Politics: Democrats vs Republicans

Congressional honor? A breeder of hope? Hold not your breath …

As honor dwindles, so does hope.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.02.11 AMIs hope a descendant of honor?

If if is, perhaps a little hope can be derived from recent statements of members of Congress in response to the lunacy of the GOP candidate for president. Donald “I am your voice” Trump has rashly criticized two Americans who lost their son to combat in a foreign land. Trump did this, apparently, because Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Muslim Americans from Pakistan.

Some Republican members of Congress have repudiated Trump’s remarks.

From Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

From Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage [the Khans] and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

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Cthulhu Republicans

Is Paul Ryan a liar, or does he actually believe his own bullshit?

Last night I listened to the bulk of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Today I was able to review it via a transcript at Time. Both times I was struck by just how much effort Ryan put into saying white is black, up is down, and ignorance is strength. After reviewing it again, I really want to know something about Ryan – is he a liar, or does he actually believe the bullshit he was saying last night? Continue reading

Donald Trump

Who’d work for President Trump? Guess. Go ahead, guess.

Imagine Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Really.

Journalists and pundits have been too busy covering this election cycle like a boxing match (detailing debate punches and counterpunches and little else) and fawning over Trump as “The Donald.”

Donald-Trump-snake-oilSo the Big Questions (important but too boring in the Twitterverse in which horse-race polls and debate body blows are captured) just don’t get asked. Thus the Answers Needed never enter the mind of the electorate.

Who’d want to work for President Trump? Presidents need the Senate’s advice and consent on nearly 1,400 presidential appointments. Chief among them, of course, are the members of the president’s cabinet.

Who would Trump ask to serve as heads of State, Defense, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs?

How would he select them? Would any be women? Or African-Americans? Or Hispanics? Or descendants of immigrants, legal or otherwise? Would he actually listen to the advice offered by Cabinet members?
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CATEGORY: PoliticsLawGovernment

Urgent: stand up for a rapist’s right to choose [trigger warning, as if that’s not obvious]

Paul Manship's bronze, Eve (#1)

Seriously, how could you not “rape” this?

The Sanctity of Human Life Act is back.

In a new year only 3 days old at the time, Rep. Paul Ryan, fresh from seeing his chances at VP aborted, wasted no time trying to breathe life back into the Sanctity of Human Life Act.

As reported by Laura Beck at Jezebel:

But now it’s baaaaack, which is scary because not only is the above terrifying, there’s all sorts of other creepy shit hidden in this monster. Like, if a woman who was raped in a state that banned abortions went to a state that didn’t ban abortions and had an abortion? Her rapist could theoretically sue to stop the abortion from happening, and probably win. And it doesn’t stop there with the reproductive weirdness, if passed, it’ll probably make many forms of IVF illegal.

As of today he has sponsored zero bills and has only co-sponsored this one according to the data available at opencongress.org.  We can see where his priorities are, and they clearly aren’t focused on the economy, thank goodness.  I can understand, however much I may disagree, how pro-life/personhood advocates are so zealous on the issue.  As a matter of faith, I’m sure it’s of paramount importance to them.  But seriously, the assault on the other rights of women really needs to come to an end.

For the sake of argument, let’s just assume for a moment that even when a woman becomes pregnant from rape she shouldn’t have any say, legally, morally, ethically, or otherwise over the fate of her body or the undesired progeny of a rapist, replete with all of the possible genetic predisposition to sociopathic traits it may have instilled in it by the rapist’s insinuation of DNA into the mix.  How in the ever living fuck does this translate into a violent criminal’s right to intervene in the legal proceedings involving his victim’s rights, or lack thereof, before the law?

Stop.  Right there.  Let’s cut right to the chase here.  When a rapist decides to obstruct his victim’s access to abortion, let’s be really clear about what’s happening.  This isn’t a morally ambiguous character in some graphic crime drama generated by Hollywood.  We are talking about a man who, for a host of pathological reasons, takes it upon himself to overcome a woman’s objections by spewing his diseased sperm into her body.  Suddenly we’re to believe that this paragon of virtue is only interested in preserving the life of a zygote he created without the consent of the incubator he raped?  No.

Whoever may have standing in such a case, the rapist is the very last person who should have it.  This is not about fatherhood.  This is about a violent sociopath asserting more power over his victim, but this time, to compound injury with injury, it is legal power, the power to have his victim faced by police with guns, the power to have his victim caged like an animal, the power to potentially ruin her finances, her self-sufficiency.

Think that far-fetched? Then I humbly submit that you are not following the ramifications.  A rape victim, served with a subpoena or an injunction, runs afoul of the legal process stacked against her by not playing according to the rules established for her by people more sympathetic to the rights of a rapist than they are to her suffering as a victim.  At some point, a police officer will be involved.  Should she resist enough, she faces the very real and tangible risk of being tased or looking down the barrel of a drawn weapon, to say nothing of charges ranging from resisting arrest to assaulting a police officer, depending on just how adamantly she defends herself from this incursion by the state into her womb, all because a man forced his semen into her against her will.  Taken into custody, she will most certainly be behind bars, whether for an hour, a day, a week, or longer.  Getting out under any circumstances other than solely on her own recognizance will result in costs.

So, again, assume that the birth of the child is the singlemost important outcome in your worldview.  Just how many other ways do you feel it necessary to violate this woman’s person?

Of course, it’s not just Paul Ryan who, one might imagine, feels that his inner Fortress of Rectitude looks suspiciously like the walls of a vagina defended by the pristine Gates of Labia, both major and minor.  He is but one knight at this round table, lance at the ready.  King Arthur, in this demented twist of chivalry, is Paul Broun of Georgia.  The other knights that stand tall and proud in their desire to plant flags for Christendom in vaginas across the country are: John Carter (TX), Michael Conaway (TX), Blake Farenthold (TX), John Fleming (LA), Trent Franks (AZ), Bob Gibbs (OH), Phil Gingrey (GA), Tim Huelskamp (KS), Walter Jones (NC), John Kline (MN), Stephen Palazzo (MS), Stevan Pearce (NM), Martha Roby (AL), David Roe (TN), Harold Rogers (KY), Lee Terry (NE), and Lynn Westmoreland (GA).

What fevered impulse puts one token woman on the side of the rapist is beyond me.  Try as I might to put myself in the shoes of a pro-life zealot, I just cannot fathom this.  Maybe, in this worldview, the victim always has it coming, what with being the spiritual heir of Eve, first temptress, and bearer of a foul cesspit of wanton promiscuity.  No cry of “rape” is ever true and just.  To be cursed with a vagina is to be subject, forever, to the caprices of men.

So, since these political knights (and their fair lady) fail to see just how very personal this is to the women they prefer to beat into submission with sociopaths’ penises, let’s turn the tide for just a moment and flip their script.  Let’s make the same kind of horrid assumptions about them and their characters as they clearly make about rape victims.  It’s okay for Rush, right?  And we’re not ones for double standards, are we?

With her espousal for absolute subjection to men, one can only wonder just how lucky Ms. Roby is to not have an extensive brood of rape babies.  Has she never been alone in the presence of a man (or men) before?  Surely her vagina is clearly labeled “open for business,” right?  After all, if the “rapist” is to have the kind of rights she sponsors in this bill, we’re not actually talking about “legitimate rape” and we are indeed talking about the prerogatives of genuine and authentic fatherhood.  That kind of willingness to fully embrace the personal responsibility for what goes into her vagina, even without her express consent, must be an aphrodisiac to every swinging dick within 500 feet, and who is she to say no or allege rape, after the fact?  With that kind of spiritual purity, one might be led to think that her well-trafficked bed is the best kept secret in town.  Just how did she fund her election, anyway?

As for the men in this Society for the Creative Protection of Rapists, we may be led to wonder as to the ultimate source of their defense.  Could it be that each and every single one of these gentlemen has a problem with understanding the nature of consent?  Could it be that, according to the definition of rape as updated by the FBI, every single one of these men is a rapist with a vested interest in protecting the rights of their kind?

As long as people of this particularly troglodytic bent keep calling the shots, we may never, ever know for sure.  Me?  Were I to have a daughter, I think I’d make sure she gave all of these politicians and their associates a wide berth.

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Image credit: Photo of Paul Manship’s bronze, Eve (#1) by cliff1066, licensed under Creative Commons.

Is Rachel Maddow becoming the thing she hates?

Rachel Maddow caricature by DonkeyHoteyAs anyone who follows current events via the so-called “liberal” media knows, much is made of the low-information voter. Well, by much I suppose I should say very little. Naturally, the term is at best condescending, at worst, pejorative. The low-information voter is, in essence, the voter that derives his or her opinion on the basis of reports from outlets such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Drudge Report, just to name a few examples. The case made is that the information provided by those outlets is either merely horribly distorted, out of context, distracting, spun out of control, flat out wrong, or intentionally deceptive. If it’s not true, if the argument is invalid, if the reasoning is unsound, then what is presented is simply not information. I leave it to the judicious reader to determine whether or not such a characterization is apt.

The unspoken complement to the low-information voter who gets the news from the other side would naturally be the high-information voter. “Get your news from us,” MSNBC may as well suggest, “and you may rest assured that you have a solid foundation upon which to build your political opinion.” In many respects, there appears, to my way of thinking, a significant element of truth to this. However, no self-respecting spin-doctor, regardless of position relative to the aisle, will point out that they frame their views very carefully for your consumption. They will make no mention of events upon which they do not want you to reflect. They will certainly not call your attention to their more covert below-the-belt punches.

It falls to the complementary high-information voter who follows the news by way of pundits such as Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell to remain steadfast in the pursuit of critical thought. Hell, take that as a given. That you are a critical thinker, an astute observer of events, a keen analyst of trends, a professional Connector of Dots is a foregone conclusion. As part of this select viewership, you are of the voting elite!

The signal to noise ratio from the putative left wing talking heads on MSNBC may be significantly better than that found elsewhere, but that does not necessarily mean that the signal approaches perfection by a long shot. They would certainly have you feel confident in your superior awareness as if their adherence to truth and the genuine spirit of journalism were necessarily the case.

But, what if? What if the material being presented only appears to contain information? Statements are uttered. Assertions are made. In and of themselves, these may even be factual. But what if MSNBC’s vaunted pundit celebrities string these assertions together in such a way that they yield unsound arguments? How information rich would the content then be if we make the bold assumption that the actual information presented for your consumption and assimilation really just boils down to the conclusions reached? The rest is just the window dressing, neatly lined up, all in a row, to lead you inexorably, not just to a conclusion, but to the kind of conclusion which only a fool would deny. And we, superior consumers of editorial disguised as news that we are, are surely no fools.

If we follow along like a good little audience long enough, bleat when told, roar on command, might the commentators and/or their writers get lazy occasionally? Or worse, smug in their all-too-frequent fallacies and glaring sins of omission?

Take, for example, Rachel Maddow. The following is from her November 8, 2012 show, addressing the subject of Mitch McConnell’s snippy response to President Obama’s victory speech.

Mr. McConnell put out a statement saying that what`s clear to him about this election is that the voters have not endorsed President Obama`s first term.

The fact that the president won the election is not an endorsement of the president?

Filling in a little bubble next to the man`s name on a piece of paper is technically how we endorse a person in America. But Mitch McConnell does not see it that way.

Consider, McConnell is one of the left’s favorite people to despise. Anything Rachel says about him is just about certain to get one’s hackles up, as if on command. And here’s that smug, turtle-necked bastard repudiating the value of President Obama’s re-election before the mic at the president’s podium even cools down after his rousing rendition of Kum Ba Ya. Anything she says can only be pure gold, right?

But, what if? What if there is something intellectually dishonest about what she says here? Can it be? Noooo.

Here’s the actual quote from Mitch McConnell’s statement, as found at NBC affiliate WPSD’s website:

The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.

Consider first of all, Dr. Maddow is no intellectual slouch. Her PhD isn’t in mixology, even if that may be an enjoyable sideline. When she does what she did here, I have a difficult time attributing it to mere laziness.

First, she paraphrases McConnell poorly. In her version, he stated that Obama’s re-election was not an endorsement of his first term. On even cursory inspection, one notes that McConnell actually says the election was not an endorsement of failures and excesses. These characteristics of Obama’s first term are not necessarily synonymous with the term itself, though she makes that connection for her viewers off-handedly.

Then she proceeds to attack McConnell’s drastically altered position. How is President Obama’s re-election not an endorsement of the man?

Funny, no matter how I try, I cannot equate the term with the man, much less the failures and excesses of the term with the man. McConnell said no such thing. Yet, Maddow lays into him, fast and furious, as though McConnell is evidently an imbecile for failing to see how the election is clearly an endorsement of the man.

And we, the high-information voters, are quite likely to have cheered, either silently or aloud, as she deftly tore Turtleneck a new one…on the basis of specious reasoning.

Don’t get me wrong. I also cannot stand McConnell. Were I to find out his fate was to spend the remainder of his days with nettles in his underwear, I’d smile like a Pez dispenser and my heart would pop out. But the left simply cannot arrogate to itself the intellectual and moral high ground, cry foul over obstruction, no matter how systemic it may be, and then engage in the same kinds of tactics one might expect from the opposition media. Not without becoming hypocrites. Not without being exposed to the charge of cynically manipulating their audience. And what a waste of talent this example makes of her, since what he said invites all manner of legitimate repudiation.

How on earth are we to expect one side to reach across the aisle to the other in the spirit of genuine compromise if the folks we look to for authenticity make liars of themselves with this kind of partisan hackery? Was McConnell correct in his assertion that the election was not an endorsement of the failures and excesses of Obama’s first term? That is an important conversation to have. Thanks to Rachel Maddow’s deceptive spin-doctoring, however, we know we won’t be seeing that conversation on her show. Tragically, we probably won’t be seeing that conversation on any show.

Another conversation we won’t be watching on her show involves whether or not Paul Ryan’s budget is a suitable vehicle on which to ride to victory.

In this case, Rachel is quite clearly pleased at her superior wit and political savvy:

This is handwriting — this is my — that`s my actual handwriting. That`s how bad my handwriting is on the printout of a newspaper article that I read when I first got into work today. When I went back to look for the article this afternoon, I realized that is what I had written in the margin of the article not paying attention to the fact I was doing it. I just wrote the word “ha” five times and then an exclamation point and star.

Here`s why I did that without noticing I was doing it. It`s a quote in this “New York Times” article today from Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole. What does Tom Cole — Congressman Tom Cole think about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan losing this election?

His take away is this: “The Paul Ryan budget passed a pretty big test. We had to run around the country and defend it. The Ryan budget proved itself a viable platform on which to run and be reelected.”

Wow. Just to reiterate, this is what happened on election night [shows slide of presidential election results – FB]. How does this constitute the Ryan budget passing a big test? The Ryan budget took a big test but it did not pass that test. Those are two very different things.

To borrow a bit of Rachel’s smugness, HA HA HA! What a maroon! What, did she miss the memo that Ryan won his House seat? Gee, why might that have been? Could it possibly have anything to do with his budget ahem budget proposal (since it’s not actually a full budget, after all)?

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. If you want to play the role of arrogant, self-righteous jackass, here, let me show you how. A) Make sure your argument hews very, very closely to the fucking bone. Stick with the truth. Considering your targets, that’s sufficient. B) Mock his low-information voters viciously for not being able to tell the difference between a budget and a budget proposal. C) Spend a few extra seconds mocking his magical math. D) Wish his district well with what wished. They got what they deserve, and the rest of the nation is spared his deciding vote on the Senate floor.

When you’re done, however, you might want to ask youself, “am I becoming what I hate?” When you engage in these intellectually dishonest tactics, you belittle yourself and do the nation a disservice by helping to convince a substantial part of the population that they share with you a moral high ground which you evidently do not occupy. Along the way, you aid in the obstruction of genuine progress by actively interfering with conversations that must be had.

Honestly, you make me sad. I used to like your show, and those of your fellows (excepting that annoying twit Matthews), until I started paying attention.

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Image credit: Caricature by DonkeyHotey, licensed under Creative Commons.

Conservatives are a frustrated lot

We Democrats aren’t very good at this campaigning stuff. But we don’t need to be. Because we don’t have Fox on our side.

The conservatives are a frustrated lot. They are frustrated that a Negro is president. They are frustrated that no matter what they write in their homeschool textbooks, it’s getting warmer and everybody knows it. They are frustrated that economics (and arithmetic for that matter) don’t work the way they think it should. They are frustrated that admitted homosexuals get to sleep with members of the same sex openly and they have to sneak out to toilets in the Minneapolis airports. And, did I mention the thing about the black guy in the White House? Continue reading

It’s election time again, Christian America – now about those Ten Commandments, part IV

Ten CommandmentsPart IV of a series.

Today my ever-so-patient readers get off easy. Why? Because as cynical as I am, I simply am not psychic.

The fourth commandment (as per the previous posts, as reckoned by Catholicism) is:

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Exodus 20:12 (NASB) 

Simply, I fail to find anything that would indicate that the parents of either Governor Romney or President Obama ever commanded them to govern or campaign as they do, or otherwise. Continue reading

It’s election time again, Christian America – now about those Ten Commandments, part III

Ten CommandmentsPart III of a series.

Once again, it is time to challenge the gentle reader who votes on faith to take a good, hard look at the candidate for whom they intend to vote. Even as one who likely does not share your faith, I respect the importance this decision has for you. More than that, I respect the manner in which you need to make this decision, especially this year. For an observer looking at the choice and the nature of the choice from the outside, it seems you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I might not vote on faith, but I do vote on conscience. Trust me, it sure feels like an equally ugly decision.

As for today’s topic, the third of the Ten Commandments (as reckoned by Catholicism), I must confess…this one is awfully tricky. Continue reading

It's election time again, Christian America – now about those Ten Commandments, part II

Ten CommandmentsPart II of a series.

When last I ventured into the blogsophere, I had some opinions to share on the alleged righteousness of our two dominant candidates for President of the United States, through the lens of the first commandment. Today I’ll attempt a similar analysis by assessing them against the second Commandment, but first, a bit of what only appears to be a digression.

As anyone who has read my previous observations on American religious culture, particular on Christian culture, may guess, I have rather strong feelings on the matter. Continue reading

It's election time again, Christian America – now about those Ten Commandments, part I

Ten CommandmentsPart I of a series.

In just over two months it’s time to exercise your right, nay, your duty as an American citizen. Odds are good you’ve already made up your mind about which candidate gets your vote. But on what basis, exactly? As Dr. Denny points out in his latest missive,

We should be angry. We should be outraged. We should be furious at the unabashed effrontery of candidates for national office who lie directly to our collective face. But the sheer volume of repetitions of deceit, especially through the mass-mediated, billionaire-paid-for negative ads, arrives at our collective ears as so much endless white noise. Continue reading

Paul Ryan: stock right wing VP hitman


By Robert Becker

Nothing bold, visionary, or adventurous here: the knee-jerk right winger in spades.

Whether you responded with shock, surprise or delight to his V.P. pick, Mitt Romney delivered no bombshell with Paul Ryan. Au contraire. The briefest survey confirms “going hard right V.P.” typifies the modern era for the Gruesome Old Party. That Romney the Null and Void would pick an extreme partisan to shore up his skeptical base was inevitable: lock up the sheeple who trust super-rich Mitt even less than they did Dole, Dubya or that old guy enamored with the Palin.

Continue reading

Romney set to make campaign history? (#WTF alert)

Earlier this year, as the Man of the People® Tour rolled around the nation in search of new constituencies to offend, it became apparent that presumptive GOP nominee Thurston Howell III Mitt Romney is the sort of man who sometimes doesn’t think things through all the way. Which is bad for him, but fun for the political theater fans amongst us. Chevy Chase probably has his agent on the phone with Lorne Michaels right now. After what Chase did to the Gerald Ford campaign, it boggles the mind imagining what he’d do with Mitt.

Now this:

Romney steps away from Paul Ryan’s Medicare cuts Continue reading

Questions from the presidential campaign debate moderator and how Lawrence O'Donnell has it so wrong

Hot AirOn the subject of tax returns, Lawrence O’Donnell, with whom I often agree, has the whole idea of the question the debate moderator ought to ask specifically of the Romney/Ryan side…all wrong. To challenge the secrecy of the Romney/Ryan camp, O’Donnell wants to grossly oversimplify with the one word question, “Why?”

To be fair, he did expand the question a bit, but I still think he misses the boat. Why, however framed, is still the kind of open-ended invitation to hot air that the candidates will thrive on.

Governor Romney, given the fact that you found it perfectly reasonable to release twenty-three years of your tax returns to the McCain campaign four years ago when they were considering you for the vice presidential nomination, and given the fact that you demanded to see several years of Paul Ryan’s tax returns to evaluate his fitness to serve as vice president, why shouldn’t voters be able to see your tax returns and Paul Ryan’s tax returns to make the same judgment you did about candidates fitness to serve? Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading