Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Republican Party has no real plan for governing should it win control of both houses of Congress next month - other than opposing anything and everything that Barack Obama supports - some are worried that the GOP might be better off if it doesn't win control of the U.S. Senate. One with such worries is conservative columnist Michael Gerson who makes his case in a column in the Washington Post. Here are column highlights:
On the theory that chickens should not only be counted before they hatch but also killed, let us consider the downsides for Republicans of winning both houses of Congress.. . . Nov. 4 should be a haunted balloon drop for Republicans. In the 2010 midterm election, the GOP won control of the House in a sweeping anti-Obama victory. Two years later, Obama took 11 out of 12 battleground states and became the first Democratic president since FDR to twice win 51 percent or more of the popular vote.Republicans are susceptible to the myth of the midterm mandate. Midterm elections generally express unhappiness, not aspiration. But some conservatives took the 2010 result as an ideological turning point. They concluded that Obama’s 2008 victory was an anomaly — that the country, deep down, was really on the Republican side.It was a false dawn. As a weakened president celebrated a decisive reelection, a few things should have been clear: At the presidential level, the GOP brand is offensive to many rising demographic groups. Republicans are often perceived as indifferent to working-class struggles (because they sometimes are). The GOP appeal seems designed for a vanishing electorate.The last Republican midterm win actually complicated the long-term task of Republican reform. Many in the GOP took away a lesson in complacency. Some concluded that ideological purity is the path back to power, and that effective persuasion is only a matter of turning up the volume.It didn’t work. It can’t work. Republican midterm victories are the anomaly, distracting attention from trends that are gradually condemning the Republican Party to regional appeal and national irrelevance.Some parts of the Republican coalition — highly ideological members of Congress from safe districts, outside groups and think tanks that raise funds off appeals to purity — seem content, even happy, on the gentle slope of Republican decline.No Republican nominee for president can afford to be. Whatever he or she calls the effort — sorry, “compassionate conservatism” is trademarked — a successful Republican candidate will need to craft a more inclusive political appeal and formulate an active role for government in encouraging skills and aspiration in an economy where upward mobility is sticky and slowed.Will a Republican Party fresh from a midterm success — with a vivid feeling of ideological momentum — allow the Republican nominee this latitude? Or will it punish deviant creativity?A reform-oriented nominee will have some allies — a Republican congressional establishment burned by past tea party excesses and an impressive group of “reform conservative” thinkers to furnish the Republican renovation with policy. But the greatest obstacle to GOP success may well be a mistimed victory.
One of the goals of this blog is to expose hypocrisy and the Christofascists and other self-anointed "godly folk" never disappoint in providing a treasure trove of hypocrisy that needs exposing. Now, yet another study has found that the so-called Bible Belt is also the "Porn Belt" of America, meaning that the Bible Belt has the highest per capita number of porn searches in the country. Deliciously, internet porn searching correlates wonderfully well with where Southern Baptists represent the highest percentage of local church bodies. A piece in Patheos looks at the phenomenon- which ultimately causes wrongheaded public polices - that needs to thrown in the faces of ranting Baptist pastors whenever they launch into homophobic rants. Here are article excepts:
According to a new study, the more you say you literally believe in the Bible, the more you watch porn. At least that’s the inevitable fact-based conclusion drawn from the biggest study of internet Google porn searches by region.
Living in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, the home of the "misnamed Christian Broadcasting Network ("CBN") one becomes used to the reality that a month never goes by - sometimes it's not even a week - that local embarrassment and
shyster televangelist Pat Robertson doesn't spout off some kind of batshitery that makes the region look as if its inhabited by a bunch of religious extremist fruitcakes. One has to wonder how many progressive businesses Robertson frightens away from relocating to the area give the dim image he projects. This week/month is no exception to the above rule as Robertson launched into a rant about gay marriage and the persecution of Christians, mentioning in the process the fraudulent "gay marriage victims" at the Hitching Post in Idaho. Right Wing Watch looks at Robertson's latest bout of diarrhea of the mouth. Here are highlights:
On "The 700 Club" today, Pat Robertson went all out on an extreme homophobic rant, claiming that same-sex marriage has "deadly consequences." He wasn't able to name one, but just making the accusation served his purposes. Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network claims his show has a million viewers a day.“This onslaught of homosexual behavior that is being forced on us by the Supreme Court of the United States is having deadly consequences,” Robertson told his audience. “I was afraid it was going to happen. It has happened now in Idaho.”In Idaho, a for-profit wedding chapel owned by a pair of ordained ministers is claiming their city's anti-discrimination law forces them to marry same-sex couples.They are suing the city, despite the fact that no same-sex couple has filed a discrimination complaint, nor has the city officially notified them they might be in violation of the law.“If I were that couple, I’d get ahead of the curve. I’d get on an airplane and leave Idaho or get in your car and drive across the border into Montana,” Robertson said. “Get out of that state. And if need be, close your chapel down. I mean, just get out ahead of it because this is outrageous.”Over 30 U.S. states have or are in the process of extending marriage to same-sex couples, including Montana.
Previously, this raving lunatic claimed that if gays have their way:
The man belongs in a mental institution.You’re either going to have sex with angels or have open sex with anybody or else you leave, or you go out of business. That’s America, you don’t want that, do you?”
Monday, October 20, 2014
|Faux Christian martyrs Donald and Evelyn Knapp|
Facts and objective reality never matters to the Christofascists who mix the truth and fantasy - and a huge dose of lies - into the story lines needed to promote the myth of Christian persecution. In courts of law, however, facts and objective reality do matter. What am I talking about? The Hitching Post, a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, wedding business that has become the latest supposed Christian martyr to homo-fascists out to destroy Christianity. Waiting to have an outpatient procedure this morning - the clinic, by the way did not have to meet hospital standards like Virginia abortion clinics even though the procedures performed are more dangerous than abortion procedures - I had to listen to Fox News talking heads hyperventilate about "Christian pastors" being forced to perform gay marriages or else face criminal charges under the local public accommodations law. The truth, however, is something quite different. The Hitching Post has never been a "Christian chapel." No, it been a for profit business with no restriction of only performing Christian marriages. Blogger friend Jeremy Hooper has the goods on the lies and hypocrisy of the folks at The Hitching Post and its legal counsel, the lunatics at Alliance Defending Freedom. Here excerpts from Jeremy's first post:
Back in May, I wrote about a place called The Hitching Post, a Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, business that marries couples for profit. At the time, I opined about how the ordained minister who owns the business has every right to not perform same-sex marriages, if he so chooses. However, if he is going to make that choice, then he is going to lose that right to run a for-profit, "all comers welcome" business that says it marries opposite-sex couples in civil ceremonies, regardless of faith.
And in May, when that business owner, Donald Knapp, first started going to the press with this vow, that's exactly what his business claimed to do. These are the screen caps I used in my initial post:
But get this. In the wake of marriage equality coming to Idaho, the Alliance Defending Freedom is attempting to turn Mr. Knapp and his business into the latest "victims" of the marriage equality push. The ADF is championing a lawsuit against the city of Coeur d'Alene, and to make the case, all involved are claiming that the business is made up of "ordained ministers" who are being told "to act contrary to their faith." They are making it sound like this is an instance of a pastor being forced to perform a religious ceremony in a church, which is a fear they would love to play up as a reality. Several other conservative groups and outlets have run with that spin.
Now here's where it gets interesting. In order to make this case of supposed religious persecution, someone has gone into the very website that I used as basis for my spring commentary and changed the text so that all the mentions of civil weddings no longer appear. Here is how the very same screens that I showed you above look today:
"Ordained ministers" who perform a "traditional, religious ceremony"? And only "for couples who desire a traditional wedding ceremony"? This is revisionist history of the highest order! Now that this business needs to make a case for "religious persecution," they are pretending like they didn't operate in the way that they totally used to operate. They are pretending like civil ceremonies and ceremonies outside of their own deeply held faith were never on the table so that they can make it seem like they have always been convicted in and committed to one specific kind of religious wedding. They have up and changed the rules that they themselves had laid out (i.e. no church, no faith, no problem) so that they can now make the case that they and their far-right spinmeisters are itching to make (i.e. only church, always church; we're the victims). It's gross! And I caught ya.
The real shocker? The Hitching Post's promotion of its "civil marriage" services was unchanged online as recently as October 9, 2014. That's right, it changed just in time for the ADF' disingenuous and ridiculous lawsuit. Jeremy notes as follows in a follow up post:
This whole faux persecution stunt underscores why I hold utter contempt for so many "godly Christians." They are liars and hypocrites and make the biblical Pharisees seem like nice upstanding people. I hope the court issues sanctions against ADF for this fraudulent lawsuit.The fact is that this business was, according to its own website, fully willing to move forward with civil weddings that they themselves may not have supported, but now—suddenly and seemingly without any announced change in business plan—they are not. They have always operated as a public accommodation with an "all comers welcome" position statement, and now they are trying to act like a de facto church that could not conceive diverging from their faith. And that is the issue.The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the couple at the center of this controversy, is claiming that the business owners are now being asked to "violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows." If this business, up until two weeks ago, was perfectly willing to marry atheists, the previously divorced, and a whole host of couples that they might not personally condone, then their current claims to be wholly faith-driven are at least lessened, and more likely demolished.
Every year during election season - which here in Virginia means each year given our off year state elections - I catch grief from some former GOP colleagues who harass me for "changing" or becoming a "single issue" voter which is their offhanded way of condemning me for being gay. The irony, of course, is that I haven't changed and I still support sane rational candidates as my entire family has for generations. The problem is, it is near impossible to find sane and rational GOP candidates and/or GOP candidates who won't gladly prostitute themselves to the ugly religious extremist and white supremacist elements of the GOP base. Right Wing Watch has a compilation of five GOP congressional candidates who underscore the swamp fever that has overtaken the GOP. None of these lunatic extremists could have secured the party nomination in the GOP in which I grew up and in which I was active for years. Here article are highlights:
The conventional wisdom is that so-called establishment Republican candidates by and large triumphed over Tea Party radicals this election cycle. But the truth is that those victories were the result of a party establishment that itself has moved far to the right. Even where Tea Party candidates have failed, the Tea Party movement has increasingly remade the “establishment” GOP in its own image.It is now core doctrine in the GOP to deny the science behind climate change, endorse sweeping abortion bans and engage in anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of the John Birch Society.Here, we look at five Republican congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled “establishment,” some “Tea Party,” but all are emblematic of the party’s strong turn to the right.1. Joni Ernst One Iowa conservative pundit has described state Sen. Joni Ernst, now the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, as “the choice of the Republican establishment” who has “been backed by national Republican establishment figures like Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Marco Rubio.”But in today’s Republican Party, even an “establishment” candidate like Ernst can be just as extreme as a Tea Party insurgent.Ernst subscribes to the radical, neo-Confederate idea that states can “nullify” federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional — and even went so far as to suggest that local law enforcement officers can arrest government officials for simply administering federal laws.In response to a 2012 candidate survey for a group affiliated with former congressman Ron Paul, Ernst pledged to “support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare.”But Ernst does support government intervention when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, sponsoring the Iowa personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in all cases along with common forms of birth control. “I think the provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment,” Ernst said, but has since insisted that she thinks the amendment would be purely symbolic.Ernst has repeatedly denied the science of climate change, arguing that she has “not seen proven proof” of human influence on the climate and dismissed the role of “man-made activities.”As Ernst’s candidacy shows, the line dividing “establishment Republicans” from fringe right-wing zealots has become so blurred that it has effectively vanished.2. Thom Tillis Like Ernst, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis is widely considered the choice of the “establishment” and “mainstream” wing of the GOP, while his extremist record shows just how far to the right even the party’s “mainstream” has moved.In 2007, Tillis blasted government policies that “have redistributed trillions of dollars of wealth,” calling them “reparations” for slavery. The same year, he opposed a resolution apologizing for an 1898 massacre of African Americans in a North Carolina city, explaining that the amendment didn’t sufficiently honor white Republicans.Tillis supported the repeal of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act — which allowed death-row inmates to appeal their sentences based on evidence of racial bias — and backed heavily restrictive voting laws designed to weaken the black vote.Tillis has said he would support a Personhood Amendment banning abortion in all cases and prohibiting common forms of birth control, and believes that states have the right to ban contraceptives.Following a federal court ruling striking down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage, Tillis attempted to preserve the ban by teaming up with the founder of one of the country’s leading anti-gay groups.While cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from education spending and blocking the expansion of Medicaid under the guise of fiscal stewardship, Tillis shepherded through a massive tax break to benefit top earners and corporations while effectively raising taxes on the lower 80 percent of taxpayers.3. Jody Hice Jody Hice entered politics as a Religious Right activist and a conservative talk radio show host, making him part of two worlds that are at the core of the conservative movement. Now, as the frontrunner in an open Georgia House seat, currently held by outgoing far-right Rep. Paul Broun, Hice is set to bring his right-wing agenda to Congress.Hice made his first foray into politics by trying to convince local governments to erect monuments of the Ten Commandments in public places, which were deemed unconstitutional by, in Hice’s words, “judicial terrorists .” A Christian Nationalist, Hice thinks the founding fathers would support his congressional campaign and has posted on his Facebook page numerous fake quotes from our nation’s founders about the dangers of “Big Government” and the need to mix religion and government.In one episode of his radio program, Hice suggested that gay people seek therapy, lamenting that “we are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not.” During another radio commentary, Hice denied that legal discrimination towards gays and lesbains exists, before comparing homosexuality to incest. If anything, according to Hice, it is the Christian community that faces government discrimination as a result of a Satanic plot to “chip away” at “our Christian rights.”His theological views also make him skeptical of women running for public office, saying a woman should only do so if she remains “within the authority of her husband.”4. Glenn Grothman Wisconsin state senator and anti-Kwanzaa crusader Glenn Grothman is running for an open House seat, from which he hopes to legislate in the same manner as his “soul mate” Rick Santorum.Not one to hold back, Grothman has lambasted union activists protesting a law targeting labor rights as “slobs” and proposed doing away with the weekend and paid sick leave. So fearful of “Big Government” is Grothman that he also tried to put an end to municipal water disinfection programs.Grothman opposes abortion rights without exceptions in cases of rape, incest and a woman’s health, even working to make it a felony offense for a doctor to perform an abortion that could save a woman’s life.He opposes laws protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and once tried to strip a sex education bill of a nondiscrimination provision that he suspected was part of a plot to make kids gay. Grothman also demanded that his state refuse to follow a court order to recognize same-sex marriages, which he feared would “legitimiz[e] illegal and immoral marriages.”
Not content with just opposing gay rights in the U.S., Grothman also defended a Ugandan law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by sentences including life in prison.5. Zach Dasher Taking advantage of his family’s new-found reality TV fame, “Duck Dynasty” cousin Zach Dasher is running for U.S. Congress in Louisiana in an election where the top two candidates advance to a runoff vote if no candidate takes over 50 percent of the vote.Dasher cited the success of “Duck Dynasty” as one of the reasons he entered the race: “Five years ago, I didn’t see an opportunity or window of opportunity to get into this type of venture. But here recently, obviously with the family name and being able to get my message out there, I saw an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”Of his uncle Phil Robertson, who came under fire for making statements in a magazine interview defending Jim Crow and demonizing gays and lesbians, Dasher gushed: “The support of the family means a lot to me. We share a very similar background and philosophy, and our spiritual
President Obama continues his evolution on gay marriage and has now stated what many of us have long argued, namely that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that same sex marriage be legal nationwide. The 14th Amendment reads as follows:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The so-called Equal Protection Clause is the language in italics. Note that it says ALL PERSONS. There is no qualification based on race, religion, sex or sexual orientation - or whether one is a Christofascist. All persons means exactly what it says, ALL PERSONS. Hence, the laws must apply equally to all. In the light of modern medical and mental health knowledge that tells us that sexual orientation is innate and immutable despite the lies and propaganda of the Christofascist organization, that means marriage laws apply to all and should take into consideration the sexual orientation of persons impacted by the marriage laws. Obama has finally evolved to the point where he can put the concepts of the Constitution first and the religious brain washing he received in the past second. Huffington Post reports on Obama's final epiphany. Here are highlights:
President Barack Obama seems to have changed his tune on gay marriage, telling The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin he believes same-sex couples in all 50 states should be allowed to marry under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Obama first publicly backed gay marriage in May 2012, but noted he thought the issue should be left to the states. Speaking with Toobin for the Oct. 27 issue of The New Yorker, Obama said the best Supreme Court decision since he took office was the recent rejection of gay marriage appeals from five states, a move the president said is "a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up."
While Obama said the high court "was not quite ready" to "indicate an equal-protection right across the board," he personally believes same-sex marriage is protected under that clause. From The New Yorker:
Obama opposed marriage equality until May of 2012. He told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, an argument that his Administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court. “Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states,” he said. “But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.
“The bulk of my nominees, twenty years ago or even ten years ago, would have been considered very much centrists, well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence, not particularly fire-breathing or ideologically driven,” Obama went on. “So the fact that now Democratic appointees and Republican appointees tend to vote differently on issues really has more to do with the shift in the Republican Party and in the nature of Republican-appointed jurists ... Democrats haven’t moved from where they were.”
Based on his ruling record to date, Chief Justice John Roberts is anything but a moderate. But in the conspiracy theorist minds of the far right, especially the Christofascists elements of the right, there is a fear that over time Roberts might - gasp, worry about how history views him - go moderate. If I were Roberts I would indeed worry that history might lump me with the justices that handed down the Dread Scott decision and other rulings now viewed with horror. Scalia, the brain dead Thomas, and Alito have no such qualms. Both perhaps Roberts might, and that has some
extremists conservatives troubled. A piece in Politico looks at their hand wringing. Here are excerpts:
Chief Justice John Roberts seems to be going wobbly again.Conservatives, still smarting from what they view as an ideological betrayal by Roberts two years ago in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Obamacare decision, have looked on suspiciously in recent weeks as the chief justice twice appeared to side with the court’s liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy against the court’s conservatives.When the high court issued orders last week blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law and stopping enforcement of key parts of Texas’ new restrictions on abortion clinics, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito publicly dissented. Roberts was notably silent.Taken together, Roberts’ actions seem to be contributing to a kind of buyer’s remorse that could result in even more pressure for ideologically pure nominees.During his confirmation hearings, Roberts presented himself a strict interpreter of the Constitution and compared a judge’s role to that of an umpire calling balls and strikes. President George W. Bush was so confident in Roberts’ conservative bona fides that he appointed him directly to the post of chief justice.“I think there are a lot of conservatives who feel like, instead of calling the balls and strikes, he’s kind of ducking when possible,” said Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network. “There certainly seems like a more consistent pattern on the part of Scalia, Thomas and Alito of being really conservative to the core.”Morris Davis, a liberal lawyer and former Guantánamo prosecutor, was more blunt in a tweet posted just after the Texas abortion order: “[Chief Justice] Roberts isn’t going to get invited to the tea party this year.”The abortion and voter ID orders on which Roberts parted ways with his conservative colleagues came just days after the Supreme Court surprised many observers by punting on the issue of gay marriage, rejecting seven petitions asking the court to decide whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right of same-sex couples to marry. Since only four justices were needed to take any one of the cases, some suspected that Roberts chose not to accept any of the petitions in order to steer the court away from the contentious social issue.“It would be in character for Roberts to do this,” Chapman Law School Professor John Eastman said. “I find it hard to believe Thomas, Alito and Scalia wouldn’t vote to take it. … The only thing that makes sense is Roberts didn’t vote to grant certiorari and the other justices were happy to allow this thing to be decided by default.”This assessment of Roberts troubles conservatives who want to see more ideological stringency and evokes the memory of GOP-appointed justices such as Sandra Day O’Connor and John Paul Stevens, who moved in a more liberal direction over their decades on the court.If people are concerned that there’s a slow drift to the left, that’s a valid concern, because that’s usually how it happens,” Levey added. “It’s about 50-50 that a Republican judge or justice will remain anything like a Republican.”