Pick Wayne's Brain

April 20, 2015

Sixteen Years And Not Much Better

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:26 AM

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…)

April 12, 2015

Guess Their Home Planets

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:55 PM

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…)

April 5, 2015

Conservatives Think About Gay Sex A Lot

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…)

March 29, 2015

Indiana Wasn’t First, Connecticut Was, But Not For The Reasons You Think

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…)

March 22, 2015

It’s Clearly Not A Budget

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:26 PM

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…)

March 15, 2015

Again With The Benghazi?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 11:12 PM

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…)

March 7, 2015

The Spring Forward Position

Filed under: Commentary, Science — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:05 AM

“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…)

March 1, 2015

How The Right Gets Net Neutrality Wrong

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:16 PM

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…)

February 23, 2015

How The Right Gets The Rule Of Law Wrong

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:16 AM

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…)

February 16, 2015

It’s Not Really Presidents Day

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…)

February 9, 2015

Right Wing Libertarian Stupidity

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:33 AM

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…)

February 2, 2015

Speaker Logan?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 11:08 AM

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…)

January 25, 2015

We Can Thank Religion For These Horrible Ideas

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 4:45 PM

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…)

January 18, 2015

Freedom to Misunderstand Free Speech and Religion

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…)

January 10, 2015

Poor Persecuted Christians – Not!

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…)

January 4, 2015

The End Is Not Near

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…)

December 20, 2014

Conservative Governance

Filed under: Commentary — Wayne A. Schneider @ 10:56 AM

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…)

December 13, 2014

Lazy Day

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…)

December 6, 2014

Who’s Condemning Me Now?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 3:26 AM

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…)

November 29, 2014

Debunking Right-Wingers Is Exhausting

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:11 PM

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…)

November 22, 2014

This Week in Paranoia: Facts vs. Freakery on Obama’s Immigration Reforms

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:50 PM

President Barack Obama announced earlier in the week that he would later be announcing several reforms to the immigration system, largely because Republicans have been reluctant to pass anything in the House to address the issue. So, as he has said many times before in an ultimately failed effort to spur the House to pass the bill the Senate sent them, the president said that if Congress failed to act, he would. They didn’t, so he did, and now they’re totally freaking out. They’re claiming they now have grounds for impeachment (actually, some of them said this before he made the official announcement, based on nothing more than their own imagination about what the president would actually say) because the president is trying to ignite a civil war, and that citizens must resist “by any means necessary” any attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, and that it’s all part of a plot to not only guarantee millions of future Democratic voters, but to turn the United States into a Third World country and because now there will be all kinds of voter fraud (you just know it.) None of these fears are reality-based.

The calls for impeachment really crack me up because (more…)

November 8, 2014

That Was No Mandate

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:49 AM

If you’ve been paying any attention to right wing media this week (and I hope for your sake you’re well paid to do so), you’ve been hearing the “M”-word thrown around a lot – “Mandate.” Conservatives running the gamut from Hannity to Ingraham to Limbaugh to Rove (okay, maybe that’s not the whole gamut; maybe it’s just B-flat to C-flat) have been claiming that the Republican gains in Congress Tuesday night represent a mandate to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as “the reason so many people have health insurance when they couldn’t get it before, or, “Obamacare” for short.) Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they’ve been telling a lot of lies to make their point.

Writing an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (I won’t link to it since it’s subscription, but the MMFA article has one), Karl Rove claims that the results proved Americans’ “disgust with a six-year liberal experiment.” Yet just one week before, (more…)

November 1, 2014

The Fall Back Position

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:05 AM

Tonight Daylight Savings Time ends. For now. We move to the Fall Back position. If you live in a part of the United States that, oh, what’s the right word, “celebrates”? “participates”? “recognizes”? maybe it’s “observes”, Daylight Savings Time, you should set your clocks back one hour before going to bed. If you don’t, you may end up attending Sunday Morning Worship Services an hour ahead of everybody you know from your usual service. Who knows? Maybe it’s worth a try. And on the bright side, you’ll be back in time to watch “Up with Steve Kornacki”, who should be good and awake what with having an extra hour to sleep. And if you live in a part of the United States that does not observe DST (as the cool kids call it), life will be unchanged for you. Congratulations, the Chinese envy you.

But why do we do this? What’s the point? Well, the idea was, in not so many words, to save daylight. (You can read about the history of Daylight Savings Time to varying degrees here, here, and here.) It was believed by its proponents in recent years to save about 10,000 barrels of oil per day. The thinking is that as we shift our daily activities by an hour, businesses will use less energy. Not everyone agrees. But we do it, and our reward is to get an extra hour of sleep once a year, in exchange for our sacrifice of one hour’s sleep once a year.

Funny story. When I was in the Air Force in 1987, I was stationed at Ramstein AB, West Germany. In September of that year, I took a month’s leave to attend a friend’s wedding and to see my then-girlfriend, Jane. My leave ended after the first weekend of October, so I was here in the United States when Europe took their Fall Back position. I returned to West Germany afterwards, so I was in Europe when folks in the United States took their Fall Back position on the last weekend in October. So I missed the chance to get my extra hour of sleep that year. And while I understand why, intellectually, it’s wrong, I have always felt that for the last 27 years, the Universe has owed me an extra hour of sleep. :)

October 25, 2014

Five Republicans I Fear Might Win

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 2:11 PM

Courtesy of the good people at Right Wing Watch (a project of People For the American Way dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities of the right-wing movement), here are five Republicans I fear might win on Election Day (which is just one week from this coming Tuesday.) What’s even more frightening than the mere fact that they won their party’s nomination is that they may end up being members of a Republican-controlled House and Senate. And that would be horrific for anybody in this country who isn’t a white, male billionaire which, last time I checked, was just about all of us.

The five names you don’t want to hear announced as winners on Election Night (or however many days it takes to count up every vote against them) are (more…)

October 18, 2014

Is Stupidity Worth the Price of Religious Freedom?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 12:40 PM

In an impassioned (if somewhat inaccurate) defense of “speaking the truth,” Senator Ted Cruz (Regressive, NeverNeverLand) completely mischaracterized and fabricated a rationale for a subpoena brought about in a legal dispute over the validity of petition signatures to overturn a Houston, TX, ordinance that hasn’t yet gone into effect, and which could not have been used in the manner he feared even if it did. He’s not the only one doing it. TV personality on his own network and malignant boil on the skin of religious liberty, Pat Robertson, is also making up his own reasons for the subpoenas. The subpoenas in question were intended to find out what instructions were given to signature gatherers organized by five local pastors. Mayoral Spokesperson Janice Evans said, “Neither the mayor nor City Attorney David Feldman were aware the subpoenas had been issued until Tuesday. Both agree the original documents were overly broad. The city will move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing. Attorney Feldman says the focus should be only on communications related to the HERO petition process.” They sought

“all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.”

Yes. If all they were after were the instructions given to people gathering signatures, then this subpoena was unquestionably too broad. And so the city has refiled the subpoenas with the focus solely on the petition process instructions. And that’s as it should be.

But what about (more…)

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