Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Interpretations, interpretations



(It's remotely possible that some might find the above video mildly offensive, despite its undeniable relevance to the issue at hand.)

This is interesting. The United Church of Christ is suing North Carolina over its same-sex marriage ban, claiming that it suppresses freedom of religion. As a church, they choose to perform same-sex marriages, and the law prevents their exercise of that religious pursuit. Seems like a legit argument.

Meanwhile, the response of the North Carolina Values Coalition (gotta love their use of "values"), opponents of same sex marriage, says everything you need to know about them:

“It’s both ironic and sad that an entire religious denomination and its clergy who purport holding to Christian teachings on marriage would look to the courts to justify their errant beliefs,” Ms. Fitzgerald said in a statement. “These individuals are simply revisionists that distort the teaching of Scripture to justify sexual revolution, not marital sanctity.”
Talk about blindness and about missing the point by the width of the River Jordan. Religious freedom (a concept about which they and the rest of "values" voters and every Palinesque evangelical I've ever heard blow hard on the subject know less than zero) is precisely NOT about hewing to one and only one view of one and only one version of one and only one holy book. It's kind of like, how to say it, the fking opposite!!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pound Sterling



Gotta admit to mixed feelings about the Donald Sterling tempest. He doesn't sound like the kind of guy I'd want to have over for dinner. Seems like an asshole, at least to the extent that those private conversations reflect who he is.

But there's that "private conversations" thing. Had he said what he said in public; had he made racist comments to his players, or to the press, I'd feel a lot more strongly. As it is, by whatever means and for whatever reason, thoughts he expressed with no intention of having them made public, and which had no effect on anyone other than, presumably, his young-enough-to-be-his-granddaughter girlfriend, became public, in what seems like a violation of his privacy.

I mean, geez, we assume the NSA has heard that stuff from him for years, right? And I'm hoping not every word they have on me ends up out there, either.

So now he's banned for life, fined two and a half mill (a pittance compared to his wealth), and may be forced to sell his team, for words he reasonably believed would never be heard beyond his wherever it was. I dunno. If you're a jerk in the woods, does it make a sound?

Far as I can tell, he's a nasty guy. And he got screwed.

[Image source]

Monday, April 28, 2014

By George



Everything he says, every single word, every fleck of spittle, each perfectly placed profanity, is exactly correct. Particularly, as I've written till I'm sick of it, the part about deliberately dumbing us down. And the why and the how. Fox "news." Right wing radio. Theocratizing our schools, our halls of government. The better informed, the more educated the public, the worse their prospects.

Why repeat the obvious at this point, when the people who ought to be rising up and fighting back clearly don't give a shit and never will? When red states and red districts keep electing those sorts most deserving of Carlin's tirade?

Well, only because of this little dustup, wherein the Heartland Institute, like the Tea Party cleverly named to evoke red-blooded patriotism of the Bundy Ranch sort and faux grass-roots gestation while actually funded by the Kochs and other oligarchs, tried to hijack ol' George's rant, Foxifying it by cropping out the context*, and selling it to their predicably propagandized and mendaciously misinformed substrate.

What better example (except for all the others) of their soulless manipulations, of their complete disrespect for their careful creation, the Tea Party? They (the manipulators) assume they (their target audience) are idiots, because they've spent years making it so.

And, as usual, they're right.
____________________________________
* Hannity played parts of Stewart's takedown, leaving out the clips, as he's done before, that showed his (Hannity's) hypocrisy.

Friday, April 25, 2014

In A Nutshell


Not to mention that it designates as "patriot" a guy who doesn't recognize the Constitution of The United States or the government it established, and who has refused to follow the law or accept his obligations under it.

To me, the definition seems a little loose. Like their grip on reality.

[Image from somewhere on Facebook]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Art Of Deflection And Denial


(h/t Mike Thompson)

Game, Set, Match



George Packer is a smart guy. Here's an excerpt from an interview with him, about his recent book, The Great Unwinding:

In the introduction of the book you write unwindings and rewindings in American history, periods when the institutions that bring Americans together fall apart and then new ones are built. Do you think now that these issues are being discussed so widely that we’re poised for a rewinding?
I think millions of people simultaneously becoming aware of a wrong state of affairs, a bad social arrangement, does not immediately translate into tools to remedy it. First of all, we don’t have the structures that traditionally have repaired or averted threats to our democracy — which is what I think this is. We don’t have a functioning Congress. We don’t have a public school system that gives citizens what they need to be active citizens. We don’t have a court system that understands that equality remains an elusive goal. We don’t have a media that knows how to focus on something like this in a way that actually informs people, gives them the information they need.
That says it all, really. Everything I've been trying to say about where we are, where the current iteration of the formerly useful Republican party has led us, and left us. They, and their disinformation-rich media conglomerates. Mr Packer (and I, among lots of others) sees it as a problem. Those Rs, though, their disingenuous mouthpieces, and, depressingly beyond description, their targeted audience, see it as mission accomplished.

[Image source]

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just Another Day At The Schwab House...

video


Taken from our front yard. We've lived here for 32 years, and this is the closest Orcas have come. Pretty cool.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Pledge Allegience



I'm in the midst of an eight-week online course on global climate change, presented by the Scripps Oceanic Institution. The above is one of the optional bits, a brief detour from intellectual curiosity to the reality of what happens when half the country is Foxolimbeckified.

In short, we're screwed. The US is so far off the rails at this point that there's no way back on track. And it's getting worse by the hour: Fox "news" turning outlaws into heroes, fairly begging them to shoot someone. Haters shooting someone. Kids shooting someone. Legislatures turning schools into churches of denialism. Shoe-truthers sprouting like fungi. We're an insane nation, a stupid nation, a frightened nation, long since given up on facing reality with a sense that it can be dealt with. Sinking to the bottom, playing each other for fools, turning to the worst traits of frail humanity and elevating them onto altars.

There was a time when the US led the world in education, in invention, in scientific discovery, in optimism. In generosity, in standing for individual rights, especially toward its own. Now, thanks to the deliberate deceptions of right-wing media, we've become the opposite, speaking of exceptionalism while rendering it true in only the most destructive of ways. Rejecting science, laughing at expertise, ginning up hate and blame, turning to magic. A once-respectable political party, now a haven of insanity and rejectionism. Supported, beyond belief, by half the country. It's too hard. We've made the world too complicated for those who prefer easy answers, and they've thrown in the towel, tossed their lot with the people who refuse to help in any useful, realistic way.

I can barely stand it any more.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coming To A Theater Near You



Currently playing at our local theater: "God's Not Dead." "Heaven Is Real." "Son Of God." "Noah."

Currently heard everywhere on right-wing media: "Christianity is under attack."

Currently being readied for teaching in public schools across the country: Hobby Lobby president's Bible study course. (He says he hopes it'll become mandatory.)

It is, of course, entirely consistent with the current, and highly successful, strategy of the teabagging R party: the big lie. The deflection. The distraction, the claim of the opposite. While pretending it's their religion that's threatened, they carefully work to eliminate all vestiges of religious freedom for everyone else in the country. Under the false flag of victimhood, they deliberately move us ever closer to theocracy, cheered on by their poor martyred followers, ignored by the press.

[Image source]

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Virtual Reality



Here, at last, is the deal: Barack Obama was "virtually" born in Kenya. Settled. Finally.

Similarly, it turns out Scott Brown, according to John Sununu, was virtually born in New Hampshire. How cool is that? No carpetbagger, he. I mean, other than a silly boundary line, Maine might as well be New Hampshire. Right? Matter of fact, if you want carpetbagging, look no further than current New Hampshire Senator Jean Shaheen. Why, according to Mr Sununu, since, like most Democrats most of the time, she votes similarly to the Massachusetts delegation, well sir, she's damn near the "Senator from Massachusetts." Says he, evidently forgetting that only a couple of years ago, that Scott Brown fella was the actual senator from Massachusetts. You wanna go with the born-there native candidate, though, you'll have to look entirely elsewhere.

That, folks, is today's R party in all its glorious nut-shelled and nut-cased mendacity. In order to deflect the obvious truth of Brown's carpetbagging, they're gonna run him on the claim that his opponent is the interloper. It's like that Congressional bag-lady of the tea kind who just got up and claimed it's the Republican party that's been fighting for equality for women. I guess all those "no" votes were a rear-guard operation.

That's some industrial grade bullshit on all counts. But do they have reason to think they can get away with it? Well, of course they do. With the entire right-wing media lined up to tell their audience that bullshit tastes like chicken, and with that audience happily reaching for their forks, who the hell wouldn't?

Why those folks who still dare call themselves Republicans haven't awakened by now to the level of disrespect shown them by their "leaders" is beyond me. They can't all be that damaged, can they?

[Image source]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Reality Can Be A Bitch



Facing facts is not something today's R party is particularly comfortable (or experienced) with. When reality is so bright as to be impossible to ignore, things get interesting. Like these surprisingly open-eyed words of an R Congressional aide:

...One congressional GOP health aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly, said his party is as determined as ever to fight Obamacare, and will remain so as long as it exhibits failure. He said devising an alternative is fraught with the difficulty of crafting a new benefits structure that doesn't look like the Affordable Care Act. 
"If you want to say the further and further this gets down the road, the harder and harder it gets to repeal, that's absolutely true," the aide said. "As far as repeal and replace goes, the problem with replace is that if you really want people to have these new benefits, it looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act. ... To make something like that work, you have to move in the direction of the ACA. You have to have a participating mechanism, you have to have a mechanism to fund it, you have to have a mechanism to fix parts of the market." 
It sheds light on why Republicans haven't yet followed through on the "replace" component of their "repeal and replace" mantra, more than four years after Obamacare was enacted. The popular parts of the law, most notably the preexisting conditions guarantee, are unsustainable without unpopular parts like the individual mandate. Unraveling the parts people dislike means unraveling the whole structure, and rebuilding the well-liked elements is difficult without arriving at a similar place as Obamacare...
Step away from the comfortable confines of Foxolimbeckian fawning and spin, from the insular world of teabaggers wherein a thing becomes fact simply because they wish it so, and the real world can be a tough place, huh?

[Image source]

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Could Be...


Teetering



There's nothing a good Republican of the teabagger sort hates more than activist judges. I mean, geez, just look up "activist" in their dictionaries and you see liberal judges making all sorts of heavy-hammered decisions based on, on, well, on stuff they don't agree with. Privacy. Civil rights. That kind of thing.

And yet can anyone think of a more "activist" (i.e., twisting the Constitution like a pretzel to achieve a pre-conceived result) ruling than the conclusion that "corporations are people" and that "money is speech?" Scalia and Thomas like to refer to themselves as "originalists." So where in the First Amendment does the original text equate money with speech? What money is, is money. What's speech, is speech. (In fact, reading the quite spare First Amendment, our founding patriarchs went out of their way to mention separately freedom of speech and freedom of the press. One might conclude, therefore, that freedom of forming words with one's mouth, and freedom of newspapers to write what they want, is what's protected. Writing, not talking, by individuals? Not mentioned by name. Maybe, since I'm not in any way a member of "the press" this blog isn't protected at all. Now there's originalism!)

Well, of course it's reasonable to extrapolate and claim that the founders were okay with private citizens writing stuff, although it's hard to prove they had cyberspace in mind. But to equate money with speech? That can only be seen as a ruling out of thin air, designed to give political advantage to the most wealthy and powerful. No one can call that anything but judicial activism of the highest order.

Likewise, the creation of corporate personhood is an undeniable example of judges making law; the very thing that conservatives have, until melanosis overtook the country, considered anathema.

Politics is nothing if not a breeding-swamp of hypocrisy. If all sides do it, and they do, the last five years of Republicanism have taken it to heretofore unseen levels. Line 'em up and count the transgressions, stick 'em on a seesaw and watch which end sinks.

[Image source]

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Would It Take...


... for teabaggers finally to reject people like this (not to mention the "news" sources that give them a soapbox.)

Dicks, The Lot Of Them...



Read Charles P. Pierce on the US torture program:

... For years, our herd immunity on these matters consisted of a general consensus that there were some things that the United States simply could not do and remain the country we told ourselves and the world that we were. We believed that there were things that were unthinkable, and that kept us at least partly safe from an outbreak of our worst impulses. That herd immunity will not be rebuilt easily. It will take a steady intellectual and political inoculation against the worst in us all. And we must contain the spread of the infection as best we can, and not listen to those people who tell us that what always has worked in the past for us endangers us now.
Dick Cheney, the anthropomorphism of the word "abomination," remains a hero to our far-right wing, trotted out regularly on their Bolshivekian, propagandistic airwaves and allowed to excrete his poison at will. The shame is all of ours, but not all of us are at fault. That designation remains the sole property of those freedom-loving Americans with teabags on their hats and Foxolimbeckian offal in their brains.

[Image source]

Monday, April 7, 2014

Their Worst Nightmare


Floodgates


Anyone who believes in democracy as it used to be known, and who sort of likes the idea of government being responsive to regular folk, ought to be damn upset and really worried about what the Supreme Court has done to campaign finance legislation.

You'd think, even as the usual right-wing 5/9ths argue that money is speech, that they might also recognize the corrupting effects of allowing the voice of a very few to be heard preferentially over those of the majority of voters. But not those guys. "Corruption, or the appearance of corruption?" Ain't never heard of it, they. All the R pretenders sliming their way to Las Vegas to grovel at the feet of Shellout Adelson? Corruption? Just because Lindsey "I love America more than you do" Graham, after receiving tens of thousands of dollars from M. Adelson, introduced legislation written by the man's lawyers, designed to tamp down his competition? Why, I swear, that's no more corrupt than a lily of the field. The very idea!

John "Balls and strikes means balls to me" Roberts can't be so dumb as to not recognize the effects of his ruling, so blind as to not see what's going on. No, he's doing exactly what he's been wanting to do to the idea of free and fair elections, to the idea of equal voting rights for those of different persuasion from himself, since well before he buffaloed his way onto the bench. And he's now in a place from which he can wreak his violence to democracy, unchecked, without fear or pretense that he's doing otherwise.

No corruption from unlimited buying of politicians, he says. Racism in voter suppression a thing of the past, he says. Staring at a portrait of Boss Tweed and reaching under his robe...


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