Sunday, March 29, 2015

Watch Indiana Governor Mike Pence outright refuse to answer any of George Stephanopoulos's questions about his state's new controversial law.

Courtesy of Mediaite:  

This Week host George Stephanopoulos absolutely grilled Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) over the newly-signed “religious freedom” bill, which critics maintain would allow businesses to refuse services to LGBT customers. Pence argued that the bill’s intentions had been misrepresented in media coverage, and insisted he would not change the bill, though he did continue to say he would “clarify” it. 

However, Pence refused to answer two “yes or no” questions posed to him by Stephanopoulos over the potentially discriminatory ramifications of the bill, including whether it would allow a florist to deny services to a gay couple, as its supporters maintain. 

“There’s been shameless rhetoric about my state and this law and its intention all over the internet,” Pence said. “People are trying to make it about one particular issue, and now you’re doing that as well.” 

Stephanopoulos asked the question several more times. “It’s a simple yes or no question,” Stephanopoulos said. 

“The issue here is: is tolerance a two-way street or not?” Pence said. “There’s a lot of talk about tolerance in this country having to do with people on the left. Here Indiana steps forward to protect the constitutional rights and privileges of freedom of religion for people of faith in our state, and this avalanche of intolerance that’s been poured on our state is outrageous.”

Wow that is some of the fanciest dancing I have seen since John Travolta on Saturday Night Fever. 

Pence goes on to say that he would NOT pass a law protecting the rights of the LGBT community, which would of course make people less concerned about this new law. And at one point refuses to answer Stephanopoulos's question about whether or not it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

By the way as Pence continues his dance more and more businesses are making the decision that Indiana is now a "no go zone" for them and their employees.

US soldiers raped and sexually assaulted dozens of Colombian children between 2003 and 2007, filmed the attacks to distribute as pornography, and face no charges due to treaty granting immunity.

Colombian children
Courtesy of WSWS:  

US soldiers and military contractors were responsible for the rape and sexual abuse of scores of Colombian children, but faced no legal repercussions because of a treaty between Washington and Bogota granting them full immunity. 

A fresh revelation of these appalling crimes came as a byproduct of ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) guerrilla movement taking place in Havana, Cuba. 

Last month, a Historical Commission on the Armed Conflict and its Victims in Colombia, formed jointly by the Colombian government and the FARC, presented an 800-page report documenting the causes and consequences of the decades of civil war that have claimed millions of victims in terms of dead, wounded, abused and displaced. The commission was composed of leading Colombian academics and intellectuals acceptable to both parties. 

A section prepared by Renan Vega Cantor, a professor of history at the National Pedagogical University of Bogota, dealt with the role played by the US military. The Pentagon has sent advisers and contractors to the country as part of Plan Colombia, which has included $6 billion in mostly military aid directed at combatting both drug trafficking and the anti-government guerrilla movements. 

The report cites 54 cases of rape and sexual abuse of minors, some as young as 12. “In one of the best known cases, in Melgar and in Giradot [both are to the southwest of the capital of Bogota, with a major Colombian air base that housed US “advisers” located in Melgar], 53 minors were abused sexually by mercenaries, who also filmed it and sold the tapes as pornography,” the report states. The young girls were subsequently threatened with death, and they and their families had to leave the area.

This post is the result of a late night message from my daughter demanding that I write something about this and let people know what we have done. 

She was of course quite horrified and wanted to know how we could not only allow this to happen, but also protect those who committed these atrocities.

My response is of course to refer to the Ted Cruz post from earlier today.

After all how can Americans be held accountable when they are clearly agents of the "American civil religion" whose every action is divinely inspired?

This is the result when you see the military, and military contractors, through rose colored glasses and believe that their every action overseas "protects us over here."

How dare we even think of prosecuting them for helping to keep us free by spreading American exceptionalism to every corner of the planet?

For those who want to learn more about this you can read here, here, and here as well.

Dakota Meyer, Bristol Palin's newest fiance, gives instruction on how to accidentally shoot one of your children for breaking a water glass.

"Remember slow is smooth, smooth is fast." And they say this guy is not a philosopher.

All kidding aside I thought Cletus gave some good tips on how to overreact to a noise in the middle of the night.

I mean personally I just stumble around the house stubbing my toes, cursing frequently, and wielding a plastic baseball bat. But then I'm a trained professional.

Of course perhaps Huckleberry has increased the possibility of home invasion by putting his name on products like this.

And taunting ISIS like this.

Source
I think my advice to Tripp would be to try and stay with dad as much as possible, and when staying with mom use the bathroom BEFORE bedtime, use only Dixie cups for late night drinks, and for God's sake stay low.

Ted Cruz and the American "civil religion." This guy is even scarier than we thought.

Courtesy of Salon:  

Cruz’s White House run is disturbing, and not just because it involves Ted Cruz. Rather, he embodies the modern conservative propensity toward a fundamentalist American civil religion and its attendant, overly simplistic myths. As the English political activist George Monbiot observed during the dawn of the second President Bush’s Iraq War, to America’s conservative subculture “the United States is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion… It is not just that the Americans are God’s chosen people; America itself is now perceived as a divine project.” American civil religion hinges on what Ted Cruz defined in his Liberty University speech as “the promise of America,” embodied in “the American exceptionalism that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill.” The religion of America is a civil religion that casts the United States as a divine world power shaped by a series of comforting myths that, in the eyes of fervent believers like Cruz, make it the ultimate political Promised Land. 

The term “civil religion” goes back to the writings of French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who ruminated on the tensions that arise when church and state become separate entities. In American discourse, the term is most closely associated with sociologist Robert Bellah. In 1967, Bellah characterized civil religion as “a set of beliefs, symbols, and rituals” that was “neither sectarian nor in any specific sense Christian” but nonetheless constituted a shared experience of being American that was inspired by Christian notions of redemption and spiritual fulfillment. Civil religion casts America as a beacon of secular and sacred hope in a fallen modern world. In this context, Bellah wrote, “Europe is Egypt” and America was the Promised Land to which ”God has led his people to establish a new sort of social order that shall be a light unto all the nations.” And if this concept seems open-ended and ripe for abuse, that’s because it is. 

.......

Cruz had the myth of the Chosen Nation down pat when he claimed that America is “an indispensable nation, a unique nation in the history of the world.” As for the myth of Nature’s Nation, he evoked America as the cultivated political garden of God Himself that, “from the dawn of this country, at every stage… has enjoyed God’s providential blessing.” The myth of the Christian Nation? Cruz parroted the now standard (but historically bogus) right-wing claim that the U.S. “was founded upon” the idea that rights come from a very specific “God Almighty.” Cruz’s reference to the myth of Manifest Destiny was more veiled, but he name-dropped key historical figures such as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (no doubt for good bipartisan measure) and, of course, Ronald Reagan to reiterate his point that God has blessed every step in America’s development. The myth of the Capitalist Nation came via his railing against standard conservative government bogeymen like “regulators,” “tax collectors” and Obamacare that despoil the purity of the Free Market. Finally, Cruz touted the myth of the Innocent Nation when he claimed that political change will only come from “lovers of liberty” who realize that “God isn’t done with America yet.” Bless their liberty-loving souls. 

Cruz’s speech was a prime example of how the right wing promotes a deeply fundamentalist American civil religion that relies on time-honored myths to characterize the United States as a nation guided by providential destiny. Cruz and other conservatives don’t see America as one nation that is a part of world history; they see it as one nation apart from world history, one that exists free of the flawed human agency and historical contingency that — contrary to Cruz’s claims — has shaped all of the human experience. 

An America as defined by a future President Cruz is an America that sees itself as blindingly perfect, naively innocent, incapable of critical reflection over both its strengths and weaknesses and utterly convinced of its capacity to shape the world in its own image. Cruz’s version of civil religion is the ultimate example of how conservatives “absolutize the righteousness of the United States.” When you believe that God has blessed America from the beginning, you ignore the times that Americans have invoked God to justify the evils of Indian removal, slavery, racism, sexism and environmental destruction. More importantly, you undervalue the times when Americans have overcome those sins to demonstrate what Abraham Lincoln called ”the better angels of our nature.” When you worship capitalism and tout the United States as the world’s only hope, you ignore the false idols that led to the Great Recession and the bloody folly of the Iraq War that’s left the Middle East in tatters. When you develop a false sense of American innocence, you view national self-reflection as a weakness.

This of course is the same kind of thinking that allowed an arrogant pseudo Texan from a famous political family take this country to war with the idea that all the poor savages needed was a little American exceptionalism in their lives to make all of their problems simply disappear.

It's also the same mindset shared by a Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and of course Sarah Palin.

In fact when Palin suggests that President Obama is trying to "fundamentally change America" this is what she is talking about. The idea that the President would try to convince Americans to climb off their high horse and recognize that we are part of a global community that can all work together toward progress rather than an oligarchy that is working to proselytize their message of political religiosity to the unsaved, frightens people of limited intellect such as Palin.

However the most dangerous thing imaginable for this country would be to return to leadership that sees this country as not only without flaws, but incapable of mistakes due to the fact that the Constitution, much like the Bible, was inspired by God and is therefore infallible. (Amendments Shamendments.)

Now if you will excuse me I have to go lie down in the fetal position for a few minutes.

Sarah Palin says that any person who joins a terrorist organization should lose their citizenship. She may have a point.

"Only freedom lovin' Mericans can look at my butt."
Courtesy of Raw Story:  

Message to would-be ISIS recruits: Sarah Palin doesn’t want you back. The former Alaska governor and current media firebrand said in a Facebook post Friday that Americans who leave the country to join a foreign terrorist organization should be stripped of their citizenship. 

 “As crazy as it sounds, a U.S. citizen who leaves this country to join ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other terrorist organization does not immediately lose his or her citizenship,” Palin wrote in the post. “That needs to change!” 

The post, which was accompanied by a video in which Palin spoke of the “threat of radical Islam,” was shared more than 1,200 times within two hours. “It’s a simple fact that some people are drawn to ISIS’s brutality,” Palin says in the video. “They’re actually inspired by videos of beheadings and burnings. They actually believe ISIS’s religious message.”

Well of course stripping an American of their citizenship flies, without due process, in the face of the Fourteenth Amendment which states that; "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." But why should such a detail bother Palin?

Yeah that sort of makes it hard to enforce a rule which suggests that these individuals "immediately lose his or her citizenship" without first giving them the opportunity to be tried before a jury of their peers. 

Of course I'm sure that does not Palin any pause since the only part of the Constitution she seems to care about is the 2nd Amendment.

However I am not completely in disagreement with her point of view here.

I think that people who run off to join ISIS should probably be detained when they reenter the United States as a possible threat to our security, and if warranted imprisoned or even exiled.

IF they are first found guilty of course.

But hey why stop there. I mean if we are going to take away the citizenship of Americans who go overseas to collaborate with anti-American groups and terrorist organizations why not do the same to people who do it right here on our shores.

The FBI has labeled the sovereign citizen group a terrorist organization.

So I would guess that anybody who fraternized with a group like that, the Alaska Independence Party for instance, might need to be scrutinized by the Federal government to determine if they represent a potential threat.

And if that person were also known to support anti-government groups like the Tea Party, and hang out with folks who had made actual threats against the President of the United States and his Secretary of State like this guy..... 

...well I would think that somebody like that would be hanging onto their citizenship by a thread.

You know it is such a rarity when I even minimally agree with Sarah Palin, that when I do it represents kind of a nice change. Don't you agree?

During interview with Harry Reid on Nevada radio, President Obama calls in to surprise the retiring Senator with heartfelt praise.

Courtesy of Politicususa:  

Sen. Reid was told that he had a surprise caller, and after a pause a voice came on the line and said, “Is this Harry Reid?” Reid answered, “It is.” The President said, “Harry, this is Barack.” Reid could only say, “Well, I’ll be damned.” Obama asked, “Are you allowed to say that on live radio?” Reid repeated, “Well, I’ll be damned. What a guy.” 

The President said, “Well, I think when the stories has been written and when all is told, you’re going to have somebody who has done more for the Nevada for this country than anybody who has been in the Senate. I could not be prouder of him. He did an unbelievable job on a whole bunch of really tough issues. Saving this country from a depression, making sure millions of people had health care, making sure that young people were able to go to college. He’s been one of my best partners and best friends, and I’m really honored to have served him.”

Harry Reid was also quite effusive in his praise of the President, and ultimately it was a very nice moment where two battle scarred veterans of many political skirmishes expressed admiration for each others courage and tenacity.

After listening to this exchange all I could think is what will this country do without Barack Obama and Harry Reid at the helm of this nation steering us around and over Republican obstructionism and bad policy decisions?

You better bring your "A" game Hillary Clinton, because you are definitely going to need it.

America is practically defenseless. If you ignore all that money we spend on defense.

Just imagine how much good we could do with our tax money if we were not so focused on using it to kill people in other countries.

And if we ever start to feel safe enough to spend our money on programs to benefit Americans, well that is the conservative's cue to fear monger and find a reason to start another war.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

On Real Time last night Bill Maher asked "How deeply stupid has the far left become?" Uh oh, this one's going to leave a mark.

This from Mediaite: 

Maher said just like conservatives, liberals have crazies of their own they need to rein in. He brought up the controversy over the Economist cover on Latinos and how Media Matters covered it. The liberal media watchdog called it “a tired trope often used to confine the Hispanic community to oversimplified representation in the media.” 

Maher reacted by telling Media Matters to “shut the fuck up.” 

He remarked, “How deeply stupid has the far-left become,” and said liberals just need to stop freaking out about every single little thing that doesn’t 100 percent conform to their worldview.

Maher makes some very good points about the Far Left having its own crazies. Of course we do. 

I guess the only real difference between our crazies and the Right Wing crazies, is that ours do not make up the base of the Democratic party.

I think as a rule most on the Left are quite pragmatic and realize they will never get their ideal candidate elected to office, while the Right have shovels on their shoulders and car batteries in their hands in the hopes of digging up Reagan's corpse and finding some way to bring it back to life to "save the country."

Maher also mocked Ted Cruz for lying about becoming a country music fan after 9-11. Which was such a stupid statement that I literally groaned when I heard him say it.

By the way I imagine that this headline will attract a fair share of Right Wing trolls, so remember the best way to handle them is to politely correct their grammar, pat them on their pointy heads, and smile disarmingly while gently pushing them out the door.

"Stop Chris Christie" PAC closes up shop because...you know...why bother?

Courtesy of MSNBC:  

Former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado is all but throwing in the towel on the political action committee he created to stop New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s potential run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016 — but only because he believes the governor has no chance of winning. 

Citing Christie’s sagging poll numbers and what he described as the governor’s “questionable” behavior, Tancredo told msnbc, “We have not really tried to raise any money because frankly we assumed it would probably not be worth the time we put into it because now nobody believes the guy has a chance. ” He added, “I don’t think anyone’s going to give money to stop Chris Christie — someone who they believe is probably stopped already.”

Well you can't disagree with Tancredo's logic. After all he's right, Christie has about as muhc chance of winning the nomination as he does of ever seeing his own feet again. 

However I would like to extrapolate this conclusion out to include many of the GOP presidential wannabes.

I mean does ANYBODY really think we are going to see a Lindsey Graham at the top of the ticket?

Or a Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump either?

No, if the Republican party really wants to demonstrate how serious they are about this election, they should all, as one, turn and ignore the clown car and give their support to the ultimate victor.

Hillary Clinton.

See what I did there?

Hillary Clinton deletes her e-mails, all of her e-mails, from her private server. Quick somebody fire up the GOP outrage machine!

All of the e-mails were deleted? Oops my bad.
Courtesy of CNN:  

Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state, the Republican lawmaker who subpoenaed the emails said late Friday. 

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, chairman of the House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, said Clinton's lawyer informed him of the news. 

"Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server," Gowdy said in a statement. 

Gowdy had also asked that Clinton turn over her server to the State Department inspector general for an independent review. 

Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, said no. In his letter to Gowdy, Kendall said the former secretary of state "chose not to keep her non-record personal emails." 

"Thus, there are no ... e-mails from Secretary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized," he wrote.

Clinton's lawyer further maintained that all of work related, or potentially work related e-mails had all been turned over to the state department last year.  Which in no way is going to satisfy the Republicans who are convinced that Clinton is hiding something from them.

Once again I find myself understanding both sides.

On the one side it seems perfectly reasonable for people to assume that if Clinton had nothing to hide she would have no problem turning over her private server to a trusted third party to have it examined for anything that might be of use to the House investigating committee.

On the other hand this is like the third committee to investigate Clinton over Benghazi and there is really little doubt that they would have found something, no matter how small, to use against her in 2016, eve if it had NOTHING to do with Benghazi or their investigation.

Hillary remembers all too well that it was the Whitewater investigation, which led to Monica Lewinsky, a stained blue dress, and the impeachment of her husband.

Let's face it Gowdy is under enormous pressure to find something, and it is almost certain that he would have. Whether it was really there or not.

I have to say that as much as this leaves a sour taste in my mouth I am not sure that Hillary had much of a choice.

Colorado Republicans react in horror as fellow lawmaker suggests that woman mutilated in attack was the "curse of God" in response to abortion.

Courtesy of the Denver Post:  

Several leading Colorado Republicans lashed out Thursday against state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, saying his "curse of God" comments about an attack on a pregnant woman whose baby was cut from her womb were "disgusting" and "reprehensible." 

The lawmaker, who also is a minister, quoted the Bible in his "Pray In Jesus Name" program Wednesday and tried to link the crime to abortion. 

"This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open," Klingenschmitt said. 

Among those who denounced the remarks: two fellow El Paso County Republicans, Laura Carno, who in January started a Facebook page called "Conservatives against Gordon Klingenschmitt," and former Rep. Mark Waller, whose used to represent the House district in Colorado Springs now held by Klingenschmitt. 

"It's disgusting. I thought Gordon Klingenschmitt would be our next Todd Akin," Carno said Thursday. "I didn't know he would be our next Westboro Baptist Church. This poor woman gets her baby cut out of her belly and he uses this tragedy to drive traffic to his ministry."

So to be clear this lunatic believes that his God allows vicious attacks on innocent pregnant women as punishment to America for allowing abortions. Oh yeah, let's all drop to our knees and worship THAT guy.

Of course many of you may remember this Klingenshmitt character as the former Navy chaplain who believes that America is being oppressed by demons and that the only healthcare we need is faith in God.

It appears that finally the Colorado Republicans have realized what most of the country realized long ago.

This Klingenschmitt guy is out of his fucking mind!

Perhaps the most articulate nine year old you will ever see speaks out against school testing in Florida.

Okay for the record I would just like to admit that I am not that articulate now much less than when I was in the fourth grade.

Her name is Sydney Smoot, and she is speaking in front of the Hernando County School Board. Here is more on her story: 

"This test defines me as a number," she said, holding up an index finger for emphasis. "One test defines me as either a failure or a success." 

She questioned the merit of the exam that has been subjected to little vetting: 

"Why am I being forced to take a test that hasn't even been tested on students in Florida?" 

And she had a particular objection that brought all her other ones to a head. 

Before taking the reading section of the FSA last week, she was required to sign a form that prohibited her from talking about its contents, even to her parents. 

Jennifer Smoot, her mother, said her daughter came home upset because she felt as though this form kept her from sharing the burden of her testing anxieties with her parents. 

"My daughter talks to me about everything," said Smoot, 38. "She was very upset."

I am a little late to this story as it happened over a week ago, but once I saw that video I knew I had to share it here.

As many of you know I am firmly against most of the standardized testing that resulted from No Child Left Behind, but I don't believe I ever expressed myself with near the eloquence of nine year old Sydney Smoot.

Take my word for it, this will not be the last time we hear from this young lady.

Arizona state senator introduces idea of making church attendance mandatory.

Courtesy of KPHO:  

Each year a few ideas get proposed at the state Capitol that have people shaking their heads. 

This year: Mandatory church attendance. 

An Arizona state senator thinks it is a good idea for the American people. 

State Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, brought it up during a committee meeting Tuesday while lawmakers were debating a gun bill concerning concealed weapons permits, not religion. 

Allen explained that without a "moral rebirth" in the country, more people may feel the need to carry a weapon. 

"I believe what's happening to our country is that there's a moral erosion of the soul of America," she said. 

"It's the soul that is corrupt. How we get back to a moral rebirth I don't know. Since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have. Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth," she told the committee. 

Let me get this straight. The reason that people feel the need to carry guns in this country is because church attendance is down?

WTF?

Ultimately Allen decided to support the conceal carry bill with this simple to understand explanation:

"I'm going to vote yes that people who are responsible who have a CCW permit don't have to worry about their guns as they're out and about and doing business in whatever building they're in except ones that where they aren't allowed."

Oh I get it, she's a crazy person. 

Republican concept of smaller government explained.

Well gee now it makes perfect sense.