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He Was For It Before He Was Against It

May 15th, 2015 2 comments

One of the reasons John Kerry lost the 2004 election was the now-famous statement by Kerry on the Iraq War: “I was for it before I was against it.” Except, he never said that. He said,“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” The quote was about an $87 billion appropriation bill for military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not Kerry’s actual position on the Iraq War. Kerry voted for a version of the appropriations bill that would be paid for by getting rid of some of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, but later voted against a version which lacked that provision. His statement, which Kerry admitted was “inarticulate,” was then taken out of context and now is almost as famous as Al Gore’s “I invented the Internet,” another quote that was baldly misrepresented. Still, it cost Kerry dearly.

Well, how about Jeb Bush now? He’s had years to decide where he stands on the Iraq War. What’s his position on it?

Well he was for it, and would do it again if he had to face the same choice.

But that was Monday. On Tuesday, he didn’t know.

Tuesday is so long ago, though; on Wednesday, he said that answering the question would offend the troops.

And now? Well, it’s Thursday, and Bush is now against the war.

So, he was for it before he wasn’t sure before he wouldn’t answer before he was against it.

I admit, it’s not as catchy as what they made Kerry’s quote out to be. How about, “He was for it before he was against it, and waffled a few times in between.”

Or maybe just stick to the classic, “He was before it before he was against it.” Sure, you lose the waffling, but the short version has merits: it’s catchier, it demonstrates flip-flopping, it illustrates irony—and it is a far more accurate representation of Bush’s actual statements than it ever was of Kerry’s.

Oh, and let’s not forget the canard that Bush threw in at the start: that Hillary voted for the war too. “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody”

As I have pointed out, that’s yet another asinine Republican lie. Clinton voted for the war powers act, and possibly did that as a political weasel, but she also made crystal clear in a Senate floor speech that her vote was to give Bush a bargaining chip to pressure Saddam, and that war was only a “last resort.” Only an idiot would presume that Clinton, on her own, would have taken us into Iraq. As much of a hawk as Clinton is, she clearly would not have done that.

Desperately Seeking Victimhood

May 13th, 2015 No comments

It’s a common meme now for conservatives to try to hold themselves up as victims, but especially when they are trying to cast aspersions on others and are, in part or in full, prevented from doing so. They then immediately look for any event that could show a double-standard, and, without really thinking about it very hard, indignantly shout about how they are being mistreated.

Part of it is simply a matter of wannabe martyrdom, somewhat of a long-standing niche favorite amongst conservative Christians. Take this story of a woman who went to Walgreens to get some bible verses printed up. The clerk noticed that there were images in the documents that could constitute a copyright violation. The woman was asked to sign a waiver stating that she attested to the fact that she had the rights to print them. Fox News elevated this to a national-level story about how Walgreens was discriminating against Christians by making the ludicrous claim that Walgreens had somehow claimed that the bible verses were under copyright, with the implied meaning that Walgreens just wanted to harass Christians because, you know, whatever. Even after everything was made clear and the store even offered to print the documents for free, the conservative media still trumpeted this as an attack on Christianity.

A more specific form of this phenomenon is when conservatives are on the defensive regarding some issue or another, and try to use some event in the news or elsewhere to show how the opposition is being hypocritical. After Ferguson, for example, when it was becoming more publicly clear that white police officers are killing unarmed black men in large numbers, conservatives rushed to find any cases at all of black police officers killing unarmed white men. They found a few, and proceeded to make a huge deal about it. “Why aren’t liberals in an uproar when this happens?” they lamented. The obvious reply: because that’s just two cases. It’s not a few hundred each year. Show me a rash of black cops killing unarmed white men on a massive scale, nationwide, and I’ll join in your indignation.

Another aspect of this is when conservatives accuse liberals of being okay with something when it happens against Christians but not when it happens against Muslims. For example, after a Christian bakery refused to make a cake for a gay wedding, some conservatives came up with a great idea: let’s go to Muslim bakery shops and see if they refuse to make the same kind of cake. Some Muslim-run businesses in fact did refuse, and conservatives whooped it up: “See! A Muslim bakery did the same thing, why aren’t liberals upset about that?!? It’s because of a witch hunt against Christians!!”

Except that the point is stupid. If a Muslim bakery had been the one to refuse service in that first now-famous case, the result would have been no different. Liberals and activists would have been just as appalled and the media reaction would have been the same—or, actually, stronger, as right-wing news sites would likely have piled on in that case as well. Liberals never said that Muslims discriminating against gays was okay or more acceptable; conservatives simply jumped to that conclusion without even asking. Nor have liberals had the chance to really protest, as these bakeries did not refuse any actual service—just fake, partisan, gotcha-style we’re-the-real-victims-here idiocy, which is kinda hard to rally behind. If tomorrow a gay couple went to one of these bakeries (which, you’ll have to admit, are not exactly everywhere) and they refused service, the protest would be no different than if another Christian bakery did so. But not because of some asinine political stunt.

This conservative desire to be outraged has become almost a reflex reaction now, with right-wingers taking offense at the drop of a hat, assuming that anything that could even remotely be a sign that something may be biased against them is in fact full-fledged persecution, and running full-speed to the media crying about how they are being victimized, without first bothering to check if their outrage is in any way justified.

This is in some ways similar to the right-wing practice of banning Sharia law, as if there were somehow a real danger of Sharia being instituted publicly anywhere in the United States, so of course we have to make special laws to avoid that. We’re so much in danger of being subjected to Muslim authority that we have to take action now!

This bizarrely ludicrous fear came to light recently when Allen West published a blog post about how how “Sharia law” resulted in “Christian persecution” at a Walmart in Dallas.

There was a young man doing the checkout and another Walmart employee came over and put up a sign, “No alcohol products in this lane.” So being the inquisitive fella I am, I used my additional set of eyes — glasses — to see the young checkout man’s name. Let me just say it was NOT “Steve.”

I pointed the sign out to Aubrey and her response was a simple question, how is it that this Muslim employee could refuse service to customers based on his religious beliefs, but Christians are being forced to participate in specific events contrary to their religious beliefs?

Boy howdy, that is one astute young lady.

Imagine that, this employee at Walmart refused to just scan a bottle or container of an alcoholic beverage — and that is acceptable. A Christian business owner declines to participate or provide service to a specific event — a gay wedding — which contradicts their faith, and the State crushes them.

Except, as it turned out, that’s not why the sign was put up. The sign was put up because the cashier was underage, and so under Western law, he was not allowed sell alcohol.

It’s not just that West was wrong, it’s that he ignored a number of indicators that made it obvious that he was wrong. For example, since when does Walmart cater to the dignity of its employees, much less inconvenience customers and slow down business to serve their religious sensitivities? Second, if this were a case of catering to Muslim sensitivities, why only restrict alcohol sales, and not sales of pork products? Critical thinking rules also demand that you consider alternatives—which would not even have required West to think, only to ask either clerk why the sign was put up.

West processed none of this. He only saw an Arabic-sounding name and a no-liquor sign, and jumped right to the conclusion that he was being persecuted because he was a Christian. He did not do this mindlessly; he had to go to a good deal of trouble to connect certain dots. He just followed dots that served his interests and prejudices, and ignored the dots that any reasonable person would follow.

But hey, let’s imagine that West was in fact right, and that Walmart had inexplicably begun to go out of their way to respect the religious rights of their employees. Would this be, as West proclaimed, a matter of injustice because Christians were “crushed by the State” (that’s “State” with a capital “S”!) for the same kind of thing?

As it turns out, no. For two rather blatantly obvious reasons. First, Walmart was not refusing to sell alcohol, they just did not allow it in that one specific register line. West or anyone else could simply move to a different line and buy whatever they wanted. And second, Walmart was shutting down service in that one line to anyone buying alcohol, not just Christians or any specific group. If the bakery that refused to make a gay wedding cake had simply refused to make wedding cakes period, there would be no fuss.

But West’s indignation is even more striking, considering that liberals would not approve of even the one line being shut down because of the cashier’s religious beliefs—they would tell the cashier that if they don’t want to do what the job requires, they should take a different job.

It would, however, be exactly what conservatives want, which is the ability to refuse service of a specific type because it offends their religious beliefs —something that conservatives are fighting for, and have succeeded in enforcing by law in at least a dozen states, and have been reported to happen in any case in nearly half of all states.

But when the Walmart throws up a no-liquor-sales-in-this-line and the cashier is named Ahmed? PERSECUTION! SHARIA LAW! RUN FOR THE HILLS!!

Shoot off your mouth first, ask questions later.

Jeb Bush and Religious Liberty

May 10th, 2015 No comments

As of late, the expression “religious liberty” has worked as a code word for a variety of right-wing positions; it is a “dog whistle” term amongst conservatives, similar to “academic freedom” (teaching conservative Christian doctrine in public schools) or “strict constructionist” (favoring conservative ideology over constitutional law).

“Religious liberty” currently applies to two issues in particular: reproductive rights and discrimination based upon sexual or gender orientation and identity. However, it will doubtlessly be applied to any issue conservatives see fit which could possibly be framed as a point of religious ideology.

As a sign that virtually any Republican candidate must bow to the extremists on such issues, Jeb Bush gave a now-obligatory speech at Liberty University, “religious liberty” being the theme. That he spoke at commencement and not just at some required assembly speaks to who the favored candidate is.

The speech, of course, blew all the right dog whistles; there was no doubt that Bush was making references to sex & gender discrimination, though he refrained from being that specific. Bush was specific enough to mention reproductive rights by name, speaking on the issue of how conservative Christians should be allowed to make decisions affecting how others live based on their own personal religious ideology.

Of course, foisting one’s beliefs on the lives of others doesn’t sound good even to Christian conservatives, so they have to veil it with a layer of meaningless obfuscation and blame the people trying to stop religious interference with that exact wrongdoing:

“The mistake is to confuse points of theology with moral principles that are knowable to reason as well as by faith. And this confusion is all part of a false narrative that casts religious Americans as intolerant scolds, running around trying to impose their views on everyone. The stories vary, year after year, but the storyline is getting familiar: The progressive political agenda is ready for its next great leap forward, and religious people or churches are getting in the way. Our friends on the Left like to view themselves as the agents of change and reform, and you and I are supposed to just get with the program.

”There are consequences when you don’t genuflect to the latest secular dogmas. And those dogmas can be hard to keep up with. So we find officials in a major city demanding that pastors turn over copies of their sermons. Or federal judges mistaking themselves for elected legislators, and imposing restrictions and rights that do not exist in the Constitution. Or an agency dictating to a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, what has to go in their health plan – and never mind objections of conscience.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m betting that when it comes to doing the right and good thing, the Little Sisters of the Poor know better than the regulators at the Department of Health and Human Services. From the standpoint of religious freedom, you might even say it’s a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother – and I’m going with the Sisters.

See? By demanding our religious standards be enforced by law, we are not involving theology! We’re not the ones imposing dogma, it’s the secularists! This is not about religion because our religious beliefs are based on reason! We’re just trying to be good, moral people by forcing everyone else to follow our moral code and those liberals are trying to force their views on us by not letting us!

Also, you may have noticed one of the anti-LGBT dog whistles in the above quote, even if you don’t recognize it. The part about ”officials in a major city demanding that pastors turn over copies of their sermons,“ which ominously implies that government is attempting to either intimidate pastors or to demand the right to edit their speeches.

If your source is Fox News, then this is over a law allowing ”men to use the ladies room and vice versa,“ and this is all about secularists attempting to suppress freedom of religion.

In fact, it is over a Houston anti-discrimination ordinance, one which was challenged by local preachers who wanted the right to discriminate, and so used their pulpits to get signatures of petitions in a way that may have violated the city charter—thus the subpoena for ”all speeches, presentations, or sermons“ related to the issue, so that the validity of the petitions could be measured. And the court ruled in favor of the city.

Which no doubt is one of the cases referenced by Bush when he mentioned ”federal judges mistaking themselves for elected legislators,“ paraphrasing another right-wing dog-whistle expression, ”legislating from the bench,“ which means ”judges who make legal decisions that we disagree with.“

Bush’s speech was chock full of platitudes involving charity, the homeless, the lonely, the ill, the weak, and the innocent… even ”giving hope to the prisoner“… despite the fact that Bush’s own policies have callously disregarded these exact populations.

All part of the new right-wing approach to social justice: talk the talk, but walk the other way.

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The Wrong Kind of Concern

April 17th, 2015 1 comment

Conservatives have been making noise about how income inequality is bad and that is so important to them:

Appearing at a candidate forum in late January, three likely Republican presidential contenders — Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul — all made a striking confession: They considered “the increasing gap between rich and poor” to be a problem.

Yeah, the problem they see is that income inequality is being noticed more and it’s in danger of being opposed. We can’t have that.

Which is not too far from their stances: they brought it up primarily to say that it can’t be addressed with government action—in short, we should not raise taxes on the rich or mandate minimum wage hikes, stuff like that.

To prove their extreme concern over income inequality being challenged, Republicans in the House just passed (on heavily partisan lines) a bill that would repeal the estate tax.

To be clear, the estate tax does not affect you unless you are handing over more than $5.43 million upon your demise, and that’s only if you’re single. For a married couple, it’s $10.86 million. And that means that if parents pass away with a $15 million estate, no tax is applied until the first dollar after $10.86 million. After that, the rates go from 18% to 40%, the 40% kicking in after $1 million. So on the $15 million estate, the inheritors would pay about $2 million in taxes.

So, how is this about Republicans protecting people of lower incomes?

Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise explained, “the vast majority of our members in the Republican conference have never had the opportunity to stand up for small businesses who are threatened by the death tax everyday.”

Ah, yes. The small business owner. The Republicans’ favorite go-to prop when they want to help the super-wealthy.

But wait! Those small businessmen could get hit! Really! It happens!

Well, in 2014, the average and median small business sold for about $185,000.

In fact, only about 20 “small” businesses and farms each year are subject to any estate tax every year. And that’s figuring businesses which value at $5 million, not $10 million. And those 20 per year usually owe only about 5% in taxes.

Not to mention that there is no language in the bill whatsoever mentioning small businesses, just an unqualified repeal.

So, are Republicans really voting to protect small businesses? Of course not. It’s an asinine lie. Nothing new—I have written before about how Republicans habitually trot out “small businessmen” when they want to give massive tax cuts to primarily wealthy people.

In short, it’s pure, unadulterated bullshit.

The estate tax repeal would cost the federal government about $27 billion per year, mostly so that people with hundreds of millions, as well as billions of dollars can maintain vast treasuries of unearned wealth.

For example, Emma and Georgina Bloomberg stand to inherit their father’s $31 billion fortune. Assuming they get it all (and are not largely cut out like Paris Hilton), and they split the fortune evenly, each would, after the estate tax, only receive $9.3 billion. The horror!

As Thomas Piketty pointed out, it is amassed wealth that is the biggest problem in the world—and the estate tax is pretty much the only established tax on that wealth.

And so naturally, Republicans, newly concerned about income inequality, want to completely erase that tax, to the exclusive benefit of the 1%.

Sounds legit.

Of course, we can breathe a sigh of relief: the bill will never become law. Democrats stand to filibuster it in the Senate, and even if not, Obama will veto it. And Republicans know this. Despite that, they passed it purely as a stunt—which, strangely, kind of puts the lie to their recent claims of concern for income inequality. (Alas, billionaires like Sheldon Adelson can hire lawyers to set up massive trusts to get around billions in estate taxes.)

It’s almost as if they figure that independents know full well they are lying all the time, or they believe independent voters are idiots who won’t notice.

Not Hard to Predict

April 8th, 2015 No comments

It happened again, inevitably. A white police officer pulled over a black man for an alleged traffic violation. The details are still scarce, but at some point the officer tries to subdue the driver, uses a taser on him, and then, as the man attempted to flee on foot, the officer fired eight times, hitting the man in the back, killing him. After handcuffing the dying man, the officer then radioed in that the “suspect” had been “threatening” to the officer.

This time, the officer was charged with murder—an extremely unusual outcome, mostly because or third-party video showing the incredibly egregious act.

I had to wonder, how are conservatives reacting to this? Well, it really isn’t very hard to guess, as their tactics are always the same: when there is one incident of an injustice they don’t want to recognize, paint the aggressor as a hero and the victim as a villain; when there are multiple incidents, find any example of the reverse happening and cry in outrage that it isn’t being reported on. It’s what they always do. Always.

And sure enough, when I did a search for exactly that, there should be zero surprise at what I found: two police killings, one of an 18-year-old man in Mobile, Alabama, and one of a 20-year-old man in Salt Lake City, both incidents where unarmed white men were killed by black police officers—and conservatives are just outraged that the media isn’t giving these killings the same level of attention as they gave Michael Brown in Ferguson.

As usual, you can guess who can be counted upon to stand up for the oppressed white men:

Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh blamed the discrepancy between the two cases on “the liberal world view” that portrays whites as oppressors and blacks as victims.

“[I]n the current climate in the United States, a black person can never be the oppressor, and a white person can never be a victim,” said Mr. Limbaugh on his national radio show last week.

This attitude is mirrored in the comments to the articles, where conservatives demand equal attention be paid to these stories, condemn the media as “liberal” for not doing so, and point out that white people, unlike blacks, aren’t rioting and looting everywhere.

The fish-in-the-barrel counter to that, of course, is that when it happens once or twice a year, it’s not news. When it happens at least a hundred times a year, probably much more often (police, for some reason, are reluctant to keep track of how often unarmed black men are shot by white police officers), it is news. When it’s a chance occurrence, it’s not a story that merits strong national attention; when it’s a trend, marked by nationwide racial profiling, countless black people stopped, frisked, tased, arrested, shot, and killed, which creates such a spontaneous outrage that people nationwide protest the massive injustice, then it’s a story.

It’s not a story because you can see that your worldview is shamefully wrong so you have to dig deep to find some reverse case which you then claim is equal to the massive outrage.

No, Pelosi’s Syria Visit Was Not the Same As the GOP Iran Letter

March 14th, 2015 No comments

I was somewhat surprised when I caught up with The Daily Show this week, and saw Stewart’s reaction to the Republican letter to Iran. Interestingly, he skewered both Republicans and Democrats, based upon the fact that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Syria in 2007 against the wishes of the Bush administration, and other liberals or left-leaning commentators (specifically, Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, and Chris Matthews) spoke in praise of Pelosi’s actions.

This is essentially the main defense by the right wing for the 47 Republican senators’ letter to the Iranian leadership: Pelosi did it, so liberals are hypocrites for objecting now!

Well, not quite.

In situations like this, it kind of helps to look beyond the superficial and check out, you know, the actual facts of the situation. From a New York Times article at the time of the Pelosi visit:

Ms. Pelosi and many other Democrats, as well as some Republicans, have spoken often in recent months about the value of increasing dialogue with Syria as a way to improve stability in the region, but the Bush administration has resisted the idea, citing its view that the country is a state sponsor of terrorism. It accuses the Syrian government of providing militants with safe passage into Iraq and of interfering in Lebanon’s politics after its army was forced to leave there in 2005. Damascus denies the accusations.

At the White House on Tuesday, President Bush told reporters that he saw little point in talking to Syria now. “Sending delegations hasn’t worked,” he said. “It’s just simply been counterproductive.”

Even so, three Republican congressmen — Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Frank Wolf of Virginia — visited Syria separately and met with Mr. Assad on Sunday. And a senior American diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, held talks in Damascus last month with Syrian officials about an influx of Iraqi refugees. Mr. Bush did not mention those visits in his remarks yesterday.

Ms. Pelosi is traveling with a high-level group of lawmakers, included Representatives Henry A. Waxman and Tom Lantos of California, Louise M. Slaughter of New York, Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, all Democrats, as well as David L. Hobson, Republican of Ohio.

Doesn’t exactly sound the same, does it?

So, here is essentially what happened: the Bush administration had a stated policy to not engage the Syrian government on the grounds that such engagement would not be productive… although Bush officials had, in fact, made recent official contact at a fairly high level. Bush just didn’t want Pelosi to go. Pelosi went anyway. That’s about as close the Pelosi visit got to what the Republicans did recently: she engaged with a foreign leader in a way that the president did not approve.

However, that’s where the similarity ends.

The differences? First, Pelosi did not pull a surprise visit to Syria, but instead coordinated her visit with the Bush administration.

Second, while Pelosi made a move that the Bush administration claimed was counter-productive, she went there in support of the Bush administration’s policies concerning Syria, taking the same stance of Syrian conduct, and communicating to Assad the same views that the Bush administration held on his actions.

And third, she was not alone: Republican congressmen and the Bush Assistant Secretary of State all met with Assad, in fact prior to Pelosi, and the Bush administration did not object to any of them doing so, or say that any of them were interfering with administration policy or making things worse. The Assistant Secretary of State’s visit the month before, in fact, clearly belied the Bush administration’s assertion that engagement would not work. Pelosi also traveled with other Republicans (who were also not called out) in what was a bipartisan endeavor.

In point of fact, there was one other similarity between 2007 Pelosi event and the current GOP letter event: in both cases, Republicans used the event as a political weapon to assault Democrats.

Bush was engaging with Assad, and Republicans did also make contact—Bush objected to none of these. He only objected when someone of the opposing party wanted in on the same action his own party was taking. Basically, he was saying, “This is our political campaign tool, to make us look good—how dare a Democrat try to share the stage!”

In contrast, Republicans, in opposition to direct, ongoing negotiations with a foreign leader, actively participated in what was clearly a partisan political stage performance in a manner that undermined the president of the United States. This, just days after Republicans invited the Israeli Prime Minister to address the in Congress in a speech that criticized the president.

So, no. Not the same thing. Not even close.

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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?

THEN TAKE IT BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, YOU FILTHY TERRORIST!!! Because, Religious Liberty!!

See? Simple!

A Serious Rule, Not a Serious Reaction

March 3rd, 2015 1 comment

Hillary Clinton seems to have broken rules about using a personal email account for official business while Secretary of State, constituting a “serious breach” of the Federal Records Act.

Which essentially puts her on equal ground with virtually every major player in the George W. Bush administration.

Nonetheless, the rule is there for a reason, and should be followed. If she broke it, that’s bad. [Late update: Or maybe she didn't.]

And no doubt Republicans will mass all over this like sharks on chum.

It would be nice, however, if before getting to Hillary, they got to the hundreds of Bush administration officials who did this and much, much more. Which will never, ever happen.

But then, hypocrisy is more or less the name of the game nowadays.

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Show Your Love

February 22nd, 2015 8 comments

Let’s see: under Obama, we’ve had 59 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, including six straight months of healthy job gains over 200,000, after Obama came to office while the economy was cratering and we were losing up to 750,000 jobs a month; unemployment has gone from 10.1%—something Obama was not in the least responsible for, despite conservative allegations—to 5.7%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average has nearly tripled, from 6627 to 18,140, since Obama took office, while the NASDAQ had nearly quadrupled, going from 1294 to 4956; most of this economic turnaround has been due to a greatly successful stimulus package Obama shepherded, which while imperfect has nonetheless undeniably turned the economy away from what was certain ruin; about 10 million Americans without insurance are now insured, while crippling restrictions like denial for pre-existing conditions have been outlawed; the auto industry has been effectively saved where conservatives wanted it to collapse so money could be made from the restructuring; and, oh yeah, Obama got Osama bin Laden.

Sure, even despite the effects of massive obstructionism and opposition to almost everything he does, Obama still hasn’t been as strong on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, shutting down Guantanamo, fighting for gay rights, overseeing Wall Street and political reform, ending the harmful drug war and easing massive incarceration of mostly minority citizens, or helping us achieve energy independence—but overall, he has been moving us in the right direction on all of these issues.

Meanwhile, Republicans have obstructed the political system because “it works for us,” held the American economy hostage as a political ploy to the point where the American economic rating was downgraded, tried to lower taxes for the rich while raising them for the poor, attempted to dismantle Social Security and Medicare, torn down long-standing civil rights, refused to repair the Voting Rights Act while passing laws to suppress voting, incessantly tried to deny health care to millions of Americans, have insulted, browbeaten, lied about, disrespected and even threatened to sue the president for no discernible reason, while generally working against the welfare of the majority of American citizens.

Which is why Obama doesn’t love America, and Republicans do.

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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?

Nope.

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.

Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Power, Threatens to Punish Those Involved

August 17th, 2014 2 comments

So a Democratic Texas D.A. did something stupid: got drunk, and then drove. She was arrested and served time, but refused to resign under pressure. She was within her rights under law: she is under no obligation to resign.

Rick Perry pressured her to do so anyway. His motives were not just for show; if the D.A. resigned, Perry would get to appoint a replacement.

That’s no small deal, as the D.A. in question, Rosemary Lehmberg, is the D.A. for Travis County, home to Austin, the state capital.

Why is that a big deal? First of all, Austin is one of the few counties in Texas with a Democratic majority. Second, the D.A. for Austin, it being the state capital, runs the state’s public integrity unit. The public integrity unit is kind of the like ethics committee: it investigates government corruption. And it’s run mostly by Democrats, in a state where most politicians are Republicans. And Texas Republicans have a long history of corruption.

Naturally, Republicans would like nothing more than for the public integrity unit to shut up and/or go away. They have tried to defund it in the past, but failed. Getting a Republican appointee in there could potentially throw off all current investigations and damage the unit, even if the appointee were replaced by a Democrat in the next election.

So, when D.A. Lehmberg was arrested, and, as a bonus, acted like a tool on camera in jail, Republicans saw this as a big political opportunity. Unfortunately, the position is locally elected, and so Republican politicians couldn’t touch her. A grand jury set on her by Republicans refused to indict her. Lehmberg refused to resign, but said she would not run for re-election in 2016.

Unwilling to accept that, Perry decided to play hardball: he demanded that Lehmberg resign, or else he’d cut the funding for the public integrity unit.

She refused, so Perry defunded the unit.

Normal hardball politics, right?

Except for one small detail: Perry, like so many Republicans, was so used to getting away with illegal crap that he forgot that he could still be prosecuted for it. And he had committed an abuse of power: he threatened to defund a legally operating government office if a legally elected public official who was not under his authority did not resign so he could appoint a political ally to that seat. What’s more, he didn’t try to hide it: he made it quite clear what he was doing.

Well, you’re not supposed to do that, it turns out. The governor is not supposed to get involved with county business, he’s not supposed to coerce public officials, and he’s not allowed to use his office or powers as governor to do so.

Think it’s no big deal? Well, imagine if Obama, citing Perry’s corruption, demanded that Perry resign, or else Obama would cut the $1 billion-plus federal Transportation Equity Bonus funds for Texas, citing a corrupt governor’s inability to disperse those funds honestly.

Do you believe that, if Perry refused and Obama actually cut those funds on the basis of his threat, that Republicans would not immediately impeach him?

Of course they would. They would call it the foulest, basest, most despicable act of illegal “Chicago politics” imaginable. And they would see no irony in defending what Perry did at the same time, claiming they were totally different.


Perry, predictably, is not taking this sitting down. He is, however, kind of going over the top.

“This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen,” Perry charged. There’s your standard conservative move: accuse those you are against with exactly what you have done wrong.

However, he went much further:

I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes and I intend to win. I’ll explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter. I am confident that we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is. And those responsible will be held accountable.

So, what is his evidence that this is a political attack? Nothing, of course.

Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor appointed to the case, is a respected attorney from San Antonio, and was actually backed by both Republican Senators for the U.S. Attorney position in Texas. Hard to call him a flaming political hack.

The grand jury who indicted him, on the other hand, consisted of residents of Austin—a county with more Democrats than Republicans. While not his “political opponents,” they potentially could have bias. On the other hand, the grand jury was selected by Special State District Judge Bert Richardson—a San Antonio Republican, appointed by Bush.

So, all in all, it does not look especially like this is a political witch hunt; a Republican-backed prosecutor convinces a grand jury selected by a Republican judge from a county which is roughly 60% Democrat and 40% Republican.

What really sounds over-the-top in Perry’s response is that “those responsible will be held accountable.” Really? Will he be holding the Republican judge who seated the grand jury responsible? Or the highly-regarded prosecutor who received Republican backing, will he be “held responsible” for playing politics? Or maybe the governor intends to track down and punish the members of the grand jury who voted to indict?

And what will Perry do to them, exactly? He calls it an “abuse of power”—what, did any of those people threaten Perry with the indictment unless Perry resigned? Nope—nobody involved said or did anything remotely political—so exactly what will Perry do to “hold them accountable”?

Perry’s bluster is not just game-playing, however: he levied a rather serious charge and a threat of retaliation, in a case where he very clearly demonstrated that he does follow up on such threats.

I’m sure it will play well with the home crowd, but from a distance, Perry sounds even worse than he did when he started.

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.”

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.

“Good News … I Guess”

June 18th, 2014 2 comments

Conservatives are now officially chronic hypocrites. Obama announced the capture of the ringleader in the attack on Benghazi. Considering how Republicans have been raging about how important it is to catch these people, you’d think that they would at least show a modicum of interest.

Remember, however, that these are the same people who actually complained when Obama took out Osama bin Laden, something that would have earned George W. Bush apotheosis, had he even been interested in catching the man. They rather pointedly thanked everybody except Obama, and grouched about how every detail of the operation was somehow handled the wrong way.

So, when Obama nabbed Ahmed Abu Khattala, conservatives concluded:

  • The capture was timed to sell Hillary Clinton’s book;
  • The capture was timed to distract from the IRS scandal;
  • The capture was timed to best benefit Obama politically;
  • Obama should have caught him earlier;
  • Obama should have caught more terrorists;
  • Obama is going to Mirandize the guy (which Bush/Cheney did all the time);
  • Obama is going to try him instead of putting him in Guantanamo;
  • Obama was bad for allegedly going golfing when the guy was captured; and
  • it’s not significant, who cares?

You know that the movement has gone way too far around the bend when they get really excited about things that hurt America, and really turned off by anything that is good for the country.

Update: One can only imagine how they will react to reports that the Benghazi attack was, in fact, spurred by the anti-Islamic Internet video.

Categories: Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Spitting on Returning Soldiers

June 6th, 2014 3 comments

For years, we have heard the stories about how liberal protestors of the Vietnam War spat on returning veterans on the tarmacs of airports. Everybody accepted that as truth. Even I did.

However, it wasn’t true. It was made up.

In the first place, such a thing would have been impossible. Anti-war protesters were not allowed on military bases to spit on veterans on tarmacs. Nor were they allowed on civilian tarmacs, nor would they have been able to know when any veterans returned on civilian jets. What about elsewhere? Columnist Bob Greene solicited for and collected dozens of letters telling of stories where soldiers were spit upon, but upon closer investigation, these stories always fell apart, being second- or third-hand reports that could never be corroborated. The stories only started cropping up after the mythical image had been spread via media, such as the first Rambo movie, and records one would expect, such as police reports of brawls that erupted or narratives from studies at the time, simply do not exist.

The fact is, liberal protesters during the Vietnam War generally were supportive of the soldiers, not antagonistic. This explains why 94% of returning Vietnam vets reported “friendly homecomings from their age-group peers who had not served in the military.” The protesters opposed the policies and actions of the administration, but wanted soldiers to come home safe—which explains why many veterans were among the protesters, something that would be inexplicable if those protesters treated soldiers that way.

So, how did we get the myth of spitting on soldiers? Primarily, it was a way for conservatives to discredit the anti-war movement, and later, as a convenient narrative to paint liberals as unreasonable, or even traitorous. Since the 80s or even earlier, conservatives have used soldiers and veterans as weapons or shields to protect themselves from scrutiny or to attack their opponents. Reagan, on the spot for having put U.S. Marines in harm’s way in Lebanon, was in deep trouble politically when so many were killed. His response? That critics and reporters were attacking the soldiers, suggesting that they “died in vain.” George W. Bush continued that tradition, constantly spinning any criticism of his lies or mismanagement as “attacks” on the troops.

However, the truth remains: liberals or anti-war protesters did not spit on or, as a general rule, otherwise disrespect returning soldiers for political, ideological, or any other reasons.

Well, now we are in a different situation. For the past several years, an American serviceman has been held captive by the Taliban. Conservatives have consistently, over that time, made an issue out of his captivity; they called him a hero, and demanded that he be brought home. Republicans even said that we should trade the five Taliban leaders in Guantanamo for him. We do not leave soldiers behind.

So Obama did exactly that.

So naturally, conservatives went apeshit, calling the return—something they supported until just a few days ago—illegal, unethical, dangerous, even traitorous.

But here is the disgusting, despicable, hypocritical part: they have decided, for political and ideological purposes, that it serves them to spit on this returning soldier.

Conservatives are now in full attack mode. The man they called a hero before, now that Obama was the one to arrange his release, is now characterized as a deserter. A traitor. He speaks the language of the Taliban. His father looks like a Taliban. He got other soldiers killed. His return puts others in danger. He is not worth it. He is scum.

Now, I have no idea if any of the stories and rumors about Bergdahl are true. Nobody does. And that’s the point. The man served in the armed forces, spent five years in captivity, and is not even out of the hospital yet. We have no idea what is or is not true.

For conservatives, it doesn’t matter. They don’t give a shit. All they know is, they can attack Obama over this. For that, Bergdahl gets spit upon. For political and ideological reasons.

He didn’t even get to an American tarmac yet.

Categories: Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Enforcement and Bias

May 27th, 2014 1 comment

Despite their constant cries of being persecuted, the fact remains that when conservatives protest, even disruptively and sometimes threateningly, they get more or less a free pass. When liberals protest, however, then the hammer comes down. Paul Waldman at The American Prospect details one rather notable example:

The latest, from the New York Times, describes how law enforcement officials around the country went on high alert when the Occupy protests began in 2011, passing information between agencies with an urgency suggesting that at least some people thought that people gathering to oppose Wall Street were about to try to overthrow the U.S. government. And we remember how many of those protests ended, with police moving in with force. …

If you can’t recall any Tea Party protests in 2009 and 2010 being broken up by baton-wielding, pepper-spraying cops in riot gear, that’s because it didn’t happen. Just like the anti-war protesters of the Bush years, the Tea Partiers were unhappy with the government, and saying so loudly. But for some reason, law enforcement didn’t view them as a threat.

He cites the more recent example of Cliven Bundy’s ranch, when protesters actually pointed guns at law enforcement officials—and got away with it. Liberal protesters sit quietly, and they get doused with pepper spray. Maybe they should have all brought AR-15s.

Nor is this the only example. When liberal protesters did literally the least offensive form of protest possible—wearing T-shirts—they were singled out by the secret service, detained, or even arrested. When Obama became president, conservative protesters went armed with handguns and semiautomatic rifles at presidential events. Nothing happened to them, aside from being “closely watched.”

Nor is it just when arms are present. When liberal churches had guest speakers, not affiliated with the church, whose speeches at the pulpit had a political tone, the IRS went after them rather assiduously. When leaders of conservative churches outright endorsed Republican candidates to their congregations, even when the Catholic church itself publicly inserted itself into the presidential campaign by condemning John Kerry, not a thing happened. When the IRS went after all political groups but, for a while, only the Tea Party tags were known, it became a full-blown scandal still pursued today, even after being disproven. But when the IRS clearly discriminated against liberal groups in favor of conservative ones… not a peep.

It is one aspect of the IOKIYAR mentality. Which perhaps is one reason that conservatives play up being persecuted all the time. Aside from rather common right-wing projection, it helps to deflect attention from your faults if you can claim that the real victims are doing it to you.

Categories: IOKIYAR, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Age and Health

May 19th, 2014 4 comments

Between Benghazi, Brain Damage, and everything else, the GOP is either relentless in its attack on any potential Democratic candidate, or they are scared to death of Hillary Clinton:

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, insisted on Sunday that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health and age were fair targets for inquiry ahead of a possible 2016 presidential run, as both he and Karl Rove, the Republican strategist who injected those questions into the debate, suggested that such scrutiny might dissuade her from running.

Are health and age fair game? Sure. We should not ignore the health of a candidate who could be in office for as long as eight years.

Do they have any bearing on Hillary Clinton? No. Instead, it’s just another smear campaign.

Remember when John McCain was running? He was not just 72 years old, he was a cancer survivor. As it turns out, he stayed healthy through much of what could have been his two terms (knock on wood—that he wasn’t elected, that is). But it was wholly acceptable to be worried about a man who could be in office beyond the average male life expectancy (77.4 for males in the U.S.), and whose vice president would be a raving lunatic.

In contrast, Hillary will be 68 in 2016, and the female life expectancy is 82.2 years, meaning she would still be six years shy of that age were she to complete two full terms. In terms of how far she is from reaching life expectancy, she also beats out Mitt Romney, Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan when they all ran for a first term of office.

So, what exactly is the “age” issue with Hillary supposed to be?

The answer (whisper it, now) is that she’s a woman!

If you don’t think the GOP is going to play the sexist angle, you’re naive. Of course they are.

And the market is prime for it. Remember when Chelsea announced she was pregnant, and many in the media wondered (a) if it would matter that a grandmother was running for office, or (b) if Chelsea had gotten herself pregnant so Hillary’s chances in office would be improved? Forget that both points contradict each other, they were both speculating negatives about Hillary.

When Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012, he had some twenty grandchildren. Aside from the publicity photos in which this fact was played up as a positive, the fact was never even mentioned in the race at all. McCain had four grandchildren when he ran—did anyone even know that?

As for health, what have we got? While dehydrated suffering from the flu, Hillary fell and hit her head. She had a concussion, and a blood clot developed (outside her brain), which was dissipated and caused no stroke or other neurological damage. Aside from possible slight, temporary double vision, there appear to have been no lingering or permanent effects. While the clot could have caused a stroke, it did not, in the same way that it could have caused death, but it did not. In fact, at the time, Republicans actually scoffed at Hillary’s medical issues, claiming she was faking it all so she could avoid testifying about Benghazi. And when she did come to testify, double-vision or no, she wiped the floor with them. But in deference to Karl Rove and Rance Priebus, maybe the Republicans on the committee were even more brain-damaged.

In short, what she had is something one can recover from. You know, like McCain’s cancer.

In the meantime, you know that they will play it up. Determined to stay classy, Fox News ran an article from—I kid you not—The National Enquirer:

HILLARY CLINTON has secretly decided to run for president in 2016, but doctors have warned that pursuing her dream of becoming America’s first female commander in chief could kill her!

In a bombshell world exclusive, The ENQUIRER has learned Hillary wants to spurn her doctors’ advice and announce her candidacy on June 4, 2014 – the day her late mother would have turned 95. …

“Hillary’s doctors have painted a grim picture of her health,” said a close source. “Behind the scenes, they’re telling her, ‘Running for president will kill you.’

But Hillary wants to ignore her doctors because she’s so desperate to be America’s first female president.

Omigod Omigod Omigod!!! You don’t SAY!!!

I’m sure that those who consume Fox’s usual crap will have no problem accepting ”journalism“ told in a narrative mimicking a feeble-minded 12-year-old.

The Utter Hypocrisy of Republican “Investigations”

May 8th, 2014 5 comments

So, what are Republicans doing, since they’re certainly not passing laws to help the American people?

House Republicans on Wednesday will take the first in a series of steps intended to spotlight what they are convinced is a pattern of cover-up and political whitewashing by the White House, but what Democrats contend is an election-year stunt.

The House will vote late on Wednesday to hold in contempt Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official who is at the center of multiple investigations into possible acts of political retribution.

Then, on Thursday, the House is expected to formally approve a resolution to establish a select committee to investigate the 2012 attack on American facilities in Benghazi, Libya.

Through multiple congressional investigations in both chambers, Republicans have sought to link President Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to a politically motivated effort to obscure what really happened in Benghazi when the American ambassador to Libya and three others were killed.

At the same time, parallel investigations on Capitol Hill have tried to show that the president and his aides used the I.R.S. to persecute Tea Party groups in the hopes of muting their political effectiveness during the 2012 elections.

Hmmm… the IRS “scandal” in which the IRS actually targeted liberal organizations more than conservative ones? Yes, what a terrible scandal. And we know that when political favoritism is in evidence, Republicans always begin years-long investigations.

Like in the following cases from ten years ago:

In 2004, before the election, a liberal-leaning church in California called Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive war a “failed doctrine,” and urged parishioners to take all they knew about Jesus into the voting booth. The IRS responded by threatening the church with taxation, that it would lose its tax-exempt status and be virtually destroyed by the IRS if it did not apologize and cease any such talk in the future. …

In fact, a Baptist pastor in Arkansas praised Bush for his performance while slamming Kerry for his views, while showing photos of both candidates on the church’s AV system–the Bush portrait flattering, the photo of Kerry degrading. The IRS declined to investigate or take any action. Furthermore, the progressive church in California which is under siege by the IRS did not endorse either candidate, nor did the man who gave the sermon, who was just a guest speaker and not formally attached to the church. The Arkansas pastor was formally attached to the church and was far more blatant in his politicization. So why leave the Arkansas church alone, and go full-blast after the California church? According to reports, the California church was not even given the usual obligatory initial warning; the IRS came after them, guns blazing, from the very start.

In fact, the IRS has gone after other left-leaning churches as well as the NAACP for political speech, but not Pat Robertson or a host of other tax-exempt conservatives. Even the Catholics, famous for their intervention against Kerry during the 2004 elections, at the very same time called for the IRS to go after a liberal church in Florida. This article [link broken] demonstrates two churches with heavily political speakers, one liberal (with Bill Clinton), one conservative (with Jerry Falwell and invited Republican representatives)–but only the liberal church was investigated by the IRS. Falwell was not investigated or punished even though he openly endorsed George Bush in a ministry newsletter.

Republicans, who ran Congress back then, despite open evidence of IRS political targeting, did not even consider an investigation.

And how about after 9/11, when there was clear evidence of massive failures by the Bush administration to detect and stop the terror attacks? Republicans dragged their heels for years before allowing even a ridiculously gentle investigation, which treated the president and vice-president with kid gloves. How about the staggeringly disastrous and knowing lies the administration told to sell the Iraq War, which cost untold amounts of money, lives, and damage to the country’s reputation? The massive intelligence failures involved in that debacle? The use of torture? The unwarranted wiretapping of American citizens? The political retribution exposing a national security agent when some of these lies were exposed? Did the Republicans investigate any of these?

I will let a Republican from 2004 explain:

When President Clinton was in office, Congress exercised its oversight powers with no sense of proportionality. But oversight of the Bush administration has been even worse: With few exceptions, Congress has abdicated oversight responsibility altogether.

Republican Rep. Ray LaHood aptly characterized recent congressional oversight of the administration: “Our party controls the levers of government. We’re not about to go out and look beneath a bunch of rocks to try to cause heartburn.”

In fact, when the 2006 midterm elections loomed, Republicans started issuing hysterical warnings about what Democrats would do if they gained control of Congress—from the Republican National Committee:

The Democrats’ plan for 2006? Take the House and Senate, and impeach the President. With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want? … Democrats should to be focused on winning the War on Terror, not undermining it with political axe-grinding of the ugliest kind.

And:

This year, we face another momentous choice. Fight and defeat the terrorists, or retreat from the central front in the War on Terror. Live up to our calling as Americans to stand for freedom, or choose Democrats, who are being as clear as they possibly can that they will censure and impeach the President if they win back Congress.

That’s right: Republicans’ greatest fears for the security of the United States was that Democrats, if given power over the Senate or House, would start partisan investigations of the president, which would lead the country to ruin.

Did the Democrats, who in fact gained power of both houses in 2006, do that? No. They utterly failed to start any such investigations, despite a constellation of powerfully convincing reasons to do so, in the name of calming inter-party enmity.

But now? With Republicans controlling only the House, and that despite losing the popular vote, only having control because they clearly gerrymandered their way into office? Are they showing restraint of any kind?

Of course not. They doggedly investigate the IRS despite evidence that the opposite of what they charge is actually true.

And Benghazi? There is little question that if Hillary Clinton were not the clear Democratic front-runner for 2016, Republicans would not be so interested (although any chance to smear Obama is hard for them to pass up). Even at that, it has been clear for some time that Republican charges of al Qaeda being behind the attacks are patently false, and while it was a security failure, it pales before the monumental failures of the previous administration, and does not seem to have any of the elements Republicans charge—including the charges of a cover-up. It was a tragic situation that happened more than a dozen times under Bush, when none of the incidents were ever investigated like Benghazi is now. Did Republicans investigate after clear evidence emerged that Bush used terror warnings to undermine Kerry’s momentum in 2004? Did Republicans investigate when the Bush administration failed utterly to provide U.S. soldiers with sufficient armor and protection when we sent them to Iraq? Hell, no.

Both Benghazi and the IRS are, without any doubt whatsoever, patently political attacks being carried out by Republicans in hopes of gaining advantages in the next two elections.

It is an absolutely hypocritical abuse of government power for rankly partisan attacks.

Which, of course, Democrats will never even consider investigating. Because that would cause enmity.

Categories: Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

No, They’re Not Equivalent

April 26th, 2014 7 comments

After hyping Cliven Bundy for more than a week as being some kind of outstanding folk hero, conservatives were sent scrambling into damage control mode when Bundy suddenly started spouting rather racist comments on camera. Most of them loudly condemned what Bundy said—good for them!—but they are complaining even more loudly that liberals are taking advantage of the situation, unfairly smearing conservatives and the Republican Party in general.

One tack is to complain that liberals get away with such statements all the time, and are never criticized in the media when they go racist. Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer:

[W]hat I find fascinating as the chief spokesman for Republican Party is when a guy with a problem with cattle grazing and discussion about the size of government and overreach of the federal government makes a comment, every reporter calls the Republican National Committee asking for comment. But yet when similar incidents happen time and time again on the left, there is zero coverage, absolutely zero.“

”Just this week Gov. Pat Quinn, the Democratic governor of Illinois, president’s home state, made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments and there was zero discussion until last night when CNN picked it up,“ he continued. ”But, the rest of the national media, a sitting Democratic governor does anti-Semitic comments that were offensive to Republicans and blacks and there was no coverage. So, while I’m willing to call out time and time again anyone who uses inappropriate language and RNC has gotten — time and time again we’re asking from student council elections to county officials … but when similar instance have happened on the left – zero, zero, zero coverage….

His key example is Democratic (kudos to Spicer for getting the adjectival correct!) Gov. Pat Quinn, who, according to Spicer, “made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments.” These are supposedly more or less equivalent to Bundy’s comments.

So let’s see if this is true. What comments did Quinn make?

Umm, actually, he made no such comment. The incident being reported was about a tweet made by his campaign staff, in the campaign’s Twitter account (separate from the governor’s). So, what was the racist, anti-black, and anti-Semitic tweet?

“If Rauner is willing to throw his own money away like this, what’s he going to do when he gets his hands on ours?” http://t.co/a1vAS0cChl

Umm… doesn’t seem really racist. Who is Rauner? A white Republican candidate running against Quinn. But hey, maybe the article is totally racist. The tweet does not endorse the article, just quotes from it, but I suppose it could be considered and implied endorsement. Click on the link, and you’ll find an article in the Chicago Sun-Times written by Neil Steinberg, which contains the quote. The quote is the last sentence in the article. So, what’s the article about?

The article is a scathing criticism of a woman named Hermene Hartman, a woman who publishes a periodical for the African-American community. According to Steinberg, Hartman was given $51,000 from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, and, allegedly, wrote a glowing piece about Rauner in exchange for the money.

It’s certainly a serious charge, albeit one of relatively minor importance. But how is that anti-black, and anti-Semitic?

It is because of this part of the article, in the first three paragraphs:

“The machine,” political guru Don Rose said, years ago, “could get 30 percent of the black votes for George Wallace over Martin Luther King.”

Though we don’t have to raise hypotheticals. When the actual Dr. King actually did bring his open occupancy marches to Chicago, there was no shortage of black aldermen willing to rise in City Council and denounce King as an unwelcome outsider, their strings pulled by Richard J. Daley.

Let me be clear: As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit. It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go.

Ah! OK, there’s the Jewish connection. If you read conservative comments, the conclusion is that the emphasized statement above from the article is saying that blacks are like Nazis, and the whole thing is anti-Semitic.

Umm, really? First of all, Steinberg did not say that black people are like Nazis, but rather that in any community, you will find people who will sell out their own, as some Jews did in WWII. And, sadly, it did happen—some Jews did indeed collaborate with the Nazis (examples here, here, and here).

What, exactly, is anti-black and anti-Semitic about that? It’s a scathing indictment of one woman and allegedly some unspecified others, but not of black people in general. The writer is careful not to label this as only a black issue. And while pointing out that Jewish Nazi collaborators existed is not exactly the most politic thing to do during Passover, it is not false, either.

So, what do we have here?

On the one hand, Cliven Bundy, which most of the conservative community was hyping as a hero to their cause, giving him massive coverage and a national platform few every enjoy, standing in front of a camera and saying that “Negroes” who got abortions and “put” their young men in jail never learned to “pick cotton” and would be happier as slaves. When asked later if he really meant that, he repeated it.

On the other hand, you have, not even the Democratic governor of Illinois, who is little-known and not highly-praised, but a campaign staffer for the governor, tweeting a quote from an article which was not racist at all, but in the opposite end of the article, a statement was made which said that every community including the African-American community has sell-outs, and used Jewish collaborators from WWII as an example.

Yeah, I totally see why it’s reasonable to be outraged at how the national media did not treat these two stories in a similar fashion.

This is what happens when you delve into claims of equivalency made by conservatives when they get all defensive: the truth is nothing like they portray it to be. They just lie, and hope that nobody looks too closely at their claims.