Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Post-Election Not Quite What I Hoped For

15 November 2016

I’m frankly horrified by the outcome of the election.

The worst thing to me is the continuing level of vitriol directed at liberals, the Clintons, and the Obamas by Trump supporters.

One thing about the election:  it has shown me who the worst in America are.  Unfortunately, I know a lot of these people personally. The basket of deplorables are basket cases.

Two More Bad Things About Conservatives and the 2016 Election

18 October 2016

First, there is far too much talk about the election being “rigged” by Mr. Trump.  He is deservedly far behind, and getting further behind, and good for that.  But to call the election system, spread across 50 states + DC + the territories, as subject to widespread fraud, is just not true.

To keep saying that there is widespread fraud (which Republicans have been using as an excuse for several years as a voter suppression tool) is antithetical to the values this country is built on.

The only actual cases of election rigging in the past couple decades were wrought by REPUBLICANS in state legislatures that used gerrymandering.  Not so coincidentally, those were largely the same legislatures that promulgated voter suppression laws requiring voters to have an ID, restricting early voting, and eliminating same-day voter registration, among other tactics.

Second, Senator John McCain, announced (although he supposedly walked it back) that he would not allow a vote on ANY SCOTUS nominees put forward by President Hillary Clinton.  How the principled have chucked off those principles.  Mr. McCain has been on a downward slide of peeling off his integrity since the last election.  In exactly the same vein as Donald Trump, Mr. McCain decided that for political expediency, he would just say “f*k it all” with regards to the Constitution.

Trump and McCain share one pitiful thread here:  complete disregard for the Constitution of this country.

Just for the record, I hope they both lose, and in a landslide.

What Really Frightens Me About The 2016 Presidential Election

10 October 2016

I have been saying for some time that it would be very difficult for Hillary Clinton to lose the Presidential election this time around.  It was clear to me that her policies and temperament were far superior to those Republicans that were running.  I was far more worried about Marco Rubio than any of the rest.

So now, here we are after the second Presidential debate.  FiveThirtyEight.com has Clinton with an 83.5% change of winning, and that’s before the second debate results are known. Clinton is on the rise, and Trump not.  It’s likely the effect of the second debate will accelerate that.

I’m not worried about Clinton being President.

But something else does worry me greatly.  In the past, we’ve had right-wing and left-wing kooks, people who take it too far.  We’ve had the militia groups that were convinced that some sort of apocalypse was coming, and we’ve had environmental groups that wanted to stop lumber cutting or development.  But those types of people were always a small part of the population; a very small part.  I’ve seen numbers that say there are 10,000-50,000 militia members in the country, but that’s 0.015% of the total population.  Even if the numbers were 100 times greater, it’s less than 2%.  A small number of people.  The lefties are even smaller in number, I would guess.

So, from 1992, you have had the Republican Party, at the national level, moving from campaigns based on just patriotism (Bush 41), to fear (Bush 43), to minimal policy (Romney), to no-policy (Trump), with increasing mendacity starting with Romney.

That leads us to now.  Trump issues lies and less-than-truths at a rate not seen yet.  He has two main policy concepts:  controlling immigration and immigrants to keep them from murdering/raping/robbing US citizens; and tax cuts, specified as being significant.

Now, you can argue the merits of these to for a long time (well, not really a long time), and after that you can look at the rest of Trump:  mostly, attacks against policies that Clinton proposes or has otherwise laid out.  Much of what Trump attacks isn’t those policies (as it is abundantly clear that if you are going to argue policy, you need policy of your own to counter with). Trump instead takes the route of attacking stuff that he (or people he talks to) perceive to be bad.  For example, Clinton’s emails.  He wants to see a bunch of deleted emails labeled by Clinton as personal, and the fact they are missing is clearly a smoking gun for something is an article of faith for conservatives.  On the other hand, Trump hasn’t released any emails (or his tax returns, for that matter).

Which brings me to what bothers me.  Throughout the end of the primary campaign to now, Trump has had a voting block of roughly 40% of voters no matter what.  Applying that to the voter population translates out to between 50M – 87M people supporting Trump (the numbers are somewhat amorphous, as do you count actual voters, registered voters, or eligible voters?).

That, to me, means millions of people who support a candidate who is a serial liar, abuser of women, will not come straight with what he wants to do with/to the country in large part, and perhaps worst of all, has no interest in longstanding policy and history in the country of two-party rule.  People he, and his allies, have deliberately scared for months, and furthermore these are people who have little apparent interest in finding out the truth about either their candidate, or Clinton (think about the chants of “lock her up”, when the question “for what” isn’t even raised).

What are those people going to do when he loses?  They obviously have a lot of pent-up rage.  How will it be expressed?  What will Republicans, who created Trump with their do-nothing policy, do if that group turns physically against the country?

When Obama was elected, the number of militia groups, which had ticked up when Bill Clinton was President, then down during Bush 43, rose again.  The reasons were simple, that fear of losing guns or religion, and loss of white control.

I’m concerned we will see more terrorism.  The roots are there:  people driven by base fears, stoked by perceived leaders like Trump, or the Breitbart people, or Hannity, will react the way other uneducated people have done in the Middle East and elsewhere.

And those people will never question why they are scared in the first place.

The Whole Republican Problem in One Sentence

9 October 2016

I was watching Meet The Press this morning, and the feckless Mike Lee was being interviewed by Chuck Todd.  Lee is one of the problems with the Republican Party.

He made a statement that sums up why Republicans can’t go away fast enough:

“That’s what unites us more than anything else as Republicans is the fact that the Washington political establishment is broken and Hillary Clinton needs to be defeated.” – Mike Lee

The Republican Party is not united by any common policy, or support for the middle class, or anything else like that.

Take a closer look at the first part (the second part is just stupid and not worth consideration):  The fact (questionable) that the Washington political establishment is broken is an indictment of all national level politicians, including Republicans.  I think that the vast majority of the cause of the breakage is Republicans, starting with Gingrich in the early 90s, to the policy of total obstruction by Boehner/McConnell now (Lee is a large part of that, as well).

The entire Republican Party at the national level is based on cowardice.  The playing to the fear of low-information voters is part of that cowardice.

Trump Supporters and Scurrilous BS

1 October 2016

So I have posted before about the mystery of why Trump supporters like the guy, when he is a serial liar and has no policy.

But I’ve also been noting a raft of memes that Trump supporters just mindlessly repost.

While in Montana, and then again last night here in Oklahoma, the NRA is running an ad that claims that Clinton wants to take away the ability of Americans to own a handgun. They illustrate this with a woman (white, of course) hearing a noise, leaping out of bed, calling 911, then while she is opening a locked gun safe to get a pistol, the safe and pistol disappear while the ominous narrator states that Hillary Clinton wants to take away the ability of people to have self defense.  It’s bullshit, of course, but I guess the NRA knows the easily scared will believe it.

Another meme (several, actually) purport to convince people that Clinton has had people killed.  I saw another one of those this evening on Facebook.

Several posts today ask why Lester Holt didn’t ask Clinton about several topics, including Benghazi.  I would wonder why Trump didn’t bring that up if he thought it was important, but given that even the Gowdy Witch Hunt Committee finally admitted there wasn’t anything there, maybe news people realize that questions about Benghazi are no longer newsworthy.

Another one claims that the Director of the FBI asked for immunity with regards to the Clinton email investigation; I would have thought that would be explosive, but more likely it’s just crap, and so some conservative somewhere once again made stuff up out of whole cloth, and some people just fell for it.  If you have to make stuff up, your party is not worth a damn.

Another easily debunked post purports to show Hillary Clinton with Osama Bin Laden. Again, if your party has to do stuff like that, your party sucks.

I just don’t get it.  Republicans have drained money to the wealthy, and the easily scared have let them do it, while being led around by fear. The demographics of the country are inexorably changing, and at some point in the next cycles they will lose all relevancy.  I just hope the damage they cause will be minimized.

Trump and Being Thin-Skinned

30 September 2016

I listened to the first debate between Clinton and Trump, and it pretty much affirmed what I have been thinking, and why I will vote for Clinton.  For the most part, Clinton talked about policy, and Trump about generalities, while he lied flat-out many times, compared to Clinton on a couple occasions using weasel words.

But one thing thing I am fairly amazed by.  When Clinton pulled out the accusation involving Alicia Machado, I thought it was a great example of a debater laying in wait with a very strong example to prove a point (and Trump asking the completely non-relevant “where did you find her” was a very poor response on his part).  But now, days later, Trump is just on a tear, on constant attack about Ms. Machado.

I presume that the Clinton campaign was smart enough to vet the accusations made by Ms. Machado.  I have read numerous articles quoting Trump saying more uncomplimentary things about her weight, her personality, and how somehow he was able to persuade the pageant organization to not fire her.  But he has also attacked her for being in a “sex tape” (which does not exist, according to snopes.com).

It makes me wonder just how insecure he is to do that.  I would have thought that he/his campaign would have refuted the claims if possible.  After all, his opponent in the race is Hillary Clinton, not Ms. Machado.  Or maybe he could have tried to claim that Clinton dug up old stuff, and he could trot out some examples of women saying how nice he is.

And to make it worse, at the very least he appears to be lying (again) while attacking (the “sex tape”).

I continue to be astounded that so many people support this very poor candidate. Republicans have been dumping policy in favor of symbolism since the 1990s, and it has naturally devolved into scaring the easily led.

Trump is a new low in mendacity, but it really does not seem to dissuade his followers.

Where I Stand On the 2016 Oklahoma State Questions

31 August 2016

These are the initiatives currently on the ballot, along with how I will vote on each, and why.  I took the text describing each initiative from Balletpedia.

If any others are added, I will endeavor to add them here.

State Question 776 was designed to assert that all methods of execution shall be constitutionally allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution, and designated statutorily by the legislature.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  I have been a capital punishment supporter pretty much all my life.  OTOH, I have changed my opinion over the past couple years, with the large number of people freed from death sentences following DNA testing and other advances in crime science, along with the appalling race bias in the courts.  I am of the opinion that the standard for capital punishment should change from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “proven”, given that capital punishment is something that can’t be recovered from once it is applied.  Until then, I oppose any loosening of the ability for states to ease execution.  The disgraceful rush to kill exhibited in Oklahoma over the past couple years is a good enough reason to keep the brakes on.

State Question 777 was designed to establish a constitutional guarantee for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  This looks to extend extra protections to farmers that would essentially make them unregulated or less able to be regulated.  Since unregulated farming has made huge messes (think chicken farms in Arkansas or hog farms in Oklahoma), they clearly need the scrutiny.

State Question 779 was designed to increase the state sales tax by one percent to generate revenue for education funding.

My take:  I will vote YES on this, under protest.  The protest is that this is yet another state question that is required because the Oklahoma State Legislature will not do the job the Legislators swore they would do.  Specifically, fund education.  One difference is that this measure is not on the ballot by the Legislature, but in spite of it.

State Question 780 was designed to reclassify certain property offenses and simple drug possession misdemeanor crimes.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  I do wish that the felony limits on theft of personal property were left at $500 instead of $1000, but overall, this looks like better use of prison resources.

State Question 781 was designed to use money saved by reclassifying certain property and drug crimes as misdemeanors outlined in State Question 780 to fund rehabilitative programs.

My take:  I will vote YES on this as well.

State Question 790 was designed to repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  If they had a way, I would vote HELL NO ( 🙂 ).  This is an attempt by the Legislator and Governor (all Republican controlled, it should be noted) to pander to Christians and try to get a monument to Deuteronomy 5:4–21 placed back on the state capitol grounds, Establishment Clause be damned.  We’ve had too much in the way of enshrining religious practice in law in the country, and this state, and I hope this is not approved.  I do think that if it is, it will be found un-Constitutional in Federal court.

State Question 792 was designed to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  There isn’t any good reason for alcohol drinks to only be sold in liquor stores.  Sounds like a chance for good, healthy competition to me.  Next, lets’s open it up to all booze, and let’s see it sold on Sunday (and Election Day, if that’s still not legal).  It’s done that way in numerous states, and they haven’t seen any moral collapse.

Trump Calls Clinton A Bigot?

25 August 2016

Tonight Trump shouted during a speech that Hillary Clinton is a bigot, and that Clinton doesn’t care about minorities.

Seriously?

He claims that African American unemployment is far higher than it really is. He also claims that African Americans are living mostly in crappy neighborhoods and get shot all the time walking down the street. These two claims are demonstrably, provably, false.

So given that the Clinton Foundation has provided millions of dollars both in this country and overseas to support programs to battle poverty specifically for various minority communities, makes his claim about Clinton being a bigot quite suspect.

Given the definition of a bigot as a “a person who has strong, unreasonable ideas, esp. about race or religion, and who thinks anyone who does not have the same beliefs is wrong” (Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary), I think that Mr. Trump is on very perilous ground. His statements about Hispanics (Mexicans in particular) and minority populations such as African Americans and Muslims are clearly bigoted under that definition. Further, I can’t think of a single thing that Clinton has said that would be considered bigoted.

So once again, we have Trump shouting accusations, without providing anything to substantiate his shouting, and not a word of any policy to address any of the issues he claims are problems.

It really looks to me like the guy is just trying to bluster and BS his way into the Presidency.

A New State License Tag? Seriously?

22 August 2016

Lots of reports today about the Great Unveiling of a new design for the state car license tag.

It’s more expensive, of course.

So our state has a terrible budget foisted on us by the supply-siders in the Legislature and “Governor” Fallin. They can’t get education funded, but there is apparently plenty of time to get a new license tag out.

From KFOR:

“Most of the additional revenue will go into a newly created State Public Safety Fund that will be available for the Legislature to spend to “support public safety” in the state.”

So… we are already hugely over-policed, but now there is a new tax (er, fee) for a tag we don’t need, for more “public safety”.

Clueless and incompetent does not even begin to describe the Bozos running the state government. In fact, that’s an insult. To Bozo.

Why Does This Stuff Get Passed Along?

17 August 2016

I’m sort of picking on this item at random.  It took me about 1 minute to prove false.

TrumpAct

The image is just as posted on Facebook, except that I cropped the name of my friend who posted it.

After he posted it, at least three other people I know re-posted it, and several others “liked” one of those.

The problem:  the claim in the article is completely bogus.  If you click the link, you get a medium length article, dated today, 16 August 2016, talking about how the House is passing bills for Trump, and how it is “taking down Obama”.  Note the “Republicans Just Passed” tease.

The bill in question was in fact introduced in the House, in July, 2015, not 2016.  The vote quoted in the article was not “passed”, but it was vote advancing the bill in question to the House floor for a full vote, which was never taken.

So the question becomes, did the writer of the article screw up, or is it deliberate just to keep up an anti-Obama drumbeat?  It literally took me one minute to find out what about the bill.

I’ve pretty much stopped trying to fact-check things for people that post even the most outrageous stuff, it doesn’t seem to make a difference to people that re-post stuff without having the integrity to know whether it is true.

Having opinions is great, right, left, or center.  But people shouldn’t just mindlessly repost stuff that isn’t true, no matter their politics.

Why I Am Voting For Hillary Clinton For President

27 July 2016

I decided this quite a while back, towards the end of the Republican primary process.  The rationale has several facets to it.

Overriding all else, I can’t really see myself voting for a Republican at the national level for a long, long time.  The disgraceful tactic of non-governance, few (but odious) policies, complete disrespect for facts, and worst of all, a deliberate policy of trying to gain power by scaring people, make the Republican party that I belonged to a part of history.  This process started before the 1992 campaign, and has not improved.

That being said, I’ve examined the policies being proposed by Clinton, and overall find them in the same lines as my personal philosophies.  Clinton expresses support for all levels of education. She is a strong proponent of equality for all (to include women, people of color, and LGBTQ people). She has good ideas for the economy.  One idea I like in particular is to encourage companies to profit share with the employees that do the actual work, treating those workers with respect.  Perhaps the most important part of the appeal of her economic plans is that she actually recognizes there is a problem than should be and can be fixed, as opposed to Republicans who myopically actively hinder the economy as part of their non-governance heel-dragging, trying to maintain the status quo of corporations that take all profits to upper management and shareholders.

Hillary Clinton has had the most serious vetting of any candidate, and perhaps any person, in history.  Countless investigations, most of which have been trumped up, have found no evidence of wrongdoing.  One thing I think I can appreciate is that in many cases where she was investigated, it was for taking action, and that action annoyed Republicans, who investigated out of petty spite.

It goes without saying that Republicans have rarely tried to match Clinton with policy and legislation.

Reading though policy papers, you see a lot of reference to science and technology.  In particular, Clinton is no climate change denier.  She, like Obama (and for that matter, Republicans when Bush was President), believes that comprehensive immigration reform is the way to do.  She does not demonize immigrants, and does not use immigrants as weapons to scare the easily scared.  She supports expanded voter rights, instead of the Republican policies of trying to keep grasping at power by trying to disenfranchise people of color.  She does not believe that Islam is an enemy of the United States, and that our Muslim citizens and visitors are overwhelmingly not terrorists.

As I was thinking about this post over the past couple days, I was watching an ever greater level of invective on numerous platforms, including social media and radio programs.  All manner of accusations, made-up charges, old and untrue tripe, but repeated endlessly by the easily duped.  Clinton has shown an impressive level of grace in not responding to the crap sent her way.

Clinton will help get SCOTUS back on track, and away from the conservative corporations-are-people justices.

So Hillary Clinton has my vote for President of the United States.  It is my fervent hope that the other side doesn’t wise up electorally-speaking, and that helps deliver at least the Senate as well, and help send Republican conservatism to the trash heap.

Even A Black Conservative Can’t Get It Right

20 July 2016

I was listening to the NPR program “On Point”, hosted by Tom Ashbrook, over lunch. Ashbrook had a lady who self-identified as a black conservative on who was talking about the Republican convention, and the discussion was about people (mostly conservative) who reflexively  spout “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter” in response to Black Lives Matter.

The lady then made the following statement (it may be a few words off, but I guarantee it captures the point):  “Well, Black Lives Matter is funded by an ultraliberal group, and by the way, their objective is the destruction of America”.

Ashbrook, it should be noted, did not even question that bold, and stupid statement.  I’ve noted while listening to his program that he is a terrible interviewer, this is just another example.

One more point, if BLM is funded by an ultraliberal group, I need to find out who and donate to them, because good on them for helping people towards equality.

So I don’t know if the lady is ignorant (like many or most Trump supporters) or just so partisan that she has to lob nukes instead of spears.

I’ve been to the BLM website, and I can’t find anything on it that could even be remotely described as advocating for the destruction of America.

I find it horrifying that every time there is another police killing of a black, white (almost all conservative) people immediately throw memes about how cops lives matter.  The implication is a knee-jerk that any acknowledgement of how black lives OUGHT to matter somehow takes away from cops, or whites, or whatever.  It’s an example of an inherently racist attitude that is stating “you people can’t acknowledge that your lives matter without acknowledging that cop lives matter” (really, this is code for white lives, let’s be realistic).  This is the same sort of bogus argument that stated that allowing gay marriage would undercut straight marriage.

Look, folks, the recent killing of several police officers notwithstanding (and that is wrong as well), black lives have NOT mattered to many whites over the history of the country, even continuing today.

Why don’t those of you who question why there is even a BLM movement, instead question why one is needed.  If black lives mattered, then all in the country would have equal opportunity.  We don’t.  Whether for economic equality, voting equality, educational equality, it’s not there.  We can’t be “one nation” until we get there.

Note:  I’m going to find the transcript of the “On Point” program in question when it is posted and update this article.

One More Blow To Republicans

5 July 2016

Republicans have been waging a campaign of doing Not A Damn Thing since 2008 (well, except they have been promoting symbolic stuff a lot, but nothing substantial) as part of the Just Say No strategy to non-governing.

This has been extended to the wink-and-grin acceptance of the crazy wing of their party.

And it has also been manifested as a hope that Hilary Clinton would be taken out by some scandal. The so-called Benghazi investigations by Republicans (which were in addition to those undertaken by the DoD and DoS) dragged on with the specific intent of dragging down Clintons Presidential bid. That effort finally collapsed as the investigators could turn over no more stones in an attempt to find something to damage Clinton.

That left one thing: the so-called email server. Republicans predictably howled that Clinton should be in jail for supposedly mishandling classified material, and that this caused the Republic To Be At Grave RISK!!!!!!. A long investigation by the FBI has just been completed with a recommendation that the matter be dropped.

There will be frothing, wild-eyed discussion of conspiracy for a while, but since scandal that could damage Clinton is the best that Republicans have had (since they will not argue policy as that’s a loser for them), she will have an easy cruise to the election, and will likely be President.

Since the Republican Party as abrogated their responsibility to govern, and encouraged the base part of their followers with racist and xenophobic tripe, they have brought their own problems on themselves. I hope to see a center-left government next January, with all three branches in Democrat hands.

07 July 2016 update:

The predictable thundering howls from Republicans are ongoing. Most of the arguments revolve around two complaints: that Clinton lied to the FBI, and that she mishandled classified information.

Let’s take the claim of Clinton lying first. The argument is that Clinton told the FBI that she had not sent any emails that were marked as classified, but the data owners that reviewed the emails after the fact determined that certain emails were classified, so therefore supposedly Clinton lied. Somehow the after-the-fact classification shows that Clinton (and her professional staff) should have known the information was classified at the time. I have no idea what the information in question is, but “sensitive” is not necessarily classified. Regardless, since a lie is a deliberate falsehood, the claim that a statement by Clinton is a lie because of an after-the-fact decision by a data owner is specious at best.

Unless you accept that Clinton knew that the information she was handling was classified, but she sent it via the unclassified email system anyway, then the second major claim of mishandling classified is bogus.

One thing that is subtle, but has not been discussed that I have heard is the role of Original Classifying Authority, of which Secretary Clinton was one. OCAs, per law and Executive Order, have the authority to determine if information is classified or not. There can be help in the form of Security Classifications Guides (SCGs) in this, but in the end, high level people like Department Secretaries can make a classification or declassification decision on their own.

A Little Bit Of History Was Made Yesterday…

8 June 2016

… and it is far past time.

Hillary Clinton became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the Presidency of the United States.  While the couple instances of having female Vice Presidential candidates was a good thing, having a woman at the top of the ticket for a major party is long overdue.

Regardless of the years-long attempts to cover her with mud, her career of public service has been good training for her to reach this milestone.  I think there is an almost certainty that she will be elected our first female President, and will continue the work that her husband started and Obama built on.

I have been impressed with her path to the nomination.  Starting with her work in the health insurance reform plan in the [Bill] Clinton administration, then on as a Senator and Secretary of State, she has formed alliances to work with people to get stuff done.  That is an essential skill that is required of a true leader, and is critical to being the leader of the entire country.

Congratulations to Ms. Clinton for sticking to the plan and winning the nomination.  I hope she continues her work, for all Americans, as part of the [Hillary] Clinton administration.

Trump and Republicans and Politics

7 June 2016

There were quite a few reports of various Republicans condemning remarks by Donald Trump pertaining to a judge overseeing one of the lawsuits Trump is involved in.

Trump claims that the judge should be disqualified due to a conflict of interest.  The judges parents are Mexican, Trump wants to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, and so somehow that makes the judge unqualified to sit on the case.  Uh-huh.

It’s a stupid, knee-jerk reaction typical of Trump, who has no apparent ability to see long-term consequences from running his mouth in reactive mode.

But what I find interesting is the reaction of major political leaders like Paul Ryan.  He will vote for (endorse, apparently) Trump, as having a Republican, even a vile, racist, misogynist Republican, in office is more important than the possibility of having a Democrat in the White House.  Note that I say nothing about policy here, since there really hasn’t been any policy from Trump yet.

I saw that Conan The Destroyer was on TV this past weekend.  As I surfed past it, I wondered if the guardians of the crypt of the god Dagoth are like Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republicans, in that they believe that once the angry Trump is enthroned in the Presidency, then “they can control him” as opposed to his unleashing death to the world, and that is their endgame instead of trying to replace him at the Republican convention.

As I’ve said in the past, the Republican establishment are quite responsible for creating the interest in Trump.  Bringing in Sarah Palin was the start of the creation of the monster that is Donald Trump, and in focusing on imagery, stoking fear of Obama, practicing serial obstruction, and not putting forth any policy of substance, the Republicans managed to enrage part of their base to inflate inherent racism and inherent fear and enable those low-bandwidth voters a far greater influence than was probably intended.

It is incumbent on the Democrats to get their voters out in 2016, to both ensure that Trump and his “ideas” do not get inflicted on this country, and to balance policy going forward.  If the Republicans get fatally damaged in the meantime, that would be unfortunate.  But after the couple of decades turn of the Republican Party first to the extremism of the supposedly religious right, then to the policy-lite Bush 41, on to the war-mongering Bush 43, and finally to the rage of the Tea Party, Republicans will finally reap what they have sown.

Brock Turner Is A Symptom of A Larger Problem

7 June 2016

Turner was convicted of several counts relating to his rape of an unconscious woman in California.  For multiple felonies, he was sentenced to a very light six months.  The “judge” was concerned for the poor boys well-being, it seems.  His father was also concerned that his son getting so much bad vibe for his “20 minutes of action”.

I have no idea what the political leanings of that pair of twisted idiots, or the judge, are. But it is clear that all three of them value the well-being and mental health of the victim far less than the perpetrator. (Late note, I read over lunch that the judge is a former Stanford athlete, like Turner. I don’t know if that’s true.)

I don’t know what kind of sexual urge or drive or need or want drives a guy to rape an unconscious woman.  It is wrong on any number of levels.  The attacker rapist should have a greater punishment.  I understand a father wanting to support his son, but the father dismisses the victim (“20 minutes of action”) and bemoans the effect on the son. Too effing bad, your son is a rapist.

The fact that the victim was drinking is not relevant, once she was unconscious (and for all we know, she could have had “help” in that respect from the rapist) she can’t consent, and at that point, the only honorable thing to do was to help her back to a place of safety.

But these three clueless people, the rapist, his father, and the judge, are symptoms of larger issues that demean and degrade women who are victims of various forms of assault by men.  Whether catcalls, or groping, being drugged, or being raped, there are a significant number of abusers of women around.  Just as bad, there are people who protect those abusers, even if they don’t participate in the abuse.

In the past couple political cycles, a number of people, all men as far as I know, and all conservative as far as I know, have talked about rape in terms of blaming the victim.

If you don’t condemn rape without condition, then STFU, crawl back under a rock, and remove yourself from society.  We don’t need you, and we don’t want you in a position of trust if you can’t support half of our population.

People Acting Stupid About Obama, Again

28 May 2016

President Obama was in Japan the past couple days, and he visited the city of Hiroshima and made a speech.  I’ve read it, it’s here on the White House website.

I find it troublesome that in the past two days I’ve seen no less than four separate posts on Facebook that make the claim that President Obama somehow apologized for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.  “Likes” and comments from people I respect show that they apparently believe the claim of an apology.

It find it very sad that otherwise intelligent people just blindly pass along this tripe.  The speech was televised, and a transcript is available to read.  There isn’t anything in the speech that even resembles an apology.  Yet what I can only assume is blind hatred and unthinking loyalty to conservatism or republicanism or something equally stupid makes these people believe the claim.

The so-called “apology tour” that Obama supposedly embarked on at the start of his Presidency has been debunked over and over, and still unthinking “conservatives” cling to it as an article of faith.  I asked a couple of them to show me video or audio that supports the apology tour claim, and they couldn’t.  Debunk sites are “biased”, I’m told.

It’s pathetic that people give such blind credence to stuff like this.  A couple months ago, I posted on Facebook that people really should fact check stuff before posting it.  A guy who I respect for his service and his intelligence, but is conservative, shot back “Who are you to tell people what to post?”.  This kind of response is sad in that I would assume that people would want to be truthful, but I guess that the ability to repost stuff without caring if it is true or not, just so long as it hurts the President or someone else politically, it more important than integrity.

For myself, I would rather not be led by the nose by any media or “leader”, and keep my integrity.

Past and Inherent Racism

27 May 2016

So Louisiana has passed a law that designates crimes against police as hate crimes.  This follows a lot of blather, mostly on the right, about how “all lives matter” and “police lives matter”, and most of that is in direct reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement that developed in the wake of numerous incidents of black people being killed by police, including some egregious examples of unarmed blacks being killed by heavily armed white police.

These counter-movements are examples of the inherent racism still practiced by many Americans.  White-dominated law enforcement has far more weapons (to include physical weapons, and the weapons of law, which include the ability to arrest on little pretext) than the citizenry in general.  The rate of police officers shot or injured or killed is far, far less than the rate of citizens shot, injured, or killed.

Further, the use of the hate crime is limited to a specific set of crimes.  Per the FBI,

A hate crime is “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin”.

On the one hand conservatives want to exclude transgender people from protection, although they are clearly part of the sexual orientation clause, and on the other hand, they want to add police to this list.  Each category has a history of official oppression.  There is no history of oppression of police, and in fact, there are many examples where the police have been the oppressors, or protectors of oppressors.

So the Louisiana action is essentially shooting the finger at blacks.  It is inherently racist.

If black lives mattered to all, the Black Lives Matter movement would not be necessary.  As I have said before, the long history of oppression of our black citizens (and that also get’s ignored, they are our fellow citizens and should have equal rights) has not been corrected from a societal or economic basis.  Oppression is more subtle now, but it’s still there, and opportunity still is not available to all equally, starting with education, and leading to jobs.

That’s the real issue here, not some knee-jerk racist response to supposedly protect the civil rights of police.

Trump and [Not] Thinking Ahead

27 May 2016

I have been listening to coverage of various news events, and of course Mr. Trump has some commentary on them.

Listening to that commentary, I have come to the conclusion that a big problem with Trump being President is that he has no long term view on pretty much anything.

His commentary about it’s good for foreign leaders to be “rattled” about him is that it’s a good thing, as it’s better for foreign leaders to be off balance.  I think that his whole persona of “deal maker” is that he makes deals in a vacuum and then moves on, and once the paperwork is signed, that is a done deal, and he moves on to the next.

That’s not really a good model for running the United States.  There are customs and policies that have been in place for many decades, and that includes treaties and alliances with other countries.  I’m sure that his first consideration is to foreign leaders he has a beef with (think Iran, Mexico, all of Islam), but a lack of forethought leaves him to lump all foreign entities together.

This might be the reason that he hasn’t articulated much it the way of foreign or domestic policy, but instead a couple generalities.

It’s also related to his bully persona, shouting people down, calling people names (“Pocahantas”), and the like.  Not much in the way of thinking ahead.

He would make a lousy President.  He’s already a very, very bad example of an American.

The Voting Mess In Arizona

24 March 2016

A longtime friend of mine and his husband are Arizonans. They were caught up in the Presidential Primary voting debacle from this past Tuesday. Keith posted this:

Having been caught up in the madness of the voting quagmire that was Maricopa County yesterday, it would be easy to say that I never want to do that again. Stand in line for four hours, that is, versus never voting again. Voting is a right that too many people take lightly. The sheer numbers of people voting yesterday where I voted says, that yes, one vote can make a huge difference. I almost gave up at one point but then I thought, NO, that is handing a victory to those that created the mess. Whatever that victory was, budget cuts, consolidation, or plain and simple voter suppression.

Why would anyone think that you could eliminate over two-thirds of the polling places and it would be okay?

Let’s look at a very unscientific and very conservative analysis of the numbers:
The Maricopa County Recorders website says they serve over 1.9 million voters. That is almost one half the population of Maricopa County. Now, we know that all 1.9 million will not show up to vote, let’s take half just for sake of argument. That is still probably too many but stay with me here on this analysis. I must digress a bit to say that for some reason it was decided to have only 60 polling places instead of 200 for yesterday. OK. So, that means that there are 15,833 voters per polling place. And let’s further assume that thirty percent of those used early voting, that brings the number down to around 11,000 per polling place (the 60 number). The pooling places are only open 12 hours, 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, so if you divide 11,000 by 12 you get 924 voters per hour for EACH polling place. That translates to 15 voters per minute…. That is with only six voting booths at the polling place I used. How does that possibly make sense? If we cut that number in half it is still impossible to achieve the goal of giving everyone the opportunity to vote.

Let’s not even consider the issues encountered such as slow check-in process (not the fault of the poll workers), running out of Democratic ballots (at my polling place, while there were piles and piles and piles and piles of Republican ballots), and still only six voting booths.

Clearly, something other than saving money was at the root of all of this madness. I saw a number of people give up and leave. That is not acceptable. If even one person is denied the right to vote, there is a problem and it is only getting worse.

Something must be done. Stand up for your right to vote. Contact the Maricopa County Recorder (http://recorder.maricopa.gov) and voice your displeasure (politely).

As for me, I will be signing up for early voting.on is denied the right to vote, there is a problem and it is only getting worse.

Something must be done. Stand up for your right to vote. Contact the Maricopa County Recorder (http://recorder.maricopa.gov) and voice your displeasure (politely).

As for me, I will be signing up for early voting.

The above was posted with permission.

Clearly, Keith, Ben, and hundreds of thousands of other Arizonans were screwed when it came to exercising their right to vote.  His post above has some cogent analysis of the issues.

Other facts:  the Maricopa Country County Recorder is a Republican.  The Arizona House and Senate are (and have been) controlled by Republicans.  Like other Republican statehouses, voter ID requirements have been passed, that disproportionately disenfranchise people of color, and people in lower economic classes.

This problem in Arizona is a direct result of Republican efforts to suppress voting.  Only Republicans see “voter fraud” in need of prevention, and only Republicans see the need to reduce early voting, reduce polling places, and similar voter suppression activities.

This has been an across-the-board effort, ranging from state (Republican) legislatures, to the (Republican-controlled) US House and Senate, to the (until recently Republican-controlled) SCOTUS, with various (Republican) groups bring suit in every way to gut the Voting Rights Act, change voting processes, and screw up primary voting.

I blame the Justice Department for not stepping in on these outrageous acts of voter suppression, but I blame Republicans more for their contempt for the Constitution and voters in this country.

Trump and Inciting Violence

11 March 2016

I have watched the “progress” of the Republican primary with a combination of disgust, amusement, and dismay. It has been so light on addressing real issues faced by the country (not the least of which were caused by Republican policy, or lack of policy, or active impediment of the economy). The candidates constantly refer to each other by childish names. It’s pathetic.

Trump rallies are distinguished in that there have been numerous instances of protesters being physically abused. I’ve seen a number of these, and in no case did the protester physically threaten anyone.

In one particularly disgraceful instance, a media photographer was trying to get a photo of protesters being removed, and a man identified as a Secret Service agent grabbed the media person by the throat and threw him down. The SS guy was there to protect Trump, who was nowhere near.

The real problem here is Trump and how he manipulates people. He can stand on stage and talk about how physical violence was OK in the past, and protesters deserve what happens to him or her.

Then, when questioned about any incident, he falls back on stating he didn’t see anything, and no one has reported it to him. He has even followed up by stating the protester essentially had it coming.

I have also see and written about his treatment of a reporter who was asking him questions he found uncomfortable. He had the guy tossed, and then went on and on when questioned that the guy was “screaming”. I saw the whole episode, the guy was not in any way screaming, or even raising his voice. That seems indicative of the way that Trump will dodge questions he finds uncomfortable, by exaggerating or out and out lying.

The tack he is taking is the same cowardly tack taken by Republican “leaders” since Obama took office. When Republicans spouted something that was perceived to be damaging to Obama, they would say something to the effect of well, people have a bad impression of Obama, or they had strong feelings to express. This was always done without regard to the veracity of the claim. Birther bullcrap was a perfect example; both Boehner and McConnell fell back on claims that they hadn’t looked at the birth certificate, so they really couldn’t say.

This was used in many other ways to avoid taking a stand, or encourage the fringe element of the Republicans. Instead of discussing climate change, they would in unison say they weren’t scientists and so could not discuss the subject (I note that they still voted on the issues).

Trump is clearly playing on the fears of the easily led and easily scared. Avoiding talking about specific issues, and constantly harping on scare topics, gets a certain percentage of the low intelligence or easily scared voters flocking to him.

I hope that Hilary Clinton, when the general election campaign starts, goes after Trump (or whoever the Republican nominee is) with every one of these prevarications.

Another Small Step Forward for Equality

7 March 2016

In a case of small-minded bigots being defeated again, the SCOTUS unanimously (8-0) overturned a ruling by an Alabama court that a court in Georgia had no authority under Georgia law to recognize adoptions by a same-sex couple.

My understanding is that is sort of like a court in Texas overturning a traffic ticket in Oklahoma because the speed limit laws are different.

This is a new legal concept for me.  It’s referred to as “full faith and credit”,  and refers to recognition of actions performed under the law of another state.

Regardless, it’s yet another petty attempt by bigots to interfere with gay people in any way they can.

The fact is that there is nothing in being gay that makes a person any less of a parent.  Whether a gay person or couple has a child via technology or adoption, the gay person or couple should have the same rights as a straight person or couple.  No more, no less.

And no person in government should be trying to take away any of those rights just for the “sin” of being gay.

Conservatives Show Disdain For the Constitution, AGAIN

14 February 2016

After SCOTUS Justice Scalia passed away today, several conservatives, including at least one “leader”, the repugnant Mitch McConnell, actually came out and said that nomination of a replacement for Scalia should not be done by the current President Obama, but should wait until the next President is in office.

This is a new low in craven pandering to conservatives. Anyone who takes up that line is spitting on the Constitution, and should not even be in office. Disgusting behavior.

Donald Trump May Very Well Make America Great Again…

22 January 2016

I was reading some commentary about Trump getting Sarah Palin to endorse him.  They are a lot alike, in that they have huge generalities they like to beat the drum on, but little valid substance or policy.

Regardless, the thought that crossed my mind is that since there is no way that Trump can be elected, yet he may be the nominee, then he would be enabling Democrats to take at least the White House for the next eight years, and very likely also at least the Senate.

That would help to get stuff moving to make America even greater.

I would send him a thank-you note for that.

Ignorant Fearmongering

20 November 2015

This is related to my previous post.

The amount of ignorant, xenophopic, myopic fearmongering that has currently infected so many conservatives is astounding.  I’ve seen people posting every conceivable insulting takeoff on things President Obama has said (all taken out of context), justifications for making immigrants pass a religious test, deflections based on how much both sides are to blame, etc. etc. etc.

And the gun nuts are on a cordite high, ready to defend ‘Murica against the vast horde of INCOMING SYRIANS OHGODOHGODOHGODOHGODOHGODOHGOD!!!!!!

So in the House, which cannot seem to pass anything useful, they came up with a hastily-written bill demanding a bunch of new stuff to keep the dreaded Syrians out.  Most Republicans (who are pre-programmed to support stuff like this) voted for it, and quite a few Democrats.  The supposed law has no change of passing (and I suspect every supporter knows this, but why pass up a chance for another symbolic vote to avoid any real issues).  The media this morning proclaimed it a defeat for President Obama (how, I don’t know, he wasn’t voting on it, but the media likes conflict).

All of this is perfect for conservatives.  Something to rail against that can deflect any need for them to show any policies.

It’s sickening and un-American.

Republicans and Immigration and Leadership and Not Having Balls

16 November 2015

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, a group of 13 Republican governors got all craven and knock-kneed about the possibility that refugees from Syria might come to their state and cause terror problems.

This is part of two problems with many national Republicans: First, they don’t want any immigration, I think because they fear the loss of white majority privilege mainly; and second, they don’t want anyone coming in unless they are Christian. Ted Cruz was explicit.

This is reflected in several other things, like craven Republicans demanded that the Bush Gulag at Gitmo be left open, because “having the bad guys here and having trials might cause us to be attacked”. That’s so wrong logically that it’s pathetic.

Conservative, unthinking, no-balls Republicans can’t be off the national stage fast enough.

18 November 2015 update:

Most of the other Republican governors, and most of the Presidential candidates, have dutifully fallen into line with this craven whining.  The media went after it.  Here in OKC, they reached all the way down to the chair of the local GOP, who woodenly repeated the same bullcrap.  The GOP:  unthinking, un-American craven pansies.  Except that’s insulting to pansies.

The Benghazi Hearings, Lots of Smoke But Nothing New

23 October 2015

I didn’t watch all eleven hours of the Benghazi hearings yesterday, but I managed to catch about two hours.

I think that the smoke from the committee Republicans just covered up a lot of bulls#$t.

There was a lot of smoke, all from Republicans, but nothing new was raised. Republican questions were mostly poised as accusations against Hillary Clinton. I’m guessing the emails from Clintons email server were expected (hoped) to yield contradictory information from what had already been testified about, but I don’t think there was anything there.

I have long thought that the drawn-out Benghazi hearings was just a way for the Republicans to damage Clinton and her presidential bid. Hopefully the ridiculously artificially drawn out process will wrap up know. Republicans should be embarrassed by their chosen representatives.

If Trump or Carson is the Republican nominee, Republicans having nothing to attack Clinton on, Republicans not able to run on a platform that is positive for the country, and Biden not running, Hillary probably ought to schedule a time to get her interior decorator to the White House to start planning.

Republicans Reaping What They Have Sown

11 October 2015

The disruptions in the Republican party this week are sort of just desserts for them, but unfortunately, it only continues to hurt the country.

Since Obama was elected and the Republicans made the decision to not work with him and the Democrats, they also made the decision to hurt the country to try and advance their petty political agenda. That’s not treason, but it also completely unethical.

Republicans also made every argument they could to scare the easily led who are their base. One of the things they did was to encourage the mouth-breathing part of the population to be so-called Tea Partiers. Some of them got elected to form the supposed “Freedom Caucus”.

A side note. Republicans are intoxicated with symbols (substance not so much), and so they try to use “freedom” or some similar symbol in every way.

Now those fanatics have come back with a vengeance and caused John Boehner (the worst Speaker ever, maybe, even worse than Gingrich) to resign, and have torpedoed the current second in command from assuming the Speakership.

One related thing is that the Republicans don’t want to get any support from Democrats in electing the Speaker. Their own party members can’t come to an agreement because the Tea Party types are even more “my way or the highway” than the establishment Republicans.

This would all be very amusing, except that it does nothing except hurt the country. Not that it matters to Republicans.

Carly, Where’s The Video?

27 September 2015

Related to the conservative frenzy over Planned Parenthood, Carly Fiorina made claims that she had seen a video where Planned Parenthood people took a living baby, and are heard on video saying they were waiting for the baby to die so they could harvest its brain. Reputable people have said the video does not exist. On Meet The Press this morning, she repeated the claim over and over, and further said that our country sucks because baby brains are being harvested. A panelist on MTP mentioned that there is a video that shows a miscarriage, but no mention on harvesting. If that’s the case, it may be another example of someone trying to fake an issue, as was done with Planned Parenthood earlier.

So, where’s the video, Carly?

Related to this, why did Chuck Todd not continue to press for an answer to that question. If her claim were true, it would be blockbuster. The video would be significant evidence, and would seem to be a huge booster for her campaign. But she would not answer the question, except to make further claims as to the act of baby brain harvesting in the country.

I wonder. After the interview was over, did she say to herself “Man, I escaped having to admit I fracked up, again”, or does she really believe she saw the video?

Republican (And Media) Stupidity Regarding Planned Parenthood

24 September 2015

National Republicans are in a froth to defund Planned Parenthood. Here is a representative passage from a CNN article:

“Republican leaders are performing the delicate dance largely because of conservative outrage to edited Planned Parenthood videos secretly taped by an anti-abortion group, allegedly showing officials from the organization discussing the sale of fetal tissue.” – cnn.com, today.

Couple things here. I’ve written before about the stuff that drives the Republicans in these matters: extremist all-or-nothing policies, putting symbolism before country, and the need to do almost anything except govern.

But the passage quoted from CNN is representative of the myopia in the media regarding these sorts of “controversies”. CNN uses the media bail-out of “allegedly” to give background on something that is not reality. It’s been debunked over and over, and yet Republicans (remember, Romney’s campaign said they would not be affected by fact checkers) repeat the lie over and over, and they are using that lie as justification to drive the budget process.

A far better report would have been “Republican leaders are willing to risk government shutdown to appease conservatives that are outraged by something that Planned Parenthood does not, and has never, done”.

That’s the fact of the matter here. Conservatives are willing to put their own petty gripes before the good of the country, even if their petty little gripes are based on a lie.

Stuff like birtherism, and bullshit, howling claims about Obamacare, are bad enough. But every time conservatives do stupid stuff to shut down the Government, it costs real money, and has real effects on people, and they do it based on fantasy and lie.

Trump Is Not The Problem, In This Case

18 September 2015

During a Q&A session yesterday, Republican Donald Trump took a question from an audience member, and the less-than-intelligent person stated that Muslims are the biggest problem in the country, and it was known that President Obama is a Muslim. Trump, in typical fashion, didn’t respond to that in the slightest. Trump is taking a ration of crap today from various organizations, and the media.

Trump is really not the problem, he’s the symptom of a larger disease.

I’ve written before about general Republican tactics and strategy since the age of Gingrich. In this form of political extremism, nothing a political opponent has done can be approved of in any way, and anything that can potentially hurt a political opponent is a good thing.

Since Obama was elected, McConnell and Boehner (and every other Republican so-called leader) have not only obstructed every effort put forth by Obama, but they have tacitly encouraged the mouth-breathing segment of their base that is deeply, deeply afraid of anything that upsets deepset white privilege when it comes to matters of race and religion. When Boehner and his ilk repeatedly failed to denounce birthers, or those who claim Obama is a Muslim, they are part of the problem.

While Trump is policy-light, Republicans don’t really have any policy that they are willing to run on. They would rather play to the base emotions of the easily led and easily snowed, who scare easily, especially where loss of white domination is involved. Economic warfare against the poor and middle class, and religious-based control of women and people of color are their actual policy, and they can’t stand on that.

But one thing I would like to see asked of Trump. I saw an interview with him back during the last election cycle, when he was flirting with running, and he claimed to have sent investigators to Hawaii to check on the Obama birth situation. I distinctly remember him claiming at the time that he was find out all kinds of lurid stuff that was apparently Really Bad. I do not recall him ever publicizing any results. Where are the results, Donald?

Advice For Those With Religious Liberty Issues

10 September 2015

If you have a deeply held religious belief, please by all means don’t do something that would directly violate that belief.  For example, if you do not think that gays should be married, then by all means, do not marry someone of your sex.

For all the other stuff, please:

SUCK IT UP

AND

DEAL WITH IT.

 
 
 
I mean this in the most respectful way I can.  I’m assuming you are a citizen of the United States, but this would apply to many other people as well.

YOU HAVE TO INTERACT WITH THOSE AROUND YOU.

If you work at the Gap, you cannot refuse service to a black person, or a gay person, or a Catholic, or an Episcopalian, or whoever else comes in.  You have your beliefs, but there are many others around you that may or may not share those beliefs, and you do not live in a place where only those who believe as you are allowed.

THOSE AROUND YOU HAVE TO INTERACT WITH YOU. 

If you go to shop at the Gap, you may be served by a person of deeply held religious belief, or a gay person, or a black person, or a Catholic, or an Episcopalian, or whoever works there.  If you have a friend who works there, by all means give him/her your business.  But otherwise, there are those around you who may or may not share your beliefs, and you do not live in a place where only those who believe as you are allowed.

I posted a short while ago about conservatism and extremism.  Only wanting to deal with those who believe just as you do is one form of non-compromise that is extremism.  In this secular, non-homogeneous society of the United States, people of every stripe have worked on the roads we all travel on, in the stores we all shop in, and in the places we gather, including sports, church, youth groups, and the like.  You, and those who are also in that gathering area, have to interact.  You do not get to live in a world, or even a state, or a county, or a town, or a neighborhood composed only of people who think like you.

If it’s really that important to you, gather your like-minded friends and buy an island.  Otherwise, suck it up.

The best advice for people to take is Live and Let Live.  If what another person is doing does not affect you in some material and negative way, then suck it up and deal with it.

Couple Examples Of Why I Don’t Like Conservatism

4 September 2015

The past couple weeks have given me several examples of two of the main reasons why I dislike “conservative” politics.

First, they can’t see any shading or compromise in what they see as core values.  The perfect example of this is the frothing of certain conservatives to defund and put out of business Planned Parenthood.  First, in the conservative orthodoxy, any reproductive cells are essentially a living, breathing baby who has an SSN.  So use of  contraceptives is the equivalent of abortion.  The day-after pill, even worse.  That is used to justify all sorts of onerous restrictions on the right of women to control their own reproductive destiny.  Planned Parenthood performs abortions, by their published records, those are about 3% of their total services provided.  But, conservatives (who also don’t at all mind spreading lies that the number of abortions are most of PP services), and ignoring the fact that no public funds go to performing abortions (per public law), want to cut off all funding for PP to keep them from doing those abortions.  Cancer screenings?  Not as important, to conservatives at least.  It’s the all-or-nothing, 100% with us or you are a mortal enemy attitude.  People who think that way are impossible to engage in decent discourse, and it leads them to think that those not like them are not human.  It’s far too easy to be a racist, misogynistic elitist when you believe those who disagree with you are less than human.

Second, and somewhat related, is the tendency to go over the top at the drop of a hat.  Mike Huckabee gave us a couple examples of this.  First, with respect to the agreement between the United States, several other nations, and Iran, Huckabee took the Extreme Stupidity Prize when he could not just disagree with the agreement, but stated that President Obama would “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven”.  I always wonder if he really believes this, or is he just trying to get press.  He followed up with a comment related to the situation with the anti-gay marriage court clerk in Kentucky that soon, Christianity would be criminalized.  Again, he can’t just take the situation as it is, he has to generalize it into a made-up, apocalyptic vision to scare those easily-led who support and follow him.  I would like him to tell me how many people were kept from going to church the past couple Sundays?

These conservatives just work at keeping their base supporters constantly whipped up and in a froth to keep them scared and (I think) to keep them from thinking about what their leadership actually believes.  The sad thing is that those followers are not thinking enough about what is being done to lead them along.

Donald Trump And His Presidential Bid

20 August 2015

The guy is obviously hitting a note with quite a few people.  I listened to a news conference he gave Thursday, and then to the excerpts of the interview he game Chuck Todd for Meet the Press Sunday. Finally, I listened to most of a news conference he gave this evening, in New Hampshire.

First of all, there was a certain trend in his responses to questions.  He gave no policy statements in the news conference, and very few in the MTP interview.  The one that stands out his his policy to build a wall between the US and Mexico.  I don’t think that’s a real solution, but it is a policy statement.

Overall, the guy is in love with his own voice.  He constantly interrupts the questioners.  He uses the on-offense “look…” phrase constantly.  He also repeats “points”, well, repeatedly. I think he does this for filler. The vast majority of his response to a question is to start talking before the question is done, and then his response is a combination of:  whoever is responsible for the problem/item is incompetent/not doing their job; I will do better.  There is no indication of how he would fix the issue.

He places a lot of faith in his ability to negotiate. His plan to negotiate with Iran, for example, is to find loopholes in the current agreement, and then go an browbeat the Iranians into a “better” deal.

I think his constant talking is a stream of consciousness kind of thing. I don’t know that he thinks ahead or plans very much.

I also don’t think he would make a good President, even with decent policy. He seems to think that he can control everything just because He Is Trump.

So, if he manages to not implode over the next year, and becomes the Republican nominee, I think that any of the Democrats would be able to beat him.

Late note:  Rachel Maddow, one of the smartest people on TV or radio, noted on her program this evening that Trump claimed a very specific number of supporters were at his rally; the number was 2,571 (I think that’s what she said; the 2,500 is certain, I think that 71 was the rest of it).  Rachel further mentioned that an NBC reporter when to the representative of the local fire marshal, who reported that the number of people counted was much closer to 1,200.  Still a lot of people, but someone made up a number along the line that was more than twice what the actual number was.  That should make you wonder about Trump.

26 August 2015 Update

There was a dustup between a journalist and Trump today, and Trump ended up having his security remove the journalist, while Trump refused to answer any of the questions.

Two things:  Trump got insulting to the guy.  He also repeatedly said the journalist was “screaming”.  Both are disturbing examples of Trumps lack of a stable personality.  He had to make the extreme claim of “screaming” when the journalist was clearly not screaming.  He also got personally insulting.  He is not stable and is a poor example of a Presidential candidate.

A Death Penalty Surprise in Nebraska

21 May 2015

I happen to be in the Omaha area on business.

One surprising happening in the state capitol of Lincoln was a vote in the Unicameral to abolish the death penalty in the state.  The vote was enough to override a promised veto by the Governor of the state.  But still, the vote was taken and it passed.

I don’t know what the effect would be on pending cases.  The last execution in Nebraska was reported as in 2007.

I think this is not a bad thing.  My thinking on the death penalty has evolved over the years, from full support to more limited support.  I think that, at a minimum, that since the death penalty is so final, that it should only be imposed when the offender is found guilty beyond a doubt, instead of a reasonable doubt.  Reasonable doubt can should still be used for non death penalty cases.

But this vote, in very conservative Nebraska, is encouraging on several levels, including informed debate at the state level.

The OKC Bombing, and Recent Politics

19 April 2015

Today is the 20th anniversary of the bombing, and there has been the expected coverage.

I was just looking at Facebook, and also as one might expect, there are posts about the event, and many sincere comments about how wrong the bombing was.

But I also am struck by a dichotomy about this.  In the past couple election cycles, how many people I know personally are conservative, and also national leaders, were talking about rebelling against the government.  “Second Amendment” solutions, the possibility of secession, the rancher in Nevada, and the like.

That’s what Timothy McVie was trying to incite.

I wonder if that ever crosses the minds of those conservatives?  “Never forget”, they post.  But they apparently forget that the evil of the OKC bombing was an attempt to topple the government, which many conservatives still apparently think about.

“Religious Liberty” Laws

3 April 2015

The actions by (mostly) Republicans to enact so-called religious liberty protection laws is misguided at best, and potentially disastrous at worst.

First, the country is clearly a group of people who may or may not have religion, bound together by a government that is secular.  Anyone claiming otherwise is deluded.

Second, while everyone is pretty much able to strive to do their own thing, that right is limited by the individuals interaction with the government, and where the rights of others are concerned.  No one in the country is generally protected from being offended.

Third, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantees individual religious liberty.  It also guarantees equal protection for all.

I saw this related meme on the Internet:  “A black man should not be forced to make a cake for the KKK and a Christian shouldn’t be forced to make one for a gay wedding” (this is attributed to someone named John Hawkins).

This is wrong on any number of levels.  The basic concept is wrong to begin with.  First, the assumption is that the cake bakers are businesses, since that’s what the recent “controversy” is about.  The concept of the common burden/common good comes into play, where a business is taking advantage of the infrastructure we all paid for (roads, police, fire protection), and has the obligation to serve all.  The meme also fails to address one difference:  the supposed KKK cake buyers are actively hating on the supposed black cake baker, where the opposite isn’t true.  In fact, it could be argued that the supposedly Christian cake baker is hating/despising the supposed gay cake buyers.

Of course, for an individual, there is no obligation to make cakes for anyone else.

I go back to the cherry-picking aspect as well.  Conservatives love to get all bent out of shape about gays.  “It’s sin, I don’t agree with sin, so I shouldn’t have to have anything to do with *them sinners*”.  But the supposedly put-upon cake bakers don’t seem to mind baking cakes for divorcees, or for that matter, everyone else (since we are all sinners).

These laws do nothing but enable dividing people, balkanizing the country.  Jewish people could refuse service to Gentiles, or the other way around.  Muslims could refuse service to Christians, or the other way around.  There are so many potential absurdities.

What about a sincerely anti-war religious belief?  Can that person specify that their taxes don’t go to the DoD?

I think it’s pretty clear that most of this comes from the mostly white, mostly Christian legislators lashing out as their market share falls, pandering to those like them, and trying to force the rest of us to acknowledge and adopt their beliefs.

But what it really comes down to is no business has the right to be offended and refuse service to a customer because of the religious belief of the proprietor (and that includes Hobby Lobby).  Suck it up, people.

Nutjob Senators Are Just A Symptom Of A Larger Problem

10 March 2015

The Republican Senators who sent the letter to the government of Iran are just a symptom of a larger problem.

But first, let me say, Senators Inhofe and Lankford, you are both a disgrace. You are not true Oklahomans, or Americans. You do not have the slightest bit of respect for the Constitution. You have no common sense either, “Snowball” Inhofe. You put your petty, hateful, spiteful politics above the good of the people of Oklahoma and the United States. Lankford, you like to say you are a man of God, but I see zero evidence of that. You cannot be out of office fast enough, you small, petty creatures.

That being said, this lack of respect to the Constitution is just part of the Republican view that Democrats are not a legitimate governing body for the country. Only Republicans have repeatedly bypassed the customs of this country. From Newt wanting to address the country when he was elected Speaker, to the House working directly with a foreign government to spite the President, to this bit of disgrace, Republicans just want power, and they assume they are the only ones that can have power, and they act like they deserve power, and in doing so ignore elections and insert themselves into situations constantly. The entire scheme of calculated opposition to anything Obama proposes is another example. The complete lack of failure to work with Democrats in compromise to get things done is yet another. Equally damning, the efforts of Republicans to overturn, impede, and degrade protections for citizens using Obamacare, military veterans, women, and voters who are poor and/or of color show how little they care for citizens. And finally, their complete lack of support for anyone but big business and the top 1% means they, not Obama, are imperial in their actions and thinking.

I don’t think the word “treasonous” applies here, just as it does not apply to Obama. But at what point is a complete failure to perform the peoples work become as bad as giving aid and comfort to an enemy? Congress, specifically Republicans in Congress, abetted by state legislators (also Republican), have worked since the Reagan years to funnel money from ordinary people to the top 1%. That’s theft of one kind. When will the weak-willed and easily scared wake up and realize they are being screwed? I hope it’s soon.

Shut Ferguson MO Down

5 March 2015

I’ve been reading about the US Department of Justice (DoJ) report on Ferguson, MO and how the police there interact with the town citizens. The press briefing on the report is at http://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-holder-delivers-update-investigations-ferguson-missouri.

One particularly egregious incident involved a guy sitting in his car. Doing nothing. A cop demanded his SSN and ID, was directed to exit his car, had a gun pointed at his head, and was arrested after pointing out his civil rights were being violated. Another guy was charged with lying after his said his name was Mike, when his legal name was Michael. In these cases, the victims were black, the officers white.

I’m going to read the full report. From the reporting today, the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson cop Darrin Wilson is part of a pattern of behavior that is suppressive of the black population of Ferguson by the white majority in power.

The thing that really bothers me about this: there are probably hundreds of Fergusons around the country.

I’ve noted before that election turnout in Ferguson was very poor, which meant that many black citizens were not voting.

I hope that the next election there results in the Council being turned out, and a general cleanout of the police department takes place.

In several states, there are laws that allow a governor to essentially remove the elected officials of a town and have an overseer installed when there are serious and persistent financial issues (not just illegal activities, even if a economic downturn as taken place). I think that the DoJ should have some sort of power to essentially fire or dissolve the “leadership” of a city, town, or county that shows malfeasance, including violations of the civil rights of people in the jurisdiction.

11 March 2015 update:

Several people in Ferguson have been fired or force to resign, including the police chief and city manager. This is good. It was also reported on NPR that a similar situation in Oakland, CA, several years ago had the potential for a receiver and judge to be appointed to oversee the city in the event they didn’t clean up their police problem. This is good.

Three Republican Quotes, Several Problems

24 February 2015

In the past week, statements by conservatives on President Obama:

Rudy Giuliani, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.”

Bobby Jindal, “I hate to say this, but we have a President right now who is not qualified to be our Commander-in-Chief. It gives me no joy to say that. This is not a partisan statement. This is not an ideological statement. This is a recognition of the facts. We’ve got a President who can’t seem to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism. How can he defeat the enemy if he’s not even willing to recognize the enemy that we face.”

Mitch McConnell, on the rapidly growing economy, “You know, it’s getting better because we just got elected. People are feeling more optimistic.”

All three of these comments reflect a common theme: Republicans have not a fricking clue.

The Giuliani quote is an example of Republican feeling on Democrats leading the country; that Republicans do not believe that Democrats are even eligible to be in politics. The Republicans practice total-destruction politics in that they just can’t disagree and compromise, but have to destroy Democrats (think back to the Clinton Administration and the drive that led to the impeachment attempt, and all the talk about impeaching Obama).

The Jindal quote is related, but is mainly driven by pure fantasy. He says it is not partisan, but that just means he is an accomplished liar. He sets up a strawman to support his assertion.

Jindal and the rest of the Republican Robots like to make up a fake issue and try to beat a Democrat to death with it. His basic issue is that not saying the words “radical Islamic terror*” means that Obama is not smart enough to be CINC. Of course, Obama is taking a nuanced approach that a radical conservative would not or could not understand. If conservatives want to conflate all Muslims with the very few who are criminals, then you have to do the same with Christians (and there are any number of examples, worldwide).

McConnell, after trying and failing to make Obama a one-term President, fought every initiative by Obama to fix the REPUBLICAN trashed economy. I think that Republicans who took this tact are as bad as common criminals. For a (failed!) try at political gain, they suppressed economic growth. The Republicans took money out of the hands of ordinary people just surely as a burglar does, but on a much larger scale. They are criminal. And that does not even address all the other anti-American things done in legislatures all across the country that include state-sponsored rape by instrumentation of women, vote suppression, et cetera ad nauseum.

I am mystified at why Democrats don’t fight back. They certainly have enough ammunition.

Brian Williams Gets Abused By Conservatives

8 February 2015

I was pretty much out of news range this past week due to backpacking.

I don’t know what Brian Williams reported about his experiences in Iraq. But Facebook has erupted with memes (mainly from conservatives) making fun of him.

What I find ironic is that conservatives don’t care that their party and the Bush Administration, egged on by Fox, lied some much to get us into Iraq in the first place. Those lies cost trillions of dollars, and thousands of American soldiers dead, and hundreds of thousands wounded, and millions of lives disrupted, all of which are still impacting us now. And there is zero outcry over that. Never has been, never well be. Their channel, Fox “News”, is the worst offender. No memes from the right about that…

The “outrage” is just ridiculous.

Boehner Invitation to Netanyahu

30 January 2015

House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come to the United States and give a speech before Congress. He did this on his own, without coordinating the action with the Executive Branch.

On the face of it, it is not remarkable. But the way it was done shows the fundamental issue that lies between Republicans and Democrats. It’s not really economic policy or anything like that. It’s much more simple. Republicans want power, all power. They also believe that Democrats (or anyone else) have no legitimate place in the political system.

There are numerous examples of this, going back to the Clinton Administration. Clinton won fair and square, and remember that it was a basic choice between economic policy on the Democrat side, and a campaign run on American symbology on the Republican side. Once Clinton won, Republicans began a series of efforts to manufacture or find scandal. It went on for most of the eight years of the Clinton Administration, and culminated in the impeachment attempt (which was so over-wrought as to be ridiculous).

It was even so when Obama was elected. Republicans went on a mission to find or manufacture scandal. Slightly worse than during the Clinton years, they pledged no compromise or cooperation at all. They did this while putting the country at risk. Supposedly America-loving, country-first Republicans actively impeded economic growth. They cheered at things that didn’t go Americas way (remember the cheers at the so-call Club for Growth when Chicago was not chosen for the Olympics?).

The action by Boehner is just another example. He shows contempt for a legitimately elected (twice) President by acting like he is a head of state. After Republicans took the House back in 1994, Gingrich did something very similar when he demanded prime-time air time for him to give a speech to the nation, as if he was the head of state.

Most of the actions of Republicans are in line with these examples, but at a personal level. Take away or restrict Social Security. Restrict or eliminate minimum wage, education, and voting rights.

Republicans are contemptuous of Democrats. In reality, they are contemptuous of the principles of democracy. They need to go, and the sooner the better.

More Craven BS From Republicans on Torture

14 December 2014

Call it what it is, torture. Not “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

Every person in the Bush Administration (and that’s where it was, folks, not Obama, BUSH) who supported or implemented the torture in the name of freedom (how’s that for an oxymoron?) ought to be identified, censured, and maybe even locked up.

President Obama made a decision, it seems, to not pursue these anti-American criminals. I understand the reasoning (“healing”) but don’t really agree with it. I am of the opinion that the people involved should be charged (and maybe pardoned?), at the least, to make a point.

The news programs this week, and the Sunday shows, had all sorts of Bush torture apologists spouting off. These are the same guys that shot holes all through the Constitution (including torture, surveillance, and the like) in the name of protecting us. Right.

So many of the torture apologists take the line that Valuable Information Was Obtained. But that can’t name that information. I heard several of them say that it was classified. How convenient.

The head of the CIA had a press conference to defend the agency. A guy with a sense of the Constitution and a pair of balls would have said, yes, people at the Agency committed torture, but it was wrong and we’ve cleaned it up.

So many Republicans whined that release of the torture report Would Cause Lives To Be Lost. Well, guys, it’s not the report, it’s the actions the report documented, and those actions were 100% Bush Administration. So many of those people are cowards; they see terrorists under ever rock (remember the prayer rugs in Texas!!!!!). More likely, they just want to keep the weak-minded (their base) in a constant state of agitated fear.

They are sad and pathetic, and dangerous. If Obama were the emperor/king/monarch that many of them claim, they would have already been put in jail for their anti-Administration beliefs. They ought to be in jail for their anti-American actions.

Conservatives Are Happy About The Michael Brown Situation

28 November 2014

The inherently racist part of Conservatives blossomed again after the decision by the local DA to not prosecute the cop who killed the unarmed man.

There are lots of posts about how you should just do what a cop says every time without question, they are trashing the guys hired by the family to do the autopsy, and of course the mans family is criticized.

This is a reflection of the core part of conservatism that is inherently white supremacy. They crow when a single black woman is elected to the national Congress, never mind that she is one of a few blacks at the national level, and the vast majority is still white.

The saddest part of the whole situation is that blacks have been getting the active shaft in this country since we condoned slavery, and the policies by Republicans to suck wealth and opportunity from the 98% to the 2% disproportionally continue to screw blacks.

All the while, conservatives tut-tut that blacks (and women, and the poor, and Hispanics) should Just Pull Themselves Up or Get Educated or Just Work Harder. Business interests (overwhelmingly conservative) were the reason for slavery in the first place, and one look at the benefits and overall job security and stability over the past 20+ years show that opportunity is steadily being removed.

And supposedly opportunity-first Republicans not only don’t do anything to fix the situation, they actively try to make it worse. Shameful.

Obama And Immigration And Conservatives, And BS

21 November 2014

So this evening the President gave a speech where he announced he is going to do some reforms via executive action. I didn’t watch the speech, and it’s being covered.

But the reactions on Facebook are telling. There have been dozens of memes that were tossed out immediately, meaning they had already been prepared, of course.

The themes are mainly about how Obama is lawless, or that he is acting as an emperor or a king. An example is the laughable Ted Cruz, who claimed on Fox that Obama was “changing the law”, and acting like a monarch. All of this coordinated response is a smokescreen for Republicans Not Doing A Damn Thing.

One from an Oklahoma Congressman quoted a 2011 speech by Obama where Obama talks about immigration reform, and then selectively pulls parts of the speech out to imply that Obama lied about use of executive authority. Such behavior should be beneath a Congressman. It’s contemptible.

Congress, in particular the Republicans, have utterly failed to do anything on immigration reform, or for that matter much of anything else. Not doing anything about immigration is just another failure to govern.

An Election-Related Ancedote

10 November 2014

I’ve been thinking about the election a week ago, and the significant Republican gains, and whether the country is moving rightward. I don’t think it is.

This Facebook post is a fair sample of much of the Republican/right-leaning commentary not just from the past week, but over the past couple years:

Open borders, executive orders bypassing Congress, Ebola imported, illegal aliens, “children” who are drug cartel gang bangers, race baiting, can’t attend the funeral of the highest ranking officer killed in the war but he’s there for others, completely ignores a US Marine imprisoned in Mexico for more than 100 days, abandons Israel. Just a few of the awful things that have taken place on his watch. Someone should have stood trial for Benghazi. We need representatives who care about America instead of their party.

The question that prompted this was “So what has Obama done that is so bad?”.

Every claim in this can be refuted with facts and reality. The last line in particular – there isn’t a Republican in Congress that can honestly be said to be working for America instead of the advancement of the Republican party. As I’ve said many times before: Conservative first, Republican second, American not even third.

It would be easy to dismiss this person as deluded, or stupid, or something similar. But to me it’s a good example of the unthinking acceptance of the successful strategy of the right, in first actively impeding the recovery of the economy that the right trashed, then a complete failure to campaign on any issues or policies except to oppose Obama. It is related to the constant drumbeat of criticism of anything Obama does, even when that criticism conflicts with previous actions or criticisms, in particular with respect to health insurance reform.

It’s a combination of fears, and it’s expertly stoked by the Republicans. I’m concerned that it might be used by Democrats, but at least I have little worry that an America in the hands of Democrats is going to be sucked dry.

A Huge Step For Marriage Equality!

6 October 2014

I think that the decision by the SCOTUS to not hear the appeals of the discriminatory and hurtful anti-equality marriage statutes in Oklahoma and a number of other states is a recognition of something that is plain to see in the Constitution:  equality for all people is not subject to a popularity contest, or more specifically, subject to veto by people based on their reading of their holy book.

I got a news alert that the first marriage license for a gay couple has been issued in Tulsa.  Right on!  Justice by equality has been delayed and denied far too long.

Mary Fallin Doesn’t Stand For Much

5 October 2014

She is running for a second term as Governor of the State of Oklahoma.  She has a serious challenger in Joe Dorman.

There are two ads running pretty heavily in Oklahoma.  One is from some outside group (can’t remember the name).  That ad attacks Dorman and then praises Fallin.

The thing the two ads have in common is that both are stridently anti-Obama.  Both talk about how Obama’s Common Core tries to take over Oklahoma education.  Both talk about how bad Obamacare is.  Those two points, of course, are bogus (but few Republicans let a couple facts stand in the way of an ad).  And both ads focus on how Fallin is “fighting against” Obama or Washington or whatever.

But neither really talks about what Fallin has actually done.  She has pretty much signed everything the Republican-controlled Legsislature has sent here.  She has never been a leader, just a rubber stamp.  I don’t think she has much in the way of policy over just what the national Party decides, which, of course, is quite different from exhibiting leadership.

I hope she loses.

Update:  just saw the outside ad again.  It’s from the Republican Governors Association.  I counted three straight-up lies right off the bat.  Oh, and (horrors!) it called Dorman a Liberal.  Republicans just don’t have much of anything to run on.

Another Fake Media “Issue”

17 August 2014

There has been a lot of discussion (in fact, it’s a topic on “Meet The Press” right now) on the “controversy” about statements made by Hilary Clinton that supposedly undercut President Obama.

I think it’s really healthy instead of some flip-flop. There is almost always a variety of opinions on how to implement a particular piece of policy. If she had her input when she was SecState, and her boss the President did something different, that’s OK because he is in charge. Now she is a private citizen, and she has her opinions, and that’s OK also.

With all the real problems that need solving, focusing on a person expressing her personal opinion is a waste of bandwidth.

Good Riddance to Eric Cantor

1 August 2014

He gave his farewell address to the House today. I find it absolutely delicious that he got zapped by a Tea Partier, when he and the Republicans stoked Tea Party nutjobs for so long, taking advantage of their anger, while at the same time not doing a damn thing except obstruct.

When you feed an unintelligent monster, don’t be surprised when it turns on you. I hope the Tea Party rocks on, feeding on more Republicans, and splitting the field three ways soon.

That’s the only way Tea Partiers can doing anything useful for the United States.

Fracking Ad in Colorado

19 July 2014

We are in Colorado now, and have seen an ad run quite a few times.

It’s a masterpiece of propaganda. Two sets of Colorado polits, one walking to camera right, the other walking to camera left, both talk about how Coloradans need to come together to make sure that fracking goes on, but in a responsible manner. The ad is paid for by an oil and gas PAC. It talks about what the ad calls all the positive benefits of fracking, and just assumes that fracking is only logical and happening. Nothing, of course, about environmental impact.

This is another example of monied corporate interests trying to influence public discourse, to their benefit.

Congress and Productivity and Recess Appointments

27 June 2014

The SCOTUS today ruled in a very literal way, but also in a remarkably tuneless way.

The root problem is that Congress (the Senate) didn’t want to confirm many of President Obama’s appointees, mainly out of pique (they are pissed he was elected). Republicans had a plan for the country: To Do Nothing. Especially if any action might be viewed as “handing a victory to Obama”. That included filibustering Presidential nominees. So the root problem is that they weren’t doing their job.

The President wanted his people in place. So he used short Senate adjournments to make recess appointments.

Congress got peeved and arranged for the President to be sued. SCOTUS ruled that the short adjournments (over the weekend, for example) were not valid for recess appointments.

One interesting thing: recess appointments have been made mid-session by Presidents for many years. There is some discussion in the thinking media (i.e. not conservative media) that perhaps the SCOTUS engaged in a bit of judicial activism in re-interpreting longstanding process.

So the way I see it is: Congressional Republicans, is not accomplishing their job, sort of left the President to do what he needed to do. He didn’t lie or obfuscate about it (like, for example, Bush/Cheney and the Iraq War), and there was no harm to the country (why haven’t Bush and Cheney been held accountable for thousands of American deaths?), but he was trying to get the business of the Executive Branch done. Republicans made it harder by engaging in fakery with respect to recesses. You can’t blame the guy for trying.

Congressional Republicans aren’t even trying.

Another Victory for Personal Privacy

25 June 2014

I was glad to see the SCOTUS bar searches of cell phones by police. I was amazed that it was a 9-0 vote.

The police/NSA/FBI surveillance programs are antithetical to our freedom in this country. Our jurisprudence is based on the concept of innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of that proof of guilty is on the state, not the individual.

There are too many instances of a traffic stop resulting in the wide ranging search of an individuals possessions (you see this on the highway constantly), with little accountability for the police doing the searching. For every cited case of a drug dealer being found this way, I would guess that there are many, many more cases where nothing is found. That would be information the police would not want to have publicly known.

I do understand that the police would need to check to make sure that they are safe during these stops (although in the vast majority of stops, the cops are the ONLY ONES with guns), but rooting around in a persons wallet or their phone does nothing to advance that safety argument.

The police need to do their jobs the way they were intended to: if someone is suspicious, start an investigation, get warrants, and find evidence.

This is related to another story yesterday about a SWAT team raiding a house (IIRC, the major crime being looked at was a nephew of the house occupants was suspected of having what the story described as a small amount of drugs). The SWAT team came in with automatic weapons, and a flash-bang grenade ended up in a crib, critically injuring an infant. The nephew was not even there. Overwhelming deadly force, and completely no intelligence (and I use this for both the cops knowing where the nephew was, and their general brains), were a terrible mix here. The injury to the baby was far out of proportion to the supposed crime here. The increasing militarization of the police just feeds on the worst fears of government, and will increase the reaction of those who already fear some sort of police state.

The No-Fly List Finally Gets Challenged

25 June 2014

I saw a news report that a judge in Portland, OR ruled that the US Government no-fly list has no valid way for travelers to challenge their placement on the list.

The list, one of the craven actions in the post-9/11 time, is one of the egregious violations of liberty with very little “protective” return.

The list is an un-Constitutional example of prior restraint. Travel is a fundamental right, and the secret list, with no way to challenge a persons reason for being on it, and secret criteria for the Government putting people on it, is inherently anti-American.

The Government claims that it can’t tell people they are on the list because people might figure out ways to keep of the list. How about this: if you have been convicted of a travel-related crime, you can go on the list. Otherwise you should not be on the list.

Most claims of Government secrecy that are outside of the defense realm ought to be held to a very high standard before being implemented, and should be justified to an independent review not associated with the agency in question (hmmm, Congress, why don’t you do your job?). Keeping citizens from traveling, using a secret list of people, with secret criteria, and no review, fails that test on many levels.

Almost Through The Primary Season

24 June 2014

Today is the day for voting in the primaries in Oklahoma. As an Independent, there aren’t a lot of choices on the primary ballot this time around.

We are already heartily sick of the current crop of ads here. Most of the ads are for or against Republican candidates. I think it’s about an equal mix of ads by candidates, and ads by advocacy groups.

There are a couple trends here worth noting. First, the race for the Oklahoma State School Superintendent. The current occupant of that office, a dentist with no teaching qualifications, has been working to impose a conservative vision on the State Department of Education. She has a primary opponent. Both sides call the other side “liberal”. Both sides run ads against the other with pictures of President Obama (and in keeping with classic propaganda, his photo is always dour or angry looking). One side says the other likes Obamas Common Core. The other side says their opponent is breaking the law by using public money in their campaign, citing “secret emails”. There are so many lies here that it would take a blog post to enumerate them. The funniest ad is one of the candidates intoning “I will place the needs of our children above the liberal agenda”.

There is a similar battle for the Republican nominee for a US Senate post. There’s a lot of PAC ads here. Both sides are trying to out-conservative each other. I actively dislike both major candidates, but in one case I sympathize with the guy because the accusation against him is that he voted for ObamaCare. Now, there’s no way that he would have done that; if you record the ad, and freeze-frame it to get the supposed reference, you see that he voted for an admendment to a budget bill that tried to strip part of ObamaCare. The bill itself went forward and was eventually passed. But to stretch that the guy voted for ObamaCare based on a single non-related Yes vote is more than simply a stretch; it’s a lie.

I guess this isn’t too surprising. I’ve noted before that the vast majority of out-and-out liars are conservative/Republican. And don’t forget it was a conservative organization that argued before the SCOTUS they had a right to LIE. And Mitt and his “we’re not going to let fact checkers drive this campaign”. But I digress.

The overall tone in this set of ads is that none of the ads I have heard tell us anything about the policies the candidates intend to enact. We get a lot of what they are going to repeal/reject (think ObamaCare). We get a lot of breast-beating about how they are going to fight for Americans (the actual record of Congressional obstruction tells me that is BS). We get a lot of outside groups saying other candidates suck. But a lot like the current Republicans at the national and state levels, they seem to want to do a bait and switch and start buggering the nation after they get elected.

I’ve noted before that the Republican Party is on the way out. The main issue now is how to prevent them from doing too much damage on the way out.

Is This The Best Republicans Have Got?

21 May 2014

As I sat in my hotel room last night and worked, I listened to the election results from the various primaries.

One that struck me was the primary victory Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) gave. His speech had such gems as he would repeal Obamacare. But what really struck me was the absolute lack of anything positive. No policy at all. No issues. He laced his speech with stuff that is completely non-relevant to his representation of Kentucky. “Hollywood liberals” were all sending money to his opponent (he may think that’s hot rhetorically, but logically and factually it’s false). A vote for anyone else was a vote for Obama and ObamaCare. His opponent is essentially Harry Reid. Lots of anti-whatever, but nothing I heard that was positive (and I listened to the speech on Fox, they showed the whole thing).

I’ve noted before how disappointed I am that so many middle-class people vote for a party, the Republicans, that not only do not have their interests at heart, but they do not even have a plan or a policy to even talk about. The Republican Party is dying off, but it really needs to happen sooner so we can get the country moving forward more.

One Nutcase And One Liar Running For Congress

13 May 2014

I just saw a couple commercials by candidates for Senate.

TW Shannon has a whole raft of endorsements by people like Sarah Palin. But TW says this: we don’t get our rights from the Constitution, we get them from God! He is disqualified for office by this, since he does not respect the secular rule of law that this country is founded on.

James Lankford says how he lectured the President using Bible references to say how bad the debt is, and how the President (supposedly) just nodded his head. Then Lankford launches off on a claim that the President and the Senate are OK with the debt. So Lankford, the supposedly moral man, has no problem with saying lies for political gain. He is also unqualified for office.

This extreme conservatism can not go away fast enough.

Equality Marches On!

12 May 2014

It was good to see that Arkansas is the latest state where a judge showed courage and adherence to the Constitution, and overturned the state ban on marriage equality.

Progress is slow, and never easy. But eventually, all will have equality.

Silly Conservatives In Oklahoma, Too

3 May 2014

I just saw a TV ad from Oklahoma Congressman Lankford, who apparently thinks he’s not doing enough damage in the House, and wants to move to the Senate and screw things up more in that body.

In the ad, he goes on about how ObamaCare steals freedom. He trots out the you-can’t-choose-your-doctor-or-hospital, and blames the Gummit for that.

It’s clear he thinks that having no insurance is better than having ObamaCare. He doesn’t say what he wants in place of ObamaCare.

TW Shannon also likes to bash O-Care. He brags that he kept the Medicare expansion out of Oklahoma, supposedly because it was “wasteful”. Now, I don’t see how he thinks that getting thousands of Oklahomans health insurance is wasteful. More likely, he just likes doing a virtual give the finger to Obama, and maybe Oklahomans who don’t have insurance.

What do you guys stand for?

Conservatives Running in Nebraska

1 May 2014

I spent most of the past week in Nebraska. It was amusing, and sad, to hear the campaign ads for people running for various offices. Most of them (all, maybe), were various flavors of “conservative”.

It seemed that most of them were trying to out-conservative each other. There was the required howling about ObamacCare. A number of them (either confused or content with a lie) made claims that have been popular with conservatives in spite of being debunked (including one of my favorites, the job-killing farm dust regulation. Which was never proposed, ruled on, or anything else, but move the Great Job Creator John Boehner to push through legislation overturning any consideration of regulation of farm dust).

At least two of the conservatives were having a lovers spat over claims and counterclaims.

But missing from all this was anything about how they might actually *govern*. The frothing Tea Party types are full of rage and hatred, but not so full of thoughtful governing.

Except for the fact that this sort of rage is bad for the country, it’s sort of funny.

Scouting Takes Another Black Eye

22 April 2014

In this article: http://time.com/70116/boy-scouts-seattle-troop/, it’s reported that a Seattle-area Scout Troop has had their Charter from the BSA national organization revoked. The problem as seen by national is that the Scoutmaster is gay, and the chartering organization has no problem with that (hooray for them!), and refused to remove the Scoutmaster.

This sort of unfortunate incident was inevitable when the national organization only partially reversed their un-American rule banning gays from being in Scouting.

Last year around this time, national allowed gay Scouts to join, but didn’t extend the same courtesy to gay adults. This was unfortunate. I understand that they are probably taking incremental steps to reverse the horrid policy, but until the policy banning gay adults is eliminated, Scouts will still look very bad with actions like this.

One thing that BSA national noted when allowing gay Scouts is that individual chartering organizations would have the final say on membership (which allows blind, stupid discrimination in some cases), but BSA is trying to tie the hands of progressive, thinking organizations that don’t practice discrimination.

Sad. Scouting is a good program. It should not be teaching the useless value of discrimination.

An Example of Lousy Photojournalism

5 March 2014

I saw a number of references over the past couple days to a photo taken of members of Trail Life USA. The kids seem to be using the Nazi hand salute.

For those that don’t know (it’s of great interest to me since I’m a Boy Scout leader), Trail Life USA is a group formed as a Boy Scout-like group, with ranks and camping and the like. The group was formed specifically due to the policy change by the Boy Scouts to no longer exclude gay Scouts.

We won’t ask why the group is OK with atheists, and other sinners, but just frown on this one sin that offends them.

Regardless, the Associated Press was doing a story on the Trail Life people, and the photographer took the picture. You can see the picture here, along with a discussion.

The boys in the picture are actually doing a hand sign where they lower their hands during “Taps”. I have seen a number of very similar closings in Boy Scouts, where Scouts make the hand sign, and lower it slowly during a closing song.

But my question is all this, where in the world did the photographer, or most likely editor, have their head? Was it so far up their butt that they had fecal material in their eyes? Anybody with an IQ higher than their collar size would know that publishing a photo that appeared to be boys repeating the Nazi salute would be incendiary. Regardless of what I think about why the Trail Life formed, using a picture that implies they are even slightly Nazi-influenced is just flat wrong.

I’ve been around professional photogs. When those guys take a photo, they shoot a string of them. I can’t believe that in this case, the photographer took a single picture at just the wrong moment. I can’t believe that an editor had only that photo to choose from, and didn’t say “no freakin’ way!”.

Whoever decided to use that photo in the article about Trail Life is incompetent, or biased against the group for some reason. Regardless, firing would be an appropriate response by the AP.

Too Black and White

27 February 2014

Couple bad examples in the news over the past couple days of Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS).

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sort of lost his mind after a function of the governors meeting in Washington. As soon as a microphone was in front of him, he said the Obama Administration was “waving the white flag of surrender” where trying to increase job growth was concerned.

Now, if you look at the classic jobs created graph, any non-crazy person can see that jobs growth (which was negative due to Republican policies under Bush) reversed and corrected under Obama, and is still increasing. So his implication that Obama and company are not trying to encourage job growth is BS. Using the “white flag” comment makes his statement pretty deranged.

On another front, I have been listening to SecDef Hagel talk about the Obama Administration budget concepts for the DoD over the past couple days. There is a lot of talk about retiring the A-10 and the TR-2 and reshaping service member levels.

So, in a sadly predictable way, some conservatives started frothing at the mouth. I’ve seen all over discussions and forums comments about how this is part of the Obama Evil Plan to destroy/dismantle/neuter our armed services. It’s black and white to them. Cut or reshape anything, and you destroy it.

We have a sadly uneducated, unthinking part of the electorate. They have been fed BS by conservatives, and being the followers they are, don’t think about it, but just get pissed. Symptoms are endlessly reposting proven-wrong screeds, or mindlessly applauding conservative points such as drug testing for welfare recipients.

There are real problems in the country, and just obstructing possible solutions isn’t governing.

Good News on Health, But Dumb Conservative Response

27 February 2014

A report out yesterday showed that childhood obesity has dropped significantly over the past 10 years.

This can be nothing but good news for the country.

When the story was reported this morning on CNN, I guess in the interest of “balance”, they interviewed some drone from the Heritage Foundation, who lamented the “fact” that it really was an erosion of family control in favor of Big Government.

What a fool.  I’m guessing that conservative people and organizations are so full of blind hatred of Obama that there is No Good News unless it cannot be connected back to Obama and/or Democrats.

For the record, I’ve not seen any Administration forced PE.  Maybe kids are eating healthier through the guidance of their parents.

Conservatives can be pretty pathetic.

CNN should not even have had that moron from Heritage on; it added nothing to the news report.

The Latest Hatred-of-Gays Gambit

22 February 2014

Several states have passed or tried to pass so-called “religious liberty” protection bills that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers. This follows several instances where a bakery owner or similar business would refuse service to gay customers.

So laws like this are inherently unconstitutional. The same sort of laws that allowed discrimination against blacks were finally struck down. That period of United States history is one of the worst for our country, and even today our black and brown citizens still don’t have full equality. The discrimination laws were the antithesis of the very concept of American pluralism, and were a disgusting example of bigotry.

The gay discrimination laws that are being considered are yet another example of bigotry. There are any number of arguments as to why the laws are not Constitutional, starting with the concept of public accommodation.

But a better question is, why are people so focused on gays. If your holy book tells you somehow that you are not supposed to bake cakes for gays, and it’s because there is some vague prohibition that labels homosexuality as sin, then by logical extension, you should not be baking cakes for any person who practices sin. No one has ever explained this to me.

I have had a couple explanations that homosexuality is one of the abominations, so that’s extra sinful, but again, there are a whole list of of those behaviors in the Bible, and yet I don’t see any laws being passed to allow discrimination based on that. How many bakers are asking people if they had sex as teenagers? Or how many ask if they have cotton clothes and silk underwear?

I’ve raised this question before in another context. If anti-gay crusaders like Oklahomas (to our shame) Sally Kern want to put anti-gay legislation on the books, then why don’t they put other biblically-based laws on. If the Bible says stone teenagers for having sex, isn’t that also worth getting put into law?

No, instead, I think that anti-gay fanatics are trying to satisfy their need to control behavior with what they perceive as an easy target. They draw false cause-and-effect (think “gay marriage degrades straight marriage”), and use it to whip up the easily led.

So. If you support discrimination, what’s your excuse?

Paul Ryan is BSing AGAIN

3 February 2014

So the running-liar-mate for Mitt Romney is back at it again. He said on ABC “This Week” that the Obama Administration is an “increasingly lawless Presidency”. This is supposedly because of Obama issuing executive orders.

When asked what he was going to do about it, he basically said he was going to do nothing.

This is typical of the policy-light and obstructionist Republicans. All words, all accusations, no logic, and NO action. Pure BS. Why any of of the 95%+ of Americans that are not super rich would vote for these Republicans is a mystery.

Oklahoma Anti-Marriage Equality Law Struck Down

15 January 2014

I was glad to see that a US District Judge ruled the Oklahoma ban on marriage equality as clearly un-Constitutional. It always was, and hooray for the judge to have the courage to say so.

It will be appealed, and there was the expected commentary from people like the Oklahoma AG. But it was a huge step that I didn’t expect to see here for some time.

If you don’t want to marry a person of the same sex, don’t.

If you are married, and two people of the same sex marry, it doesn’t affect yours.

Deal with it.

Marriage Equality In Utah

11 January 2014

The back-and-forth in Utah over same-sex marriage is unfortunate. A US judge spoke plain Constitutional truth when he said nothing in the Constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. And that’s been the case since the country was founded.

Even though the SCOTUS put a hold on same-sex marriages in Utah in spite of the Constitution, the US Attorney General said that the United States will recognize the roughly 1300 marriages that had already taken place. This is the decent and humane thing to do, and the Obama Administration is to be commended for taking that stance in a timely manner.

I saw a quote from the National Organization for Marriage that the action by the US AG was “outrageous”. To be expected, of course. They are on the losing end of this one, eventually. They really should be named the “National Organization for the Christian Marriage”, since they want to keep their beliefs forced onto all people via law.

Once again, it’s steps forward, and some backward, but overall, we’re going to win this one.

Some Random Thoughts On Recent News

21 December 2013

I’ve not been blogging much lately due to a lot of work and personal stuff going on; nothing bad, just lots.

Intrusive Data Collection

I am so glad that a judge recently indicated that the huge data collection efforts that the US Government has been doing on Americans is likely un-Constitutional. It’s about damned time. US justice is built around catching people that actually commit crimes, not trying to ferret out who might. There are a lot of intrusive data collections that are based on the same NSA vacuum-everything concept. Some examples:

  • The Oklahoma DPS requires people registering cars to provide a drivers license. This isn’t to protect the tag agent from a bad check or invalid credit card.
  • The Oklahoma version of the ATF requires people getting a prescription for many forms of legally prescribed drugs to have license information captured when dropping off and then picking up the meds. This is supposedly to keep the raw material for meth out of bad guys hands. This also goes for some non-prescription drugs.
  • States and cities are deploying cameras that cruise parking lots and capture the tag info for every person parking there.
  • There are many other examples. Our Government has no business collecting anything beyond what is needed for a particular transaction, and that data should be deleted afterward.

    Duck Dynasty

    I do not care that one of the stars of this show is in trouble for saying anti-gay things. I do not care for “reality” TV at all. It’s not reality, for one thing. It seems that the people who put those shows on look for the most out-on-the-edge people, and then those people act over the top. There is made-up over-reaction, I’m sure that a lot of it is scripted, and that takes it out of “reality”.

    The people who want to make anti-gay comments are perfectly within their rights to be closed-minded bigots. The rest of us can comment back in the same way against the bigotry. See the next section.

    Equality Moving Forward

    New Mexico and Utah became the latest states to support marriage equality. I am so glad that judges are being more and more willing to take the Constitution over religion-justified denigration of equality.

    Congress

    Congress passed a budget! I guess the Republicans finally realized that they can’t use Tea Party anger to govern, and wised up to the fact that the process is bipartisan.

    I’m very glad that the Democrats in the Senate exercised the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate some of the ways for Senate Republicans to gum up the legislative works.

    That’s it for now. I’ve restaurant reviews that are piled up that I need to take care of.

    Filibuster “Reform”

    22 November 2013

    So the US Senate today voted to change the rules of the Senate to allow simple majority votes on Presidential appointees to the Administration, and most judicial nominations. This is unfortunate in that it is necessary.

    If Republicans could find some objection to these nominees, and then the objections be weighed and debated, then voted on, we would not have any problem.

    But Republicans generally did not do this. Instead, they just filibustered and blocked votes on nominees. In short, they refused to participate in governance. They just obstructed. They also want to effectively gerrymander certain courts to keep Republican majorities and keep Obama appointees off those courts.

    Elections have consequences. The party in the minority is supposed to work with the majority to get stuff done. As I have said many times before, Republicans have refused to govern. Stopping stuff cold, without debate or vote, is not governing.

    The Senate action today is unprecedented. But the cause is unprecedented obstruction by the Republicans. The filibuster relaxation needed to be done earlier. It probably needs to be done for Supreme Court nominations, then general legislation.

    Republicans are steadily on the way to non-relevance, by their own actions.

    I’m also glad the Senate Democrats grew a pair.

    Why I’m Not Worried Much About Obamacare

    15 November 2013

    There is much sturm und drang from conservatives about Obamacare. None of that matters much to me.

    First of all, the cost of health care was rising steeply. Obamacare looks to be dropping that rise.

    Second of all, Republicans have done NOTHING to help the situation. Unless they have a better plan, STFU. Related to this is the fact that many parts of Obamacare are adapted from Republican ideas, that they repudiated just because Obama adopted them. Of course, that’s bipartisan, of Obama.

    The website issues are a problem. There seemed to be fundamental issues with the contracting for the site, and in particular, a lack of comprehensive and indexed testing of the site. Bad CPARs should be written on contractors, and sanctions on the government people that let it happen. But the website issues don’t make Obamacare any less valid. If the website issues are the best the Republicans have, they don’t have much.

    One of these days, the do-nothing Republicans are going to have to do more than gerrymander and suppress votes, and actually do some governing. Or they will be a party of screeching fools in a couple election cycles.

    Voter Suppression News

    5 November 2013

    A news item reported by Rachel Maddow today: of the 700,000 Texas Voters that require ID to vote under the latest TX voter suppression law, “free” IDs have been issued to about 120. In Minnesota, an easy online registration site has been sued by four Republicans and two conservative groups.

    It’s really too bad that conservatives can’t compete in the marketplace of ideas. It’s sad, but they typically lie, hide their true agenda (since the real anti-middle-class agenda is anathema to many voters), or suppress voters, just because their ideas suck.

    Some Good News On the Climate Change Front

    4 November 2013

    I saw a reference last week to a policy in the Los Angeles Times in which the Times states that letters that have an untrue basis do not get printed as a letter to the editor. The note is in an editorial that places letters that claim that the President and other executive branch people are exempted from Obamacare are also false, and so do not get printed either.

    This is a small step toward keeping discussions about climate change on an even and reasonable keel. The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that global climate change exists, and is likely human caused. Non-science people like James Inhoff who just deny that climate change is occurring bring nothing of value to the argument. If all they are trying to do is raise doubt, why waste print space and time to print the denials. The Times policy is a good step.

    In a related story, the Obama Administration released new policy that requires Federal agencies to begin preparation for how to mitigate climate change impacts.

    This is the way government is supposed to work: anticipate valid threats and plan to meet and mitigate those threats.

    Both changes are small steps in the fight to mitigate climate change.

    How about a national energy policy next?

    The GOP Is Rushing to Obscurity

    6 October 2013

    There is a photo on The Huffington Post this morning showing the House Republican leadership. My “representative” James Lankford is there.

    I just can not believe that the Republicans are still pursuing the shutdown path. It seems that it was something they have been planning for since 2010 as a tool of politics. When you add laws that are anti-women, anti-middle class, continued unquestioning support for the police state (the Democrats have blame here also), and include their complete opposition to any form of compromise, that the only thing that can be assumed is that the Republicans are counting on the unquestioning support of the 15% of people who consider themselves Tea Partiers, and that they assume that their gerrymandered districts will protect them.

    But I can hope that the affected groups of people will vote for who will support them, instead of those who are fundamentally opposed to them. If that can happen, the Democrats can take back the House, get a filibuster-proof Senate majority, and get the recovery accelerated. Then the focus can turn back to statehouses.

    It will take a while, and Oklahoma will be one of the last until the the citizens realize the bait-and-switch types that they elected do not have the interests of the middle class at heart, but the Republicans are headed into well-deserved obscurity.

    More Republican Stupidity, On Obamacare

    21 September 2013

    So there was big news today as the House voted in a Continuing Resolution for the upcoming fiscal year. The twist is that is makes the 42nd attempt to take out Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, by defunding the program.

    House Speaker Boehner averred that the House had listened to the people, and was doing the peoples doing. Now, I’ve seen survey results that show that 52% of people will not use or do not approve of Obamacare. First of all, most people will not use Obamacare, and will continue under their current employer provided plans. So the Speakers statement is suspect at best.

    I do have another question for him, however. If he is so hot to trot to do the peoples bidding, why did he not advance a bill in the House to make mandatory background checks on all gun purchasers, something polling said that 90%-95% of people supported? My guess, hypocrisy.

    Boehner also railed about how job-destroying Obamacare is (there is no proof of that), and that’s it is failed (well, it’s just now being implemented, so there isn’t any evidence there either). Many other Republicans howled about how Obamacare wrecks freedom. That’s craven rhetoric, of course.

    So what’s so bad about Obamacare? It’s a government program, sure, but on balance I think that forcing insurers to insure people and not screw them, is a good thing overall.

    A commercial by some conservative group shows a young woman going to a pelvic exam, and up between her legs pops a huge, leering Uncle Sam fake head. The commercial decries government health care. That is, of course, a lie, in that Obamacare does not implement government health care; all people still use the same doctors, nurses, and the like that they currently use.

    I think the Republican frothing angst is ridiculous. The law is a good one from my way of thinking, just by taking the boots of the insurance companies off the necks of people with respect to pre-existing conditions and the like. As I’ve said before, how can tyranny by business be good for the country?

    The pathetic attempts by “conservative” groups to get rid of Obamacare will fail. I hope that people remember that the Republicans want people to be subservient to business. And that Republicans want their own special variety of Sharia law to hold women back and down. And that Republicans are the only party that wants to take away voting rights, just because they don’t have any kind of pro-America policies.

    What About Syria?

    2 September 2013

    I am of several minds concerning the situation in Syria.

    First, I saw a post from a conservative here in Oklahoma, who said “Let our enemies kill our enemies”. I think this guy is a preacher of some sort. I’m glad I’m not in his church. How can someone so filled with hate be fun to be around?

    There were the usual conservative commentators on this morning who were questioning why we would be attacking Syria on “so little evidence”, as I heard one say on ABC. It’s amazing to me that every conservative I can remember hearing in the runup to the Iraq invasion was all for invading. Remember in that case, the briefings given to Congress (and not the public) were a “slam dunk” that there were WMD. Here, the evidence is apparently ironclad, and yet it seems the burden of proof is that much higher.

    I wish that someone in the Administration would say something to the effect of “we are sorry the American public is so sick of war, but remember that the previous President lied us into it”.

    I am of the opinion that if it can be proven that chemical weapons were used, and that the Syrian President/dictator ordered it, then put a stealth aircraft 10 miles outside Damascus, and as soon as we have proof he is at a location, put a couple 2000-lb smart bombs on his head. Then, let the Syrian people sort it out, without our troops being on the ground getting shot at. The same thing could have been done in Iraq.

    And it would help if the Republicans in Congress weren’t so two-faced, supporting Bush when he cost us 4,000+ American lives in wars that had no justification for, and not supporting Obama.

    Chris Lane is Not Trayvon Martin

    23 August 2013

    The murder of Chris Lane in Duncan is already driving some conservatives to try to criticize those who demand justice for Trayvon Martin.

    The two cases are not similar in any way. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, and the killer was not arrested until some time after the killing, and it took many protests to get that arrest accomplished. Chris Lane was shot and killed, and the accused killers were arrested immediately.

    What is a shame is that the killing of Trayvon had to have generated the protests to begin with.

    More Voting Rights Act Fallout

    23 August 2013

    The news reported today that the Justice Department is going to sue Texas to stop Texas Republican actions to change voting processes. These are more steps in the grand Republican Plan to suppress as much voting as possible.

    Republicans have always said how much they are for individual freedom. Remember all the Republican slogans like “Vote Freedom. Vote Inhoff”? I don’t think that anyone can point me to any voter supression tactics being caused by Democrats. Well, Republicans, when you restrict voting rights, you are restricting individual freedom.

    “VOTE REPUBLICAN, GET SUPPRESSION”.

    I hope the Justice Department next goes after Oklahoma, North Carolina, and other states where Republicans have restricted voting.

    Why anyone who values freedom would vote Republican is beyond me.

    Another Step For Full Equality From The DoD

    22 August 2013

    The DoD announced that service members will be granted leave to travel to a state that supports marriage equality in order to marry their same-sex partner. The leave won’t count against the service members annual leave.

    I say right on! When there is a history of discrimination, I believe that affirmative actions that go above and beyond are a reasonable way to mitigate the harm that occurred as a result of the discrimination.

    When society harms an individual due to prejudice or fear, especially when that harm is directly in spite of the rule of law, society must work much harder to help the descendants of the harmed rise above the impact of the harm.

    Another Step For Marriage Equality. Two Steps!

    2 August 2013

    I didn’t realize it until I saw the news this evening, but marriage equality became reality today in Minnesota and Rhode Island. Although that is great regardless, it was kinda a bit more cool because we traveled through Rhode Island today on the last leg of our family vacation in New England.

    Full equality is a bit closer. It will keep advancing. We will get there.

    The George Zimmerman Trial Is Almost Over

    13 July 2013

    I have no idea what the verdict will be. I do think Zimmerman needs to serve time. He pursued a kid who wasn’t doing anything even remotely illegal. That pursuit made Zimmerman the aggressor, and his aggressive action led directly to the death of Martin.

    What really amazes me about this is the conservative reaction to it all. The supposedly law and order conservatives see nothing wrong with the armed guy chasing down an unarmed guy and shooting him.

    So what if Martin hit at Zimmerman? If some gun-wielding guy was after me, I’d damn sure get anything I could to defend myself. I don’t even think that there is evidence of Martin hitting Zimmerman, I think Zimmerman made it up.

    So regardless of the verdict, Zimmerman should go to jail. He took a life with zero justification. A guy with a gun pursuing a kid does not turn the kid into a criminal. Period.

    One other thought: there are pictures going around social media showing various large black men that are meant to look threatening, that are claimed to be pictures of Martin, and “it’s how he really looks”. What kind of sick people would do that? It’s bad enough that people just turn around and forward or share them without verifying, but whoever released them into the wild in the first place needs to do some serious soul searching of just what good you are doing on this world by creating lies.

    Conservative Arguments Against Marriage Equality

    30 June 2013

    Meet the Press this morning has a microcosm of the conservative opposition to marriage equality.

    They had some Congressman on who repeated one of the lies conservatives like to use, regarding how bad same-sex marriages are for children. To his credit, David Gregory threw the BS flag on the guy, who just blithly went on repeating his claim.

    Ralph Reed, tried to make a Big Point that SCOTUS denied marriage equality, invalidating the concept of marriage equality. He got the BS flag thrown on him as well, in that SCOTUS didn’t actually address the application of the 14th Amendment to marriage equality (I think they should have). Mr. Reed is also proud that a number of states enshrine his particular form of discrimination, and takes that as some sort of affirmation of his side. Those state restrictions are the next targets to increase marriage equality, and they will prevail.

    Ralph also made another utterly pathetic argument. Rachel Maddow made the comment that Reed was expressing intolerance, and he tried to claim that President Obama was also intolerant before he expressed support for marriage equality 14 months ago. Sorry, Mr. Reed, you have been trying to force your religious view on the country for years, and Obama hasn’t tried to do that once. You should just triumphantly proclaim your hatred of our gay brothers and sisters, instead of trying to denigrate President Obama.

    So conservatives: why don’t you do more to help jobs and the economy instead of trying to force your particular religious views on the rest of the country? How about trying to get some more of your favorite Leviticus passages enshrined in law? Maybe you could talk about that at your next CPAC, over the shrimp scampi (even though consuming shellfish is another abomination).

    SCOTUS and The Voting Rights Act

    26 June 2013

    The Supreme Court today showed again why a partisan court is bad for America. Chief “Justice” Roberts and four other conservatives decided today that there should be no pre-clearance for changes to voting procedures in several former southern states that have histories of extreme racist restrictions on voting rights for minorities.

    We still have voter supression, targeted at blacks. It is still egregious. The five “justices” that voted against free voting are wrong.

    Congress MUST act to correct this perversion of the voting process.

    Rick Perry Exemplifies What’s Wrong With Republicans

    15 June 2013

    I saw two separate references to Texas Governor Rick Perry today. The two are highly indicative of what is wrong with the Republican Party today.

    First, there was a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show. Perry signed a piece of legislation that confers legal protection for people in schools, including teachers and children, to verbalize “Merry Christmas” and similar religious-based phrases.

    Second, the AP reported that Perry vetoed a bill that would have provided women in Texas with equal pay protection.

    So this is the dichotomy: He vetoed a provision that would have provided real enhancement for the lives of working women. He supported a bill that solves a problem that does not exist.

    The fact that women are paid less for doing the same work nationally is anti-American. The supposed capitalist captains of industry claim to support the concept that if you work hard and take risks, you will be rewarded. But the reality is that overall, women who work just as hard and take the same risks do not have the guarantee of equal reward. While there is a federal law that addresses this for federal jobs, including companies that contract with the government, it’s not universal. I don’t know why Perry vetoed this law, and don’t really care, but it’s likely that he just doesn’t give a damn about equality.

    The “Merry Christmas” bill is vacant, vacuous, pandering. It’s not illegal to say that, or most any other religious phrase. This legislation is a sop to the base of the Republican Party, people who are apparently so insecure in their faith that they want their particular phrases protected.

    That’s the main problem with the Republican Party: constant posturing, and no real governing. Since they won’t govern, they should be voted out.

    “Prayer in School”, and Politics

    27 May 2013

    There have been screeds going around about how the Moore Public Schools had fired a teacher for praying out line while the tornado was tearing her school apart. At the public prayer service today, the pastor of the Moore First Baptist Church felt the need to make a comment about teachers praying in school as well today.

    I really wish that Christians were a little more secure in their belief. Why someone felt the need to make up the teacher firing story is really pathetic.

    I’ve said before, there has always been and always will be prayer in school. Too many people want to mandate prayer in school (and many of those just want prayer for their sect). It is un-American and Unconstitutional to try to mandate prayer in the officially secular public schools. Too many Christians (and I’m picking on them here, but I’ve never heard of Jews or Muslims or Hindu demanding prayer in public schools) are convinced that somehow, not having mandated prayer in school somehow lessens their belief.

    So for a teacher, or a student, or a visiting parent to pray out loud during a tornado event is quite understandable. It’s the height of hypocritical politization for someone in authority to try to use that to advance their sects agenda.

    Please, have your religion; whatever it is. Keep it to yourself.

    Scouting Takes A Step Forward

    26 May 2013

    I’m glad that the BSA voted this week to relax their prohibition on gay Scouts. It is a welcome step in the right direction, but it needs to go farther.

    The prohibition against gay leaders needs to be removed as well. There is nothing in being gay that makes a leader any less of a good leader in Scouting.

    IRS Investigations: How Were They Uncovered?

    14 May 2013

    I have heard the howls of outrage from conservatives about the extra questioning that many Tea Party organizations were getting from the IRS. I’m no expert, but I think that the extra questioning, and the granting of tax exempt status in the end means we don’t really have much of a scandal.

    Regardless, I think an interesting question to ask is how this “scandal” was uncovered. One IRS office came up with criteria for evaluating these organizations. Agents tried using the criteria, and when it was briefed up the chain of command, the local supervisors disagreed with the criteria, and then called in the IRS Inspector General (IG). That IG report is what kicked off the storm of criticism.

    So the takeway here is that the internal processes of the IRS worked, and reversed the criteria. Howling conservatives would not have the knowledge of this except for sunshine on this part of the Government. That’s the way it is supposed to work.

    Gitmo Gets Some Attention Again, Finally

    1 May 2013

    I was glad that President Obama got some questions today about the American Gulag at Gitmo. That stain on the Constitution needs to be closed, immediately.

    Every prisoner there needs to be tried or released. Period. Jailing people without charges for years is one of the reasons the American Revolution happened in the first place. We should be better than that!

    Any Senator or Representative that whines that it’s too dangerous to try accused terrorists on United States soil is a coward.

    Close Gitmo. It’s a gulag that’s no better than the political prisons of the USSR or China.

    The Big Drink Ban in NYC

    13 March 2013

    There is some hullabaloo about a federal judge preventing NYC from enforcing the ban on large sodas.

    While Mayor Bloomberg is certainly well meaning, banning sodas is not the way to go.

    As a (sorta) free society, people are free to keep themselves in shape, or not. Large sodas, with sugar, are not a totally healthy choice for a drink. But government should not be mandating health; it’s a personal choice.

    The Sequester Is Here

    3 March 2013

    Well, sorta. The people-centric parts are still a bit down the road. People I know and work with day to day will be seriously affected if this continues.

    The news today had a number of policy makers talking about sequester, of course. It’s sad and pathetic, but the reason that sequester happened is Republican intransigence. Ezra Klein posted an article showing a specific example of this in the Washington Post. The salient paragraph:

    This had led to a lot of Republicans fanning out to explain what the president should be offering if he was serious about making a deal. Then, when it turns out that the president did offer those items, there’s more furious hand-waving about how no, actually, this is what the president needs to offer to make a deal. Then, when it turns out he’s offered most of that, too, the hand-waving stops and the truth comes out: Republicans won’t make a deal that includes further taxes, they just want to get the White House to implement their agenda in return for nothing. Luckily for them, most of the time, the conversation doesn’t get that far, and the initial comments that the president needs to “get serious” on entitlements is met with sage nods.

    This morning on Meet The Press, even David Gregory asked John Boehner about some of this. Boehner testily evaded constantly, still making the claim that the President needed to lead, and needed to put a plan on the table, and so on.

    There are a lot of Republicans going on about how sequestration was the President’s idea. BFD; it’s not relevant. One question I would ask: The sequestion will produce the largest cuts in Government spending in a long time. If sequestration is Obama’s idea, then he should get credit for those huge cuts. Right? That means Democrats are serious about cutting spending, and Republicans are spenders.

    The Democrats as spenders and Republicans as cutters meme hasn’t been true in a long time (if ever); it was Republicans that ran up the huge debts with tax cuts that were not matched by spending reductions, and two wars fought on credit. Boehner and the Tea Party, and their pathetically short-sighted voters, might find that hard to believe, but it’s true.

    The Republicans are not negotiating, in good faith or otherwise. Just another example of not governing.

    The Voting Rights Act and SCOTUS

    28 February 2013

    I was very disturbed today by the reported attitude of the “conservative” wing of the SCOTUS during the hearing on removing the section of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain places to get approval from the Justice Department before changing voting procedures. It was reauthorized in 2006 with huge majorities.

    What I don’t understand is why conservatives, who claim to be liberty-loving, don’t want voting liberty. It is Republicans that tried repeatedly to suppress the votes of people in 2012, and gerrymandered where they could in 2010.

    I think that the VRA is needed and still valid. In particular, the states and other locations that are prohibited from changing their voting processes have histories of egregious voting suppression violations. Shelby County today said they have improved. But why do they want to remove the restriction on them?

    There is still widespread racial bias in the south, and in the country as a whole. Several studies in 2012 showed that anti-black bias in 50% or more of the population. Even if Shelby County prevails, the Justice Department can still bring suit to head off bad practices. But I see no reason to remove the preemptive protections.

    Just for registering voters, blacks and whites were beaten and killed in the south. A white Episcopal seminarian was murdered by a shotgun-wielding racist, who was aiming at an unarmed 17-year old girl (and who also shot a Catholic priest in the back, and who was acquitted by an all-white jury). Children were murdered just because they were black. People were beaten, gassed, and attacked just because they were black, or wanted to go to school, or drink from water fountains, or shop in stores.

    The inhuman and inhumane treatment of our black citizens demands that every possible protection of law be kept in place to ensure that their rights, including the right to vote, are not restricted.

    National Republicans Failure to Govern, AGAIN

    23 February 2013

    Sequestration is closer and closer.

    Republicans, “led” by Boehner and Cantor, like to get in front of the cameras and say stuff like “the President needs to [lead or provide a plan or provide a budget]”. They also like to claim that sequestration is “the Presidents plan”.

    All of this is bullcrap. The President has a plan for avoiding sequestration on the White House website, and in the 2013 Budget.

    The claim that sequestration is the Presidents plan is not relevant. The Republicans voted on it, along with the Democrats, and it was signed by the President. Both parties agreed to it.

    This is just like the last election. Romney and Ryan talked a lot about tax changes and budget changes, but never proposed any details about what they wanted to change and cut. Boehner talked a lot about how the President didn’t have a plan then either, but purusing the White House website found specifics easily.

    Why to Republicans do this? I’ve seen speculation that they want the President to “go first” so the Republicans can then criticize him. They don’t seem to want to negotiate, just try to score cheap political points. It’s for darn sure they don’t want to govern.

    And still no one in the media (that I have heard) has asked the question of Boehner and Cantor: where were your spending objections when the two wars were kicked off using the national credit card? And where were they when the Bush tax cuts were enacted without any corresponding decrease in spending?

    National Republicans are dishonorable.

    Drone Strikes and American Citizens

    8 February 2013

    The public debate about drone strikes is largely focusing on whether the President should be able to kill Americans overseas using drone strikes.

    I think that using a drone, or a spec ops team, or a cruise missile strike, should be legal, IF there has been some sort of judicial review of the case against the target.

    Removing life or liberty should be done via due process of law, whether the suspect is in the US, or in some other country. I do not think it is unreasonable to require that government make a case before taking action against somebody, and IF that person has been judged to have committed a crime, exact appropriate punishment, up to and including taking their life. That could be a trial in absentia.

    I have the same basic issue with the prisoners in the American Gulag at Gitmo. Either try them, or let them go, but no detention forever.

    The BSA And The Anti-Gay Rule

    1 February 2013

    The BSA is reportedly looking to change their current membership policy that prohibits gay people from serving as leaders, or participating as youth. Reportedly, the change would delegate to each unit the decision as to whether to admit gays.

    I believe that the anti-gay policy is wrong on it’s face. There is nothing that I see in being gay that makes a leader less effective. There is nothing in being gay that should keep a youth member from being a Scout.

    I think that pushing the decision down to units is a mistake. The anti-gay ban is wrong whether it is at a national level, the council level, the district level, or the unit level.

    If BSA National is making this decision because of actual or threatened loss of funding, then it’s even a worse reason to delegate the anti-gay policy down to the units.

    2nd Amendment Focus Is Short-sighted

    24 January 2013

    I watched a speech by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre that was somewhat in response to President Obama’s inauguration speech. It was be very easy to pick the speech apart for it’s factual mistakes, rabble rousing, false equivalencies, and mischaracterizations. Not to mention the classic technique of placing thoughts into his opponents head, as in “and he wants to…” do something the NRA disagrees with.

    All this hue and cry is driven by a fear that just isn’t there. For reasons I just don’t understand, for some reason people think that the government wants to come and get the hundreds of millions of weapons that are already in circulation in the country. It’s related to the fear that religious expression is under attack as well.

    Neither of these are the case. I’m struck that then candidate Obama said in 2008: “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or, you know, anti-trade sentiment [as] a way to explain their frustrations.”. Obama took a lot of heat for saying this, but he was right.

    But what really amazes me is that those who are truly wedded to their guns don’t really seem to give a rip about the rest of the Constitution. Some of the things that I see as issues are ignoring the 14th Amendment (often in the name of religious belief), suppression of 1st Amendment speech (think the Occupy movement), erosion of 4th Amendment protection against searches, devaluation of the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel punishments and the Constitutional guarantee of Habeas corpus (and the American Gulag at Guantanamo Bay).

    So why, in the face of actual threats to Constitutional rights, do so many people go over the edge on the issue of guns and religion, which have no threat?

    Gerrymandering Is Alive And Well, And Disgusting

    23 January 2013

    There has been a lot of reporting about gerrymandering, in every single case by Republicans, over the past couple election cycles. The Virgina Senate is trying it again right now.

    I’ve proposed before that redistricting should be a purely mechanical process. For example, if your state gets six Representatives, then draw three horizontal and two vertical lines across the state, and move them up and down until the population in each is about equal.

    There are a number of other ways to redistrict that are equally valid, and would eliminate gerrymanders. Redistricting should never be a political sport.

    I’m Amazed At The Credulity Of Some People

    22 January 2013

    In the post-election time, and especially since Sandy Hook, there has been an outpouring of what I can only call gun nuttery.

    People post and repost stuff that is demonstrably untrue.  They delight in posting straw-man comparisons that show how guns are misunderstood.

    The most ridiculous posts are the “Obama as Hitler” memes.

    I’m just amazed at the number of people I thought were intelligent, who apparently are not.

    Republicans Are Good For ONE Thing

    31 December 2012

    It’s sad that the national Republicans, who are more loyal to Grover Norquist than the American people, can only agree to consistent rhetoric to deflect the blame for their intransigence.

    They like to say stuff like “Obama isn’t showing leadership”, or “the Democrats don’t have any plan”, when between the extreme use of filibuster in the Senate, or Tea Party extremists in the House, they are continuing their Just Say No platform.

    Let’s remember who trashed the economy – REPUBLICANS. Now they want to levy tax increases on the entire country, to protect high-income people; the 98% being held hostage for the 2%.

    So the one thing you can count on Republicans for: saying NO. They are not governing.

    Some Follow-Up Thoughts, Thanks To The NRA

    21 December 2012

    Wayne LaPierre of the NRA called a “news conference” today (where he took no questions). He blamed mass shootings on mental illness, media coverage, and “gun-free” zones. He also called for armed guards at schools.

    Even though some commentators dismissed the call for armed guards, some citing the possibility of kids and faculty getting caught in crossfire, I think that placing guards in schools is a good idea. I also think that implementing point hardening of schools is a good idea. Some high schools already have security officers.

    In general, I think NRA President LaPierre is probably a little nuts. He has claimed repeatedly that Obama has some secret plan to eliminate all firearms (while providing no evidence to back up these wild-eyed claims; where I come from, that’s called “bullshit”).

    LaPierre said “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. Factually, this isn’t really true. You can deny the bad guy a gun, maybe. You layer your defenses to minimize the ability of the bad guy to arm himself, to get to where he wants to attack, and to get into the place.

    It would obviously cost significant money to implement and maintain guards and security measures. Maybe weapons and ammo could be taxed to raise the money for the guards and hardening.

    Regardless, as I’ve said before, I don’t think that it is possible in a free society to be completely free of the risk of attack. Bad guys have used guns, edged weapons, cars, airplanes, and explosives at various times. Our freedom of movement means freedom of attack as well.

    “Gun Control”, A Couple Thoughts

    21 December 2012

    There has obviously been a lot of talk about guns this past week after the horrible killings in Newtown.

    I don’t think “gun control” can be terribly effective. There are already millions of “assault weapons” already in circulation. Banning any more sales of them, even if they can be defined as such legally, would prevent few events like Newtown.

    Better screening of gun purchasers may not be effective either. It’s been reported that the Newtown criminal took weapons legally owned by his mother. Maybe she should have had them locked up.

    Many of the mass killings over the past decade have been done with handguns. No mention of controlling handgun purchases has been made that I have heard from.

    It has been reported that the US will not allow pyschiatric records to be added to the gun purchaser background check system. I have not verified this, but it seems like this would be a major disconnect.

    It was reported on NPR today (“Fresh Air”) that the BATF is enjoined by law from releasing records they have been collecting for years that correlate gun type with crimes committed. This was supposedly done at the behest of the NRA. If true, to me it’s indirect evidence that the NRA can’t stand the answers to questions that haven’t been asked. In a related vein, it was also reported the Centers for Disease Control are prevented by law from any research related to firearms, for much the same reason. To me, using law to prevent research or data collection on a right that is part of the Bill of Rights is wrong – what about collecting research about the 1st Amendment, like how many people actually go to church? If gun rights supporters are trying to block that sort of stuff, then they probably think the data would look bad for them.