run and then come back and been successful, others have run and come back and been unsuccessful,” said Steve Robertson, the Kentucky Republican Party chairman. “Quite frankly, he’s probably learned a lot from 2012. Sometimes, experience is your best teacher.”
Mitt Romney is running because there isn't anything that anyone can throw at him that he hasn't already seen. There isn't any opposition research on him that hasn't already been dealt with. There isn't anyone else in American politics who has been through more than Romney. He is a seasoned, energetic campaigner who only occasionally blows it and reveals his plutocratic ways.

The Republicans are writing him off way too soon. If he sees any uptick of money donated to his campaign, look for him to immediately bridge any gaps with his own precious money.

How many of his prospective opponents have his deep pockets? Christie, Walker, Carson, Santorum and Perry are all men of modest means, in terms of being Republicans. Jeb Bush might have the only claim on wealth besides Romney. This is especially important because how many billionaires are going to overpay for another losing run for the presidency this year?

Yes, it is crazy for Romneyshambles version 3.0 to be a serious option, but why the hell not? Nixon and Reagan had to run numerous times in order to gain power. They didn't have Dwight Eisenhower's name recognition or resume to get them through.

Romney is a Nixonian character, through and through. He desperately craves the approval of his dead father and political power; his Mormon status in American society has made him an outsider.

Another Chance For Cops to Whine


The Attorney General just took the fun out of for-profit police work:
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without evidence that a crime occurred.
Holder’s action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs.
Since 2008, thousands of local and state police agencies have made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a civil asset forfeiture program at the Justice Department called Equitable Sharing.
The program has enabled local and state police to make seizures and then have them “adopted” by federal agencies, which share in the proceeds. The program allowed police departments and drug task forces to keep up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the adopted seizures, with the rest going to federal agencies.
The loss in revenue alone is going to require police departments all over the country to stop paying overtime for cops to go bust people for no reason so they can use Federal law to take away all their stuff.

Wait a minute...

Tri-State Munchie Run


Technically, it's not brazen if you're not smiling on security camera footage.
An 18-year-old Kentucky man and his 13-year-old girlfriend who have been missing for 12 days are believed to have taken off on a crime spree across the South, authorities said Thursday, during which they're suspected of having stolen at least two vehicles — one of which had guns in it.
"It is imperative that these two be located and apprehended as their behavior is becoming increasingly brazen and dangerous," the Grayson County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The sheriff's office identified the pair as Dalton Hayes, 18, and his girlfriend, Cheyenne Phillips, 13, whom Cheyenne's father reported missing on Jan. 3. They're accused of stealing a neighbor's red Toyota pickup truck, which was spotted on security video nine days later outside a Walmart store in Manning, South Carolina. The couple themselves were captured on video entering the store.
Someone needs to calm down. Americans have more guns than anyone else, and leaving guns in a car is as stupid as it gets.

Have they shot anyone? Nope.

Are they on a run for munchies? Probably.

Which parent thought it was okay for an eighteen year old male to consort with a thirteen year-old girl? Hopefully none of them.

Is this going to lead to a couple of completely innocent people being shot by paranoid idiots? That's a distinct possibility.

Alert me when they're only eight days ahead of the law, okay?

Oh, and South Carolina's age of consent is 14, by the way. Yes, as crazy as that is, this is the law:
The legal age of consent in South Carolina is 16. However, individuals as young as 14 years old are able to consent to have sex with a partner who is 18 years old or younger. Submitting to coercion, especially of an aggravated nature, is not consent.
Something tells me that they're just waiting for a berf-day.

In any event, that's some excellent parenting.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Sheet of Loose Sand in Afghanistan


Here's another example as to why we should have left Afghanistan over a decade ago.

In political science class, China was described to us as a "sheet of loose sand," which is a catchall term that describes the 19th Century exploitation of China by imperial powers. Afghanistan is not only a deadly and dangerous sheet of loose sand, it is a country where buildings are built out of sand in exchange for money in order to convince the imperial powers trying to do business there that they are not being ripped off.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)—who, like his onetime Iraq counterpart, is charged with the interminable task of tracking fraud, waste, and abuse in America's war zone—completed its report Sunday on the very short life of the Afghan police's "dry fire range" in Wardak Province, which was intended to replicate "a typical Afghan village" and be used "to conduct simulated police search and clearance exercises," but ended up dying prematurely and needing to be completely rebuilt:
SIGAR found that within 4 months of completion, the DFR's buildings began to disintegrate. These "melting" buildings were the direct result of the construction contractor, Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company (QNCC), failing to adhere to contractual requirements and using substandard bricks and other building materials. Unfortunately, this problem was compounded by poor oversight on the part of the responsible U.S. government officials.
That's a polite way of saying "the natives just ripped you off." Actual money was spent constructing those buildings. American money.

Tell me again why we're in Afghanistan. I can't seem to understand anything anymore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Another Thing President Obama Never Said


The Albert Lea Tribune remains the go-to resource for wingnuts everywhere. Here's Mike Gordon, lamenting the fact that tolerance for other people is being practiced in a community in which he does not live: 
How sad for America and religious liberty that a school board in Maryland has stripped the school calendar of the names of Christian and Jewish holidays to please a handful of Muslim protesters (“To appease Muslims, school district drops Christian, Jewish holidays from calendar,” Web, Nov. 12). Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah will no longer be welcome in that county’s public schools.

Why does a small minority always get its way and the much-larger majority is forced change its customs and beliefs and bow to the demands? Our country’s founding was secured in the Judeo-Christian nation, despite president President Barack Obama’s erroneous declarations in 2008 that this is no longer the case.
Immigrants who come to America have always been expected to assimilate and learn our language. Most come here because they want to be Americans. If they don’t accept that, then they shouldn’t come here. Let’s stop changing our American ideals to please the whims of people who refuse to take up our way of life.
You'll note the irony of a man with the surname Gordon lamenting the fact that immigrants have been expected to assimilate and learn our language. It's as if there were a Scotch-Irish drinking game that involved saying something ridiculous and then taking four swigs from a pint.

Gordon bases his statement on a popular wingnut trope; namely, the old Sean Hannity edit of an Obama quote as detailed below:

The way it actually came out was:
Obama, June 28, 2006 (as delivered): Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

That wasn't as smoothly stated as he had intended, but the meaning remains clear to any reasonable person. Saying that the U.S. is not "just" a Christian nation carries the sense that it is both a Christian nation and more: a nation of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and nonbelievers as well. Furthermore, any survey of religious beliefs held by Americans will show that to be a factually correct statement. However, what the authors of this and similar mass e-mails have chosen to omit is the word "just," converting Obama's factual description of America's diversity of religious beliefs to a statement that some interpret as anti-Christian. This snippet from Obama's two-year-old speech was resurrected June 23 by Fox News, which aired it a number of times. Although the Fox clip retained Obama's awkwardly worded qualification, "at least not just," Fox commentator Sean Hannity said the quote nevertheless showed Obama "seeming to downplay the current role of Christianity in the United States of America." (Hannity also claimed Obama had said the same thing during his 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, but he was wrong about that. No such words appear there.) The "news program" that the chain e-mail refers to is almost certainly one of the Fox News re-airings of the two-year-old quote. We received our first Ask FactCheck query about it the day after Hannity aired it, but by then the word "just" had gone entirely missing.
Ask FactCheck query, June 24: Did Barack Obama state in a news conference" We are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians,Jews, Muslims, Buddists…"
That was followed by several others, including the version quoted in full above. None included the word "just."
There are indications that the inaccurate version – omitting the word "just" – has been spread in an organized effort to discredit Obama. The news database Nexis contains two letters to the editor that appeared in different states over different signatures, but with words that are nearly identical to the e-mail we quote above. One appeared in the San Angelo (Texas) Standard-Times on July 29. It begins:
Texas Letter to the Editor, July 29: As my husband and I were watching a news program earlier this week, we watched in horror as Barack Obama made the statement with pride …"we are no longer a Christian nation; we are now a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists."So many other statements made by him (and his wife) were upsetting enough, but I never thought the day would come when we would hear something like that from a presidential candidate in this country.

The second version, supposedly from another person in another state, appeared Aug. 3 in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, Calif. In this version the writer tells of watching the news program alone, not with a spouse, but otherwise it contains strikingly similar wording. 

This is what happens when you show a little tolerance in America--the wingnuts pounce, making themselves victims of something that doesn't even affect them. I suppose hurt feelings would matter if their concern for the rights and privileges of others was reciprocated, but oh well.

Mike Huckabee Resurrects the Tipper Gore Crusade Against Music


Here it is, right after a gaggle of offensive French cartoonists and magazine employees were killed by fundamentalist censors, and we have Mike Huckabee, the original old square from nowhere who hates dirty dancing and that modern rock and roll music, acting like a jackass in public:
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has accused President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle of parenting by double-standard, in an interview published Tuesday, saying they shelter their daughters from some things but allow them to listen to the music of Beyonce.
While promoting his new book, Huckabee told People magazine, "I don't understand how on one hand they can be such doting parents and so careful about the intake of everything - how much broccoli they eat and where they go to school ... and yet they don't see anything that might not be suitable" in the lyrics and a Beyonce choreography "best left for the privacy of her bedroom."
Huckabee described the Grammy Award-winning Beyonce in his book as "mental poison."

Good Gravy man, give it a rest. We get that you're going to plead for the votes of the squares who haven't left Davenport, Iowa in years because they might wander into a part of the country where the hippity hop and the thumpity thump of the black music might invade their Lawrence Welk lives, but damn. At least have the decency to note that telling the President of the United States how to raise his daughters might involve a little consistency. Where was Huck when the Bush girls were learning to do the butt dance?

Someone somewhere has to have that picture of the Huckabee family in matching shirts, right?


Now you know why they hate Beyonce.

Tipper Gore, bless her heart, tried this move and it fizzled underneath the watchful eye of a man named Frank Zappa. Who will be Huck's Zappa this year? My bet is that someone seriously pissed off about what happened in France will rise up and mock Huck for his pandering, and it will probably be Taylor Swift or the drummer from the Black Keys because shut up, that's why.

Monday, January 12, 2015

America is Ready For Romneyshambles


He's running! It's Romneyshambles all over again! Yay!

Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles, Romneyshambles!

I can't wait to recycle all of that great stuff I had to blog about in 2012. Corporations are people, my friends! And none of those boys are in the military, either.

Nineteen Katrinas and Counting


The President of the United States is a little tired of your nonsense:
The developed world has suffered six years of economic pain, a fact that has dominated the political discourse. Obama’s Republican opponents have assailed his economic response, which they claim (contrary to the beliefs of more than 90% of professional economists) worsened the crisis. Even Obama’s allies have devoted more attention to the shortcomings of his rescue efforts than the virtues, in part because they sought to focus Washington’s attention on the plight of the unemployed. Paul Krugman devoted much of Obama’s first term to flaying the inadequacy of the administration’s fiscal response, and its failure to nationalize the large banks. Former New Republic economic reporter Noam Scheiber’s deeply reported history of the rescue, “Escape Artists,” emphasized its shortcomings rather than the huge amount of good it did. Liberal economic thought during the Obama years has, for perfectly rational reasons, been dominated by relentlessly campaigning against complacency rather than celebration.
But it can be simultaneously argued that we have endured brutal deprivation and that Americans experienced the world’s most impressive recovery from the Great Recession. History is already being revised. In recent months, as the American economy has surged, Krugman conceded that the bank rescue plan designed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner worked after all (“He was right; I was wrong,” Krugman wrote in a New York Review of Books essay.) Scheiber recently allowed, “my verdict on the administration was overly harsh.” Geithner’s stress tests reduced the “spread” demanded by investors, which reflects the market’s measure of the failure risk, which plummeted immediately and permanently.
I don't think I'm that far away from agreeing with Jonathan Chait. He covers all the bases, but the part that really needs to be emphasized is that President Obama saved the American economy and received no help from the Republican Party while doing so. Bipartisanship has not existed in America, ever, in any substantive form, when it comes to economic matters. The Republican Party has obstructed its way into gerrmandered relevancy. If you were to explain their records, side by side, the American people would have handed the GOP a stunning defeat last November. Instead, a bunch of safe Congressmen got re-elected and stole a few more seats because Ebola was coming over the border to eat your grandma's spleen.

They never worked with the president and they never will. The hate directed at this President eclipses everything else that has ever gone one. It is a remarkable feat to get away with spreading so much hate. The GOP has never been held accountable for the racism and the disrespect shown to the president and they likely never will. It is a feature and not a bug to have a member of the Republican House leadership who got away with speaking to a David Duke group. This is what they are about and this is what they bring to the table. God help them if we ever wake up and stop coddling racists in this damned country.

For the first two years of the Obama Presidency, I was dead wrong about most things and concerned that we were not going to get anything accomplished. I guess it was the end of 2011 or so before I began to realize that we were going to get the modern equivalent of change in this country--slow, methodical progress requiring the suspension of purity trolling and absolutism. I was pleased when Rahm Emanuel was fired and I would have preferred a more progressive approach to things.

We have about two more years to go, and I'm all in. And you'll never get tired of these "America" on the decline memes, will you? Of course not. The overarching theme of the last six years has been that Obama is ruining America.

That's bullshit and everyone knows it. He's had nineteen Katrinas and counting and we're all waiting to see what the twentieth will look like.

The Day America Will Die


This is what landed in my in-box this morning, courtesy of the Washington Times.

"The Day America Will Die."

"Bloody Wednesday."

"The fallout of this historic event will be horrific for the unprepared."

Wow.

Now, the Moonie Times is a reliably conservative rag. You can't get the news out of them for any amount of trying, but you can get fear mongering and nonsense. You can get endless ads and garbage. How do they survive? What happens when the Moonie money runs out?

The real villains are the clowns at Weiss Research. They paid the Moonie Times for the right to deliver this to people and to spread their irresponsible and hysterical fear-mongering.


This is pretty much all you need to know about Weiss Research, courtesy of the Securities and Exchange Commission. For sophisticated investors, it is easy to dismiss their outlandish claims. For not so savvy people, and you have to wonder how many of them have also been duped by the Moonie Times, how does this not equal predatory advertising and illegally trying to influence events through scare mongering?

Shouldn't we identify such firms? Why are they allowed to practice their trade in this country? And why doesn't the blowback hit the people at the Moonie Times who take money from such firms in exchange for SPAM e-mailing people? It's amazing what people think they can get away with.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pulling Water From the Air


This device produces water from the air itself:
Created by Arturo Vittori and his team at Architecture and Vision, the towers harvest water from rain, fog and dew. This isn’t a new idea—people have been doing this for as long as they’ve needed water, often with air wells. Often built as high-rising stone structures, air wells gather moisture from the air and funnel it into a basin for collection. The WarkaWater functions in much the same way, using mesh netting to capture moisture and direct it into hygienic holding tank accessed via a spout.
And the reason why there aren't hundreds of these in California right now helping to irrigate cropland and alleviate drought? I haven't heard that reason. Perhaps we could implement a public works program to build better dams and store water for long term needs, but, really, if water is scarce, you could do a lot worse than make use of a device like this.

Friday, January 9, 2015

There Are Still Too Many People Out of Work


This is great, but it's not enough. We need to put four million Americans back to work this year. We need a jobs program, a jobs bill, and incentives for small businesses to expand and hire people. We need the get people working again. We need to reverse the trend of people leaving the work population.

Is that going to happen? Hell no. But that doesn't mean we don't need these things.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Joe Manchin and Democracy


It doesn't sound like Senator Joe Manchin really understands democracy:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday he was disappointed that the White House threatened to veto his legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline, arguing the president’s move was “not the way a democracy works.”
The West Virginia lawmaker said he was upset Obama did not reserve judgment on the bill until it went through the committee and amendment process in an interview with Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.”
“I just couldn't believe that out of the gate, two hours after [Sen.] John Hoeven [R-N.D.] and I announced that were introducing the bill, that they would come out from the White House and the president would make a statement that he's going to veto it,” Manchin said.

The Democrat said he had been hopeful the president’s history serving in the Senate would have led him to hold off on a veto threat.

“I would have thought the president would say, ‘Listen, being a former legislator, I'm going to wait until this process unfolds. And at the end of the day, I'll tell you, do I like what they came up with, or do I not like what they came out with, and this is my reason for veto,’ ” Manchin said. “[He] never even gave it a chance, never even gave it a chance. Now, that's just not the way you do legislation. It's not the way a democracy works. And it's not the way the ... three branches of government should work.”
 Here's how George W. Bush handled that whole democracy thing "after the process had unfolded":
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she is "praying" that President Bush has a change of heart and does not veto a bipartisan children's health insurance bill that he has labeled an unwarranted expansion of government-run health insurance.
"I think I have to pray a little harder, but I will not give up," Pelosi said."The tide is going a different way than a presidential veto would reflect," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said. "It was with great friendship that I reached out to the president this morning to say that I was still praying that he would have a change of heart and sign this legislation."
Pelosi's comments came a day after the Senate voted 67-29 for the measure, which would expand the State Children's Health Insurance program by up to 4 million children.
It sounds like Manchin is mad that President Obama, a former legislator who watched Bush's second term chew democracy up like a cheap thing and spew it into the gutter, is trying to save him some precious time and effort. He should thank the President for taking a stand against the Keystone XL Pipeline and not question if he knows what a democracy is all about.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

William Donohue Joins Forces With the Muslims Against Satire


You knew this was coming from Bill Donohue, he of the cheap suit Catholicism that drives the Pope crazy.

If there's a wrong side of an argument, and if there's an even more wrong side of it that no one is making, William Donohue and his Catholic League will jump on it with both feet and beat it into the ground, finding a way to be even nastier than conceivably possible.

Do you know what makes America a great country? The fact that Donohue can thrive here and practice his hate and not face criminal prosecution. He has to deal with crappy bloggers, and that's about it.

Condemnation for the Charlie Hebdo Attack


A constant refrain from right wingers who are outraged over terrorist attacks - "Muslims" never condemn acts of terrorism.

As you can see, that's just bullshit.

A Drawing Has Never Killed Anyone


The satire business took a major hit this morning. If jokes can lead to gunmen, and twelve people dead, then it really is time to think closely about what it is about Western Civilization that is such a threat to the medieval minds that have hijacked the Islamic faith.

This is not about a sly group of French cartoonists mocking people. This is about the silence and intimidation this attack just purchased. The French police have some criminals they need to capture and the whole idea of a free press capable of mocking religion and everything else has come under fire. Will this lead to more repression and fear? Will it keep people from speaking out?

I would be willing to bet on defiance from the French people. Innocent people who follow the Muslim faith will suffer because of the actions of criminals. This is a chance to speak to the idea of standing up to fear.

UPDATE: Charlie Hebdo, circa 2012:
It is here, in the far east of the French capital, that the publisher and editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have worked since their former editorial offices were destroyed a year ago in anarson attack. Although no one claimed responsibility for the crime, it was apparently motivated by cartoons about Islam that the magazine had published in a special issue under the polemical title "Charia Hebdo," a reference to Islamic Sharia law.
Now the magazine and its Editor-in-Chief Stéphane Charbonnier, who is also a cartoonist himself, are back in the headlines. The satirical magazine has triggered a storm of indignation with its publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad this week. Representatives of the French Council of Muslims, prominent imams and French government officials have all criticized the professional polemicists, who violate political, social and religious taboos on a weekly basis. France has stepped up security at its embassies and other institutions abroad as a precaution.
The US government also expressed concern at the publication of the cartoons. "We don't question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
'Extremists Don't Need Any Excuses'
But Editor-in-Chief Charbonnier, who is known to his colleagues as "Charb," appears relaxed despite the uproar. Surrounded by TV crews from Japan, Qatar, Belgium and South Africa, as well as French journalists, he sits at his desk in the corner of a large room, where he creates his cartoons. He sees himself mainly as a journalist who is just doing his job. "The accusation that we are pouring oil on the flames in the current situation really gets on my nerves," says Charbonnier. "After the publication of this absurd and grotesque film about Muhammad in the US, other newspapers have responded to the protests with cover stories. We are doing the same thing, but with drawings. And a drawing has never killed anyone."
The cartoonist claims he doesn't want to deliberately provoke anyone. "We publish caricatures every week, but people only describe them as declarations of war when it's about the person of the Prophet or radical Islam," says Charbonnier. "When you start saying that you can't create such drawings, then the same thing will soon apply to other, more harmless representations."

Cashing In Leads to Sloppy Work


Modern conservatism is a racket, just like war or selling flavored water. Ben Carson getting caught for plagiarism is like Newt Gingrich getting caught in a lie--it's hardly news and it doesn't surprise anyone who understands that Carson is simply cashing in on what little name recognition he has built up by being a conservative troll.

Wingnut welfare is what it is properly known as, and, in the rush to get a book out with Carson's name on it, they didn't hire competent staffers and the thing ended up looking like a mishmash of someone else's plagiarized bullshit.

The circle is complete. Someone with no ideas lifted the idea-free work of someone else and money changed hands and nobody's mind was changed about anything. Success!

The Rare Gift of a Film With History In It


Like Ava DuVernay, I can't stand the whole "white savior" motif that runs through too many films, either. White people have a long history of letting things slide and letting people down and being indifferent to the plight of others. I get why she changed the emphasis in her film to show the Civil Rights era as a story about African Americans doing it for themselves.

The problem is, she took history and made it the subject of a film. Then she misrepresented that same history, throwing the fantastic achievements of great people into a grey area that allows people who don't get the point to attack what her film was trying to achieve. The truth, in and of itself, is always the most powerful thing you can show. Aside from that, the human condition is fascinating enough without changing or manipulating it. An artist can do whatever they want, and then they have to live with it. In this particular case, you're talking about choices not everyone would have made but they're choices that DuVernay isn't afraid to throw back into people's faces. She's the artist. Everyone else has to go deal with that.

As historical inaccuracies go, her film commits no terrible sins and the parts that the "LBJ Loyalists" are mad about aren't that important, but, damn. Everyone should see Selma and focus on the fact that this country was wrapped around a horrible injustice to people because of the color of their skin. DuVernay's decision to make LBJ look like an ass doesn't compare to the cold, hard historical truth of blowing up little girls in churches. She has given people that rare gift--a film that inspires the right kind of soul searching.

Goddamn, people. Priorities, here. If history was that precious, you wouldn't even know the name George Armstrong Custer and you damned sure wouldn't be seeing Andrew Jackson on a twenty dollar bill.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hindrocket The Troofer!


John Hinderaker at PowerLine believes that there is something amiss, and that makes for blogging gold on the Internet! Yay!

As a Reid Troofer, Hind Rocket just had to speculate that Senator Harry Reid was possibly beaten like a cheap drum by some Las Vegas thugs or casino muscle. Would it be irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to! Right? Right.

No, of course we're not being told the truth about Harry Reid. He's a Democrat, and liberals are the real haters and this is all payback for George W. Bush and his run-in with a pretzel.

Another cherished moment of a life spent watching insanity flicker in front of you on a computer screen. Is it 2005 again? Jeebus.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Another Billionaire Hypocrite


The people running things don't seem to have any idea how economics work. The media should ignore the pronouncements of such people in the future. They won't, but they should call David Siegel on his bullshit the next time he threatens to fire a lot of his workers because they don't want to vote for Mitt Romney.

One thing I can guarantee you about American politics--anyone who has money has a voice that the poor will never have.

They Can't Find the Philae Lander


When it comes to space and scientific exploration, you have to keep it boring so that you won't capture the interest of the general human population. Things like this should be played out behind closed doors. The let down is just a little too much...

The Curious Case of Julia Shields


Charles Blow has noticed something about the case of Julia Shields. A few days before Christmas, Shields was driving around the city of Chattanooga, shooting at people and at cars while wearing body armor:
Take a moment and consider this. Take a long moment. It is a good thing that officers took her in “without incident or injury,” of course, but can we imagine that result being universally the case if a shooter looks different? Would this episode have ended this way if the shooter had been male, or black, or both?
It’s an unanswerable question, but nevertheless one that deserves pondering. Every case is different. Police officers are human beings making split-second decisions — often informed by fears — about when to use force and the degree of that force.
But that truth is also the trap. How and why are our fears constructed and activated?
The American mind has been poisoned, from this country’s birth, against minority populations. People of color, particularly African-American men, have been caught up in a twister of macroaggressions and micro ones. No amount of ignoring can alleviate it; no amount of achieving can ameliorate it.
And in a few seconds, or fractions of a second, before the conscious mind can catch up to the racing heart, decisions are made that can’t be unmade. Dead is forever.
It’s hard to read stories like this and not believe that there is a double standard in the use of force by the police. Everyone needs to be treated as though his or her life matters. More suspected criminals need to be detained and tried in a court of law and not sentenced on the street to a rain of bullets.
It's difficult to second guess the police work involved in apprehending Shields. She may have fully cooperated with police and presented them no threat while acting like a maniac in public. But Blow has a point--white privilege while carrying guns in public seems to be a real thing.

Shields presents a problem for society. She's a middle-aged white woman who looks crazy in her mugshot but might simply be on drugs or mentally ill. How do you reconcile the fact that she's alive and can get treatment and then, conceivably, end up rejoining society while so many African-Americans are dead because the police shot them for being unarmed?

Shields had a gun and she lived; we have numerous incidents where black men have been shot dead while unarmed. And there's no such thing as white privilege? Please.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mr. Moyers Would Like to Retire Again


Bill Moyers is retiring again, and I think that his absence will have a profound impact on PBS. There are precious few liberal voices in the media, to be quite honest about it, and Moyers could be counted on to present his liberalism in a way that actually fought against evil, not for a triangulation of its effects on people.

At no point in my lifetime do I expect someone who clearly identifies themselves as a liberal to have a legitimate presence in American public life. You absolutely can't be a liberal and not have someone threaten your life or try to defund the network for which you work.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Many Failures of Mario Cuomo


The tendency to lionize people is grating enough, but let's not pretend that Mario Cuomo, or his son Andrew, for that matter, are actually liberals who have accomplished anything. Despite his good intentions, Cuomo governed in a time of conservative ascendancy and was better at making deals than he was at making lives better:
Equally inexcusable was New York’s near-failure to participate in the 1988 welfare-reform bill sponsored by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
The Moynihan bill offered federal money for participation in the JOBS program, which is intended to prepare welfare mothers for the job market. “Most states leapt at the opportunity,” Moynihan wrote last year in the introduction to a report on the state’s failure. “Not New York.”
In the past year, Cuomo has promoted a panoply of little programs. Jumping onto the national bandwagon, he even supported fingerprinting welfare recipients to prevent fraud. Cuomo’s new commissioner of social services, Michael Dowling, wins high marks from policy types for his desire to change the dependency mind-set that governs welfare offices in the state. But there is still nothing you could call an approach—no single, coordinated, publicized strategy. Cuomo’s new programs may go the way of old ones, their names now forgotten.
Now, did we give Moynihan the same sort of attention during his lifetime? Was there a great clamor for Moynihan to run for President?

I seem to remember Cuomo breaking everyone's hearts when he refused to run for President in the 1980s and 1990s. It got to the point where people stopped wondering if he would run. My personal feeling is that Cuomo was a man who treasured the applause but wasn't interested in really going after the Reagan-Bush legacy and exposing it as the fraud that it was because he had too much to gain by co-opting it for himself.

Just so we're clear--Mario Cuomo was a decent but flawed leader who didn't accomplish much. His son Andrew Cuomo is one of the worst Democrats in America.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Most Important Story of the New Year

In the year ahead, the most important story isn't about who is up and who is down. It's not about who is going to position themselves for re-election or for the presidency in 2016.

No, the most important thing about today and the year ahead is that a good number of Americans are going to have a little more money in their pockets to spend and take care of themselves and their families. A heartbreaking number of people are going to have a few more dollars to live on and might just have a little less stress and a little more quality of life.

You can't measure what that means--a job that pays just a little more, a little more to go on, a little less to worry about--that's the human condition being understood just a little better.

For the last few years, things have been exceptionally tough for people making the minimum wage in America. In 20 states that aren't batshit crazy and run by howling cranks, life will improve enough for someone somewhere to have a little less heartache and stress. Damn if that isn't something important to note. Shame on all of us for not working harder to make life easier for people who have to work for a living.