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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.

No Matter What

March 24th, 2014 2 comments

Not a shock, I know, to realize that no matter what Obama does, Republicans will castigate him as weak, ineffective, or worse. Republicans even thrashed Obama when he killed Osama bin Laden; if they can’t appreciate that, you know that nothing he does will meet with their approval.

Now, Mitt Romney is calling Obama “naive” for failing to foresee the annexation of Crimea:

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, the former Republican presidential nominee said Obama should have been more proactive prior to the Russia’s annexation — and should have threatened the Russians with the possibility of sanctions before they took action to take over the region.

“There’s no question but that the president’s naiveté with regards to Russia, and his faulty judgment about Russia’s intentions and objectives, has led to a number of foreign policy challenges that we face,” Romney declared. “And unfortunately, not having anticipated Russia’s intentions, the president wasn’t able to shape the kinds of events that may have been able to prevent the kinds of circumstances that you’re seeing in the Ukraine.”

That’s right! Obama was naive because he was not threatening Putin with sanctions right before he invaded Crimea. Like a real leader, John McCain, was saying we should have threatened Russia with sanctions—this just days before Putin made his move against Ukraine:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reemphasized his calls for sanctions against the Ukrainian government for the ongoing violence against protesters while criticizing President Obama for his “naiveté” towards the situation.

Oh. Whoops.

Interesting how Obama was “naive” before the Russian invasion for not threatening sanctions against Ukraine, while now he’s naive for not having threatened sanctions against Russia.

Oh, and by the way, Obama was threatening sanctions at the same time Republicans were calling him naive for not threatening sanctions. Nor would the threat of sanctions, before, during, or after, have made any difference.

In the meantime, while the Obama administration did not specifically spell out sanctions against Russia, it hardly failed to take notice; a few days before the invasion, the administration’s rhetoric turned tough against Putin, warning that it would be a “grave mistake” if Putin moved in Crimea.

As for foresight, Bush 41 did not foresee Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait, although there were just as many clues in that regard. Bush 43 did not foresee 9/11, despite getting rather urgent warnings. Nor did Bush foresee Hussein not having WMD (though it could be argued that that was a pretext and therefore there was nothing to foresee), nor did he foresee the Russia’s similar invasion into Georgia. Romney never criticized those failures, of course.

When Russia was moving on Georgia, in fact, Bush expressed “grave concern” towards Russia’s actions. Sounds strangely familiar—and yet, I do not recall Romney saying Bush was “naive.” Nor did Obama.


There’s another small point that needs to be cleared up.

Romney appears to have some swing amongst conservatives on this issue, since in the 2012 election, he named Russia as America’s greatest “geopolitical foe.” His people have been trying to paint him as astute and prescient; “Romney’s analysis of the Russian threat was actually spot on,” noted one of his former advisors.

You have to admit, it does kind of sound like he was on the ball.

However, if you check back, Romney’s actual 2012 statements did not predict Russia would start annexing former satellite states—quite the opposite, in fact:

“There’s no question but that in terms of geopolitics — I’m talking about votes at the United Nations and actions of a geopolitical nature — Russia is the No. 1 adversary in that regard. That doesn’t make them an enemy. It doesn’t make them a combatant. They don’t represent the No. 1 national security threat. The No. 1 national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran. Time continues to pass. They continue to move towards nuclearization. This is more and more disconcerting and dangerous to the world. But Russia — particularly look at a place like Syria. Russia has supported the Assad regime even as it has been attacking its own people. Russia likewise has been slow to move to the kinds of sanctions that have been called for in Iran. Russia is a geopolitical adversary, but it’s not an enemy with, you know, missiles being fired at one another or things of that nature.” [bold emphasis mine]

As you can see, Romney actually thought that Russia would not be a threat militarily, just in their tangential support of nations we wanted to exert control over.

Here’s the thing: if you predict that the roof will spring a leak in the rain, and then it collapses in on you on a sunny day, you do not get to claim prescience. Yes, you predicted something would go wrong with the roof. But you were way off on that prediction.

And that’s a big part of what we’re seeing here: the massive oversimplification of issues like these. If all you needed was some sense of opposition coming from Russia’s direction, you would have been able to handle it completely differently. As if Obama had not been aware of the fact that Putin was aggressive towards us, or that he underestimated Russia any more than Romney did. As if all Obama needed to do was to threaten Putin specifically with sanctions instead of sending grave warnings, and that would have stopped Putin cold. As if we know everything that happened at diplomatic level that the public is not aware of—it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Obama did threaten Putin with sanctions privately. There is a whole world of activity that happens outside of public view.

In short, Republicans are doing what they do best: trying to pummel Obama and make themselves look good. As usual, it’s all hype and no substance; all politics, and no gravity. It has nothing to do with how well Obama is handling anything. Obama could have kicked Russia’s ass, wrestled Putin to the ground, and then rode home on a Bengal tiger; Republicans would still be bashing him on whatever pretense they could think of.

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.

Fox News Reports That Arizona Law Is an Attack on Homosexuality, and That God Is Dead

February 27th, 2014 2 comments

Foxhl-2Fox News has reported that a Mississippi woman tried to get Bible scriptures copied at Walgreens, but the clerk at the shop refused to do so on copyright grounds, in an act which is characterized as an “attack on Christianity.” In doing so, Fox is clearly suggesting that denying service to a class of people is equivalent to an attack on those people; thus, the proposed laws in Arizona and Ohio to refuse service to gay people is, by inference, an “attack on homosexuality.”

Furthermore, Fox appears to dismiss the copyright claims baed on the statement that “Copyright law typically covers books for the life of the author, plus 50 years,” clearly indicating that Fox News believes that God is dead, and has been for at least half a century.

Fox News has so far not commented on its new atheist, pro-gay policy.


Seriously, though, this article is a bonanza of bias. First of all, what the hell is a major “news” outlet reporting on a woman having difficulties with the copy clerk at her local Walgreens? Is it that slow a news day? This reads more like an article from The Onion.

Second, the clerk actually had a valid point: it was not just Bible scriptures, there was artwork involved, and the clerk had no way of knowing if those images were copyrighted or not.

Third, the issue has already been resolved, with Walgreens simply asking the woman to sign a waiver to take care of any potential copyright issues.

Fourth, this has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, unless someone has evidence that the clerk was acting on grounds aside from the purely reasonable legal grounds claimed; none whotsoever is presented.

And lastly, acting like any of this is somehow an “attack” on anything is hysteric hyperbole.

In short, this can be safely classified as “Wednesday at Fox News.”

The Difference Between Private and Public

February 12th, 2014 4 comments

Let’s say there are two financial managers you might trust with your money. One has a sterling record as a manager of other people’s money, but you find out he kept some of his own money secret from his wife and spent it on expensive nights out with the boys. The other manager also had the exact same personal misdeeds—but his reputation as a financial manager was terrible, to the point where he seemed downright antagonistic toward his clients. Who would you choose?

Ran Paul is trying to make points in a few areas by attacking Bill Clinton recently. He’s trying both to sully Hillary’s reputation with Bill’s, and he’s trying to combat the impression that Republicans are waging a war on women:

“He took advantage of a girl that was 20 years old and an intern in his office,” Paul told host David Gregory. “There is no excuse for that, and that is predatory behavior.”

On Newsmax TV Thursday, Paul – reportedly considering a presidential run himself – tried to connect Clinton’s past to 2016 front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“What if that unsavory character is your husband?” Paul asked. “What if that unsavory character is Bill Clinton raising money for people across the country, and what if he were someone that was guilty of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior at the workplace – which, obviously, having sex with an intern at the office is inappropriate by any standard.”

Then he came back to it in a pre-taped C-SPAN interview to be broadcast Sunday.

Said Paul: “The Democrats can’t say, ‘We’re the great defenders of women’s rights in the workplace and we will defend you against some kind of abusive boss that uses their position of authority to take advantage of a young women’ when the leader of their party, the leading fundraiser in the country, is Bill Clinton, who was a perpetrator of that kind of sexual harassment. Anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do.”

In one sense, he is correct: Bill Clinton’s sexual antics in the White House were, without question, inappropriate. However, his attempt to label Clinton a “sexual predator” and thus his fundraising activities for Hillary are an unacceptable affront… well, that’s stretching it a bit. To further claim that personal dalliances somehow rise to the level of public policy is an even bigger stretch.

First off, the claim that Lewinsky proves Clinton to be a sexual predator ignores the fact that Lewinsky was herself a predator; her friends reported that she said she would be getting her “presidential kneepads” at the White House. Which sort of makes Paul’s claims fall a bit flat. It’s a bit difficult to call something sexual harassment if Lewinsky showed enthusiasm for entering the relationship before ever arriving at the scene. It’s standard conservative revisionist history, alas—Clinton got into trouble for the affair and for the testimony he gave, not for victimizing Lewinsky. An affair can be overlooked; rape cannot. That’s why Paul and others are trying to smear Clinton as a “predator,” because what he actually did can be forgiven.

To then further say that since Bill had workplace affairs, Hillary is under suspicion for having Bill campaign for her just does not ring true. And the claim will fall flat—people have had fifteen or more years to form opinions on this, and most see Bill Clinton as a cad, but not an egregious one. They saw Hillary as the victim, and accepted the fact that she and her husband worked things out, however they may have done it. It will be difficult to get past such a long-held conclusion. Moreover, this is a party which sports the likes of Newt Gingrich, who not only had affairs before leaving two wives, but cheated on and left one while she was being treated for cancer, all while he was criticizing Clinton and trying to get him impeached. Kinda makes Clinton look like an amateur.

However, there’s another reason Paul’s assertions fall flat: nothing Bill Clinton did sexually had anything to do with public policy. Clinton did not force rape victims to be violated by the state with an ultrasound wand when they wanted to abort a pregnancy caused by the rapist. Clinton did not try to redefine rape. Clinton did not fight tooth and nail to deny women equal treatment in the workplace. Clinton did not do everything he could to deny women access to contraception or access to reproductive health care.

Indeed, whenever conservatives try to point the finger at Democrats regarding the “war on women,” it is always accusations of having sexual affairs, something conservative politicians do just as often. Democrats do not push any public policy issues that are antagonistic to women, which is a huge contrast with Republicans.

Women may or may not choose to forgive any politician’s personal transgressions, but trying make laws which would hurt millions of women nationwide is simply on a completely different plane.

So, no, Paul’s criticisms and similar ones by other conservatives are essentially meaningless.

It’s Important Only When It Suits Us

February 7th, 2014 1 comment

The Wall Street Journal, November 2009:

Grim Milestone as Jobless Rate Tops 10%


Bad news for then. Today, we hear that the unemployment rate fell yet again, to 6.6%, the lowest it has been since Bush exploded job losses in 2008.

So, what’s the Journal’s headline today?

Ignore the Unemployment Rate


Not that I expected anything different. Conservatives almost gleefully pinned the unemployment rate to Obama, making a huge deal of it, even before he entered office. Now that it’s getting back down to more reasonable levels, they’re acting like it’s no big deal. The current WSJ article doesn’t even say what the rate is now.

And in truth, the numbers are in fact deceptive. However, the issue is not how accurate the numbers are; it’s how baldly conservatives claim they’re vital when they can use it as a political weapon.

Grilling the President

February 3rd, 2014 1 comment

Whatever you might think of the actual content of the interview between President Obama and Bill O’Reilly, what it represents is unquestionable: Obama’s willingness to take on such interviews, the manner in which O’Reilly conducts the interviews, and the right-wing media’s reporting of them, all place excruciating light on the massive hypocrisy of conservatives and the breathtaking contrast between Obama and Bush II in terms of what they were willing to take on.

Do you remember how Bush allowed Keith Olbermann to interview him, multiple times? How Olbermann mercilessly grilled him? How Bush was treated with such blatant disrespect and disregard? And how the conservative media took a pass on commenting on the treatment?

Of course not, because—obviously—such interviews not only did not happen, the very idea of them having happened is ludicrously impossible.

Bush never would have had the balls to let someone even close to him who would challenge him like that. And if any reporter had treated Bush with even a fraction of the roughness O’Reilly did with Obama, they would have had a screaming shitfit about what a traitorous louse the reporter was, how they had no respect for the office, so forth and so on.

Remember how conservatives have, over the years, tried to claim that Obama is “afraid of journalists”?

It boggles the mind how hypocritical their entire paradigm is.

Not that I object to this kind of interview; I think it is much better than most. I think all presidents, in fact, all politicians should open themselves up to interviews by journalists (of which O’Reilly is only questionably a member) who will grill them with tough questions. Preferably non-partisan, fact-based questions instead of what O’Reilly was hurling.

Obama is willing to do that. Bush, in contrast, was a cowering sissy.

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Obama Should Apologize for the New Jersey Bridge Scandal

January 11th, 2014 2 comments

CNN, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, the NY Times, and USA Today all have multiple headlines, and all at least have one large and prominent story, near the top of their pages regarding Chris Christie’s New Jersey bridge scandal.

Guess how Fox News is handling it? Not hard to predict: way, way down near the bottom of the page:

Foxbridge
Obama’s apology? The link leads to a video of a Fox talking head showing Christie apologizing and the mayor of Fort Lee accepting the apology—and therefore, the scandal is over. But Obama? He never made multiple, formal apologies for Fast & Furious, Solyndra, etc. etc.—so that’s the real scandal the media should be focusing on.

The Wall Street Journal—also owned by Murdoch—took an almost identical approach, focusing on Obama’s IRS “scandal,” and how he never showed contrition for that.

Not that closing the bridge lanes was an earth-shattering event. It was not insignificant, either; it may have had serious impact on some emergency responses to medical crises, and may even have led to a death. But why is the story deserving of such great attention on non-Murdoch media?

For the same reason why we should have paid attention to stories about drug abuse, desertion, and the drunk driving charges regarding George W. Bush back in 2000: it would have alerted us to the character and behavior patterns of a presidential candidate who could potentially be disastrous for the nation.

Conservatives have worked hard to try to make it seem like there was actual abuse by Obama or anyone near him in the IRS brouhaha; it turned out that there was no such thing.

However, Christie’s bridge scandal is an excellent example of how Christie is far more likely to abuse power in exactly that manner.

Which brings up another interesting point about the abuse of power:

“It’s not obvious what laws may have been broken,” says Stuart Green, law professor at Rutgers School of Law-Newark in New Jersey. “I mean, there was undoubtedly an abuse of power, but in the federal context, there’s no general prohibition on abuse of power.”

Maybe there should be. Unfortunately, as with a lot of other good ideas, it is one that conservatives would instantly begin to abuse, wielding it as a political weapon to spark fishing-expedition investigations, begin witch hunts, and generally harass their political opponents.

Which is what conservatives tend to do. They’re definitely Slytherins to the liberals’ Hufflepuffs, intent on the acquisition of power and completely comfortable with use any means to achieve it.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

December 20th, 2013 12 comments

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty voiced his personal opinion about homosexuality:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson was “indefinitely suspended” by A&E over his remarks. Sarah Palin, who I usually ignore because of the Ann Coulter Rule, made a public statement on Facebook which is noteworthy because it is a conservative meme far overused:

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

That’s the conceit: when a person speaks out and is criticized or punished in some way, their “free speech” rights are being violated.

And that’s the problem: free speech is about saying whatever you want (so long as it does not harm or endanger others) without fear of punishment by the government. The actual text in the First Amendment is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” First Amendment freedom of speech says nothing about how others in society are suppose to lay off you no matter what you say.

Nor is this view by Palin and other conservatives based upon a principle. Imagine, for example, if someone on a popular TV show said hateful things about Christianity, maybe that it is a genocidal cult subscribed to by idiots and liars, which promotes the abuse of children and the killing of women. Do you think that this person would not be similarly treated? Would Palin be as ardent about protecting their right to say that and upset if they lost their job? Hell, no—she and other conservatives would be the ones calling for them to get the exact treatment that Robertson got.

For example, Palin called on MSNBC to fire Martin Bashir for calling her a “world class idiot” for her comparison of the national debt and slavery, and because he suggested, after noting a particularly cruel punishment meted out to a slave, that Palin was an “outstanding candidate” for such punishment for making the remarks she did.

Palin also called for Obama to fire Rahm Emanuel for using the word “retarded” as an epithet.

The term to describe this is “hypocrisy.”

But let’s just see if we can get one thing straight: getting criticism and losing a high-profile job in the media as a result of hateful remarks is not in any way a violation of anyone’s free speech.

Reaching New Lows: Deranged, Perverted, AND Hypocritcal

September 21st, 2013 6 comments

a creepy conservative adConservatives have a new ad out, one which is universally being referred to as “creepy,” which attacks Obamacare. It depicts a woman at a gynecological exam having a ghoulish pervert in an Uncle Sam costume sneak up on her with a speculum.

The message, void of the warped imagery, is that Obamacare puts the government between you and your medical care, an old canard which conservatives always fall back on when it comes to anything related to health care reform, a message as fake as the asininely depraved vehicle used to deliver it.

The real irony: these same conservatives—pretty much exactly the same conservatives—are the ones who are getting laws passed around the country which force women, including rape victims, to undergo mandatory vaginal ultrasounds before they can get an abortion.

That’s right. The people who actually are getting Uncle Sam to creepily violate women in hospitals for no defensible reason are putting out ads falsely saying that Obamacare will do to women what they are doing to women. Imagine a rapist putting out a commercial saying that the district attorney sexually violates women, or an arsonist running a nationwide TV campaign about how firefighters actually start fires. That’s pretty much what we’re looking at here.

It would be creepy even if it weren’t true that these people want to force rape victims who are trying to stop the pregnancy caused by their rapist to undergo a medically unnecessary procedure equivalent to government-mandated rape. I’m trying to imagine how you could be even a little bit more perverse than these people without sounding ludicrously obscene, but these people have long since passed that landmark.

Manufacturing Equivalent Outrage

August 26th, 2013 3 comments

There has been a great deal of “outrage” in right-wing media and blogs lately about the Christopher Lane murder, and how it’s not a big deal in the media. The thesis of this outrage is, “a white/Hispanic man shoots a young black man, and the nation goes into an uproar; three black kids (as conservative sources originally identified them; in fact, one of the kids is white) senselessly murder a young white man, and the media falls silent.” A representative sample from The Daily Caller:

A Hispanic guy shot a black teenager in self-defense, and it was proof that America hasn’t gotten any better since Emmett Till was murdered. Whereas the following story, which is literally an international incident, has no significance beyond the individuals involved. It’s not useful to Al Sharpton and Barack Obama.

This article has a fair rundown of how the conservative media is handling the story.

I do not use the word “outrage” in quotes because there is no outrage, but rather because it is politically manufactured outrage. This commonly happens after a story that puts conservatives at a disadvantage: they pounce on a story that seems to turn the tables, carefully frame it to suit their political needs, then start beating the drum across the media. You know how some people, when you criticize them, by reflex start criticizing you back on some other matter? That’s essentially what this is: an attempt to excuse their own shortcomings by trying to make the “other side” look hypocritical.

“It’s worse than a double standard. This is a purposeful, willful ignoring of the exact racial components, but in reverse, that happened in the Trayvon Martin shooting.” —Rush Limbaugh

And, as is usual when conservatives do this, the “equivalent” story isn’t equivalent at all. Conservatives, like Limbaugh above, claim that the Lane story should have gotten the exact same reaction as the Trayvon story because they were identical, only with races reversed. Their complaint is that the media and liberal leaders react to incidents when the victim is black and the assailant is white (or close to that), but if the assailant is black and the victim is white, liberals and the “Liberal Media”™ fall silent. They further postulate that because of such, they don’t actually “care” about the black victims but are using them to further an agenda. (Keep conservative tendencies to project in mind, now.)

Which, of course, is not even close to being true. The Martin case would not have been in the news at all had it not been for the fact that (1) the police failed to act on what appeared to be at minimum negligent homicide; once that made the story of some note, it became bigger when (2) the defense used was a controversial law that seems to legitimize killing someone for insufficient cause; and then it was further inflamed when (3) it became apparent that the entire incident was caused by racial profiling.

Race was absolutely a factor, but it was not what made the story a big one. There have been many other killings of black people by white shooters under the “stand your ground laws,” but none of them made national headlines—proving that race alone was not what made the story significant.

In the Christopher Lane killing—which did make national headlines—none of the elements that made the Trayvon Martin case significant exist. The killing did not appear to be racially motivated, but rather simply opportunistic; the killers have been arrested and will almost certainly be convicted in accordance with popular expectation of justice; and no controversial law is being used (at least not yet) to get the killers off.

Now, had the three youths immediately cited a controversial law, had the police processed them then let them go, and had there been evidence that they had chosen their victim because of his color— you can bet you life that it would be as much a story nationwide as the Trayvon Martin case. But none of those elements existed, therefore the two cases are not at all equivalent.


So the whole “where’s the outrage?” outrage on the right is, as usual, completely unfounded, as most of their politically motivated crap tends to be.

MultiPloy

August 7th, 2013 1 comment

Something that Republicans can still do with aplomb is to play the media game. While right-wing individuals tend to say incredibly idiotic stuff, like that a woman’s body can repel a rapist’s sperm, the party mechanism itself is very finely honed.

Take one of their latest gambits: they threaten to cancel primary debates on CNN and NBC if they go forward with planned programming featuring Hillary Clinton. NBC plans to make a miniseries, while CNN will produce a documentary.

The GOP objection is expressed in this letter, to NBC:

As an American company, you have every right to air programming of your choice. But as American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions. which appear to be a major networks’ thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election. …

I find this disturbing and disappointing. NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign. …

If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor.

Like both networks did in 2006, right? Oh, wait, they didn’t. Hillary was also known to be a candidate then, was also seen as the inevitable front-runner, etc. etc.—so if NBC and CNN are so “in the tank” for her, why nothing on her back then? The answer, of course, is that right now a program featuring Hillary is most likely to gain viewers. That is always the bottom line, of course.

But the GOP isn’t doing this for nothing. They get several benefits:

  • They get to paint themselves as victims; victims always get vaulted status and special breaks
  • They get to perpetuate the myth that the media is liberally biased, when the most-watched “news” network is essentially their 24-7 propaganda machine
  • They get to cry “election theft” way in advance, even as they set up the largest number of laws which amount to thinly-veiled election theft
  • They get to influence people’s reactions to the programming and smear Hillary, putting forth the assumption that any TV show about her will put her in a better light than reality
  • They get to “play the ref” with the networks, a tried-and-true technique whereupon accusation of liberal bias will shift network bias sharply to the right; in this case, either getting said networks to tone down any positive view of Hillary, and/or getting them to play up negatives so as to achieve “balance”
  • They get to hold fewer debates without looking like that’s what they intended all along
  • They get to avoid having debates on any network that won’t make them into softball beauty pageants, without looking like they are—as they indeed are—deathly afraid of any debate moderator actually acting like a real journalist and pointing out the GOP insanity oozing from their candidates.

The last two points are undoubtedly the most salient; the GOP was in part slaughtered in the previous election by their interminable primary debate streak, which brought forth almost every candidate (except the most reasonable, of course) as a front-runner at least once (and a couple at least twice), causing all the campaigns to expend great amounts of funds and energy fighting against each other, whilst providing tons of ammunition for the opposition, ammunition which was then weeded and honed into devastating attacks against the eventual party candidate.

The GOP, without much doubt, would love to limit the number of primary debates to a much smaller number and hold them in venues where they can carefully control the content and exposure—in short, making these debates, until now one of the few raw images of the process, into a scripted media event as fake and as controlled as every other.

They know that Hillary will be coming at them like a steamroller, and they know that women will vote in huge numbers for her, challenging and already very challenged Republican party. They have known this for a while, which is one reason they were so excited by Benghazi, because it meant they had a shot of “scandalizing” Hillary and shooting down her chances in 2016. The GOP is not daunted by failure, however, and continues their best to paint her as unfit. Take their brief attempt to characterize her as “too old,” for example. Expect this kind of thing to intensify.

There is another aspect to this attack which is disturbing in a different way: manipulation of media. This is hardly anything new for the GOP, but the prospect of a political party threatening the withdrawal of access on the condition of following a party’s demands on the networks’ programming is more than a bit disturbing. Of course, it has increasingly been the tone for the GOP, from the staged, part-faithful-only “town hall” meetings Bush favored to the increasing tendency of the media to accept highly conditional terms in exchange for access to a candidate. Sarah Palin’s “I’m only talking to Fox” technique is becoming the new norm for Republican candidates, who find their craziness and cluelessness harder and harder to conceal when the interviewer is not a partisan hack. And sometimes even then—remember Mitt Romney getting all flustered when a Fox interviewer was not all softballs and praise?

The difference with this level of interference, however, is the overt tone. The GOP is making a very open and plain threat: tailor your programming to our preferences, or we cut off your access. I do not think it has been done so overtly or outrageously before.

Here is the full text of the letter, with my comments in green italics:

Dear Mr. Greenblatt:
I’m writing to you to express my deep disappointment in your company’s decision to air a miniseries promoting former Secretary Hillary Clinton ahead of her likely candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

As an American company, you have every right to air programming of your choice. (Unless we disapprove, of course.) But as American citizens, certainly you recognize why many are astounded at your actions, (and by “many,” we mean “us”) which appear to be a major networks thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election. (Only Fox is allowed that, you should know that by now.) This special treatment is unfair to the candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2016 who might compete against Secretary Clinton (including Vice President Biden (like he’ll actually have a chance!), Governors O’Malley, Cuomo, and Hickenlooper, Senator Klobuchar and others (because all of those are serious contenders who have a real chance to… HAR! COuldn’t keep a straight face here, sorry.)) and to the Republican nominee, should Clinton compete in the general election.

There’s ample cause for concern. Executives and employees of Comcast, NBC’s parent company, have been generous supporters of Democrats and Secretary Clinton. David Cohen, Comcast’s EVP, raised over $1 4 million for President Obama’s reelection efforts and hosted a fundraiser for the president. (Funny, they had no problem when Comcast CEO Neil Smit was a big Republican donor.) Comcast Corp. employees have donated $522,996 to the president and donated $161,640 to Secretary Clinton’s previous campaigns. (How much went to Republicans? And if we surveyed Fox employees, what would we see?)

Your company has expressly stated that your choice to air the miniseries in the near future would avoid concerns of running afoul of equal time election laws. (Because we are really in favor of equal-time laws!) This suggests a deliberate attempt at influencing American political opinion in favor of a preferred candidate, not to mention a guilty conscience. (Again, that’s Fox News’ job!) Liberals complained noisily when Citizens United sought to air a pay-per-view documentary on Hillary Clinton prior to the 2008 election, and yet they’re conspicuously silent now that NBC is launching 2 miniseries on network television. (Because that is exactly the same thing—a political smear job by a Koch-funded conservative campaign group is equal to a non-affiliated TV network making a mainstream miniseries.)

I find this disturbing and disappointing. (That’s my job.) NBC cannot purport to be a neutral party in American politics, and the credibility of NBC News, already damaged by the partisanship of MSNBC, will be further undermined by the actions of NBC Universal executives who have taken it upon themselves to produce an extended commercial for Secretary Clinton’s nascent campaign. (Remember, Fox News is fair and balanced—no hypocrisy here!)

Secretary Clinton has been in the public eye for well over two decades, so you certainly cannot claim that a series about her political career is any sort of public service or informational docudrama on an unknown individual. (Because TV networks never make dramas about people who are well-known!) Quite the opposite is true: it would be most accurately described as an in-kind donation. (Which is really different than having your own 24/7 news channel.)

Out of a sense of fairness and decency and in the interest of the political process and your company’s reputation, I call on you to cancel this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production. (Or, make it about how Hillary killed Vince Foster. We’d love that!)

If you have not agreed to pull this programming prior to the start of the RNC’s Summer Meting on August 14, I will seek a binding vote of the RNC stating that the committee will neither partner with you in 2016 primary debates nor sanction primary debates which you sponsor. (Which is what we plan to do anyway, unless you agree to partner in name only while we control everything.)

I love the part where they state that such programs would be unfair to Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Klobuchar. It is actually hard to tell if they are trying to make fun of Democrats or are seriously positing these candidates as serious primary threats to Clinton.

Knocking Hillary

July 1st, 2013 2 comments

How do you know Hillary has a good shot at winning the 2016 election? Republicans are scared spitless of her. You can tell by the fact that the continuously declare her candidacy for 2016 dead. They thought that they had her at Benghazi, but that turned out to be worse for the Republicans, as Romney discovered to his chagrin.

Now? Her age.

Stuart Stevens, the top strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, declared to an audience of reporters at a breakfast last month that electing Hillary Rodham Clinton would be like going back in time. “She’s been around since the ’70s,” he said.

At a conservative conference earlier in the year, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, ridiculed the 2016 Democratic field as “a rerun of ‘The Golden Girls,’ ” referring to Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 70.

First, notice that they don’t say how old she’ll be—69—when she would be inaugurated; instead, they use the word “70′s” and compare her to a man in his seventies as well as fictional characters into their seventies.

And after all, Republicans never nominate old people to office. After all, Mitt Romney was a buoyantly chipper 65. And look at Dubya, he was no more than 54 when he took office.

But then we have Bush Sr., who was 68 when he started his second term. And, oh yeah, Reagan, who was 69 in his first term, 73 in his second. And John McCain, who would have started at 72. And oh yeah, Bob Dole, who would have been 73.

In fact, when the average age of 5 of your last 6 nominees was exactly 69 at the onset of a term they ran for, I don’t think you can go around knocking the leading Democratic candidate for being exactly that age when she would take office.

So, what’s next?

Categories: Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

In Case You Needed More Reminding that Republicans Are Flaming Hypocrites

May 20th, 2013 2 comments

It looks like the three “scandals” brewing for the last week are, by any objective standard, petering out. The IRS scandal was at low levels, and neither Obama nor his staff knew anything at a time when it was relevant, nor tried to cover anything up. There is no evidence that Obama could realistically have been expected to do anything that would have prevented the violence in Benghazi, and the editing of the talking points was an interagency scuffle which did not involve him, nor did it really have any significant impact in real life. And the AP phone record incident, while reprehensible, was pretty pedestrian as far as national security snooping has been for the past decade; ironically, it’s the kind of thing Republicans have been pushing for, and which the administration has, at least in principle, been trying to weaken.

None of this will stop Republicans and their PR machine from claiming they are scandals worse than Watergate-times-infinity-plus-one, however. Republicans desperately want a scandal to be there, and will never stop investigating, will never stop reacting in false outrage, and will never stop making baseless accusations which they claim are high crimes and misdemeanors.


Now, remember back in 2004, when the Bush administration was drowning in scandals—actual, real-life scandals, scandals which caused real and significant damage to our country and its principles—and the Republicans in Congress steadfastly refused to investigate?

Republican leaders in Congress have refused to investigate who exposed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration’s claims that Iraq sought nuclear weapons. They have held virtually no public hearings on the hundreds of misleading claims made by administration officials about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

They have failed to probe allegations that administration officials misled Congress about the costs of the Medicare prescription drug bill. And they have ignored the ethical lapses of administration officials, such as the senior Medicare official who negotiated future employment representing drug companies while drafting the prescription drug bill. …

There is a simple but deplorable principle at work. In both the Clinton and Bush eras, oversight has been driven by raw partisanship. Congressional leaders have vacillated between the extremes of abusing their investigative powers and ignoring them, depending on the party affiliation of the president.

Nor were they really trying that hard to hide why:

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, they not only avoided investigations, they deplored them as unpatriotic and damaging to the nation. They went so far as to make the claim that any such investigations would derail the business of government and cause us to plummet into an abyss of anarchy and terror. And no, I’m not really exaggerating here. They claimed that such investigations would literally cause terror attacks. Starting in early 2006, Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the RNC, sent out multiple fundraising letters which warned that Democrats would try to investigate, censure and impeach Bush if they took back Congress. This warning, for example, went out in March:

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?

Here’s another from May:

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.

Republicans continued to use this scare tactic even after Pelosi specifically ruled out any attempt at impeachment should Democrats take back Congress.

Of course, Democrats did win back both houses in 2006—and did not try to investigate, censure, or impeach Bush, despite having a long list of offenses which richly merited such attention.


So here we are, with Republicans in control of the House… and they are doing exactly what they said would ruin the country if Democrats did it, and for reasons far more spurious and illegitimate.

Like the post’s title said, this is nothing new. However, it does bear repeating from time to time when it is at peak tide.

Mandatory Religious Deference

April 2nd, 2013 5 comments

In the United States, we live under the protection of religious freedom. This means that, as far as government and the law are concerned, we may believe, or not believe, as we wish.

However, this is a legal protection, not a cultural one. Culturally, there can be all sorts of religious discrimination. More than that, there can be religious bullying.

Think of it in terms of working at an office where most of the people there are, let’s say, die-hard Dodgers fans. They not only hang Dodgers pennants and other paraphernalia up, they get offended when you put up a banner for any other team (especially if it’s bigger than their pennant). In fact, they get upset if you don’t put up a Dodgers pennant in your cubicle or office. They get downright pissy about it, in fact. A coworker emails everyone:

Can I just say how disappointed I am that the Dodgers won yesterday, but Linda chooses to celebrate by hanging her daughter’s artwork instead.

And you know you’re going to catch all kinds of dirty looks and snide remarks all day.

You would probably dread working in an environment like that. Not just because you’re the outsider, but because the majority of people there are such asses about the fact that you’re not—and that you’re not praising or worshipping them or their favorite things.

Well, welcome to the United States of America. Today, Google did not choose to represent the mainstream holiday or event (as is often the case) and instead chose to post something out of the mainstream—Caesar Chavez’s birthday, in this case.

Conservative Christians across the nation were offended. Some were livid. A few representative tweets:

Google thinks Cesar Chavez is more important than Easter. #whoareyou #happyeaster

Why is Jesus not on google but Cesar Chavez and his 86th birthday is ???

Wow. Congrats Google, youve managed to alienate all Christians in America today: instead of celebrating Christ, they celebrate Cesar Chavez.

That last one has just about the right ring to it: fail to put us above and before everyone else, and you risk our wrath. Many reported their intent to move exclusively to Bing.

Seriously, you would think that Google is a church or something, in that not recognizing Easter is completely out of character, a slap in the face. Since when has it become a requirement for businesses to genuflect? Why expect them to celebrate Easter with a special graphic? Why on earth would you get upset if they don’t?

“You said ‘happy birthday’ to Mark on his birthday, but not to me on mine? Well, don’t expect me to give you the time of day from now on!”

Yes, it is just that petty and pissy.

Not that it is anything new. You know about the infamous “War on Christmas,” right? Same thing. It consists mostly of Christians whining about how a few people are saying “Happy Holidays” instead of joining the popular chorus of “Merry Christmas.”

“Happy Holidays” is inclusive: it includes Christmas, but also everyone else. It’s perfect when you are speaking to a large number of people or are unsure of what holiday a particular person celebrates.

“Merry Christmas,” on the other hand, while perfectly fine for addressing someone you know celebrates the holiday, happens to exclude anyone who is not a Christian.

Demanding that retailers say “Merry Christmas” and forbidding them to say “Happy Holidays” is like men demanding that crowds be addressed as “Gentlemen” only, and getting all offended when “Ladies and Gentlemen” is used instead.

Seriously, if you hear “Merry Christmas” two dozens times a day, hear Christmas carols on nearly every radio station, see special Christmas episodes of most of your favorite TV shows, are bombarded with Christmas decorations and jingles everywhere you go… is it really going to put you out that much to hear the occasional business cheerfully wishing you a happy holiday?

If you can’t be satisfied with hogging 99% of the pie and then sharing the last sliver with others, then you’re a whiny, selfish, self-centered ass.

And you’re giving Christianity a bad name.

Honestly, would you want to be a Dodgers fan if all their followers were dicks?

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

The Annals of Selective Quoting

March 29th, 2013 3 comments

Republicans love to characterize Democrats as “Tax and Spenders.” They love to paint themselves as frugal. The problem is, they spend just as much as the Democrats, only with an emphasis on different things—and since they despise taxes, that makes them the party of “Tax and Borrow,” the party of “Tax and Debt.” Republicans are the chief architects of this nation’s debt; there is no question at all of that. And yet, fantastically, they try to blame it all on the Democrats.

Currently, Republicans are fighting a daily battle to blame Obama for all the debt, as if Republicans had not been handed a surplus by a Democrat, as if they had not obliterated that surplus in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy and massively costly wars and porkbarrel spending, as if they had not characterized the paying off of debts as a hideous injustice against taxpayers, as if $10 trillion in debt did not exist before Obama was elected, as if that debt was not chiefly created by Republicans, as if Obama had not been handed stupendous debts in a tail-spinning economy, and as if Obama had not been successful at lowering those deficits despite Republicans’ best efforts to make Obama fail.

In the latest round, John Boehner sent a memo to House Republicans, in which he cited Lincoln—a favorite pastime for conservatives vainly desperate to score on Lincoln’s gravitas. Boehner wrote,

The book Congressman Lincoln by Chris DeRose, which I recently read, includes a chapter focused on Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to help craft a new national agenda. At one point in the book, young Lincoln warns that government debt is “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate.”

“[Government debt] is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute,” Lincoln warns his countrymen in Congressman Lincoln. “An individual who undertakes to live by borrowing, soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and next no one left to borrow from –- so must it be with a government.”

Well, it turns out that if you go to the source material for that quote, a campaign circular for the people of Illinois from March 4, 1843, you find that the quote is indeed authentic, and indeed Lincoln laments debt.

But here’s the thing: the very next words after that quote are,

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe this alternative is now denied by no one.

In other words, the very next words in Lincoln’s missive are a conclusion that revenues be raised—the precise solution Boehner and House Republicans have been fighting relentlessly to defeat! Not only that, but Boehner even quotes around Lincoln’s argument for taxation; Boehner cherry-picks the part about debt “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate,” but conveniently leaves out the very next sentence; the whole quote is,

By this means a new National debt, has been created, and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate—a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness, either to increase the tariff, or resort to direct taxation.

Not just that, but Lincoln himself advocates tariffs over direct taxation not because he dislikes taxes, but because tariffs target the rich:

In short, by this system, the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.

But wait, it gets even better. Lincoln, as it turns out, was on Obama’s side, as pointed out by Greg Sargent:

Lincoln was also a firm believer in spending public money on infrastructure and boosting the economy.

As an Illinois state legislator, Lincoln was a leading proponent of using the proceeds from sales of public lands to pay for the digging of canals and building of railroads. As a member of Congress, Lincoln defended the idea of federal subsidies for internal improvements. Indeed, Lincoln was an ardent believer in Henry Clay’s “American System,” which was heavily predicated on government sponsored internal improvements and was one of the most significant instances of government intervention in the economy in the country’s history.

“Lincoln was a tremendous advocate of government spending on infrastructure and economic development,” leading Lincoln historian Eric Foner told me. “As president Lincoln presided over a tremendous increase in government spending, not just because of the war but also on the Homestead land grant system and aid to construction of the transcontinental railroad.”

Huh. How about that. Lincoln wanted to raise revenues on the backs of the wealthy and use the money to pay off debts and invest in infrastructure improvements.

Well, Boehner? Any comments about how Abraham Lincoln was a Commie Socialist Fascist?

Unfortunately, the fact that a Republican, whose party has left us in financial ruin, attempts to heap blame on another man after repeatedly sabotaging that man’s efforts to alleviate that ruin, should selectively quote Lincoln in an effort to defeat Lincoln’s principles… well, let’s just call it “par for the course.”

Republicans, as if it is not obvious, and as if I have not said this repeatedly, are the most egregiously asinine lying hypocritical dirtbags you can imagine.

Descent into Absurdity

January 27th, 2013 3 comments

Wow. After Republicans use every dirty word in the book against Democrats, and attempt to vilify every word in liberalism that’s not dirty, they get all offended at Obama for name-calling.

What unspeakable name did Obama call them?

“Right-wing.”

Yes, the party of “political correctness is fascism” is now seriously offended at being called “right-wing.” Which means that Fox News and the vast majority of those in the conservative media must have Tourette’s Syndrome.

And no, I am not making any of this up. This comes directly from David Avella, President of GOPAC. He appeared on Bill Maher and acted like the president was being so unreasonable and insulting. His words:

AVELLA: The president also talked about not making absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. This is a week before he sit and name-called and made critical of Republicans in his last press conference! So which Barack Obama are we going to get?

MAHER: What did he call them? What name did he call them?

AVELLA: Oh, he talked about “right-wing Republicans,”…

MAHER: That’s a name-call? “Right wing”?

AVELLA: Sure.

MAHER: “Right wing” is a name-calling now?

AVELLA: It is a name-calling.

Words fail me.

Oh Really.

January 24th, 2013 3 comments

I’ve mentioned before about conservative projection, whereupon right-wingers will have a certain quality or perform a certain act to an extreme, and then accuse their opponents of exactly that.

John Boehner:

And given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history. I’ve been in these spots before. I remember November of ’06, January of ’07 — we’ve been through these periods before. And you know, our members get down, our supporters get down.

Republicans have savaged liberals over the years.

They have viciously attacked the Democratic support bases. If you are a social or political group which provides any substantial backing for the Democratic Party, the GOP will demonize your reputation and work night and day to destroy you as a group. Unions have been brutally decimated by conservatives. Teachers have been made into pariahs. Groups like ACORN, which tried to raise voter registration in poorer communities, was literally obliterated. The list goes on. If you are a significant supporter of Democrats, you go on the hit list, and it is not a metaphorical one: the Republicans will destroy you.

Conservatives have vilified Democratic causes. Reproductive rights was transformed into near-demonic support for murdering babies in the form of the “partial-birth abortion.” Equal rights for non-white male groups were depicted as “special privileges.” Secularism and fairness in religious belief was drawn as a “war on Christianity.” Racism was said to not even exist in our “color-blind” society, where the real evil was Affirmative Action, which somehow made life hell for poor white males. Minorities were told that not only should they not complain about racism, but that they should feel devalued and ashamed if there was even the slightest chance that they received favor through some form of Affirmative Action at any point in their lives.

Republicans have pulled every trick in the book to destroy Democratic voting rights and efforts. While they make completely baseless accusations of Democratic fraud after their own thorough investigations revealed nothing, they attempt to bring back Jim Crow laws even more destructive than ever to block Democratic voting. They resort to all manner of fraud, from voter caging to bogus felons lists. They attack Democratic voter registration organizations and shut them down. They gerrymander the crap out of states, even outside of census cycles, and are now set upon ramming through electoral vote distribution based on gerrymandered districts so that a Democratic candidate for president could win a state like Pennsylvania by 10% of the vote but get only 5 of 16 electoral votes for that state, and would still lose the national election even if they won the popular vote by 10 million ballots.

Politically, they leave only scorched earth. They now besmirch any form of compromise. Complete and utter obstruction is their policy when out of power, and ramming everything through wile leaving the other party in the dark is their policy when in power. If even their own policies become adopted by the other side, they suddenly turn and call them vile.

For Christ’s sake, conservatives have even done their best to make Democratic names into slurs. The campaign to smear the word “liberal” worked so well that many liberals now avoid the word and use “progressive” instead. To this day, conservatives refuse to utter the modifier “Democratic” and instead childishly say things like “the Democrat Party,” in an attempt to disassociate the party from its core values, while pushing the “DemocRAT” slur they so smugly adore.

All of this while their extremist PR arm, Fox News, works 24/7 to ludicrously defame and condemn anything Democratic or liberal, aided by bastions of “news” outfits, think tanks, bloggers, and action groups.


After all of that, Boehner says that Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party… why? Because Obama outlined a strong agenda in his second inaugural speech?

That doesn’t just break irony. It vaporizes it. It reaches back into time and makes sure that irony died as an infant. It is so far beyond irony that it would take the light from irony two billion years to reach it.

And yet: conservatives will take this statement seriously.

The Republican Party is dying not because the president wants to get rid of them—something which, sadly, he has more or less done the opposite of—the GOP is dying because it is becoming so extreme that it is making extremists shake their heads in dismay. It is dying because their supporters are dying while the groups they vilify are growing.

Are You a Conservative?

January 13th, 2013 2 comments

Five years ago, I put up a post titled, “Are You a Democrat?” I asked questions which I felt demonstrated values held by those on the left. The list still holds true, which I take to support the idea that they are indeed representative of principles and values of liberals, and not just for-the-moment causes or rationalizations.

For fun, I thought I would re-post it—in reverse—and ask the questions if they were to point in the opposite direction. While it is true that the two extremes are not always polar opposites, reversing these questions is a fairly good yardstick. Here they are, followed by clarifications and elaborations below:

  • Do you favor going into debt instead of paying for what you get? Do you prefer perpetually maintaining your debts as opposed to paying them off?
  • Do you support only the parts of the Constitution you find appealing?
  • Do you believe that people who have more should support society less?
  • Should people with certain talents and background be treated better than others beyond basic remuneration?
  • Do you believe it is the role of society to tell people what they can and cannot do in their private matters?
  • Do you agree with the idea that everyone in society should fend for themselves, as opposed to everyone supporting each other?
  • Do you favor waiting for something bad to happen and paying greatly for it over paying a lower but immediate cost for preparation and prevention?
  • If you feel certain that a man is guilty, but cannot definitively prove it, would you punish him even though it means there is a chance you are punishing an innocent man?
  • If treatment for a crime works better than punishment, would you favor punishment instead of treatment anyway?
  • Do you respect people more for being effective than for being honest?
  • Do you believe that true patriotism means never criticizing your own country even when it is clearly wrong, or denying that it ever commits a wrong?
  • Could you support the statement “America is better than everyone else in the world” over the statement “America is as good as anyone else in the world ”?
  • Do you believe that your leaders should be average Joes instead of intelligent, people who excel at their work?
  • Would you rather hear news that makes you feel good rather than the truth? Do you feel confident that you are always right on important issues?

I know a lot of conservatives would see this as an unfair or inaccurate portrayal of their values, but that would be more an artifact of their own internal inconsistencies. Inconsistencies between what they say and what they do, sometimes between what they say and other things they say, and all to often, between what they believe and what instead is real.

Do you favor going into debt instead of paying for what you get? Do you prefer perpetually maintaining your debts as opposed to paying them off?

Conservatives paint themselves as deficit hawks who hate spending. The problem is, they primarily act this way only when the other party is in power, or when it comes to programs they do not support. However, they consistently spend more and tax less, a policy push that was prominent under Reagan and skyrocketed under Bush 43—a policy which is a certainty to create deficits. The Bush years are absolute proof: given a budget surplus, they incurred massive spending increases and revenue decreases, leaving the nation $5 trillion more in debt than when Bush arrived, and the yearly deficit at the level of $1 trillion per year and rising fast.

Conservatives say that they hate debt—but only when a Democrat is in the White House. When they hold the presidency, debt is not important, or is even useful. Nowadays you will hear many Republicans say that they were against the deficits racked up by Bush, were against the pork and uncontrolled spending by fellow Republicans, and spoke out against it. Funny how we never heard them during the years they claimed to be speaking out, nor did any of their words sway their fellow conservatives one bit.

In the end, despite what conservatives say, what they do is more important—and what they do is to borrow and spend, in ever more massive amounts.

As for perpetually maintaining that debt, remember that when we were just beginning to get budget surpluses and so could pay off our national debt, conservatives argued that a surplus meant taxes were higher than they needed to be, and therefore we should cut taxes. In short, never pay down the debt you have accrued.

Do you support only the parts of the Constitution you find appealing?

This should be self-evident. Total dismissal of the Ninth Amendment, disparagement of the fourth through eighth, and the virtual enshrinement of their specific interpretation of the second. The ninth is dismissed because it grants the right to personal privacy, a right that conservatives do not wish to be recognized. William Rehnquist himself defined a strict constructionist as someone who will “generally not be favorably inclined toward claims of either criminal defendants or civil rights plaintiffs.” And the Second Amendment, clearly an outdated “historical document” if there ever was one, obviously refers to militia and not personal ownership (although personal rights to keep and bear arms are, ironically, guaranteed under the Ninth Amendment).

I could go on—in particular in regards to how the First Amendment is considered—but I think the point is clear.

Do you believe that people who have more should support society less?

Do I even have to explain this? Recent events make this painfully clear.

Should people with certain talents and background be treated better than others beyond basic remuneration?

This is a bit tougher, as it overlaps universally accepted areas of meritocracy, and what one might define “better treatment” to mean. However, the question is not posed to mean whether you agree or disagree about people getting a better salary if their talents or efforts justify it; I think everyone agrees that this should be the case, no matter what the nutballs on Fox & Friends seem to think.

What I mean in this question regards what could be called a “level playing field.” If your background is that of a poor family, should your education, at the very least K-12, be less than that of someone from a wealthy family? Should your baseline health care be significantly worse? Should the opportunities you are presented—not what you do with them, but just the doors that are opened for you—be less? Should people of equal talent be forced to work harder and perform better in order to receive equal benefit?

If you are a conservative, this is what your stand on the policies generally says. Wealthy families get to have a first-rate education while poor families get crap; people who cannot afford private insurance deserve to die alone and cold in the street; people with connections deserve them, no matter how much they hinge on accidents of birth or other forms of discrimination; and women, minorities, gays, and other groups discriminated against deserve no “special rights” to protection that white males do not need because they are not even remotely set back by such discrimination. Again, you may mouth approval of equal treatment, but when it comes to what you will actually approve and support, reality differs greatly with the platitudes.

Do you believe it is the role of society to tell people what they can and cannot do in their private matters?

For all of the right-wing talk about individual liberty and freedom, and how conservatives just want to be left alone, this sentiment only applies to them when it is something that they want to do, like owning guns and not paying taxes. When it comes to anything else, including things that do no harm to anybody, they make every effort to push their way into the lives of others and tell them what to do.

Their views on sexuality allow them to tell you who you can have sex with, how, and whether or not you are allowed to wed. Their beliefs on when life begins allows them to dictate whether you can have an abortion or even take a day-after pill. Their ideas about the value of life allow them to tell you that you have to suffer horribly for months or years with an incurable illness which has robbed you of any meaningful existence, destroying your family and your own dignity as you go, as they decide whether you have the right to put a merciful end to your life. Their values of what drugs are dangerous allows them to drink and smoke as much as they want, but allows them to tell you that you’ll go to jail for smoking marijuana.

But if they begin to stockpile military grade weapons with no safeguards in their house next to where your kids play, you have no right to tell them anything, no matter what the threat to your children’s safety.

Do you agree with the idea that everyone in society should fend for themselves, as opposed to everyone supporting each other?

Again, recent events make this painfully clear.

Do you favor waiting for something bad to happen and paying greatly for it over paying a lower but immediate cost for preparation and prevention?

Again, there is a void between what is said and perhaps believed, and what comes to pass. If it is an imaginary threat of nuclear war, you will feel your answer to this is “no,” but in practice, it has led to paying greatly rather than otherwise.

When it comes to providing a quality education, maintaining strong infrastructure, deploying preventative medicine, and a host of other wise and profitable long-term investments, the answer is a definitive, “Hell yes we shouldn’t pay for that stuff!” “Let the private sector do all the work,” you’ll say, and they won’t, and we’ll pay the price.

In general, conservatives are all too often short-sighted in such matters, preferring immediate gratification in the short run rather than building vital foundations in the long run.

If you feel that a man is guilty, but cannot prove it, would you punish him even though it means there is a chance you are punishing an innocent man?

This is another of the fuzzy ones, as “proof” is often conflated with guilty verdicts. This refers in part to those who would feel it better to be safe than sorry, and/or to convict on faith rather than fact. In a larger sense, this question is intended to refer to the death penalty as well as recent “national security” policies which ensnare innocents in a panicked rush for security or justice, and the fact that conservatives usually seem to prefer to sacrifice the archetypal innocent man lest, not one hundred, but even one guilty man go free.

If treatment for a crime works better than punishment, would you favor punishment instead of treatment anyway?

Again, do I really need to go in to this. Not just recent events, but the events of the past half century make this one rather clear-cut. Conservatives see treatment as coddling, as unnecessary spending (again a reference to pound-foolish avoidance of prevention), a dodge for people to milk the system, or simply as a way for liberals to avoid blaming people for their own actions. Any and all of these are easier than actually recognizing what has been proven again and again, as it would then lead to the next step of actually acting on it.

Do you respect people more for being effective than for being honest?

Then why did you vote for Mitt Romney? Not the best example though; he was neither effective nor honest.

This question actually came out of the debacle of the Bush administration and the recent decades where conservatives prefer lying bastards who can get the job done over honest people who do what is right instead of what is popular. I have heard more than one conservative state a direct preference for the former over the latter, and certainly conservative behavior in general bears this out.

Do you believe that true patriotism means never criticizing your own country even when it is clearly wrong, or denying that it ever commits a wrong?

Once more, need I even explain? Conservatives hate any American who suggests America has done wrong (except when it’s about Democrats they happen to despise). Bombing Hiroshima, going to war in Vietnam and Iraq, covert meddling in politics in the Middle East and Central America, the genocide of American aboriginals, so forth and so on. The entire swagger about “American Exceptionalism” and “Apology Tours” make their stand on this clear.

Could you support the statement “America is better than everyone else in the world” over the statement “America is as good as anyone else in the world ”?

This is an extension of the point above. Again, it should be obvious.

Do you believe that your leaders should be average Joes instead of intelligent people who excel at their work?

There are some fascinating contradictions here. First, they sneer at those they call “elites,” a term which should indicate actual intellect and capability. What they mean, of course, is the definition wherein the “elite” are “a small group of people who control a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power.” Does that describe Obama? Biden? Clinton? Carter? Mondale? Dukakis? Kerry maybe, but most Democrats? Nope.

How about Romney? McCain? Bush? Recent GOP candidates and presidents have not just been elites, they have been extreme elites.

Conservatives claim to detest “elitists,” and yet they vote for them over and over again. Mitt Romney was the epitome of an elitist, both Bushes were elites (the first literally and the second by association), and even Reagan was a rich movie actor—if he were liberal, they’d use his Hollywood connections to vilify him as elitist. In contrast, Obama, Clinton, and Carter all had very humble roots. You’d have to go all the way back to Kennedy to find an elected Democratic president who could be called an “elitist.”

Here we see an interesting contrast: GOP candidates tend to be far more rich, entitled, and elitist, but Republican voters always claim they want the man they vote for to be an ordinary person they’d feel comfortable having a beer with.

In a more specific sense, conservatives paint those they call elite as people who think they know better than anyone else. That, however, describes pretty much everyone, including themselves. Nevertheless, conservatives usually loathe the idea of highly intelligent, capable leaders.

Would you rather hear news that makes you feel good rather than the truth? Do you feel confident that you are always right on important issues?

Do I even need to mention Fox News? Not that this is the entirety of the extent that conservatives feel this way, but it stands as an exceptionally clear example of it. Regarding faith as more important than reason and facts is another. Self-doubt is hardly endemic among right-wingers.


Finally, there is one last question, not in the list, which would really nail you down as a conservative:

Will you, upon reading this list of questions, ignore it, dismiss it, argue not the list but rather set up straw men, or attack only the least persuasive point within the list, instead of either answering each point honestly and in detail with reasonable logic and cited basis in fact, or, heaven forbid, regarding this list seriously to reflect on your values?

Or, instead of that, I might just as easily have asked, “Did you quit reading long before you got to this question?”