Monday, August 24, 2015

A bad guy with a gun can only be stopped by...

a good guy without a gun..

France high-speed train.

Louisiana State Trooper (who had a gun) but was surprised by and killed by a bad guy with a gun.  The bad guy was stopped by passing motorists, neither of whom had guns.

or a bad guy with a gun..

NYC - A man forces his way into a federal services building and shoots a guard (who I believe was armed).  He then walks into the building and stops himself by .. committing suicide.

All of these cases point out that bad people get guns, they get them far too easily, and yet, rarely are they ever stopped by people with guns in hand.  That's just fantasy.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Conservative Revisionist History: digging a little deeper into the politics of a minor modern controversy

Professor Richard J. Jensen
Recently I have come across multiple references to what widely seems to be a losing battle between a conservative history revisionist and a child history buff, regarding the 19th century.  This is significant not only because the kid pretty thoroughly spanks the old white duffer, but because revisionist history is a key political agenda item for the right, ranging from their policies to propaganda. 

It must sting, being routed by a mere girl, and a liberal.

In particular denial of very real discriminatory and violent victimization of certain groups, such as native Americans, blacks, progressive waves of voluntary immigrants, and those persecuted for religion (Catholics, Jews and Mormons, and more recently Muslims) is a key point on which the right are relentless.  The past intolerance of conservatives haunts them, even as they continue that intolerance and bigotry in the present against all of those groups as well as against women.  Consistently, bad historians like Jensen want to discredit the very real bigotry these groups suffered, while at the same time consistently playing the bogus white victim card.  Jensen is very keen on 'nativism', which is the bias of established immigrants and their descendants, against new immigrants.

This provides a fascinating lens through which to view a range of controversies, from the revisionist history the right has attempted to foist on advanced history classes in high schools for qualification for college credit, to the political campaigns on the right dealing with issues of discrimination in voting rights and on the topic of immigration.

The two adversaries in this particular informational and intellectual battle are a 14 year old girl in the 8th grade at the same school attended by the Obama daughters, Sidwell Friends, which some might consider a bastion of liberal education.  While the retired professor was previously predominantly teaching in Illinois - the state from which Obama was elected president.  Professor Richard Jensen taught at the University of Illinois, Chicago, from 1973 to 1996.  He is also a editor at Wikipedia, which notes he has strong ties as well to Conservapedia, a right wing revisionist source noted for errors of fact.

President Obama taught at the very prestigious University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004, and began his career in state government representing Chicago in the state legislature from 1997 to 2004.  While it is impossible to know if the two men ever met, they clearly represent the opposite sides of both the educational and the political spectrum from that geographic area, a difference now being continued by a new generation.

I find this new battle over revisionist history particularly interesting from a personal perspective, because when I took high school honors history around the same age, back in the days of the dinosaurs, as it seems now, my own teacher, a PhD in history, REQUIRED that we do research into primary sources, much like that done by this 14 year old. 

In doing similar research, I found not only very much the same information as this young woman, but additional primary source material in the historical museums at the state and local level, that documented fear and discrimination against most of the large waves of immigrants that tended to overwhelm those who were already established.  I've SEEN this kind of evidence myself at her age, without using google, seeking out primary sources.  Each wave received its own discrimination, not only the Irish, but also Germans, Scandinavians, southern and eastern Europeans, and the Chinese, to name a few, with additional religious bias against Catholics and Jews associated with the southern Mediterranean and eastern European / Russian Jews getting singled out for particularly virulent bias.  As a general rule, anyone who was not a native speaker of English as their first language was targeted then, as now, by those who were bent on bigotry and fear of the 'other'.  Anyone who was more WASP - (perceived as)white anglo-saxon protestant (Christian) - received less demonizing than those who were perceived to be more different in key categories.  For example, up until the last century or so, Irish immigrants were not considered 'white', to give an example of crazy justification for bias, even though they are clearly primarily a Caucasian ethnicity, and spoke an accented English dialect.

From wikipedia (ironically) by way of Upworthy. 
(Let me know if this looks like ethnic and racial bigotry to you, particularly in the part of the caption that refers to superior and inferior races, that would likely lead to job discrimination, of the kind Jensen is denying, and that would carry over into employment as well as other aspects of normal civil life.):
Or did you know that the Irish weren't even considered "white" until the last hundred years? So while you probably won't witness much Irish racism in 2015, the reverberations from that suffering surely still exist.

An actual illustration from a 19th-century scholarly text. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The evidence for these waves of discrimination are frequent, and obvious. To deny them or to ignore them requires a massive effort of ideology driven intellectual dishonesty, which is what we are consistently seeing from the right, and it is more extreme the further to the right the ideology.  This is nothing less than a denial of large collections of evidence.  This is on a par with claims that slavery was benevolent and good for black Americans in history, and denials of the facts of evolution or that the earth is only 6,000 years old.  They might as well claim the earth is flat, or that the sun orbits the earth.

Here is one link of many to the specific story:

From the Smithsonian Magazine:
Keeping you current

Teen Schools Professor on "No Irish Need Apply" Signs

Armed with a Google search and a theory, a 14-year-old enters the fray on a longstanding historical debate

This week, a 14-year-old made headlines for her epic takedown of a popular theory put forth by University of Illinois history professor Richard Jensen, Ben Collins reports for The Daily Beast.
The historical business practice of posting “Help Wanted! No Irish Need Apply” signs in windows and newspaper want ads to deter Irish workers has become part of America's cultural history and a powerful symbol of the discrimination faced by Irish immigrants at the turn of the last century. But for decades, Jensen has suggested that it was more myth than fact.
Here’s how Jensen’s argument goes: the signs were actually extremely rare and perhaps nonexistent, and the myth of the signs persists due to a popular song entitled “No Irish Need Apply.”
Jensen received backlash when he first published his theory, and the debate flared up again this March with the publication of numerous think pieces about St. Patrick's Day. One of those articles made it into the hands of eighth-grader Rebecca Fried, who turned to Google for more information.
To her surprise, she got results. The Washington Post's Moriah Balingkit reports that newspaper archive databases turned up dozens of work ads from the 1800s with the “No Irish Need Apply” caveat spanning a number of professions and U.S. states. According to Fried's findings, which were published last month in the Journal of Social History, the New York Sun newspaper ran 15 “No Irish Need Apply” ads in 1842 alone.
Driven more by curiosity than by academic fervor, Fried poked holes in the theory with a few calculated keystrokes. Jensen quickly responded to her work, arguing that the teen misinterpreted the data and that the signs were still quite rare. When Casey Egan at Irish Central first reported the story, the two went back and forth in the article's comments.
Though the debate about "No Irish Need Apply" signs may still be raging in the comments section, Fried’s work proves that the signs and the discrimination they represented did indeed exist — and that anyone with a curious mind and a nose for research can challenge the historical status quo.

I have long contended that conservatives are poorly informed, believing inaccurate things on a basis that is both broad and deep.  Their errors run the gamut from just plain crazy and faked to willful ignorance and incomplete information of the selective, cherry-picking variety.  I cannot imagine that this publication back in 2002 when Jensen originally published it was well received, but I would not be surprised if it is included in some form in Conservapedia, or if it is one more little cog in the broader propaganda effort to deceive voters from the right.

I would argue that in the very abstract of Professor Richard J. Jensen's original 2002 publication, the selective facts which he includes, which tends to limit immigrants to only the most menial and low paying jobs, much like the racial ceiling in employment experienced by native American and black Americans, and subsequently other groups, from Europe, and Asia, and more recently Hispanic immigrants, IS in itself the very essence of discrimination, not a total absence of employment.  These employment discrimination policies were also reflected in a broader range of discrimination, from education opportunities to housing to voting rights to where someone could travel during certain hours.  Discrimination is never ONLY about being barred from ALL jobs.  To pretend otherwise is the core of intellectual dishonesty.

Here is the abstract for Jensen's original abstract. Not only do the original 'NINA' signs remain extent, but so do many similar signs for other groups in our history.  What I find particularly of interest however is the end section, where Jensen tries to play the classic conservative white victimization card -- that it was WASPs who were the victims of the Irish, not the other way round:
Abstract Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming "Help Wanted--No Irish Need Apply!" No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent. The market for female household workers occasionally specified religion or nationality. Newspaper ads for women sometimes did include NINA, but Irish women nevertheless dominated the market for domestics because they provided a reliable supply of an essential service. Newspaper ads for men with NINA were exceedingly rare. The slogan was commonplace in upper class London by 1820; in 1862 in London there was a song, "No Irish Need Apply," purportedly by a maid looking for work. The song reached America and was modified to depict a man recently arrived in America who sees a NINA ad and confronts and beats up the culprit. The song was an immediate hit, and is the source of the myth. Evidence from the job market shows no significant discrimination against the Irish--on the contrary, employers eagerly sought them out. Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.
NINA remains as a powerful memory, because it is a real memory, and it is real history from which we need to learn important lessons. Conservatives don't want those lessons taught, or learned.  It undermines white privilege and power.  To people who live by fact, which largely includes both liberals and most independents, this is an example of right wing lying, and propaganda. To the right.... it's just business as usual by one of their right wing authorities engaged in calculated pandering dishonesty.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

GOP: Lies and Failures when it comes to Jobs and other Economic Policy

This has been a promise made not only by Boehner and McConnell, and the right wing members of Congress.

It is a promise made as well by the various governors and members of state legislatures on the right.

NONE of them have delivered.

States like Kansas, Wisconsin and Louisiana, with right wing supermajorities and control of the governor's chairs, are all at the bottom of the lists for job creators, at the top of lists of sweetheart deals and give-aways to big business and to the wealthy 1%. These states are all in poor health by most metrics, including schools, infrastructure such as bridges and roads, lowered credit ratings for the state, and worst in budget deficits to pay for necessary services.

This is what the face of failure looks like. This is the face of failure of economic policy and right wing ideology. This is the face of failed values expressed in government action and inaction.

This is EPIC failure of the most endemic, systemic and pernicious kind. It is an indictment of right wing governance and belief. It is a failure to live up to promises. Only those who seek to vote against their own interests and the interests of the nation would continue to vote for these people and policies.

It is time to hold not only the politicians and policy-makers accountable, it is time to hold those who vote for them accountable as well. This means underlining these failures to conservative family and friends, and pointing the stinky blame finger at them for voting for these people and for supporting these failed policies and legislative failures. Those voters enable the actions of the failures of and in government.

Friday, August 14, 2015

It's Friday Fun Day!
Carson's Cutting Remarks!

Image result for scalpelAnyone can occasionally contradict themselves, or alternatively change their views and opinions.  But there is something unique to the hypocrisy on the right, the emphatic and even coercive "do as I say, not as I do" foundation of their ideology.  I would posit this hypocrisy is so intrinsic to the right wing ideology that it invalidates it.

At the end of July, presidential candidate and right wing extremist theocrat Ben Carson ranted and railed for the defunding of Planned Parenthood over the possible expansion of fetal tissue donations.  Pretty much all of the right winger candidates did so; it's how they make their money.

From CNN:
My entire professional career as a pediatric neurosurgeon was dedicated to saving the lives of children and promoting their long-term welfare, as I took the Hippocratic Oath to "First, do no harm." Protecting innocent life is a duty consistent with that solemn oath. Destroying or butchering them is particularly offensive to someone like myself who has operated on babies while they were still in utero. All human life is precious and should be preserved and protected with the utmost respect and care.
When we reach a point where we are so callous that we kill innocent little babies, what else won't we do? Is there a limit to our barbarism? Human history is replete with examples of what happens when we devalue human life. Here in the United States of America, we have a history of compassion and kindness that characterizes a model citizen. It is time to reclaim our heritage and reject the purveyors of selfishness and callousness.
Congress should defund Planned Parenthood and consider having the IRS revoke its status as a 501(c)(3) organization. I believe deeply, as it is written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. First and foremost among these unalienable rights is life, and we created a government in order to protect it -- not fund its destruction.
Even as he spewed these words, Carson knew damn well that he himself had been one of the 'buyers' of fetal tissue donations, or consumer of it, if you prefer.  He KNEW this, but did not happen to mention it, apparently hoping it would not come out and discourage donors to his campaign.

H/t to the Daily Kos for the link to the published paper that Carson produced from his research
  (that's ol' Dr. Ben there, third name in):

Colloid cysts of the third ventricle: immunohistochemical evidence for nonneuroepithelial differentiation.

Tsuchida T1, Hruban RH, Carson BS, Phillips PC.
As  the same Daily Kos piece noted:
Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is seeking the GOP nomination for President, is opposed to foetal tissue research. He claims nothing can be learned from it that cannot be learned in another way. He has flogged this position on FOX News Channel and on Breitbart.
In point of FACT, there are forms of scientific research for which other tissue IS NOT suitable or as effective as the unique qualities of fetal tissue.  Asserting so is dishonest.

Regardless of facts to the contrary, regardless of science contrary to their beliefs, it is what the right wing nuts do to get money and votes from their anti-fact, anti-science, anti-truth base.

Planned Parenthood has approximately 4 clinics that currently provide that service to their clients.  No tissue is ever sold, nor has it ever been proposed for sale.  Dishonest conservatives tried to deceive people as to the fees involved in tissue collection, storage and transport, which in some respects resembles similar procedures for organs used in transplants.  It requires special equipment and procedures which entail additional costs over the disposal of medical waste.

No abortion is done for the purpose of providing medical specimens; rather this is a decision women have as an option to procedures they have already chosen.  The women donors receive no compensation or benefit.

Let's look at the contradiction in Carson's statements, courtesy of the Wa Po:
He told Fox New's Megyn Kelly that fetal tissue research was basically useless and that the same things could be accomplished without it.

"And if you go back over the years, and look at the research that has been done and all the things it was supposed to deliver, very little of that has been done, and there's nothing that can't be done without fetal tissue", Carson said.

and the big contradictions:
On Thursday, though, Carson told Weigel that the use of fetal tissue shouldn't be banned. He declined to say whether Planned Parenthood should stop providing fetal tissue for medical research. So one one hand, Carson said the use of fetal tissue doesn't produce results and is interchangeable with less morally fraught materials, and on the other he used it himself and now says it shouldn't be banned.

Carson's views on abortion appear to have long been complicated. In 1992, he appeared in an ad encouraging Maryland voters to oppose a law that would effectively keep abortions legal in the state if the Supreme Court overturned or weakened Roe v. Wade. He later appeared at a pro-abortion-rights activist press conference disavowing the ad, saying he didn't realize he was making a political statement.
And the Huff Po gives us this additional information, quoting OB/GYN doctor and researcher Dr. Jen Gunter noting this research was on aborted fetuses, and giving the age of the fetuses:
"...published a study with three other colleagues in 1992 that described using “human choroid plexus ependyma and nasal mucosa from two fetuses aborted in the ninth and 17th week of gestation.”

As a neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson knows full well that fetal tissue is essential for medical research. His discipline would have a hard time being [where] it is today without that kind of work. What is even more egregious than dismissing the multitude of researchers whose work allowed him to become a neurosurgeon is the hypocrisy of actually having done that research himself while spouting off about its supposed worthlessness.
and the Huff Po goes on to quote Carson -- this relates to the age of the aborted fetal tissue HE himself used, underlining his hypocrisy:
Last month, Carson railed against Planned Parenthood and pro-choice advocates by describing a fetus in the 17th week of gestation.
“At 17 weeks, you’ve got a nice little nose and little fingers and hands and the heart’s beating," he said on Fox News. "It can respond to environmental stimulus. How can you believe that that’s just an irrelevant mass of cells? That’s what they want you to believe, when in fact it is a human being.”
So, apparently Carson is all morally and ethically comfy with the ethics of fetal research on 17 week fetuses when HE is the one doing it, but it's all "no!-wrong!-BAD!" and "don't fund it" when anyone else does the research. 

Stick a fork in ol' Ben; I would bet his campaign as the token right wing negro candidate, the Uncle Tom du Jour, like Hermann Cain's in the preceding presidential campaign cycle, is concluded.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

People have to carry insurance on every other damn thing that could damage or harm people or property. These firearms should be categorized as an attractive nuisance, for insurance liability purposes.
About damn time that the rest of the nation were compensated for their losses due to gun owners.

And rounding out the weekend's funnier confrontations of right wing hypocrisy

We do not see conservatives trying to make THESE more legitimate challenges to the sanctity and success of traditional marriage illegal. In fact we have seen some of the clerks who claim sincere religious belief as a failed excuse not to do their jobs turn out to themselves have multiple failed traditional marriages to their credit, raising questions about how sincerely they really believe in monogamy.

For example, Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who is suing to be able to refuse to issue same sex marriage licenses on religious belief grounds, is apparently on her own fourth marriage. From Snopes:
A 9 July 2015 report from Lexington station WKYT on David Moore’s video noted the rumor that Kim Davis had herself been married four times and stated that her marriage certificate confirmed that fact
My understanding and impression is that Ms. Davis has undergone multiple divorces, not multiple deaths of spouses.

Quite the opposite of supporting traditional monogamy in practice, we see conservatives engaging in more cheating on spouses, more use of pornography (remembering that committing adultery in one's mind and heart are the same as doing it in the flesh), higher rates of divorce, and high rates of multiple marriages (mostly while ex-spouses are still living). So the concept of one man/one woman until death do us part is just simply bullshit; the right does not defend this kind of traditional marriage. Rather it is more a case of TREAD-itional marriage, where they trample all over it. No, the objection to same sex marriage equality is about one thing and one thing only -- screwing over the LGBT community and doing their level best to treat them as second class citizens. Shame shame shame on them; they do NOT deserve respect for their position. They instead deserve to be called out for their hypocrisy and hatred of others, and their desire to harm others.

A federal judge promises to rule later this month on the Davis sincere-religious-belief suit. Rowan County is claiming they are immune from this suit, since the county is not refusing to issue the same-sex marriage licenses, which could leave clerk Kim Davis on the hook for some considerable cash. However as her position and suits are being funded by the radical right wing instead of her personally, I'm sure there will be a generous outpouring of bigot bucks in her direction to help defray judgments against her, since it looks highly likely she will lose, and lose big.

GOP = H Y P O C R I S Y (St. Ronald Ray-gun rides again! Uh- OH!)

For all the lip service the right pays to Secular Saint Ronnie Ray-gun, he'd be run out of the GOP and the Tea Party on a rail, and then tarred and feathered, and probably set on fire and burned to the ground (metaphorically speaking in the context of politics and presidential legacy).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

And another refreshing view of right wing hypocrisy - do as I say, not as I do, Chris Christie edition

Racists tend to be gun nuts......

From FB/ Gun Control. Now.

Probably not all gun nuts are racists, but ALL racists are gun nuts.

I would add that the overwhelming majority of racists and similar gun nut bigots are conservative. They are the haters, whether it is the LGBT, people of a different religion, peole who celebrate different cultures and ethnicities, or people of color. Conservatives hate and fear them.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Fun Day - a little factual humor at the expense of the right

An observation that is factually correct, but which I'm sure Trump would not like to repudiate...along with his ties to the Clintons.

A botanical and historical Friday Fun Day

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima; Sunday will mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.  Both days are remarkable and memorable for the only example of intentional devastation employing atomic power as a weapon.

I'd like to share this uplifting piece from Upworthy:

It took 25 years for anyone to figure out this bonsai tree survived the Hiroshima bombing.

This Japanese white pine tree is almost 400 years old.
It lives in the U.S. National Arboretum as part of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, where it's the oldest tree in the collection.

It stands just a few feet tall and has carefully pruned piney branches extending from a short, mossy trunk.

Oh, yeah, and it survived the devastating Hiroshima bombing of 1945.

At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, two American pilots dropped a 9,700-pound atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Within minutes, the entire city had been leveled. Some accounts say everything within a four-mile radius of the initial blast was incinerated almost instantly.
Except, it seems, for this now-390-year-old Japanese pine tree, which miraculously survived despite being just over two miles away from the center of the blast.
In 1976, the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., received the tree from Japanese bonsai master Masaru Yamaki in celebration of the American bicentennial.
It wasn't until 2001, 25 years later, when Yamaki's grandsons came to visit the tree in person, that officials learned of its amazing journey.
Read the rest here - it's fascinating.

And continuing with the hey-it's-Friday fun botanical theme, in a totally different direction, from Raw Story :

Was Shakespeare high when he wrote his plays?

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of British playwright William Shakespeare.
Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.
Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare’ garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.
It has been claimed that Sir Francis Drake may have brought coca leaves to England after his visit to Peru, just as Sir Walter Raleigh had brought “tobacco leaves” (Nicotiana) from Virginia in North America.
In a recent issue of a magazine called Country Life, Mark Griffiths has stimulated great interest in John Gerard’s Herbal, published in 1597 as a botanical book which includes engraved images of several people in the frontispiece. One of them (cited as “The Fourth Man”) is identified by Griffiths as William Shakespeare, but this identification is questionable.
Possibly, the engraving represents Sir Francis Drake, who knew Gerard.
Gerard’s Herbal refers to various kinds of “tobacco” introduced to Europe by Drake and Raleigh in the days of Shakespeare in Elizabethan England.
There certainly is a link between Drake and plants from the New World, notably corn, the potato and “tobacco”. Furthermore, one can associate Raleigh with the introduction of “tobacco” to Europe from North America (notably in the context of the tobacco plant called Nicotiana, from Virginia and elsewhere).

What we found

There was unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.
Neither of the pipes with cocaine came from Shakepeare’s garden. But four of the pipes with cannabis did.
Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.
Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious effects of cocaine as a strange compound. Possibly, he preferred cannabis as a weed with mind-stimulating properties.

You can read the rest here.  Personally simply finding pipes with this residue lacks the rigorous provenance that is necessary to assert that Shakespeare owned or used these pipes, as distinct from someone else, much less that at the time he wrote he was under any influence or inspiration than what was naturally occurring inside his head.  But this certainly does shed some interesting lights on what was customary back in ye olde 16th century.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Of Love and Lawn Mowers: Conservatives Don't Get Consent and Consciousness

Conservatives say stupid things they think are clever. 

The more extreme the Tea Bagger politics, usually the dumber and less insightful the comment.  Facts are not on the side of the radical right wingers like Rep. Steve King of Iowa in his opposition to same sex marriage equality.

Conservatives are consistently poor on understanding the law -- I would opine it is not that they are incapable, it is they don't want to understand it.  Conservatives are also sadly consistent in being insulting to not only gay people but to women generally, and to the very institution of marriage they claim to be defending.

Here is the latest from Rep. Steve King, consistent with his history of ill-conceived and stupid statements.  From Think Progress:

If You Want To Marry Your Lawnmower, Steve King Believes That’s Now Legal

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is one of Congress’s most vocal opponents of marriage equality, and he hasn’t backed off since the Supreme Court ended the debate with its June decision in the Obergefell case. He’s proposed a resolution to have Congress reject the ruling because it “perverts the definition of marriage” and assert that states and businesses can refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. This week, he added some colorful rhetoric to punctuate his point.
As reported by journalist Matt Taibbi, while introducing Mike Huckabee at a campaign event on Thursday, King claimed that according to the Supreme Court’s ruling, “You can marry my lawnmower.”
This, however, was not even the first time King had contemplated lawnmower marriage. He’s actually been making the remark since just after the ruling came down. In late June, he was quoted as saying, “Their ruling really says anybody can marry anybody — and eventually it will be in any combination. I had a strong, Christian lawyer tell me yesterday that, under this decision that he has read, what it brings about is: It only requires one human being in this relationship — that you could marry your lawnmower with this decision. I think he’s right.”
King has a long history of making incendiary remarks about the LGBT community. He opposes nondiscrimination protections because he believes people will pretend to be gay in order to file suits; he called such protections “special rights for self-professed behavior.” If people are afraid of discrimination, he believes they should just hide their identities in the workplace so that nobody knows they’re gay in the first place. He thinks same-sex couples who want to marry are just friends, and he doesn’t expect to see any gay people in heaven.
Incidentally, Sen. Chuck Grassley, fellow Republican from Iowa and fellow opponent of same-sex marriage, was tweeting pictures Friday of a rig he set up to mow his lawn with three lawnmowers at the same time. His decision to highlight his marriage of three lawnmowers the day after King’s latest remarks may have just been a coincidence.

No one should have to live by hiding their identities in order to work, to have a place to live, or to be treated fairly and equally by any branch of government. I can think of no one less qualified to lecture anyone on who is and is not going to heaven than King, or his buddies in hate - and lies.

There is nothing in the SCOTUS decision that says a marriage only requires one human being.  There is nothing in the SCOTUS decision that says anyone can marry anyone either - marriage is still restricted to two people at a time, and there are still restrictions on matters such as age of consent, and biological relationships.  Incestuous relationships have not become legal by the most recent SCOTUS decision.

We have something similar from people like Rick Santorum, who make equally vile and offensive claims about bestiality -- which is, sadly, legal in some red-neck states, and which at least one teabagger politician has admitted to engaging.  Which sheds a little context on these holier than thou bigots, and explains were maybe they get their ideas about the evil sexual practices of others - from projecting their own behavior.  From the HuffPo:
For Senator Thad Cochran, Mississippi memories are neither sacred nor precious. Campaigning in Pine Belt, Miss., Senator Cochran recalled "fun" "adventures" roaming the Pine Belt countryside, "Picking up pecans... indecent things with animals." (Props to the Clarion Ledger's video proof.)
Here is the thing; lawn mowers and farm animals are just two groups that lack any capacity for consent.  So far as I can see, even the most rabid, drooling knuckle draggers DO acknowledge that same-sex marriage involves consent, as does sex between people who are not married.

Conservatives struggle with the concept of consent.  They have attempted for example to redefine the legal concept of rape to be only forcible rape. Everyone remembers Sen. Akin who insisted that any rape that resulted in pregnancy was not "legitimate rape".  That definition he and other teabaggers espoused of forcible rape would exclude any victim of statutory rape -- right wingers like the supposedly religious Duck Dynasty preacher encourages marriage to underage girls.  He recommends wives who are vulnerable and dependent and who are easily dominated and ordered around.  Donald Trump, accused of marital rape, used through his attorney that a husband cannot rape his wife as a defene of sexual assault.  And of course, we have seen too often the defense of rape of those who are drugged or otherwise unconscious that it is not rape if the victim did not say "No" due to incapacitation.  In conservative states, in fact, the legal age of consent has always been low, for either sex in the context of statutory rape or child marriage.

From OnTopMag:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum claims that the Supreme Court's recent ruling striking down state bans on gay marriage proves his “man on dog” warning was correct.
In 2003, Santorum predicted that if the high court struck down state laws criminalizing sodomy in Lawrence v. Texas, then “you have the right to anything” including pedophilia and “man on dog” relationships.

...The decision “has certainly opened the door for a variety of other things that are going to happen,” he answered when asked whether the ruling would lead to polygamy.
It is hard to tell what the pervy consevatives actually believe or understand -- pervy because they pursue underage girls, commit adultery, and are consumers of porn to a greater degree than non-conservatives. 

Do they really believe we will have rampant bestiality?  Do they really think people will be able to marry garden equipment?  I doubt it, although some of the more gullible certainly do believe ridiculous things from figures like King and Santorum (the perennial presidential wannabee, not the other stuff dubbed with that name.  There are a LOT of poorly educated and highly propgandized folks on the right, who want to stay that way, an exercise in aggressive willful ignorance.

No, I think this is just their way of trying to denigrate and disparage and demean their fellow Americans, and to exploit the rabble for their profit.  However you parse it, it is ugly and should be beneath our political discourse.  It drags us down as a nation.  Shame on the right; shame shame SHAME.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Food for thought (Right-Wing Terrorism)

A quote of a from the New York Times, based on statistics provided by the US Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center.

Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.

In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Achievers of new lows in Hypocrisy = GOP

Conservative Boogeymen and Bad Conservative Government:
the MN GOP fail going after MN Planned Parenthood

The deeply indebted MN GOP is trying to play their wedge politics on the state's dime, in contrast to legitimate non-wedge-issue investigations, in calling for an investigation into MN Planned Parenthood.  It makes sense they want to use state $$$$ to advance their political agenda, they're still pretty much broke from their past considerable fiscal irresponsibility.  They have very little money of their own, so they try to grab state money.

Planned Parenthood is seeing a spike upwards in donations; and now the MN GOP want to see a spike upwards in theirs out of this pseudo-controversy.

My hope is that in recognizing that MN PP is doing MORE, not less for women in this region, so that Minnesota consumers of the care they provide are not short changed by overstretching of the limited PP resources, the lege instead of investigating PP authorizes significant funding for PP.

A wasteful and pointless investigation would help the MN GOP gin up some excitement and motivate their base to action, which is the purpose of manipulating a wedge issue.  The right operates not by legitimate governing, but by keeping their base in an emotional turmoil and misinformed state of agitation and anger.  To keep that working for them, they have to poke the base with a big wedge issue stick on a regular basis or they get less crazy, and they give less money.

It's pretty well established that in spite of the efforts to fake videos to the contrary, Planned Parenthood is NOT 'selling baby parts', not nationally, not in MN.  Donations of tissue are not selling, and only four clinics in the US have the costly arrangements in place that permit tissue donation.  Minnesota is not one of them.

No one is getting rich on baby carcasses, to put it as crudely as the right likes to do, intentionally mis-framing and mis-representing the issue.

The reality is that once again the right has overplayed any legitimate objection they might have had -- legitimate meaning one that is honest and valid.  The result has been an INCREASE NOT A DECREASE in donations to PP.

Apparently it deeply upsets the right that their inept dishonesty did not work out as planned.  Minnesota PP, which is now doing more, not less good work in taking on the overflow of women seeking reproductive health care and choice, from neighboring red states that have attempted to oppress them with unconstitutional over-regulation, is now under threat of investigation from Minnesota Republicans.

Like the endless efforts to repeal Obamacare, even though they know it is not happening, like the shutting down of government to defund Obamacare which did not happen,  like the endless and pointless hearings on pseudo-scandals that produce NOTHING, at the federal level, now we have state level Republicans wanting to waste more tax payer money on a crazy, costly and useless witch hunt, for no other reason than cheap and exploitive political theater. 

I'd speculate with some reason here that throwing in Mayo and especially the U of MN, that this is also the right's way of subtly threatening those two entities as well.  Certainly the U of MN is dependent on state funding directly, and the state lege can threaten the Mayo indirectly with their authority.

From the City Pages

Republicans demand investigation of non-existent abortion program

Though Planned Parenthood maintains that the videos were heavily edited to remove the employees' repeated statements that fetal tissue is only donated, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is spearheading a federal investigation to prove otherwise. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood in his own state, as has Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
A group of 65 Minnesota lawmakers are calling on Gov. Mark Dayton to follow suit. The problem is, Minnesota's Planned Parenthood doesn't even have a tissue donation program.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jen Aulwes says that although some other affiliates across the country give women the option to donate their aborted fetuses to science, the Minnesota branch doesn't have any way of doing so even if patients specifically ask for it.
"We definitely stand by all our sister affiliates around the country who do have those programs," Aulwes says. "We haven't made a conscious decision not to have one. We just happen to not have that particular program in place."
Fetal tissue donations contribute to all kinds of medical research, playing a role in the creation of the polio vaccine and the search for a cure to Parkingson's Disease. Aulwes says none of the legislators who signed the letter to Dayton actually checked with Planned Parenthood Minnesota first to see if it had such a program to investigate.
Dayton said he would not grant the 65 Republicans an investigation. Instead, he offered a bewildered restatement of the obvious: "As far as I'm concerned there's no basis for an investigation at taxpayer expense into a private nonprofit organization that has stated they don't engage in those practices here in Minnesota."
Still, Republican lawmakers press on, unconvinced that Planned Parenthood should be taken at its word.
Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) just wants Democrats to look into it. "The letter that was sent out was written in a way that was very matter-of-fact and in a way that I was truly hoping that Democrats would say, 'Yes, we do need to look into this in Minnesota to make sure it's not happening here,'" she says. "I could really change the tone of that letter but I really, truly wanted an investigation, and I'm not doing it for political reasons. It's astounding that the pro-choice community has been basically silent on this."
Planned Parenthood may say that fetal issue is only being donated and not sold for profit, but the undercover videos did reveal the callousness of the people in the abortion industry, Scott says. "How can you talk about crunching baby bones and parts while you're dining? That I think is off-putting to a lot of people."
Of course Planned Parenthood would deny doing anything illegal, she says. Lawmakers need to make sure that local research hospitals like Mayo Clinic and U of M aren't in the market for fetal tissue.