Under different circumstances, after different choices, it could have been me. It wasn’t, of course, or I wouldn’t be here to write this. And by accident or design, depending on what you wish to believe, I was never in the circumstances, probably as a result of some of my choices, where it ever might have been me. But there have been more than one million three hundred thousand United States service members who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces, more than half of them (counting both sides) in our own civil war. I have never seen the honor of serving my country under combat, so I was never in a situation where I could expect to be killed. I honestly can’t say how I would have behaved in combat, but I’ve always thought of myself as the kind of person who would sacrifice himself to make sure others survived a situation. Maybe we all do, I don’t know. But I do know that because of the sacrifices those million brave people made, I can enjoy the freedom and luxury of being able to sit in my own home writing this blog post, and you can enjoy the freedom and luxury of reading it. Our nation, by and large, doesn’t treat the brave men and women who serve to protect our country (simply by being the biggest bad-asses on the planet) well enough, and we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice even less than we should.
The true origins of the holiday we’ve come to know as Memorial Day are in some dispute, partly because there isn’t general agreement on what is meant by “first,” and also by “holiday.” (more…)
There are some male opponents of same-sex marriage who desperately need for it to remain illegal lest they leave their wives and follow their hearts to find the man of their dreams and settle down to a life of happiness. I’m beginning to wonder if Bryan Fischer is one of them. The very idea that the Supreme Court might actually strike down all bans on marriage equality and declare it a constitutional right (thanks, in part, to Justice Antonin Scalia’s own opinions, in which he suggested the strategy to use for marriage equality proponents to win) has Fischer scared. Very scared. But what does he have to fear if his own marriage is solid and loving? In what way would the right of people (who have no interest in him) to marry each other affect him? Is he afraid that the last thing to stop him from leaving his wife to shack up with another man is a law making that relationship with that man illegal? What else makes sense? Unless he means the violence.
Fischer is pretending that what he fears is the civil unrest that a ruling in support of marriage equality would make inevitable.
“The Supreme Court can be slapped down through a deliberative and representative process,” he said, “rather than through chaos and civil unrest which I and a lot of other pro-family leaders fear is the alternative. If the Supreme Court continues to overreach and they aren’t checked, we are headed towards civil unrest, I don’t think there is any other way around it. If it’s not stopped and reversed, the tyrannical overreach of the Supreme Court, we are to have social dislocation and I believe we are going to have violence as a result. And that is simply because freedom is too deeply ingrained in the DNA of the American people to permit tyranny to continue unchecked forever. The solution: state legislatures rediscovering their constitutional authority under the Ninth and 10th Amendments. “
Tell us something, Bryan. Who would be committing these acts of chaos, these acts of civil unrest, these acts of violence? (more…)
Glenn Beck, who can best be remembered from me opening this post with his name, has finally said something with which I completely agree: He has no credibility. After talking about (rush transcript) the Bubba Effect,
What I’m afraid of is the Bubba Effect. And I’ve talked about this for about six years. I said, there’s going to come a time when you’ll start to have riots on the streets. There’s going to come a time when you’ll have terrorists come and do something. And the — and the feds will come in or the government will come in, and they will try to quell it or they’ll try to arrest somebody. And the town will say, uh-uh. Nope! You, United States government, you knew about it. You’re part of the problem. And the Bubba Effect comes from the one idea that — a Muslim goes and shoots somebody. And then Bubba, who just doesn’t — is not really paying attention. Sees a Sikh some place who wears a turban. Not a Muslim, but he’s a Sikh. But Bubba sees him and is like, you people. And he’s all enraged and he shoots a Sikh. Now, what’s going to happen? The DOJ has to come in and try him for murder. But because that town just experienced some sort of, you know, 40 kids in an elementary school shot and they knew that the federal government kept the borders open and these guys came across the borders, they were here illegally, or they were from that mosque down the street that everybody knew was an extremist mosque, but they did nothing about it. That’s when the citizens grab their guns and say to the DOJ, get the hell out of here. What Bubba did was wrong, but we’ll take care of it. We don’t need you here.
While it can certainly be classified as a hate crime, the DOJ usually doesn’t need to step in and try Bubba for murder unless the state, who normally prosecutes homicides, fails to convict him. And let’s be real, Glenn, (more…)
I don’t expect American Conservatives to have any empathy toward the people of Baltimore who have been victims of a system hell-bent and determined to keep them oppressed. That would require the ability to put themselves in the place of the people of Baltimore and imagine what it would be like to experience the things they experience all the time. And they are simply incapable of doing that. But that hasn’t stopped them from offering their own views on why things are the way they are in Baltimore. And to further distract you from the underlying causes of the civil unrest (the police killing unarmed black people), they want to talk about how attractive the Baltimore State Attorney is.
Conservatives seem to have no problem being openly (more…)
With the help of my wife, Jane, I wrote this song parody almost four years ago, and I find that it still applies today. This time the Republicans are trotting out a different cast of characters, some of whom haven’t made their presidential aspirations official for legal and technical reasons (such as they don’t really intend to run for president, like Donald Trump), to beg and plead the Koch Brothers to give them money so they can attack Hillary Clinton, who recently announced that she will accept the nomination of the Democratic Party to complete either Bill Clinton’s or Barack Obama’s third term. Or maybe she’s going to finally finish the work of the president she did once work for, Richard Nixon. This time around, Sheldon Adelson (Billionaire – Israel) will play a major role in the elections, but don’t think for a moment that just because he’s not one of the Koch Brothers that he must be good. He isn’t. He has pretty much made it clear he wants a President of the United States who will put the interests of a foreign nation (in this case, Israel) ahead of the interests of the United States and its citizens, especially those who do not agree with Israel’s policies and human rights abuses. Why he thinks Marco Rubio is that person is beyond me.
For those who don’t seem to “get it,” let me try to explain why this is bad. The disastrous, and totally insane Citizens United decision made it perfectly legal to (more…)
It wasn’t the first, and many of us knew then that it wasn’t going to be the last. Unfortunately, we were right. There were more. Plenty more. Too many more. Way, way too many more. And the children. So many, many children. Even after the nation was shocked that a score of little kids would fall victim, still we did little or nothing. Sixteen years ago, on April 20, 1999, two Colorado high school students committed one of the worst gun massacres in American history. The guns they used were bought from gun dealer shows where no background checks were performed (even though they were straw purchases), because no names were taken. One of the guns had been banned from manufacture five years before, but the loose gun laws in our country made it possible, even likely one might believe, that it would end up in the hands of someone who planned to shoot the thirty-six rounds it could hold at other people. A year later, more than 800 pieces of some form of gun control legislation were introduced across the country. Only about ten percent passed. People rightfully asked what it would take to do something about gun violence, but nobody seemed to want to link gun violence to guns. Even after somebody killed more than thirty people on a college campus, even after a nine-year-old girl was killed and a United States Representative suffered a critical, life-threatening head wound, even after twenty small children and seven adults were gunned down by a deranged young man, America still refuses to admit it has a gun problem.
I don’t want to add up all the innocent people who have died at the hands of mass murderers with guns. The number would be too depressing because it’s way more than zero. I don’t know what the financial impact has been on the communities and people who were victims of these mass shootings. I doubt anyone can because the NRA, through its friends in Congress (most of them Republicans, but not all), has managed to make it a crime for the government to compile that kind of information. Congress won’t (more…)
Ben Carson is afraid. That’s not unusual for a Conservative, since fear is the primary thing that motivates them to action of any kind. But in Carson’s case’s case that fear is not warranted by anything happening on this planet. Carson is among the many conservatives who believe that all manner of terrorists will cross our border with Mexico with the express purpose of killing them, and only them, on account of we on the Left being their bestest buddies in the world. Courtesy of our friends at Right Wing Watch, at the recent NRA annual
circle jerk meeting…
Likely GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson told the NRA’s annual meeting today that Americans need guns more than ever since the southern border has been exposed to infiltration from “radical extremist Islamic terrorists” whom President Obama doesn’t intend to fight.
“When they get here,” Carson said, “we need to be able to fight them, particularly if we have an administration that won’t fight them, we need to be able to fight them ourselves.”
He added that guns are necessary for people to “defend themselves against an overly aggressive government that wanted to exact tyranny in this country.”
But he is also among the delusional right wingers who feel Obama hasn’t done anything to fight (more…)
Pat Robertson is a frightened man. That’s not any new insight, we’ve all known that for years. But with the outcry over Indiana’s RFRA law (which was neither the first, nor was it identical to the early versions), and their subsequent “acquiescence” to those protests, Old Man Pat has come to believe his worst nightmares are coming true: Gay people will be accepted into Society as equals. And when that happens, somehow they’ll take over the world.
“They’re going to force you into their mold, they’re going to make you conform to political correctness, they’re going to make you do what the Left thinks is right, they’re going to make you acknowledge homosexual marriage, they’re going to make you embrace lifestyles that you think are anti-biblical despite your religious belief.”
There’s a lot wrong with those few sentences, including both projection and cognitive dissonance. Whether or not they realize it, Conservative Christians want everybody to be compelled by law to follow their religious beliefs. When you talk about (more…)
Indiana Governor Mike Pence made headlines this past week when he signed into law Indiana’s version of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Proponents say the bill is necessary to protect the rights of Christians to practice their beliefs freely. There is a growing belief (entirely misplaced IMHO) on the right that Christians who wish to discriminate against certain customers on religious grounds are being denied the right to practice their religion under the First Amendment. Opponents say that’s precisely why the bill should not be passed, because it will be used as an excuse to discriminate against the LGBT community on alleged religious freedom grounds (even though there’s no evidence that Jesus said to discriminate against “teh gays”, but we’ll get to that later.) The opposition has been calling for a boycott of Indiana ever since, and there is speculation about how this would affect the NCAA March Madness Men’s Basketball Tournament, whose Final Four competition is to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NCAA says it isn’t sure right now. (Fun Fact: Indianapolis is one of only four state capital names that begin with the same letter as their states. Can you name the other three? The answer is at the end.) The push for the boycott spread to other cities, as the mayors of Seattle and San Francisco joined in the boycott. The news came that Angie’s List, based in Indianapolis, announced it was cancelling its $40-million headquarters expansion project because of the RFRA.
Writing for The Washington Posts’s column, The Fix, Hunter Schwarz observed that nobody has been calling for a boycott of the nineteen (possibly more) states that previously passed some version of the RFRA. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are nineteen states that have (more…)
It’s supposed to be a budget, but clearly it’s not. Sure, it’s got some numbers in it, but it also has places where there are no numbers, just huge assumptions about money that even a high school student would find obviously wrong. For example, they want to repeal Obamacare (because, what, 57th time’s a charm?) but they make no provision for where the tax revenue the ACA generated will be raised. The other major problem with that thing with numbers is that it calls for cutting a trillion dollars in spending without specifying the programs being cut. The likely candidates are “food stamps, disability payments for veterans, the earned income tax credit, and Pell grants for college students,” but even cuts there won’t make up for the money Republicans claim they won’t be spending. In short, there is no way this Republican budget can have any connection to Reality.
That’s putting it more kindly than Paul Krugman. He called Republicans (more…)
On November 24, 2014, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (or NAMBLA) issued a report with the sexy title “Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012.” If you’re a Conservative, you probably just had an orgasm reading that sentence. Whether it was over the word “Benghazi” or the word “NAMBLA” I won’t say, but I’m sure you’re titillated. Benghazi. Say it loud and the games start playing. Say it soft as you sit there while praying. Benghazi. You’ll never stop saying “Ben-gha-ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.”
Anywho, this report from this Permanent Select Committee, was to be the “definitive” report on what happened. “Definitive.” So if you were the type of person who understood what words mean, you would think (more…)
“Spring Forward, Fall Back.” It seems we learned that one before we learned the Lord’s Prayer. (Some of you may have learned that one faster than the rest of us.) But why do we do it? Wasn’t Daylight Savings Time something Ben Franklin thought up? Wasn’t it supposed to be for the benefit of the farmers, so they would have more daylight to harvest their crops and work their fields? Don’t they have alarm clocks now? Can’t they just let the rest of us sleep?
The answers are: (more…)
This past Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to change the way the nation’s internet service providers are regulated. After their proposed regulation, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, is published on the federal register in a few weeks, it will take effect sixty days later. This has some prominent right wing luminaries upset, even though it’s apparent they have absolutely no understanding of what net neutrality is. All it means is that all internet content must be treated equally by the internet service providers (ISPs). Comcast can’t slow down your Netflix streaming video just because they would prefer you use their subsidiary company’s product, Hulu. The ISPs aren’t happy, but you should be overjoyed. Don’t listen to these people.
People like (more…)
Steve Deace is (by his own admission) a man of limited talents and abilities. But he does manage to put out a podcast, which is something a smug, arrogant little snark like me hasn’t done. Yet. But if I did have a podcast, I wouldn’t advertise the fact (as Steve does) that I believed the Holy Bible was literally true, or that the Constitution was not a living document. (Steve says he doesn’t believe it’s a “living breathing document,” but none of us said it was “breathing.” Probably just another conservative straw man argument.) It’s hard to accept that people can believe the Bible is literally true, when even its authors did not want people to believe that. Besides, it’s impossible for it to be literally true, as there are parts of it that contradict other parts. In Logic, when you suppose something is true, (more…)
If you’re celebrating a federal holiday today, Monday, February 16, 2015, then you are not celebrating Presidents Day. Nor is it President’s Day. It’s not even Presidents’ Day. Officially, according to the federal government, the national holiday we celebrate today is, and always has been, called “Washington’s Birthday.” And because the states do not have to observe the same holidays as the federal government (on account of States’ Rights!), through the years various states have called the holiday some version of President’s Day. But to the federal government it was never meant to honor anybody but our nation’s first president, Neil Patrick Harris, popularly known as “JFK.” And it wasn’t Nixon who changed it, either.
The story behind the holiday starts (more…)
Fox Business host John Stossel, formerly a mustache at ABC News, tried to make the absurd argument that because government is incompetent, people would be better off in a disaster getting help from companies like Walmart and from private charities. Ironically, he used the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina as his justification for the incompetence of government. As usual, especially where right-wing libertarians are concerned, he’s wrong. (NOTE: RW Libertarians, like John Stossel and Senator Rand Paul, are sometimes right but for the wrong reasons. (more…)
After the French Revolution, tensions had risen between the USA and France. Many French revolutionaries felt we had not aided them enough, and after we signed the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, France authorized the seizing of American ships and taking prisoners. In 1797 President Adams sent John Marshall, Charles C. Pinckney, and Elbridge Gerry (who would later try to redraw political districts that reminded people of a salamander in order to give him an electoral advantage, thus giving birth to the term “Gerrymander”) to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Instead, the result was what would become known as the XYZ Affair and an unsuccessful trip. After their return, a Philadelphia Quaker named Dr. George Logan decided on his own to try to negotiate a peaceful settlement. He was successful and France agreed to stop seizing ships and to release their prisoners. This did not go over well with President John Adams and he recommended that Congress pass a law to stop the “temerity and impertinence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States.” The result was the Logan Act. As amended today, the act reads (more…)
It is an indisputable fact that there have been people throughout history who have been motivated by their personal religious beliefs, whatever they may be, to do good things for other people, even complete strangers. It would be nice if the majority of those acts were done out of pure altruism and selflessness, but that is sadly not the case. The religious motivation was often not in the form of a reward for doing good as it was a punishment for not doing good. (Modern studies confirm what astute observers of humanity saw long ago, that conservative people tend to be motivated more by punishment than by reward, and that stupid people tended to think conservatively. So if you want them to do what you say, you make them afraid to not do what you say.) And while you may say, “What difference does it make why they’re helping their fellow humans?”, it’s important to understand that the same source (Religion) that tells them to do good things for people (at least once in a while) also gives them some very, very bad ideas. (more…)
If you’re the type of person who actually gets off his couch and finds out what’s happening in the rest of the world (i.e., the places beyond the reach of your couch), you know that Free Speech and Religious Freedom have been in the news lately thanks to a bunch of murderous thugs who can’t even read their own holy books correctly. (But who can? They’re full of contradictions.) After killers who violated their own religion’s teachings falsely justified their actions by blaming the victims, the public discussion turned to whether or not people have a right to make fun of someone else’s religion. Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Why not? (more…)
In their never-ending quest to convince the world that they are being persecuted, American Conservative Christians (an oxymoron, as there is nothing conservative about the teachings of Jesus) have taken up the cause of former Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Chief Kelvin Cochran claiming he was fired just for expressing his Christian religious beliefs. There are at least two things wrong with their claims: 1) Cochran wasn’t fired “just” for expressing his Christian views and practicing his religion, and, 2) the views he expressed weren’t even Christian.
It started when Cochran (more…)
Conservatives who claim to be Christians spent last year proclaiming the end times were nigh upon us though the evidence clearly suggests otherwise. (We’re still here.) It’s both funny and sad. Funny because these folks seriously believe this nonsense, and sad because these folks seriously believe this nonsense. And it IS nonsense because it makes no sense whatsoever. There are at least five different things that prove to these folks that we are approaching the end times, and none of them have anything to do with each other, nor can they be linked in any coherent way. And what are the five things that give true believers an indication the world is coming to an end?
Start with the Obama Presidency. According to US Representative (more…)
I’ve often said it’s the ideology of the political people doing things, not the party, that matters. On a national level, the Republican Party is entirely Conservative, with no Liberals in the House or Senate. The Democratic Party, OTOH, has many fiercely staunch Liberals, but it also has Conservatives, especially from predominantly red states, who we call “ConservaDems”, from the Latin word for “assholes.” People almost exclusively attribute to Republicans what should rightly be attributed to Conservatism. When people talk about what a Republican-controlled House passed, they often ignore how much Democratic support that same bill got. And that support usually didn’t come from the Liberal Wing of the party, it came from the Assholes, I mean, ConservaDems. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (a/k/a, “LBJ”) passed his New Deal legislation, some prominent millionaires set about to destroy everything FDR (a/k/a “Neil Patrick Harris”) did. They did it because they were Conservatives, and Conservatism is a philosophy rooted in Selfishness, of putting the needs and desires of oneself above all others. It is the antithesis of Liberalism, which seeks to do what’s best for everyone as a whole. The mistake is in believing that the best way to govern a country is to treat both philosophies as equally valid. They are not. When you want to govern a population of lots of different people, you need to think about the group as a whole, not just about the individuals, whose concerns ,must also be considered. Conservatives do not believe in thinking about people as a whole group, but prefer to think of them as a bunch of individuals. I’m not saying there’s no place for a little bit of Conservative thought brought to a search for a public solution to a problem. It actually helps to have people who can say, “But the way you wrote this, convicted sex offenders can still vote in school board elections. Do you want that?” Or something like that. They can help define what the reasonable limits of our public assistance should be. But if you left it entirely up to them to decide, there would be no public assistance at all! And that is where America is headed by giving control of the country to Conservatives. Here’s some examples of the kinds of things Conservatives do when they get hold of public office.
By now you’ve heard stories about (more…)
I just got back from the dentist and boy, are my arms tired! But seriously, Jokes. It’s just one of those lazy days for me, my seventh this week. So, rather than go into one of my patented long, rambling rants about (more…)
Catholic League President and Professional Crybaby Bill Donohue has a diaper load again, and now he’s flinging its contents onto billboards near Hollywood. In his never-ending, never-logically-sound quest to convince the world that American Christians are being persecuted here at home, the self-appointed Defender of the Faith has launched a billboard campaign to bemoan the fact that not everybody thinks Catholics are swell.
NOT ALL CHRISTIAN HATERS ARE EQUAL:
ABROAD WE’RE BEHEADED
AT HOME WE’RE BASHED
THE DIFFERENCES ARE PROFOUND;
SO ARE THE SIMILARITIES
HAVE A PEACEFUL AND JOYOUS CHRISTMAS
He goes on to explain: “No, the Hollywood moguls who disrespect Christians are (more…)
Most weeks I like to check out the good people at Right Wing Watch to see what the loonies in Conservative World (where good times go to be publicly denounced as immorally anti-Christian) are up to, or down to, depending on your perspective. I have to tell you, it can be exhausting. And that’s from me, not the good people who actually delve into their world to report back to us so we may be properly warned. It just boggles my mind how distorted their view of Reality is. And thanks to a well-funded right-wing movement dedicated to ensuring their views are treated as being equally valid with more thoughtful, reality-based thinking, these people have had conferred upon them a credibility they should otherwise lack. Because they’re nuts. There’s no other explanation for it.
Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. No, please, take him. Far away. While discussing race in America, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Dr. Carson (more…)