The Most Frightening Quote I’ve Seen This Week

holyshit

That is Altoona State Rep. John McGinnis.  Quoted in the May 29th Altoona Mirror.  I can’t find the Political Notebook column at the Mirror’s site, but here’s a screen shot from the behind the paywall copy.

McGinnis said that.  In front of people.  On the record.

Jesus fucking Christ on a Crutch.

Another Thing To Add To The List

Normally I tend to shy away from the line, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Personally seeing something isn’t the best reason for belief, honestly, once you have an adequate understanding of how the human brain operates.  Let’s just say that if I saw a ghost or an alien spaceship, it wouldn’t necessarily result in me believing in ghosts and/or alien spaceships.  A preponderance of evidence is much more important to my acceptance of somethings existence than personal experience.  I hike/backpack quite often, and yes, I have seen and heard several things that could have possibly been sasquatchi.  (Fight the man!  Help make “Sasquatchi” the proper plural form of “Sasquatch.” Fuck “Sasquatches.”  No, not literally.  Well, I guess if you find one, if that is what you are into, and the Sasquatch consents, then take my comment as literally as you wish.  Who am I to stand in the way of consenting human/Sasquatch love?  Just make sure the Sasquatch consents, Bobo.)   They also could have been bears, bucks during the rut, or a myriad amount of animals so extensive that I refuse to list them all.  I could go around saying that I saw or heard Bigfoot, but reality and the preponderance of evidence suggest one of the other possible explanations are exponentially more likely.  Was that thing I saw in Wildwood Cemetery a ghost, a demon, or light reflecting from a car’s headlights?   Is that an alien spaceship, or am I misinterpreting something in the sky?  I can come up with a nice sized list of reasons to doubt what you personally witness before even bringing hallucinations into the discussion.  So yeah, I’ll accept/believe something not when I see it, but when I see a preponderance of evidence.

All of that being said, there are still a few things that I truly will only believe when I see it.  This election season seems to be the genesis of most of them.  One of them, that one of the two major political parties in the United States would actually nominate Biggest Loser contestant( I know it is the wrong reality show, but tell me it doesn’t fit), horrific hairstyle model, wannabe dictator,  bankruptcy claiming con artist, xenophobic misogynist, fascism tinged populist who claims to have way more money than he actually has, who espoused  fairly run of the mill liberal political positions up until a couple years ago Donald “Not Joking” Trump as their Presidential candidate, was witnessed yesterday when, anticlimactically, enough unbound delegates to put him over the top expressed their intentions to vote for Donald “The Death of Serious Politics” Trump, thereby saving any of the remaining states and territories the horrible distinction of being the one that clinched him the nomination.  Yep, I admit it completely.  Even with my low opinion of the Republican base, I would have bet a seriously large amount of cash against him.  I mean, sure, I knew the racism and xenophobia, along with his faux populist message was going to play well, sadly, among the white working class.  But I was positive a combination of evangelical Christians along side horrified moderates (well….those that still exist in the GOP) and embarrassed movement conservatives would find some way to stop his campaign.  I mean, I don’t believe in a religious test for office to be sure, but Evangelicals sure as hell do, and Trump is about as Christian as I am.  No, I take that back.  I could fake it much better than he could since I’ve read the Bible and studied apologetics.  There is no way they believed his religious pandering, especially with Ted Cruz, a man so wrapped in the faith that the Westboro Baptist Church thought he should tone it down a bit (I kid….Or do I?), running against him for comparison.

I was wrong.  So were quite a few Evangelical candidates.  All those years the GOP spent pounding the Bible while carefully playing their racist dog whistles and it turns out the equation for victory was simply exchanging the Bible pounding for half-assed pandering and the dog whistle for outright bigotry.  Who knew?

“That’s okay,” I thought.  Even if Donald “Goodbye, America’s Reputation” Trump manages to use insanely unrealistic campaign promises along with  the bigotry the GOP’s been seeding with the “Southern Strategy” for decades now to somehow win the nomination, all that means is at least 4 more years with a Democratic President.  I mean, you heard these high ranking members of the GOP during the campaign.  Trump’s middle name may as well be “Not Qualified for the Office of President.”  Fox News used the first debate and Megyn Kelly to try and take him down.  The National Review dedicated a whole issue to #NeverTrump.  The last GOP nominee was practically begging someone, anyone, else to get in the race.  The base may make him the nominee, but the elite members of the party realized that not only would a Trump presidency be a national nightmare, but even being associated with him would be an asterisk after their names in the history book.  Sure, it would cost them the White House, but they could come back stronger in 2020 and they would have the added admiration from independents and moderates for standing up against Donald “Not Qualified for the Office of President” Trump.

Did you see Megyn Kelly’s softball interview with Donald “She had blood coming out of her…..wherever” Trump?  She was harder on the Duggar’s.  Anyone else having fun watching people who insisted he wasn’t anywhere near qualified for the Presidency endorse him?  For as much of a jackass as he is, I really thought more of Chris Christie, and yet there he was, the first to cross the line.  I mean sure, there are a few members of the GOP who are more concerned with their personal integrity than victory.  Last I checked George Will was still writing anti-Trump columns.  I don’t see endorsements coming anytime soon from Romney or anyone named Bush.  Senator Ben Sasse has drawn the ire of his own state’s GOP leadership with his anti-Trump stance.  The communications chair of the Young Republican National Federation,  Katrina Elaine Jorgensen, resigned over his nomination.  And the Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, skipped out on Trump’s rally in her state the other day, and was vocal about skipping the convention until she realized her position as chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association kind of obligates her to be in attendance.  I doubt Glenn Beck is planning on jumping on the Trump train, and I believe at least one influential right wing news site is still #NeverTrump.

Other than that?  Watch them fall in line.  Anyone really expect Paul Ryan isn’t going to endorse Donald “nice tits, no brain” Trump?  A bit of advice for all the #NeverTrumpers now stampeding their way to his campaign?  Don’t neglect the balls.  If you do, he will fire you.  And don’t forget to toss the salad, although I would skip that on days he pandered to Hispanics by eating taco salad.

So what’s left this year for me to believe when I see?

I’ll only believe their are enough white men in this country to elect Donald “The Man Who Single-Handedly Caused the Entire World to Reevaluate Their Foreign and Economic Policies Towards the United States” Trump when I see ……  Okay, scratch this one. Thanks to 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting machines, I will never believe this one, no matter what happens.  (Are you stunned at the thought of 100% unverifiable voting machines?  Yeah, I was as well.  Go to The Brad Blog and follow his reporting.  Our elections are so shady they make corrupt dictators look honest.  )

I’ll only believe people in the United States are fucking stupid enough to either outright elect Trump, or come close enough that our rotten election system, through honest errors or malicious hacking, is able to tilt the count in his favor when I see the final election results, with 100% reporting.

I’ll believe the Justice Department is going to indict Hillary Clinton over those emails when I see her do the perp walk live on the network news.

And finally, and just as unlikely as the two above, I will believe Bernie Sanders is enough of a selfish fuck to give Donald “Pocahontas” Trump the priceless Christmas in June present of a televised debate when the only realistic chance Sanders has of winning the Democratic nomination is the previously mentioned extremely unlikely indictment of HRC, resulting in the only possible beneficiary of such a debate being Donald “that low life” Trump as he commiserates with Bernie over how rigged the Democratic nominating system is as he actively courts Sanders supporters, all the while saving any negative thing Sanders says about HRC for future campaign ads, when I fucking see it on my television screen.

Sorry.  I still have too much respect for Bernie to actually think he would go through with this horrid idea.  I’ve been wrong before, and if I am, believe me, I will be back to tear into Mr. Sanders with all the vitriol I can muster, but until then, I’ll chalk it up to a joke gone awry.

Maybe Republicans should debate with Democrats during the primary season.  Sanders floated that idea at the beginning of it all, and it is an interesting one to think about.  That debate should definitely not be between one parties Presidential nominee and the other parties second place finisher.

No matter how much it could raise for charity.


I love politics.  Love it.  I’m addicted.  It is just about all I read about.  Politics and ASOIAF.  Hell, half the reason I love ASOIAF so much is the political wrangling in the series.  But this particular election is getting hard to watch, and therefore, hard to write about.  My 80 year old mother, who largely ignores politics, is openly scared over this.  This 4’11, 93lbs little old lady brought up Hitler in comparison during a conversation yesterday.  I laughed and told her about Godwin’s Law, which made me think:  Is Godwin’s Law harmful in some instances?  If something really is Hitler like, then shouldn’t we be able to go with the comparison that makes the most sense without instantly losing the argument and being seen as a crank?  I’m not saying that Trump wants to kill all the Muslims and Mexicans.  He just wants to evict them from the country.  Which is how Hitler started with the Jews, by the way.  He didn’t start with gas chambers.

I am not saying that Trump could become a Hitler.  The United States isn’t suffering under an unfair treaty imposed upon us after a war that killed an entire generation.  We aren’t going to invade Canada.  There are never going to be death camps gassing Muslims and Hispanics.  In 2020, Trump is not going to declare martial law and put an end to free elections, declaring himself President for life, no matter how many right wing nut jobs were convinced Obama was going to do that by now.

I am saying, however, that there may be comparisons to be made and lessons to be learned that can only be discovered by scrapping Godwin’s Law for a period of time.  Perhaps I just found something to write about.

All I know for sure is this:  If you aren’t at all concerned about the wave of xenophobic bigotry and hate that Trump is currently riding, then you haven’t been paying attention.

 

Meet the Newest Person Ted Cruz is “Honored” to Have Support Him.

Its Gordon Klingenschmitt.  You know, Dr. Chaps!  From those tireless folks over at Right Wing Watch:

We have noted several times before that there seems to be no activist who is too extreme to be embraced by Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, so we were not particularly surprised when the Texas senator recently announced that infamous demon-hunting, anti-gay exorcist/state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt would be part of his Colorado leadership team.

“I am honored to have the support of so many courageous conservatives in Colorado,” Cruz said in a press release celebrating the formation of “his Colorado Leadership Team with the endorsement of 25 current and former elected officials and key grassroots leaders,” including Klingenschmitt.

How extreme is good ole Dr. Chaps? Well….

Klingenschmitt is a viciously anti-gay theocrat who brags of having once tried to rid a woman of the “foul spirit of lesbianism” through an exorcism and believes that gay people “want your soul” and may sexually abuse their own children, which is why he says that they should face government discrimination since only people who are going to heaven are entitled to equal treatment by the government.
….

Klingenschmitt is a man who wrote a book arguing that President Obama is ruled by multiple “demonic spirits” and once even tried to exorcise the White House, claims that “Obamacare causes cancer,” that the Bible commands people to own guns in order to “defend themselves against left wing crazies” and that the FCC is allowing demonic spirits to “molest and visually rape your children“.

I could go on, but I won’t.  Instead, go on over to Right Wing Watch, read some more of his bigotry and watch the videos of him saying this shit, proudly, out loud.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it often at least until the convention, but the only two words that scare me more than “President Trump” are “President Cruz.”

I Wonder What They Talk About on “Gun Owners News Hour”?

Did you know that Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt hosts a show called “Gun Owners News Hour”?  Neither did I!  I wonder what they talk about on that show?  I bet it is about new products the gun industry is bringing out for law abiding, responsible gun owners, such as handguns that can fire legal armor piercing rounds, new triggers to make your AR-15 practically fully automatic (since the evil government has overreached and attempted to stop sales of the ARFA kit to make it full auto.  Thanks, Obama.), 30 round handgun clips (for self-defense.  duh.), youth rifles that come in pink, and children’s books such as “101 Things to Do in the Backseat with Mom’s Handgun.”  (Okay, I made the book up.  I was actually going to make up 4 or 5 crazy gun related products, but I kept finding real ones.  Sigh.)  Anyway, let’s see what the show is all about!

Conservative activist Jesse Lee Peterson appeared on the “Gun Owners News Hour” with Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt last weekend, where he repeated the thesis of his most recent book , which is that racism in America does not exist, but rather is a myth perpetuated by people like President Obama who was raised to hate white people and is incapable of feeling love.
God damn it.  Now there’s coffee all over my monitor.  What the fuck did they just say?

Peterson told Pratt that once Americans “dispel that notion that racism exists,” liberals will lose power because “their father the Devil” feeds on such lies.

The two then, for some reason, started comparing and contrasting Dr. Ben Carson, the former Republican presidential candidate, with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor who became a right-wing lightning rod during Obama’s first presidential campaign.

Peterson told Pratt that African American voters didn’t support Carson’s presidential bid because they’re in an “evil state” and “prefer evil over good.”

“And yet, in their fallen state of anger, most blacks see Dr. Carson as the enemy and they see Jeremiah Wright as the good guy,” he said. “And even though Jeremiah Wright speaks evil, he is evil, but because they’re in that evil state, they identify with him over a good, decent man like Dr. Ben Carson. And blacks would never vote for him, the majority would never vote for him because any time a person who’s good like that, they see them as a sell-out, they don’t accept good, they prefer evil over good and they call evil good and they call good evil.”

So blacks who vote Democratic are in an “evil state?”  OMG!  If you add a “n”, it becomes the Demoncratic party!  Why didn’t I ever see that before!  The horror, the horror!

Earlier in the program, Peterson expounded on his theory that President Obama has been sympathetic toward the Black Lives Matter movement because he was raised by a mother who “hated her own race” and grew up without his father so “he doesn’t feel love, he has nothing but anger in his heart.”

Pratt evidently thought this was very perceptive and said that the president “has developed a very cold shell to cover that with and when I see him, it’s almost like looking at a robot, the lack of human emotion that’s on display.” Meanwhile, he said, the president has a “Mt. Vesuvius” of anger bubbling underneath.

Peterson agreed that “Obama is evil, he’s cold-hearted, he doesn’t care about anyone but Obama” but voters have never really understood “how wicked this man is.”

You know, as a 40 year old white man, I’m going to refrain from making the obvious point about who really “hated her(his) own race” and instead just wonder what the fuck any of this had to do with guns.  Oh, yeah.  I forgot.  Obama is coming to take away our guns.  Run for the hills.  Hide your weapons (and your white women).  The bad black President is coming to take them all away.

Any day now.
Definitely before the election.
Or maybe right after.
Or after he declares martial law and makes himself President for life.
Yeah, definitely that last one.  Bet the farm on it.

I Didn’t Realize Pigs and Dogs Were Mortal Enemies.

Eating dinner with my mother often results in me catching Inside Edition, since she normally watches it after the CBS evening national news.  Sometimes the CBS news and their insistence on sticking with the “both sides are equally at fault” narrative of US politics sends me on an after dinner “anger dampening”walk with my Chow Chow.  If CBS happens to be unobjectionable that particular evening, it normally ends up being an eye-roll worthy story on Inside Edition that peels me off the couch.  As much as I try to focus, something about “in depth” reports on how to protect yourself from hotel peepers combined with fawning reports of Hugh Jackman rescuing children from Wolverine’s oldest foe, Riptide, tends to distract me from my reading, and any attempt at post-dinner conversation would result in an angry “shush!”  Sop instead, Princess gets her evening walk.

The other night, however, a story on Inside Edition caught my eye and doomed Princess to an extra 30 minutes of waiting before her nightly constitutional.  Here, have a watch.  It is safe for work, although probably not safe for humanity.

Stomach sufficiently turned?  Any explanations for the officers’ reactions?  I mean that one dog was already in a catch-pole.  It wasn’t a threat to that officer.  And yet he still felt the need to shoot the poor dog five times?  And how frightening is it that most of those cases began when the officer went to the wrong address to begin with?  How do you protect against that?

My dog, Princess Lyanna Sarella, is a Chow Chow mix.

Digital Image

Whatever you have heard about Chow behavior, toss it when dealing with Princess.  Well, she is incredibly stubborn, so there is that.  But while she is definitely my dog, she bonded almost as strongly with my mother.  On our morning walks we stop at bus stops so the kids can play with her most mornings.  She loves kids and other dogs.  She’s had a 5 year old pull her tail and jump on top of her (my exes kids.  Sigh.) and the most she would do is walk away.  As soon as we let someone in the house, she accepts them.  (She’ll still sit right by my mother or me until she gets used to them.  She’s protective, but not off-putting about it.)   The only way Princess is going to be a danger to anyone is if that person is attacking me or my mother.

But if the cops come into our yard or home aggressively, she is going to bark.  She wouldn’t attack the cops unless they were physically assaulting my mom or me, but this video, as well as countless (okay, about a hundred thousand) others you can find all over Youtube, tell me she has no better than a coin flips shot of surviving the incident.  Given the Chow Chow’s reputation, the truth is probably much worse than that.

Understand me here please.  I am not saying #doglivesmatter.  I am not suggesting this is in anyway the equal to the systematic racism that both consciously and unconsciously results in the violation of the rights of, and far too often the death of, non-white humans.    I am not saying we should be outraged over this instead of the way some cops seem to think African Americans exist for target practice.  But we can care about more than one thing at a time.

This also adds evidence to the idea that there is something wrong in the mindset of some officers for some reason that obviously goes beyond “a few bad eggs.”  I have always heard/read/thought that officers were taught to use force only when necessary, as a last resort.  Yet so many of the videos that launched #Blacklivesmatter, as well as these dog shooting videos, show police officers using force as the default solution.  Indeed, some seem eager to escalate to lethal force.   It is easy to see how itchy trigger fingers added to existing racial bias, once again, conscious and unconscious, results in dead black men.

It is not a “few bad apples.”  It is not a couple of racist officers dragging everyone’s reputations down.  Something is rotten in our criminal justice system, and I fear that until my fellow white people stop looking at the police through our white privilege colored glasses nothing is going to change.  In fact, with the nation’s recent swing towards authoritarianism, along with the now ever present fear of terrorism, things could get far worse before they get any better.  More illegal searches.  More illegal seizures. More stop and frisk.  More illegal surveillance.  More police militarization.  More SWAT raids for minor offenses.  More innocents dead from SWAT raids. More wrong houses.  More dead dogs.  More flashbanged babies. What 4th Amendment?  More black teens body slammed. And of course, many more dead black people.

Apathy is acceptance.  And I fear far too many of us accept the status quo.

It is our shame.

I’ll Take Race Baiting for $1000

You know, as a skeptic I really don’t give much credence to most conspiracy theories.  Once I hear one I normally take the time to do enough research to figure out if there’s anything to the theory, and for the ones I find most interesting I’ll learn enough to be able to hold an intelligent argument (well…as intelligent as possible) with any conspiracy theorist who I run into.  (Note, I said “hold” an argument instead of “win” an argument because, in my experience, you don’t “win” arguments with conspiracy theorists.  Any proof you use to counter their arguments just becomes further “proof” of the conspiracy.  It’s exceedingly difficult to use logic and evidence to get people to give up a conclusion they didn’t use logic and evidence to reach.)

That being said, sometimes I look at current events and have to wonder if there is a bit more below the surface than it seems at first.  Take Dr. Ben Carson (please.  *rimshot*) and the fact that he is still a candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination.  He has to have noticed that he has absolutely no chance of winning the nomination by now, yet in the race he stays in spite of the GOP’s desperate need to shrink the field to have any chance of stopping Trump from claiming the nomination.   So what gives?  Applying Occam’s Razor to the question results in me assuming that his entire presidential campaign was nothing but an over-promoted book tour, in which case why would he drop out until he absolutely has to?  The publicity you receive running for the presidency is literally priceless.  But then I stop and wonder if the real reason isn’t his ability to say things like the following without immediately being Photoshopped into a Klan robe.

Dr. Ben Carson is questioning the authenticity of President Barack Obama’s connection to the black community, arguing that it’s “a bit of a stretch” for Obama to claim he identifies with black Americans, because he was raised by a white mother.

“He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” the Republican presidential candidate said of Obama in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush published on Tuesday.

Or who could forget this gem:

(Carson once said Obamacare was the “worst thing to have happened in this nation since slavery,” for instance.)

The theory (okay, hypothesis really) falls apart when you realize that it would probably be much more useful for the GOP to still have Carly “If my daughter was still alive, I’d fire her as well!*” Fiorina in the race to take potshots at HRC than having Dr. Carson hang around to throw barbs at a lame duck.  Of course, the GOP could just be much more worried about offending African Americans than they are of offending women, since it is a bit difficult at times to figure out if the GOP considers women full people, so take that reasoning how you will.  I still find Dr. Carson’s Endless Book Tour to be a more likely reason for his continuing presence in the race over any other, at least for now.

 

* I dedicate this Carly Fiorina’s daughter joke, tasteless as it may indeed be, to Eli Bosnick.  Love your work, Eli.

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.

 

Two Quick Things.

First off, greetings m’lord, how’s the fog and  rain?  Not sure what caused the rather large influx of visitors from the U.K., but I’m not complaining.  Some of my fondest memories occurred on the British Isles.

Of course, that’s not enough to warrant a post, so….

Progressives, liberals, or whatever you prefer to call yourselves.  Can we please get off Ahmed Mohamed‘s underage dick?

He built a clock.  Yeah, the school’s response was idiotic, especially since they knew damn well it wasn’t a bomb (cause if they actually would have any doubts, you can bet the school would have been evacuated and the bomb squad called in to make sure), but it isn’t like this is the first time a school has responded idiotically to a zero threat situation.  Yeah, a lot of the stories the right’s outrage machine cranks out are false.  Kids don’t get suspended for reading the Bible, or praying silently at their desk.  But a girl did get strip searched over an Advil and a kid did get suspended for chewing his Pop Tart into a gun like shape.  I don’t remember either of them getting invitations to the White House, though the right did admittedly try to make the Pop Tart Bandit into a poster child for something or other.  (Which was every bit as ridiculous as the left making the Clock kid into a celebrity.)

Let’s be honest.

Photo provided by the Irvine, Texas, Police Department of the digital clock that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed made from a pencil case.
Photo provided by the Irvine, Texas, Police Department of the digital clock that 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed made from a pencil case.

That is awesome.  When I was 14, if I would have built something like that I would have been proud as well, and I would have also wanted to show it off.  But in a post-9/11 America, where people are on edge and taught to report any unattended package, can you kinda understand how someone may look at that and get a bit freaked out?  Hell, first time I saw the picture, with no background information, I thought it was a fake bomb.  I would have still brought it in to show my science teacher, but I first would have explained to him/her what I was bringing in before hand.

Was the school’s response colored by a healthy dose of Islamophobia?  Yeah, probably.  Is it sad that we live in a country where I would urge any young person, no matter their race or religion, not to bring an awesome science project to school if anyone could possibly mistake it for a bomb?  Yep, definitely.  National paranoia doesn’t make us safer, just less free.  Depending on racial/religious profiling to prevent terrorism just increases the likelihood that the people behind the next attack don’t fit into those categories.  Protip: Not every Islamic terrorist looks like the stereotypical Islamic terrorist.  Do you think they can’t read or listen to the news?  That they are unaware that we pay special attention to those who “look terroristy?”That all, or even most terrorists are Islamic?  *cough*OklahomaCity*cough*

Ahmed Mohammed never should have been put in handcuffs.  The school’s reaction was insane.  But all “zero tolerance” policies are insane, just like mandatory minimum sentences are insane.  But he isn’t a “hero,” just another victim of the “zero tolerance” society we are creating.  I’m reluctant to do any victim blaming here, because I am far from convinced the school would have had the same reaction if he would have been Christian and white.

So yeah, feel free to continue bitching about a “zero tolerance” system that routinely treats kids like criminals for nothing.  But get off this kid’s dick already.  He’s underage.

Pop Quiz: Why Did PA State Rep. Leslie Acosta Get Cut Off?

In a sadly unsurprising breach of House protocol on Monday, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (Guess) cut Rep. Leslie Acosta (D), the only Latina representative in the state House before she was allowed to ask a question during the question and answer period.  Now put your notebooks and smart phones away, because it is time to test your knowledge of Pennsylvanian politics.

  1.  Why did Rep. Metcalfe cut off Rep. Acosta?
  • a) Because Rep. Acosta is a Latina.
  • b) Because Rep. Acosta is a woman.
  • c) Because Rep. Metcalfe is a raging asshole.
  • d) All of the above.

And……pencils down.  I’m sorry, it was a trick question. The correct answer is actually “e) Because the GOP has been taken over by a group of racist, misogynist, nativist trash desperately trying to hold on to the olden days when white men controlled everything, women knew their place (the kitchen), and members of other races stayed in their ghettos unless a garden needed tending, clothing needed laundered, or a mansion needed a butler.”  While each of the given answers is technically correct, the true root cause is “e” so I am arbitrarily failing the lot of you.  Kinda like Rep. Metcalfe arbitrarily cut Rep. Acosta off before she could ask a question.

Anyway, the story.  The Pennsylvania House, seeing as my home state is in no way going through a serious budget crisis caused by the state GOP believing that “compromise” means Gov. Wolfe giving in to all of their demands, has decided that the declaration of English as the official language of Pennsylvania is an appropriate use of tax dollars.  While Pennsylvania’s proximity to the Mexican border definitely makes this an issue constantly on the mind of every Pennsylvanian, your guess is as good as mine as to why the state GOP feels this bill is necessary.  Are they just avoiding discussing AG Kathleen Kane out of fear that she’ll leak embarrassing “sexts” they sent using state accounts?  (Not to change the subject, but damn it, AG Kane, please resign already.  Innocent or guilty, you are just making the whole party look bad now.)  Or is this just another part in the GOP’s masterful Latino Outreach Program?

Monday’s hearing on the bill was, well, let’s just let Think Progress explain it:

The hearing on Pennsylvania’s “English-only” bill was framed as a question and answer session, where lawmakers ask witnesses about different aspects of the bill. These are similar to Congressional hearings, where lawmakers have an allotted time to make statements about what they believe, and then end with a question. On Monday, Acosta was attempting to question witness Robert Vandervoot, a white nationalist testifying in support of the bill.

So there are two things I want to make clear here.  First off, no one just asks a question during these hearings.  That’s why the time limit is two minutes or so and not 15 seconds.  Representatives use the time to make a point, flesh out the question they are going to ask, make a really short speech, whatever, as long as they stay within their allotted time frame House protocol dictates the Representative is allowed to finish.  Second, the state GOP had a white nationalist testify in the House in support of this bill.

A white nationalist.

I have to hand it to the GOP, this Latino Outreach Program is brilliant.

Rep. Acosta, who is once again the only Latina in the PA House, began her time allotment by speaking in Spanish before switching over to English, no doubt giving Chairman Metcalfe a raging anger boner.  Then:

She then talked about how she too believed learning English was necessary for immigrants to succeed, but expressed concerns about the Constitutionality of requiring all government records to be in one language. In 1998, Arizona’s English-only law was ruled unconstitutional because it “unfairly interfered with the access to government by those who did not speak the language.”

In the middle of that point, Metcalfe interrupted. “You’re out of order,” he said. “I asked for a question.” Acosta then said she was “making a point,” and Metcalfe said “You’re not making points.” Acosta responded that she technically had two minutes to ask a question, to which Metcalfe retorted, “You don’t have two minutes.” Acosta said she had “the right to make my statement,” and Metcalfe said he would come back to her at the end “if we have time for you to finish your comment,” before turning her microphone off.

For those keeping score at home, that’s a white nationalist allowed all the time he wants to speak, followed by the one Latina in the room having her microphone cut off after being called “out of order.”  I’m amazed he managed not to use the word “uppity.”  Like me, Rep. Acosta was not amused.

Acosta, however, told ThinkProgress that she was appalled not only by how she was treated at the hearing, but by the fact that a white nationalist was allowed to speak before state government officials.

“This is overt racism in the 21st century. We’ve got to call it like it is,” she said. “It has no place in the House of Representatives. I’m on this and I’m not letting go.”

Why is PA even considering this bill?

Though America does not have an official language, Pennsylvania is vying to be the 32nd state to have their official state language be English. Vandervoot, who heads the advocacy organization ProEnglish, told ThinkProgress earlier this month that “one common language” is necessary for “a common bond of unity.”

“[M]ulticulturalism is actually what’s divisive and taking away from our unity,” he said.

Others, however, decry the push as inherently racist. “English-only is incredibly divisive because it sends the message that the culture of language minorities is inferior and illegal,” reads a statement from the immigrant advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens. “With a dramatic increase in hate crimes and right wing terrorist attacks in the United States, the last thing we need is a frivolous bill to fuel the fires of racism.”

…..

English-only laws are generally pushed by groups and individuals who take strong conservative stances on illegal immigration in general. Indeed, Metcalfe is the founder of a coalition of state legislators that work to eliminate “all economic attractions and incentives … for illegal aliens” and “secur[e] our borders against unlawful invasion.”

Metcalfe and the English-only bill’s co-sponsors assert that the measure would save government money currently being used to translate documents, though they do not assert how much is being spent, or how much would be saved.

That last paragraph is the main point.  Personally, I believe that immigrants to the United States should make an effort to learn English, not because of any inherent superiority of the language, but  rather to facilitate their acclimation to the nation.  I don’t think it should be mandatory, just encouraged.  If I moved to France, even if I was living in a community of English speakers, I would still make an effort to learn French to make my life easier if for no other reason.  Rep. Metcalfe and crew claim that this bill would save tax payers money and say that is the reason they are sponsoring it, yet the savings is never defined.  Come on, if the money was really the issue, the bills co-sponsors would be on point with exact figures detailing how much money is spent translating documents and hiring interpreters.  Instead we get the abstract concept of “savings” while my dog goes absolutely nuts.

Psst.  Rep. Metcalfe?  It’s not a dog whistle if we all can hear it.  Inviting a white nationalist to testify in support of your bill kinda gives the game away.

The Suspense is Killing the Lions.

At approximately 8 am this morning, September 14th, 2015,  a mere two days before my fortieth birthday, potential lion lunch Kim Davis will return to work at the Rowen County clerk’s office.  What she will chose to do upon re-assuming her clerkly duties is anybody’s guess.  Even her “lawyers” claim not to know what this morning will bring.

Even Davis’ lawyers at Liberty Counsel, the Florida-based group that has been representing her, haven’t offered specifics on what she plans to do.

“Kim Davis is the only person that can decide what Kim Davis will do,” said one of her attorneys, Harry Mihet. “She has told the court and everyone else that she will not — under any circumstances — violate her conscience and the core of who she is.”

I find it hard to believe Mrs. Davis has not informed the Liberty Counsel of her plans for this morning.  If I had to guess, I would assume that Kim Davis has told her “lawyers” that she will be violating the court order against her once again this morning and the Liberty Counsel is claiming ignorance in case the threat of returning to jail changes her mind at the last minute.  After all, it wouldn’t be good for their little martyr’s image if they publicly announced her continuing defiance only for her to back down at the last minute.

And that, after all, is what this is all about.  The Liberty Counsel has never had the best interests of Kim Davis in mind at any point of this case.   They are using her to create a martyr for fund raising and rabble rousing.  Even that bastion of liberalism Fox News admits that for her to have a legal leg to stand on would require a leg transplant while questioning the intelligence of her team of “lawyers.”  Any member of the bar that understood the concept of “ethics” would have explained the legal reality to her by now and urged her to either resign or allow her deputy clerks to issue the licenses.  Instead they watch their client go to jail as she ignores orders from the Supreme Court, while staining their briefs at the thought of the bigot bucks rolling into their coffers and the visits from Republican presidential nominees hoping to court the bigot vote.  It plays right into their absurdist narrative of Christians as a persecuted group in the United States, and while an honest examination of the case quickly shows that Kim Davis is in no way being jailed because of her religion, honesty has never been important to the more extreme Christians in their quest to make America a Christian nation.

Perhaps a frightening addition to this story came to light this weekend as well, as the Oath Keepers has offered to provide a security detail for Kim Davis to prevent her future incarceration, should she choose to continue violating the court order.

In a statement on their website, Stewart Rhodes, the group’s founder, said that, “Federal District Court Judge David Bunning grossly overstepped his bounds and violated Mrs Davis’ due process rights.” He continued:

No one man should have that kind of power in his hands alone to decide guilt and impose a sentence of indefinite detention. Under our Constitution, that dictatorial power does not exist. We must stand against this. And so we will protect her and prevent it from happening again.

Now I do want to point out that neither Kim Davis or the Liberty Counsel apparently want anything to do with these lunatics.

A spokeswoman for Liberty Council, a conservative Christian group that has supported Kim Davis throughout the controversy, condemned Oath Keepers in a statement: “Neither Kim Davis nor Liberty Counsel heard of Oath Keepers before erroneous reports of their involvement in our case. Likewise, neither Kim Davis nor Liberty Counsel supports or condones any form of armed resistance, violence, or force.” Davis’ lawyers have reportedly turned down Oath Keepers’ offer of protection, so that’s a grand total of one thing they’ve done right.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Oath Keepers will listen.  They continued “protecting” military recruitment centers after being asked to stop, so while I doubt they will show up, they are still an armed, insane wildcard to add to this mix.

So what will happen?  We won’t have to wait that long to find out, as the office opens in 20 minutes as I write this sentence.  My prediction?  Kim Davis is going to fire every deputy clerk except her son, who stood by her the whole time, and once again stop issuing marriage licenses.  This will lead to a court date tomorrow, resulting in her ass returning to jail.  While Kim settles down to a dinner of fine jailhouse cuisine, her “lawyers” will be partying like it is 1999, still unable to believe they actually found a rube like Kim Davis who is willing to do jail time for their fund raising campaign.  Of course, thanks to the new reality of crowd sourced bigot jackpots, no one should actually feel bad for Kim Davis and the way she is being used, because she will make out on this deal in the end.  No, the true losers in this case are the Christians living in places where they are actually persecuted, as all this time and energy which could be used to make their reality a bit better is instead wasted defending a person who had to show up and beg to be persecuted.  And Rowen Country tax payers, who will have a nice bill at the end of the day from lawsuits, especially if Kim Davis fires her deputy clerks.  Hell, just any Rowen County resident for that matter, since they now have to drive to a neighboring county for a marriage license because their elected clerk doesn’t feel like doing her job.  Also on the loser list, intelligent members of the GOP, who have to watch their presidential candidates support this idiot.  And participants in any Mike Huckabee related drinking game, who have all died from alcohol poisoning.

And perhaps most of all, the poor hungry lions, who no matter what happens, will never get to eat Kim Davis.

T-minus 4 minutes.

Live-blogging the persecution, 2015!