Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, July 6, 2015

Plagues Upon Us

Can any rational person -- and I take it on faith and a certain amount of experience that there remains a few some among today's conservatives -- deny that these people are completely nuts?

It’s only been five days since the court issued its ruling, but conservative pundits have already predicted that gay marriage will ultimately be responsible for natural disasters, terrorist attacks and the destruction of freedom. 
1) Terrorist attacks While there haven’t been any terrorist attacks against the U.S. since the court’s ruling, whenever there are, anti-LGBT activists will know who to blame: ... Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, linked the marriage equality decision to the reported July 4 terror threat. Declaring that there will be “some consequence” to this “unbelievable affront to God,” Rios suggested that “the terror threat against this nation has gone up exponentially” as a result of the marriage decision.   
2) Forced gay sex The right-wing warnings of “forced homosexuality” are now coming true, at least according to one pastor...
The article goes on. And on. Several more bullet points.

If thinking were a thing, one might think that at some point, when all of these apocalyptic things fail to happen, the suckers will begin to realize they've been sucked. But they're still claiming Obama is coming for their guns, nearly seven years into a non-gun-coming presidency. So, no, I guess not.

It's worth commenting on the "forced gay sex" thing: looking for an excuse, ya think? It reminds me of a joke my grandpa liked to tell. Short version: an observant Jew is traveling through Texas, and stops for a bite to eat. A Texan offers him half his ham sandwich and the man demurs. The Texan offers him a beer, and again he refuses. (My grandpa managed to make this about a five-minute dissertation.) Finally, the Texan gets pissed off and pulls his gun. "Listen, stranger, around these parts we don't cotton to unfriendly visitors. Now drink the damn beer." So, trembling, the Jewish man takes a sip of beer. And says, "Hey, as long as you have the gun on me, would you mind passing the ham sandwich."

So. Yeah. Forced gay sex. And don't fling 'em into the briar patch.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015


It came to me today on my morning walk, and admittedly it was hot as hell and my brain might have overheated some. But it all makes sense, that rejection of science, facts, expertise that has come to constitute today's Republican party, which, in turn, is made up of so many of a particular sort of Christian. And here it is: THEY'RE GIVING BACK THE APPLE! 

It's all about original sin, that evil woman who chose to learn stuff, that offensive act from which all of God's wrath, through generation after generation, by storm and pestilence and hemorrhoids and halitosis and by raining down homosexuals upon us all, has flowed.

THEY'RE GIVING BACK THE FKING APPLE!!! It ain't me, God, they're saying. I'm not the one who wanted to become enlightened about this world. See? Watch this. You can have it all back. So we're good, right?


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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Me, Too!

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Those Who Forget History...

This letter to the editor appeared in my local newspaper this morning:
Whether you agree or disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage, in my opinion, it was offensive to see the White House emblazoned in rainbow colors that evening. The White House is — and should remain — a symbol of all Americans, regardless of their beliefs.
Uh, ma'am? I think that's the whole point of the rainbow.

[Added: Surprise! Bill-O doesn't get it, either.]

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Monday, June 29, 2015

And Another Thing

If the job of the Supreme Court is to judge constitutionality, how is this relevant:
In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with industry and 23 states that challenged the Environmental Protection Agency over the rules for oil- and coal-fired utilities, which the EPA estimated would cost $9.6 billion dollars annually. The states and industry groups said the cost estimate far outweighed the benefits the rules would produce, estimated at $4 million to $6 million per year. 
The courts majority agreed, saying the EPA interpreted the regulation "unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants."
Why is cost an issue for the courts? The question, I'd think, is whether the agency has the power to regulate emissions. It does, or it doesn't. Yet again, far as I can tell, the "constitutionalist" wing of the court deems to legislate rather than adjudicate. I admit to not having read the whole decision; maybe there's precedent (although that seems only to apply when they so choose) for the courts deciding "undue burden" in cases like these. Maybe somewhere within they claimed there's no right to regulate. But if so, the cost issue would have been moot.

Laws are passed all the time that demand compliance without saying who is to bear the costs or where the money would come from, or without even addressing the issue of costs. I know there are some lawyers who read this. Maybe they could enlighten us all.

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Judging The Judges

Whatever else the conservatives on the Supreme Court may be, in their marriage-equality dissents they’re neither impartial nor innocent callers of balls and strikes, as Chief Justice Roberts famously pretended at his confirmation hearing.  (At least we can agree that “judicial activism” is defined, by all sides, as a decision with which one disagrees.) It doesn’t take much understanding of the law and the role of the Supreme Court to recognize that most of the verbiage in their dissents has nothing to do with it. Even Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the majority, poetic as it was in places, was full of irrelevance. Kennedy concluded:
“... It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

I agree, of course. But it’s only the last two sentences that are material; in fact, the whole opinion could have been rendered with those alone. Contrarily, the raging of Antonin Scalia couldn’t have been more unhinged. “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”

As every high school student should know, that is astoundingly wrong. Surely he’s heard of judicial review. He even alluded to it, with the words “except as limited by a constitutional prohibition.” That’s precisely the job of the court: to determine when laws violate our constitution. He may disagree with the conclusion, but to say that it’s inconsistent with our democracy is to ignore a basic American judicial principle, settled since Marbury v. Madison. To conclude that the Constitution allows discrimination against an otherwise legal class of citizens is to forfeit claim to the label “conservative,” not to mention “Constitutionalist.” So he went for smoke and mirrors.

To the smacks of foreheads everywhere, Justice Thomas asserted, “…Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved…” That’s some strict interpreting.

Other than a weirdly inappropriate anthropology lesson, Mister Justice Roberts was more temperate if no less wrong: “… It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people… or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer.” He’s right in his last sentence, but like Scalia, startlingly wrong in its application. Sure, this “redefines” marriage in the same way “Loving v. Virginia” did, and in the same way the Roberts court recently redefined “people.” But this was about equal rights under the law, nothing more, nothing less. It could just as well have been about the right of states to limit public schools only to heterosexuals, or to demand that they only include teaching the Bible. What could be a more fundamental role of the courts than determining whether the Constitution allows such things? Claims about love or children or Carthaginians on either side are extraneous. In making those sorts of arguments, the court IS defining marriage, which is NOT their job. Their job is to act when “the people” produce laws that are contrary to our Constitution, and when they do, to put a stop to it. Despite those bizarre dissents, that’s just what they did. If the furious four were what they claim to be, the decision would have been unanimous.

Predictably, and to the righteous waving of teabags, presidential candidates from the party of patriotism are lining up before the approving “journalists” at Fox “news,” to promise they’ll ignore the court. That’s much more than historical ignorance. It’s sedition, undisguised. Why do they hate America so much?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beyond Unbalanced

Having breakfast in a motel where we're staying while visiting the grandkid and those who brought him into the world, Fox "news" was on, loud, before I changed channels and muted it. (Can't be too careful.)

And there some panel was, still talking about how President Obama shouldn't have used the word "nigger," despite the context that should have been apparent to a third grader. And then one of them mentioned how he debased that song I'm sure they all sing every morning after taking the Pledge of Allegiance and agreeing that the Supreme Court must be ignored. "Amazing Grace."

Who can consider that network anything but nonstop and base propaganda? Their motto is the ultimate example of Orwellian -- or more accurately, Politburo -- use of language. And that kind of crap spews into people's homes round the clock, their listeners lapping it up as if from a trough. Can there be any question why our politics are so polarized, our president so reviled by the Foxified? God, it was awful.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Amazing Grace


I'm no legal scholar, but it seems to me pretty obvious, and the decision could have been written in a single paragraph rather than a hundred or so pages: same-sex marriage is constitutionally protected for the following simple, clear, and inarguable reasons:

1) Equal protection under the law for all citizens is at the core of our Constitution and of American values. 
2) Sexual preference is not a matter of choice any more than is color of skin, and, therefore 
3) The only basis for considering homosexuals undeserving of equal rights is a religiously-based one and, therefore 
4) Since the Constitution forbids raising religious law above civil law, there is no Constitutional basis for preventing same-sex couples the right to marry, and, also 
5) No state has the power unilaterally to remove Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.  
6) Period.
And, oh yeah: No one is forcing anyone to marry a person of the same sex, nor will any given house of worship be required to perform such a marriage. Also obvious.

(Added: As moving as the final paragraph of the decision is, it's only the last couple of lines that are legally relevant: "They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." See? Simple.)

(More: also obvious: preventing same-sex marriage harms an innocent group of citizens. Allowing it harms no one.)

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The Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act is perfect. I refer to Republican presidential hopefuls, all of whom went into full programmed outrage mode, written no doubt before the decision was even handed down. Others have said, but it's worth repeating: surely it's exactly what they hoped for. Now they can rail and rant, continue their false claims of a socialist government takeover, etc ad nauseum without being called to account. Not needing to produce alternatives -- for now, anyway -- they can simply fan the flames of misinformation, misunderstanding, and misguided resentment and, as they see it, ride them to victory.

Good call, Mr Justice Roberts. It's a win-win. Your guys are off the hook, millions of Americans retain access to health insurance.

My dad, a lifelong Democrat, an Oregon state supreme court justice and, later, chief judge of the court of appeals, told me a few times that he admired Antonin "not pretending anymore" Scalia as a brilliant jurist. One of the things I miss most since Dad died is the talks we'd have about the law and about politics. I always found his opinions insightful and profound. I'd love to know if he'd still hold Scalia in esteem. I'm pretty sure not. His dissent in the Burwell case, while entertaining, is partisan and bitter (failed) activism, very loosely wrapped in faux legalese (sez I, not a lawyer) and that's the way he's been for a long time.

[Added: here's a better analysis than mine.]

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Not Much To Do Between Lecturing On Abstinence, Evidently

I know, I know, schadenfreude is unbecoming. Shame on me.

Bristol Palin: Sarah Palin's Daughter Announces Pregnancy in Blog Post 
"I do not want any lectures and I do not want any sympathy," Palin wrote. She did not provide any details about how far along the pregnancy is, or who the father is.

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What Would Sam Do?

In what world would it be news that a Republican governor and potential presidential candidate would bravely announce his intention to uphold the law of the land? Oh, yeah. Ours.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Wednesday that if the Supreme Court strikes down his state's ban on same-sex marriage, he'll "abide" by the decision. 
"If the Supreme Court rules another way, they are the court and the law of the land, and we will abide by it,” Kasich, a potential 2016 presidential contender, told reporters ahead of an appearance at a caucus candidate forum. The two-term governor has not yet announced he's in the race...
The fact is that several if not all R presidential candidates have proudly stated their intention to ignore the law if the Supreme Court makes a decision with which they disagree. As I've written, this amounts to sedition. To use such a position as a platform from which to run for the presidency of the United States, whose Constitution they'd be swearing to uphold, at the very least disqualifies them from serious candidacy. And it shows in how little regard they hold the most fundamental aspects of what this country stands for. It's beyond bizarre.

But what about today's Republican party, at least as represented by its leaders, isn't?

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Latest Newspaper Column

Here's my latest column in the local newspaper.
Only hours after the murders in Charleston, as if the horror itself wasn’t enough, the reprehensible reactions from the right made me feel like rolling into a ball and crying. 
When the president said, “… this type of violence doesn’t happen in other countries,” I knew, as sure as the planet is warming, that, despite his next sentence, “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency,” the damage was done. Right-wingers jumped on it like Chris Christie on a tuna sandwich. Now we can talk about Obama politicizing, coming for our guns, and, as usual, ignore the heart of the issue. And ignore it they did. 
“This is an attack on religious freedom,” preached Rick Santorum. “There are people out there looking to kill Christians,” warned Lindsey Graham, presumably from under his bed. Jeb Bush couldn’t imagine what the motivation might be, nor could Governor Nikki Haley; Marco Rubio couldn’t either, but managed to reaffirm his faith in the Second Amendment. Rand Paul intoned, “It’s people not understanding where salvation comes from.” Ted Cruz said that Christians across the country were mourning the loss, not bothering to mention anyone else, while Rick Perry referred to it as an “accident,” plus prescription drugs. Predictable as December rain, the NRA blamed the assassinated minister. On Fox “news,” Steve Doocey found it beyond his capacity to understand how anyone could call it a hate crime. “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,” said the killer to a parishioner before opening fire, his clothing bearing logos of apartheid countries. “You have to go.” Online, he was even worse. No. He wasn’t talking about Christians. 
A slog through right-wing websites found them excreting the whole loathsome litany: It’s a hoax, a “false flag” excuse for confiscating guns and imposing Sharia law. Obama is a Nazi, Jews control the media and Obama planned it. There was more, lots more, and I’ll spare you the rest. But the message is clear: we’ll not talk about race, we’ll not talk about guns, but we will revel in our ignorance and call it truth. What produces such people? How does their hate get that strong, their denial so pervasive? 
NRA-bullied legislators are too cowed even to consider reducing access by criminals and the mentally ill to guns. And what does it say about our culture that the man’s parents chose to gift him with one, given his history? (Of course, you don’t come to embrace those views in a vacuum.) We know it’s not racism though: the right has informed us it is no more. The Confederate flag? Not about racism, but proud heritage. If you’ve forgotten on what heritage the Confederacy was founded, their vice-president stated it very clearly as the Civil War began, and maybe we need a reminder. After the murders, the flag flew at full mast in South Carolina. 
Why is it so hard for today’s Republicans to admit there might be a problem with racism in this country? They’re all moochers, they tell us. When there’s violence, they were “asking for it,” “no angels themselves.” They’re “thugs.” It’s whites who are victims. “Laziness is a trait in blacks,” recently said Donald Trump, who’s amazing. So-called conservatives have no problem claiming Obama is “divisive.” When might they concede that Foxolimtrumpian rhetoric has an effect, too? It’s as if they think that even uttering “racism” will cause their throats to constrict and their brains to leak out of their ears. What are they so afraid of?

There goes Obama, dividing us yet again, wail “conservatives,” outraged. Yet when their leaders hustle the Christian persecution pretense on which, in the absence of workable policy, they’ve chosen to run, that’s just fine. Clearly it’s impossible for a once-great political party even to consider that gun violence needs addressing, or that, despite Barack Obama’s election, racism might still exist, and I wish I understood why. 
If both sides are politicizing, liberals are pointing out actual problems, while today’s “conservative” leaders are pushing phony claims of a war on religion. And nothing will change. With half the country in denial, choosing ignorance on this and on so much more, nothing will ever change. Who wouldn’t weep? Who wouldn’t despair for our country?
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Bill "Always Wrong" Kristol Is Still Wrong

See, the thing is I'm pretty sure that those fighting for the Confederacy didn't consider themselves "Americans." Because that was sort of the whole fking point.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Flagging Enthusiasm

I believe the term is "pyrrhic victory." Sure, I suppose it's a good thing that South Carolina -- and maybe other states will follow -- might remove the Confederate flag from its capital (that is, assuming the idea will get 2/3 yes votes in each legislative chamber.) Symbolism is symbolic, after all.

Call me a cynic, but I don't think racism and resentment will end with the last flop of the flag in the wind. Might even increase, given that, well, it's symbolic of stuff. It will if Rush has anything to say about it.

Either way, let's see how long it takes after the flag unflies for the Foxolimbeckians to claim, see, there's no racism, just like we've been saying. (Not long.)

Oh, and there's more good news: turns out anti-Semitism is over, too.

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Those Who Fail To Understand History...

Because a favorite talking point of "conservatives" is that they're the party of Lincoln, and that the South used to be Democrats. Because they haven't noticed what happened since, I guess.

Must be those Texas history books.

Proving The Adage

Even the most loathsome of people can on occasion say or do the right thing. In the case of today's Republican leaders, props to two of the most usually repulsive: Lindsey "they'll kill us all" Graham and Ben "Obama's a sociopath/Nazi" Carson. The former called for the Confederate flag to be removed from the capital of his state, while the latter stated the obvious, which, in today's version of that party is wholly unexpected and unusual, no matter the topic. The murders in South Carolina were racially motivated, he allowed, alone among his fellow presidential contenders, far as I know.

S.C. Governor Nikki Haley called for the removal of the flag, too, so other than her years of defending it, good for her. She made a point of saying racists should feel free to flag their own property, of course, but she's in a state where not reassuring such people could cost her the next election.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Also, The Sun Rises In The East

Isn't this about as obvious a thing as there is?
Anyone recall when the Justice Department, under Eric Holder, said the same thing and the right-wing screamers went nuts? Maybe this time, since it's cops, they'll listen.

Yeah. Sure they will.

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