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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?

Ah.

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 No comments

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.

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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 an 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.

About Time

April 14th, 2014 1 comment

President Obama:

Across the country Republicans have led efforts to making harder not easier for people to vote. … The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud. … America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied to their kids and their grandchildren. We’ve got to pay attention to this. … This recent effort to restrict the vote has not been led by both parties. It’s been led by the Republican Party.

Welcome to the party, many years late. This issue is long overdue for top-level attention.

The appalling fact here is that the attempt to restrict voting and deny people their rights is not even well-disguised; despite the hue and cry about fictional “voter fraud,” it is about as easy as it imaginably could be to see that this is all a political ploy to win elections. Several conservative politicians have actually said as much, publicly, on the record.

That the media does not reflect this as well as it should, and worse, that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court should so transparently enable this affront to Democracy… well, it is simply beyond the ability of mere words to express.

Courts should be shutting down these obscenities as soon as they pop up. Alas, such justice is now a rare commodity. This, taken together with gerrymandering and a full-blown propaganda tool masquerading as a national news organization, what we have is not even close to proportional or representative government.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Recently, In Fundie Land…

March 23rd, 2014 1 comment

Creationists are demanding equal time on TV to refute Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos episodes which discuss evolution.

I find it fascinating that people like this make demands of this sort. It highlights a common conservative shortcoming: they rail and scream about how bad something is, then they try to do the thing they railed against but even more so, and then they freak out when they meet any resistance to it.

You see, these are the same kind of people who detest the very idea of “equal time,” especially in the context of the Fairness Doctrine. They spend a great amount of time decrying the very concept, acting like it is some kind of socialist fascism, and just an excuse for liberals to take over Fox News and conservative radio. (This is interesting on another level, because it shows up how they know that the media is in fact conservative, else the Fairness Doctrine would benefit them!)

But when they see some documentary or news report that says something they don’t like, their knee-jerk reaction is—naturally—to demand equal time.

They don’t call it the “Fairness Doctrine,” which they hate, but that is exactly what they are asking for. What we call the “equal time rule” is limited to political candidates in a campaign (not to mention, documentaries were exempt from the rule). The Fairness Doctrine is about allowing equal time in the media for opposing views on important issues—which is exactly what is being called for now. Neither the rule nor the doctrine is still in force, though; equal time was done away with not too long ago, and the Fairness Doctrine was scrapped in 1987.

Another aspect to the creationist demand is the idea that somehow, creationists aren’t getting equal time in the media. Which, of course, is laughable—there are all kinds of fundamentalist religious TV shows and even whole networks running 24-7; should scientists be able to demand equal time on their channels? Again, the hypocrisy and double-standard are thick and deep.


The Westboro Baptist Church remains clueless after the death of their former pastor, Fred Phelps. As the church members protested a music concert, a group of people across the street held up a banner that read, “Sorry for Your Loss.” Poignant, and to the point—it expressed sorrow for anyone’s death, sympathy for those in grieving, and served as an example of how one reacts properly to those who have lost a loved one.

A member of the Westboro group responded, “I don’t even know what they’re saying.”

That response speaks volumes.


And, for the really low-hanging fruit, let’s just note that Sarah Palin recently chastised women who wear a “symbol of death around their neck.” She was referring to women who wear a necklace with a tiny coat hanger in protest of the campaign to criminalize abortion. As usual, she did not think two inches beyond her immediate words, or else she would have realized that she herself has worn a symbol of death around her neck all of her adult life.

How about chastising anyone who wears the cross as a symbol for the love of Jesus and yet consistently campaigns against that which Jesus actually stood for?

Breaking the Nazi Barrier

March 16th, 2014 3 comments

I know that this is probably obvious to anyone who reads this… but still, it is hard not to observe the massively hypocritical hyperbole we get now from the right wing. It used to be that people didn’t equate everything they disagreed with to Nazis. Then there was the rule of thumb that the first one to use the word “Nazi” lost the argument. But now? To hell with political correctness! Nazis away!

“Political correctness” is so oppressive, that the U.S. is now “very much like Nazi Germany,” and we are living in a “Gestapo Age.” And if the people dare criticize the rich or object to the gap between rich and poor, it is akin to Kristallnacht, and we’re again well on our way to becoming Nazi Germany.

On the other hand, the ideal fair and “free market” is a society where workers are locked into a store and commanded not to use the emergency exits unless the building is literally burning down–and workers like the guy with a crushed ankle follow those commands because they cannot afford to lose their minimum-wage jobs. We’re lucky to live in a country where paying someone a wage which will not even let them approach the poverty line is seen as unthinkable largesse. No, that’s not fascism.

And a society where denying gay people not only the right to marry, but trying to force through laws which would make it so that any doctor could leave them dying in an emergency room, or any policemen could leave them abandoned to a horrific crime–well, that’s simply religious freedom at work. Not allowing us to abuse homosexuals or to deny women access to contraceptives, that’s Nazi Germany.

You see, when a billionaire is criticized for luxuriating in massive opulence and wealth after crashing the economy, it’s like sending a Jew to the concentration camps.

But slashing billions of dollars of food stamps needed by families with children on the edge of starvation, and calling anyone who uses them a parasite, well, that’s just good old common-sense American Christian morality. And the billions then lavished on corporations already awash in unimaginably astronomical profits, well, who could blame them for taking what’s being offered?

The class war is being vociferously fought, but not by the poor. Religious intolerance abounds, but it’s not coming from the areligious.

But hey, I’m just being a Nazi by bringing this up. Shame on me.

Perry’s “Texas Miracle”: Rob the Poor, Lavish the Rich

March 10th, 2014 2 comments

To hear Perry and conservative-cheerleader NewsMax tell it, Perry’s Texas is a paradise for all. 37% percent of all new jobs in the U.S. have been created in Texas since 2009, and it’s all supposed to be because of low taxes and low regulation:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry tells Newsmax that he attributes the “Texas Miracle” — the Lone Star State’s relatively robust economy during the economic downturn — to a “light” tax burden and a favorable regulatory climate. …

[Perry states:] “The men and women in Texas know something now after a decade-plus of our governorship and our policies being implemented by a Republican House, Senate, lieutenant governor and speaker. We’ve kept our tax burden as light as we could and still delivered the services that the people of Texas desire, and we have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable.I cannot tell you how important is predictability and stability in the regulatory climate.”

What’s not stated is that it’s also because of a lot of other stuff:

  • Oil and gas prices are high, which sucks for the nation, but benefits Texas’ economy
  • Texas has a high birth rate and migration rate, artificially raising job numbers
  • Texas made off like bandits from the Obama stimulus, with half of the job growth coming from education, health care, and government sectors
  • Texas used $6.4 billion in stimulus money to help balance the state budget, more than all but 2 other states

And since the stimulus money is running out, Texas is now facing huge budget shortfalls, which it plans to mitigate in part by slashing Medicare and education spending—in a state which already has rock-bottom health care and education stats.

Certainly, Texas is great for businesses and wealthy people—but is horrible for the majority of people in the state:

  • Texas shares with Mississippi the highest rate of minimum-wage workers in the U.S.
  • 26% of Texans have no health insurance, the highest rate in the country
  • Deregulation of health insurance has led to sky-high rates
  • Texas has the 4th-highest poverty rate of any state in the nation
  • Texas’ unemployment rate, at 8.2%, is higher than the national average
  • Texas has fewer adults with a high school diploma than any other state; is 43rd in the nation in graduation rates, and 45th on SAT scores

I guess that when Perry says that the people of Texas are getting all the services that they desire, he figures Texans don’t “desire” education or health care. Or, likely more accurately, none of the people Perry associates with are lacking in any such services.

But the kicker is in the tax rate, when all taxes are taken into account. The state has no income tax, but it does have a high sales tax, and overall, its tax rates are extraordinarily regressive. Here is Perry’s so-called “light” tax rate, compared with California’s:

Blog Taxes Texas California

The poorest 20% of Texans pay four times more of their income in taxes than do the wealthiest 1%. That’s pretty shocking.

California’s is pretty regressive because it has an even higher sales tax, but that is attenuated by the income taxes. There is no such balance in Texas, meaning that the state’s tax burden falls chiefly on the poorest people—who also get the crappiest education, the least health insurance, and the worst pay.

So the message is clear: if you want all the benefits of third-world cheap-labor exploitation but don’t want to leave the U.S., Texas is your destination!

What’s most scary: this is the model for what Perry and many other Republicans want to bring to the whole country.

Not that that’s a big surprise, or anything.

Categories: Economics, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

My Right to Deny Yours

February 26th, 2014 2 comments

There’s a very simple rule: your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. Your rights, freedoms, and liberties are not to be used as a license to abridge the rights, freedoms, and liberties of others. It’s not hard to figure out.

There’s a whole new strategy amongst the Religious Right: to deny those rights, freedoms, and liberties to groups and classes of people, and to restrict a range of activities, against which religious conservatives are prejudiced, all in the name of their own “religious freedom.”

You want access to birth control? Well, so long as I am even peripherally involved as a taxpayer or an employer, my freedom trumps your right: I can deny you access, either by restricting what insurance you receive, or even by being a pharmacist.

You want equal rights as a human being? Well, not if I have to interact with you. I have the right to treat you like a non-person if I happen to be any random person doing business with you, even as a doctor or law enforcement officer.

You know what? That’s not only wrong, it’s asinine. It’s so clearly wrong that it should be obvious to anyone and everyone. If any such law is passed, it is an embarrassment; if any such law is upheld, it will be a violation of the most essential principles of our society.

The Religious Right is on a new kick: I get to use my religion to harm others.

No you don’t. You have no such right. Period.

Late note: when even religious bigot Newt Gingrich says you’re going too far, take that as a hint.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Offended by What America Is

February 4th, 2014 5 comments

Yeah, time for more right-wing hate at an ad (this time for Coca-Cola) that tries to include more people and more diversity. Conservatives truly hate diversity. I mean, the whole idea of people coming here from all over the world to form a melting pot of cultures where everyone loves America—really, I ask you, how un-American is that?? How can you not be offended?

The commercial, clearly intended to be an outreach to as many people as possible who make up our nation, and a celebration of the fact that we have such richness in culture and language, royally pissed off those who see America as being white and English, as this writer from Breitbart suggested:

As far as the executives at Coca Cola are concerned, however, the United States of America is no longer a nation ruled by the Constitution and American traditions in which English is the language of government. It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty. It is instead a nation governed by some all inclusive multi-cultural synthesis of the various forms of government in the world, as expressed by the multiple languages used in the Super Bowl ad to sing a uniquely American hymn that celebrates our heritage.

I think you can call that “reading way too much into the message.” No more Constitution? Really? How the hell can you get that from the ad? Was there some subliminal message against the three branches of government that I somehow missed? And American traditions? Apparently, if it’s not white people singing in English, then it’s not “traditional America”? And “English is the language of government”—seriously, I do not recall seeing any government officials in the ad.

The next line is the giveaway: “It is not a nation governed in the Anglo-American tradition of liberty.” First, how was anything in that ad not about liberty? But “Anglo-American”? How could the writer be more clear without saying “white”? In other words, America must be white to be free; you can’t have liberty with all these foreigners running around speaking other languages. It just won’t do.

Here is someone who sees other colors and other languages, and cannot help but feel oppressed by “various forms of government in the world.” They’re taking over!

Glenn Beck also crystallized the racial fear:

“So somebody tweeted last night and said, ‘Glenn, what did you think of the Coke ad?’ And I said, ‘Why did you need that to divide us politically?’” he said on his radio show. “Because that’s all this ad is. It’s in your face, and if you don’t like it, if you’re offended by it, you’re a racist. If you do like it, you’re for immigration. You’re for progress. That’s all this is: To divide people.”

He’s actually very correct in one respect, though I don’t think he meant to be. If you watch an ad where people of different races join together to sing praise to America, and you are offended by the fact that there were people of different races doing that… well, I hate to say it, but yes—you’re probably at least somewhat racist.

But as far as dividing people? Those who would show unity in diversity are not the ones dividing us. It’s the ones who hate diversity who are dividing us. We are, after all, a diverse nation; it’s the core of what we are. It’s the (original) national motto: e pluribus unum, “from many, one.” People like Beck want to push away anything that is not white and speaking English, or at least trying its best to imitate that. They embrace the “one,” so long as it is the right color and language, and reject the “many.”

You cannot do that. We are many. To deny that, to claim that America is white and English-only is to deny our history, to deny our origins, to deny the core of our very identity.

Categories: Race, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Cats and Dogs Living Together Is Just Around the Corner

January 4th, 2014 2 comments

The right-wingers’ worst fears have come true. In the wake of recent gay-marriage rulings, polygamy has now been legalized, with Supreme Court validation coming all too soon. Inevitably, incest will be allowed, and anything else you can imagine. Marriage is destroyed, and no longer has any meaning. It was all predicted by Dr. Keith Ablow. Albow, at first glance, seems to have good credentials—a psychiatrist with an M.D. from Johns Hopkins—so, based on that, you would think that what he wrote would, even if opinionated, at least have the facts down well.

He wrote:

More than a year ago, when states began to legalize gay marriage, I argued that polygamy would be the natural result. If love between humans of legal age is the only condition required to have the state issue a marriage license, then it is irrational to assert that two men or two women can have such feelings for one another, while three women and a man, or two men and a woman, cannot. …

Well, now U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups has found parts of Utah’s anti-bigamy law unconstitutional. His ruling comes in a case brought by Kody Brown and his four wives, who are featured in the reality TV show, “Sister Wives.”

I believe the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold that finding, if Utah challenges it. As I predicted, this will officially make marriage the Wild West, in which groups of people can assert that they are married and should have all the benefits of that status, including family health plans and the right to file taxes as married people.

That’s rather startling—a judge ruled that the state must recognize polygamous marriages? Albow does use equivocating language (“parts of” and “assert” in particular), but makes it clear that the government will be required to officially recognize the status of polygamy.

All it takes is a rather cursory check to discover that Albow is either an idiot with an M.D. who did not read beyond the first sentence of some right-wing blog post, or else (more likely) he is intentionally misstating the facts.

In the real rundown of the case, the Utah verdict did not overturn polygamy laws, merely the laws concerning cohabitation, where several adults decide to live in the same house and all have sex together. No one is being permitted multiple-marriage licenses, no government agency is being forced to provide any kind of benefits. All that the court decided was that the government cannot regulate who lives in your house or who you have sex with.

Nor was the verdict in any way, shape, or form based upon or related to any of the recent rulings on gay marriage. And no, it does not allow for any kind of official or sanctioned marriages, nor will it lead to incest or cats and dogs living together. Well, actually, maybe that last thing.

In fact, it simply brings Utah in line with the way most states have handled cohabitation for decades.

Albow apparently just wants to use this news to frighten people into being more conservative and to make people more hostile to a government he wants them to believe are destroying our institutions. He goes on:

It will also, eventually, lead to test cases in which a few unusual sisters and brothers insist that they can marry, because they are in love and promise not to procreate, but, instead, to use donor eggs or sperm.
And, I predict, the courts will agree with them. …

Marriage is over.

It was always at least a little funny that a huge percentage of people swore to stay together until death, then divorced and remarried.

But, now, it is, officially, judicially, a joke.

If two men can marry, and three men can marry, and five women and a man can marry, and three men and two women can marry, then marriage has no meaning.

As you can see, he quickly slides down the slippery slope, albeit using incest instead of the usual bestiality scare tactic. But his primary thesis is what is interesting: that marriage is an institution that can be rendered meaningless by whom the judiciary may allow to enter it.

He casually sets aside the manner in which people actually regard and sometimes even abuse marriage—high divorce rates, and, from the article’s graphic, exceedingly short celebrity marriages—as being “at least a little funny,” and instead notes that what really destroys the institution is which people are allowed to join it. One can easily imagine that if Albow were writing this article 40 or 50 years ago, he would be decrying the overturning of miscegenation laws with almost the exact same argument.

People have been marrying for horrible reasons for as long as the institution has been around. It was initially based more on the concept of women as chattel, hardly a pristine foundation. Marriage has been used to trap people into lifetimes of abuse. People have battered the institution with widespread infidelity, have used it for technical financial purposes or for illicitly gaining citizenship. People marry for all the wrong reasons—accidental pregnancy, desperation, marrying into status or wealth, and yes, even to get the government benefits.

However, despite centuries of widespread abuse, marriage stood strong and did not lose its meaning.

But now, two men or two women can get married! It apparently does not matter one bit that these people are almost certainly going to have no more and no less abuse of the institution than heterosexual couples; nothing that they actually do in or with the institution will be a change from what it has been before.

No, it is simply that we are allowing same-gender marriages, by itself, that marriage is now “a joke.”

As if marriage is somehow not mostly about the commitment between the wedded and their own internal desire to share, commemorate, and make official that commitment before their community.

Albow seems to be saying that, now that gay people can be married, or even (completely unofficially) more than two people can cohabit, marriage is meaningless.

Which brings me back to a conclusion I made some time ago: to these people, even if marriage is mostly about love, or commitment, or any significant, deeply fulfilling relationship, it is only meaningful to them if it is an exclusive club to which only people they approve of can join. Because if those damn Negroes can join my golf club, or if women are allowed into my boy’s club, it will ruin everything.

It’s pretty clear that Albow has some huge personal bugaboos about gender and sexuality, and is severely distorting the facts to frighten people into acting the way he wants.

Of course, the fact that the article was published on Fox News should have been a big hint right from the start.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

The Time for the Filibuster Ended 5 Years Ago

November 21st, 2013 2 comments

It all comes down to a simple principle: the power to destroy a thing is the power to control a thing. The filibuster is only meaningful if used sparingly. And Republicans have shown utter disregard for that caution. They have shown that so long as they have at least 40 votes in the Senate, they will use it on anything and everything.

Democrats are idiotically hanging onto the belief that when the Republicans gain power in the future, maintaining the filibuster today will still allow them to use it then.

It’s stupid because it should be obvious by now that the first thing Republicans will do when they eventually win control of the Senate is end the filibuster. After years of using it on everything in sight, they would not hesitate one millisecond to snatch the power away from Democrats. If there is one things conservatives do, it is to project; they have abused the filibuster so much, they would expect nothing less from Democrats, and would not want to give them the chance.

Of course, it is only meaningful to end the filibuster for clearing nominations; for other laws, Republicans in the House will kill anything the Senate sends them anyway, and so the Democrats might as well put the onus of ending the filibuster on the Republicans (because you can be certain that if Democrats end it, Republicans will hypocritically use that as a cudgel).

I even believe that the Republicans would go one step further, and reinstate the filibuster before they lose power again. Because, yes, they are that hypocritical and self-serving, and yes, Democratic politicians are that stupid that they might even fall for that. Republicans were reluctant to “go nuclear” before, but they have become far more radical since then. They’d do it in a heartbeat if they thought it could work.

Honestly, the Democrats should have killed the filibuster completely in 2008, when Republicans made their “filibuster everything” strategy clear, and limiting the filibuster could have meant something as Dems had control of both houses. Even then, it would have been diminished because Obama was desperate to “be reasonable” with Republicans and give them loads of goodies even though they still voted unanimously against the most generous of compromises. But a lot more could have been passed with less sabotage by the GOP.

Republicans, simply put, are now in an all-or-nothing mode, literally. Which means, sadly, Democrats have to play the same game, or else be run over. Alas, they seem all too willing to be doormats.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

The New Ann Coulter

November 13th, 2013 3 comments

Sarah Palin has a new book out on the fictional War on Christmas, with dancing images of liberal atheists becoming apoplectic whenever anyone wishes them a “Merry Christmas!” and liberals generally destroying America. Twice now I have been sorely tempted to post rebuttals of what she said, but have come to the realization that Palin needs to be treated the same as Ann Coulter: an opportunistic cultural baiter whose statements can all be boiled down to a simple “I hate liberals for reasons that have no basis in reality.” Such statements can only be addressed by ignoring them; it never pays to argue with crazy people.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Why Obama and the Dems Could Not Capitulate

October 17th, 2013 4 comments

Give a terrorist a cookie… and he’ll want a glass of milk.

That’s essentially what happened before. In 2011, the Republicans did the same thing—they threatened to default on the debt—and to stop them, Obama and the Democrats gave them a cookie. That cookie is still with us in the form of sequestration, which gave the Republicans almost the level of cuts that even Paul Ryan demanded in his non-fact-based budget proposals from 2008.

This year, they came back for the glass of milk with a vengeance. However, this time, the Democrats were somewhat less stupid, and simply refused. They denied the Republicans the chance to get their hands on the ACA, even a little bit, and agreed pretty much only to negotiating more in the future. This infuriated the extremists:

The conservative activist group FreedomWorks railed against the Senate deal as a “complete surrender” to Democrats. The group joined a trio that includes Club for Growth and Heritage Action in advising lawmakers to oppose the plan because they will use it to rank Republicans in their annual scorecards.

You might want to say that, despite the puerile insanity of the Tea Partiers, despite their wanton disregard for the national good in their petty drive to destroy what they would have cheered from a Republican administration, that Obama and the Democrats themselves should not have let it come so close, that they should not have played with default. That as painful as any capitulation may have been, allowing the country to go into default is not worth that or any other risk.

However, this is not a rational analysis. Democrats tried giving in, even if not very much, in 2011, and it brought us here. This time the Republicans were demanding even more. Had the Democrats caved—even in a small way—then we would be right back at the brink again next time, and again after that, having taught the Republicans that threatening to default on the debt works.

It would, in fact, only get worse. The demands would become grander and more obscene each time, the language even more vitriolic, the game of chicken more perilous. The Republicans would believe in their own indestructibility, convinced that the Democrats would cave. And at some point, after vast amounts of damage caused by the demand they were granted, default would come, and that would be catastrophic.

And the raving lunatics would go home screaming about how Obama and the Democrats were the cause of it all. Just like they have been this week, standing before crowds of veterans squealing about how Obama shut down the government and how Democrats refused to negotiate. These people know even less shame than fact.

Frankly, the entire debt-ceiling thing should not even exist. The time for that debate is when Congress decides to spend. To make the decision to spend and then threaten not to owe what they decided to spend is the height of infantile madness. It’s like taking out a loan to buy a house and then telling the bank that you refuse to owe them any money.

Over the past decades, it has generally been a quiet form of protest, a procedural protest regarding deficit spending. Now, however, that we have a party which has proved itself incapable of rational behavior, it is like a flamethrower in the hands of a four-year-old boy, who thinks it’s an incredibly cool way to demand more cookies.

Sadly, despite the precipitous drop in the polls, the Republicans may not end up paying a price. The expert wonks generally agree that it is improbable that the GOP will lose control of the House. Between gerrymandering, vote suppression, and the public’s dependable propensity to forget last year’s wrongdoings, it is likely that the independents will again make brashly stupid decisions and will return to power the same gang of thugs barren of knowledge, sympathy, or compassion.

I cannot state how badly I want them to be wrong.

Categories: Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Right Wing Expectations

October 13th, 2013 5 comments

Bill Maher had Carol Roth on his show, yet another of the long line of conservatives calling themselves “independents,” talking deficit reduction we somehow never heard when Bush was in office. One of her points was about how Obama has raised the debt by “6 trillion dollars over the last four and a half years,” and despair that we have to raise the debt ceiling at all.

First of all, the $6 trillion number only comes from adding the full spending for 2009—which was George W. Bush’s budget, not Obama’s. And what Obama did spend over that was expressly to deal with the massive economic catastrophe Obama inherited on day one.

That’s a favorite ruse conservatives love to play: conflate the tail end of Bush with Obama’s own record, as in “Obama gave us a $1.4 trillion deficit,” or “Obama drove the unemployment rate up to 10%.”

A less contrived total deficit would be $4.7 trillion over five years. So, where did that come from? Did Obama just say, hey, let’s generate $4.7 trillion dollars in spending that wasn’t there before?

Of course not. Almost all of the debt under Obama has been from the money that, again, George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress committed us to. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there was the damage caused by the fiscal cataclysm Bush handed Obama in early 2009.

The fact is, Obama has done almost nothing but cut the deficit since he came into office:

Year Deficit in
$ Billions
$ Change
in Billions
2009 1,413   –
2010 1,294 -119
2011 1,300 +6
2012 1,087 -213
2013 973 -114

But that’s not good enough for Roth; she was appalled that Obama’s spending was still raising the debt ceiling at all: “[The debt ceiling is] going up because the government overspends, because they refuse to balance the budget…. If they didn’t overspend, we wouldn’t be hitting the debt ceiling.”

So, what was Obama supposed to do, cut $1.4 trillion dollars in one year? To wipe that out in even five years would require raising revenue and/or cutting the budget by $282 billion per year, every year. Something unprecedented, save possibly for coming off of wartime spending at the end of WWII.

When Bush was in office, most of that time being when Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, deficit spending went up more often than it came down (up 5 years, down three years). When it went up the first two years of Bush’s budgets, it went up by huge amounts: $286 billion and $220 billion.

The three years the deficit went down under Bush, it went down by $94, $70, and $87 billion dollars, an average of $84 billion a year—something conservatives at the time hailed as little short of genius. Under Bush overall, the deficit increased $192 billion a year—and we did not hear conservatives complaining even a tenth as much as they do now.

Under Obama, the deficit has fallen an average of $110 billion per year.

Even under Bill Clinton, while he was creating a surplus, it went down only $70 billion a year.

So, what exactly do conservatives expect from Obama, when they themselves are entirely mute on where this money should be cut? Of course, we know where they want to cut it: Social Security and Medicare, the exact programs they claim they want to “save.”

We know where Republicans do not want to cut it: from the military, where almost all of the waste and overspending exists. In fact, they want to increase our ludicrously high military spending. They not only want to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to start a new war in Iran—and wanted to invade Syria, at least until Obama said he’d take action there.

And we know where Republicans do not want to raise revenue: from millionaires and billionaires, and from corporations making tens of billions in profit every year with many of them paying no taxes at all on those profits.

So when a conservative whines about how Obama is spending us into oblivion? I would suggest trying to speak facts to them, but they would almost certainly not listen, and would instead probably spout the same utter bullshit like Roth was on Maher’s show.