This Election is Like Fentanyl

For a political junkie, that is.  For someone who simply cares about the future of this country, this election is nothing short of terrifying, but for a political junkie, this mess is like fetanyl to an opiate junkie.  Fetanyl, for those fortunate enough not to know, is an incredibly potent (from wiki:” Fentanyl is approximately 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine and roughly 40 to 50 times more potent than pharmaceutical grade {100% pure} heroin“) prescription painkiller.  For a addict accustomed to heroin or more common prescription opiates, fetanyl (or many of its analogs) provides a surprisingly intense rush, and as such is usually highly valued.  Unfortunately, the very thing that draws addicts to fetanyl is also its worst drawback.  Fetanyl’s strength makes it incredibly dangerous as a street drug.  Anecdotally, I know of several overdoses caused by prescription fetanyl patches (and unless I state otherwise, all overdoses are caused by misuse and/or abuse of said drug.  I definitely believe fetanyl should be available to people who need it for pain reduction), and my own past experiences taught me to be very careful with fetanyl patches.  When you get into bags of heroin that contain fetanyl or an analog, you are getting into really scary territory.

This election is fascinating.  It is ludicrously long,  and completely unbalanced, yet both sides still have an amazing amount of drama unfolding.  The Democrats have been playing second fiddle, partially by the design of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s failed plan to make damn sure no one saw a Democratic primary debate this year, and partially due just to the sheer amount of crazy on the opposite side, but the story currently unfolding is incredible.  After losing to then Senator Obama in 2008, this was finally supposed to be HRC’s year.  Joe Biden gave her a bit of a scare before deciding not to run, but in the end the Democratic party mainly agreed that she would be the nominee.  Hell, her main competition wasn’t even a Democrat, he was a self proclaimed socialist Senator from Vermont.  The above mentioned chair of the Democratic party seemingly scheduled the debates to fly under the radar and insure that HRC would get through the primary season fresh and ready for the general election, while the GOP nominee would be limping in after a crowded primary fight.  Flash forward to today.   Sure, HRC “won” Iowa.  Sure, everyone already knew Bernie would do well in New Hampshire.  But if you are a HRC supporter you can not tell me you aren’t feeling the “here we go again” taste of 2008 right now.  I still feel that HRC will eventually secure the nomination, but I’m starting to come around to the idea that the previously unthinkable is possible as well.

This isn’t a normal election.  Just look at the other side for all the proof of that you’ll ever need.

I feel sorry for Jeb Bush.  Don’t read any of this as an endorsement, of course.  I still think his policy ideas are evil, it’s just a benign evil.  He’s not trying to be evil, that’s just the way he was raised.  He’s a Bush.  I don’t vote based on who I would like to have a beer with, but Jeb seems like a nice enough guy.  I wouldn’t mind having a drink with him, as long as we didn’t talk about politics or religion.  It’s hard not to feel sorry for the man when you see him bear hug a stranger who mentioned Bush could conceivably swing his vote, or quietly plead with a crowd to applaud his applause line.  Perhaps the memory of his brother’s time in office doomed Jeb’s chanced no matter what happened, but we’ll never know.  The crowded GOP field at first appeared as pins set up for Jeb to strike down.  Following his brother’s approach, he raised a ton of money before anyone else even knew there was an election coming up, giving himself the appearance of the eventual nominee.  Oh what sweet summer children we were back then.

If I would have told you, at this point last year, that 2016 would begin with Donald Trump finishing 2nd in Iowa before winning New Hampshire convincingly, you would have rolled your eyes and moved on to the next post or the next blog.  I never thought this was an impossible situation, but I admit I found it incredibly unlikely.  Like everyone else (well, almost.  Brad Friedman at Bradblog took him seriously the whole time) I thought Trump would fizzle out and one of the establishment candidates would take control.  Instead we have a complete revolt against the national GOP by the angry “base” they created over the past decades.  After Iowa it appeared as if perhaps Marco Rubio would be the establishment’s hail mary, saving the GOP from either Trump or Cruz.  That hope seems a bit further fetched now after Chris Christie finally justified his presence in the race by short circuiting Marco’s programming at the last debate.  Mr. Rubio finished back of Jeb and was shut out from delegates in New Hampshire.  Let me say that again.  He lost to Jeb.

Sure, Kasich came in second, but he isn’t a legitimate establishment choice.  He is far too moderate for the “base” that controls so many red states.  (And seriously, look at Kasich’s positions and realize how scary it is that he is considered too moderate.)  The GOP race seriously seems like it could come down to Ted Cruz v Donald Trump, and if that happens, what does the national party do?  If it was anyone else, the answer would be throw everything possible against Trump and hope for the best, but I can not see them siding with Cruz, a candidate many of them actively hate.

And yet, as fascinating as it all is, as much as you want to see what happens in the next debate, in the next primary, the dangers lurk below the surface.  The GOP’s Trump problem was hilarious until it wasn’t.  As long as any path Trump had to the GOP nomination ended in a general election defeat, it was all in fun.  As long as we knew Ted Cruz would lose in a landslide, it was a game.  “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”  What happens if we do lose an eye?

They don’t even have to win to do damage.

But with the revolution in the Democratic party unlikely to end soon, it becomes increasingly more likely that instead of the GOP nominee emerging from a bitter primary fight to find an untouched HRC with a full war chest and the whole Democratic party behind her, they find they have to face either a self-proclaimed socialist in Sanders or HRC, both having just finished an equally grueling primary fight.  And then the “what ifs” begin.  If the nominee is HRC, what if Sanders voters stay home?  If it’s Sanders, does he cause establishment wing Democrats to stay home?  Can a “socialist” win a general election in the United States?  (Fwiw, I consider myself a socialist mainly.)  If it’s HRC, did Bernie hit her on the e-mails?  Did it hurt?  Is there a terrorist attack preceding the election?  (I find this to be incredibly likely.  Terrorism is normally intended to force a response.  ISIS wants an apocalyptic ground war on their territory.  They have to know that they are much more likely to get their war with a GOP president, and that a terror attack will push votes to the GOP candidate.  They aren’t stupid.  I hope our anti-terrorism forces are on the ball.)

As I said, the “what ifs”.

With fetanyl, the danger is overdose, always lurking in the shadows, waiting for you to get sloppy.  With this election cycle, it is President Cruz or President Trump.  Catastrophic results to a fascinating ride.

For those of you who don’t love politics, I apologize.  All you get is a possible Trump or Cruz presidency.  You don’t even get to enjoy the high.


“Good Guy with a Gun” of the Week

This week’s “Good Guy with a Gun” award goes to one Matthew A. Crawford of Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Some of you may recognize the name from his previous bout with fame when his concealed handgun accidentally discharged during a church service he was attending at the Cathedral in Altoona.

One person who may be quite thankful of Mr. Crawford’s earlier problems is his ex-girlfriend, since his plea agreement included a provision prohibiting Mr. Crawford from possessing firearms for his time on probation.  Otherwise, this story may have a much darker ending.  For as the Altoona Mirror reports:

An Altoona man whose handgun discharged while attending an Easter Mass at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in 2015 is in jail after an alleged domestic dispute at his home, Altoona police said Monday.

Matthew A. Crawford, 30, of 1418 18th St. was arrested by Altoona police late Saturday after he allegedly beat his girlfriend with the handle of a plunger about 8 p.m. after confronting her as she gathered her belongings to move out, Crawford’s arrest papers indicate.

According to police, responding officers were told by Crawford’s girlfriend that she was at their home to pack in order to move out and that Crawford returned while she was there and cornered her in an upstair’s bedroom. Crawford shut the bedroom door, and as she tried calling 911, he picked up a plunger and started hitting her with the handle. Police said the woman said she was hit 10 to 15 times on various parts of her body. Police noted the woman had a mark consistent with being struck with a a plunger handle on her arm and suffered a scratch on her left hand. She also complained of pain to her right shoulder blade and neck.

During the alleged assault, Crawford reportedly told his girlfriend he would kill her, police said.

Remember, as the NRA says, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”  Thankfully, that’s people with guns, not people with plungers mostly.  In Mr. Crawford’s defense, I am sure he had a good reason to beat his (hopefully) ex-girlfriend with a plunger.  Let’s see:

Police said that Crawford told an officer she was supposed to pick him up but didn’t, and he was angry he had to walk home. Crawford told police he fell into his girlfriend and then said he didn’t want to answer any more questions without his attorney present.

Okay then.  Well, in his defense, other than the accidental discharge at church, it isn’t like Mr. Crawford had a history of violence, right?

In 2010, Crawford was arrested for pulling a gun on a family member during an argument.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.  Responsible gun ownership, people!  Good guys with guns!  Feel safe!


A Preview “Wait, What?”

So I have some interesting things planned for the next couple weeks as I bring the blog back from the dead for the Presidential election season, including an article using an infographic/advertisement in a way I am fairly certain the provider of said “adver-graphic” never intended, but I thought I’d toss out a late Friday night “Wait, What?!?” to check out the new layout and see how I like it.  (Speaking of, if you ever felt the need to suggest a theme for this blog, I’ll be open to suggestions for a week or so.)   So let’s take a trip to Ohio, via Raw Story:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Patton was blasted on Thursday after comments he made about fellow Republican Jennifer Herold, reports

In a radio interview, Patton said, “The gal that’s running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants. And I don’t know if anybody explained to her we’ve got to spend three nights a week in Columbus.  So, how does that work out for you? I waited until I was 48 and my kids were raised, and at least adults, before we took the opportunity to try.”

Patton also referred to Herold as a “young gal” and added: “I want to tell her, ‘Hey Sweetie, I just got 27 percent of the pie in just my district, which is nine times what should have been done.’

“Hey Sweetie”?  Seriously?  He called his competitor “sweetie?”  *facepalm*

Well, at least the head of the Ohio GOP took Senator Patton to task for his outright misogyny.

Faced with criticism over the condescending comments, GOP county chair Rob Frost defended Patton, saying, “These are not sexist or out-of-line comments.”

Frost went on to say that Herold was only outraged over Patton’s remark in order to get attention.

“This is his opponent, who really, you know, is desperate to try to get some attention onto her run, against a guy who is going to do a stellar job.” Frost stated.

According to the GOP head, Patton would have made the similar comments even if she wasn’t a young mother.

“[It] would be the same if he had said, ‘You know, hey, there’s a guy running against me who’s an insurance agent or a lawyer or a radio host,’” he explained.

Wait, what?  Screw this, my niece just earned her doctorate, I’m going to drink a Fist City to celebrate.  I’m sure I’ll have enough sexism to write about next week.

Preemptively Pointing Fingers

I really have nothing to say about this post at Salon.

I am a 27-year-old, politically active, progressive millennial voter. I am a political junkie; my background is political science and American history. However, if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination (a big “if”), I will likely not vote for her, and will instead write in “Bernie Sanders” … and I encourage my readers to do so as well.

I’m not going to bitch about “ideological purity.”  Not going to point out the utter futility of a write in vote for president.  Not going to take on the author’s points one at a time.  (She only supports a federal minimum wage of 12$?  Burn the witch!!!)  Nor am I going to be provocative and ask if a little bit of hidden misogyny colors the progressive backlash against Hillary.  I’m definitely not going to write a glowing piece on how Hillary Clinton is my dream president, mainly because she isn’t.  I’m not even going to ask whether possibly throwing a presidential election and handing the GOP full control of the federal government is really the best way to make a point to the Democratic party.

Nope.  Just collecting these posts.

Nothing to see here.


Can I Haz Lawsuit Plz?

From Dispatches from the Culture War:

Apparently pulling a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Saudi Arabia is now threatening to sue anyone who compares their “justice” system to the extreme form of Sharia law practiced by ISIS in the territory they control. The threat was aimed at someone on Twitter, but they say they’ll go after anyone who makes such a comparison. Okay, I’m game. Your legal system is, if anything, even worse than ISIS.

Saudi Arabia will sue any Twitter user who compares the Kingdom’s recent decision to execute a poet to punishments handed down by Isis…

“The justice ministry will sue the person who described … the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like’,” a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh…

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity”, the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom”.

I’ll bite.  Hey Saudi Arabia?  Your system of justice is very ISIS-like.


Shed a Tear

Attention, fellow evil secularists!

While I am aware that most of you are quite busy this time of year, waging our non-stop war against a holiday half of us already celebrate culturally, I urge you all to take a quick time out from your assault on Christmas this December and think of poor Linda Harvey.  While we are all plotting who to say “Happy Holidays!” to next, or designing seasonal cups in minimalist, inclusive ways, all in our effort to persecute Christians, Mission America’s Linda Harvey used her column at the World Nut Daily to share her heart-breaking tale of holiday woe:

“Well, it’s that time again — time to get out the Christmas list and start hitting the stores,” she wrote. “The problem is — what stores? For any Christian who wants to spend hard-earned dollars with family-friendly, Christian-affirming retailers, restaurants and service providers, the list is growing shorter all the time.”

Harvey urged readers to avoid stores such as Macy’s, Target, Walmart and JC Penney, along with items from Mattel, Levi-Strauss and General Mills. For online shoppers, Harvey said that Amazon, Google and Facebook should also be off-limits.

Companies that post high scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, Harvey wrote, are joining “Satan’s Office Party” and “the nation’s leading self-declared enemies of Christians.”

Isn’t that sad?  I seem to have a bit of a cold, as I can not get a single tear to roll down my cheek over Linda’s plight.  Stupid tear ducts.  Also, I seem to have misplaced my tiny violin collection, which means I can not play “My Heart Bleeds for You” for her on the world’s tiniest violin.

So if any of you have a single tear to spare, or a little violin to condescendingly play for her, feel free to correct my oversights.



School is Now in Session

Greetings, students.  Please find your seat.  I’m not going to call roll today, but I will insist on enforcing our usual “no cross talk” policy.  Today’s lesson will be quick and hopefully, easy to understand.  Ready?

For arguments sake, let’s say that you run an establishment that hosts weddings.  To really crank up the realism in this scenario, let’s also say that you are a horrible bigot.  Now as a horrible bigot who runs a wedding hosting establishment, I am sure you are asking yourself who you are legally allowed to discriminate against.  You know how it is, life is short and you only get so many chances to ruin someone else’s day for no reason other than your own prejudice or outdated cultural beliefs.  The damn government already pissed in your Cheerios by forcing you to open your establishment to black weddings, and it was only by the grace of god that the resulting lingering odor of fried chicken and watermelon stained table cloths that you were positive would be the end result never materialized.  Thanks again, Jesus, for that small blessing.  Then that damn government went and forced you to open your doors to those unbiblical heathen sinners who were engaging in the abomination of miscegenation.

While you were certain god had a lightening bolt with your name on it for allowing that blasphemy to occur, Jesus apparently understood that you were forced by the evil, mean jack-booted federal thugs to permit these weddings, and approved of your little acts of protest (cranking the AC in the winter and the heat in the summer while claiming the system was broken) enough to spare you and your family.  Even though you managed to escape the fires of hell in that instance, when you saw those two carpet-munching man-haters trying to mock god himself by pretending their demon-possessed souls and father-abused bodies could feel love, god’s perfect gift to the world, you had to put your foot down.  After all, it was Adam and Eve, not Audra and Eve, and didn’t god send Aids down from heaven to deal with dykes like this?  And while Jesus himself may not have said anything about homosexuals, the Old Testament and Saul of Tarsus, who most definitely was not a sexually repressed closet case, both condemned the beast like act.

Imagine your surprise when, after honoring your hateful god and turning those sinners away, you found yourselves the proud owners of a 13 thousand dollar fine for discrimination.  You almost swear, before catching yourself of course, wondering what happened to this great nation when god-fearing Christians can’t even discriminate against a couple of queers anymore.  I mean, you weren’t going to stone them to death, even though, biblically, that’s exactly what you should have done.  You just didn’t want their icky gay germs to contaminate your beautiful wedding location.  What’s worse is that if you catch the Aids from breathing the same air as these god haters, the government probably won’t even let you sue them.  How is that fair?  Having not taken this class yet, you call up your lawyer to see if you can do anything about this horrible infringement on your religious liberty.  Your lawyer, after performing a ton of research on your bank account balance, assures you that you should give him a lot of money.  He definitely, without a doubt, is not telling his friends about the unwinnable case he just took on for a couple of rich religious idiots and how, counting appeals, he just paid for his first house, that sports car he always wanted, and an engagement ring for his soon to be trophy wife.  I promise that, after a couple of lines and beers, he never once said to his friends, “Hey, some people hit the lottery, some people inherit, and some people find well-off religious bigots; we all get rich in different ways.”

Now I totally admit that I made our hypothetical business owning bigots into a pair of ridiculous strawmen.  Yet cases such as this one are currently taking place, as students who clicked the above link now know.  Let’s look at that non-hypothetical case, shall we?  Once again, here is the link.

Owners of a New York wedding venue who were fined $US13,000 for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law are arguing Monday that they should be legally allowed to follow their Christian faith.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their own religious beliefs. Now the business, owned by Robert and Cynthia Gifford, is appealing a ruling from the state’s Division of Human Rights that it violated New York law and is seeking to have the fine reversed.

Now note first of all that the owners of this particular venue were fined for violating the New York state anti-discrimination law.  Why is this important?  Because if you take a look at that law you will notice that it applies to the following: “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability.”  Well, will you look at that?  Sexual orientation is included.  Unfortunately that is not always the case in the United States, but in New York state it is part of the law.  So let us see what the bigot’s Gifford’s lawyer is going to argue in this case.

“It would violate the Giffords’s faith to facilitate this union,” attorney Caleb Dalton told a five-judge supreme court appeals panel.

But Dalton, counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Giffords’s faith did not allow them to participate in a marriage other than between one man and one woman.

So it seems that Dalton is arguing that this case sees two rights in conflict:  the McCarthy’s right to access versus the bigot’s Gifford’s right to religious freedom.  Or as the bigot Cynthia Gifford melodramatically puts it:

Cynthia Gifford told reporters they are asking the court to respect the freedoms upon which the United States was built.

“When the government tells you what to say and punishes you if you don’t, it’s very frightening,” she said. “And all of us Americans should be scared about this, no matter where we stand on the issue.”

Now churches, as far as I know, are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.  It would be kind of heavy handed after all to force a church to hire an atheist pastor.  I believe that exemption ends once the employees no longer have any pastoral duties.  My uncertainty on the matter is irrelevant, of course, because the homophobe’s Gifford’s business is not a church.  Their argument is absurd, which you can discover by substituting any of the other protected classes in place of homosexuals and see how long it would take their case to be thrown out of court.  If the Gifford’s bigoted viewpoint became law, you would immediately have various businesses not only refusing service to homosexuals, but also to blacks, interracial couples, women not accompanied by a man, Muslims, Jews, women, Catholics, the disabled, and white males over 50 (that would be my store.  Hey, they may be a Trump supporter, and I’m not taking that chance.), to name a few.  Perhaps the Giffords feel it should only be a narrow exemption allowing the discrimination against homosexuals, but there is not only no logical reason to limit the religious freedom exemption to only that group, it would also be ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, especially after this year’s ruling on marriage equality.

Now I am sure I have some libertarian students who feel a business owner should be able to serve who ever they want, with the only possible punishment for open bigotry being from the free market.  To those students I kindly say, “Fuck off.”  (I have tenure.)  While they are kindly fucking off, they can remove their cars from the tax funded roads.  Every single business, no matter how small or large, benefits from the public coffers.  Be it the publicly funded roads that their customers travel on, to the publicly funded police force that protects their business, we all depend on public money at some time.  New York state has decided that one of the concessions they demand from people who wish to operate a business in their state is is adherence to the state’s anti-discrimination law.  If you are not willing to obey that law, then you are perfectly free to move your business to a different state or country with laws more to your likings.

We keep hearing people in these situations complain that their religious liberties have been violated.  Bull.  We have freedom of religion in this country, as we have freedom of speech, yet neither freedom is absolute.  I hate the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example, so instead I will suggest you visit the nearest airport and joke about how long it took you to hide all the bombs in your suitcase.  From your jail cell, please write me and let me know what they said when you played your “freedom of speech” trump card.  Religious freedom has limits as well.  Even if I sincerely believe that the only way to please Jesus and get into heaven is by using copious amounts of heroin, the drug task force is not going to allow me to freely practice my religion.  Child sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, marrying multiple 12 year olds, and the withholding of medical care from minor children are just some of the “sincerely held religious beliefs” we have decided, as a society, are not to be protected.  Your religious freedom stops when it begins to affect the freedoms of other people.

You can march in bigot parades every weekend.  You can attend and tithe a church that preaches that Starbucks includes human semen in their lattes.  You can write internet post after internet post about how all homosexuals are going to burn in everlasting hell.  You can even preach that the bible calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, at an event with presidential candidates in attendance.

What you can not do, assuming you are in a state that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, is deny them the same services you offer to everybody else.  It really isn’t that difficult of a concept.

Quiz on Friday.  Enjoy the rest of your day.