Archive for the ‘Right-Wing Extremism’ Category

It’s Time to Collectively, Publicly, and Definitively Denounce the False Gun Nut Hitler Claim

October 3rd, 2015 1 comment

Tt100805Gun nuts* keep repeating their refrain: privately owned weapons are the most effective bulwark against the rise of tyranny, or its continued reign.

They imagine themselves as patriotic heroes, ready to grab their AR-15s and do battle with the minions of Obama-turned-genocidal-maniac. They believe that the model of a modern American tyranny is a liberal coming into the White House, grabbing control in a military coup (because somehow the U.S. military turned ultra-liberal all of a sudden), and confiscating the guns of the people before rounding up all the Christians and conservatives and placing them in concentration camps (no, not those ones, those are okay, and we actually like these ones) before their eventual extermination.

If a tyrant comes to power in the U.S., it is most likely that said tyrant will represent himself as a true-blue patriot, will drape himself in a flag and profess a profound belief in Christianity, and will have the full-throated support of the pro-gun crowd. The same people fearing being rounded up will appear at rallies, declare others like Muslims to be “the problem,” and will ask when their new leader will “get rid of them.”

Tyrants don’t really care about confiscating your guns. Hitler relaxed gun control in Germany. Saddam Hussein didn’t confiscate guns; Iraqi gun culture under Hussein was more open than our own (ironically, we instituted gun control in Iraq). The people under the Taliban have guns. Most tyrants allow their people to have guns for a very simple reason: most tyrants have the support of at least a majority of their people, and very often it’s the people who have the guns.

Gun advocates are the most likely to vote the tyrant into office; tyrants tend to use the most easily frightened segments of society, those who fear they are losing what they have, and Americans who possess guns, included the more reasonable people, are fearful of losing what they feel is their right.

But here is the irony: when tyrants rise, they will not take the guns. Their first act will be the same as it always is: to control communications. They will take the television and radio networks, and they will try to control the Internet, just as China does. They will monitor phone conversations and Internet activity.

Well, in our country, communications are heavily licensed and registered, right down to ham radio sets. You never hear the gun extremists worrying about any of this. They are, in fact, very often vocal supporters of the government surveilling phone and Internet activity.

When a tyrant rises, their second act will be to identify and monitor the people so as to corral them and control them. Any depiction of a fascist state would be incomplete without a picture of security officers stopping people in public and demanding to see their papers.

And yet, who is it that wants to have the police demand to see people’s papers? Who demands we all get IDs to prove who we are? Yep: the same people who spread the fears that dictators will be confiscating our guns.

When a tyrant rises, their third act will be to control the movement of people. We have traffic cameras everywhere now, and any kind of public or private transportation is heavily licensed and regulated.

And yet, the people who say they are the bulwark against the iron fist of dictators seem completely unconcerned with such facts.

All of this belies the idea that the gun nuts actually oppose dictatorships at all. At best, they believe they will be champions coming to the rescue with their trusty firearms. Like this guy in Texas, who came to the aid of a carjacking victim, his gun blazing—and then promptly shot the victim in the head while the criminals escaped. Then he panicked and scrambled to pick up all his shell casings before fleeing the scene and going into hiding. At worst, they just like their guns and will go to any length, make any claim no matter how bizarre, as a justification to use guns without restriction.

So tell me, Mr. My-Gun-Will-Stop-American-Hitler, if a tyrant has control over TV, radio, the Internet, and the phone system, monitors all communications, controls what you see and hear, knows exactly who you are and everything about you, tracks you everywhere you go and controls your movements—and in addition to all that, wields armed forces with not just rifles equal to yours, but also tanks and artillery and drones and jets and weapons of mass destruction—exactly how do you plan to overthrow that tyrant with your AR-15?

The answer: you don’t. Because you were the guy who voted the tyrant into power in the first place. If you’re one of the extremists, you want they tyrant—that is, you want the tyrant to make everyone else do what you want. But the "tyrant"? He’s your guy. And you’re likely the one standing in front of him blaming all your problems on a group of Americans you hate, calling them “the problem,” and asking when your new leader is going to “get rid of them.”

Tyrants are those who impose their will on others in a way that make others suffer. Well, look at all the people who now lay dead because of how you bent society to your will. And they are just the first wave of your victims should your influence grow beyond the unchecked and uncontrolled proliferation of guns.

More often than not, tyrants come from within.

Try “Leadership,” “Responsibility,” or Simply “Not Tolerating Extremism.” Take Your Pick.

September 19th, 2015 1 comment

Rick Santorum spoke in defense of Donald Trump’s shockingly tolerant reply to a question which demanded ethnic cleansing in the United States:

[Santorum] told reporters at a presidential forum here in Greenville organized by Heritage Action that it’s not the job of presidential candidates to “police” questions or voters.

“It’s not my job, it’s not Donald Trump’s job, it’s not anybody’s job to police a question. The questioner can say whatever he wants, it’s a free country,” Santorum said told reporters.

Actually, it is your job, if the job you are trying to acquire is one of leadership and responsibility. Any position of authority, in fact, requires that you, at the very minimum, lead those who follow you on the path of at least minimal moral and ethical standards. If you run a playground and the kids start fighting, you are required to stop the fight. If you run a business and you hear one employee planning to sabotage the career of another, you put a stop to it. And if you are running for president of the United States, and your followers begin demanding what amounts to an international war crime, then you bet your goddamned ass you better set the record straight on that. You don’t respond to a call for ethnic cleansing by saying, “Yeah, that’s a good idea, we’re looking into that.”

Santorum here is, at the very least, trying to dodge the minimal responsibility a leader must display—or, at the most, and perhaps just as likely, simply agrees with the sentiment that Muslims should be cleansed from our country.

Either way, neither he nor Trump is showing the kind of responsibility or leadership which is minimally required for any position of authority—which is excellent evidence as to why neither deserves any.

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Somewhere Along the Line, This Stopped Being So Funny

September 18th, 2015 2 comments

When Kim Davis was jailed for contempt of court after she refused to carry out her legal duties and denied gay couples the ability to exercise their right to be married, her lawyer, Matthew Staver, said:

“What happened in Nazi Germany?” Staver asked on Crossfire, a current affairs program hosted by the Christian Information Radio network. “First, they removed the Jews from government public employment, then they stopped patronizing them in their private businesses, then they continued to stigmatize them, then they were the ‘problems,’ then they killed them.”

A few days later, he followed that up with a similar statement on a right-wing radio show:

“Back in the 1930s, it began with the Jews, where they were evicted from public employment, then boycotted in their private employment, then stigmatized and that led to the gas chambers. This is the new persecution of Christians here in this country.”

As I pointed out when this happened, Staver was ludicrously wrong—although millions of conservative Christians believe it to be literally true.

As it happens, however, something along the lines of 1930’s Germany is happening in the United States right now. However, it’s not liberals putting Christians in jail.

Read this exchange between the front-runner for the GOP, and one of his supporters at a rally:

To kick things off, Trump pointed at a man in the audience: “Okay, this man. I like this guy.”

“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims,” the man said. “We know our current president is one. You know, he’s not even an American. Birth certificate, man.”

“Right,” Trump said, then adding with a shake of his head: “We need this question? This first question.”

“But any way,” the man said. “We have training camps… where they want to kill us.”

“Uh huh,” Trump said.

“That’s my question: When can we get rid of them?” the man said.

Naturally, Trump immediately saw this as a red flag, and warned his followers off of that particular dangerous line of thought.

No, of course, I’m kidding. Trump did no such thing. Responding to the statement in which Muslims in America were defined as murderous and “a problem” followed by a query as to how we “get rid of them,” Trump responded:

“We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to look at that and plenty of other things.”

Now, Trump is not being like Hitler or anything; his reply is a generalized, content-free, non-committal reply intended to appease the questioner without really saying anything. However, for a public official, indeed the front-runner for national leader, is presented with an almost unveiled question regarding what is essentially a call for ethnic cleansing, to respond positively in any manner is disastrously, almost criminally irresponsible.

While I still believe that Trump cannot possibly win the presidency, while I still see him as a joke who usefully exposes the radical nature of the conservative base, I am becoming less and less comfortable with his candidacy. I hate to make this kind of analogy, but Hitler also was seen early on as a buffoon, an amateur, easily mocked and dismissed. Nor am I the only one to see uncomfortable parallels. As I just wrote, I do not see Trump as being like Hitler; he is more of an opportunist, jumping on the bandwagon to create a power base. However, his followers are beginning to sound eerily like those who followed any number of genocidal dictators.

As a result, this isn’t as funny as it used to be.

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How Can You… Oh, Forget It

September 13th, 2015 1 comment

6 years ago today I asked, How can you belong to this party and not be horribly ashamed?

Jesus. If I knew then what the GOP is like now, I would probably have had a very different perspective. At the time, I could hardly have imagined them being more insane than they were then.

Now I know better. What scares me is, what will we be looking at 6 years from now? Just thinking about it scares the crap out of me.

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The Donald, Racism, and the Right

July 6th, 2015 6 comments

The Republican Party has a racism problem. They simply can’t shake it. They wanted to appeal to black voters, and draw them into the fold—but they could not help saying and doing things that offended and alienated that entire part of society. Then they realized that Hispanics are becoming a vital demographic, and again vowed to pull them in—only to quickly revert to form, and drive away even many who are already conservative.

Why? Because the right wing is beholden to its base like nothing else, and its base has a wide swath of racism right down its middle. As has been often said, not all Republicans are racist, but if you’re a racist, then it’s a good bet that you’re a Republican.

Conservatives have denied this for years, trying to dismiss what they can, and blame the rest on extremists and outliers, combined with a generous helping of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. The party does not have a racism problem, they insist. In fact, they claim that racism just isn’t a thing anymore—I mean, hey, we elected a black president, so, racism: gone!

When Donald Trump entered the race, however, he uncovered and laid bare the massive eyesore they all have been trying to deny. Trump now-famously said:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems… they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Far from apologizing, Trump has been doubling- and tripling down on those remarks ever since.

What has not really been remarked upon lately is how Trump’s unrepentant racism has shown up the racism in the party itself.

Consider that Trump, despite making blatantly racist remarks at the very outset of his race, jumped into second place after Jeb Bush, holding 10-12% to Bush’s 16-19%. That in itself is very telling, perhaps to the degree that “despite” is not the right word for the previous sentence—maybe it should be “because.” (Okay, “due to.”)

It’s not as if Trump’s qualifications, ideas, or intelligence dazzled anyone. Nor is it his celebrity, as he was holding at about 2% in the polls before his remarks. Nor is it his general conservative outlook. What marked Trump was his unabashed extremism, and in particular, the racism. A lot of people in the party responded to that. Even Ted Cruz said that Trump should not apologize, adding, “I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth.”

Meanwhile, we on the left are still agog, scratching our heads, asking ourselves, “How can these people take such an outrageously idiotic buffoon so seriously?” Even Sarah Palin can’t bring the magnitude of the stupidity into clear focus. It’s as if some psychopathic clown just walked on to the GOP stage with his pants around his ankles, started swearing a blue streak, and they’re all sitting there applauding, as if it were Dan Quayle spelling “potato” with an “e.” We just can’t comprehend this. We’re just asking ourselves, “Don’t they know how this looks??

What was even more telling, however, was the reaction from the leading GOP candidates. Normally, a comment like that would bring an instant firestorm from all sides. But while the left and the public in general raged… conservatives kept quiet. Except for the ones like Cruz who praised Trump, or Chris Christie, who called Trump “a good guy.”

But for a whole two weeks, all criticism was held back. Marco Rubio, the quintessential Hispanic candidate, took the whole two weeks before saying anything critical. Jeb Bush, claiming many Hispanic family members and trying hard to ingratiate himself with Hispanics, took two and a half weeks.

Ask yourself, why? Why not shoot down a potential rival right away, and score some nice, juicy Sister Souljah points, making it work with the Hispanic demographic? It seems so obvious! Instead, they just stand back, and wait so long that it sounds like they are commenting on history, for cripe’s sake.

The “why” should be clear: Trump said something that a very large portion of the base has been waiting to hear for a long time. Bush, Rubio, and the rest immediately recognized that if they took shots at Trump, they would strongly alienate this core group that they so badly need. So instead they waited until the groundswell became so inevitable that they could finally say something bad about Trump, while still sending the clear message to the base: We’re really okay with all this. Don’t worry.

This is the only reasonable explanation for their reticence—but it very clearly shows that not only does the racist base exist, but that Republican politicians are very consciously aware that it exists, and are eager to pander to that group. This is also why they mouthed ignorance as to what Dylann Roof’s motives were, as if it were some inscrutable mystery. To recognize that it was about race would have been to tie a despicable act directly to the racists—and thereby to their own party.

Time to live up to your very real roots, Republicans. You are not all racists, not by a long shot.

But almost all the racists call your party “home.” And they are there in large numbers, and they have very substantial clout. You simply cannot deny it any longer.

Categories: Race, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

On Domestic Right-Wing Terrorism

June 26th, 2015 5 comments

In the wake of the Charleston tragedy, I think it is highly relevant to remember that in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on right-wing domestic terrorism. One of the memorable points in the report:

DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.

It is also significant that conservatives, at the time, were livid, claiming that the report was nothing but a liberal smear job, an attempt to politicize homeland security, leading to oppression against conservatives.

Remember Pamela Geller, the woman who recently organized the Mohammed “art show” designed to provoke an attack? This is what she said about the report back in 2009:

It is the fascist blueprint to create a police state and legalize gulags. This is not a spoof. This is Obama’s “civilian army’s” MOB. According to Obama’s DHS, patriots are the real threat to America…

And to the specific part of the report about white supremacist lone wolved posing the greatest threat?

This document poses the most dangerous threat to these great United States.

…There he goes again. Playing the race card again. Racism was dead in this country. It is Obama’s objective to create a divisive schism in this country. The country ain’t buying it. We, as a nation, elected him. Racism charge dead.

Nor was she alone. Newt Gingrich tweeted that the DHS report did nothing more than smearing conservatives and demanded the person who wrote the report be fired.

Rush Limbaugh spake:

[T]his Department of Homeland Security report is nothing more than a partisan hit job filled with lies and innuendo that portrays any conservatism as right-wing extremism.

Michelle Malkin at the time wrote:

In Obama land, there are no coincidences. It is no coincidence that this report echoes Tea Party-bashing left-wing blogs … and demonizes the very Americans who will be protesting in the thousands on Wednesday for the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party.

On the right-wing blog “Town Hall”:

Have we really come to this? Has Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels been reborn and recruited by the Obama administration to scare the heck out of the American people with absurdities such as this whacked-out document?

As a result of these protests and much more, the DHS backed off from at least outwardly reporting on the issue; whether or not this had an effect on actual work done by the DHS and other agencies, I have no idea. I imagine, however, it certainly did not help in any way, shape, or form.

I suppose it is no mystery as to why conservatives are now publicly stating their confusion as to what possible motive this clearly mentally ill non-conservative might have had, except that he seemed to hate Christians. After all, he couldn’t be racist, because someone on right-wing blogs said that he had a lot of black friends on Facebook.

But it couldn’t be right-wing terrorism. That just doesn’t exist.

It’s part denial, part No-True-Scotsman; they know that Dylann Roof lived at the heart of their political base, and is likely not mentally ill, but instead just filled with the hate that influential members of their movement find so politically useful to promulgate.

Praying for Gunfire

May 5th, 2015 2 comments

If you heard about the two gunmen who attacked the “art exhibit” in Texas, you should know that the exhibit, which featured drawings of Muhammed, was essentially a big “Fuck You” to Muslims, set up by an organization run by a woman named Pamela Geller, a rabid Islam-hating right-wing nut job.

Naturally, the men who came to open fire were horrible people and it is very good that they were stopped without anyone else getting killed.

However, you must not be fooled into thinking that the Texas exhibit was about free speech. It most certainly was not.

It would be kind of like rabid liberals setting up a “Let’s Burn Aborted Fetuses Whilst Urinating on Bibles and American Flags” exhibition next door to an NRA convention. On purpose. No one would condone what actions the less stable gun nuts might take, but everyone would pretty much take note that the people doing the “exhibit” were guilty of attempting to incite violence about as much as you possibly could.

And that’s essentially what we had in Texas: Geller was trying to make something like this happen—or, if not, was almost certainly hoping for it. She may be an extremist scumbag, but she’s not stupid: she knew exactly how Muslims would react to such a thing. It is not very much of a stretch to imagine that she is at this moment quite gleefully basking in the limelight, having successfully goaded people into violent action which she can now take to the bank. And she is getting tons of attention—and almost none of the condemnation she so richly deserves.

In short, the gunmen were not the greater villains in this story. Geller, in my opinion, should be arrested for inciting violence. She was lucky she didn’t get more people killed. Or perhaps unlucky—it is quite possible, that in Cliven Bundy style, she was hoping for some innocent victims. The optics would have been so much better for her.

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The Free Market

April 26th, 2015 5 comments

Maybe the conservatives are right. Why should the government always interfere? Why not let everything self-regulate? After all, that is only the most fair and effective means for a productive society, right?

Therefore, we should erase all criminal laws from the books, and get rid of the police. People will self-regulate. After all, if they do something bad, everyone else will disapprove, and that will be bad for them, right? Crime will disappear and everyone will treat each other equitably.

Oh, I’m sorry—that’s not what conservatives mean, is it? After all, you can’t trust the people to behave without regulation and police oversight. But corporations? They’re bound to be honest and fair—that’s their defining characteristic, isn’t it? Left to themselves, they pay everyone a fair wage and never act contrary to public interest, right?

Man, it was hard to type that and not break up laughing so hard that I misspelled everything.

Let’s face it: corporations, if viewed as “people,” are essentially psychopaths. Their single common priority is to make as much money as can be achieved. By nature, they have no moral restraints; in their context, what can be bargained for to accentuate their profit is by definition “fair,” no matter how it may seem from an objective moral perspective. If they could get away with paying workers nothing, defrauding customers, trashing the environment, bypassing safety standards, and in doing so avoid criminal prosecution and sidestep any litigation, they would do so—in a heartbeat.

Which is why people like this stand out so radically:

There are a lot of things that can be said about this guy, but he stresses the one key point, which applies to so many issues of what government does in terms of businesses: If businesses acted in a fundamentally moral manner, government intervention would not be necessary.

If businesses paid their workers a wage that would ensure that they at least could work 40-50 hours a week and not sink into poverty, a minimum wage would not be necessary.

If businesses would see to the basic safety standards for the workplace, OSHA and the regulations that govern it would not be necessary.

If businesses paid workers equally, laws like the Lily Ledbetter Act would not be necessary.

If businesses did not discriminate on the basis of race, then Affirmative Action and quotas would not only be unnecessary, but they could exist and yet never kick in!

I could go on and on, but the theme is always the same: government never intervenes in business in order to interfere. Government only intervenes when businesses violate basic moral values and mistreat people and their environments in the name of excessive greed. Not survival, mind you—but greed.

Conservatives’ number one agenda: to stop government intervention.

That is equivalent to them trying to stop police from “interfering” with people’s actions, like robbing stores, committing acts of violence, etc. and instead, allowing the “free public square” to “self-regulate.”

Funny how we never hear them advocating that. It’s as if they don’t believe it would actually work.

The Republic of Tom Cotton, et al

March 10th, 2015 4 comments

There is a at which the political antics of Republicans go beyond mere idiocy and becomes dangerously close to sedition and treason. And regarding words like “treason,” I do not mean them in the sense that such words are used by Republicans, as in, “Obama just sneezed, let’s accuse him of treason”; I use them in the actual, legal sense.

Republicans have always used their bully pulpit to make the most sensational of charges against Obama, making wild accusations based upon the tamest of actions. After Obama used his authority to issue executive orders even less than pretty much all other modern presidents, he was widely accused by conservatives of being “menacing” in his threat to rule in a corrupt manner that could “deliver us to tyranny,” abusing his powers to the point where impeachment was a just and proper response.

But for all of the hysterical dramatics displayed, this is all just empty posturing; a quick review clearly demonstrates that every right-wing claim is absurdly childish in both the near-berserk levels of alarm as well as the farcical exaggeration of legal claims. Obama has played within his constitutional authority, and certainly well within the boundaries set by his predecessors.

However, Republicans have now begun to take steps which are—in actual fact—both unprecedented and wholly unconstitutional. They came perilously close to that line last week by bringing a foreign leader to their chambers, without the consent of the president, to make a distinctly partisan speech on the behalf not just of Congress, but on behalf of one party of Congress, in what was effectively a foreign-backed political attack on the president of the United States. That comes perilously close to being brazenly illegal, and is without any doubt a breaking of long-held national standards of patriotic fair play.

But now? Now, as the president carries out his constitutionally mandated powers (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution) to negotiate treaties with foreign powers, Congress has stepped in and sent a direct message to Iran, both specifically and willfully disrupting that process.

This goes beyond mere political interplay. This even goes beyond the now-well-trodden line of intentionally harming the nation for political purposes. This is a deliberate act to undermine the power of the president of the United States as he negotiates with a foreign enemy. Can you imagine what would have happened if, while Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev in Iceland, the Democrats in the Senate sent a message to the Soviet leadership that Reagan had no ability to deliver on any agreement he made? Would Republicans have accepted that?

Of course not, because it would have been tantamount to treason. And no less here, wether you agree with the Republicans’ point of view on Iran or not. They have the power to advise and consent only, not to directly negotiate on matters of foreign affairs, and especially not to work against the president of their own country in foreign negotiations. Though the pundits now seem to be saying that it only comes close to violating the Logan Act (not to mention the constitution itself), they say that the language of the act is vague enough that a good lawyer could wriggle out of a conviction. That does not in any way mean that the Republicans clearly violated the intent of the Logan Act, and are clearly not just in the wrong on this, but have strayed well into the waters called treason.

It is as if Republicans have effectively established their own independent sovereign nation within the bounds of GOP headquarters, and are now acting as a hostile power against the president of the United States.

And, sadly, when it comes to Obama, he is the classic weak-kneed Democrat when it comes to decisive, strong action to slap down the other side when it clearly oversteps its bounds.

The only real question is, what will the Republicans do next? Because, when—not if—they do get away with this, they will surely see the way clear to go one and then many steps further.

Code Words

March 6th, 2015 2 comments

In the past, there have been a virtual lexicon of expressions designed to sound generally positive and innocuous while in fact forwarding a strident partisan agenda. “State’s rights” has long been used as a means of attempting circumvention of everything from prohibition of slavery to Obamacare. “Victim’s rights” has been synonymous with denying the rights of the accused, an integral—indeed, overwhelming—chunk of the Bill of Rights. More recently, “academic freedom” and “teaching the controversy” have been used as code words for violating the separation of church and state so as to teach creationism in public schools.

Now we have a new one: Religious Liberty. You want to deny women the right to birth control as much as possible? Well, any relationship you have with them, no matter how slight or glancing, gives you the right to do so, because otherwise, your religious freedoms would be infringed! A gay couple comes into your business and you want to discriminate? Sure, it’s illegal—but if you can’t, then your religious rights are being trodden upon! Religious Liberty!

And if you’re a Hindu who wants to give an invocation at a town meeting?


See? Simple!

Hypocrisy Can Bite You in the Ass

February 13th, 2015 2 comments

For eight years, after Democrats won control of the Senate in 2006, Republicans had a single strategy: obstruct. They famously became the party known for its “Audacity of Nope,” often called the “Party of Nope.” Session after session, year after year, bill after bill, Republicans blocked pretty much anything and everything—and not even because they always disagreed with the legislation, but rather just because it was on Obama’s watch. It was just No, No, No, No, No, all the time, for eight long years. They weren’t even shy about admitting it:

Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott boasted, “The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

Well, Republicans finally won back full control over both houses, winning the Senate majority last November. Sessions barely started a month ago, and Republicans have spent much of the time shooting themselves in the foot.

However, one bill passed the House, and Senate Republicans would love to vote for it. The problem: the bill is extremely partisan, essentially destroying all the positive work Obama accomplished on immigration reform over the past 2-3 years, assuring the Democrats would never let the bill through. And that’s what they’ve been doing.

Yep, that’s right: the Democrats filibustered their very first bill. After eight years of Republicans filibustering almost every last bill in sight.

How do Republicans respond?

Well, they’re just livid. John Boehner could not restrain his frustration:

The House did its job. We won the fight to fund the Department of Homeland Security and to stop the president’s unconstitutional actions. Now it’s time for the Senate to do their work. You know, in the gift shop out here they’ve got these little booklets on how a bill becomes a law. All right? The House has done its job! Why don’t you go ask the Senate Democrats when they are going to get off their ass and do something other than to vote no!

Do I even need to point out the extraordinary hypocrisy?


History Repeats

August 25th, 2014 1 comment

A week ago, I made the case that Republicans should not be rewarded for trying to turn the country to crap so people would be unhappy with Obama and vote Republican more:

When one party is merely lame and unwilling to act forcefully, but the other party is going batshit insane, you don’t vote for the batshit insane people! When a president has gone too far trying to accommodate diehard hacks bent on ruining the country to make that president look bad, you do not reward the ones who have driven us into the ground just because they can make you unhappy. …

Rewarding Republican politicians for any reason is the most disastrously insane solution anyone could possibly dream up. They are dying anyway; put them out of their misery now before they add to the astonishingly catastrophic devastation they have already wrought upon this nation. The sooner we stop their policy of ruin, the more we can salvage.

I just saw a post along almost exactly the same lines come up on my “This Day Past Years” list. Two years ago, I made effectively the same case:

The key point: Republicans have been far more destructive to the economy, even openly stating goals which work against economic recovery, again openly admitting their goals in this are to gain political power.

The answer to this is not to reward them with more power.

The answer is to give that power, definitively this time, to Democrats, even just for two years, so we can see what Democratic policies would reap without Republicans poisoning everything.

Unfortunately, the American people will probably wind up giving the GOP even more power.

At least, if they do, and if Republicans take control of the Senate, it won’t make too much difference. The Senate is hardly passing laws at all right now, and the president still has his veto power. Democrats would still have the filibuster, which Republicans will no doubt immediately vilify once again, as always completely unabashed in their barefaced hypocrisy.

So the Republicans will have a few more committees to investigate their fictional “scandals.” So they’ll have a few more podiums from which to rant. Otherwise, things will stay the same—and conservatives will continue to call it Obama’s fault.

At some point in the future, demographics will begin to undo what Republicans have done with gerrymandering and Jim Crow. The problem is, what will be left of the nation by then?

With all that we will have lost by then, at least we’ll have the comfort of knowing that conservatives are certain that it was all the Kenyan Socialist’s fault.

GOP Motto: Vote Against Democrats Because We Turned the Country to Crap

August 15th, 2014 2 comments

From a New York Times article:

Voters’ deep frustration with both sides explains why few election analysts, including people in both parties, predict a wave that would wipe out Democrats like in the 2010 midterms (or like 2006, when George W. Bush was president and Republicans lost their House and Senate majorities).

That’s not a good analogy: Republicans lost in 2006 because they had held almost total control for six years and had made a huge mess of things. Democrats were more or less bystanders there, and were the alternative. None of that applies to Republicans under the current situation: most of the bad stuff that has been happening has been their fault; all they can do is say, “Hey, look how much we were able to screw things up while Obama was in the White House!”

Look, I’m no huge fan of what Obama has been doing, and while Republicans are even more of an obstacle for Democrats in Congress, Congressional Democrats—especially those in the Senate—have not taken the drastic action made necessary by conservative intransigence.

So does that mean I’m going to refrain from voting in the upcoming elections, or that I’m going to vote for anyone opposing Democrats?

Hell, no!!

When one party is merely lame and unwilling to act forcefully, but the other party is going batshit insane, you don’t vote for the batshit insane people! When a president has gone too far trying to accommodate diehard hacks bent on ruining the country to make that president look bad, you do not reward the ones who have driven us into the ground just because they can make you unhappy.

Now is exactly the time for all Democrats or fellow travelers, anyone who feels that the past 6 years of gridlock and sabotage is a horrendously bad thing, to vote Democratic across the board.

Think that voter suppression and Jim Crow 2014 is bad? Then vote out the Republicans in state houses nationwide, who made all of this happen.

Think that gridlock in Congress is bad? Then vote out the Republicans who have made that obstruction and inaction their mainstay policy.

Think that Democrats are the ones who ran up the debt? Then get your head out of your ass and look at the facts and figures, and then vote out the lying blowhards who actually put us in this mess.

Think that Citizens United or Hobby Lobby are travesties of justice? Then don’t let the people who want that kind of crap expanded a hundred times win any more elections, or vote in the next Supreme Court justices.

I could go on and on, but it should be clear to anyone who sees and thinks.

But here’s the key: so many people don’t vote that a surge in Democratic turnout could win elections.

Rewarding Republican politicians for any reason is the most disastrously insane solution anyone could possibly dream up. They are dying anyway; put them out of their misery now before they add to the astonishingly catastrophic devastation they have already wrought upon this nation. The sooner we stop their policy of ruin, the more we can salvage.

To Be Polarizing, You Have to Actually Do Something Polarizing

August 10th, 2014 1 comment

I am getting pretty tired of people referring to Obama as a “polarizer” or a “polarizing” figure. Sorry, but that’s complete bull.

Scenario A: you get a job in an office where there are desk workers and field people. As a person who works in the field, you start making all kinds of insinuations about the desk workers, calling them “desk jockeys,” “do-nothings,” and “lazy fatasses.” You begin to advocate for budget increases for field workers at the cost of the desk workers, and you spread rumors about the desk workers stealing supplies, taking too many days off, and spending most of their time playing games or surfing the web on their computers. Worse, you claim, the desk workers are spreading malicious rumors about the field workers, trying to get them fired so the rest will be disorganized and easy prey for office politics.

Pretty clearly, in this scenario, you are polarizing the office, trying to create a rift between the two groups.

Scenario B: you get a job in an office where there are desk workers and field people. You have a field work position. You do nothing untoward, just your job and not much else. Instantly, several of the desk workers arbitrarily decide that they hate your guts. They get most of the desk workers to agree with them, and begin a campaign to make your life miserable and get you fired. They start spreading lies about field workers, using you as a poster boy. They start sabotaging your work and the work of other field workers. They begin trying to cut every bit of the budget that might make field work easier, and every time you hand in work that they will later process, they “lose” parts of the work and blame you. You suddenly become the reason they cite for every bad thing that happens in the office, and some even claim that they will go on strike or up and quit unless “something is done” about you.

Are you a polarizer in this scenario? Pretty clearly no. Are you “polarizing”? Perhaps in a starkly technical sense—but not because of anything you did. Describing you as “polarizing” is patently misleading, as it implies that the polarizing is somehow your doing. Worse, if you object to this patently unfair treatment, you are even more strongly labeled a “polarizer”—“See? Look how he’s bashing the desk workers!”

To polarize is to “divide or cause to divide into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs.” The thing is, when you do nothing that could reasonably cause such division, but others overreact bizarrely because they decide they do not like you, then you’re not doing the polarizing. If you come to a group of people and say, “I’d like to do something about this issue, so let’s begin by using your plan with a couple of my ideas thrown in,” and they react by rejecting not only your ideas but their own plan, calling it the most drastically radical and disastrous idea ever, and instead spend all their time twisting and distorting the proposal and fighting against it only because you are proposing it—I’m sorry, but no way on Earth are you the one being “polarizing.”

And that’s the case with Obama. Despite constant references to Obama “polarizing” the country, he has done nothing of the sort. He has gone a great distance to give everyone what they want, to ameliorate the dissatisfaction of his political opponents. He has done pretty much what he promised when he campaigned in 2008: to try to bring everyone’s concerns to the table, address them, and find a solution that everyone can get behind.

I am not saying this out of admiration; I wish he wouldn’t do that, because it’s stupid. When your opposition is bent on making you fail, when they obviously will not cooperate no matter how much you give them, when you wind up giving them more than they originally asked for and still they vehemently oppose you—then you’re an idiot to keep on trying that strategy. When someone not only refuses to work with you but takes every opportunity to knock you down and crack your head open, you don’t keep on trying to shake their hand. You have to deal with the situation you’re confronted with.

The point, however, is that Obama is not the polarizer nor is he in truth polarizing. Republicans are clearly, undeniably responsible for the divisions we see today, taking extremist positions solely out of an unreasoning hatred for Obama—a hatred founded in the desire to crush the opposition for the sake of gaining power, money, popularity, and influence.

What’s a Jobs Bill? Who Cares, SUE OBAMA!

July 13th, 2014 3 comments

Boehner’s petition to sue the president included this claim:

After years of slow economic growth and high unemployment under President Obama, they are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ The House has passed more than 40 jobs bills that would help. But Washington Democrats, led by the President, just ignore them.

Wow! More than 40 jobs bills! Why haven’t we heard of this before? Must be the Liberal Media just trying to make the Republicans look bad.

So, what were the bills he’s talking about? There’s a list of 46 “pro-growth jobs bills” on this page.

One thing you notice right away is that six of the bills listed here were either signed into law or are supported by Obama. We know that because Boehner’s list itself makes this clear. So, exactly how are “Washington Democrats, led by the President” just ignoring them?

But hey, that’s still 40 jobs bills that Democrats haven’t approved! They must be anti-jobs!

Let’s look at the list, starting at the top. Right there is the Keystone pipeline bill that Democrats refuse to pass in the Senate. They’re preventing oil from being more easily delivered from Canada!

Umm, wait. That’s a jobs bill?


A piece of legislation called a “jobs” bill should be first and foremost focused on creating jobs. If it is focused on a very different task, even though it results in some jobs being created, then it’s not a “jobs” bill.

For example, let’s say I write a bill proposing that all businesses must submit 100 extra pages of forms every year for some purpose or another. Those businesses will obviously need to hire more people to collect that information, confirm it, and submit the forms. Arguably tens of thousands of new jobs must be created to accomplish this task.

Did I just write a “jobs” bill? No.

No, a “jobs” bill is one that is at the very least mostly about creating jobs, and should be directly about creating jobs. For example, in 2012, Obama was pushing strongly to pass a bill that would give tax incentives to companies which would bring jobs now outsourced overseas back to the United States. That’s clearly a “jobs” bill, as creating jobs in the United States is the primary objective. Republicans opposed it because it would make it less advantageous to hire cheap foreign labor.

Then there was the “American Jobs Act” in 2011, which Obama was also pushing, and Republicans also blocked; Obama split the bill up and got a few elements passed, but Republicans stopped most of it. The bill called for suspending some payroll taxes for employers and employees; unemployment benefits and jobs training; spending for creation of infrastructure, construction, teacher, firefighter, and police jobs; prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; and loosening regulations on creating capital for new business projects. Again, the theme of all of this is clearly to create jobs, both directly and by economic stimulation.

So, how is the Keystone pipeline a “jobs” bill? The primary objective for the Keystone pipeline is to support the production and sale of controversial tar sands oil. It’s kind of hard to argue that approving an oil pipeline to profit oil companies—one of which is not a United States firm—is somehow primarily an American “jobs” bill. It is, however, part of a distinctly partisan pro-corporate agenda.

In fact, an estimate of the impact of the project says that the project would create only 2,000 short-term construction jobs over two years, with as many as 40,000 “indirect” jobs (providing food services for workers as one example) which are just as if not more temporary. That’s a job increase worth just 15% of last month’s job increases—and those are temporary jobs that would expire after two years, creating a jobs lurch whenever that happens.

Remember back in 2009 when Obama was really pushing the economic stimulus, and a big part of that was to create jobs on infrastructure projects? At the time, Michael Steele and the GOP claimed that these weren’t “jobs” because they were not permanent:

Steele: “You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.”

Stephanopoulos: “But that’s a job.”

Steele: “No, it’s not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It’s going to be long term.”

Stephanopoulos: “So a job doesn’t count if it’s a government job?”

Steele: “Hold on. No, let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we’re talking about have an end point. As a small-business owner, I’m looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It’s a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work.”

So, if Keystone passes, how many “actual,” that is to say, permanent, jobs would be created in America? About 50. More jobs that that would be created—but in Canada. The real profit from this would not be in jobs, it would be in the source of oil. This oil must be refined, but there is no new refining going on, we’re just using a different source. Which means no more new jobs on that end, not in the United States.

But wait a minute. The pipeline delivers oil, but is not the only delivery method. Is this oil that would never be delivered without the pipeline? No. It’s not like we’re not getting the oil—we’re just transporting it by less cost-effective measure, namely rail, truck, and/or barge. Which creates jobs for people running those lines of transportation. Which are currently well-paying, permanent, full-time jobs—which will be killed by the pipeline.

Then there is the fact that the pipeline will lead to higher fuel prices in the midwest, which will have a negative impact on jobs. Oil spills kill jobs over time. The costs for the pipeline will have an opportunity cost on investment in green energy, an industry which has been a true job creator and source of economic value for the United States.

According to various reports, Canadian oil companies would be the biggest winners for this project, with a few jobs spilling over to the American side, which will probably be offset by job losses created by the pipeline. Oh, and tar sands oil is incredibly polluting. In contrast, look at clean-energy car technology initiatives—which created 150,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the United States. But that’s the kind of industry Republicans mock and deride.

So, no, Keystone is obviously not a “jobs” bill. It’s an oil-industry bill, aimed to mostly profit oil producers and refiners, mostly in Canada, with a minimal or negative jobs impact.

But hey, maybe they just really like the Keystone project, so they topped the list with it. Maybe the 39 other bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

How about the “Offshore Energy & Jobs Act” which will “revitalize manufacturing, create jobs, and restore our nation of builders”? That’s offshore drilling with the word “jobs” attached to it. There are other bills for “onshore drilling,” and for deregulating fracking, and other general “drill anywhere” and “get rid of all environmental protection regulations.” Essentially, most of the energy-related jobs bills are “drill & pollute as much as you like” legislature—which, like the Keystone project, is about energy interests making tons of money, and oh yeah, some jobs may be created in the process. Those are not jobs bills.

In fact, nearly half of the “jobs” bills are actually let’s-give-billions-to-morbidly-profit-rich-energy-corporation giveaways, mostly bills which attack Democratic policies to keep air & water clean and not completely wreck the environment.

But hey, maybe the other two dozen or so bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

The first non-energy bill listed: kill Obamacare. Which would result in millions losing the first affordable healthcare they have seen in a long time, and in many other greatly beneficial policies getting struck down. But hey, the CBO said 2 million jobs would be lost!

No, the CBO said that the equivalent of 2 million jobs in hours worked would be reduced, mostly from people working themselves half to death to pay for pre-ACA health care, which now they don’t need and so can work less but still get the same benefits. Overall, the ACA is probably more job-neutral than anything else—primarily because it’s not a jobs bill. Killing it will not create jobs, that’s GOP fantasy politicking.

So, what’s next on the list? Oh, the next three “jobs” bills are also about killing Obamacare. Go down the list, and you’ll see that they are mostly of this stripe: partisan laws trying to get Republican political agendas signed into law and Democratic political agendas repealed. Privatization of schools, half a dozen limits or prohibitions on government regulation, importing cheaper labor in high-tech industry, more attempts to get rid of the ACA, defunding welfare, spending cuts (which ironically fund jobs), cut food stamps (which are actually job-stimulative due to increase sales business), tax cuts & credits for corporations—stuff like that.

You can read it on the list. Once you get past the hyperbolic “jobs, jobs, jobs!!” titles & language adorning the proposals, you will see that none of these bills are in fact focused on creating jobs, but depend on side effects (many of them fictional) to create the jobs. But the bills themselves are all about something other than jobs.

So, essentially, John Boehner and the Republicans are complaining that Obama is not passing their partisan legislative agenda which is not about jobs, but instead is about rewarding Republican constituents and breaking down Democratic ones.

Of course, since then, the Republican “justification” behind the alleged lawsuit has been revealed as a delay in enforcement of the ACA for some businesses—a move which Republicans not only approved of at the time, but actually pressured the president to do in a different form—until they realized they could use it as a way to attack Obama, at which point they suddenly opposed such delays.

I can imagine that a lot of Americans who are not favorably inclined towards Obama will believe that there is something to the lawsuit, but only because they do not listen, think, or study the issue seriously. They will hear Boehner and other conservatives saying something like, “Obama blah blah blah failed blah blah blah killing jobs blah blah blah shameful blah blah blah destroying America blah blah blah gerbils blah blah blah fluoridation blah blah blah therefore we must [ sue / impeach ] him.”

Apparently, in conservative politics nowadays, this is what is referred to as “Thursday.”

The Imperial Presidency

July 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Boy, that Obama is just out of control. Boehner just has to sue him!

Republican charge: Obama rules by decree. Evidence: Has issued 180 executive orders.

George W. Bush: Supposedly not ruling by decree. Evidence: Issued about 210 executive orders by the same time in his presidency.

Republican charge: Obama lied when he said you could keep your health care plan if you liked it. Evidence: Undetermined number of Americans forced to change health care plans; some got somewhat worse plans, many more got more advantageous plans. Obama made a formal apology for his statements, saying that his assurances had been wrong.

George W. Bush: Bush lied about Iraq having ties to al Qaeda and terrorism, about Iraq working on a nuclear program and having massive stockpiles of WMD, about how an invasion would be short-termed and not costly, how we would be greeted as liberators, and how sectarian concerns would not be a problem. Evidence: A decade-long was costing trillions of dollars, 4489 American soldiers killed, 32,000 wounded, Iraq destabilized and sent plunging into a sectarian civil war. Bush never admitted doing anything wrong, said he would make the same decision again if he could go back; Republicans blamed Obama for anything bad happening concerning the war, including costs and outcome.

Republican charge: Obama’s “Imperial Presidency” via executive orders and end-runs around Congress is “Unprecedented.”

George W. Bush: from an article in 2007:

As he tries to end-run a balky Congress, Bush is taking a page from Bill Clinton’s playbook by adopting a series of mini-initiatives to change policy through executive orders and administration actions that don’t require legislation.

Let’s face it, this is just a media stunt. According to Republicans, every Democratic president is “the most corrupt ever,” or “the most imperial president ever”—just like every single Democratic presidential nominee is immediately and automatically labeled as “the most liberal nominee ever.” It’s a knee-jerk political attack, similar to how every domestic mass murderer or terrorist suspect is automatically labeled as a “Registered Democrat” in Freeper forums.

This is not about Obama doing anything even remotely controversial. It’s about Republicans running out of ideas about how to attack Obama and still make it look serious somehow.

Conservative Projection Syndrome

June 25th, 2014 4 comments

This out of Wisconsin:

Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old Shorewood health insurance executive, was charged Friday with 13 felonies related to his voting a dozen times in five elections between 2011 and 2012 using his own name as well as that of his son and his girlfriend’s son.

… Monroe was considered by investigators to be the most prolific multiple voter in memory. He was a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Alberta Darling, both Republicans, and allegedly cast five ballots in the June 2012 election in which Walker survived a recall challenge.

According to the John Doe records, Monroe claimed to have a form of temporary amnesia and did not recall the election day events when confronted by investigators.

Amnesia. Right. Because forgetting that you cast your vote in one state five times causes you to vote in two other states. Under different names.

I’m pretty sure something else caused this, and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. There’s a phenomenon amongst conservatives to accuse liberals of a wrongdoing, claim it’s destroying the country—and then proceed to do that very thing yourself, to an extreme. Conservatives feel justified in doing this along a specific train of thought: Democrats did it, they got away with it, so why can’t I do it in spades?

We’ve seen this a lot of times before. Democrats used the filibuster—in what was truthfully a limited fashion—to stop Bush’s most extremist judicial nominations, which he repeatedly nominated for court seats. The Republican response? Claim that Democrats are abusing the filibuster, call that the worst crime in history, and then, once they lost power, use the filibuster to block every last thing in sight.

Republicans accused Democrats in 2006 of being so adamantly hostile to Bush that, if elected to power in Congress, they would hold endless investigations of Bush and would try to impeach him, all of this being a dire threat to America. Democrats won and did not investigate or impeach—but in 2010, when Republicans won the House, they began exactly that process, to extremes.

They claim that Democrats are on a campaign to “annihilate” the Republican Party, despite no evidence to support that—and then launch campaigns to destroy traditional Democratic power bases, such as unions and teachers, vilify liberal causes, deny any compromise for the purpose of destroying any chance of opposition success, and even attempt to destroy the very names for the other side—“liberal” becomes “The ‘L’ Word,” and “Democratic” becomes “democRAT.”

They claim that Democrats are reckless spenders responsible for the debt, and then go on a spending spree that takes a budget surplus and transforms it into a (second!) Republican-generated record-breaking national debt. They claim that Democrats are “takers,” a then acquire more government handouts for red states than the more-productive blue states are given. They claim that Democrats voted for Obama just because he is black, and then vault men like Michael Steele, Herman Cain, and Alan Keyes to high-profile roles in the shadow on Obama. They cry “class warfare!” and say it’s tearing the nation apart, and then seek to destroy the minimum wage and actually raise taxes for poor people even in light of a supposedly inviolable “no tax hike” pledge.

And then, on the issue of election fraud itself, Republicans claim Democrats steal elections, their claim based on nothing more than rumor and conspiracy theories… and then launch the grandest, most thinly-veiled nationwide campaign for election fraud imaginable.

The list goes on and on and on. This is what conservatives do.

So why did this Robert Monroe guy think it was perfectly fine for him to commit exactly the kind of voter fraud that conservatives claim, without any evidence whatsoever, is rampant amongst liberals? My guess is, this exact phenomenon: conservatives make up ludicrous false claims about liberals, believe their own fairy tales, and then feel perfectly justified to do exactly what they have railed against, only to more egregious extremes than they imagined liberals were doing.

We already have ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome); what we see here is another conservative malady—call it “CPS”: Conservative Projection Syndrome.

Because They Can

June 17th, 2014 Comments off

Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) says that Republicans could swing the votes for impeachment:

A Republican congressman thinks a vote to impeachment President Obama would pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Speaking with the Gary Sutton radio program on Monday, Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania said a vote to impeach Obama would “probably pass” the House.

“He’s just absolutely ignoring the Constitution, and ignoring the laws, and ignoring the checks and balances,” Barletta said. “The problem is, you know, what do you do? For those that say impeach him for breaking the laws or bypassing the laws. Could that pass in the House? It probably, it probably could. Is the majority the American people in favor of impeaching the president? I’m not sure.”

In case you may be fuzzy on the details, impeachment requires a simple majority vote in the House, but a two-thirds majority in the Senate. So, naturally, even if Republicans can manage to win a majority in the Senate this year, they still won’t have nearly enough votes to get a conviction, making any impeachment symbolic.

But here’s the thing: either way, they would do it. They did it to Clinton, for what was essentially a set-up regarding a question about a sexual dalliance, knowing it would never pass the Senate. The vote there was 55-45 against, all Democrats voting not guilty, along with 10 Republicans, Arlen Specter voting “not proven.” It was a foregone conclusion, so why impeach in the first place? Because they were pissed, and they could. Even then, at least roughly one-fifth of Senate Republicans showed sanity, but of those ten, two (Jeffords and Specter) would leave the party, and another two (Collins and Snowe) were the Maine centrists.

It has been about fifteen years since then, and though Snowe and Collins are still there, the party is still moving in an extremist direction. Remember, although 10 Republicans showed sanity, almost all in the House and 45 of 50 in the Senate did not.

And now we have House Republicans talking about the same thing; certainly they would be willing. What do they have the president on? The Guantanamo transfer, apparently. Even less than with Clinton, certainly far less than Bush could ever have been charged with.

However, I totally believe they would do it. They are that far gone. They care very little about the law, only about how they can use their power for political purposes. We see something similar on the Supreme Court: not just Bush v. Gore, but the conservative justices simply making crap up based not on law but upon their own personal ideologies. They are so deep into their own echo chamber that most of them probably do believe most of the idiocy they spout. That 99% of mass shooters are registered Democrats, that Obama is a secret Muslim from Kenya, that FEMA concentration camps are just around the corner. And if not, they are certainly willing to act on it as if it were.

We have arrived at an age where the GOP, had they enough votes in the Senate, would actually convict a Democratic president not for any real cause, but just because they could.

We are in a time when one party has gerrymandered half the country and passed blatantly political Jim Crow laws to hold on to power, and has practiced a working strategy of zero compromise, ultra-hyperbolic rhetoric, utter obstructionism, and absolute enmity. The politics of hate, lies, and scorched Earth.

At some point, this has got to break. But, tragically, not before an unthinkable amount of permanent damage has been done.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Beware the Heroes You Cast

April 25th, 2014 4 comments

Any statement that begins with the words, “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro” is not likely to end well.

Fox News and many on the conservative side have made a homespun hero out of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who says that the United States does not exist—even as he rides around on a horse carrying the flag of the United States. He says that he will follow every law that Nevada has, but none of the federal government—despite the fact that one of Nevada’s highest laws says that federal laws must be followed. This is a man whose claim to fame is essentially that he’s a thief. For twenty years, he has been raiding resources which do not belong to him. Now that the owners, having been relatively gentle and patient, are asserting their ownership, Bundy has decided to use the threat of violence to solve his problems.

Now, one can understand the siren call of this story for the conservatives. As I pointed out before, it has so many seductive elements: the scrappy, defiant rancher with his ragtag team of compatriots fighting the feds all by their lonesome, the government denying use of land to protect an endangered species, and the allure of a Waco-style conflagration which could amount to a spectacular PR nightmare for the Obama administration. You can almost hear the right wing getting sexually aroused.

Now, the points I mentioned above—essentially, this is a guy who doesn’t bother to know things or to think too hard before he speaks—should have been kind of a warning sign to conservatives that they had a potential embarrassment on their hands. But then, this is the same crowd that not only nominated Sarah Palin, but actually loved her for saying stuff that amounts to “I’m a foreign policy expert because you can see Russian wastelands from the far reaches of my state.” Clearly, the general weight of the conservative movement is not exactly sharp as tacks. Or, to be more fair, they are far more about message than they are about fact or reason.

Nevertheless, you would think that there might have been something of a reassessment in conservative circles when a Bundy supporter revealed that they planned to put women at the forefront of their group as they drew fire from federal forces so that the nation would see women shot to death on national TV, and that would be swell for cattle grazing.

But no, conservatives still figured that this was a good movement to latch onto. After Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Joe the Plumber, people like Rand Paul figured that they’d found someone who would help their cause just as much. And they were right.

So, are you ready to hear what their new hero wants to say?

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

They never learned to pick cotton, and perhaps would be better off as slaves.

Now, I am aware that he was not actually suggesting that these people be sold back into slavery (at least I think he was not trying to say that), but instead was criticizing government subsidy. However, his wording could hardly have been less, shall we say, eloquent. When using the word “Negro” is the least offensive thing you said, you know that you’ve just made a fairly significant gaffe.

I mean, he’s making about a half dozen incredibly offensive innuendoes in rapid-fire succession. There were lots of kids, despite the fact that they get so many abortions—because these people just do nothing but have wantonly irresponsible sex all day long, don’t they? And their old people and kids can be seen lounging around; shouldn’t they all be working or something? Especially the “young girls”—good lord, I do not even want to speculate as to what he meant by that. Although perhaps he meant that the young girls should be lined up to be shot by armed federal agents or something. You know, because it’s a great visual.

Pile that on top of the irony that his entire cause is about demanding as his natural entitlement a far greater subsidy than any of these people he imagines are living the easy life… well, it’s all pretty breathtaking.

Sarah Palin, stand aside… allow a master to show you how it’s done. Er, not that I mean anything by “master.”

Rand Paul was quick to disown Bundy. Rick Perry is now calling Bundy a “side story” and the real issue is land management. And for some unknown reason, Fox News seems to have suddenly gone silent about the scrappy rancher. Cannot for the life of me imagine why that could be.

As the conservatives who for days gleefully made Bundy their poster boy now scramble for cover, you have to wonder how long it will be before they again forget to think carefully about who they choose to hold up as a hero for their cause. Because it will happen again. It’s not like Bundy was all that hard to see coming. And they still like Sarah Palin.

The Republican Mindset

April 20th, 2014 1 comment

This article crystallizes the mindset of the Republican party extremely well.

Common Core is a set of K-12 educational standards that would delineate what any student should know at the end of a grade level in English and Math. It was created by the National Governor’s Association as a state-driven initiative. It had bipartisan backing and strong Republican support. Only a few crazies on the wingnut fringe opposed it.

Then Obama got behind it too, offering a few incentives for states to adopt it.

Suddenly, conservatives have abandoned it en masse and now call it “Obamacore,” saying it is a vile overreach by the federal government to warp the minds of youngsters.

Like Obamacare itself, and so many other ideas that actually were conservative to begin with and had major right-wing support, all it takes is for Obama to voice support for it, and suddenly the bulk of the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere make a 180-degree turn and call it treachery.

The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush.

The comparison to Obamacare is not coincidental; now that the ACA has flopped as a political war cry, conservatives appear to be desperate for anything they can grab ahold of to win elections with, and if that means sabotaging what they believed was an important improvement to children’s education, well, so be it.

A few Republicans stand in defense of the program, but are kind of being drowned out by the rush of Republicans turning tail.

Jeb Bush said the pivot seemed more like pandering. In remarks this month during an event at his father’s presidential library, he affirmed his support for the Common Core. “I guess I’ve been out of office for a while, so the idea that something that I support — because people are opposed to it means that I have to stop supporting it if there’s not any reason based on fact to do that?” he said. “I just don’t feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.”

With a knowing grin, he added, “Others that supported the standards all the sudden now are opposed to it.”

Some other former Republican governors who pushed the adoption of the Common Core agree with Mr. Bush. “There is a great deal of paranoia in the country today,” said Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, who was also instrumental in creating the program. “It’s the two P’s, polarization and paranoia.”

“Polarization and paranoia,” well-put. But there’s one more P: Politics.

Supporters of the Common Core, which outlines skills that students in each grade should master but leaves actual decisions about curriculum to states and districts, say that it was not created by the federal government and that it was up to the states to decide whether to adopt the standards.

But opponents say Mr. Obama’s attempt to reward states that adopt the standards with grants and waivers amounts to a backdoor grab for federal control over what is taught in schools.

The only meager silver lining I see in this is the generation of idiotic utterances to support a completely hypocritical and empty opposition to something purely on political grounds. Cue Ted Cruz:

“Standards inevitably influence the curricula being taught to meet those standards,” Mr. Cruz said.

Ya think? Never mind that educational standards were a big Republican idea until just recently.

Or, if you recall, this dilly from a Republican candidate for governor of Arizona:

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Stay classy, Republicans.